By Joseph Parish
We all have some sort of an idea what we would take with us if we were going to be stranded on a deserted island well you could look at the concept of survival preparation in the same light. As Y2K approached, I was determined not to take any chances and I was determined not to be forced to live a life of a pauper if events turned to the worst. I went out and purchased a 33-foot motor home just for Y2K. Stocked it properly with various foods including shrimp in the can, crab meat in the can and lobster in the can. As I said, I was going out in style. Several gallons of wine was purchased and stored within the motor home. In addition, I placed the normal array of survival foods and items in it. As the final hours rolled near I filled, the water tanks with fresh water and sat down to watch TV.
Fortunately, nothing bad happened and life went on as before. I mention this so you can get a better idea of what being prepared is all about.
An experienced survivalist or outdoor enthusiasts will fully be aware of what basic essentials they would need to survival should our infrastructure crumble and fall. These ten essential are your basic items. These items cannot be fashioned in the field from materials lying around and the idea that you could be caught without them in an emergency could prove fatal.
Many groups of people have their essential ten lists including the boy scouts, Mountaineering groups, boaters, etc however, in general the list remains very similar. It appears that most of the groups tend to incorporate the same items. Although I submit this basic list, keep in mind that it is not cast in stone. Survivalists must determine for themselves what items they consider important.
1. Whether you are a camper, biker, hiker or whatever a Map has to be considered one of your essential items. Generally the least you should have is a map of the area where you are immediately located. This map should be detailed enough to enable you to locate man-made items such as trails, power lines, unimproved roads, etc., and it should have marked natural features such as hills, streams, rivers hills as well as any other possible terrain that would enable to find your way around.
A U.S Geological Survey Topographical map has just about all of the above features plus more. For get an index to topo maps within your home state contact: U.S. Geological Survey, Map Distribution Section, Federal Center, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225; (303)
236-7477. A 365 page book titled, The Map Catalog, (Every kind of map and chart on Earth and even some above it), is available from: High Country Enterprise, P.O. Box 746, Saguache, CO 81149; (719) 655-2432.
2. The next item of importance has to be a compass. When you consider that, a map without a compass is really quit useless. I actually have two - one for personal use and one for the BOV. For my personal use, I prefer the liquid filled “Silva" or "Suunto" compasses. These two have straight edges that prove useful when plotting coordinate bearings. Avoid the military style compasses as they have several dangerous downfalls. They are usually much more bulky and do not have a clear base which makes map reading extremely difficult. With both your map and a reliable compass, you can successfully line up the map by lining up magnetic north with the compass and then plot your plot your course.
3. For our third item of choice, we have chosen a flashlight. Make sure that your flashlight does not have an “easy” switch - one that turns on much too easily and causes the batteries to die. I personally use several types of flashlights. I have the LED flashlight run by batteries of which I have taken and purchased rechargeable style batteries. This way they can be readily charged via several different ways. Attach it to the auto cigarette lighter or by way of a solar battery charger. A good trick is not to place batteries into the flashlight until you know you will need it.
My second flashlight is a wind up unit where you crank the handle for several minutes and then the battery ids good for about 20 minute’s or so. Many people remember to bring a flashlight but they completely forget the spare bulb and spare alkaline batteries just in case.
This next item may sound a bit foolish but consider being stuck out in a snowfield and you will appreciate it. It item is nothing more then Sunglasses. These can easily be purchased in the dollars store for you guessed it one dollar. They are cheap glasses but for an emergency, they will work fine. Generally, today the modern sunglasses stop 99 percent of ultraviolet light. The Polycarbonate lenses that have the wrap around design will provide more protection against wind and side glare. In the event that you anticipate a very snowy condition, you may want to consider Glacier glasses. These are generally recommended for snowy conditions. They have polarized lenses with leather side that block out side glare. Be sure to buy some retaining straps at the time you purchase your sunglasses.
5. When preparing to Bug Out always consider extra food and water. The length of the trip determines the amount of water you bring and the temperature and physical demands placed upon your body. Water should be used as needed and never rationed out. This is based upon the theory that if your body requires water, it needs it now not several hours from now! It may be a good idea to maintain water purification tablets in your BOV as this may help you make use of other water sources. In regards to food, you never can go wrong keeping some extra cans of tuna fish in the BOV. If available, you could eat the normal trail food mixes at regularly scheduled intervals to supply the body with energy.
6. The additional clothing, which you bring, is determined by the weather and the time of year. A windy summer may only require only a poncho for rain protection and a light nylon windjammer for possible cold. Once again, if you visit the local “Dollar Tree” you can purchase of package of three parkas for only a dollar. These can be kept permanently in your BOV. I also take a backpack and have my grandson pack emergency clothes in it. The backpack is the left in the van and exchanged once per month. We always maintain a sleeping bag in the van as well as several fleece and wool blankets. The unopened metallic type space blanket takes up very little room and is included in the BOB just for safety measures.
7. Number 7 is calls for matches. I always considered the commercial waterproof matches as a bit on the expensive side but I have another article elsewhere that tells you how to make your own waterproof matches at a fraction of the cost for the store bought ones. I like to maintain a selection of normal strike anywhere matches large selection of throw-a-way cigarette lighters and several of the propane “clickers” in the BOV. There are small quantities of the waterproof matches stored in a waterproof container such as an empty plastic 35mm film container for those dire emergencies. Although I do not have them yet those flint/magnesium bars on key chains are good back-ups should you lose your matches or lighter.
8. We have included a pocketknife as the number eight item. Among other uses, the pocketknife can be used in first aid, for food preparation, and can aid in fire building. As long as you have a knife you can make fire. Striking steel on a flint like rock produces sparks that will catch fire if carefully prepared kindling and tinder is setup properly. A more elaborate version of the pocketknife may contain a treasure of useful tools such as saws, scissors, awls, can openers, tweezers, screwdrivers, awls, etc. Once again an inexpensive version is available in the “Dollar Tree” stores. We have one for every member of the family.
9. A first Aid Kit is essentially a collection of many items usually they contain various band-aids, a bottle of iodine, chemically cold packs as well as personal prescription drugs. No commercial first aid kit is right for everyone; it will be your responsibility to customize your kit to suit you and your family. I have a regular first aid kit case however since I have a miniature pharmacy in it, I have considered going to something a bit larger. A small version with just several bare necessities in it could easily be stored in a BOB by placing the most needed items in a Zip Loc zipper bag so everything is protected from the elements. In addition to the usual collection of gauze pads, band-aids and the Steri-Strips, I have also included items such as spray and wipe on insect repellent, several cans of sunscreen, an assortment of chap sticks, several tubes of antibiotic ointments, Both buffered and non-buffered aspirin, Several packages of over the counter items like Benadryl and Actifed. I have also found the following items to be very useful: a needle (usually contained in the sewing kit), several ace bandages, tweezers, a small needle-nose pliers (Usually contained in the fishing kit) and insect bit remedies like Calamine
10. The last item that I consider to be extremely important in my BOV is a laptop and my selection of survival CD’s. Every time I come across survival information, I place it on a CD and cross-reference it. In the event that I have to leave the immediate area in a hurry, I always have my survival information at the tips of my fingers.
Although not listed in the top 10 items there are several additional items that may truly be needed in your BOV or BOB. These include several rolls of toilet paper wrapped in a plastic bag, an signal mirror of some sort, fifty feet of strong parachute cord, fluorescent tape for marking trails, signal flares and my wife’s all time favorite Duck tape.
You can usually pack your kits and supplies in a number of ways however; I have found that Rubbermaid totes work great. I have written another article on the use of the Rubbermaid totes for BOV’s.