Nobody ever plans to get lost in the woods; it just happens...and it can happen even to experienced outdoors people. That's why it's so important to always pack a basic survival kit, even if you do not expect to be gone for long. You will need three basic things to keep you going until you can be rescued: fire, drinkable water and shelter. (Humans can go for several days without food, so do not include large amounts of food, cooking pots and other gear you would normally take camping.) Practice using the items before you head out, and always double-check to make sure everything is still working.
The items listed here are small enough to fit in a small container about the size of a coffee can.
1. Container, which may also be used for cooking.
2. Container lid-painted a bright color, so it can be found if lost with a ground-to-air signal card taped inside.
3. Handles-holes should be drilled in the container and handles attached for cooking.
4. Firestarters-long-stemmed, wooden, strike-anywhere matches. HINT: Try storing them in a film canister to keep them dry. A flint-and-steel combo is also a great idea.
5. Cotton balls-Make great kindling.
6. Pocketknife-To cut kindling for a fire, or branches to create a shelter.
7. Space blanket-Can be used to create a shelter, or to warm someone in front of a fire.
8. Compass and GPS-The GPS is easier to use, but the compass won't fail to work in heavy cloud cover, or if it runs out of battery.
9. Signal Mirror-To help rescuers see you when searching by air.
10. Any critical medication you may require, such as an Epi-Pen or insulin.
11. Flashlight-Replace the batteries regularly.
Of course, if you ask 10 different outdoors people what they have in their survival kits, you'll probably get 10 different answers. What's in your kit?