Opinion: Better not safe than sorry


ABC’S “Prisoners of the Snow” is a true stpru of a rugby team stranded in the Andes in sub-zero weather after their plane crashed into the side of a mountain in 1972. Also recently in the news, the miraculous 40-day survival of four young children stranded in the Amazon jungle.

Imagine finding yourself with no food or water in the hot jungle, or caught in an avalanche, freezing to death beneath a mountain of snow. Many of these brave people survived, but it might have been easier if they were all wearing something called the Paracord Survival Bracelet (also helpful: a cellphone, your GPS, warm blankets, three-month’s supply of food, a Coleman stove and Netflix).

The device is called a 550 Cord. This is confusing because that’s also the name of the Levi’s I wear. The bracelet is 90 feet of intricately woven thread crafted into a nifty piece of rope jewelry. First used in World War II by paratroopers, the manufacturer describes it as having a “32-strand woven nylon outer sheath with an inner core of seven 2-ply yarns.” I know, I know, that sounds a lot like Charmin.

Here are two uses suggested by the manufacturer:

  • Replace a broken zipper pull: Nothing would be more embarrassing than being rescued after 12 days on a deserted island and being caught with your fly open.

  • Detain a person: When you are shipwrecked in the middle of nowhere and help finally arrives, isn’t that the first thing you’d think about — who do I need to tie up?

The manufacturer is concerned that people will not want to use the rope in an emergency because making it back into a bracelet is harder than solving the Rubik’s Cube with your feet. That’s why auto safety systems do not allow you to disengage the airbag apparatus. “Push the airbag off button, Agnes. We’re going to hit that truck head on, but I have no idea how to stuff that thing back into the steering wheel.”

Paracord Survival Bracelet used to give a free one if you use its product in a legitimate emergency. Simply send it the story of how you used the rope, along with a photograph demonstrating the life-threatening predicament you were in, such as:

Dear Survival Bracelet Maker:

My wife and I were recently cleaning the gutters on our roof when the ladder tipped over. As I helped her rappel down the side of our house using your nifty piece of jewelry, I tried to get my cellphone out of my pocket to send a picture, thus qualifying for a free replacement. I was too slow, but I am attaching a photo of her on the ground with two broken legs.

Personally, I think this bracelet is a waste of money at $39.95. Better not safe than sorry.