One aspect of the “prepper” philosophy is “Common Sense.” After all, it is just common sense to plan for the future, regardless of what may or may not happen. That’s why we have retirement funds, car, home and health insurance and regular well-checks with the doctor. Planning ahead is also why you may stick an umbrella in your brief case or carry a light jacket on a sunny day. And it would be stupid to not carry a spare tire and tools to change a flat!
So when it comes to wilderness or urban survival, being prepared is just common sense, and you should insert a healthy dose of that commodity into any disaster or emergency planning.
So, I propose that you, a prepper, should also make a compact, easy-to-carry wilderness and/or urban survival kit to include with all your other survival gear.
Are you committed?
Ask yourself these questions to get started:
- Can I dunk a basketball? I can’t. Never could. But watch any NBA game and you’ll see the guys slam the ball home at every opportunity. If you watch the survival “reality” shows, you may also see incredible techniques done routinely, under the worst circumstances. So what? Use the common sense filter. Just because somebody can dunk a basketball or perform wondrous survival techniques on TV doesn’t mean you can, or might be able to learn. Don’t rely on gee-whiz technology or esoteric aboriginal survival techniques. The idea is to survive, and during a disaster: You won’t have time for on-the-job training!
- Do I know anything? Be honest! It doesn’t matter how much survival stuff you have. It’s worthless if you can’t, or don’t know how, to use it. Take a good look at your skills and abilities, and face your inadequacies. (See on-the-job training, above.) For example, if you carry supplies to address snake bites, know how to use them.
- Will I make a commitment to learn? Again, be honest, and don’t put this off. If you don’t know how to perform first aid or make an emergency shelter, learn now. Sign up for a community college course, read good survival books, and talk to folks like the Search and Rescue people who are actually using these skills. If a disaster happens this afternoon, maybe all you will have to work with is what you’ve got.
- What gear is practical? I am honored to serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout Troop in Bend, Oregon. Over the past 10 years, I’ve noticed a lot of “survival gear” that is nothing more than expensive junk. Talk to someone in the know, and find out what urban or wilderness survival gear they use. Assess those items with your skill level and then decide what you need.
- Will I make a commitment to carry this survival kit with me? The best gear in the world does you no good if you don’t have it with you! Your survival kit must be compact and convenient to carry or it will get left behind.
Making your kit
Here are a few suggestions, once you’ve made a survival kit commitment:
- Make your own: Commercial kits may include cheap and worthless things in them to keep the cost down. The components in my pocket-sized Altoids tin kit would cost about $50 to $60 to replace. My life is worth that to me!
- Can you use everything in the kit? Using some suggested items (remember that dunk shot?) may be beyond your skill levels. Your choice is to learn how to use everything, or replace that particular component.
- Don’t let your survival kit give you a false sense of confidence. Gear doesn’t replace knowledge.
- A survival kit is not a substitute for your Ten Essentials: Every survival book or website has some variation of this basic list of essential outdoor tools. Some of the items are common sense, such as a survival knife, fire-making gear, extra clothing, and a map and compass. Always make sure you have all the recommended items with you!
Finally, apply the common sense filter to anything associated with your survival. Beware of “survival experts” websites, TV shows and articles. Just because someone has a website, logo, book or magazine column doesn’t mean they know anything!
View any information with your eyes open and apply the common sense filter. If your BS alarm starts to go off, there is probably a good reason for it! And how about that dunk shot!