Fire-starters and tinders are a must for every Survival Kit. Most households have matches and lighters tucked away in a drawer somewhere, and the following can be used as tinder in a fire-starting assembly:
-Vaseline and cotton-balls (mix and store in a zip-lock bag; separate the fibers of the cotton-ball a bit before lighting to aerate)
-Alcohol swabs (unfold the alcohol swab before lighting; this aerates the swab much like separating the fibers of a cotton-ball aerates the cotton ball)
-Steel Wool and a battery (separate the fibers of the steel wool just a little then touch to the positive end of the battery - makes an automatic start to a tinder bundle)
I recommend adding a Metal Match fire-starter to the kit and you are good to go!
"He was a newcomer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man's frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man's place in the universe."
Years ago an interest in wilderness survival prompted me to read Jack London's "To Build A Fire," not knowing how much fear the story would invoke. London's descriptions of the environment at fifty-degrees below zero and seventy-five degrees below zero terrified me, perhaps as London intended.
Yesterday I revisited the short story and again it left me feeling cold and disturbed. In some way I can relate to the foolish traveler who ignores the advice of the Yukon locals and ventures out alone in temperatures below negative fifty-degrees. The traveler's dog watches inquisitively as the man flounders in the cold. Hopefully my dog has a higher opinion of me!
"To Build A Fire" is a brilliant and effective instructional. When my son is older I will present this story to him, as London explains the seriousness of the cold far better than I could. I will also arm him with the following checklist:
1) Don't venture out into the extremes alone
2) Wear or carry the proper clothing
3) Pack a metal-match fire-starter with man-made tinders (trioxane, hexamine, or fire paste, along with some natural pitch-wood)
4) Listen to the advice of knowledgeable people and maybe even the advice of your dog
The short story "To Build A Fire" can be read at the following link: