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A survival kit is a package of basic tools and supplies prepared in advance as an aid to survival in an emergency. Military aircraft, lifeboat, and spacecraft are equipped with survival kits.

Survival kits, in a variety of sizes, contain supplies and tools to provide a person with basic shelter against the elements, help them keep warm, meet their health and first aid needs, provide food and water, signal to rescuers, and assist them in finding their way back to help. Supplies in a survival kit normally contain a knife (often a Swiss army knife or a multi-tool), matches, tinder, first aid kit, bandana, fish hooks, sewing kit, and an LED flashlight with batteries.

Civilians such as forestry workers, surveyors, or bush pilots, who work in remote locations or in regions with extreme climate conditions may also be equipped with survival kits. Disaster supplies are also kept on hand by those who live in areas prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters. For the average citizen to practice disaster preparedness, some towns will have survival stores to keep survival supplies in stock.

General contents

Shelter or warmth

  • Reflective "aluminized" (Mylar coated) space blanket or survival blanket to retain body heat (and signal)
  • Lightweight poncho for protection against wind and rain
  • "Tube tent" or bivvy bag
  • Tarp with grommets or tie-tapes (best if nylon or polyester)
  • Large plastic trash bag as poncho or expedient shelter roof
  • Mosquito net to keep off biting insects
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Knitted or fleece "watch cap" to insulate area of greatest heat loss
  • Magnifying glass for fire-starting
  • Ferrocerium rod (AKA "Metal match," "Hot Spark," "Firesteel," "Magnesium bar") and fire striker for fire-starting
  • Waterproof matches
  • Matches in waterproof container (include striker -- facing away from matches, if not "strike anywhere" matches)or melt candle wax all over your matches beforehand.
  • Butane lighter (won't work under freezing - carry inside clothing)
  • Hexamine fuel tablets (Esbit) or "heat tablets" for fire-starting
  • Cotton balls or pads smeared with white petroleum for fire starting (can be carried in 35 mm container or heat-sealed inside large diameter plastic straw)
  • Dark-colored (black preferred) shoe polish for fire-starting (also gives off an odor that can repel animals and insects, and can be used for marking and camouflage)


Health and first aid

  • First aid kit with bandages, sterile pads and gauze, first aid tape, tweezers, surgical razor, disinfectant pads, oxytetracycline tablets (for diarrhea or infection) and aspirin. Also keep an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses or contacts. Any material in the kit that may be damaged or rendered ineffective by water should be wrapped or sealed in plastic.
  • Antibiotic cream (also fire-starting)
  • Insect repellent
  • Hand sanitizer (also antibiotic and fire-starting)
  • Salt to maintain ability to perspire
  • Soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene products (also fire-starting)
  • Supply of personal prescription medications
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Epinephrine and antihistamines (example "Benadryl" diphenhydramine) for allergic reactions, primarily to insect stings
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen (30 SPF or more is recommended) for when clothing cover is not available
  • Polarized sunglasses (Protects eyes from glare, especially at sea, in the far north and in the desert)
  • Suture kit


Food and water

  • At least three days' worth of water ( - approximately ) per person per day: two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation/sanitation). Commercially bottled water is the safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, kept bottled in its original container and unopened. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends replacing water at least once each year.
  • Commercial water filter
  • Metal container to boil water
  • Mess tin to boil water and cook food
  • Iodine or chlorine tablets for emergency water purification if boiling or filter not available.
  • Table salt for food and also can be used for brushing teeth.
  • Collapsible (empty) water bags or containers (Often unlubricated condoms are used in place of commercial water bags)
  • Canned food, Ready-to-eat meals (MRE), or high-energy foods such as chocolate or emergency food bars. Hiking meals, such as dehydrated food, can also be used, but are not ready to eat - they require rehydration (water), but most are prepared in the bag rather than needing a cooking vessel. Canned foods heated in a closed can may explode.
  • Fishing line and gear (fish hooks, lures, and split shot leads)
  • Snare wire
  • Gill Net (for emergency fishing)
  • Tea, gum, and hard candy (as a morale booster)
  • Water Purification Tablets


Signaling, navigation and reference

  • Whistle - Inexpensive and easy: blow into it three times to alert rescuers.
  • Signal mirror - Learn how to use it in advance.
  • Chem light/glow stick - Should come with a string. Tie it on and twirl the chem light in a circle; this signal is highly recognizable to aircraft.
  • Flare - Three fires in a triangle is the international distress signal


Multipurpose tools or materials



Lifeboat survival kits

Lifeboat survival kits are stowed in inflatable or rigid lifeboats or life raft; the contents of these kits are mandated by coast guard or maritime regulations. These kits provide basic survival tools and supplies to enable passengers to survive until they are rescued. In addition to relying on lifeboat survival kits, many mariners will assemble a "ditch bag" or "abandon ship bag" containing additional survival supplies. Lifeboat survival kit items typically include:

Safety equipment



Communications and navigation

  • Compass
  • Distress beacons (EPIRBs)
  • Red flare, rocket parachute flare, and/or smoke signal flare
  • Radar reflector (to help rescuers locate the raft)
  • Lantern and fuel and/or searchlight
  • Radio transceiver,standard VHF marine and a optional amateur radio if a licensed radio amateur (see Ham Radio) or an AM/FM/Weather/Shortwave radio receiver
  • GPS


Food and water



Other tools and boating items



Military kits

Survival kits for military aviators are often modified according to the environment of operations:

  • In desert areas, survival kits may have more water and sunscreen, and have additional items such as shade hats, a compass, a whistle, medical equipment, tinder, matches, and sun glasses.
  • In tropical areas, a survival kit may have mosquito head netting, additional insect repellent, anti-fungal cream, a machete, water purification tablets, foot powder, matches, a flint strike, a compass, a wire saw, a space blanket, medical equipment (gauze pads, elastic gauze bandage, antiseptic creams, anti-malaria tablets, anti-infection tablets, bandages, etc.), salt tablets, a fishing kit, snare wire, extra socks, a candle, a signal mirror, flares, a sewing kit, safety pins, tinder, tape, a whistle, and rations.
  • In arctic or alpine areas, survival kits may have additional cold weather clothing (winter hats and gloves), sleeping bags, chemical "hand warmer" packets, sun glasses/snow goggles, snowshoes, a collapsible shovel, a snare wire for small animals, a frying pan, a camp stove, camp stove fuel, a space blanket, matches, a whistle, a compass, tinder, medical equipment, a flint strike, a wire saw, extra socks and a tent designed for arctic use.
  • For personnel who are flying over large bodies of water, a survival kit may have additional items such as flotation vests, fishing nets, fishing equipment, fluorescent sea marking dye, a flare launching gun and cartridges (and perhaps a revolver and tracer ammunition), a survival radio (e.g., an AN/PRC-90), a distress marker light, seawater desalting kit, a raft repair kit, a paddle, a bailer and sponge, sunscreen, medical equipment, a whistle, a compass, and a sun shade hat.


The US Army uses several basic survival kits, mainly for aviators, which are stored in canvas carrying bags. Aviators in planes with ejection seats have survival kits in the seat pan and the survival vest (SRU-21P) worn by US helicopter crews also contains some basic survival items.

Mini survival kits

"Mini survival kits" or "Altoids tin" survival kits are small kits that contain a few basic survival tools. These kits often include a small compass, waterproof matches, a fishing hook and fishing line, a large plastic garbage bag, a small vial of bleach, a small candle, a jigsaw blade, an Exacto knife blade, and a safety pin. Pre-packaged survival kits may also include instructions in survival techniques, including fire-starting or first aid methods. In addition, parachute cord can be wrapped around the tin. The parachute cord can be used for setting up an emergency shelter or snaring small animals. They are designed to fit within a container roughly the size of a mint tin.

Vehicle kits

Another level in some preparedness plans are Vehicle Kits. In some cases, supplies and equipment may be loaded into vehicle such as a van or truck with bicycle racks and an extra “reserve” gas tank. Some survivalists also carry a small (e.g., 250 cc) off-road-capable motorcycle in the van or truck.

Food supplies in the bug-out vehicle include hundreds of pounds of wheat, rice, and beans, and enough honey, powdered milk, canned goods, bottled fruit, vitamins, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, salt, pepper, spices, and oil for several months. In addition, the kits often contain high-calorie energy bars, a cooking kit, utensils, liquid soap, and towels. The water supplies may include bottled water, filtering kit, bottles, collapsible water containers, and chlorine bleach for water purification. Food preparation and washing equipment may include items such as a grain grinder, a bread mixer, a strainer, a manual can opener, a steam canner with canning jars and O-rings, cutlery, knives, an electric 12-volt cooler icebox, kerosene lamps and heaters, kerosene or propane stoves, extra fuel, a clothes wringer, a foot-operated treadle sewing machine, and an electric hot plate.

The medical supplies may include a blood pressure gauge, stethoscope, scissors, tweezers, forceps, disposable scalpels, two thermometers (oral and rectal), inflatable splints, bandages, sutures, adhesive tape, gauze, burn ointment, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, rubbing alcohol, ipecac syrup, sterile water, cotton rags, soap, and cotton swabs. The transportation items may include bicycles with off-road tires, emergency tools and spare auto parts (e.g., fuses, fan belts, light bulbs, head light, tire pump, etc.), and an inflatable raft with paddles.

In addition, the kits may contain typical individual “survival kit” items, such as nylon tarps, extra clothes and coats, blankets, sleeping bags, matches (and/or other fire starting equipment), a compass and maps, rechargeable flashlights, toilet paper, soap, a pocket knife and bowie knife, a fishing kit, a portable camping stove, a power inverter, backpack, paper and pencil, a signaling mirror, flashlight, whistle, cable saw, bleach, insect repellent, magnifying glass, rope and nylon cord, pulleys, and a pistol and ammunition.

The communications equipment may include a multi-band receiver/scanner, a citizens band (CB) radio, portable “walkie-talkies” with rechargeable batteries, and a portable battery-powered television. The power supplies may include a diesel or gasoline generator with a one month fuel supply, an auto battery and charger, extension cord, flashlights, rechargeable batteries (with recharger), an electric multi meter, and a test light. Defense items include a revolver, semi-automatic pistol, rifle, shotgun, ammunition, mace or pepper spray, and a large knife such as a bowie knife.

Tools may include cutting tools such as saws, axes and hatchets; mechanical advantage aids such as a pry bar or wrecking bar, ropes, pulleys, or a 'come-a-long" hand-operated winch; construction tools such as pliers, chisels, a hammer, screwdrivers, a hand-operated twist drill, vise grip pliers, glue, nails, nuts, bolts, and screws; mechanical repair tools such as an arc welder, an oxy-acetylene torch, a propane torch with a spark lighter, a solder iron and flux, wrench set, a nut driver, a tap and die set, a socket set, and a fire extinguisher. As well, some survivalists bring barterable items such as fishing line, liquid soap, insect repellent, light bulbs, can openers, extra fuels, motor oil, and ammunition.

Natural disasters

The US government's Homeland Security website provides a list of in-home emergency kit items. The list focuses on the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and materials to maintain body warmth. The recommended basic emergency kit items include:

  • Water, at least one gallon of water per person for each day for drinking & sanitation (should be rotated every 3 months)
  • Food, non-perishable food for at least three days which is not required to be cooked or refrigerated
  • Emergency Food Bars, preferably the products with 2,400 or 3,600 calories and contain no coconut or tropical oils to which many people may have an allergic reaction, in addition to non-perishable food which does not require cooking or refrigeration
  • Battery- and/or hand-powered radio with the Weather band
  • Flashlight (battery- or hand-powered)
  • Extra batteries for anything needing them
  • First aid kit
  • Copies of any medical prescriptions
  • Whistle to signal
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off water valves
  • Can opener for canned food
  • Local maps
  • Spare Keys for Household & Motor Vehicle
  • Sturdy, comfortable shoes & lightweight raingear, hoods are recommended
  • Contact & Meeting Place Information for your household


Earthquake

Below is list of commonly recommended items for an emergency earthquake kit:

  • Food and water to last at least three to four days
  • Water purification tablets/portable water filter
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • A first aid kit
  • A minimum of $100 in cash, at least half of which should be in small denominations
  • Family photos and descriptions (to aid emergency personnel in finding missing people)
  • Copies of personal identification and important papers such as insurance documents, driver's license, etc.
  • A flashlight and radio (battery-, solar-, and/or hand-powered)
  • Extra batteries
  • Goggles and dust mask
  • A personal commode with sanitary bags


Hurricane

For hurricanes, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that the 'disaster bag' include:
  • a flashlight with spare batteries and
  • a battery operated portable radio (and spare batteries);
  • a battery operated NOAA weather radio (and spare batteries);
  • a "Self Powered Radio" and a "Self Powered Flashlight". One, "Eton" model has the Weather Band and it is "self powered". Some of these will keep your cell phone charged
  • First aid kit and manual;
  • prescription medicines (be sure to refill them once they expire);
  • cash and a credit card;
  • a cell phone with a fully charged spare battery;
  • spare keys;
  • high energy non-perishable food;
  • one warm blanket or sleeping bag per person;
  • special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members;
  • change of clothing.


Bug-out bags

The term "survival kit" may also refer to the larger, portable survival kits prepared by survivalists, called "bug-out bags" (BOBs), "Personal Emergency Relocation Kits" (PERKs) or "get out of Dodge" kits, which are packed into backpacks, or even duffel bags. These kits are designed specifically to be more easily carried by the individual in case alternate forms of transportation are unavailable or impossible to use.

These bags contain supplies such as food, water purification equipment, clothing, medical equipment, communications gear, and tools.

The Bug-out Bag is presented by many to be the first level of preparedness that anyone should put together, simply by virtue of its overall usefulness. As noted elsewhere, the man-portable kit can be used when you don't have to leave. It can be thrown into a vehicle when the situation allows you to drive away from the area. It also provides you with a kit that can be carried out of an affected area if the damage is too great, such as when found after a severe earthquake, to drive a vehicle over rubble or obstacles.

See also



References

External links




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