We have discussed several items of importance to include in survival kits (and will discuss more in the future). Let us start to consider putting together some kits. In particular, we will start with the most basic survival preparation, your Every Day Carry, or EDC, equipment.
To call this a ‘survival kit’ is a bit of a stretch; it is more of a ‘life kit’, which also has application in survival situations. The items are often things which you might use in ‘normal’ circumstances as well as emergencies. Generally these will NOT be in a kit container, but rather in your pocket or otherwise readily available for use. Although that does not mean that some or all of these CAN’T be in a kit, if that is what you need for your circumstances.
Remember our survival goals are to 1) alert rescuers to our circumstances and/or location, 2) ensure that we are alive to be rescued, and 3) strive to be in the best practical condition when rescued. On the other hand, our ‘life’ goals are to have what we need on hand to optimize our path through life. The overlap between these is a key area at which to direct our attention for EDC.
The first thing to have is a fully charged cell phone. Best for survival purposes is a ‘dumb phone’ which runs for several days on a charge, but ‘smart phones’ can be more useful in day to day life at the cost of battery life measured in hours. If your phone has a big, energy sucking screen, it would be wise to have a recharge capability with you. Choices would be a spare battery, an external battery, a solar charger or a ‘crank’ generator charger. Phones are a bit delicate, so it would be a good idea to have a protective case to protect against damage while carried or used, and a waterproof bag/pouch to store the phone in any time you might be near water.
Next is a medium to small sized whistle (http://wp.me/p3TYmc-1d). This is best located on a lanyard around your neck with a safety breakaway link. This actually is of little use in day to day life (unless you coach sporting events), but is one of the more useful items in an emergency. It is much more effective and takes less effort than screaming for help, plus might scare away a dangerous animal or even encourage a potential attacker to look elsewhere for a victim. It is included because of its usefulness not only in an emergency, but sometimes in preventing an emergency. Plus it is light, small and cheap.
To round out your signalling capability, have a small flashlight (http://wp.me/p3TYmc-1l). In addition to signalling in the dark, this will allow you to perform day to day tasks which require light or additional light. Plus, if you find yourself trapped in the dark, a source of light will be, at the minimum, of great comfort to you. You want a light which is small, but has a long battery life. The smallest practical light is the Photon Freedom Micro, powered by a watch battery or two. It has variable brightness, so potentially can run a long time at the lower brightness levels. It can be attached to a keyring or used as a zipper pull. If you need more light than the Photon, probably the maximum practical size is a light which runs on one AA battery, or one to two CR123 batteries. In any case, make sure you replace the batteries after using no more than half their estimated capacity (or carry a spare set with you). Another option is to have rechargeable batteries which you recharge regularly.
Next is a good. locking blade pocket knife (http://wp.me/p3TYmc-38). Every day, I use mine to open packages and a myriad of other uses. A cheap knife would probably be adequate for day to day use, but remember this is also for a survival situation, where your life is on the line and a good knife can make the difference between survival success and failure. Get the best quality you can. Saying this, I must admit that my EDC knife around town is one famed for its poor quality. Everything on it which can break without affecting its usage has broken or fallen off. It is battered and scratched and even a bit uncomfortable to hold. But the blade keeps right on cutting, not needing much sharpening and it is totally stable when open and locked. I actually have one of the best pocket knives for survival which I swap out whenever I’m planning to leave town, but it is just too pretty (and expensive) to goober up carrying in my pocket under normal (city) circumstances.
Fire is occasionally of use day to day (particularly if you work with paracord or other synthetic materials… or smoke). It is highly important in many survival situations, so having a way to start a fire is important (http://wp.me/p3TYmc-bY). Best for ‘everyday’ use is probably a small sized Bic lighter, although a few stormproof matches with striker or a spark system with tinder, should do if you ‘never’ need fire under normal circumstances.
The final ‘must have’ item is a bandana (http://wp.me/p3TYmc-c1). In day to day use, it is great for wiping away sweat or making a temporary basket for carrying small items, while in a survival situation it is very versatile, particularly for sun protection and first aid.
Other items you may want to consider include:
– a magnifying glass for reading fine print and starting fires. I carry a Fresnel lens in my wallet.
– 10 to 20 feet of paracord (can be woven into a bracelet, necklace or belt). A longer length would be better in actual survival kits, but this length should be adequate for EDC. This can be an emergency leash, belt, shoulder strap, tourniquet, or way to pull someone out of a hole in the ice. Plus, it can be taken apart to provide string.
– A multi-tool of appropriate size and tool selection for your circumstances. If big enough, with a good, one handed opening, locking blade, this could possibly replace the knife.
– If you wear glasses or contacts, a spare pair of glasses, and if contacts, a contact case. This way, if you need to take the contacts out for any reason, you have a place to put them, and a way to continue seeing clearly. I learned this the hard way during an unexpected trip to the hospital; the forms that night were no problem, but I was not able to read the forms for the surgery the next morning. Carrying full size glasses can be a annoying; consider getting a pair with compact and even folding frames to reduce the size.
– If you take any medications which would cause problems if you missed a dose, a few doses if practical.
– If you have any allergies or medical conditions which could become dangerous, a dose or two of whatever is needed to counteract the problem might be wise. An asthma inhaler, nitro tablets or an Epi-pen come to mind.
– A small folding toothbrush and a bit of floss. The ‘Flosscard’ is a neat way to carry some in your wallet.
– A few feet of duct tape wrapped around a small core or something else which you carry. Great for fixing things, attaching things and even as a bandage in an emergency.
– A tiny sewing kit (needle, thread, safety pins) for ‘wardrobe malfunctions’.
– A pair of earplugs.
– Anything else you use regularly, or find often find yourself needing but not having.
You could include a pocket survival kit (usually in a small metal or plastic box, or a ‘zip lock’ style vinyl bag) if you will be going anywhere near ‘out of town’. Carrying one of these around town would be a matter of personal preference.
What you carry will be based not only what you ‘need’, but what is allowed by your clothing/equipment carrying methodology, laws and company policies, and to some degree, convenience. Pockets are good; the more the better. Check out http://www.scottevest.com for a line of clothing with lots of pockets. Belt cases, ‘fannie packs’ or purses are options for some people. If you normally carry a backpack or computer bag, that also offers possibilities for EDC, although your odds of being separated from your stuff may be higher.