March 1, 2018
Many of us keep emergency kits in our vehicles to help us deal with the unexpected, but how many of us keep a similar kit with us when we fly? Not many, especially not many renter pilots. I get it, hauling a bunch of stuff to the aircraft each time you fly is a pain. The best possible outcome is you never use it, which happens so frequently, so it's easy to rationalize not really needing it.
Now consider that you've just survived an unexpected landing in the middle of a forested area; you've got some minor injuries; you're hungry and thirsty, and have no means to signal anyone that may be looking for you. The search and rescue part, by the way, does take some time to get going. You'll have to wait for someone to miss you first. This is where flight following, flight plans, and some preparation come in. A host of actions taken prior to your departure could make that process go much smoother.
Kits can be purchased, all assembled and ready for hopeful nonuse or you can create them yourself. It's a balancing act between preparedness, money, and overall weight. At minimum, I'd recommend some basic first aid supplies (blood clot gauze pads, bandages, tape, and some means of antiseptic for cleaning wounds to prevent infection).
I'd also recommend some basic food supplies that keep well and provide some nourishment and energy, such as half a dozen cliff bars or other similar substance. Next, items I consider a must have - signaling devices. At minimum, a loud whistle and a signal mirror are helpful. Also, included in my personal kit, is an LED flashlight, some fire-starting materials, a Leatherman, some emergency light sticks, and a Nalgene bottle.
I keep all of this in a metal container so I could use the container over a fire to boil water or cook something in if need be. Optional items can include a bit of fishing line or some other such way to possibly catch some dinner, though I don't carry these as I don't expect to be there that long!
If you have a little extra cash, a personal locator beacon can certainly speed in your rescue. I have one, and keep it clipped via carabiner to me as I fly. In a crash, I may be stuck in the aircraft and can't get to my supplies, or I may have to evacuate in a hurry and must leave them behind.
Whatever you create for your kit, ensure that you secure it in the aircraft as you don't want something of that bulk finding its way to the cockpit and hitting you when you already have enough problems.