Believe it or not these two scenarios may seem very different in their threat level but I will let you know that they are not. Regardless of the amount of submersion you fall victim to you are never the less wet, cold and in immediate need of fire to reduce the effects and save your life.
Fire kits are a premade survival item which you may never need but if you do it may prove to be the most important item you ever travelled into the wilderness with.
I have seen many different styles including everything from manufactured tinder, multiple ignition sources, newspaper, egg cartons, fire sticks, etc. The list goes on and on. The mistake I often see when I challenge students to use their own fire kits to start a fire is that they have never tested their kits nor thought of their limitations.
For a quick example I turn to the classic Bic lighter. A seemingly great piece of kit as your ignition source. During my first cold water submersion training ex I had that very lighter in my pocket. In fact I had two. I hit the frigid water and fully submerged above my head. After I self rescued I grabbed my trusty Bic lighter and headed for the first Birch tree I could find. As the wind swept a cool breeze across my hands it became painfully obvious that fine motor skills were no longer possible. That Bic lighter has a wheel and a push down that must be spun and pushed in succession to work. It was a sobering experience and one I will never forget.
Another major mistake that people make is thinking that the bigger the fire kit the better. Wrong. The smaller the fire kit the better. For one very simple reason - you'll carry it.
Your fire kit must contain an ignition source, a tinder and most importantly must be carried on you if you ever hope to survive a cold water submersion.
Here are a few pics of what I carry in my pocket every time I hit the wilderness. Simple and small. However, I have tested these items more times than I can count and my confidence in these items are second to none.
- Altoids Tin
Take my advice and create your own fire tin that you make a habit of carrying everywhere with you. It could save your life or the life of a loved one !