Survival Tin

Survival Tin

from SAS Survival Handbook
A few key items can make all the difference in the fight for survival. Collect the things listed below. They can all squeeze into a small container, such as a 2oz tobacco or Altoids tin, that will be hardly noticeable when slipped into a pocket. Make a habit of always having it with you. Do not choose something bigger, you may find it inconvenient to carry and leave it out on the one occasion you actually need it.
Experience has proven that each item earns its place, though some are more useful in some situations than in others: fish hooks, for instance, may be invaluable in the jungle but less so in the desert.
Polish the inside of the lid to make a mirror-like reflecting surface and seal it, to be waterproof, with a strip of adhesive tape which can be easily removed and replaced. Don’t then just forget the tin. Regularly check the contents, changing any which deteriorate, such as matches and medicine tablets. Mark all drug containers with use and dosage and a run-out date when they should be replaced. Pack spare space in the tin with cotton wool, which will keep the contents from rattling and can be used for lighting fires.


Waterproof matches are useful but bulkier than ordinary non-safety, strike-anywhere matches, which can be made ‘shower-proof’ by dipping the heads in melted candle fat. To save space, snap off half of each matchstick.
It is much easier to use matches than to make fire by other methods but don’t waste them, use only when improvised methods fail. Take them from the tin one at a time and replace the lid. Never leave the container open or lying on the ground.
Invaluable for starting a fire as well as a light source. If made of tallow it is also fat to eat in an emergency or to use for frying – but be sure it is tallow; paraffin wax and some other candles are inedible. Tallow does not store well, especially in hot climates.
Flints will work when wet and they will go on striking long after you run out of matches. Invest in a processed flint with a saw striker.
Several needles, including at least one with a very large eye that can be threaded with sinew and coarse threads. Choose strong thread and wrap it around the needles. They can be used for repairing or making clothes in an emergency.
A selection of different hooks in a small tin or packet. Add a few split lead weights. Remember that a small hook will catch both large and small fish but a large hook will only catch big ones. Include as much line as possible, it will also be useful for catching birds.
A luminous button compass – but make sure you know how to read it, as some small compasses can be confusing. A liquid-filled type is best, but check that it does not leak, has no bubbles in it and is fully serviceable. The pointer is prone to rust. Make sure it is on its pivot and swings freely.
Preferably brass wire – 60–90cm (2–3ft) should do. Save for snares, but could solve many survival problems.
These usually come with large rings at the ends as handles. These take up too much room, so remove them; they can be replaced by wooden toggles when you need to use it. To protect from rust and breakage cover it in a film of grease. Flexible saws can be used to cut even quite large trees.
For use where water is suspect and you cannot boil. Follow manufacturers’ instructions.
This makes a good water-bag – holding 1 liter (1¾pt). It is easiest to fill it from a source that has an abundance of water and a degree of water pressure, like a waterfall.
Compact and easily stored, cotton wool is one of the best kindling materials available. Also stops the tin’s contents rattling.
Key item for raising an alert, attracting attention, and preventing members of a group from getting lost.
It is essential to keep a record of important survival information – for instance, the locations of resources or lists of edible local plants.
If you’re on the move and tear your clothes, safety pins can provide quick repair until you can fix things properly. The same can be applied for shelter coverings. You can also use the pins as fishing hooks for catching fish or birds.
Use to seal the survival tin. Serves as an all-weather adhesive with applications ranging from building shelters and tools to securing medical bandages.


A good survival kit is one that is flexible and dynamic. When preparing a trip to the wilderness, it is essential to know how your needs will change depending on the anticipated range of conditions. The following is a list of basic items needed to build the most comprehensive Survival Kit tailored around your requirements.
Can start a fire from direct sunshine and is useful for searching for splinters and stings.
Beta lights provide a reliable and continuous light source for about 15 years. The lights are generally the size of a small coin, are self-illuminating requiring no batteries, and are ideal for map reading.
Assorted sizes, preferably waterproof, for minor abrasions and keeping cuts clean. They can be cut and used as butterfly sutures (see Stitching Wounds ).
What you include depends upon your own skill in using it. Pack medicines in airtight containers with cotton wool to prevent rattling. The following items will cover most ailments:
Analgesic: A pain reliever for mild and moderate pain. Codeine phosphate is ideal for tooth, ear and headaches. Dose: one tablet every six hours as needed but can cause constipation as a side-effect so will help in cases of loose bowels. Not to be taken by children, asthmatics or people with liver disorders.
Intestinal sedative: For treating acute and chronic diarrhea. Imodium is usually favored.
Dose: two capsules initially, then one each time a loose stool is passed.
Antibiotic: For general infections. Tetracycline can be used even by people hypersensitive to penicillin. Dose: one 250mg tablet, four times daily, repeated for five to seven days. Carry enough for a full course. If taking, avoid milk, calcium and iron preparations or other drugs containing aluminum hydroxide.
Antihistamine: For allergies, insect bites and stings (may also help in cases of a bad reaction to a drug). Piriton is recommended in Britain, Benadryl in the USA. Sleepiness is a side-effect of Piriton, so useful as a mild sleeping pill. Do not exceed recommended dosages or take with alcohol.
Anti-malaria tablets: Essential in areas where malaria is present. There are types which require only one tablet taken monthly.
Potassium permanganate: Add to water and mix until water becomes bright pink to sterilize it, deeper pink to make an antiseptic and to a full red to treat fungal diseases such as athlete’s foot.
At least two scalpel blades of different sizes. A handle can be made from wood when required.

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