‘Be prepared’ is the motto of the Scout Association and with good reason. A small amount of preparation can make all the difference in a survival situation and help shift the odds in your favour. How can you be prepared though if you don’t know what lies around the next corner? The answer is to carry a few basic items of equipment about you whenever you leave home. The following items can all be fitted into a small portable container such as a tobacco tin and carried in a coat pocket; each item may be of more use in some situations than others, but they are all versatile enough to have multiple uses.
1. Flint and striker
Flints have the advantage of working even when they are wet and provide an almost limitless source of fire. It is worth purchasing a more expensive type that comes with a steel saw striker, as this will make it much easier to get a fire started in challenging conditions.
Needles and thread are vital for repairing clothes or fabric based items of equipment in an emergency. A variety of needle sizes should be included to allow for the different widths of threads (or even sinews) that may be used in a survival situation.
3. Fish hooks and line
Fish provide an excellent source of protein but are difficult to catch using improvised equipment. Your chances of catching fish are much greater if you pack a small selection of hooks, fishing line and a few split lead weights. Small hooks are more versatile than big ones and can be used to catch fish of various sizes.
Matches are invaluable for making fire and are much easier to use than other methods. They can be made waterproof by dripping candle wax on the ends and can be split down the centre to double their quantity without taking up more space. Be careful not to leave matches exposed to the elements as they will quickly be rendered useless if soaked in water.
Candles provide a prolonged light and heat source, both of which are invaluable in a survival situation. A small candle can be fitted into your survival kit without costing too much in terms of space and weight.
A compass is a crucial piece of equipment for navigation. The most appropriate type for a small survival kit will be a liquid-filled button compass. Some types have a luminous face, making it easy to navigate at night. Check the compass periodically to make sure it is still serviceable and keep it away from magnets.
7. Guitar strings
Steel guitar strings are ideal for use as a snare wire. A couple of guitar strings should be enough to build a suitable snare for small to medium sized mammals.
8. Water sterilising tablets
In some areas it may not be possible to boil water in order to kill infectious microbes. Sterilising tablets can be used as an alternative to boiling water and are available from many camping stores.
9. Cotton wool
The large surface area of fibres provided by cotton wool makes it an excellent kindling material for building fires. It can also be used to protect other pieces of equipment or as a makeshift dressing for wounds.
A whistle can be used to raise the alarm or signal to other members of a group. The sound produced by a whistle can travel over several kilometres under the right conditions, allowing the use of Morse code as a means of communication.
11. Pocket knife
A small pocket knife is arguably the most important piece of equipment in the survival kit. It can be used for cutting plants, peeling vegetables and skinning animals. The versatility of a knife means that it warrants inclusion in any survival kit.
A pencil can be useful for recording important information (e.g. rough map sketches, times when medication was given, recording food intake, etc) and can also be used to keep a daily log of experiences, helping to maintain your morale.
13. Safety pins
Safety pins are ideal for making temporary repairs to clothes and fabric shelter coverings. With suitable bait attached, they can also be used as an improvised fishing hook.
14. Magnifying glass
A small magnifying glass can fit easily into your survival tin and be used to start fires by focusing sunlight to a narrow point. A magnifying glass may also function as a piece of first aid equipment, allowing wounds to be seen more clearly.
Plasters are ideal for dressing minor cuts and wounds. Pack a variety of different sizes and preferably choose a waterproof variety.
Once you have packed your survival kit, remember to check each item of equipment periodically to make sure it is still serviceable. If you are using a tin, seal the edges with waterproof tape and remember to take it with you on every excursion.
Find out more about how to become self sufficient in Backyard Liberty – chapter 6.
Let me know what are your most important items that YOU would place in your survival kit.
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