Duct tape, zip ties, WD-40 and flat black spray paint are all basics for any tool kit. Bug-out bags have their basics as well. Water, filter, fire-starter, extra meds, paracord… Wait, what’s paracord. Almost any prepper worth her salt knows that there are times when things just need to be secured or you just may need a few feet of line. More and more folks are discovering the versatility of paracord.
Originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes, it is commonly known as 550 cord or 550 paracord referring to the nominal breaking strength. Most paracord is described as a nylon kernmantle rope which is made up of nylon strands braided around an inner core for strength. These strands can be unravelled to make sewing thread, dental floss or even fishing line. Also now available is “fire cord.” One of the inner strands is made from jute and some is impregnated with a flammable accelerant. So in time of emergency, unravel your cord, pull out the center filament and strike it with your fire starter. Bingo instant fire.
A quick search on the internet shows paracord used in firefighters escaping the second floor of a burning building. Another story reports an emergency snow shoe repair in arctic backcountry. There is even a wildland firefighter replacing a melted shoelace with paracord. So how is it all these people have their paracord so handy you ask? Survival bracelets braided from paracord. Just do an internet search for paracord and probably the first thing that pops up is a wide selection of survival bracelets. Braided from twelve feet or more of paracord a survival bracelet is almost required gear for backpackers, outdoorsmen, firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel. They come in all sorts of colors and some even have useful items integrated into the design. Mine has a whistle and a fire striker built in to go along with the fire cord core. Some also have a small compass and even a built in thermometer .
The idea is if you are ever in a situation where you need a rope or heavy string, simply unravel your braided paracord bracelet and you suddenly have several feet of usable shoelace or rescue rope or even firestarter. And the designs aren’t just limited to bracelets. How about a key fob or lanyard or rifle sling? All these and more are available for purchase online, but if you’re a do-it-yourselfer you can make your own. Even Walmart sells a kit with all the starter supplies and a step-by-step instruction book. Bulk paracord is easily available and can be used to hoist your food supplies off the ground when camping, securing your tent if the regular tent ropes aren’t up to the task or if you’re really in a survival situation, making a snare to catch something to eat.
Bracelets come in all kinds of themes. All branches of the military are represented along with most colleges (yes I even found one to celebrate the University of Oregon Ducks). They come in camo, pink camo, and every conceivable color combination you can imagine. So now you have one more item to add to your get-home/bug out bag. Paracord. Not expensive, but priceless if you need it.
As always send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us.”