Eccentric safety instructions

I used to know an AT instructor who used to tell everyone to carry a tiny fold out knife when camping in order to cut their way out of a burning tent. He was very insistent about this because he had been in a similar accident.

I can see the logic of this, but it seems like dodgy advice to give to young people in a country that is riddled with knife crime. Would anybody consider this advice viable? I don’t really think it is (in the context of youth work) but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject, particularly if you are an AT instructor.

That would have stopped all AT/camping/DofE at my old unit. Instant expulsion/firing if you had a knife on you. Even a Swiss on a camping trip would count. Only allowed eating knives.

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@Farmerdan I think that’s wise. I think the guy developed a bit of a thing about it because of his accident.

I like to promote the (sensible) use of knives as tools. I always advise my cadets to have a swiss army type knife in their field kit.

I wouldn’t have thought about telling cadets to carry one when camping to get out of the tent though. We tend to show them how to avoid setting light to the tent in the first place.


surely easier to remove the likelihood of a tent fire occurring than trying to find a way out if it occurred.

prevention better than cure


I agree, no fires in the tent. I can’t remember how the accident happened, but I guess it’s worth considering, however unlikely it may be to happen. I think somebody else sparked up a stove too close to his tent or something of that nature. If you were in a shared campsite with multiple groups (like Ten Tors) then it’s a conceivable danger.

We teach best practice from the start. Which means proper spacing of tents and cooking away from tents to stop this happening.

If a campsite is so overcrowded that they are too close and this did become a danger i would be having words with the campsite owner and removing the cadets from site if needed.

Its a flawed theory. The majority of us who have knifes carry them in a bag, by the time i get to my bag and find my knife in a panic, the tent will have burned to a crisp. Much better to teach the kids to evacuate out the door rather than go full rambo on the tent.


Yes, that was my first thought as well.

Remember our Wing having ‘Wing’ kit for squadrons to use, including some expensive Vango tents. First time out, two “experienced” officers cooked up a meal in the outer tent area because it was raining, and left a sauce pan sized hole in the outer sheet. They were lucky, At least the tent didn’t burn down

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@Brooke_Bond that’s quite something!

I would personally have driven to Go Outdoors and bought a new one to replace the damaged one.

No way on earth would i be able to face the ridicule for doing that.


You could have all the plans in the world but something could still happen. Just because you don’t want to eat the lion, doesn’t mean the lion isnt going try and eat you.

He’s advocating a small, perfectly legal, non locking knife that complies with the Law of the Land, for the egress of a tent in an emergency the whole idea of cutting through a tent is because maybe the entrance is blocked, not nessacarily fire, could be any manner of situations or problems.
It’s not just about eggressing but what if you
Need to access said tent to help someone in need?

It could just as well be used for cutting a seatbelt, or cutting improvised materials for triangular bandages, fastenings for a splint and or improvised stretcher. Cutting food, opening packets, etc etc.

Knives are tools. The problem isn’t knives, it’s the bad people, and certain cultures of carrying them and doing the stabbing that’s the problem.

I have an array of knives and cutting implements for different things, from cutting seat belts, field dressing game animals, to carving, to felling. I transport them sensibly but when I’m in the trees, I have them to hand. Depending on what they are or what I am doing.

This guy has been in that situation where it’s needed to be used. Fair play to him.


The issue comes down to risk vs reward.

I personally have no issue with a cadet carrying a pen knife.

I do think saying to them to have there knife handy in case of tent fire, is simply going to end up with injured cadets. They will leave it lying around and someone will sit on it/lean on it.

You have to remember we are dealing with 13yo kids where they are most likely on there first ever camping expedition. The majority of them have never dealt with anything more sharp than a butter knife. I had one recently try to eat a silica gel packet as they thought it was like a salt/pepper packet.


@Intruder I’m more inclined towards your line of thinking on this.

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Simply looking at the accident data for AT in the corps i am more worried about a sting to the testicle than a tent setting on fire.

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I’d like to avoid both lol


I could be drawn to the sting, depending on from what…

As long as the point can go through the tent material, one of these might work.

I was home on leave from the RAF, second on the scene for an RTA, a doctor beat me to it! Driver was trapped in car, had blocked trachea, & was choking. Doctor used my Swiss Army penknife to perform emergency tracheostomy - don’t know what he used to keep the hole open, but it worked.


That’s pretty amazing!

To cut your way out of a tent you’ll need something stabby - the whole point of box-cutters is that they’re not stabby.

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