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Author of What to Eat When You’re Broke and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
Sometimes it’s imperative not to look like a prepper or survival-minded person. Especially in this day and age, when people are jittery, you may not want to go around with items that could make you seem suspicious. Gray is the new black. Four of these items can be taken anywhere, even through metal detectors and on planes. The fifth is dependent upon where you’re headed.
These are five discreet items that I always have in my purse. If you don’t carry a purse, but you have big pockets, they could mostly be stashed in there. They cover several of the pillars of survival and can get you through a lot of different situations.
Obviously, if you’re in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard, this won’t save you – this is more to keep you prepped for day-to-day needs. Of course this will not see you through anything and everything. But it’s a good start and will help you to become more creative with finding multiple uses for your everyday items.
It’s pretty trendy to carry around a water bottle these days, as many people are trying to reduce their dependence on single-use plastic. So it’s not going to raise any eyebrows at all to lug your water around in a filtration bottle.
If you are carrying a bottle for a survival situation, you want something that filters out more than a standard tap water filter. I suggest a Lifestraw bottle (least expensive), a SurviMate bottle (moderate price), or the holy grail of water filtration bottles, the GRAYL. (Pun absolutely intended.) The GRAYL bottle is awesome and filters out far more than the others, but it’s expensive and only filters about 60-70 gallons before you need to replace the filter.
Nobody will even look twice at you for having one of these.
When I’m traveling outside the country, depending on the state of the water where I’m going, I tuck a little Sawyer Mini in my purse for survival situations and use a metal wall Brita bottle for day-to-day drinking.
The ability to make fire can mean the difference between life and death in many situations. Fire means you can boil water to purify it (if you can locate a vessel to put it in), you can have warmth, and you can make a signal. I never go anywhere without at least one lighter. Generally there’s one tucked in my pocket and a couple thrown into the bottom of my bag.
These don’t have to be super expensive. Grab a few lighters at the checkout stand from your gas station or WalMart. It may end up being the most useful few dollars you ever spent.
First Aid kit
This really varies with your needs. If you take medication required for life, you need to have extra with you at all times. If you’re ever stranded someplace, you’ll want to be able to keep taking your medicine. If you have life-threatening allergies, an epi-pen should be included in your personal first aid kit.
Barring that, I keep bandaids for blisters, a small Altoid tin of OTC meds, and this little vacuum-sealed kit that has what I need to stop heavy bleeding. That specific kit is no longer available on Amazon, which is a shame because it being vac-sealed means it is very compact, stays clean, and is easy to transport. If you have a Foodsaver or other food vacuum-sealers, you could easily make your own version using this kit or this more advanced one. At the least, you’ll want shears for cutting away clothing, a compression bandage, a tourniquet, an emergency blanket, some extra gauze, and perhaps some chest seal. Being able to stop bleeding might be the most life-saving skill you could ever have.
Nearly any situation is better if you can see. That’s why I am never without a flashlight.
I have one on my keychain, and I keep one in my purse. I like these little ones for my bag – I strongly prefer the kind that takes common batteries like AA or AAA. You can get rechargeable ones or ones that need hearing aid batteries, but they might be hard to replace or recharge during an emergency. You can nearly always find something that contains AA or AAA batteries to pillage from if you need to replace your batteries in a pinch.
Flashlights can also be used to signal for help. Brush up on your Morse Code or at least learn the signal for SOS. (Three short, three long, three short.)
Finally, last but definitely not least, is a pocket knife. There are some places that you cannot carry a knife these days. If you’re traveling by plane or a method of public transit that requires you to go through a metal detector, you most likely cannot take your knife. The same thing holds true if you are going into a courthouse or other secure facility.
But everywhere else, a pocket knife is unlikely to raise any eyebrows. I pack a small one in my checked luggage when I’m traveling and clip it to my bra when I’m able to carry it freely. (Women don’t always have pockets, you know.) Here’s my everyday carry knife – it is legal in almost every country, even ones with incredibly strict laws. You might prefer a multitool to a penknife – everyone has their own favorite.
I use a knife regularly for things like opening packages or mail, prying something out of a tiny space, and other day-to-day tasks. I’ve also taken multiple courses to learn how to use one for self-defense. A knife can be incredibly multipurpose, but I strongly advise you to learn from someone qualified to teach you if you plan to deploy it to protect yourself. (Go here to see Greg Ellifritz’s schedule – he’s my go-to knife guy, and he teaches all over the country.)
If you cannot carry a knife sometimes you can carry something similar if it looks like you have a good reason to be in possession of the item. A pair of sharp embroidery scissors and some embroidery supplies can at least get you a sharp pointy thing in your carry-on bag for the plane but it would be unlikely to be allowed in a courthouse. I’d hate to have to use embroidery scissors for self-defense, but it would be better than nothing if you know how to use it. I would never take expensive embroidery scissors anywhere that I might end up having them confiscated.
Of course, these are your bare minimum supplies to have on your person or in your purse. In the US, I carry a firearm and ammo, but outside the US, I can’t do that. I also like to have things like snacks, a map of my area, and my phone for comms, information, and navigation. I carry this book too. It’s about 3.5″x4.5″ and will fit in nearly any bag. It doesn’t go in-depth, but it provides the information you need to know to get through just about any situation that you might be unprepared for, like a snake bite or a tsunami. I bought a copy for each of my girls and have found it useful many times. And never forget that in bad situations, cash is king. I keep small bills in more than one currency on hand outside the US and small US bills within America.
Obviously, your kit should be dependent on you: where you live, what you might encounter, and what your restrictions are. Having the bare minimum to get you through a rough day or a crisis is incredibly important. Learning to be flexible and find multiple uses for the tools available is even more important.
What do you keep as a bare-minimum survival kit? If you could only have five items, what would they be? Let’s talk about it in the comments section.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.