If you are stranded in the wilderness, it is absolutely essential that you are able to start a fire. In many locations, temperatures at night can get dangerously cold. Even if the temperatures are not frigid, you still may be in danger. Hypothermia can occur in temperatures as warm as 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you are out in the backcountry, a fire can serve many purposes. It will not only serve as a heat source to warm your body, its flickering light and smoke may act as a signal to rescuers that will lead them to your location.
Because the ability to create a fire is so important, it is a good idea to have several fire starters in your survival kit.
- Lighter. A Bic lighter is a convenient fire starter to have around a campground. It can be used to light a stove or a campfire. However, Bic lighters may not be reliable when you’re out in the elements. In addition, they require a significant amount of coordination to work. If your hands are numb from cold, you might not be able to light it. Further, these types of lighters are not reliable at high elevations.
- Stormproof matches. Stormproof matches also provide a quick fire starter, and can be used in rainy and windy conditions. However, lighting a match also takes a significant amount of coordination that you may not have if you’re cold or injured.
- Spark rod. Spark rods are reliable in wet conditions, and because they require gross motor skills to work, they can be used by individuals who may be suffering from numbness in their fingers. Spark rods come in many different varieties including ferrocerium, magnesium, or a combination of materials.
- Tinder. All of the fire starters in the world will be of no use if there is nothing to ignite. For this reason, you should always include tinder in your survival kit. Cotton balls coated in Vaseline make excellent fire starters, even when wet. Vaseline-coated cotton balls can burn for up to five minutes (just make sure you pull them apart a bit to expose the fibers). These coated cotton balls can be stored in an empty film canister or in a plastic sandwich bag. It is a good idea to carry five or more of these in your survival kit.
Although fire starters are important tools to have when you’re stranded in the wilderness, building a fire is a skill that must be developed. Practice using your fire starters and make sure you understand the basics of building a fire before you hit the trail.
Fire provides many benefits to people in the wilderness, but wildfires are extremely destructive. If you build a fire, never leave it unattended. Make sure your fire is out cold before you leave the area.