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December, 2002
Table of Contents

Surviving When Gods Play
By Steve John Isaac

Make a Hypothermia Kit
By Steve John Isaac

Modify Your Space Blanket
By Steve John Isaac

Dozing Off
By Steve John Isaac

Fueling the Fire
By Steve John Isaac

Hydrate Or Die
By Steve John Isaac

The WaterTribe Kit
By Steve John Isaac

How To Finish a Challenge
By Steve John Isaac

Tow, Tow, Tow Your Boat
By Steve John Isaac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Hypothermia Kit

By Steve Isaac (aka Chief)

Since one of the most dangerous conditions we face is hypothermia and we won't have anyone around to help us, we need a kit of supplies that can help us recover quickly.  The kit needs to be small enough to fit in our PFD backpack and it has to work if we are already shivering uncontrollably.  Here is how I made mine.  You may want to modify it according to your specific needs.

The kit consists of two main components: immediate shelter and fire.

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE:  Many of the items used to recover from hypothermia are very flammable.  You should only use a flame, even an enclosed flame, when your life is already in extreme danger and there is no other way to recover.  Then be very careful not to become a human torch.

A candle lantern with its protective bag.  The lantern is in its extended position.  I use a lantern so the flame is enclosed when I am in the "squat" position for initial hypothermia recovery.  (See the surviving article.)

The candle lantern is essential for adding heat to your body/poncho tipi during the initial recovery phase.  

You need some kindling.  Fatwood can be purchased in grocery stores.  This wood is very dry and contains resin so it burns easily and hot enough to start your other kindling.  Indians and other long distance explorers carried their own kindling to insure dry wood for fire starting.  They knew they didn't have any backup.  Neither do you.

But you don't need a whole box.  Select 6 or so of the best pieces and put them in a Ziploc bag.  You might need to cut them to length too.  

If you make your own kindling bundle, be sure to put the sticks in their own Ziploc bag.  These pieces of wood have lots of resin and can contaminate other items.  Also, my paranoid nature says if the purpose is to have dry kindling, then by God another layer of protection is just what we need.

You can use commercial fire paste or ribbon.  The matches should be BOTH wind and waterproof.

Or you can make your own fire starters by using cotton balls and Vaseline.  Work the Vaseline into the cotton balls and place the goo into a 35 mm film can.  You can easily fit 8-10 "fuel balls" into one canister.  Use plenty of Vaseline.

Just pull one out and sort of spread it apart by pulling at it.  Touch a match to it and it ignites immediately.  Careful, these babies light up quick.  

It burns for maybe one or two minutes.  Your dry Fatwood and other kindling should be ready before your light it up.

Preparation of your fire is key.

The hypothermia kit laid out on top of its nylon pack:

  1. Modified space blanket
  2. Candle lantern
  3. Commercial kindling pack (fatwood) including  hurricane matches
  4. Fire starters in 35mm canister
  5. Box of hurricane matches.
  6. Box of regular waterproof matches.

The picture shows a Mylar/aluminum sleeping bag, but that small item put my kit over the top.  Although it fit in the hypothermia nylon pack, it added just enough volume to over fill the EFT Pack so I took it out.  Nice item though if you have room.

The nylon pack folded, zipped up, and placed inside a Ziploc bag.  

This bag gets stuffed into the backpack attached to my PFD.

Why so many Ziplocs?  Well, I'm paranoid about getting my emergency fire stuff wet.  Also, the Ziplocs turn this package into flotation.  Everything that goes into my PFD backpack contributes to additional flotation.

Note that the Ziplocs I use are the freezer bag type because they are more durable.  You can also try Aloksak bags available from Brigade Quartermasters for the ultimate security.  Probably a combination of the two types would be optimum.

The emergency survival sleeping bag is 84" x 36" and needs no modification.  Its relatively low bulk and weight are attractive, but it belongs in your second layer of defense, the emergency shelter kit, rather than your hypothermia kit. The sleeping bag is also a Stansport product.  

The kit contains both hurricane matches and regular waterproof matches.  I use one or the other depending on the situation.  Hurricane matches are hard to put out and must burn out.  I only use them if the situation warrants it due to the wind or shivering.

This kit contains everything you need to build a fire, but don't use it on a daily basis.  You should have your regular fire making supplies in your regular kit.  Only use this kit in actual practice sessions which you should do at least once a season.  Be sure to inspect and replace as needed.

See the article on  Surviving When the Gods Playfor how this kit is used if you are hypothermic.  

© 2002 Steve Isaac.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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