Survival Kit


A survival kit is a package of basic tools and supplies prepared in advance as an aid to survival in an emergency. Military aircraft, lifeboats, and spacecraft are equipped with a survival kit. Civilians such as forestry workers, surveyors, or bush pilots, who work in remote locations or in regions with extreme climate conditions may also be equipped with survival kits. Disaster supplies kits are also kept on hand by those who live in areas prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters.


FIRE: Firesteel / matches / tampon / kalium hipermanganicum + sugar / bee's wax candle / sponge / American tape / PVC tube

WATER: PVC tube / compressed sponge -absorbing / tampon -filtration / kalium hipermanganicum for purification

SIGNALING: heliography from PC hard disk / whistle / fire starter / tampon + kalium hipermanganicum + survival saw rotation / kalium hipermanganicum sos on snow

TRAPPING & HUNTING: hooks / fishing line / dental floss / bee's wax candle / needles / scalpel / survival saw / American tape

FIRST AID: kalium hipermanganicum for disinfection and fungi / dental floss + needle / American tape + tampon or compressed sponge / bee's wax candle / scalpel / PVC tube

CUTTING: survival saw / scalpel

BUILDING & REPAIR: dental floss or fishing line + needle / American tape / bee's wax candle/ paracord internal 7 cords...


Optional items for military kits

Survival kits for military aviators are often modified according to the environment of operations, as described below:

  • In desert areas, survival kits may have more water and sunscreen, and have additional items such as shade hats and sun glasses.
  • In tropical areas, a survival kit may have mosquito head netting, additional insect repellent, anti-fungal cream, and a machete.
  • In arctic areas, survival kits may have additional cold weather clothing (winter hats and gloves), sleeping bags, chemical "hand warmer" packets, sun glasses/snow goggles, snow shoes, a collapsible shovel, a snare wire for small animals, a frying pan, a camp stove, camp stove fuel, and a tent designed for arctic use.
  • For personnel who are flying over large bodies of water, a survival kit may have additional items such as flotation vests, fishing nets, fishing equipment, fluorescent sea marking dye, a flare launching gun and cartridges (and perhaps a revolver and tracer ammunition), a survival radio (e.g., an AN/PRC-90), a distress marker light, seawater desalting kit, a raft repair kit, a paddle, a bailer and sponge, sunscreen, and a sun shade hat.

The US Army uses several basic survival kits, mainly for aviators, which are stored in canvas carrying bags. Aviators in planes with ejection seats have survival kits in the seat pan and the survival vest (SRU-21P) worn by US helicopter crews also contains some basic survival items.

Mini survival kits

General contents

Survival kits contain supplies and tools to provide a person with basic shelter against the elements and keep warm, meet their health and first aid needs, provide food and water, signal to rescuers, and assist them in finding their way back to help. The specific supplies or tools that fit in each of these categories are listed below. Note that the list below is not the contents of an actual survival kit. Rather, each category lists some of the supplies or tools from which kit-makers choose when they are making a survival kit. Supplies in a survival kit should contain a knife (mostly preferred is a Swiss army or a multi-tool), matches, first aid kit, hand sanitizer, bandanna, fish hooks, sewing kit, and a flashlight w/ batteries.

Shelter or warmth

  • Lightweight emergency poncho for protection against rain
  • Reflective aluminum Space blanket to retain body heat
  • Emergency "tube tent", "bivvy bag" or tarp with grommets for attaching a rope
  • Mosquito net, protection against mosquitoes, flies and other insects.
  • Magnifying glass, magnesium, or tinder for fire-starting
  • Magnesium Flint and Saw Striker
  • Waterproof matches or lighter
  • Esbit or heat tablets for starting a fire
  • Dark-colored shoe polish (black preferred) for fire fuel. (It also gives off a smell that can repel animals and can be used for marking and camouflage)
  • Cable saw for cutting wood (either for constructing a shelter or for a fire)

Health and First Aid

  • First aid kit with bandages, sterile pads and gauze, first aid tape, tweezers, surgical razor, disinfectant pads, oxytetracycline tablets (for diarrhea or infection) and aspirin. Also keep an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses. Any material in the kit that may be damaged or rendered ineffective by water should be wrapped or sealed in plastic.
  • Insect repellent
  • Soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Lip balm

Food and water

  • At least a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day: two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation/sanitation).To prepare safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, it is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open it until you need to use it. Replace water at least once each year.
  • Iodine tablets for emergency water purification
  • Edible salt for food and also can be used for brushing teeth.
  • Collapsible (empty) water bags or containers
  • Canned food, Ready-to-eat meals, or high-energy foods such as chocolate or emergency food bars.
  • Fishing line, fish hooks, lures, and split shot leads
  • Snare wire
  • Tea, gum, and hard candy (as a morale booster)


  • A supply of money in small denominations and coins or credit cards in your kit helps for situations such as telephone calls (if the lines still operate) or vendors selling various goods, both essential and non-essential.

Signaling, navigation and reference

"Mini survival kits" or "Altoids tin" survival kits are small kits that contain a few basic survival tools. These kits often include a small compass, waterproof matches, a fishing hook and fishing line, a large plastic garbage bag, a small vial of bleach, a small candle, a jigsaw blade, an Exacto knife blade, and a safety pin. Pre-packaged survival kits may also include instructions in survival techniques, including fire-starting or first aid methods. In addition, parachute cord can be wrapped around the tin. The parachute cord can be used for setting up an emergency shelter or snaring small animals. They are designed to fit within a container roughly the size of an Altoids tin.

In-home emergency kit for natural disaster

The US government's Homeland Security website provides a list of in-home emergency kit items. The list focuses on the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and materials to maintain body warmth. The recommended basic emergency kit items include:

  • Water, at least one gallon of water per person for each day
  • Food, non-perishable food for at least three days
  • Battery-powered or hand cranked radio and a Weather Radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off water valves
  • Can opener for canned food
  • Local maps

Additional items that may be added to the emergency kit include prescription medications and glasses, infant formula and diapers, pet food, family documents (e.g., copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records), cash or traveler's checks and change, a first aid book, and a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. For people in cold climates, additional clothing is recommended. Other items that may be useful include household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper, to use as a disinfectant and emergency water purifier, a fire extinguisher, matches, feminine hygiene items, plates and utensils, a paper and pencil, and activities for children.

It is notable that no recommendations are made concerning utility knives/multitools; indeed, knives, firearms or any other items which might facilitate self-defence seem to be completely omitted.

Specific Disasters

Include the following supplies for specific kinds of disasters in addition to the general supplies listed above.


Below is list of commonly recommended items for an emergency earthquake kit:

  • Food to last at least three days
  • Water purification tablets/portable water filter
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • A first-aid kit
  • A minimum of 100$ in cash
  • Family photos and descriptions (to aid emergency personnel in finding missing people)
  • A flashlight and portable (or solar-powered) radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Goggles and dust mask
  • A personal commode with sanitary bags


For hurricanes, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that the 'disaster bag' includes:

  • a flashlight with spare batteries;
  • a battery operated portable radio (and spare batteries);
  • a battery operated NOAA weather radio (and spare batteries);
  • First aid kit and manual;
  • prescription medicines;
  • cash and a credit card;
  • a cell phone with a fully charged spare battery;
  • spare keys;
  • high energy non-perishable food;
  • one blanket or sleeping bag per person;
  • special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members;
  • change of clothing.

Also helpful:

  • Develop an understanding of food rationing.
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Raincoats, rubber boots (or waders).
  • underwear, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb/brush
  • Infants; diapers, premixed formula, medical and toiletry supplies, blankets, baby wipes, baby food
  • Young children: favourite toy, crayons and colouring books, books
  • Youths: music players, card games, snacks (i.e. peanut butter or hard candy), books
  • Elderly; nutritious drinks, sweater, coat and/or blanket, books
  • Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) send a distress signal that allows the beacon to be located by a satellite system (Cospas-Sarsat), minimizing the search and hastening the rescue. This distress radiobeacon could also be in the form of an ELT or an EPIRB.
  • Candles, Torch (flashlight), or glow sticks
  • Surveyor's orange tape (for marking location for rescuers)
  • Pen and paper (for leaving notes to rescuers about direction of travel)
  • Whistle, Signal Mirror, and/or smoke or illumination flares for signaling
  • Compass, GPS navigation equipment
  • Maps of the region
  • Survival manual

Multipurpose tools or materials

  • Swiss army style knife
  • Gerber or Leatherman style multi tool
  • Sharpening stone
  • Folding saw or cable saw
  • Heavy-duty thread and needle (for repairing clothing and equipment)
  • Plastic bags or trash bags
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil (for frying food, signaling, etc.)
  • Sturdy cord or "550" parachute cord (for supporting a tarp, snaring small animals, etc.)

Lifeboat survival kits

Lifeboat survival kits are stowed in inflatable or rigid lifeboats or life rafts; the contents of these kits are mandated by coast guard or maritime regulations. These kits provide basic survival tools and supplies to enable passengers to survive until they are rescued. In addition to relying on lifeboat survival kits, many mariners will assemble a "ditch bag" or "abandon ship bag" containing additional survival supplies. Lifeboat survival kit items typically include:

Safety equipment

  • Life jackets
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit

Communications and navigation

  • Compass
  • Distress beacons (EPIRBs)
  • Red flare, rocket parachute flare, and/or smoke signal flare
  • Radar reflector (to help rescuers locate the raft)
  • Lantern and fuel and/or searchlight

Food and water

  • Emergency high-calorie rations and/or hard bread
  • Fishing kit
  • Rainwater collection equipment
  • Seawater desalting kit
  • Water (typically 3 liters/person)

Various tools and boating items

  • Hatchet and knife
  • Heaving line
  • Ladder
  • Sea anchor (also called a "sea drogue")
  • Bailer
  • Bilge pump
  • Boat hook
  • Bucket