Biking, Hiking, Boating, Offroad, or just commuting to work, safety is important. This is a guide to how to pack for common safety to emergencies. The common theme is the Boy Scout motto, "be prepared", in this case patch and go. This is not disaster prepping or long term survival, but rather how to be prepared to get out of a bad situation.
Rules to follow:
- Don't go Alone: The Buddy System is at best three or more people. One to help, and one to get additional help. This is the one safety rule I violate the most as I go solo on many adventures.
- Be Aware: Know your surroundings and potential risks
- Be Prepared: Carry gear to suited the activity.
Knowledge is power! Training is a safety priority. I will show some advanced First-Aid kits, but these are only useful if you have the experience to use them. With the groups I travel with we all have some medical background (Doctors, Nurses, and EMTs). Survival Priorities as listed in the BSA survival merit badge are
- "STOP" Stop/Think/Observe/Plan
- First Aid
Step 1: First Aid Kits
The kits I carry are full of many common and specialty items. Pictured is my 'go bag' and basic supplies to build a new kit. My 'go bag' started as an Adventure Medical Kits Weekender Kit that I added to. I filled in more bandages and some survival items. Added items include:
- Penlight: for flashlight and medical assessment
- Matches: fire is a priority tool for light, heat, signaling, sterilizing tools, and many more.
- Water purification: treat suspect water
- Signal whistle: comes in handy to find people or communicate
- Varieties of Tape: duct tape, waterproof medical tape
Step 2: Biking: Bike Upgrades Lights/storage
Safety upgrades to your bike. First is lights on the front and back. See and be seen when riding in the dark or low visibility days.
- Headlight is a cree led flashlight with a holder. If you need the light can be detached, always useful.
- Taillight is a multifuction led light with strobe modes. My favorite is cylon/kitt mode.
- The saddle bag holds my spares/safety gear (next step)
- Bike lock helps keep bike safe from thieves.
Step 3: Biking: Safety Gear and Tools
In the saddle bag I keep essentials that go wherever my bike does. Commuting or going for a long ride having the ability to patch up a flat and any scrapes/bruises or injuries. In the bag:
- Co2 inflator and spare 16oz cartridge will inflate your tire in a pinch
- Spare inner tube for the big punctures
- Patch kit for temporary repairs
- Multitool for adjusting your bike components or anything else
- Small First-Aid kit
- Gauze pads
- Roll gauze
- basic painkillers acetaminophen, aspirin ect
- alcohol pads
- bandages-assorted size
Step 4: Car: Roadside Kit
On the road pack for common problems such as low tire pressure or dead batteries.
- Jumper cables - I jump about 5 cars a year
- Small Compressor - Low tire pressure can cause a blowout, check often
- Spare Tire
- Jack: lift that car for tire change or maintenance
- Flashlight - every kit needs one
- First Aid Kit (This is my go bag version)
Step 5: Car: Offroad Kit
If you plan on driving away from paved and populated roads you need some extras. Look for 4wd or other resources for more complete idea of specialty tools such as winches.
- Basic recovery gear
- Recovery Point: where to pull yourself out
- Recovery Strap: this is a dynamic strap to pull out a stuck vehicle
- More Bandages/cravats
- CPR Mask
- trauma sheers: cuts clothing, seatbelts, some sheet metal, even bone
- Stethoscope: heart rate and respiratory assessment
Sphygmomanometer (BP cuff): blood pressure
- I carry a ratchet/socket set and various pliers
- flashlights- multiples
Step 6: Boating: Safety Afloat
My kayak and small sailboat need basic safety gear
- Float Plan
- PFD: Personal Flotation Device
- Knife: always carry a knife
- VHF Radio: Learn the rules, used by commercial and private watercraft alike depending on channel. Call the coast guard in an emergency on channel 16. also weather radio can warn you in advance
- Whistle: Be heard over long distances, airhorn can b used too.
- 360 Light: Let you be seen. Attach one to PFD. if you have a second mount on a high pole. A flare could be used on larger boats
- flags or other signaling equipment: mirrors, flags, dyes all can increase your visibility
- paddles: don't be caught up he creek without a paddle
- patch or bailing equipment: you don't want to sink
- water or purifying equipment: water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. dont drink saltwater and sanitize fresh water before drinking
- a drybox or drybag can save your valuables
- make sure it floats
Step 7: Final Thoughts and Other Goodies
Some additional equipment and ideas to think about:
GPS -- I used maps all my life, until my best friend and I got lost in the desert. Not so much as lost but off the trail in the wildness as the maps were out of date. We were running low on water in the mountains, in AZ even in early spring the heat can lead to exhaustion quickly. My friend was dehydrated and banged up from a fall. We had no cell service and were not late enough for the pickup point so no one knew we were missing yet. I said be prepared, that also means having knowledge to be innovative.
We patched him up and then looked for water. We searched the topography for a low point on a runoff with shade, also checking vegetation until we found a pool in a creek-bed. The water was nasty and green.
So we built a filter, from a sock over a water bottle for large particulates and then chemical purification. It worked better than one would think. After some shade and rest we picked a nearby high point to get our bearings and cell service for a early pickup. Then we landmarked our way to follow the creek-bed down and out of the mountains. We ended up 3mi from the trailhead we originally planned.
It was a learning experience, and we have had many adventures since. We have seen a lot, blizzards, avalanches, mountain thunder storms, even a water spout in the gulf. Be prepared and you can get out of many situations yourself, but know when to call in for help, with that communication equipment in your survival bag.