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Survival in nature is not all about life and death situations. If planning your equipment and clothing for personal comfort and convenience adds to your enjoyment of an excursion, they become additional benefits derived from learning about survival in the wild.

An emergency preparedness (survival) kit is an item to be carried while exploring on foot; whether you are engaged in a recreational activity or in coping with a survival problem, this simple, essential kit can make or break you.

The most important factor in an emergency preparedness kit is that the kit contains what you need to take care of YOU until help arrives. The most important things are those things that can be used for many purposes. Single-purpose items usually are not very important.

The key to this kit is to improvise and think about possible problems before they occur. Keep the things in your kit small and keep it with you. The best kit in the world can’t help you if you left it in the glove compartment of your car or back at camp. A basic kit will fit in your pocket within a band-aid box or a similar metal or sealed plastic container. The following are some suggestions and possible uses for various items. You can probably think of many more. Plan your kit well. Make it your own and tailor it to your needs.

The temptation may be to buy a ready-made one and some of these have some very useful items, but they are more expensive and can be quite dangerous. You will think you are prepared, but then if it comes to using it, you may not know what to do with the items. In an emergency situation, you will not want to sit down and read a “how to” booklet. On the other hand, if you plan your emergency preparedness kit yourself, the odds are that you will be thinking about how to solve a problem, not “what in the world is this thing for?”

Most items are easy to find in a drugstore or in a camping and backpacking store. A good deal of the items can be found around your home.

1. A Knife- sturdy 2 bladed. A Boy Scout variety is best because it is multi-use.
2. Several large leaf bags for instant body shelter from the sun or cold weather. Retail stores do sell convenient solar blankets that will provide the same protection. They come neatly folded into small packages and are inexpensive. This is one instance where store bought is superior.
3. A small signal mirror.
4. A dependable magnetic compass and the ability to use it. Don’t wait to be lost in the desert to try to learn how one is used.
5. Matches- 12 or more. Buy waterproof ones or waterproof them yourself by completely coating each match in wax or paraffin.
6. A police-type whistle.
7. A small magnifying lens.
8. Heavy thread -100 feet of 8 strand for snares, shelter building, repair, and improvised clothing.
9. Water purification tablets - at least a dozen. The iodine type is much more dependable than halazone. Keep them dry. The iodine type can also be dissolved and used as an antiseptic.
10. Aluminum foil for signaling. Aluminum can also be used for making into a cup or pot.
11. Razor blade - single edge.
12. Adhesive tape – for first aid purposes, clothing repair, tying, cactus removal.
13. Balloons - several large, bright-colored ones for carrying water, signaling. Protect them against heat by powdering them and rapping them in newspaper. Replace frequently as balloons will dry out.
14. Flint and steel - Practice using these to start a fire. This is something you must know how to do before you need to use them.
15. Candle stub - For drying out damp timber or for light. Wrap in foil and newspaper to prevent from melting in desert heat.
16. Pencil stub - Help rescue parties by leaving notes if you must move.
17. Cigarette papers - For writing on, for fire starting, and for trail markers.
18. Fish hooks for fishing.
19. Personal needs - such as medication.

Other items that can be carried on a person are a belt knife, a good map of the area, thirty feet or so of strong nylon cord, a canteen, a watch, and a firearm with ammunition if you are trained in its use. Consider carrying your gear in a small backpack. Weight carried in this manner is less tiring.

Put together this emergency preparedness (survival) kit before you need it. Even if it’s never used, it’s something you must have.