When you’re spending a lot of time in the wilderness, you will someday experience a few emergencies. Even the most innocent and planned outings are potential survival situations. That fishing trip can turn nasty for all the wrong reasons and your day hike may find you sleeping under the stars with a busted knee. Always keep a minimal what-if emergency kit. We can anticipate a few of these and try to stock up on water and food, even ammunition in case of an emergency.
With a few tricks and tools, a survival mind-set, you increase your odds of staying alive and being found. Here are some items you may not have given a thought, but which could be useful and may even save your life:
7 Things that Could Save Your Life
Weather proof / water proof / storm proof. Apart from a matchbox, it could also be a lighter, magnifying glass (can be used to burn dry leaves or papers under bright sun), flint stone, few extra strips of matchbox strike edge and few small pieces of dry wood. Almost anything can be used for burning, but starting a fire is the most important step. These could save your life by helping you make a fire to provide shelter to yourself, bring your body temperature to normal and keep the wild animals away.
Believe it or not, but this can save you from hypothermia if you’re in the sea, or you’re somewhere cold. Here’s how - The air bubbles in this normal packing material create and insulating shield that bounces back body heat to keep you warm. Research also shows that a sheet of bubble wrap was about seventy percent as effective as three layers of cotton blankets for insulating a person. And considering it is made out of plastic, it is even more effective in the wind and rain!
If you don’t have one, you can make it on your own. You’ll need a needle (or a piece of wire) and a piece of cloth made out of silk or wool; rub the needle from eye to point for a bit and then place it on a leaf and let the leaf float on water with the needle on top of it and watch the needle first adjust itself, and then point north.
Reading that again? Yes, it’s right! Condoms can be a lifesaver. These can truly provide you with food, fire, water, and shelter when you most need it in the wild. Condoms are thick and strong enough to make very decent water storage containers and they can burn well due to latex - they light up in an instant, and it makes perfect tinder for getting a fire started and going. Condoms can be used as a rope to tie up a tarpaulin for shelter.
Basic First Aid Techniques
Basic first aid is a good life skill to have in general, but it becomes essential survival skill in case of an emergency in the wilderness.
- In most cases, we would ignore small cut, however always keep them clean and watch for infection. If you can’t stop the bleeding, your last resort is a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood.
- For bone dislocations, you need to get it back in place. For shoulders, rolling on the ground or hitting it against a hard surface will help reset the bone. Kneecaps can be popped back in place by stretching your leg out and forcing it into the socket. For fractures, you will need to find a material to create a splint - a couple sticks will do the trick. Stabilize the fractured bone with the sticks and tie them together with shoelaces to hold the brace in place.
- For burns, remove any clothing and run some lukewarm water over the burn or coat it in honey if it's available. Wrap the burn loosely with a wet piece of clothing. Keep the wound elevated whenever possible and do not open any blisters that may have formed.
Whistle and Multi-Purpose Knife
Buy high pitched whistles and it’s a great idea if all the members in the team could carry the same sounding whistles (if not then do get acquainted with the different sounds). Within a team you can also devise a whistling system in case of emergencies to call out for help. A standard 16 function Victorinox Swiss Knife will help you get through nearly all possible emergencies. Among other things it has a tiny screw driver, tweezers, scissors, bottle opener, pen and a pin.
Carry basic stuff like medicated tape, water purifying tablets, pills for common ailments like stomach infections, fever, headache and body-ache, clean cotton balls, small plaster roll, pain relief spray, etc. Sometimes, in case of emergencies you might be able to use one thing in multiple situations.
We live in a technology-driven world and most people wouldn't know how to find their way around without their smartphones or cook a meal without a stove or microwave. Modern innovations have made once difficult tasks simple and it's hard to trust ourselves to know what to do if we were without 21st century amenities. Chances are you will never face an emergency; but if you do, stay calm and enjoy the experience, apply your basic human instincts, and you will survive.