For many people buying a survival kit that is preassembled can save time and give a person a piece of mind but there are benefits to building your own custom kit. Taking the first step is often the hardest of even a simple task. Building your own custom survival kit is easy, it does not need to cost a lot or be done all at once. You might be wondering. What are the benefits of designing my own kit? What do I need? How can I get started? Let's get started right away.
Survival Kits 101
What do you need in your survival kit? A survival kit is a collection of items that will be beneficial when you find yourself in an unexpected or dangerous situation. A survival kit is not something that you will only use if there is a disaster or mass scale upheaval in your life or community. You will have these items available for use at any time but you must always make sure your kit is assembled and ready for use or transport if a major disaster should strike. The first step then is to decide what items you need and what these items need to accomplish. You will probably want your kit to do some of the following.
- Make your life more comfortable when unexpected things happen.
- Save your life in a disaster.
- Be available for use whenever a disaster or unexpected event occurs.
These will be the goals that we will design our kit around. First we must decide how we will organize these items. Where and how will the be stored? The bulk of the survival gear should be stored at your place of residence, where you live. The kit itself may be broken up into several parts. For example a primary part would be a kit stored in a movable water resistant or water tight plastic box in your home, secondary parts may be included in your vehicle and sometimes at work. Another part may be included in your pocket, purse or briefcase. In this article we will be discussing what to carry with you as part of your survival kit.
Obviously you wont be able to carry large bulky items in a purse or pocket, but could you include a few items that could save your life and have many uses, probably so. So, what kind of items should I carry in a pocket or purse? These suggestions are for a urban or populated rural setting. This would include most of the US. Here are a few survival gear items you should always have in your purse, or in some other way with you where ever you are.
- A small Flashlight . I recommend the small LED type flashlights that use "AAA" batteries or a small "AA" battery light. Get a metal (aluminum body) flashlight, not a plastic one. They will burn for many hours and will provide light to see if you are ever done in a dark place. The flashlight can also be used to signal others that you are there if the need arises. Keep in mind that others will be able to easily see you at night or in the dark with a flashlight. This may be great under many circumstances but if you feel that alerting others to your presence might be dangerous then using a flashlight at night should be kept to a absolute minimum and always pointed down and low to the ground if it is used at all. This light should be checked regularly to make sure the batteries are good. The batteries should be changed once every few months even if the light is not being used. Test your light in the dark and make sure it is bright enough to see and walk by in a place where it is very dark and littered with obstacles. Many small lights are not bright enough for this, so get a good bright light.
- A Whistle . A whistle is used to call for help. Yelling or screaming for help is very difficult over a long period of time so it is important to have a whistle. Whistles can be used to communicate your position and in the case of a family or other group they can also be used as a signal or to communicate basic messages. Blowing your whistle 3 times, pausing and blowing it 3 more times, pausing and continuing this pattern is a sign of distress to any rescue workers in the area. If you are trapped, injured or unable to blow for long periods of time save your energy and blow it occasionally, when you are not blowing listening for signs that people may be near and blow you whistle all you can at that time.
- A Cell Phone and Calling Card . A cell phone is probably already with you all the time. Make sure that your cell phone has important numbers saved in the contacts such as family and friends that you can contact in an emergency. Make sure it is always charged. Keep a car charger in your auto for your phone. A cell phone can save your life. Mountain climbers, hikers and campers have been saved on many occasions by the use of a cell phone. You can use a cell phone to contact police, fire and ambulance services any time that they are needed. After a major disaster your cell phone may not work because of local tower traffic or damage. That is why you also need a calling card. Sometimes it is possible to call long distance even when local telephone exchanges are tied up or unavailable. Have a person outside your calling area designed for every family member to call in a community wide or regional disaster where you are cut off from others. Coordinate family communication and actions through this person, set times for check in and situation updates, plan your actions and keep one another informed. Having a calling card will allow you to use any telephone including pay phones to make a long distance call to anywhere. Make sure your card has plenty of time on it.
- A Pocket Knife . A sturdy lock blade pocket knife. It should be large enough to get a good grip on with your hand and sturdy. Keep the blade sharp. This can be used to cut seat belt straps. Open packages or cans and many other improvised uses that may be critical to your survival in a major disaster.
- Small Medical kit . This should include aspirin (aspirin reduces swelling and should always be taken if you feel tightness in your chest or difficulty breathing. Antibiotic ointment and disinfecting towels, good quality fabric or water proof band aids, several butterfly closures (butterfly wound closures can be used to close deep wounds when stitches are not immediately available) and a pair of tweezers to remove splinters. Small hikers kits are available or assemble your own items.
If you frequent rural areas you may also consider
- Water Disinfecting Tablets . A small bottle of water disinfecting tablets makes water available from local natural sources much safer. They are small and easy to carry.
- A Lighter . This item can be used to start a fire to stay warm and for light. Use small tender dead stalky weeds or paper as the base of your fire, put small twigs on top of this, larger twigs on top of those, small sticks then larger ones, a large log or dead tree (that is on the ground not still standing) can be used as fuel or other large pieces of wood on top of this to keep the fire going and hot. Do not burn treated wood in a fire (the green looking wood used on decks and outdoor furniture)
These are some of the basic items you should keep with you all the time. There are many other items that could also be included according to your circumstances. The items here are basic to survival in a urban setting. The other greatest assets you can have are knowledge and friends. Learning more and building a large network of friends can both bevaluable when a disaster strikes. Other articles in this series will cover a auto kit and a home kit. The items discussed here will be useful on many occasions. Be sure to keep them with you and make sure that they work. In unexpected circumstances or a disaster these items can make the going a lot easier and they might just save your life.