As an instructor, I always ask my students to keep a kit full of items they may need while using a thermal imager (TI) in the field. Keep in mind that there are many uses for a TI. Being on patrol, part of a SWAT operation, or involved in a search and rescue mission, we find ourselves in dangerous places that can be difficult to navigate through and can quickly turn into a survival situation.
The list varies depending on the mission, but I would request and recommend the following:
- Light sticks or LED lights
- Survival kit
- Food & Water
- Extra ammo for both pistol and rifle
- Extra battery
- Hunter heat pads
- Sniper veil or netting
- Cold packs
- Duct tape
- Extra battery packs for Thermal Imager (alkaline or lithium)
- DVR/transmitter handle
This list is mostly self explanatory, but you may be scratching your head about a couple of items. Let's take the heat packs. They are not for you to keep warm, but for your TI. Heat packs have many uses. They let you mark objects to help you find your way out of a difficult location. I prefer the type that have adhesive on the back so you can easily stick them on surfaces you would like to mark, such as vehicles or dwellings.
Marking with heat pads is a great way to be stealthy. To the naked eye they are hard to spot, but with a TI they jump out at you like flares. Many of the heat pads are white, so rub them in the dirt or camo color them so they hide better. Most will stay hot even when wet!
Need to mark an entry point on a house? Stick a heat pad on it. Need your under cover to mark where the drug stash is? HEAT PAD! Need to help an aircraft vector a location with their TI? Lay a bunch of heat pads out in the open for them. Some of the heat packs have a grainy, sand like chemical inside that you have to clap and rub to start the heat process. These work great for messages like SOS or making an arrow. So be sure to have some of these heat pads with you, as well.
There are a lot of out of the box options for TI. I'll explain more of these in our next article.