In this article I will cover items in your survival cache that will help you stabilize the incident you find yourself in. These items will be the gear and equipment that assists you in keeping a bad situation from getting worse. It won’t solve all of your problems but it will help you and your family from getting yourselves in a deeper hole. Remember the mission of this survival cache:
“Safely store sufficient essential survival gear and equipment to use as a basis to survive as I acquired additional survival gear and equipment.”
In the previous article in this series, Survival Cache to Stay Alive & Start Over – Part #1, I went over the basic premise and concept of the survival cache. I outlined its mission and how to make decisions on what goes in it and why. I briefly went over the L.I.P.S. <click here to read more> concept of preparedness. And finished up by providing details on items to satisfy the first priority which was Life Preservation / Safety.
#1 – #4 Items – Yup, it all has to do with starting a fire. And with that fire you can create warmth, and with warmth you can keep from freezing to death. I have two different types of matches; waterproof and storm-proof. Why two? I never count on only one type/brand to work 100% of the time. It’s the old “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” concept. Use any type brand of these matches you wish. The ones I chose came out of my storage that I had on hand. I threw the fire sticks in there to assist in getting a fire going. In the desert southwest you can end up in areas that have plenty of dead twigs but no fine fuels such as grass; this just gives me a an edge. I use a magnesium fire starter kit rather than flint and steel in this situation due to the fact that I want every advantage I can get when trying to start a fire. I also through in four cotton balls; seldom would you use these in a 1st aid situation. However, removing your make-up could be an issue I guess depending on your situation. But, you take a cotton ball, put some of the hand sanitizer on it and you have a very fast fire starter. Well, only if you have an alcohol based hand sanitizer, and you should for this kit.
#5 & #6 Items – This is the shelter part of meeting you basic survival needs. Yup, the hooded poncho is part of that, and yes you need this, even in the desert. Rain is usually colder than the surrounding air and/or it has a cooling effect on the body. So keep the rain off your body and clothing and you will help prevent your body cooling to an unsafe level. Now, if it is 90+ degrees and it begins to rain it just might feel really nice. I chose a cheap version of a poncho to keep the package small. If you are in a time of year that you don’t expect rain DO NOT throw this away. You can use it to help build a solar still, create a distraction for bad guy pursuers, etc.
The tarp is to create a barrier between you and the elements. It might be something like the 100° sun beating down on you, or a pouring rain storm, or snow coming down quick. In any event, you will probably need some kind of shelter protection. You can get whatever color you wish; I would encourage you to use a color that matches the surroundings in which you will find yourself.
#7 Item – I almost included this in the last group covering shelter; and it would be appropriate. This item is pretty much for a summer season for all areas of the country and add spring and fall for the desert southwest. And most of winter as well. No, you don’t want to be working on your tan during a survival situation. Sun stroke is not pleasant and sun burns can be debilitating. You can end up very very sick from a sunburn; chills, dehydration, pain, etc. If you have no hat with you, and you haven’t created head protection, then remember to use sunscreen on your head as well. Consider using the highest SPF rating you can find. And a “sports” version that resists sweat and water is always a plus. And please, please don’t get a sunscreen that smells like a Caribbean beach fruit! If you are trying to hide, that smell will be a dead giveaway to any bad guys in the area.
#8 Item – First, the packet of tuna that I chose has a 3-year “use by” date on it. I chose tuna due to its high protein value. The 6.4 ounce packet I chose has 3 servings, each serving has 25% daily requirement of protein. If you space each serving out over 3 hours or so, you can keep up a fast pace and keep feeding your biological furnace. If you have to hold-up somewhere and you need energy to keep warm, there is another food item in kit for that. And yes, this is one of those items that the spork comes in handy for. If you never rotate your kit contents, no fear! Use the expired tuna for snare bait. But me, I would eat the tuna even a year past its “use by” date.
#9 Item – The beloved paracord!! But not just any paracord – 550 paracord <click for more info>. What I want you to use is the full-blown real 550 paracord. It is called that because the “550” part refers to the pound rating of break strength of the cord. Commercial paracord can be made in whatever manner the manufacturer wishes and who knows what strength rating it has. I want you to have the best 550 paracord. I chose 20” because it would meet most of my needs to string up a shelter using the tarp, or setting snares, or getting creative with pursuit dissuading. I think I will do another thread soon on the different uses of paracord and that might be very informative. If you notice I weaved it together. There are many ways to do this, and its purpose is to reduce the overall length for storage and transportation. But it must be quickly deploy-able while not getting tangled. The way I store it, you just pull one end and it deploys as fast as you can pull it without getting tangled and without needing “uncoiled” to get the kinks out. Consider buying a color that matches your environment; I purchased a spool (300’) of desert color (multicolor actually).
#10 Item – Simple cotton balls. These take up very little space and are great for using to assist in starting a fire. Put some alcohol based hand sanitizer on them and voom! I suggest using one at a time and saving the others for when they are needed.
Note: My favorite, most sure way of starting a fire is with a Bic lighter. However, I think it is impractical for a cache due to the potential for leaking or otherwise becoming unusable. The methods mentioned above are more stable for a cache situation.
So here ends the second category of your basic survival cache items. Get creative, add some other items, take away those you don’t need. Think it through, make it right for you. Most of all, do something! Your survival kit might not help you every time; but not having one ensures that nothing will help you.
Better to have resources and not need them, than to need resources and not have them.
In the next article I will go over the second category “Property Conservation” : Survival Cache to Stay Alive & Start Over – Part #3
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