Thoughts on Survival Kit Basics

I attended the Primitive Skills Meetup tonight [] talking about Wilderness Survival Kits.

One of the attendees asked about a ‘rule of thumb’ for the size of a survival kit.

The unfulfilling answer was ‘it depends’. We discussed from an Altoids tin to a rucksack.

The ‘Rule of 3s’ was laid out in class and the kit was discussed in the context of fulfilling those needs.

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter/clothing
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food
  • 3 months without companionship

The first one was basically skipped as a survival kit isn’t really going to do much for helping you breath. Bring a life jacket in your kit? I guess you can interpret that as oxygen to the brain, and a first aid kit would be what’s in order in that context.
We also glossed over the last one as it’s kinda hard to tuck a friend into an Altoids tin without a lot of complaining from your friend for trying.

We spent a couple of hours discussing what could be added to the kit to fulfill the middle 3 needs.

On my drive home, I came up with the answer to the size question. Your kit needs to be big enough to fulfill each of the needs in 1/3rd the time allotted for that need.
e.g. You may need to be able to procure shelter in less than an hour because by that 2nd hour your going to be in a bad way if the weather is bad, and that 3rd hour you are going to be busy dieing.
Same goes with water – you need water on the first day because by the 2nd day you are going to start getting dizzy, have a headache, and loose dexterity, and on the third day…
People frequently fast for 10 days, but buy the end of that time period they are dizzy, weak, and have no energy.

Also, knowledge and skill have an inverse relationship with the size of your kit. The more you know and can do, the smaller your kit needs to be. Somebody without a clue could have a rough go of things with anything short of a convenience store lost with them in the woods. A well practiced expert can make a go of it with nothing but a broken knife and broken arm.

The instructor laid out a lot of gear and discussed the pros and cons of each. At the end, I did a quick show & tell of the best tin-kit I’ve come across. I’d originally seen it at where it was entered into a pocket sized survival kit contest. The creator offered a few up for review at that time and I was sent one. I wish he sold them as I would buy a couple of them.

I put together a video as I unpacked it this last weekend which was basically what I did in the class tonight again. I’d intended on doing a video on using the kit but where I went was a six mile hike in I got a late start and just didn’t have time (story of my life). So hopefully sometime in the near future I can get a video of using some of the bits in it.

Combining this kit with some sort of sheet-good (plastic drop cloth, space blanket, contractor bag) and a durable water container (I like stainless steel water bottles) will satisfy fulfilling the Rule of 3s with the knowledge and skill that I possess in the 1/3rd time period that I am thinking they need to be done in.

I do carry a lot more junk as I am lazy, don’t like inconvenience or being uncomfortable, and I am not yet ready to let go of ‘the security of stuff’.

Biting the hand that feeds you

Or, My trip to the Emergency Room (ER).

This morning at 5:30 or so I am awoke to Brother exchanging words with another tomcat outside my bedroom window. Well, after a few moments of listening to their threats to each other, I roll over to rap on the window to chase the other cat off my window sill so I can get some sleep.

This is where things get interesting.

Brother thought that the tom outside had a compatriot inside who was jumping him. So, he did what any self respecting cat would do, defend himself. Unfortunately for me, this ambush was my hand.

So, quicker then a flash, I have an orange tomcat attached to my arm at the wrist. He quickly realizes his mistake and lets go – while I am still reacting and pulling my arm away. So, he lands next to Sister. Well, this is round 2. Luckily that only lasts a second, and it looks like I am the only one who got any serious damage.

So, off to the bathroom I go to get this cleaned out. No glasses, lots of blood. probably a good thing. Wash wash wash. Brother comes in, crying – like he is saying “I am sorry”.

Now to bandage it up. I go to the kitchen, grab the first aid kit out of the laptop bag, and get to work. Still no glasses. I notice my video camera, so I start recording.

So, I know cat bites have this nasty tendency of getting infected. So I know I need to go get it looked at, if not just for some antibiotics.

So, I get it all bandaged up, and go back to bed. I am not messing with going to the doctors at 6am in the morning.

So, about 11am I give my local buddy Jason a call, does he know of any open clinics that are local. No, but a look at the phone book, he gives me some phone numbers. I call them up, nobody is open.

So, I call the number on my insurance card. Rhode Island. I get a couple of places from that person – poor gal, had herself the hiccups. When she read me the number, I kept mis-writing it because she kept interrupting herself. I would read it back with the hiccups included. We had a good laugh.

I call the numbers. It’s for the ER. Great, no other choices.

So, off I go. I know I need the cat bite looked after, but man do I feel silly going to the emergency room for it.

So, I get checked in, all that good stuff. The doc takes a look at it. Gonna need X-Rays. “Huh?” Evidently, the cat’s teeth can flake or break off, and leave a small piece which will get very infected.

Off to X-Ray. I have to ride in a wheel chair. I ask for a copy. She gave me a CDROM, but it’s blank. Darn it, just my luck. Sorry, no pictures of my insides for you.

I got a tetanus shot. They clean everything off real well, and apply antiseptic. Wrap it up. Give me a prescription for Augmentin, which is amoxicillin, and sent me on my way.

A few things I learned today.
1) Don’t scare Brother, he reacts badly.
2) 6 hours is too long to wait to see a doctor for a cat bite.
3) Cat bites are 80% likely to become infected.
4) Dog bites are 30% likely to become infected.
5) Human bites are even worse then cat bites.
6) I did a good job doing first aid on myself. It didn’t look pretty, but it was the exact same thing the ER did.
7) I still have a lot to learn about video editing. I am trying to use Blender and MediaCoder to get the job done, and it’s just frustrating me so far.