Are you an avid exerciser? Do you like to go out hiking, mountain biking, or any other exercise that can take you away from civilization?
I do too. There’s something freeing about being in the great outdoors, with no cell phone signal and therefore no interruptions. It’s a great feeling—but it comes risks.
Most of those exercises could be labeled“extreme sports,” and there is danger involved. What will you do if the worst happens, or you get stranded out in the middle of nowhere? Or hurt with no emergency care nearby? If you only have snacks and a bottle of water, you could be in serious trouble very quickly.
The Failed Biking Trip
A few years ago, my younger brother got into mountain biking. He planned some trips up into the Appalachian Mountains, and he wanted me to join him. It had been a few years since I’d done any serious biking, but I thought, “Sure, why not?” Because my current bike was an old street bike, he and I swung by some Charlotte bike shops to find a better one. I bought a new bike and away we went.
Four hours into our bike ride, I hit a rough patch of trail and went down. It was bad. I won’t get into all the gory details, but suffice it to say that my arm was not looking good. All I could think about was that we were at least three hours away from any sort of help, and there was no way I’d be able to get anywhere with my arm the way it was.
Fortunately, my brother had thought ahead and brought a survival kit, attached to the back of his bike. He whipped a first aid kit out of there and went to work bandaging my arm as best he could. I’d broken it in the fall, so we had to splint it. We had to walk back. Four hours later, we made it to the hospital. A doctor set my arm and redressed my other wounds. Once healed, my arm was great, besides a little pain in cold weather. However, I know I wouldn’t have full mobility if my brother hadn’t been prepared for that crash.
Always Bring a Survival Kit
No matter where you are going, how short the trip is meant to be, or how many people there are, always bring a survival kit. If you are out of range for cell service, or in an area where service is sketchy at best, prepare for the worst. Even if it’s only a day trip or a half-day trip, be prepared—all it takes is ten seconds for an accident to happen. You don’t want to find yourself out of luck.
A survival kit doesn’t have to have a lot in it. The more you have, the heavier it will be, and you will have to lug that extra weight around. However, when it comes to your survival, it’s definitely better to over-prepare than under-prepare. But what should you include?
Survival Kit Items
There are 10 things that should be in any survival kit. These 10 items are the core of a survival kit. You can throw in more, but if you were left with just these 10 things, you would be okay.
First is a first aid kit. Your first aid kit doesn’t have to be big. All it needs is a few small items like bandages, adhesive tape, a small sewing kit in case emergency stitches is necessary, disinfectant pads, a bandanna, and antibiotic cream. You could also throw in some aspirin, ibuprofen, and salt. Maybe even some latex or rubber gloves to prevent infection. These items provide enough treatment to get to an emergency facility, where the professionals will be able to take over.
The second most important item for a survival kit is a multi-tool knife, like a Swiss Army knife. You want one with a big blade, scissors, and plenty of other tools for any possible scenario. The bigger the blade, the better. You can use these blades to cut wood, in a style called batoning. You can also use the blade if you catch an animal.
A ferrocerium rod and fire striker can give you all the tools you need to start a fire, once you collect the wood for it. You don’t need to rely on matches or the oil in a lighter; flint and steel is the most reliable way to start a fire. If you get lost, you will need fire and the warmth it provides to survive.
Also, fire can purify water. All you need to do is find water, put it in an appropriate bottle, and heat it over the fire. When the water boils for a full minute, it’s safe to drink (once it cools down), even if the color still has a dirty hue.
A large plastic trash bag and a space blanket can provide you with warmth and shelter if you get stranded for a few nights. This may seem like an unlikely possibility, but it could happen (and it does). These items are light and small, and they can save your life.
Not sure how the trash bag helps? Cut it open with the scissors from your multi-tool knife, and you’ve got one wall, possibly two walls or a roof, of a shelter.
A sturdy cord is useful for a lot of things. If someone in your party becomes delirious, you could use the cord as a link to another person so they can’t wander off. It could also help you set up a better shelter or climb down a small rock face to get closer to civilization. There are any number of situations you could use a cord, and it doesn’t have to take up much room in a survival kit. you could even weave a strong cord, like a parachute cord, into a design like a bracelet or a belt (you can find tutorials online); this will significantly reduce the amount of space the cord would otherwise take up.
Snare wire can provide you with food, if you’re stranded for a longer period of time. A survival manual can tell you how to prepare the wire to set a trap for an animal. A survival manual will also help you out in a number of other situations you could find yourself, whether it’s a first aid situation or stranded situation.
Finally, a compass and a flare can help you escape whatever situation you are in, whether you’re using your own skills with the compass, or alerting a search and rescue team with a flare.
Some Last Words
You can pack all of these items into a small bag, and attach that bag to a bike or toss it into the bottom of a backpack. The bag won’t take up much room, and it won’t weigh much. But you will be a whole lot safer with it. Don’t risk your safety while you’re out away from the city. Pack a survival kit.
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Assistant Ed: Katharine Spano/Ed: Bryonie Wise
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