“Be prepared” and “expect the unexpected” are two familiar phrases you have probably heard before, but they are especially important when it comes to hiking, camping, or any other outdoor activities. It is important to know the basics (bring a buddy, have an emergency plan, and prepare for the weather), and have survival and these tiny life-saving tools on hand, in case you might need them. After all, it is better to have these things and not need them, rather than need these things and not have them.
The National Park Service suggests bringing the ten essentials with you when you are going on any kind of hike or outdoor trip. Among those essentials are sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat), insulation (jacket, hat, and gloves), and emergency shelter (a tent, tarp, or bivy).
Tiny Life-saving Tools:
Here are some suggestions for life-saving tools to have with you in the great outdoors.
1. Emergency Survival Whistle
2. Multipurpose Tool
3. First Aid Kit
4. Fire Paste or Fire-Starting Cubes
5. Water Disinfecting Tablets
6. Food or Survival Rations
7. A Compass and a Topographic Map
8. Signal Mirror
9. Flashlight or Headlamp
Emergency Survival Whistle
Whistles are not only for referees, but they are also for people who want a simple, tiny tool that will help in any emergency outdoor situation where people are few and far between. It will alert any rescue team to your distress. Don’t just buy any old whistle though; buy one that is pea-less, bright-colored (which is good for visibility), and referee-quality so you can be heard, anywhere. Make sure you keep it attached to you or your gear so you can access it easily.
When it comes down to it, you will want to have some kind of knife or a multipurpose tool in your bag. Some multipurpose tools come with a knife, but it is a personal decision whether you buy a multipurpose tool either with or without a knife. Having one with you, no matter what will help get you out of a tough situation, in more ways than one. It can be a tool for starting a fire, for instance, or a tool for self-defense, should you need it.
First Aid Kit
For any outdoor activity, it is important to have a first aid kit with you. Make sure to have one with the basics: antiseptic cream, quick-clot sponges, elastic bandages, ibuprofen or aspirin, allergy tabs, tweezers, and a SAM splint. You can pick up a first aid kit at any local drugstore. On the off-chance you sustain any injuries or illnesses (or if you end up in an accident), having one of these on hand can make all the difference. You should also consider including some kind of emergency medical guide in your first aid kit, just in case there is some kind of unfamiliar medical emergency you might encounter.
Fire Paste or Fire-Starting Cubes
Being able to make fire is the universal key in survival situations to help keep you warm, signal any rescuers, ward off dangerous predators, purify and boil water, cook food, sleep safely, and much more. When combined with weatherproof matches or a lighter (two important life-saving tools to have in the outdoors), fire paste or fire-starting cubes makes the old process of rubbing two sticks together between your hands a thing of the past. Fire paste is pliable and can stick to any surface, and fire-starting cubes can go a long way if you just chip a bit off and use it as the fire starter. A bonus? Both fire paste and fire-starting cubes tend to be weather and wind-resistant.
Water Disinfecting Tablets
The average person can only go three days without water. This shows that water is important, especially when you’re in a survival situation. In addition to having a reusable water bottle with you, carry some water disinfecting tablets. Water disinfecting tablets will help make the water purification process easier. Just drop one of these tablets into the water, wait the required amount of time (usually about 30 minutes, depending on the package instructions), and you will have water that is ready to drink, clean any wounds you might have, repair gear, or cook food.
Food or Survival Rations
We often do not think of food as a tool, but like water, we need food to survive. Be sure to pack at least an extra day’s worth of food, and that means items that have high nutritional and energy value like apples, trail mix, nuts, and granola bars. Survival rations are also good to have, and you can divide those rations up to last you several days.
A Compass and a Topographic Map
In today’s world of electronic devices and GPS, a compass and a topographic map may seem like foreign tools, but they are tools that are necessary for survival. You can use these tools alone or together to help you discern your location. However, it is suggested that you take a class that helps you learn how to use a compass and a topographic map.
There are various ways to signal for help, and in case you do not have a phone or any other electronic methods of signaling, a signal mirror is a good tool to have. When it is aimed correctly, a signal mirror can shine a beam of sunlight up to 10 miles away to create a flash of light that catches the attention of anyone who is looking for you.
Flashlight or Headlamp
We are used to having a flashlight app on our phones, but what if we do not have our phone with us? It is important to have some kind of pocket flashlight or a headlamp so you will be able to navigate, especially once it becomes dark.
Hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities are fun, but it never hurts to be cautious. Making sure you have the life-saving tools mentioned in this article will help put your mind at ease and will help you to better enjoy yourself. Let us know what you think, and also let us know if you carry any other life-saving tools with you.
Jordan McDowell is a writer and second amendment rights advocate. As a proud advocate for responsible gun rights nationwide, he writes about recreational hunting as well as the latest developments in state and national legislation.
Jordan McDowell ‧ Contributor