This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest by Sparrow
I have lived outside. Living outside is different than being stranded or in a survival situation, though the two can overlap. The best way to survive is to be prepared (preaching to the choir eh?) So, there are two circumstances where I have been in emergency situations. One while hiking up a mountain, and the second stranded in a car. Actually being in a survival situation makes one think differently about needs.
When I was planning my hiking trip – I originally thought I needed certain items, the typical stuff you’d expect for a three-day hike/camp trip. While actually hiking and getting stranded – I found certain things imperative to survival – and what I thought I might need were not the things that saved me. Tools – tools are necessary.
One does not know how long one will be in a certain survival situation, so having knowledge and being able to implement that knowledge in a real situation, with a bit of creativity, ensures a good outcome. A good idea is to go out for say 3 days (72 hours) with what you think you need for survival, and see what comes up. It will show you what you need, what you don’t need; what you do know, and most importantly – what you do not know and need to.
So in order to be around for the ‘zombie apocalypse’ one must survive until then. In this light I offer you…. Surviving being stranded.
On my way to hike Colorado Springs’ Pikes Peak, my car beautifully spun in a tight circle on the apparent black ice, only to land in a snow-covered field 80 feet from the road. It was dark, after midnight and I had not seen a car in hours. I did not see any lights. I was not sure if I could get out of the situation then, it was very cold. I had most of my needs met with the packed bag.
This type of situation happens much more often than a societal collapse. For real -
Things to always have in your vehicle:
- pocket-sized emergency blanket
- bottled water
- warm things – blanket, hat, mittens/gloves, socks
- a small mess kit or at least a pot & utensils, hot drinking cup
- first aide kit
- electrolite anything – jelly beans, emergenC, gatorade, etc
- protein food substance (think dehydrated chicken, or box of jello)
- trail mix with chocolate pieces or yogurt (is sometimes called “gorp”)
- dried fruit
- heavy-duty knife
- rope, string, duct tape
- large stainless mixing bowl
- some old paper grocery bags or newspapers
- lighter, matches
- yak tracks (http://www.yaktrax.com/product/pro)
- A pocket-size emergency blanket has so many invaluable uses, everyone should have one or two – it can add warmth, you can put it against a broken window in your car, use as a wind breaker or wind break, make a tent out of it (I did this once while injured and stranded on a mountain), protection from rain like a poncho, use it as a reflector for a fire, for privacy, for a sun guard, water catchment, it is bright and shiny and can draw attention if you are stranded…. There are more uses – use your imagination. I would not go without the tiny packed emergency blanket. I have used them many times. Fits in a pocket.
- Bottled water, warm things, mess kit, first aide kit – self-evident.
- Electrolytes – our bodies become dehydrated faster in extreme cold or heat – electrolytes quench thirst better, and calm the system. I prefer emergenC – important! (mix with the water, or eat intense sourness straight out of pack)
- Protein food source – I’m not sure where to get dehydrated chicken except the pet food store – pure raw chicken and it tastes great, add to water to make soup or eat as is. In H.S. track, our coach had us downing dried jello packets for energy and stamina – if you love sugar you will love this. I don’t, but its cheap and protein, so are boullion packets. Nuts work too.
- Gorp, dried fruit – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into this stash traveling. It gives energy and tastes great, you can make your own; eat it straight out of the bag.
- Heavy duty knife – another invaluable tool. I’ve been using both the Cuchillo del Monte Spanish Army survival knife, and a Kabar USMC knife, but I just found the Gerber 31-000751 (http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-31-000751-Survival-Ultimate-Serrated/dp/B003R0LSMO). It’s a full tang blade with a good thick grip, has a fire starter, sharpener, holes for attaching like a spear, and is waterproof. These type of knives are great for – cutting wood, opening things, hunting, protection.
- Rope, string, duct tape – You cannot imagine what all you would use these for until you need them. They do not take up much room, so worth putting in the emergency pack.
- Pack – in case you need to haul out – also keeps all of the above together in one place.
- Large stainless mixing bowl – used as a sled for gear, wood, etc. (use duct tape and rope to make a harness for pulling it), also use bowl as fire pit on ice and snow, can boil snow or water in it for purified water, it makes a soft pack hard on one side, use as dry seat, and takes almost no extra room in pack (i took this on the above mountain hike – used it as fire pit, seat & sled.) Could use for same in stranded car situation, make smoke signals too
- Paper and firestarters for kindling and starting a fire in emergency.
- Yak tracks – these are treads you put on your shoes that help walk on snow and ice. I fell down many times while hiking in the snow and slush, my own hiking boot treads would not hold, but now I have Yak tracks and can hike anywhere. These are awesome! They fold up tiny and slip over your shoes. Great if you get stranded and need to hike out in the snow or ice.
Most of the above (except food stuff) can also be used in injury situations – duct tape, extra socks, cut wood, can stabilize some injuries.
Things I Wished I’d Had at the time:
Water purification tabs or system – sometimes its impossible to carry enough water to keep hydrated; or it freezes and another water source is available. I now have these in my pack, as this did happen to me, it was not pleasant.
Things I did not use in my survival situations:
- Extra clothing except for thermals – just too much of a burden in that situation to change fully, and wearing the same clothing for a couple of days is not a problem. Takes up a lot of room in the pack also, adds weight if hiking.
- MRE’s – too inconvenient at the time due to the lack of water. I ate mostly the dried protein and snacks. Sometimes starting and keeping a fire is not possible or takes too much energy vs. need. Otherwise, its good to have at least one or two on hand.
- Make sure all the survival needs are met – safety, water, shelter, warmth, some emergency food items. Important!
- Nice things to have with, not necessary
- toilet paper and paper towels – uses obvious
- extra-large black plastic bags – ground cover, waterproof protection, heat absorption from sun – fill bag with water and keep in warm sun – will provide warm rinse water.
- MRE’s – if you have lots of water and a fire; these are great.
- hand warmers – for keeping warm at night; can put in pockets to warm integral parts.
- extra sets of clothing, towel, swim trunks
- a tarp or tarps – protection from rain and so many other uses.
- hand crank flashlight/radio (cool and batteries never run out – had it happen)
I guess I’m suggesting to use your imagination when thinking of things to use for survival. These are the basics I use as survival items in my car, and for hiking. They also make for a pretty good 72 hour bag (called in some places bug-out bag).
I’d really like to hear your ideas.