Back in February of 2015 I posted a ramble on what it means to be a prepper, and, though I personally don’t consider myself to be one, how being prepared for emergencies just makes sense to me. In that same vein, I’ve recently been asked at various gun & knife shows about items for what is referred to as a “Bug Out” bag or kit which has sent me thinking.
As I mentioned in my previous ramble, I really don’t expect the government to suddenly go into a melt down leaving us stuck in some weird post-apocalyptic world straight out of a Mad Max movie or maybe Stephen King’s “The Stand”; but you don’t have to be that paranoid to see the advantages in a properly prepared emergency kit. Just as an example, let’s say you and your family are out camping in some area similar to the Nantahala Gorge area of North Carolina and you break an axle on your car. There’s no cell phone service in most of the gorge, and you could very well be looking at a hike of 30 miles or more to get to someone’s house where you might be able to convince them to let you use their phone. Or maybe you find yourself stuck in a bad winter storm like they say is going to hit most of the eastern seaboard tonight and you run off the road into a ditch out in the middle of nowhere. I can almost guarantee that EMS is going to be overloaded; and even if they’re not, no ambulance driver worth his name is going to go tearing around at 80 miles an hour during a storm like that! In either case you could easily find yourself stuck with only the things you have with you for anywhere from an hour or two to a couple of days, and then a bug out kit won’t seem so silly now will it? Well, okay, the name still seems a bit out in left field so let’s call it an emergency kit. When all’s said and done, that’s really what it is after all. But what should you have in your emergency kit? That’s the real question now, isn’t it.
Personally, I feel one should start with a first aid kit of some sort. Of course I’ve been in the medial field in one way or another for over 35 years now, so that may influence my thinking in some small way, LOL. Still, it does make sense to start with a first aid kit. After all, if you or some member of your party is hurt, that can seriously jeopardize any chance of survival; not only for the one hurt, but for the entire party as well. But what short of things should go into a good first aid kit? That depends in part on you, but only in part. For starters, a good first aid kit should be able to cover any possible injury you are likely to receive, which is what makes it depend on you. If you are a single person who never leaves the city, a small collection of band aids and a bit of Neosporin (or other antibiotic cream) might serve you just fine. However I suspect that particular type of person is not a regular reader of my rambles. No, what I suspect is that you love the out doors and are normally heading out on your days off with either your family or a group of friend to do some outdoor related activity, whether that be camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, or white water rafting. And if I’m right, then you’re going to need a first aid kit as rugged as you are. So what should you look for? Well for starters, forget band aids and dinky little 2inch x 2 inch gauze pads. About the only use you’ll have for them are to cover any splitters you might get unless you happen to have a small child in you group. Instead look for a kit that has a decent number of 4 inch square gauze pads as well as some rolls of gauze bandaging for when medical tape just ain’t gonna cut it! It wouldn’t hurt to have some bigger stuff as well, such as 8”x10” multi-trauma pads, plus a few triaglar bandages for when you need a sling or to tie together a splint. Another item would be some ace bandages for when someone sprains an ankle or twists their knee. Then there’s such things as handiwipes to clean off you hands, alcohol wipes for cleaning woulds, and the never to be forgotten triple biotic ointment. A decent pair of bandage scissors and maybe a pair of tweezers shouldn’t be sneezed at, but if you have a good EDC knife you could get away without them. Some pain killers are a definite must though, and it wouldn’t hurt to have some water purification tablets as well.
So, you’ve got your first aid kit ready now (or at least know what to look for), but what else should you have in this emergency kit? Well the fastest killer of people lost in the geat outdoors is hypothermia, and it doesn’t have to be winter for that to happen. All it really takes if for you to get wet when the temperature is on the cool side and have no way to get warm or to dry off. So in the interest of saving space and weight, I’d add either a “space blanket” or one the new biviacs based on that same material. Either one will give you something extremely light and easy to carry that will also keep you warm even when the temperature drops below freezing. For the same reason I would add either a good heavy fixed blade knife that could be used to bolide wood, a machete, or a good camp ax, a container of dry material that will serve as kindling, and either a bic lighter or water proof matches.
So now we’ve got a first aid kit to take care of any injuries, and a way to get shelter and a fire going; is that all we need? Not hardly my friend. There’s still such thing to consider as food, water, how to figure out where you are and which way to go if you need to hike out, a way to signal searchers if and when someone comes looking for you, and communications. However this ramble is starting to get a bit ling, so I’ll let you think about this a a bit and hopefully I'll see you next week in this little corner of mine here in cyberspace. Until then keep safe, and remember, anything worth doing should be done with attitude!