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Survival Kit


Words & Images Paul Donovan

You may be thinking that because you have a 4×4 and are carrying everything including the kitchen sink, you have no need to carry a survival kit. Well, you would be wrong.

The wilderness is the best place in the world to be – right up to the time that things go wrong, and it becomes a very dangerous place. Imagine having your vehicle catch fire when you are stranded in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and you aren’t carrying a fire extinguisher. How would you manage to survive after losing everything?

In our imagined disaster, we had put together a basic survival kit which we could have grabbed; a kit that covered all the elements necessary to survive in a disaster. We are not talking here about the contents of a small tobacco tin, but something a little more substantial.

What is a survival kit?

In a nutshell, a survival kit contains those items deemed necessary to help maintain life when the catastrophe happens.

Carrying a survival kit may give one a bit of a false sense of security − some people assume that, if you carry one, it will save your life. Yes, it may well do so; but only if you know how to use all those items and get the most from them. Being prepared to move out of your comfort zone also plays a major part in determining your chances of coming out alive.

Your survival priorities can be addressed by remembering the PLAN acronym:

  • P = protection
  • L = location
  • A = acquisition
  • N = navigation

In a survival situation, the five fundamentals of maintaining life are Food, Fire, Water, Shelter and Signalling/ Rescue. Some people also include First-aid as a sixth. How these individual elements are prioritised depends very much on the environment in which you find yourself.

Therefore, within the context of the five fundamentals above, we should also be aware of the Rule of ‘3’:

  • 3 minutes = the length of time we can go without oxygen
  • 3 hours = the length of time we can go without shelter
  • 3 days = the length of time we can go without water
  • 3 weeks = the length of time we can go without food

Obviously, it makes a difference whether you are on an icy mountain or in the middle of a desert, so the items that you choose to make up your survival kit should provide the necessities for survival in a variety of environments – a ‘do it all’ kit. When assembling a kit, look for items which have multiple uses. For example, an emergency space blanket can be used to keep you warm, can form the basis of a shelter, can insulate you from the ground, and can be used as a signal device. The more uses an item has, the more reason to include it.