We have all heard the statement, “be prepared” But what does that mean exactly?

It could mean anything from selecting the right tent for the weather when camping to having enough food to sustain your family in a multiday crisis. It could mean deciding on the type of knife you will have with you or the right flashlight that will suit your present and future needs.

But to “be prepared” is so much more than the individual items isn’t it? Being prepared is almost a shopping list for a recipe of something you don’t know what you are cooking. That can be kind of hard to do say the least, not to mention overwhelming.

Okay, so let’s make it easy, or at least easier to “be prepared”

When selecting gear, it’s a good idea to work backward from a worst case scenario survival situation. Think about what you would need to survive if the worst case happened. This would be your “first line” equipment which you should carry with you at all times. It should enable to address the basic principles of survival relevant to the environment.

Let’s break this down a bit into specifics!

A possible environment you might be in could be walking down a city street. Ask the question, “If an earthquake happened right now, what would I need to help myself be safe and then potentially help others?”

Another possible scenario could be an unexpected fall while hiking in a remote area.

With the correct items on hand, quite a bit of risk can be mitigated and your safety can be maintained. The best part, nearly all of the items can fit in a small tin that can easily be carried in a pocket or purse. There are some great suggestions on contents of a survival tin. I have included just a few for some ideas to get you going.

Fire, light, signaling and heat

·         Fire source: butane lighter, matches, tinder and sparker (or processed flint and striker) or "life boat matches" and striker board, or special fire capable of burning in cold and wet environments.

·         Signal device: processed flint and striker, LED micro light, small mirror, or survival whistle

Food and water procurement

·         Fishing line: (30 feet (9.1 m) to 100 feet (30 m) or all that will fit on a bobbin)

·         Assorted fishing hooks: "split shot" lead balls, snap swivels

·         Snare wire: copper or brass wire is best for workability without tools or steel 'trip wire' or utility wire for durability

·         Dental floss: for any uses that rope might be helpful; lightweight and strong.

·         Water purification bag: small capacity plastic bag, 10 US fluid ounces (0.30 l), to keep tinder dry or for water storage/transportation

·         Food/energy source: glucose tablets, bouillon, tea bags or hard candy

·         Water purification source: fire plus a tin for purification or chemical purification means; Potassium permanganate or bleach for chlorination


First Aid

 ·         Non-lubricated condoms. They are capable of expanding to store a large quantity of water.

·         Potassium permanganate or iodine tablets: wound treatment/water treatment/antiseptic

·         Scalpel or X-acto blades: minor surgery and fine work

·         Plasters/bandages

These are just a few items that can fit into a compact space. They are small but extremely powerful in helping you in a critical condition or powerful in helping others.  One of the best resources available is CERT training or other survival training schools. Find items that best suit your geographic location and training that is available to you.

Remember, in the case of survival, you are the first line of defense. With the right products at your disposal, practiced training, and creativity, you can create a great kit that can be used for many situations.

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Written by Gus Thunberg — August 13, 2013

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