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Have You Saved Someone's Life?

Tell us your story. Here's one memorable event:

On Fourth of July weekend at Lake Colchuck, we awoke to six inches of snow. With freezing high winds, it was sleeting sideways. Mountains create their own weather.

Hiking out in the storm, my boyfriend and I came upon a Forest Service ranger lying beside the trail. Dressed in a wet T-shirt and shorts, she was shivering violently and gasping for air. Her mother-in-law dithered around uselessly.

“Why can’t she breathe?” I asked. “She forgot her asthma inhaler and a jacket,” her mother-in-law replied.

Quickly I gave her two puffs from my emergency asthma inhaler (always in my pack). Although the ranger could breathe, she had hypothermia. I dragged her under a tree to get out of the storm. Asked my boyfriend to boil water and shield her from onlookers.

I pulled extra clothes from my pack. She was about my size. Quickly I pulled off the ranger’s wet clothes. I dressed her in long underwear, rain pants, a turtleneck, sweater and down jacket. Made her a makeshift raincoat from a large plastic sack. Gave her my hat and gloves, since I had a hood.

Pouring hot tea down her throat, we fed her candy for energy. Although she was reviving, she was still groggy and stumbling. Two teenage boys came running up the trail.

“Do you guys have a cell phone?” I asked. “This woman is in serious medical trouble. She has hypothermia. Please run back down toward the trail head. As soon as you get a signal, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Tell them we will meet the ambulance at the trail head in 2-1/2 hours.”

Off they went. Nice boys.

I had her mother-in-law carry my pack. Holding the ranger’s arms over our shoulders, we carefully sidestepped down the steep, rocky trail. There was a sharp drop-off on one side of the trail. The ambulance was waiting at the trail head.

“Can I get your name and address?” the mother-in-law asked as the ranger was being tended in the ambulance.

Later, I got a beautiful letter from that ranger. She returned my clothes.

“Thank you for saving my life,” she wrote. “I thought I could run up to Lake Colchuck like I do every day. I knew better than to go unprepared. I feel embarrassed to tell my work colleagues what a stupid thing I did. I will never forget your kindness.”

Photo: Lake Colchuck (6,000 feet) with Dragontail Peak (9,000 feet) behind me. August 2010.

By LiterateHiker
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52 comments

9

I did so unknowingly. Years ago at an afternoon backyard party I met a man I thought was cute. I didn't talk to him much, but he ended up out that night with mutual friends and we ended up chatting, ended up chatting more at his place after and then made plans to hang out again another time. We went on a few dates over the next few weeks. I don't think it was a perfect connection, so we started to drift apart and then one day he wrote me a long email.
Apparently, he had been getting more and more depressed over the weeks before he met me. The day before we met he had purchased a gun and at the very party we met at he'd sent himself a text as a way to resolve that he'd kill himself that night. Since he and I ended up hanging out together till very late, he didn't do it. And the plans we made to hang out again changed his whole outlook. He thanked me.
We didn't end up seeing each other again after that email, but last I saw him, a year or so after that, he was doing well.

Ella Level 7 July 9, 2018
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9

If you vote for political parties who fight against poverty and war, and you demonstrate against war, you save lives.

Ellatynemouth Level 8 July 7, 2018
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Indeed so. 😃

8

At age 12, I saved my little brother, 9, when he fell through the ice. On the beach, little kids were screaming and useless.

"Are there oars underneath that rowboat?" I asked, quickly turning to Tony Salvaggio, 13, who lived there. "Yes," he replied. Tony was taller and bigger than me.

"Quick! Let's grab the boat and push it onto the ice," I said. "We can use the oars to push the boat to the hole where Lee fell in." Tony sprang into action. Off we went.

Meanwhile, Lee was weakly jumping up in the hole for a gulp of air, then sinking back under the ice. Rapidly tiring and freezing, Lee's heavy ice skates and wet jacket weighed him down.

"Tony, I'm going to lean over the edge of the boat and grab Lee," I said. "Counter-balance me, and hang onto the back of my pants. Don't let go!"

Leaning over the side of the boat, I reached underwater and grabbed Lee's jacket. Together we hauled Lee into the boat like a frozen lump.

Tony's mother called my mom. A registered nurse, Mom calmly grabbed blankets and drove five doors down to the Salvaggio's house.

At home, Mom put Lee into a hot bath. When Mom handed him a cup of cocoa, Lee's hands were shaking so hard he spilled every drop into the bath.

Here I am at age 12, with my sister Beth, 7. Echo Lake, Michigan.

And with my siblings on Lake Michigan. From the left: athletic Kathleen (me), 7, stinker Beth, 2, unathletic Lynne, 8, and hyper Lee, 5.

LiterateHiker Level 8 July 7, 2018
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Wow! I love this!

7

My nephew choked on a piece of food at thanksgiving when he was about one y.o. No one knew what to do including my brother. I had training in Heimlich. I gave some back blows and out the food came. It was a simple, not so complex, not so exciting story, but he wouldn't be here had I not been there.

StrongHappySilly Level 6 July 7, 2018

@StrongHappySilly
Well done! Love your user name.

7

Several times, but I am a nurse. This includes my ex-husband....oh well ya win some ya lose some. Never been thanked, never want to be. Also performed CPR unsucessfully which is awful.

Amisja Level 7 July 7, 2018
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My experience with CPR, has been mostly negative, too as I related earlier, got a mouthful of river water and the person I was performing it on shared their lunch with the river water. My dad died while I was performing CPR on him after a heart attack. Then an old drunk who I pulled out of the apartment building on fire next to mine. Didn't get a cocktail from him but he did blow huge amounts of bourbon smelling mucous out his nose on my cheek. That was almost as bad as secondhand chili dogs.

6

Yes, about 2,000 times. I'm not kidding. My wife was type 1 diabetes and very brittle. That means she could go from high blood sugar to very low in a short period of time. She lost the ability to realize when she was getting low. many times I told her she was getting low but she would not believe me. i spent sometimes an hour getting her to drink sweet juice. Some times she was just catatonic , just not there but still resisting my giving her juice. The diabetes came with the territory and I was with her for over 36 years until she passed 2 years ago. She passed the way she wanted to, heart just stopped. And yes, I miss her terribly.

starwatcher-al Level 7 July 8, 2018
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My sympathy for your loss. It sounds as if you two had a lovely life together, Your wife was lucky to have you.

6

I've rescued 4 people from Mormonism...So yeah..

boom Level 4 July 7, 2018
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6

As a Park Ranger I had plenty of opportunities to keep the park safe for visitors and to save lives if I was in the right place at the right time. It was 1990 in a large Forest on the Mississippi River. It was already dark, I was posting reservation signs at shelters when I saw a car sitting near the shelter. I approached the car and saw a single woman in the drivers seat crying. She was holding a revolver, I asked her what was wrong, why are you crying, are you hurt, with my eye on that gun in her lap the whole time. I stood there at the car window and talked about marriage and heart break. She was going to kill herself because he said he didn't love her anymore. After about an hour, I asked her to give me her gun and leave the park, or I would have to arrest her. She did, and drove to her mother's home. The next week she came back to get her gun. She thanked me for saving her life, saying if I hadn't come by she would have shot herself. This was the right spot, right time.

sweetcharlotte Level 7 July 7, 2018
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5

From somebody who's been saved but never been in a position to save anybody thank you all

Salo Level 7 July 9, 2018
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5

I'm not real sure how to feel about this but, I saved my ex. It was in 2013. I kicked him out and moved to Denver in May. He came to Garden City and stayed with friends and after they kicked him out he stayed with my youngest son. When they kicked him out he moved to a hotel and my mother was paying for it. I was still in Denver during all of this. I fled Denver and went to my mother's in Lamar in the middle of August. After I got moved back to Lamar I came to Garden to find out what the ex was doing and if he had a job why wasn't he paying for the hotel himself. I think I made either two or three trips to Garden and discovered he had no job and had not left the hotel room since the day he checked in. He was not eating and was drinking very little.

One the next to last trip when I got back to Lamar I called Area Mental Health and they said I could have an appointment for today or tomorrow. No matter when you call you can have an appointment for today or tomorrow. So I made an appointment for tomorrow.

The next day I drove to Garden and made him get his ass out of that bed and get in the car. It took a good 30 minutes to get him up. I told him either he gets out of the bed under his own power or I'm calling an ambulance. I took him to AMH and their general assessment was he was a passive danger to himself and should be committed. He had to be admitted thru the emergency room so I took him over to the ER.

They made him go pee in a cup. It was one of the clear ones with the screw on cap. When he came out of the bathroom it looked like he had a cup of coffee!!! He was down to 115 pounds from a normal of 175. They made him spend 24 hours in a medical bed before they sent him to the Psych ward and he spent a full week in the Psych ward.

The doctor told me that if I had been just a couple of days later he wouldn't be alive.

So now the fucker stalks me.

sewchick57 Level 7 July 8, 2018
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You did the right thing. It's unfortunate that no good deed goes unpunished.

5

Wow! I am impressed, seriously, I seldom encounter people truly prepared and willing to jump in to assist to such a degree. I know they are out there but often even people with training fail to step in for a variety of reasons. I won't tell stories because I have been in Emergency Services roles most of my life and take those experiences and skills where ever I go. But I love to see people step up and perform outside their usual roles. Thank You for your service, and thanks for sharing!

Smlnjac Level 4 July 7, 2018
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@Smlnjac
Thank you for your kind words I have helped other unprepared people in the mountains during storms. Also shared essential items they forgot: insect repellant, sunscreen, and use of my first aid kit.

Ron, a rock climber I met said he climbed with a man who never brought food. Fed up, Ron finally ate lunch on a climb without sharing it. Hungry, his sponging partner licked the oil from Ron's empty tuna can. After that, the man began bringing his own food.

Edited
5

MY HAID DONE FROZE TO THE GROUND!
in 1978 working with the High Adventure Program out of Chattanooga TN. We had s group of inner city kids on a winter hike in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. It had been snowing for a few days prior to our hike. The eastern facing slopes were free of snow, the trail along the ridge between Naked ground and Sttatton Meadows had at least 3 feet of snow on the trail. The smaller kids could walk on top of the snow. Fat guys like me fell through with almost every step. Snowshoes are rarely necessary in southern Appalachian hiking. The group broke camp our last morning hiking in these conditions after a 17 below zero night with sleet. After breakfast a kid starts saying he is hearing somebody yelling. I slog towards the head of our column and sure enough I hear " can you fellers give me a hand! MY HAID DONE FROZE TO THE GROUND! " but there us nobody to go with the voice. We start yelling back " Where are you?" We get "over here by the big hickory stump!"
We eventually locate Bear man Dan who had wrapped his survival blanket around him, he got out of Guns and Ammo. Melted down into the snow. His HAID was indeed froze to the ground. His body heat had warmed the snow enough to melt it then it refroze during the night and his long scraggly hair hanging out from his baklava type head gear had a giant block of snow attatched. We dug bear man out, set up a little kitchen and made him hot Tang and coffee. His story was he was looking for a lost horse it started to get dark and he wrapped up in his blanket like Linus till the storm quit. Then woke when our group came marching by. The morning was clear and cold but bright and sunny, after the nasty weather the previous night. The sun may have thawed his ice and snow casket enough for Bear man Dan to escape along with the rifle he was sleeping on. We thought he was poaching bear or wild boar.
Thought you might like that story. Pulled several people out of Rivers while guiding. My advice on CPR in water rescue situations is to be ready to get a mouth full of their lunch when they start breathing again and throw up. Wait till the person is on the river bank not floating in the river. Can't move as quickly in a fluid environment.
Had an epic rescue on the Hiwassee River at flood stage once, that saw me bitten by a copperhead trying to "salvage " a canoe that had been abandoned by one of the injured people I had in my canoe the previous day.
Nice Hat in the picture!

Stevil Level 8 July 7, 2018
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@Stevil

Wonderful story! You are a great storyteller. Are you Irish? I'm half-Irish and a born storyteller.

Your comment about getting vomit in your mouth while giving CPR was a wakeup call. Yuck. Good for you for rescuing people!

In 2012, I nearly drowned when my kayak flipped in rapids, pinning me underwater under a strainer. Strainers are deadly. For the uninitiated, a "strainer" is a large tree that fell into the river, partly submerged, held in place by the trunk.

That's another adventure story. I have dozens. My life is an adventure.

Kathleen

Edited

@LiterateHiker I'm Irish and Cherokee on my Grandmothers side. Where I spent my summers as a child. No electricity evenings were spent sitting on the front porch as the house cooled listening to stories told by grandparents uncles, aunts, neighbors and who ever happened to drop by, many thanks for the compliment on my story telling! My grandmother and grand father would be proud that I have carried the traditions they taught me on the porch. Listening to the tales told on that porch with the sun setting and bugs singing for back ground music were the best ever!
Strainers! The Hiwassee river rescue i mentioned involved a woman getting caught on a big pine that the flood waters had under cut and dropped into the river. Her group was about to leave her Till I grabbed them and made them do a head count. finally spotted her life jacket on the up stream side of the tree. A short limb stripped of needles and turned into a dagger. Had speared the woman. The force of the water had slowly pushed the dagger through her life jacket and the side of her breast and exited under her arm. That it did keep her from going under the tree and not being seen, I hope you fared better than her. Strainers are bad really bad.
I love your stories too and pictures!

Edited

@Stevil

"I'm not going to drown on my watch," I thought as I ran through self-rescue options underwater. Instinctively I had taken a deep breath just as I was plunged underwater.

Finally something worked. I swam down and pushed my feet hard against the bottom of the river. Exploding sideways, I held the capsized kayak over my face to protect my eyes from branches. Sweet air!

Finally, I was free of the strainer! With one hand, I grabbed the kayak before it was swept downriver. "Don't lose your craft," I thought. With three tries, I rolled into the kayak. Fixed the foot rest that was kicked loose when I capsized.

People were frantically trying to paddle upriver to me.

"Has anyone seen my oar?" I called, shooting downriver with no way to steer.

"I've got it!" a man yelled. "I'll bring it to you." I grabbed the oar as I shot by him. "Thank you!"

In Tennessee, this was a hillbilly-style kayak rental. They broke four major safety rules:

  1. No lifejackets.
  2. No helmets.
  3. No instructions.
  4. No one following the group to help people in trouble.

We had driven four hours to get there.

"It's not safe without a lifejacket or helmet," I told the medical doctor I was dating. "Is there another kayak rental nearby?"

He said no. We argued. I gave in because I didn't want to make a scene and spoil the day.

Good manners nearly cost me my life.

Edited

@LiterateHiker wow! that place must have the best most iron clad release form ever crafted by the legal profession to be able to rent with out sweating bullets about liability on every rental. I'm glad you are so resourceful to escape.

5

Well, I AM Batman, so it's pretty routine.

maturin1919 Level 7 July 7, 2018
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@maturin1919
Funny!

5

I feel certain I saved a friend from jumping off a bridge or something similar. I simply gave her something she needed because I didn't need it anymore.

ProudMary Level 8 July 7, 2018
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Amazing what might change the course of a life.

5

Twice in fact.. Last one was a woman drowning during a hurricane in Sarasota during the nineties.. Had I not been checking her out I may not have noticed...

Starfodder Level 6 July 7, 2018
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So, did you get a date with her? smile009.gif

@bigpawbullets married with kids.. thanked me on their behalf.. not the best moment to ask...

5

I was a lifeguard at the lake and a small girls arm floaty got stuck under the dock and she couldn't get her arm out. Other kids didn't notice or help but I swam out to get her. I also had a saved a kid who dived in the shallow end and hit his head on the sand. He ended up with a stinger and was paralyzed for an hour or so. (Full disclosure I told the kid not to do it and he didn't listen so I wasn't very remorseful). I also saved my own life when I was choking on food. My brother and mom were in the other room watching tv and couldn't figure out what was going on. My mom flipped out and my brother was just in shock. I had to grab a chair and give myself the heimlich maneuver. After I got the food out and breath back I royally bitched at them and taught them all the heimlich maneuver and CPR right then and there lol.

McWalsoft Level 5 July 7, 2018
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@McWalsoft
Amazing stories. Well done.

Edited
5

Been in that situation a few times, once when I was only 15 and I was waiting for a friend and I guy came out of the house across the street with a roll of paper towel between his arms soaked in blood. He had just bought the house and the previous owners had given it a coat of paint to spruce it up before putting it on the market and they painted the old double hung windows shut. The guy had been trying to force the window open to air the place out and he wound up putting both arms through the glass resulting in very deep cuts but not spurting so he missed the arteries. My friend came outside with his girlfriend, saw the blood and vomited. The guy was really pale so I took the paper towels away and put the worst arm wounds in compression to stop the bleeding, then I got my buddy's girlfriend to do the same on the other arm which wasn't too bad and yelled at my friend to call 911. The ambulance was there in 5 minutes or so and by then the guy was fainting but they stabilized him and took him to hospital, the EMT said the guy would have bled out if he had kept the paper towels drawing out the blood from his wounds.
Another time I had a worker start coughing after he swallowed a bee that had gone into his can of coke and it stung him in the back of the throat on the way down when he took a drink. His foreman told the man to go back to work as it was his own fault for drinking a coke when it wasn't break time. I overruled the foreman as I was in charge of the site and employed his company to do work for me, drove the guy to the hospital and got him there just as his throat was closing up, a shot of adrenalin saved him although they did have to ventilate him for a bit. When I brought the worker back to the job site his foreman wanted to dock the man's wages, so I told him to either pay him for the day or pack up and get off my job site, permanently. The guy got paid but I never subcontracted work to that company again.

Surfpirate Level 8 July 7, 2018
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@Surfpirate
Wow! Good for you.

@LiterateHiker It's amazing how callous some employers can be towards their employees, even at the family factory I found this to be true. I found one worker cleaning out a transformer tank with a powerful metal cleaner with only a rag tied over his face, I managed to pull him out of the tank before he was overcome by the fumes. He started vomiting and couldn't walk or stand up without my assistance so I took him to the Emergency dept. at the local hospital where he was given oxygen and he recovered. My stepdad was so pissed off at me for doing this, he thought it would make the other workers lazy but he was just too cheap to pay for proper safety equipment. The guys refused to do that job without a fan to clear the fumes and a proper dust mask with chemical filters after that experience, the old man was pissed off at me for years over that one. A year later he had to step up safety protocols when a delivery guy electrocuted himself when they were running up a large transformer for testing to 150% of rating. The guy died on the spot because there weren't proper lock outs, just a piece of caution tape that he ducked under to save a few seconds to make the delivery. The factory was shut down for several days while an investigation took place and my stepdad was fined heavily but to this day he thinks that he was the wronged party.

Edited

@Surfpirate
Your asshole stepdad sounds like a Republican.

@LiterateHiker He's called a Progressive Conservative up here in Canada, although there is nothing progressive about him. I think of him as proof that you don't have to be smart to be rich, you just have to be greedy, cheap and mean - luckily for him my mother is religious or she would have left him long ago. Fiscally I am to the right of him but socially I am far to the left.

5

Had a couple, one was the usual swimming out to get someone who was swept out in a rip, then had a seizure in the water, not fun on my own I was 16. But a strange one about 10 years back. This woman was walking very close to the edge of a cliff, far too close, (I am scared of heights myself). She obviously wasn't watching where she was going and as I walked past she lost balance, somehow I managed to grab her hand as she went backwards. She gave me the nastiest look then looked behind her, started crying. She had not realised she was on the edge, just not paying attention.

Rugglesby Level 8 July 7, 2018
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4

I yelled to my husband before he stepped on a groggy rattlesnake trying to warm itself in the middle of a trail one chilly morning. He had long legs & always left me behind even though I hated it. Being the A-hole that he is, he ignored me at first when I just yelled his name--I was so panicked I couldn't come up with the word "snake" even. Finally I got him to at least turn around & see what I was hollering about. He was probably 3 feet from the snake by then. That pause gave the snake enough time to rouse itself & crawl away, finally rattling. He was lucky we had just started the hike & he hadn't left me far enough behind that I wouldn't have seen that snake lying there looking like a stick. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept my mouth shut anyway.

Carin Level 7 July 13, 2018
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4

Im a narcan administrator.
The Fentanyl death grip isnt a crisis...its a full blown APOCALYPSE.
Im the most heavily trained admin in Maple Ridge.
30% of the city's population use Fentanyl.
To date, I have saved 8 lives.
I do overdose patrols nightly.

Tedster Level 3 July 12, 2018
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4

Possibly; I was living in the lake district and there is a beating the bounds ceremony where the children make rushbearings with flowers in the rushes and take them to the church after walking round the parish with alll the bishops at the front singing the rushbearing song its back to the church for lemonade and gingerbread and school sports that include after all the races, a run up Helvellyn Fell .My partner and I went on ahead up the fell in order to cheer the kids on - a boy who was a severe asthmatic had decided against instructions that he would do it too and he collapsed at the top where we were - I managed to pick him up and bring him down - He was heavy and no one at the ground level noticed for a long time I got stuck at a large gateway with a stile at the bottom and also got stuck holding him even when other rescuers came - I sort of couldn't let go. he survived but it could have been nastier if we hadn't decided to run up the fell first.

jacpod Level 7 July 11, 2018
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4

Good going, she's so lucky you were prepared and knew what to do.

I've saved a few lives - I worked my way through college as a pool lifeguard, so I've had to rescue people that overestimated their swimming ability in a serious way, and I even had to rescue someone who was mentally handicapped (mid 20s) and whose caregiver directed them into the deep pool. This individual walked out into the middle of the pool where the water was well over his head, so I went in and was carrying him to the side while telling him to relax and he'd be OK. His caregiver at the side tells me, "Don't bother talking to him, he doesn't understand speech."

He put this person in this pool and didn't bother to tell any of the staff about his "condition". I suspect he was trying to find a way of putting his charge out of his misery in a way that would plausibly be called an accident.

I also spent several years volunteering as part of the First Aid Service Team for the American Red Cross - while that was mostly applying band aids and treating blisters at community events, there were a few incidents at events like the Rose Parade where we had to summon an ambulance to avoid having to call the Coroner.

chilehead9 Level 6 July 10, 2018
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4

I'm a nurse, it happens. In civvies, 2 epileptic seizures, a bike accident and sent someone to a doctor once who got picked up on pre-eclampsia!

Josephine Level 7 July 9, 2018
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4

I had a childhood friend that was suicidal, but she later sent me a hand-written letter thanking me for always being their for her, I’ve rescued a child and a drunk man from the lake and I helped a man whose truck lost control on ice and rolled into a ditch at high speed. All but the first thanked god for my helping them.

RandyMoose Level 7 July 9, 2018
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4

I would like to recommend two things that through my experience will be essential survival items.

  1. A signal mirror. That is probably the fastest way to get a SAR pilots attention on the ocean or on the land.

  2. A space blanket. Pick something that is extremely reflective and the color doesn’t belong in the ocean or the land. International orange traffic yellow are two great colors.

Both these items are small and pack easily.

If you are out on the ocean and have a boat I would recommend that you have an international orange stripe painted along the bottom. Every white cap from 500 ft looks like a capsized boat.

Mikeb56 Level 6 July 7, 2018
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@Mikeb56

You are right. In my first aid kit, I carry a lightweight signal mirror. Also, the mirror helps you remove something from your eye.

A first aid kit and reflective survival blanket live in my pack. When needed, I restock the first aid kit.

Edited

@LiterateHiker my kind of girl!! May I be so bold to recommend some quick clot for your bag as well. Half of my tackle box is medical supplies sealed in food saver bags. While I’m being bold a bottle of baby aspirin and some opsites for wounds.

@Mikeb56
Yes, in my first aid kit is QR powder that instantly stops bleeding. Many men are on blood thinners with high cholesterol.

While hiking, guess what I hand out most often? Benadryl. In the outdoors, people get stung by bees, wasps and hornets, especially in the fall. Surprise.

Edited

@LiterateHiker ready for almost anything. 😃

@LiterateHiker You might add Zyrtec in my experience it works similar to Benadryl without the sleepiness plus you can still give Benadryl if you don't get the desired effect!

@Smlnjac
Benadryl doesn't make me sleepy. No one has complained when I give them Benadryl. I also carry Ibuprofen.

@LiterateHiker I've heard that Benedryl even helps for snake bites. It's definitely recommended for some animals, including goats, that have been bitten by a snake. Curious if it would help a human.

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