I bought a 747 Life Raft Survival Kit. Here's what's inside.

Discussion in '5col Survival Supply' started by andy.t, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    A while ago I bought this awesome expired Life Raft Rescue Kit from a 747, and I thought you guys might like to see what's inside.

    This kit was assembled by a company called DME Corporation in 2004. It contains a number of life-limited items. I guess when a kit like this expires, it somehow magically makes its way from the company servicing the aircraft to Ebay. The kit is shown here with a banana for scale (please note: this banana is slightly smaller than average).

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    The outer yellow pouch (top) seems like it's made from Ripstop nylon. It has a large flap with hook and loop closure that I assume fastens it to the life raft somehow, and a smaller flap with snap closure to hold the contents in.

    Inside are two smaller transparent plastic packs holding the different contents. The first pack (left) is the Survival, Utility and First Aid Kit Base Kit Module, and the second pack (right) is Survival, Utility and First Aid Kit Five Year Replacement Kit Module. I assumed that all the time-limited components would be in the second Module, but the Sea Dye was in the first and it is full-on expired.

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    I opened up the Base Module and read the manual and the Immediate Action checklist. First thing to do is get everyone evenly distributed around the outside of the raft. Please remain seated! Then cut loose from the aircraft before it drags the raft to the bottom of the ocean.

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    The Base Module I received had already been opened, and the knife and signal mirror disappeared before they got to me. However, the diagram in the manual shows another knife attached to the raft by the mooring line. This is a good thing because "Open the Survival Kit" comes after "Cut Loose from the Sinking Aircraft" in the Immediate Action Checklist.

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    A member of the aircraft's crew will assume control of the raft and assign someone to be in charge of the survival kit. Once that's done, it's time to treat the serious injuries using the three triangular bandages, two gauze compresses, two rolls of surgical tape (with some kind of goop on the outside of the cases!), and a bunch of 1 in. x 20 in. adhesive bandages (band-aids). A skilled first responder could cover a lot of ground with these few items, but it seems like some serious trauma components would be a nice addition to the kit. The plane itself will have a much better first aid kit and a defibrillator, but I don't know that the crew would be able grab that while they're busy evacuating the passengers.

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    Here's the documentation included in the Base Module.

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    After stabilizing the injured passengers dosing everyone with seasickness tablets, it's time to inspect the raft and patch any holes. Two mechanical patches are included in the Base Module. You pass the side with the rubber gasket inside the tube so that the gasket goes all the way around the hole, then push the facing plate against it from the outside, and tighten the wing nut to seal it. The manual says that even with one tube fully deflated, the raft will remain afloat. Note the lanyard. Lanyards are your friends, even on land, but ESPECIALLY in the ocean. Imagine watching your patch sink to the bottom of the ocean while the air quietly hisses out of your raft. The lanyard prevents that, if you remember to use it.

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    Here's the collapsible fabric bailer, with two dehydrated sponges behind it. The manual stresses the importance of keeping the raft's interior dry. Bail out the water and wipe dry with sponges, it says. The sponges and bailer can also be used (in conjunction with the raft's roof) to gather rain water for drinking. You rarely see one deployed in pictures, but the big round raft and the slide rafts on these jets all have a roof that can be set up once the other Immediate Action Checklist items are complete.

    IMG_0386.JPG

    Here are the two signal components included in the Base Module along with the missing mirror (as well as the dehydrated sponges again). One is a whistle (with lanyard!) from Datrex. Datrex makes a whole range of life safety products, including the water packets in the other Module, and probably the missing knife and mirror from the Base Module. There is also a Sea Dye Marker from a company called Presto Dyechem. I talked with their owner a few months ago and he's a really nice guy. The Dye has a 3-5 year shelf life depending on storage conditions. You inspect it by squeezing the pouch. If the pouch feels like it's full of sand, then it's good to go. If it has hardened into a stone like this one, then it is expired. This one is very expired. It's weird that they would include it with the Base Module.

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    I opened one of the triangular bandages for your viewing pleasure. These can be used as slings, bandages, improvised tourniquets, etc. If your raft is tethered to another raft from the jet, or if you followed the instructions and deployed the sea anchor, then you can wrap those lines with one of these bandages and reduce abrasion to the raft. You can also use them to strain larger particulate matter from drinking water prior to treatment. The more particulate is in your water, the less effective your chemical water treatments (like iodine and chlorine) will be. This bandage is old-school muslin, and has that vintage first aid kit smell. I love that smell.
     
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  2. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    Let's now turn our attention to the Five Year Module. All contents in this module are time-limited. The Module is double-packed in heavy duty plastic. It was a wrassle to get it open. This Module was also still sealed when I got it, so all contents are intact.

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    Once everyone's in the raft, the raft is clear of the aircraft, and injuries are stable, it's time for everyone to take their seasickness meds. This packet holds 100 tablets. It's important to do this right away; if people get sick and start vomiting, dehydration becomes a serious risk.

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    Even minor injuries can be a serious risk when exposed to all the microorganisms the ocean has to offer. This kit contains a LOT of povidone iodine for killing germs around those injuries. Also pictured here is the bottle of Potable Aqua water treatment tablets. These are Iodine tablets. The CDC says that Chlorine Dioxide is more effective than iodine for emergency chemical water treatment, and Chlorine Dioxide tablets seem more common than iodine in military aviation survival kits now.

    IMG_0395.JPG

    Here's are the lip balm and the flares. The lip balm has gotten a little melty at some point and the tubes are greasy to the touch. When I first got into this industry, I was surprised to see how often lip stuff is included in these kits.

    IMG_0396.JPG

    The Skyblazer flares are from Orion, another life safety company. I've never fired one of these off, but I'm dying to try it. There just isn't a safe direction to fire them around here. Next time I go to the beach, maybe? The kit includes (or is supposed to include) these flares, the signal mirror, and the sea dye as visual signals. The raft itself also has flashing beacons and a one-way radio transmitter. Both of those are activated by exposure to water. The manual says you can expect "assistance" within 24 hours, anywhere in the world. I feel like there are places in the Indian Ocean where it might take longer than that, but what do I know?

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    The drinking water pouches and Charms candy included in the kit are actually for medicinal purposes, to treat people suffering from dehydration or low blood sugar. Regular, healthy humans can typically survive 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Since the expected timeline for rescue (or "assistance") is shorter than that, these should only be used for people in distress. Charms Candy has been in survival kits and military rations since World War II. It's not a balanced meal, but it contains sugar to keep you moving and Vitamin C to stave off scurvy (not that scurvy will be an issue in a 747 life raft unless things go very wrong). I learned a few years ago that Marines believe Charms are bad luck and throw away the candy included in their rations.

    And that's my 747 life raft kit. I hope you enjoyed it!
     
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  3. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout Where is all the shelf stable bacon??? Supporter

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  4. Sabb0007

    Sabb0007 Supporter Supporter

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    Cool. Thanks for sharing. How much was it?
     
  5. riverrunner

    riverrunner Scout

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    Pretty neat kit. Thanks!
     
  6. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    I spent $125, shipped. Will probably sell it back out again for about the same price. Catch and release, not collecting, you know? I did a similar thing last year with an Air Warrior Personal Survival Gear Carrier.
     
  7. Paulyseggs

    Paulyseggs Supporter Supporter

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    Thats pretty dang cool.

    But I saw no bannana
     
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  8. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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  9. pecktron2000

    pecktron2000 Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing that
     
  10. roadend

    roadend Wandering Where I Can Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing. Your photos and explanations will stick with me in case I am ever in a situation that it required.
     
  11. JohnP

    JohnP No more half measures Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Nice trip report! Thanks for taking us along. It was very interesting.

    JohnP
     
  12. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    I posted this elsewhere on the internet, and some commercial jet pilots remarked on how unlikely a successful ditch in the ocean is. Sullivan ditching in the Hudson was remarkable in its own right, and he had a relatively tranquil surface to land on. That said, these same kits would still be helpful in the event that the plane went down over land.

    I read a book a while back with some best practices to increase your chances of surviving an aircraft accident:
    1) Close-toed shoes and long pants. Clothing with natural fibers, if possible.
    2) Sit within 6 rows of the emergency exit.
    3) Make sure you know how to operate the emergency exits, and where the life rafts are located. Put your hand on your personal flotation device to make sure it's there.
    4) Pay attention to the flight attendants' safety instructions.

    I actually asked a flight attendant where the extra life raft was one time. She seemed genuinely glad I asked.

    Also, when they say the flight attendants are there for your safety, it's no joke. Those folks have a lot of training and responsibility beyond bringing you drinks.
     
  13. GunGoBoom

    GunGoBoom I'm not lost, I've just misplaced myself. Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Did you throw out the Charms? Don't need that bad juju in a life raft.
     
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  14. Pilot

    Pilot Scout

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    Very Interesting. Nice write up! This is my tried, and true kit for years now.

    "Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find:

    - One forty-five caliber automatic
    - Two boxes of ammunition
    - Four days' concentrated emergency rations
    - One drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine,
    vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills
    - One miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible
    - One hundred dollars in rubles
    - One hundred dollars in gold
    - Nine packs of chewing gum
    - One issue of prophylactics
    - Three lipsticks
    - Three pair of nylon stockings.

    Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in DALLAS with all that stuff."
     
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  15. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    The Charms candies were introduced to MRE's after I was already out but I have heard that from guys that were in after me.
    Nice write up Andy, thanks for posting!
     
  16. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    Like one of the fabled "Life Barter Kits"?

    [​IMG]
     
  17. kreate

    kreate Guide

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    Thats pretty darn cool! I love seeing what things are included in kits like these. Thanks for taking the time to make this thread!
     
  18. CSM1970

    CSM1970 Supporter Supporter

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    I guess they are counting on the passengers resorting to cannibalism after candy runs out, eh?
     
  19. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    Very cool! Thanks for sharing this with us! I always enjoy your survival kit posts.
     
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  20. Kenneth

    Kenneth Guide

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    That is cool to see. I had Charms in MREs and I think I had them as a kid, they did not particularly wow me and I have been wondering about adding charms to my polish bread bag as a sugar pick me up or maybe I should just add lifesavers instead. Umm a Charms vs. Lifesaver challenge. I dont know if the MREs still have Charms because they have better food value ot they are cheaper?

    GOD Bless you and your families

    Kenneth

    1940 to 1945 life raft survival kit with charms
     
  21. Wasp

    Wasp DOWN IN DIXIE Supporter

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    I started to say it doesn't seem like a large kit for a whole plane of people, or even a group (presumably) of survivors. But I'd assume there are several life rafts per plane?

    Edit, from my very short look into it, many domestic flights have no life rafts or live vests. Some planes have (undetermined number) life rafts which may hold 30-45 people each. I also saw a diagram that showed a life raft and the exit slides work as flotation rafts. Not sure if the slides are counted as "life rafts" or not.

    So I'm assuming. There is one of these per every raft or multi person flotation device.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
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  22. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    @CSM1970 they say in the manual that survivors can expect "assistance" within 24 hours, anywhere in the world. Each raft has a water-activated radio beacon and lights, and of course the pilot will have reported their location to ground control prior to ditching into the farthest reaches of the Indian Ocean (or wherever). That all seems optimistic to me, but I suppose "assistance" could be as simple as air-dropping additional supplies. The Charms are really only intended as an imprecise way to keep blood sugar up for vulnerable passengers. Likewise, the water is only intended to replace fluids lost by passengers who become sea-sick. Even so, it's not much water.

    @Kenneth I heard from some active duty guys that Charms are no longer included in MREs. The value of Charms is that they hold up better to heat than chocolate rations, so they're a one-size-fits-all "sucrose ration". Still, Charms had a good run as the military candy of choice. As far as I can tell, Lifesavers are totally comparable, AND they're appropriately named, so I say go with those. Charms have gotten hard to find.

    @Wasp Each of the emergency exit slides doubles as a detachable raft, and I believe there are at least two additional rafts stowed somewhere on the aircraft. Once I asked a flight attendant where the life raft was on a plane (since it was on the safety card but location was not marked), and she pointed to a bulge in the ceiling of the plane. From what I can tell, the slide rafts each hold approx 30 people, but the manual says the rafts can be double-loaded and remain afloat. The El Al safety card (below) from 1989 shows 8 slide rafts and 2 hexagonal rafts (stored inside the plane somewhere). Whenever you hear the crew of the airplane talking about "arming doors", they're referring to some mechanism they put in place when the plane is in flight. While that mechanism is there, opening the main doors will automatically deploy the slides. Those slides are tethered to the aircraft by a mooring line. Once all passengers have evacuated the aircraft, it is super important to cut that mooring line. The aircraft is going to sink and if the raft is still tethered, it will sink too. There is a safety knife attached to the raft immediately adjacent to the mooring line.

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    When ever I see those kits the phrase: “We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.” goes through my head.

    In the days before TSA you might have taken an inventory from the passageners and come up wit some useful items to supplement these kits—not today I wonder if a woman could even have an underwire bra on a flight today.
     
  24. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    LOL, I misread the thread title and thought you got the


    RAFT :)

    I always have thought it a BIG stretch to imagine an airliner ditching in the ocean and needing a raft.

    That banana survived since ‘04? That’s a good one. :9:
     
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  25. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    The banana sold separately. I posted these same pics to another site where bananas are frequently used to give a sense of size. I'm not very interested in the raft itself, but I have always been interested in the survival kits those rafts carry.

    Wikipedia has a pretty decent list of aircraft that have ditched in the water with survivors. The secret is not to inflate your life vest while still inside the cabin, and especially not to inflate the liferaft while still inside the cabin.

    [​IMG]
     
  26. EXPLORATORAUDACTER

    EXPLORATORAUDACTER Tracker

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    Thank you Andy, it is very interesting seeing the contents of the survival kits, this is supposed to be beneath each seat or are placed strategically at some places in the aircraft?
     
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  27. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    They place these on the life rafts, one per raft. It's stored about midway across the raft. That means approximately one kit for every 30-40 survivors, I think.
     
  28. dial1911

    dial1911 Supporter Supporter

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    Great thread! I learned a lot here.
     
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  29. Bridgetdaddy

    Bridgetdaddy Supporter Supporter

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    I would pay serious money to see that happen!!! :4:
     
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