There is a growing interest in survival preparedness in the past several years. No matter what part of the country you live a disaster can happen at any time. We have seen floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other disasters which can disrupt our lives. I grew up in the outdoors and began my survival training in Boy Scouts and have never stopped learning about survival tools and techniques. I spent 3 months living off the land in Alaska for Discovery Channel and learned many lessons. I am always asked in the store which 10 items I would have with me for an emergency survival situation. Of course .each situation is different, however I will share the 10 items I consider essential and why.
1. Water purification. There is a large selection of water purification systems available. These vary from tablets, filters, UV exposure and other technologies. Purification tablets are probably the most well known and very portable. The limitation of these are they do only small amounts of water and take at least half an hour before the water is safe to drink. I like filtration systems because you can drink the water without waiting. Items like the LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter or the Aquamire Frontier Emergency Water Filter System are small and portable and very easy to keep in a pocket, glove box, or tackle box and do well for quick clean water for a short period of time. For longer emergency situations I like Sawyer® Squeeze Water Filtration System This is small and portable and has the best filtration available. The Sawyer filter can be back flushed with fresh water and has a 1 million gallon fresh water guarantee. This is the one I personally have in my disaster kit.
2. Fire Starting. An important piece of equipment to have in an emergency is some sort of fire making kit. Old School always had wooden matches in some sort of waterproof housing such as Coghlan's Watertight Match Box, Newer innovations have taken the old fashioned flint and steel into the 21st century with products like the Ultimate Survival Technologies StrikeForce Fire Starter or their BlastMatch, All these and other products such as the LightMyFire are easy to use and provide many more fires than a pack of matches.
3. We have come a long way from carrying a knife with one or 2 purposes. The original do all knife was the Swiss Army knife but was clumsy and cumbersome. The multi tools have options that can include saw blades, scissors, files, pliers, screwdrivers, and yes,,, even knife blades. A product such as the Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool has a wide variety of tools which can be of great use in an emergency situation and is easy to stash in a pocket, tackle box or glove box.
4. Emergency reflective sheets. Shelter from the elements becomes important quickly. I like carrying small reflective emergency blankets which can reflect heat., or can be taped together with others to create shelter. Items such as Heetsheets Adventure Medical Kits S.O.L. Emergency Blankets or Coghlans Emergency Blanket are light weight and take up little space. If you are lost the reflective surface can act to get attention from airplanes and others searching for someone lost. The reflective surface is a good way to reflect heat from a fire and keep you warm. I also like the heaver weight Coghlans Emergency Thermal Blanket. It is heavy duty and will stand up for years of use. Don't forget you can use these emergency blankets to help collect rain water or as a solar still for desalinizing brackish water.
5. Duck tape. Duck Tape can be used for so many emergency uses. I once sprained my thumb on a kayaking trip in a wilderness and had to put a sock around my hand and use Duck Tape to make a wrap which let me paddle the rest of the day and the next day until we were out of the wilderness. I have heard of Duck tape being used to set splints on fractures and in place of stitches. One can easily tape emergency blankets or plastic together to form a shelter. I have found that Gorilla Tape is about the strongest and most reliable out there and is what I carry.
6. Para cord. A lot of outdoors enthusiasts are sporting the bracelets made from proctored such as the Chums Teton 21' bracelet which can be unraveled and used for many purposes in an emergency. Some emergency blankets, some duck tape and some paracord and you have a nice shelter from the elements. Of course we have Liberty Mountain 100' ParaCord . if you want to carry more or make your own custom bracelet. This can be used to hang food in trees away from animals, or hang game for cleaning. I have lashed together sticks to make tables and work spaces in camp. I find some form of strong chord essential in an emergency situation. These chords can be woven into beds or hammocks or used for snares.
7. Whistle. A human voice can only be heard a short distance. It is easy to lose your voice when calling for help. Once my daughters were old enough to walk I had a whistle around their neck whenever we went camping. There are super loud whistles which are small and light weight. The Rescue Howler comes in a 2 pack and is a loud small whistle. There are combo style whistles such as the Bass Pro Shops 5- in- 1 Emergency Whistle which multi functions such as compass, dry case, match striker and signal mirror.
8. Navigation Aid. There is nothing wrong with having a GPS for navigation. I like small hand held units like a Garmin eTrex. It is important to note that there never will be a substitute for a good compass. The limitations of electronics and batteries make long term reliance on a GPS limited. A nice compass like the Brunton Pioneer Compass fits easily in my pocket and has a nice mirror which can be handy for signaling in emergency situations.
9. Medical Provisions. A good first aid kit is essential for any emergencies which can be found as close as the home or on a trip. Think about how many people you need to provide for and how long you might need to have medical provisions. Bass Pro Shops first aid kits offer a range of medical kits which have a detailed list of contents listed. I supplement my medical kit with prescription medications that are needed as well as other supplies like the Quick Clot sponges. What I carry into the wild for a few days is different from what I keep at home in case of a natural disaster,
10, Instructions. I end up my list with a good survival manual which is fairly comprehensive. We have a selection of Survival Manuals all of which have great information.
All this being said, there is no substitute for knowledge and forethought in planning what is needed for where you live and where your adventures take you. I hope this list only serves at a catalyst for thought and conversation, I know I have talked with my friends around campfires talking about what is essential to ourselves. It is amazing what ideas surface. I invite your suggestions and thoughts.
Dennis Wise Camping