This month at Scouts, we’re talking about Wilderness Survival. Now, I’m not a prepper by any means, but I do believe it is important to know how to take care of yourself just in case you find yourself facing an emergency. It is important to remember that there isn’t a single-fit survival kit. My survival kit changes based on where I’m going and what I’m doing. A day hike to the top of a 14er in Colorado requires a different survival kit than a week-long trip in the Smoky Mountains. Both of these are much different than a car trip to see family. In general though, here’s what I try to keep in my survival kit
- Flint and steel: everyone should know how to start a fire with flint and steel. It is difficult at first, but with a little practice (and the right materials), you can get a fire started with one strike of the flint.
- Water purifyer: a person can go 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water. My absolute favorite water puryfier is a Sawyer Mini filter. It was amazing to drink cool mountain water right from the stream while watching everyone else drink iodine-flavored warm water 30 minutes later!
- Shelter: by this I mean something that will protect you against the weather. I try to carry a simple poncho and a bit of rope.
- Communication: In the event you get lost or need to attract attention, you need some way to attract attention. This might be a cell phone if you’re somewhere with service, ot it might be a whistle if you’re in a more remote environment. It may even be a signal mirror. In any case, make sure you know how to use whatever it is you have.
- Scriptures: Sometimes getting your mind off of the immediate situation gives you a chance to refocus. The Word of God is the perfect option for this.
- Knife: You don’t need a huge machete, just a simple 4″ blade that is nice and sharp.
- Multi-tool: I try to carry both a knife and a multi-tool because the blades on most multi-tools aren’t nearly as good as a real knife…but I really enjoy having the pliers, can openers, screwdrivers, etc.
- First Aid Kit: This is highly dependent upon where you are and what you’re doing. At a minimum, it’s a baggy with some bandaids, Tylenol, Motrin, and Benedryl. When certain family members join me, it’s bottled Oxygen, a stethoscope, and the pulse oximeter. For a hike, it usually includes an anti-chafing product.
- Dry clothes: even on short day hikes, I like to pack a pair of dry socks. The longer or more remote the trip, the more clothes go in my survival kit.My go-to material is Merino wool–nothing beats a nice pair of SmartWool socks or a light-weight Merino wool sweater.
- Hat: It may have been proven that we don’t lose most of our body heat through our head, but I feel so much better if I can keep my noggin warm.
- Personal protection: It’s always a good idea to have some way to protect yourself. On hikes, this is often a walking stick (yes, I have thought about how I can beat an attacker with my walking stick). Other times this is a knife, pepper spray, or a gun–it all depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing.
- Food: Nothing lifts the spirits quite like being able to nibble on someting tasty when you’re tired.
- Duct Tape: there’s a reason it’s called “500 mile an hour tape.” Duct tape can prevent blisters, close cuts, fix fips…the uses are nearly endless!
Along with the need to have a physical survival kit, it is even more important to have a spiritual survival kit. Most of these items aren’t things you can buy in the store.
- Faith: This is the first principle of the gospel for a good reason–in the battle against Satan, success begins with faith in God. Never underestimate the power of faith. Moses parted the Red Sea by faith. By faith the walls of Jericho fell.
- Testimony: Everyone has a testimony. The difference is the strength of the testimony and the content of the testimony. I believe our goal is to base our testimony on Jesus Christ and work every day to build that testimony stronger.Helaman taught his sons Nephi and Lehi “…that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).
- Word of God: ok, this is something you can buy in the store…at the same time, you have to do more than possess the word of God. You must read it, ponder, it, internalize it, and live it.
- Charity: Also known as the Pure Love of Christ. Paul taught, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
- Ordinances: While it is vital to have faith, it is also important to receive the ordinances of salvation for those who are accountable before God for their actions.
- Friends: Gordan B. Hinckley once taught that every new member of the church needs 3 things: 1) a friend 2) a responsibility 3) nurishing by the good word of God. I truly believe that if we have any hope of surviving this world, it will be with a friend. My first and best friend is my wife.
- Prayer: Just as your physical surival kit includes a communication method, so should your spiritual survival kit. Prayer is our lifeline to Heavenly Father. He is there and he does hear our prayers. It is up to us to take that first step in establishing communication with God through prayer.