Posts Tagged With: emergency car kit

Emergency Fire Kits: Can a Five-Year-Old Use It?

by Todd Walker

Emergency Fire Kit: Can a Five-Year-Old Use It? ~

Judging comments here and on social media, our last article, Primitive vs. Modern, was well received.

Then I spot this portion of Alan Halcon’s comment in my notifications, “This article really touched a nerve…”

I braced myself to read the full comment from someone I hold in high esteem in the survival community.

If you’re unfamiliar with Alan’s modern and primitive survival skills, you owe it to yourself to check him out at Outdoor Self-Reliance. Anybody who produces consistent hand drill coals in 12 seconds is someone who has my respect. He also holds the record of spinning a hand drill coal in the unthinkable time of… wait for it… TWO SECONDS!

Being familiar with his way of challenging our “best practices” and beliefs in the survival community, I clicked to read more of his comment…

“This article really touched a nerve, albeit in a good way.

For so long, I’ve constantly said a similar thing— In a survival situation, when I want to start a fire, I want a road flare. During my classes, I share with my students, “My litmus test for a survival fire starting tool is… Can a five-year old use it?” If the answer is no, it has no business in your survival kit…”

Why would the world record holder in fire by friction prefer a road flare over hand drill or bow and drill in a real survival scenario? It’s pretty simple. Fire is life. The times we need fire the most are usually when fire is hardest to come by. There’s not much wood, wet or dry, a road flare can’t bring to combustion temperature.

With that being said, we should re-examine our survival fire kits.

The Five-Year-Old Fire Kit

My grandson is now 9 years of age. Time really flies! He’s usually my test subject when it comes to simplifying wilderness survival. He got interested in making his own fire two years ago. He had to overcome his fear of fire by learning to properly strike a kitchen match. Which brings us to the point of this article.

Could a five-year-old use your fire kit?

Let’s say you’re somehow incapacitated on a back country camping trip that turned sideways. Your young son or daughter will need to make fire for warmth until rescuers pin point your Personal Locator Beacon. Self-rescue is no longer an option.

An emergency fire kit should have simple, sure-fire methods of combustion. This is not about a fire kit you take to the woods for experimentation. Remember to keep it simple enough that an inexperienced child can make fire.

Before getting into details of ignition sources, I can’t stress enough the importance of surface area to volume ratio. I’ve watched many adults fail to build sustainable fires by not taking the time to prep a fire lay. A soldering torch wouldn’t even get the thing going. Collect or create small stuff first!

Emergency Ignition Sources

If I have to rely on primitive fire methods, I went to the woods unprepared. I’ll admit there may be that rare occasion where rubbing sticks together is your only chance of fire. If the plane crash in the jungle doesn’t kill you, just use the burning debris field as your fire.

Jokes aside, not many of us will be in the above situation. Most of us simply go camping, hiking, or milder outdoor adventures. That doesn’t discount the need to prepare with modern fire tools.

Bic Lighter

The trusty “thumb drill” has thousands of fires in a lightweight container that can be lit with one hand. Every lighter in my kit has been de-child-proofed. Simply bend the safety device out of the metal housing and pull to remove. Flatten the metal wings down flush with the housing and you have a lighter a five-year old can light.


Use a carabiner to attach the duct taped lighter to your kit

This simple step makes ignition easier for adults as well.

The argument often arises about lighters not working in high altitude or when wet. While I can’t speak from personal experience about lighters not working at the summit of Mount Everest, a wet lighter can be made functional again in around two minutes. Blow into the metal housing several times. Work the wheel which strikes the flint by rolling it on your pant leg. Keep this pattern up until your lighter flames.


How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match |

Max imitating Pops

If you keep matches in your kit, it would be very wise to teach your children and grandchildren how to strike a match. Even more importantly, build their confidence in starting fires using only one match. This task requires as much special attention to the fire lay as you would in primitive fire making.

Which brings up the whole issue of prepared tinder – both man-made and natural…

Emergency Natural Tinder

Daryl and Kris Halseth run a family business called Dragon Fire Tinderbox. Any of their prepared tinder products weigh very little and provide an emergency source of tinder in your kit. It’s also a great teaching tool to help kindergarten-age children learn what a good tinder material looks like – fine, medium, coarse – and how it burns.

This stuff is a campfire in a bag and can be lit easily with a match or lighter. Spark ignition (ferrocerium rods) work on this tinder as well. However, keep in mind that this emergency fire kit has to be simple enough to be used by a young child.

Dirt Road Girl had trouble with consistent fires using a regular ferro rod. I bought her a Sparky™ Fire Starter for her kit. This device is pressed down to direct a shower of sparks on tinder material one-handed. Open flame is the best choice, but Sparky™ is a good backup.

In an emergency situation, the last thing you want your young child to have to find in the forest is dry, fluffy stuff that will ignite easily. Collect your own natural tinder or buy a bag of Dragon Fire for your kit.

Sure Fire

I carry both DiY and commercial sure fire starters. One of my favorites is InstaFire. Click here to read our review on how versatile this stuff can be in an emergency fire kit. If you choose to buy commercial sure fire, purchase enough to test before staking your fire and life on them.

A homemade fire starter which lights as easily as a five-year old’s birthday candle is waxed jute twine. There are no chemical accelerants in this recipe. Simply coat jute twine in wax. Flick your Bic and you have a long-lasting fire starter.


The finished product

Another fine homemade sure fire is cotton balls infused with petroleum jelly. They can get messy so store them in an airtight container in your kit.

Every kid loves birthday candles. I have a tealight candle stowed away in my kit. It takes up the space of about a dollar’s worth of stacked quarters but offers a long burn time to help a child start a fire.

Duct Tape

Wrap a few feet of tape around your Bic lighter and you will always have a dependable source of fire… even if you need to burn stuff in the rain!

Here’s a tip to help your child remove the duct tape from the lighter with minimal struggle… especially if you use Gorilla brand duct tape. That stuff really sticks. Before securing the last half-inch of tape to your lighter, bend it over itself to create a pull tab for little fingers to grab. Not much is as frustrating as trying to find the end of tape on a used roll.

Strip off a foot of tape, wad it up loosely, and set it on fire with the lighter. Duct tape has many survival uses. Fire starting may be the most overlooked.

Emergency Ignition Sources to Avoid

I wouldn’t stake my life on a five-year old starting a fire with solar ignition sources (magnifying lens or fresnel card). I carry one in my fire kit which Max, my grandson, has used to start fires. However, it takes prior practice, good tinder, and full sun to achieve ignition.

Flint and steel is one of my favorite spark ignition sources. The learning curve is too steep for a young child to use in an emergency. You need prepared charred material and hand-eye coordination to prevent injury… something a kindergarten lacks.

As mentioned previously in this article, spark ignition is a good backup if you have experience using the device. I had an experienced ten-year-old Boy Scout and his dad from our troop over at my shelter this summer. I invited him to start his first spark-based fire by scrapping a ferro rod. He succeeded in making fire but only after several attempts and coaching. A great learning opportunity for all of us.

Fire by friction… we won’t even go there.

I just returned from the Foxfire Mountaineer Festival where I had the pleasure of teaching friction fire methods along side of Alan Kay from the TV show Alone. Several adults and a few pre-teens achieved their first fire by friction in a controlled setting with proven friction fire sets. Quite a few failed. Practice primitive but always prepare modern when it comes to emergency fire starting.

Emergency Fire Kits: So Simple a Five-Year-Old Can Use It ~

Primitive fire starting. Photo by Casey Deming

I certainly encourage you to practice the Emergency Ignition Sources to Avoid with your children in the safety of your backyard or campground. But if your life ever depends on a five-year old starting a fire… stick with a Bic for your emergency fire kit.

Thank you, Alan Halcon, for sparking the common sense idea for this article!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has chanced. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

by Todd Walker

Wouldn’t you hate to spend two nights in 20 below temps with 4 children between the ages of 3 and 10 … in your vehicle!?

This week, a couple did just that when their car overturned in the Nevada mountains. They stayed warm by heating rocks in a fire outside their stranded vehicle and placing them inside to stay warm. The couple used what they had available to keep their family from freezing to death.

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Here’s my junk in my trunk

We spend an awful lot of time in cars and trucks getting to and from work. Then there are those holiday road trips to grandma’s house. Unexpected things can happen on the road leaving you stranded or worse.

In my Everyday Carry post, I showed you what I carry daily and why. Now let’s take a look at the next level of away-from-home survival stuff – the junk in your trunk.

DRG and I don’t own vehicles with trunks. Our daily rides are SUV’s. That’s no excuse for not having basic emergency supplies stored in your ‘trunk.’

Your ride comes minimally equipped to get you home. We’ll cover these basics and add to your standard equipment list today.

Keep in mind that we’re not building a zombie apocalypse vehicle. We just trying to make it to our destination alive. Routine maintenance is more important than adding shiny zombie-slaying objects to your car or truck.

To increase your survival odds, pack this junk in your trunk:

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Some of the junk in my trunk unpacked.

Maintenance and Repair

Spare tire – Sounds obvious, right? Make sure your spare is properly inflated. If you can afford it, switch that donut spare to a standard sized spare tire for your make and model. Check the air pressure regularly on all your tires, including the spare.

Tire changing equipment – You need to know where your jack and tire iron is stored in your vehicle. They put them in crazy hiding places now. I upgraded to a 4-way lug wrench for my vehicle. The standard equipped lug wrenches are too short to apply the needed pressure to break nuts free that have been installed at the tire shop with impact drivers. You don’t want to jump up and down on a 10 inch lug wrench to break a nut free. Manual or electric tire inflator is nice to include. I’ve got a foot powered pump. Throw in a tire pressure gauge in your kit.

Fix-a-Flat – This is a down and dirty way to inflate and seal a dead tire in some cases. It only buys you enough mileage and time to properly repair your tire.

Jumper cables – Buy the best quality and longest booster cables you can afford. 8 and 6 gauge wire cables will set you back. I’m guessing that this item is my most used tool in my vehicle. Pack a cheap set. It’s better than nothing. I’ve got a cheap pair for my kit. DRG gets the good set.

Important phone numbers – Keep a written list in your glove box or wallet of people to help get you home in case your phone dies: towing company, insurance company, repair shop, family/real friends, AAA.

Repair manual – Roadside repairs aren’t always possible. Having a repair manual has helped me in the past. Keep one under your seat or glove box.

Tools – Unless you’ve got major motor-head skills, modern trucks and cars are built with complex systems most have no clue how to fix – including me!

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

My cheap, self-contained tool kit

My tool kit is bare minimum and cheap: ratchet set, screw drivers, flashlight/headlamp, pliers, hose clamps, multi-tool (not real useful on engines but had to add it as a prepper), adjustable wrench, and duct tape.  You’re mechanic’s phone number is more important here.

A seat belt cutter in the middle console might come in handy if your ever upside down, strapped to your seat.

Emergency signaling – Road flares and reflective triangles. Typical road flares burn for 15 minutes and can be employed to build and fire in a pinch.

Tow strap – For pulling a stuck vehicle out of the ditch.

Map – Not on your smart phone either. A hardcopy map of your area or travel route.

Next Level Survival Junk

First aid – Tape, bandages, disinfectant wipes, pain relievers, and birthing equipment to deliver babies in the emergency lane. 😉

Fire –  Lighter and tinder. Don’t forget your emergency flares for wet conditions.

Food – Healthy snacks that will satiate. In hotter climates, the challenge is to prevent spoilage. I handle this problem by carrying food items in my Get Home Bag which doesn’t stay in my vehicle but goes with me in controlled indoor temperatures at work or home.

Shaker Siphon – Ever been stranded with an empty fuel tank? This tool makes emergency refueling easy! Or you can build your own electric fuel transfer pump here.

Running on Empty: Siphoning Gas without Sucking

Just shake and it works!

Water – I pack a stainless steel water container. This allows me to purify water via boiling if ever necessary.

Ice scraper – Get creative with its use other than the original purpose.

Tissue – Small travel packs in the glove box.

Paper and pencil – If you have to abandon your vehicle, jot a quick not to Search and Rescue as to which direction you’re headed. Write a quick, updated last will and testament or note to your loved ones if it got to that point.

Rain gear – A rain coat and paints, USGI poncho, or a contractor grade trash bag works to keep rain and wind off your body.

Car phone charger – This is self-explanatory.

Blanket/Sleeping bag – I pack a military wool blanket with a camp ax rolled inside. The bed roll has a loop of rope folded into the core that doubles as backpack straps.

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Wool bed roll with ax inside

Extra clothes – In a dry bag, pack extra wool socks, polypropylene base layer, gloves, and a wool sweater. I have a pair of hiking boots in the back as well.

Tarp – This could be used for shelter if you have to abandon your vehicle. Also serves as a ground cover if you have to lay on the ground to fix something under your car. Paracord is already attached to all the eyelets on the tarp as tie outs.

Ammo and extra magazines – Self-defense, peace of mind, etc.

Get home bag – This bag accompanies me to work and gives additional resources and food.

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Redundant Junk in my get home bag

Flashlight/headlamp – pack fresh batteries. I also have a new pair of LightSpecks reading glasses in the kit.

Knife – I have a spare throw-away fixed blade knife in my vehicle kit.

Since I don’t have an official ‘trunk,’ I house this junk in an old backpack and large ammo can. Small compartments hold the other gear and tools. The fire extinguisher is in the pouch behind the passenger’s seat for easy access.

I’ve seen others use plastic bins and other containers for their junk. I like the backpack. It allows me to grab and go if I need to hoof it.

Without an actual trunk to conceal my kit, I use the pull over cover in the back of my vehicle to hide my junk. If you drive a truck, use a tool box on the bed and cab space to house your junk.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use all this junk in your trunk. Better to have it and not need it.

What kind of junk is in your trunk? Sound off in the comments…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , | 47 Comments

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