Good Company

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Going into the woods? Take a pocket survival kit

A lost Boy Scout prompts thoughts of survival equipment that those of us who occasionally venture off the beaten path should have with us at such times. Even if on an organized camping trip with a group.

Experience tells us that it's very easy to wander off, perhaps chasing a butterfly and end up losing one's way. Worse, you could fall down and get hurt, or suffer some other form of injury that will mean that you will have to be rescued, and that the rescuers will have to come to you.

I am not a mountain man, but I have some experience in the woods and my suggestions are those of a practical nature. Most of what I suggest is light weight and could be put into a small fanny pack. I should note that I firmly believe in the "buddy system" for scouts and others in the woods.

I also believe in letting people know where I am headed if take off a a walk and how long I expect to be gone. If I am not back when expected, I expect them to be able to follow my trail and find me.

That being said, people do wander off alone and without telling people where they are headed. If I were a Scoutmaster or troop leader, I would now make sure each scout prepared an emergency "pocket survival kit." Something they can, literally, stuff into a pocket or a fanny pack. My suggested content? Here:

1. A loud whistle;
2. Space blanket, with training in proper use;
3. Pocket knife;
4. Plastic garbage bag (can be used as a jacket) or poncho;
5. Small LED flasher;
6. Orange vest
7. A small signal mirror.

You know, water and food are good, but the main concern I have is to be able to signal my location. The whistle, mirror and LED flasher serve that purpose. Using the space blanket, poncho should allow a person to fend off hypothermia for a couple of days.

Oh, and lots of training. Tools without knowledge of their use are useless.

By the way, REI has a nice little kit in a bottle for your car or backpack here.

UPDATE: Good news: Missing Scout is found.

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