Everytime I get asked, "Have you got...?", I get a feeling of pride knowing I probably do have the requested item. I also get a little irked that folks just aren't prepared to fend for themselves in even the smallest of life's little emergencies. I get really irked when the inquirer wants to use a piece of my gear for something clearly outside the scope of what it was made for - like wanting my knife to cut a wire tie or pry open a can, or worse, a door lock.
"Have you got...?" isn't a question I ask very often. Why not? Because I've taken some personal responsibility for myself and I routinely carry items to handle life's little emergencies.
That being said, Let's talk about the concept of "Everyday Carry," hereinafter referred to as EDC...
The concept of EDC is really pretty simple. Select some useful items that you routinely need/want/use, assemble them into a container that keeps them protected and handy, then carry that package with you daily - everywhere you go. Another method of EDC is to select the items you want to routinely have available and them fit them into or onto items you always do have available. An example of this method might be to add a small LED flashlight and/or other items you deem necessary to your keyring and wallet.
The object is to keep selected items portable enough and light enough that you don't get lazy and start leaving them behind. Murphy lurks for such moments.
So what items might you need? That's a question you have to answer for yourself, based on your own needs assessment. Considerations in making that needs assessment might include -
Where do you live? Consider here the general climate of your area. Necessity may dictate that gear selections change with the seasons.
Where do you work? Are you miles from home and need to get back there? What assets, if any, exist at your office or place of employment? Are there company work rules that prohibit carrying certain items? Are you inside all day, traveling, or out in the field? In a dire emergency, can you safely exit from your building? Are means of egress well lit and/or is there emergency power?
Where do you travel to and from? Are you traveling using a personal vehicle or public transportation? Does your typical trip involve traveling highway or back roads? Are you traveling through rural areas or well populated areas? If in the city, are you traveling "rough neighborhoods?"
What items are allowable? Do company rules or public transportation rules prohibit items? Do you need special permission or permits to be able to carry certain items?
How far away is safety, rescue, repair or resupply? Are you miles away from civilization? Are you on the 89th floor of a hi-rise? Can you communicate your emergency to someone? How long will it take someone to get to you? How long will it take you to make it out on your own? What's your method of resupply? Is it the stop-n-rob store down the street, your car, or home? Are there simple materials on hand for field expedient repair of what you actually have available?
Lastly, What have people routinely asked me if I had? A knife? Scissors? Bandaid? Needle and thread? Something for a headache? Something for a stomach ailment? Some string?
Here's my "Top 10" suggestions for EDC:
01. Select a decent knife. Other than a rock, the knife is man's most basic tool. It has far more uses than a rock and is easier to pack and carry. There are literally thousands of decent choices out there today. Need help in making the right choice? Read my reviews here or go to http://www.knifeforums.com/ to ask for help. Want multifunction from your knife? Select a real (Victorinox or Wenger) Swiss Army Knife or a quality made multitool by Leatherman or Victorinox. Can't carry a blade because of work rules or public transportation rules? Victorinox and Leatherman also offer up several models without the knife blade.
02. Select a long lasting LED flashlight. Night falls and buildings get dark with the lights out. Not being blessed with night vision, humans typically need light to avoid the dangers of the darkness. A simple 1/4 ounce Photon on your keyring can put out hours of useable light sufficient to traverse a set of stairs or an unknown trail. Got more space available? Look at offerings by SureFire, Fenix, Streamlight, Inova and the hosts of other decent manufacturers available. A decent flashlight also makes a great night time signaling device.
03. Select a decent whistle. A whistle can signal distress and attract help much more efficiently than your voice. Need help selecting a whistle? Read my "Who gives a Toot" article on this site. That article will be continuously updated as more whistles become available for testing.
04. Add some bandaids to your kit or wallet. Want to get fancy? Use the bandaids that come impregnated with antibiotic. (Make sure you don't use the antibiotic bandaids if you or the victim is allergic to antibiotics.)
05. Add a floss card to your kit or wallet. Tape onto the floss card a threader and a couple needles - instant cordage and instant sewing kit. Throw a few medium safety pins wherever you find available space.
06. Add in a small roll of or pocket pack piece of duct tape. Duct tape can fix anything - just ask Care's Dad.
07. If you're traveling rural areas; add in a reliable means of firestarting, some tinder, a means of collecting water and some water purification tablets.
08. Throw a couple bandanas into a pocket. A bandana can be a prefilter strainer for questionable water, a bandage, a sling, a dust mask, and any one of a dozen other uses.
09. Add a small prytool to your key ring or kit. Such a tool is an invalueable aid in opening a stuck door or window and can be used for a host of other chores including digging through sheetrock or prying open a clam.
10. Add a waterproof "spy-capsule" containing at least a couple days worth of personal medications to your kit or keyring.
It's time we all took some personal responsibility for our safety and survival. Packing up a small selection of EDC items and maybe a 1st Aid Kit and Personal Survival Kit is a step in the right direction. Just starting out? The Doug Ritter Personal Survival Pack from Adventure Medical Kits has a lot of the items listed above already included at a tremendous savings over buying the items individually. Doug's kit is easily modified to meet each individual's need and is backed by great customer service and support...