Camping & Survival

Life Saving Gear

Para cord. Not just for making beer koozies

We all know the very basics of survival are water, food, and shelter. Even the most skilled outdoorswoman or man may find herself or himself in a situation in which the gear they carry with them is useless. Aron Ralston, an experienced climber did not anticipate an 800-pound boulder shifting, thus causing him to get stuck in a canyon for six days. Aron does admit to making the mistake of not telling anyone where he was going, but what Aron did have going for him is his ability to think outside the box and have the determination to survive.

Two is better than one
Two is better than one.
The most important life saving “gear” we have is our brains. Always have the mindset of “do not give up” regardless if you are in a self-defense situation or in a survival situation. You have a better chance at winning your fight if you are determined to do so. Further, your ability to adapt to any situation is key to survival. Being able to work with what you have may mean the difference between life and death. 99.9 percent of us are not McGyver, but if you had a sewing needle, some para cord, and a package of Quick Clot, I bet you could stitch yourself up if you had to. Knowledge is power, so arm yourself with everything you can find on how to survive any situation.

Personal locator beacons are devices that send distress signals out to search and rescue units in order to find someone within the first 24 hours of an emergency. These units are specially made for areas that cannot be reached by cell phone signals. Some are manually activated by the person who needs rescuing. Others, such as EPIRBs, will activate if they are submerged in water. Personal locator beacons have rescued over 28,000 people since 1982.

There are three different types of these distress beacons:

  1. EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon), for boats
  2. ELT (Emergency locator transmitter), used in aircrafts
  3. PLB (Personal location beacon), for personal use

Surprisingly, temperature extremes can kill you before starvation or dehydration can. A day out hiking can turn deadly if you get lost and have to spend the night out in the elements. Ralston set out for his day out in shorts, but at night in Canyonlands National Park in Utah, temperatures dipped into the 30s. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops below the level that allows your body to function. It can happen if you are exposed to cold weather, or if you happen to fall into water that is 70 degrees or below. An extra pair of clothing, extra layers of clothing, heat warmers, and/or an emergency blanket can help alleviate the symptoms of hypothermia.

This dude is ready
This dude is ready.
550-para cord can be a lifesaver. I have two para cord bracelets. One I purchased from Survival Straps, who makes custom-designed bracelets, anklets, or key fobs in the color combination of your choice. It would be a lot cooler if you made your own, though. You can use para cord to help build a shelter, tow or drag things, as a snare, or as a tourniquet. Literally, para cord has as many uses as you can imagine.

Para cord. Not just for making beer koozies
Para cord. Not just for making beer koozies.
My last piece of advice of life saving gear isn’t really gear at all, but certainly can save your life and that is a buddy. Tests have shown that people who nurture their friendships are less likely to get sick, have lower stress levels, and may even live longer than those without friends may. Further, as the saying goes, two heads are better than one, right? Ralston mentioned that one of his mistakes was not continuing with a group of hikers he met that fateful day. A friend can go for help, perform first aid, and offer moral support. I’m pretty sure each and every one of you can name a time in your life you felt like you might not have made it through if you did not have your friends.

What about you? What life-saving gear do you have?

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