Many safety items can be improvised from other commonly carried objects in hiking or ski packs. Carrying these multi-use items can reduce pack weight and keep you prepared for many situations.
Ø Rigid stays in a backpack can be used as splints as can hiking or ski poles.
Ø Don’t leave home without duct tape. Carry it by wrapping it around a ski pole or around a small plastic bottle such as an empty pill bottle. Use the bottle to carry safety pins, needle and thread, etc. Duct tape can be used to tape splints to a victims body, tape a branch as a splint for a broken pole, tape a separated boot sole to the upper boot, or tape a boot to a broken ski or a broken binding.It is always advisable to carry some instant waterproof repair tape as well.
Ø Pocket knife with an awl to make holes to tie things together.
Ø Parachute cord is almost as handy as duct tape. Use it to replace broken shoestrings or tie together components of a splint. If cord is used to tie a splint to an injured person, be sure it is properly padded to prevent cutting off circulation to the injured area.
Ø Closed-cell foam or self-inflating mattress can be used as a litter to carry an injured person, keep the person more comfortable, or insulate them from cold ground.
Ø Plastic cable ties are a fast and light-weight way to fasten items.
Ø Fluorescent flagging or surveyor’s tape can be used to mark your path if you need to leave an injured person to go for help. The tape will help you find your way back.
Ø Pencil and paper to draw a map, leave a note, or write instructions.
Ø A “Sam Splint” is a good item for longer and more isolated trips. The splint is a thin sheet of aluminum between two closed-cell pads. It can be bent to hold an arm or leg in any position creating a temporary cast. Place the blue side against the skin.
Ø Don’t forget the basics – toilet paper (or even more versatile – paper towels), plastic bags, weather proof matches and fire starter – wood shavings in wax work well or small pieces of a Duraflame log.