What Do I Need In A Survival Kit?
In any emergency scenario, your goal is to stay alive. In most survival situations where people die, it is because of either hypothermia (cold) or hyperthermia (heat).
If you don't keep control of your core body temperature, your body will quickly fail you. It is critically important to maintain your body temperature at a normal 98.6 degrees.
Sounds simple enough. How do I do that?
Within your survival kit, the most important thing you can have is the ability to create fire. When choosing components for your own kit, you want to make sure you have multiple ways of starting a fire. Do not rely on only one method - if one fails you, have a back-up method.
The next step in maintaining core body temperature is to have a shelter. In survival kits, shelter can be as simple as a garbage bag, a plastic tube tent, an all weather blanket set up as a lean to, or a full fledged tent that's lightweight and easily packable.
When it's raining, windy, snowing, sleeting, or just plain too hot out, you want to have something that will block the effects of weather and the sun. Staying out of the weather gives your body the relief it needs to keep you warm or cool.
Take the shelter component of your survival kit seriously. This will be what you sleep in and live out of for the duration of the event. While a garbage bag is good for a quick get-out-of-the-rain item, planning for longer term should be what you're after.
A tube tent provides a temporary shelter from the wind and precipitation. While we recommend this when preparing for a short emergency, it is not designed to last a very long time. A real camping tent is your best bet to have in your emergency stores. Just be sure to get one that can be easily carried with you if you have to move.
Even if you keep water in your survival kit, it will eventually run out. In your planning stage, make sure to include a container you can use to fill with any water you find. Be sure to treat any water by boiling or by using water purification tablets. Your container should be metal for boiling and a good recommendation is to use a canteen cup or a 32 oz metal water bottle. Emphasis on metal because you will need to boil water and you need a metal container in order to do that.
If you are in a situation where rescue is needed, be sure to have some signaling devices. This can be your fire used a signal fire with smoke, a loud whistle for people to hear, any type of light, or you may need a signal mirror to flash an overhead aircraft, or a boat out in the water, or people on the next ridge over. Will you need a signaling device? You don't know what kind of situation you may find yourself in, so it's best to prepare and have it on hand anyway. If rescue is your only way out, then you'd definitely want something.
Carrying some cordage such as 550 cord or bank line gives you another tool to help you survive. This is important because you will certainly find a need for good strong cordage in a survival situation. You can fashion snares and traps, secure a better shelter, tie essential gear to your body, and it may be needed to affect your own self-rescue.
What else do I need in a survival kit?
Once you've taken care of staying alive by not freezing to death or overheating, you can then plan on including other tools and equipment that will make your life easier in a survival scenario. These wouldn't be absolute necessities, but they can help you make short work of other tasks. Conserving calories so you stay strong and alive should always be on your mind. If something can help you do that, then you should include it in your survival kit.