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Many factors affect your decision about what gear to carry and what clothing to wear on a specific mission.

These include weather (current, predicted, and possible), terrain, the number and possible condition of subjects, the length of time you may be in the field, and what you need for your own comfort and safety.

The limits to what you can carry are how much your pack will hold, the weight you can safely and comfortably carry, and common sense. The minimum survival gear required for search and rescue missions is spelled out in the gear and clothing lists:

Each person on a search team should carry all of the gear on the list.

In addition, the team should share the weight of items such as radios, stoves and fuel, cook kits (or at least cups that can be heated), medical supplies, and shelter.

Remember, always know how to use your gear and equipment before you go out into the field. Most search areas are isolated, so you must supply your own equipment, food, and water, especially at the beginning of a mission. As a mission lengthens, some supplies may be brought out to teams that have stayed out in the field, if necessary.

If in doubt about whether to bring specific equipment, bring it to Incident Base and decide there what you need to take into the field.

Each searcher must carry personal drinking water.

All water from streams, rivers, or lakes in New Mexico most likely carry Giardia, a micro-organism you do not want in your system. Giardia causes diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and other gastro-intestinal symptoms. These symptoms can lead to dehydration and weight loss. (Should you have to use water from these sources, purify it with iodine or use an appropriate filter. Also, water may be boiled for 30 seconds per thousand feet of elevation above sea level.)

Remember, weather changes quickly, and you need to be prepared to protect yourself from almost anything. A search route may not end up as planned – you could be diverted to another area because of clues, to help with an evacuation, or to support another team. What appears in Incident Base to be a straightforward route requiring four hours to cover can turn into an overnight trek at a moment's notice.

Be prepared!

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