Dr Bobs Disaster Preparedness Guide

Emergency Preparedness "ready to go" kit

Emergency Preparedness “ready to go” kit

Do I really need to worry about natural disaster preparedness? Won’t the government come to my rescue? Isn’t FEMA tasked with taking care of us during disasters. Is it really likely that anything will happen where I’m at? All are good questions, and all deserve good answers.

Being prepared isn’t about wishful thinking, its not about having a few camping supplies somewhere in the long term storage closet, its not about sitting around waiting for someone else to help you.

This is a live document, is updated regularly so check back often, I’m open to constructive feedback.

By definition, a disaster is an unplanned event for which your normal life, the status quo, has been disrupted, your survival is challenged and the government cannot come to your rescue with a simple call to 911. It could be a simple storm, tornado, blizzard, earthquake, heat wave, wind storm, flood, etc. There could even be a socio-economic collapse, where the government itself is experiencing the disaster.

According to the EM-DAT, the total natural disasters reported each year has been steadily increasing in recent decades, from 78 in 1970 to 348 in 2004.

Scientists: Natural Disasters Becoming More Common

EM-DAT Database The International Database

Regardless of the reason, your survival is threatened and no one can come to your immediate aide. This happens all over the world on a daily basis. It could be a small disaster, such as a car accident on a lonely backwoods road during a blizzard that has stranded all who could help you, because there is no guarantee that you will survive the night in sub-freezing temperatures, you must be prepared to fend for yourself until help arrives or you can get yourself back to society.

Global Natural Disaster Deaths, 1990-2004


(SOURCE: “EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database)


Year Drought Earthquake Heat Flood Slides Volcano Wave/Surge Wild Fires Wind Storm Total
1990 0 42,884 992 2,203 214 33 0 0 4,926 51,252
1991 0 2,454 835 5,936 814 683 10 90 146,970 157,792
1992 0 4,035 388 5,367 1,070 0 0 122 1,335 12,317
1993 0 10,088 106 5,930 1,498 99 59 3 2,968 20,751
1994 0 1,237 416 6,413 280 101 31 84 4,081 12,643
1995 0 7,739 1,730 8,154 1,497 0 0 29 3,724 22,873
1996 0 569 300 7,171 1,155 4 27 45 4,217 13,488
1997 520 3,219 619 6,958 801 53 400 32 5,330 17,932
1998 260 7,391 3,225 9,689 981 0 2,182 109 24,657 48,494
1999 0 4,739 771 34,367 351 0 3 70 11,904 52,205
2000 370 216 922 6,429 1,023 0 1 47 1,138 10,146
2001 199 21,336 1,653 4,662 692 0 0 33 1,818 30,393
2002 533 1,634 3,369 4,122 1,149 200 0 6 1,112 12,125
2003 9 29,617 48,228 3,718 706 0 0 47 1,002 83,327
2004 1 882 239 6,957 357 2 226,435 14 6,513 241,400


Sometimes its a big event that affects many people, such as a major earthquake or a hurricane that attempts to annihilate several coastal states. It doesn’t matter the reason, every person in this country is at risk form something, known or unknown. Events happens and we are responsible for our personal survival in those situations.

James Hubbard, MD, MPH (20 Sept 2013)1 My heart goes out to all affected in the recent flooding here in Colorado. Maybe one of the very few good things that comes out of a disaster like this is all of us are reminded of the constant, real threat of disasters. (Few saw this coming. Not here. Not now. Not at this severity.) Because of all the modes of media we have these days to vicariously experience such disasters real-time, we learn from others’ unfortunate experiences how to go forward with a better plan for the future. Here are a few takeaway lessons. 1. Prepare for the unexpected.

2. Take flash flood warnings seriously.

3. Floodwater is polluted.

4. Always be prepared for an unexpected quick getaway.

5. Have your stored drinking water, nonperishable food, medical supplies, and essential medications in place at all times.

The good news is that you can prepare, you can have a plan and you can survive. Every human has a build in survival imperative, its built into our DNA, however in our modern, complex, society we have become far too accustomed to having others rush to our aide with a simple phone call. We lose sight that ultimately, its up to each of us as an individual to prepare as best we can to ensure our continued survival.

Once we have ensured that we have survived, then we can look around, help those physically closest to us, then as a group we can go find and help each group member’s family.

Priority of Response in an Emergency

  • Am I safe, where I stand (i.e is the roof about to cave in or is the building on fire), if no then evacuate and take whomever you can with you. Dial 911 if government services are needed.
  • If you evacuate then meet at the evacuation location that yo practiced with your family.
  • Check myself, if major medical help is needed dial 911. (Seriously look at yourself, you might be surprised how often people get wounded and when the adrenaline is pumping you won’t notice pain until later, but it might be too late by then.
  • Check those around me. Do they need major medical help? If yes, then dial 911.
  • Start first aid for all who need it.
  • If you belong to a neighborhood CERT TEAM follow your own rules and contact them, let them know that you are applying first aid to family members. If they are able to send someone over to help, the maybe they will, but don’t depend on it.
  • Call your out of area designated emergency contact person and give them your status. Tell them to notify your family and friends according to your prearranged instructions. They will be your central contact point for he duration of the emergency so that your phone is not tied up answer calls.
  • Check with local authorities to see if large scale evacuations are being conducted for your area. If so then load your emergency supplies into your car (in addition to what your car already has pre-loaded in it. Check your fuel level and siphon fuel from your other cars if you are low and can’t get gas at the local station. Call your out of area contact, tell them where you are attempting to get to and when you expect to get there (its possible the roads are clogged but its still good for others to know your travel plans). Do a head count and double check that you have everyone, shut off your house services and leave. Don’t dawdle, if its a storm or earthquake that is threatening you, move quickly.
  • Keep everyone calm, remind the that you have practiced for this so its an expected event. Keep and eye on everyone and be aware of stress or depression. Keep kids entertained.

Who are these groups? Its made up of everyone and anyone around you. Humans work best when we help and support each other. That is when we really shine and what sets us apart.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Its time to go back to the beginning, my beginning, so this story makes sense.

Approximately twenty five years ago, I searched the early Internet for disaster preparedness tips and finding none, I learned HTML and hand wrote my own page. Each year I’d add a bit more information as I learned more about the subject. The one turning point in my life, from being unprepared to being prepared, was being trapped in a burning in New York in 1965.

I was nine years old at the time and the first floor was engulfed in flames, lit by candle that my best friend’s parents had put a little too close to the curtains and accidentally flambéed their apartment. all the adults in the building were in a frenzied panic, running around, screaming but not knowing what to do. It was time to take action, my only thought was to save all these scared people.

Running to the first fire escape, I opened the door and was blasted in he face by a thick, acrid, unbreathable cloud of hellfire smoke. The second stairway was just as bad and nearly knocked me out. Now I understood why the adults were in a panic.

Knowing that panic was more dangerous than the fire (I don’t know how I knew that, but I did) I corralled everyone into my family’s apartment and closed the door. Our apartment faced the back of the building and when I opened the windows we could all breathe and the adults calmed down.

I wish my father was there to hep us but he has been activated by the National Guard the night before and was out on the street quelling street rioters, that had taken to breaking many store windows with rocks and bricks. This was during the infamous blackout in New York City that knocked out power to the NorthEast. The status quo was disturbed and it caused weaker members of our society to panic.

It was an unsettling experience, one I knew we were lucky to survive. At that time, no one had any emergency supplies, no rope ladders to escape with, no water to create makeshift filters and certainly no flashlights or gas masks that could get us through either of the two smoke filled concrete fire escape stairwells.

My preparations began once the fire department had knocked down the horrifyingly blazing inferno, starting with a portable ten transistor radio (they were still rare at the time) and a old carbon battery flashlight that my father had gotten for me.

According to the Red Cross, 51% of Americans have experienced a disaster but only 12% are reasonably prepared to survive disasters.

I’ve stayed prepared ever since, responding to the needs of others in distress, learning survival skills in the field with the Boy Scouts (don’t knock it until you’ve done it for years), becoming a ham radio operator, teaching the  CERT course and generally being an asset to society.

Before we begin with the details of preparedness, its important to focus on mindset. Mindset can make the difference between being comfortable and uncomfortable, between being alive or being dead. Its possible the single most important thing to train yourself upon.

My mindset, or mantra, is “Be Prepared“, which I learned in the Boy Scouts.

Next is perspective. You can live a minute without good air, four days without water (without permanent damage), over twenty days without food. Your dependency on prescription medication can range from simply making you more comfortable to being life threatening, at its extreme. Keep all of this in mind when prioritizing your assumptions and your responses to emergency situations.

If a disaster strikes:

  • Raise your situational awareness
  • Is it safe to stay or do I need to Bug-Out immediately?
  • Is there time to grab the Bug-Out Bag (BOB) or do I need to evacuate quickly as I stand. (Is the building on fire? Toxic fumes?)
  • If you do not need to evacuate immediately, then do a headcount
  • Is everyone accounted for?

Most disaster preparedness and “Bug Out” concepts have been around for centuries. This is not a new topic and is a topic of great debate amongst many people. Here I have added the ideas I have learned from others and added them to my own experience. I was involved in my first serious disaster in 1967 and have maintained awareness ever since then.


  • Disaster: An emergency situation that the government cannot send you help in a timely manner (police, firemen, ambulance). Can be due to severe weather, blizzards, ice storms, earthquakes, hurricane, tsunami, tornado, mudslide, flood, etc. Could be due to war, government collapse, or maybe an accident at a nearby industrial plant that releases toxic chemicals or vapors. There can be any number of reasons but the bottom line is that your normal lifestyle is disturbed and there are no societal resources to help you.
  • Disaster Preparedness: Planning and organizing skills and supplies to help your family survive disasters.
  • Prepper, Doomsday Prepper & Survivalist: Wikipedia – Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international. Survivalists often acquire emergency medical and self-defense training, stockpile food and water, prepare to become self-sufficient, and build structures (e.g., a survival retreat or an underground shelter) that may help them survive a catastrophe. … In popular culture, survivalism has been associated with paramilitary activities. Some survivalists do take active defensive preparations that have military roots and that involve firearms, and this aspect is sometimes emphasized by the mass media.

In iOS 8, Apple introduced their new Health app, the most important feature for us here is Medical ID which is where we can put our emergency medical detained (allergies, special needs, etc.) as well as our preferred medical emergency contact. Emergency room staff are now trained to look for this information in your iPhone and can prove to be a real lifesaver. Its easy to enter your information so please take a minute right now to fill out your crucial information.  Medical ID: How to create in iOS 8

In this guide I am not addressing peppers or survivalists but rather am focusing on practical disaster preparedness for families. Disasters occur often and preparing to survive them is simply logical. I am not preaching the end of society as we know it, but rather and simply saying that we know that the government cannot provide us needed support during unusual occurrences and we need to be able to take care of ourselves until a new norm is established. Recent events with hurricanes such as Hurricane KatrinaHurricane Sandy and Hurricane Ike have demonstrated that the government cannot magically swoop in and save everyone instantly. It just did not happen.

Hurricanes – Learn How To Protect Yourself. emergency.cdc.gov

My goal is to have a place where information for people of all experience levels can have a place to start, and a place to refresh or update their already existing advanced skill set. The information here cannot be customized to make sense to any one person, because we all think differently, so I suggest that you scan through it all and you’ll know when you find gaps in your preparations.

Deck the Halls, Don’t Burn Them by FEMA

Holiday decorations can add to the fun and excitement of the season but they can also increase your risk for a home fire. Follow basic safety guidelines to prevent serious electrical and fire hazards during the festivities. As you deck the halls of your home this season, be fire smart:

  • Keep your tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles or heat vents;
  • Do not let your tree (artificial or live) block exits;
  • Check light sets for frayed or damaged wiring before using;
  • Always turn off holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed; and
  • Connect no more than three mini light sets for decorating.
  • If you have a live tree, remember to add water to the tree stand daily.

small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly. Watch this video by the National Fire Protection Association demonstrating how fast a dry Christmas tree burns compared to one that is watered regularly. Don’t let disaster ruin your holiday! Learn the facts about home holiday fires in support of the America’s PrepareAthon! campaign to increase disaster preparedness in your community.

Burning comparison between an unwatered Christmas tree versus a watered tree

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Plan, plan, plan

Its important to have a family plan. What will you do for each scenario. Its not possible to come up with perfect plans, and its impossible to envision every possible disaster scenario. No one could remember all that anyway, even if you could figure it all out. The point is to have some things in place at home, in your cars, at work and school, and have each family member know the plan, and the rendezvous points for each. Its actually a lot simpler than it sounds.

Expecting the unexpected

Unexpected disasters can happen anywhere at any time. I live in California and nearly missed the tornado that hit us a few years ago. It was the only tornado to have ever been known to strike here. Also look at earthquakes in New York City. I am originally from New York City and had the mindset that earthquakes could never strike the city, but they do. There was even one that was string enough to be felt. How long will it be before an earthquake knocks down a skyscraper and traps people inside for the duration? We don’t know and hopefully it will never happen but wouldn’t it be prudent to be prepared, just to be sure? Of course it would, its the only prudent thing to do.

There are many discussions about having a tiered plan, where you carry a few essentials with you at all times, in case you have to immediately evacuate, then the next tier would be a BOB (Bug-out) bag or a GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag and even an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) gab -Yikes!) typically a backpack with three days essentials in it. Next would be a survival kit that would afford several days to weeks of survival and some folks even have plans for a year’s worth of food and shelter, typically at home.

I can’t tell you which is best for you, its up to you to determine your needs. What I have documented here is essentially an organization of the notes I’ve taken over the past 30 years for my own disaster preparedness. There is plenty more information out there, as well as much more mis-information, so I hope that I got you of to a god start.

Some subjects I did not touch at all because they are far more controversial and difficult to implement than its proponents would have you believe, you may leave comments if you wish to discuss those. I am a former CERT instructor and emergency responder (first responder), my hope is that you and your family will attend a CERT course (they are free and available from local fire departments), it really will make you feel better and give you the confidence that you really can survive well and take care of your family during a disaster. Preparation makes a positive outcome far more likely.

I did not build up my disaster preparedness supplies overnight, and I don’t expect you to do it overnight. Just get your mindset in place, pick up the first few must have items, then build up every month. Smart shoppers will keep their eyes open for coupon sales and buy in bulk (where appropriate).

The primary asset that people talk about is a Bug Out Bag (a BOB is a backpack that is pre-packed with enough supplies to keep you alive for a few days until you reach a safe destination, its a great idea but not all that is need to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances)), but there is so much more to take into account. A bug out bag is not a long term survival tool, its intended for short term support while you head to a safe place, to rendezvous with family/friends, get to a public shelter or simply evacuate a dangerous area.

Be sure to prepare according to your local weather needs, at both temperature extremes. Plan and Check Make family preparedness plans. Home evacuation plans, rendezvous locations, and practice regularly. Check your emergencies at minimum every year (every month would be better) so you can rotate out expired medicines and food and you can restock on any band-aids and anything else that was borrowed and never replenished.

Training Trumps Gear

If you practice and learn skills that can be applied in a disaster situation, you are more likely to survive than just having a bunch of gear.

First step is to contact your local fire department where you live or where you work and take a CERT class. They are free, interesting and will quickly raise your awareness of how you can easily take care of yourself and your family in an emergency situation.

An excellent place to get training is at Prepper Academy, Erich has done a fantastic job in creating videos that are short, super easy to understand and has all the relevant information you need. Please check him out at: PrepperAcademy.com

Rendezvous Points

Have a well known place to meet, just outside your house so you can do a head count and make sure that all of your home’s occupants have been accounted for. Fire in homes is the most common emergency situation the average person encounters, its not zombies or collapse in the government, its fires.

According to the CDC, Fire stats in the U.S. alone are frightening.

Occurrence and Consequences

  • On average in the United States in 2010, someone died in a fire every 169 minutes, and someone was injured every 30 minutes (Karter 2011).
  • About 85% of all U.S. fire deaths in 2009 occurred in homes (Karter 2011).
  • In 2010, fire departments responded to 384,000 home fires in the United States, which claimed the lives of 2,640 people (not including firefighters) and injured another 13,350, not including firefighters (Karter 2011).
  • Most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns (Hall 2001).
  • Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths (Ahrens 2011).
  • Cooking is the primary cause of residential fires (Ahrens 2011).

Groups at Risk

Groups at increased risk of fire-related injuries and deaths include:

  • Children 4 and under (CDC 2010; Flynn 2010);
  • Older Adults ages 65 and older (CDC 2010; Flynn 2010);
  • African Americans and Native Americans (CDC 2010; Flynn 2010);
  • The poorest Americans (Istre 2001; Flynn 2010);
  • Persons living in rural areas (Ahrens 2003; Flynn 2010);
  • Persons living in manufactured homes or substandard housing (Runyan 1992; Parker 1993).

Risk Factors

  • Over one-third (37%) home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms (Ahrens 2011).
  • Most residential fires occur during the winter months (CDC 1998; Flynn 2010).
  • Alcohol use contributes to an estimated 40% of residential fire deaths (Smith 1999).

Other than car accidents, I don’t know of any other emergency situation or disaster that occurs so often right here in our own country. One person dies of a fire every 169 minutes and 85% of those souls lost to fire did not have a smoke detector in their home, smoke and toxic fumes are the leading killer, smoking is the leading cause of death in fire related incidents and cooking starts more fires than any other factor.

Obviously we all are subject to the leading risk and it can strike anywhere at any time. I’ve personally experienced neighbors accidentally light their homes on fire, more than once, which sent flames in my direction. These incidents reminded me that I needed more than a flashlight by the bed to be ready for an evacuation. It was time to build a Bug Out Bag (BOB).

Before I built my BOB the very first thing I did was to set up a pair of jeans near my bed, with everything in its pockets so in case there is a nighttime emergency I can just grab my jeans and have my house keys, car keys, wallet, money, flashlight, pocket knife, mini CPR mask and a few other critical items. I can choose to take a few seconds to put my jeans on or if its a dire emergency, I can just grab the jeans as I’m running out the door. With the jeans, there is a shirt always hanging on my valet so I can even grab it, if I choose to.

By the front door I have a pair of slip on shoes and a pair of clean socks. I can choose to just run outside or grab them as I’m evacuating or if I have a moment I can choose to put them on before I exit.

Then I realized that if there was broken glass by the bed from the large glass sliding door that might get damaged during an earthquake, so I put a pair of sturdy Chinese slipper (shoes) (not the cheap ones they sell in the tourist shops) between my mattress and box spring. Essentially anything with a sturdy sole that allows you to walk on sharp, broken glass will work. It should be something that can flatten out so they can easily fit between the box spring and mattress.

Tip: Put a fire extinguisher in your kitchen today. Each fire extinguisher comes with a rating on the label, get one that is rated 2A:10BC as a minimum starting point, with a metal a head (plastic head fire extinguishers are cheap and not not rechargeable) and please recharge your fire extinguisher at recommended intervals (this is an inspection procedure that ensures that the extinguisher is still actually working). If there is a pressure gauge on it, look at it regularly and make sure that its not in the red zone, if it is then take it in to be recharged. In our home we have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and by each side of the bed, as well as having one in each car. My wife has already put out two car fires by herself. Its important, do it today. If you are worried that you do not know how or when to use a fire extinguisher the take a CERT course right away. In conjunction with having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, a fire extinguisher and working flashlight can be a life saver.

If you're ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency. emergency.cdc.gov

What Is Right For You?

Every person is an individual, unique, they have specific needs and their family’s need is particular to them. There is no way that one plan can suit everyone, that just is human nature. Thee is no way that one source of information can cover all the needs of all the people, that is just impractical and would require us to have superhuman psychic powers.

Keep in mind that this type of preparedness is similar to being prepared for a camping trip or a mountaineering expedition because you have to pack for your survival, but in many ways there are a lot more details to think about. Camping trips and mountaineering expeditions have a known end and then you go back to your fully stocked home. In a disaster that is not an option, so we must think about more things, in addition to what we would consider in a camp out.

Be reasonable, use the information you find on the internet as a starting point, validate ad verify the appropriateness of each piece of information then seek out sources that can fill in the gaps for you.

Life changes, people change and your preparedness needs change, even if you don’t notice it. Review your plan with your family at least once a year and then make sure that they are up to date on any changes and improvements that you have implemented.

Practice makes perfect. Practice bugging out. Practice meeting at your rendezvous points, practice eating emergency supplies, and practice walking. Skills trumps gear every time and you can’t keep your skills if you don’t practice them. Refresh your First Aid and CPR training every year as well as any other skills specific to your family.

All the items and concepts below are additive, once I mention an item I might not repeat it just so this list does not get any longer than it already is. Think it through.

Before you start thinking about equipment, go put a flashlight and pair of thick soled shoes between the mattress and box spring of your bed where you can reach them easily. We learned through our earthquake experiences that if there is a power failure or an earthquake that sprays broken glass onto the floor, that nothing gives you more comfort than being able to walk safely and see where you are going. That is the first step in preparedness.

The second step is to put a pair of heavy soled shoes (or preferably boots), into your car’s trunk. If you are wearing dress shoes or heels, you will want to change immediately in case of road damage due to earthquake, blizzard, storm tornado, flood, etc.

Tip: If you are not an avid hiker then putting a new pair of boots into an emergency preparedness kit or Bug Out Bag, you must be aware of a potential problem. New boots are stiff and require a gradual break-in process or you could get blisters. I still suggest having a set of boots on standby because you really don’t know what damage to the terrain, or damaged building or simply broken window glass you will have to deal with. In the seventies my father was issued a new pair of combat boots by the U.S. Army (due to some weird administrative decision) and were told to discard their old pair (same weird administrator) but he could not bring himself to throw them in the trash. Instead he gave me his old, well worn boots, we fortunately wore the same exact size, and I was ecstatic that I had a decent pair of boots to face the horrific blizzard that winter. I never experienced any issues and used those boots for many years before donating them to a needy person. What I had realized was that my father had broken in and softened the leather of the boots so they were completely soft for me. Realizing that my, brand new, emergency boots were never broken in, just sitting in the trunk of my car for the past 20 years, wasn’t doing me any favors, so I went to the local surplus store and picked up a pair of used Altama desert combat boots. They were very inexpensive (only $39) in like-new condition, fit like a glove and were already broken in for me. They felt so good that I walked around the store with them on for an hour before I realized that I should put my own shoes back on. Of course once I got home, I slipped my wife’s Steri-Shoe ultraviolet sanitizer into the boots and ran it for a few cycles to get the interior completely sterilized and I replaced the innersole shoe insert. Now I have a pair of perfect fitting, soft boots that feel great at low cost. The upper part of the se boots is so soft that they flop over effortlessly which saves a huge amount of room in the trunk). If there is a disaster situation and you have to use boots that have not been broken in, try putting on a think pair of nylon socks then your usual boot socks over them. This duplicates the WrightSock system and is believed to be very effective at avoiding blisters, which you don’t want to be dealing with in a disaster scenario. Want great boot socks to go with your great boots, but don’t want to blow your budget?  My favorites are Covert Threads™ Sand Military Boot Sock and WigWam Hot Weather BDU Pro for tall boots (like my 8″ G.I. standard boots) or for short boots I go with WigWam Merino Lite Hiker. Both these companies make terrific socks that really deliver performance but don’t break the bank and best of all, both companies make their socks 100% in the USofA.

I put a flashlight in the car where the driver can easily reach it so they can get to the emergency supplies in the trunk easily grab the BOB (bug out bag) or Get-Home-Bag and  get moving quickly. (Don’t forget a can of Inflate-A-Flat in the trunk of your car, and while you are at it, don’t let any of your cars have) less than half a tank of gas at any time. Today’s gas stations can only pump gas when here is electrical power.)

Tip: In each of our packs we have a pair of convertible cargo pants made of sturdy fabric (it feels pretty close to denim) it provides excellent leg protection when walking through rough terrain and also allows you to zip off the lower legs to turn them into a pair of shorts for warm weather. Pick one with large cargo pockets to store emergency supplies in case you have to proceed on foot. An excellent multitasker, I just wish they would make shirts with zip off sleeves. I get mine at Sierra Trading Post at unbeatable prices. I do like military surplus gear because its been specified, tested and accepted by the government so you know its good stuff, however I never ever buy camo clothing, it just makes you a target by various groups, and it makes it seem like you might be well armed so someone could target you to get your stuff. Its not worth it. Sierra Trading Post has a huge selection of civilian clothing from top camping and mountaineering brands that are well proven and at prices that even the surplus stores cant beat.

Convertible cargo pants

Convertible cargo pants

Current Disasters

There are so many people that just don;t have enough focus o the possibility if disasters, it just does not seem real to them. For them, I decided today to list disasters as they happened, or as they came to mind, so that there would be a factual, real world, list of events that they could research for themselves to understand that these events are real, can have severe impact on our lives and that it really is prudent to prepare for them. (Some dates are approximate) Nightmare Storm Paralyzes Atlanta 29 Jan 2014

The Daily Beast: The National Guard has been called in for the winter storm in the metro area of Atlanta that’s left people stranded in their homes, some trapped in their cars overnight and students forced to stay overnight in schools. Helicopters are searching for stranded motorists while Humvees bring food, gas, water, or a ride home to others. Rush-hour traffic combined with a snowstorm led to gridlock and wrecks on highways. Former Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones saved the day for his former teammate Freddie Freeman, by rescuing him on a four-wheeler. The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Gov. Deal, Mayor Reed apologize for mistakes leading to traffic jam but resist ‘blame game’  A paramount concern were the students trapped in schools and buses across the region. At least 2,000 students were still stranded at schools early Tuesday and 95 buses were immobilized, but by 5:30 p.m. they had been returned to their families. Authorities said there has been one weather-related fatality, 1,254 car accidents and 130 injuries. … “I’m not going to get into the blame game, but the crisis that we are going through is across the region,” he said. “If you look at anybody’s street in any community across the entire region, there’s no one doing a better job than we are in the City of Atlanta.”

Explosion leaves 4,000 trapped in freezing cold weather, Canada 25 January 2014 TransCanada Pipeline Explosion Shuts Off Gas For 4,000 Residents In Sub-Zero Temperatures thinkprogress.org A natural gas pipeline operated by TransCanada Corp. exploded and caught fire in the Canadian province of Manitoba on Saturday, shutting off gas supplies for as many as 4,000 residents in sub-zero temperatures.

“We could see these massive 200- to 300-meter high flames just shooting out of the ground and it literally sounded like a jet plane,” resident Paul Rawluk told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Earthquake, Puerto Rico. 13 Jan 2014 Puerto Rico earthquake is largest in US in recent years (+video) Fortunately no fatalities were reported.

Toxic Chemical Spill, West Virginia. Poisons the water supply of 300,000 people. 9 Januray 20142  West Virginia Chemical Spill Aftermath Leaves Residents Struggling   A massive chemical spill at a Freedom Industries storage facility contaminated the Elk River in West Virginia with 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol and forced 300,000 residents of the state to go without potable, usable water.

At a press conference on Monday [20 Jan 2014], West Virginia Gov. Ray Tomblin told residents: “It’s your decision, if you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water, then use bottled water.” …”The governor said, “I’m not a scientist,” adding that whether the detection limit is 10 parts per billion or 1 part per billion, the concentration involved “is still minuscule.” … “It’s your decision,” Gov. Tomblin told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water then use bottled water.”

Its outrageous that the West Virginia governor cannot speak authoritatively on such a massive disaster and does not show compassion and caring for the people he was elected to care for and protect. Its pretty obvious that each citizen has to think of themselves and their families and prepare as best as possible for all foreseeable situations, in order to have the best chance at survival.

The impact of this disaster is not known at the time that I write this but the government is sending in water trucks to help save as many lives as possible. Some folks have already started looking for ways to purify water because their bottled water supply is running out and the government trucks have not reached everyone.

What would I do in this situation?

  • I always have several five gallon bottles of filtered and purified water (that I rotate regularly) on hand at home.
  • If that bottled water supply was about to be depleted, and I could not evacuate, I would examine the threat to see if I could implement a countermeasure.
  • A quick search on the Internet shows that the boiling point of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol is much higher than that of water. That means that if I were to distill the incoming water supply that I could extract water that had no 4-methylcyclohexane methanol in it.
  • I would assemble a makeshift water distiller, if I didn’t already have one on hand and distill the water.
  • Just distilling water cannot guarantee that all toxins have been taken care of, its during these disasters when all risks become more dangerous.
  • The only other filtration system I would trust is Activated Charcoal (this is not coal, or regular charcoal, don’t confuse them).
  • Run the water very slowly through an activated charcoal filter.
  • Run the water two more times through the activated charcoal water filter because there is definitely a threat and I would not want to take any chances.
  • If I only had activated charcoal and the situation was life threatening then I would filter it five or ten times (keep in mind that activated charcoal is not good for everything, no one filter is, so in this case, if any bacteria or cysts or viruses got into the water the activated charcoal might not tae them out).
  • Every situation is different, be prepared, have several different water filters on hand so that you can clean all threats out of your water.

Aussietanks now has a very nice looking product, a collapsable water tank that is made with soft sides. I think that in a disaster, you would erect this in your backyard and connect it to your gutter’s downspout to collect rainwater. This product was specifically designed for areas that suffer from drought and yes the conundrum is that if you don’t get rain you don’t have water but I think that its better to be prepared by having something like this so if it does rain then you can collect water and survive. I’ll post a video of this product after they get it posted online. https://www.aussietanks.com  Drought 2014 Feds declare natural disasters in 11 western, central states because of drought (Star Tribune) 16 Jan 2014 Superstorm Sandy Oct 29 2012 Wikipedia: Hurricane Sandy (unofficially known as “Superstorm Sandy”) was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. Classified as the eighteenth named storm, tenth hurricane and second major hurricane of the year, Sandy was a Category 3 storm at its peak intensity when it made landfall in Cuba.[1] While it was a Category 2 storm off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km)).[2][3] Estimates as of June 2013 assess damage to have been over $68 billion (2013 USD), a total surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina.[4] At least 286 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries.[5] Volcano Eruption April 2010 Iceland

Wikipedia: 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull were volcanic events at Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland which, although relatively small for volcanic eruptions, caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe over an initial period of six days in April 2010. Additional localised disruption continued into May 2010. The eruption was declared officially over in October 2010, when snow on the glacier did not melt. From 14–20 April, ash covered large areas of northern Europe when the volcano erupted. About 20 countries closed their airspace to commercial jet traffic and it affected more than 100,000 travelers.

Volcano Mount Pinatubo eruption  June 15, 1991

Wikipedia: The volcano’s Plinian / Ultra-Plinian eruption on June 15, 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in the Alaska Peninsula. Complicating the eruption was the arrival of Typhoon Yunya bringing a lethal mix of ash and rain. Successful predictions at the onset of the climactic eruption led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives, but the surrounding areas were severely damaged by pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and subsequently, by the lahars caused by rainwaters re-mobilizing earlier volcanic deposits causing extensive destruction to infrastructure and altering the river systems months to years after the eruption.

Super Typhoon Haiyan November 8, 2013

Wikipedia: Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, in November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,201 people in that country alone. Haiyan is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall, and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed.[3] As of January, 2014, bodies are still being found.

Previous Disasters

List of disasters in the United States by death toll (Wikipedia)

Preparedness Kits

So what do I pack? That is a tough, impossible, question to answer but I’ll offer some starting points to get the wheels turning, it up to you to determine what would satisfy your specific needs. Put a laminated card with instructions in each bag so your family knows how to use everything, just in case you’re not available.

Assemble all the items that you determined are appropriate for you (not limited to the items in this guide) first, then determine what king of bag (backpack belt pack, etc.) each kit should go into.

Make sure you have water and band-aids (bandages) with you now before you get this process started.

The rule of thumb for your water needs is one gallon per person per day.

Tip: Once you have your water and band-aids in place, make sure your water heater is properly strapped to sturdy wall studs so it does not create a bigger problem by falling down, starting a fire or flooding your home (or eliminating an emergency source of water for you) and if you have natural gas, have the correct wrench to turn off your gas attached to the gas valve (or stored nearby) so you can turn the gas off in case of leaks, however, if you experience an earthquake do not turn off the gas unless you definitely smell the scent of escaping gas. Most of the time gas lines do not break and shutting off your gas line means that you could be waiting for days for the gas company to come out to verify that you are leak free before they turn it on for you.

If you store water in large quantities at home, for emergency purposes, you could encounter bacterial contamination. Personally I use multiple 5-gallon bottles of professionally filtered water, stored outside but always in the shade and we drink that water every day (as well as use it for cooking) so its constantly rotated reliably. That way our water is always fresh and since we don’t like the taste of our treated tap water it serves a dual purpose and cannot suffer from bacterial buildup.

On the other hand, if you wish to store water for long periods of time, unused, you should consider using a product like Water Preserver Concentrate (which is chlorine) in an easy to use and tiny bottle. Designed for use with 55 gallon drums, but still able to provide individual drops for one gallon bottles, this is a time tested method of keeping water pathogen free for up to 5 years. Of course you wold start with safe water to begin with to ensure safety.

There are plenty of discussions on having a variety of bags (backpacks, duffel bags, etc.), to support different scenarios. I disagree with this approach. Having lived through hurricanes (several), earthquakes (Loma Prieta et. al.), wildfire, severe blizzards (Blizzard of 1977), Northeast Blackout of 1965 (rioting, looting and I was trapped in a burning building), etc. I have found that you do not have the luxury of going somewhere to pick up a specific emergency kit.

What actually happens is that you are stuck with what you have with you, on your person, known as Every Day Carry (EDC) and whatever emergency pack is right next to you at that moment.

My approach is to equip each pack as well as I can considering its location and available space. If I could I would have a proper Bug Out Bag (BOB) at each location and with me at all times, but that is just not possible for me. Instead I equip my office with the minimum I need there, my car with specific items more likely to be needed there and my home has the most equipment and supplies.

If I’m lucky, I could be in my office and the news might be that the roads are passable so I would grab my office kit and join it with the car kit to go home. Once home the office and car kit augments the home kit, giving me maximum resilience.

CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response Widget


Emergency Financial First Aid Kit

Something simple (and free) that I’ve not seen people do is to put together an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK). When disaster strikes many people are instantly cut off from all their documents in their home, sometimes their homes are destroyed or inaccessible and the documents are needed for various reasons.

FEMA has posted two excellent documents, along with simple check lists, to make the collection of the necessary papers simple and easy.

Safeguarding Your Valuables

Emergency Financial First Aid Kit

Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit

Avoid Loan Scams

What to do immediately following a disaster

Protect and rebuild your finances

Last Resort or EDC

Your “Last Resort” kit (i.e. Every Day Carry) is what is on you at any given time. If a disaster strikes at any given moment what do you have on you to help you survive? A little cash thats always hidden somewhere? Flashlight/light stick? Bandaids? Prescriptions? Pocket knife? Protein bar? Whistle (if you cant yell for help, you’ll still be able to blow a whistle to call for help).

Keep in mind that the most common disturbance to the status quo are power failures. During power failures, stores cant accept credit cards, ATM machines won’t work and gas stations can’t pump gas. If its nighttime or if you are indoors, you will need a flashlight. Of all the equipment I have used to get through disasters since 1965, having some cash (plenty of small bills) a flashlight and never letting the gas go less than half the tank are the ones that I have actually relied upon the most. (Next is water, then food then shelter, except when trapped in winter storms in which case shelter was most important). The general consensus is that $100 (in very small bills) in each car plus $1,000 at home is reasonable. Thats debatable and you will have to determine whats best for you. If you are concerned that one of the more likely disaster scenarios includes a disruption or lack of confidence in our monetary system then also add in U.S. pre-1965 silver coins (dimes, quarters, and half dollars) to the paper money in your cars and at home.

The last year that ninety percent silver was used in U.S. coins was 1964. U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars that were minted in or before 1964 contain ninety percent silver. Therefore, the easiest method for identifying silver coins is to examine the coin’s mint date. If the date reads 1964 or earlier, then you have a silver coin, as long as the coin is a dime, quarter, or a half dollar (nickels, as the name indicates, were made of a nickel alloy).

Make sure that you have small bills because in an emergency a small bottle of water will cost you $20, if all you have are $20 bills from the ATM. I like to have a lot of small bills, several rolls of quarters, and for dire emergencies some silver coins (the silver is a bit extreme and infers that you suspect that the monetary system has collapse). Proponents of carrying gold coins miss out on the fact that gold is extremely expensive and very hard to set a value to (gold is fluctuating around $1,200 an ounce right now as opposed to $20 an ounce for silver. Unless you plan on buying a snowmobile I think that silver would be more practical, not that its a bad thing to carry one or two gold coins, if you can afford that luxury. Just keep them hidden and don’t tell anyone about them.

Don’t forget to put emergency supplies in your kids backpacks and train them to know what to do.

Tip: If anyone in your family needs asthma inhalers and/or Epi Pens, then make sure you have extras in all your packs and your car.

Get Home Bag

This is what you need to support you while you make your way home. How long would that take you? Ideally this would support you for 24 hours, which we hope would be enough time for you to get home plus cash in the form of several rolls of quarters, a lot of ones and additional small bills plus a few larger bills. Sometimes called an E&E Bag (escape and evade bag).

Car Kit

One of the most overlooked opportunities is to have sufficient emergency supplies in your car. We spend so much time in our cars that its reasonable to assume that your car will be nearby and available for most emergencies. Keep in mind that of the two disasters that we face in our society, natural disasters and car accidents, car accidents are far more common and the force of a crash ca be severe enough to require you to quickly patch up a loved one riding with you, before the ambulance gets there.

The first two things I add are a very decent first aid kit and I put a flashlight in each car door. Don’t buy those cheap flashlights that run on alkaline batteries, they will fail in the heat of a car amazingly quickly and you cant depend on them. [See flashlight suggestions, below], then I add water and  a life hammer for the driver and passenger.

Personally, I carry two first aid kits in my car. One is a full blown first aid kit that hopefully will take care of just about any need that I’m experienced enough to treat. But I don’t want anyone digging through that kit and depleting the supplies without my knowledge, that would not be a good surprise to find out during an emergency, so I also have a second, small first aid kit, a “Boo-Boo” kit in the glove compartment of the car. Its tiny, inexpensive, unobtrusive and it keep the main kit from being raided. Its contents are simply a variety of band-aids, triple anti-biotic ointment and sterile artificial tears (the one in small containers with break-away tips). You can also use the sterile artificial tears to flush a wound if you have no other way to do so, it takes s bit of water squirted under pressure to flush contaminants out, then apply the antibiotic cream and bandage). Mine plastic case is so tiny that this fit inside plus a few Advil, activated charcoal capsules and Imodium.

Life hammers (the go by various names, rescue hammers, etc.) are an inexpensive combination tool that safely cuts your seatbelt (without cutting you like a knife would) and a special hammer tip that is designed specifically to break car windows in case you need to escape and the doors won’t open in an emergency situation.

Instead of a Life Hammer (which I have carried for many years, I now switched to a much smaller and easier to use tool, called the “resume”. Its so small that you can clip to your keychain (I clipped it to a knob on my dashboard so its always available). When you pull it away from the attachment ring, you can use the built in razor blade to slice your seatbelt off in one swift motion. Then you flip it over and firmly press it again the side window and when the resqme clicks (it only takes 12 pounds of force) the window will shatter, allowing you to escape.

resqme rescue tool

resqme rescue tool

The instructions clearly indicate that it is not intended for laminated windows. Typically, side windows are not laminated, but front windshields are. If you need to get through a laminated window, then use the resqme to shatter several sections of the windshield along the edges then push or kick it out with your feet.

This is a great tool for getting out if your car is in an accident and the doors will not open for any reason, or if your car goes underwater (the water pressing against the door makes it very tricky to get them open). Its much simpler than it sounds, just check out these videos.

Since the car is doing all the carrying its more flexible on how much your stuff weighs. My wife’s car has a sub-trunk below the floor of the main trunk, which looked like an ideal place to store her emergency supplies and that is exactly what she has done for years. Its convenient, out of the way and it ensures that her supplies are always near her and undisturbed. Its includes rain hats and warm winter watch caps both of which are small, easily packable and highly useful when you need them.

Make sure to have at least one pair of thick soled shoes/light hiking boots (and three pair of hiking socks) in the trunk of each car, in case disaster strikes and you need to walk over rubble or broken glass or might have to walk through unpaved areas. Although this concept started because my wife could be wearing high heels, I also do it because my dress shoes do not have a sole that is thick enough to prevent injury from broken glass, etc.

We also include two rolls of toilet paper (or baby wipes, trust me these are tiny and can be so soothing in a bad situation), First Aid Kits, blankets (one wool one space sleeping bag), jackets, MREs, water, flashlights, light sticks, folding knife (I prefer a multi tool like a SwissTool which has various models, some even come with a belt pouch. (There are others like Leatherman TTi and Gerber Diesel, that have great reputations but I don’t think their ergonomics are as well thought out as with the SwissTool by Victorinox, which used theor centuries of experience making the Swiss Army knife to create the SwissTool.) Have one change of clothing, space sleeping bags (which can also be cut open and made into a lean-to if necessary, dust masks (preferably N95 rated), safety goggles, tough leather gloves (i prefer deerskin work gloves because they are cut resistant), cash in the form of several rolls of quarters, a lot of ones and additional small bills plus a few larger bills, etc.

Victorinox Swisstool (multi-tool)

Victorinox Swisstool (multi-tool)

Yes, I’m a fan of the Swiss Army knife series of products (they make an incredible assortment), because I’ve used them for decades and have never been let down by them. Very good design, with good materials and they pay attention to quality. These are tools I can rely on and pass them down to future generations. If, for any reason, you’d like a more conventional pocket knife style of tool, then consider the  Victorinox Rescue Tool Swiss Army Knife.

Victorinox Rescue Tool Swiss Army Knife

Victorinox Rescue Tool Swiss Army Knife

See that little pointed object at one end of the handle? Its a rescue tool for shattering the side window of a passenger car. You then pull out the serrated blade and cut the seatbelt thats keeping you in place and you can escape from an otherwise un-exitable vehicle. This one was designed by a Victorinox employee who worked in their internal fire department. He wanted a tool to break side windows and he even removes front windshields by punching a hole with the rescue tool and then sawing the window away.

I’ve assumed that you already have a basic automotive toolkit, jumper cables, a can of inflate-a-flat and a siphon hose in your car. If you don’t then I think that you should . Your car should already have a jack, if not then get an appropriate one for your car (there are different ones and not all work on all cars). Even if you don’t know how to use them, someone else could come by and fix it for you. If you don’t have tools then it can’t get fixed. Of course I’m going to suggest that you take a class so you can take care of yourself, cars are computer operated now so there is less that you have to know how to do. This is a a good thing.

Electrolytes for Emergencies

We live in a car oriented society, we rarely go anywhere that our car is not close to us. This gives us the opportunity to let the car provide us with more supplies that we would normally otherwise carry. Fresh clean water is one of those items that I always like having in the car. Not only do we need it for our every day survival, its essential for treating heat exhaustion.

Of course the first thing we are going to do is to get the victim to stop exertion themselves, sit or lay down in the shade, give them small sips of water. I also would wet their hair and possibly clothing with the water I was carrying if I had enough and it seemed that I could not cool them quickly enough.

Alcohol is a great coolant for patients suffering from heat exhaustion, of course we would not ever allow them to drink the alcohol because it would dehydrate them even worse, instead we would wet their forehead and let it evaporate. Alcohol evaporates quickly and tales a lot of heat away with it. I once wet a child’s entire head with alcohol and it cooled them rather quickly.

Naturally as with all medical emergencies, you should call for immediate medical help, however the perspective of this guide is what can we do to prepare and respond in an emergency, when help isn’t coming or cant get there in a timely manner.

Another popular first aid treatment for heat exhaustion are sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. These drinks are formulated for athletes who work out for so many hours every say that they actually can deplete their body’s electrolytes (magnesium, potassium and sodium salts) plus often have a huge dose of sugar (carbs) so they don’t have to stop and eat so often.

There are foods and even protein bars that have electrolytes in them, the reason that we give liquid electrolytes is that it absorbs super fast so it gets to work quickly and it avoids loading the patient’s tummy which is typically already in distress (commonly they have regurgitated at least once by the time we realize that first aid is needed).

If its the only thing that was available I would give the patient some of these drinks. They are not health food, they often have a lot of carbs, which I’m not interested in, and now (at the time of this writing) there is a raging controversy that they contain undesirable ingredients (in addition to the carbs) such as artificial colorings and brominated vegetable oils (BVO). I’d put this is third place as a first aid drink.

According to NPR: “Mark Graber, professor of clinical emergency medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Graber says that coconut water really isn’t much like blood plasma, and if a patient came into his ER dehydrated, he wouldn’t reach for it. “It’s not an optimal IV solution for rehydration because it doesn’t have enough sodium content to stay in the bloodstream,” says Graber. “And it could cause elevated calcium and potassium, which could be dangerous.””

Coconut water is now gaining in popularity and can be used for first aid. It has the desired electrolytes but is three times as high in carbs as my favorite product. If nothing else were available, I’d give the heat exhaustion suffer one coconut water and follow it up with as many sips of plain water as they will take. Proponents for coconut water claim better bio-availablity of the nutrients but to be perfectly honest, I just haven’t found incontrovertible evidence of this.

Coconut Water ingredients

Coconut Water (Zico) ingredients

Coconut water does have a large dose of potassium but is lower in all the other electrolytes than my favorite product. I’ll put coconut water in secnd place for first aid use.

I’ve used packets of Emergen-C  powder for 15-20 years, its obviously my favorite. Although I purchase it to energizing me on tiresome days or even if I think that I might be catching a cold, I realized that its so high in electrolytes that this would be a good first aid drink in an emergency. Maybe thats how the product got its name, if so, it would be apropos.

I think that it has a better electrolyte package than all the sports drinks I looked at. It includes the salts we need for first aid: magnesium, potassium and sodium as well as calcium; all in excellent quantities. This combo offers good hydration as well as good supplemental nutrition when the B Vitamins and other nutrients kick in. Emergen-C has no caffeine and each packet is only 25 calories so it has an insignificant amount of carbs. Perfect for my emergency needs.

Emergen-C Super Orange

Emergen-C Super Orange

Emergen-C Ingredients

Emergen-C Ingredients

They do make one flavor called ElectroMix which makes a one liter sports electrolyte drink, the regular Emergem-C only requires 4-6 ounces of water so for an equivalent volume of water the regular Emergen-C actually packs a much stronger dose, which is why that is the one that I carry with me, and its made in the US of A.

Emergen-C is my number one choice, there are always packets of it at home and in the first aid kit of each car.


New to me is Oxylent by Vitalah. Its similar to Emergen-C but has higher levels of all the electrolytes that we are interested in and well as several other important supplements.

Oxylent 7 Count boxes

Oxylent 7 Count boxes

It appears to be a supercarged version of Emergen-C but with Zero calories, zero sugars which I love. They achieve this by sweetening with pure Stevia, my favorite sweetener.

Oxylent by Vitalah

Oxylent by Vitalah

Rather impressive, isn’t it? I think so. What makes me even happier is that not only does it come in individual single serving envelopes (like Emergen-C) it is available in a small box with seven packets known as Travel Oxylent, which is perfect to throw into our emergency kits (I put mine in my BOB in my car because I’m never far away from my car). The home size is 30 packets which is perfect as a one month It tastes good and provides much needed electrolytes in a dehydration emergency, what else can you ask for?

Oxylent Review

I’ve been using Oxylent for several weeks now, samples from the manufacturer and the more I use it the more I like it, so much so that I’ve purchased several cartons for home and BOB use. Its a great mineral replacement drink I enjoy after my daily high intensity interval training, which gets me nice and sweaty so I can get excellent cardio benefits and allows me to enjoy Oxylent. What I’ve noticed so far is that Im not experiencing the leg cramping and stiffness that I used to get every day. It seems that the minerals on the label really are in the product. That not really a scientific test but when I get my photo spectrometer (I discuss it further in my olive oil post) then I’ve be able to scientifically test the contents. For now I feel that this product is even better than Emergen-C, it tastes better, has no sugar and I feel better with it.

Also tested during many of our sunny and hot days here in California because I have naturally tan skin and often I forget to grab my hat when I run outside. Needless to say that the searing sun gives me a good sweat and naturally I reach for the Oxylent in my car’s emergency BOB to replace the lost minerals. I feel great afterwards and have not experienced any of teh run down feeling I used to previously.

This is already turning into a long term test of Oxylent, both as a daily supplement and as a component in each car’s first aid kit. More updates as I gather more experience with this amazing product. I’ve been highly recommending it to family and friends and hope that you will try a carton soon.

Oxylent is available at the Vitamin Shoppe nationwide and online.


Odds are that in a serious emergency you will be outdoors walking to your safe haven which means being exposed to the sun, which means that eye protection is important. I had a series of appointments with an eye surgeon some years back and each time I saw him I’d always leave the office with a pair of disposable sunglasses over my regular glasses because I was so extremely light sensitive (my regular glasses have the transitions treatment so they are always dark outdoors but I really needed the extra protection at that time). I wound up with a few of these rolled up sheets of tinted material in my glove compartment so I evenly distributed them between the two cars in case anyone needed them in case of an emergency.

If you don’t have access to these rather flimsy and slightly uncomfortable temporary sunglasses, there is another similar commercial offering.

Survival i-Shield ™ by Survival Metrics – Dark Lens (ishielddark) is a very similar concept that is a bit better built and includes an adjustable seven strand paracord to securely affix it to your head. Attractive and practical, this compact product can offer a tremendous amount of comfort ad protection when you really need it.

I suggest considering two for each emergency backpack and in each car’s trunk kit.

Survival i-Shield (tm) by Survival Metrics - Dark Lens (ishielddark)

Survival i-Shield ™ by Survival Metrics – Dark Lens (ishielddark)

Emergency Air Conditioning

If you have a situation where a member of your group is suffering fro (or you are attempting to prevent them suffering from) heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but there is no power to run an air conditioner, consider this clever concept for making your own air conditioner.

It does require a little construction so you might consider putting one or a few of these together before an emergency, and it does require a source of ice, but if a member of my group is suffering, I will go ahead and open my freezer and pull out whatever ice I might have in there, and if I donut have ice (it does happen) I would pull out all the frozen veggies and anything else I needed to cool this person’s brain off before there is any damage.

Of course some will argue that if you have to use your ice then just put it on the patient, and I would agree with that. But an additional source of cooling is to let them breathe cool air so they are being cooled down from the inside out.

Office Kit

Our office kit is similar to our car kit. Since most of our daytime hours are spent at the office, it stands to reason that there should be a kit kit there, and yes in addition to a first aid kit it contains food and water,  heavy shoes (light boots are better) (and three pair of hiking socks) plus the other goodies. My wife was in her office when the last major earthquake struck our area. After she rescued a coworker who was trapped under a collapsed bookshelf, she changed into her hiking boots, which were in her office kit, used her high intensity flashlight from her purse and led everyone out of the building.

At that point she had a choice of staying there to shelter-in-place or attempt to drive home. Normally she would have sheltered in place but the building was damaged and was evacuated, the fire department would not let anyone back in. She now had two kits, the office kit and the car kit, with her, plus her last resort kit. She was well prepared.

It took her many hours to get home but if the roads had been blocked she could have pulled over and survived in the car by herself until things cleared up.

Emergency Heat

Cold weather survival can be an uncomfortable as well as life threatening challenge. If you find yourself without heat, use a bit of ingenuity (and always keep safety at the forefront) to use whatever resources you have on hand. In this video, you will see a very simple tea light powered flower pot (unglazed clay pot) heater being arranged for use. You simply stack the components and light the tea candles.

The inner flower pot traps heat unit it just can’t store any more then radiates it to the outer flower pot which does the same thing. As the outer pot is heated, it gently radiates soft, warming heat to the surrounding area.

This is a rather small system and will not heat an entire house, but in an emergency you have to make do with what you have. You can always build more than one as long as you have a responsible person to keep an eye on each one. Be safe and make sure you have decent ventilation and an adequate air supply anytime you burn anything indoors when all the windows and doors are shut.

This can prove useful if you live in areas, where everything is electrically powered. Even if you have a gas heater, it could have an electrical control to operate it so you might not have heat during blackouts. This is a very small device and is most likely good for warming your hands and sitting in front of to get a bit warmer. Don’t expect it to make the room significantly warmer if you are using four or five candles. The outer pot can reach 130 degrees or more so it certainly better than trying to warm your hands with a candle flame, which just does not work well (too close and you get burned and too far and you get nothing becausee the flame is tiny). It does take quite a while to get the flower pots to heat up, so this is not an instant heating system. I’d light mine up before sunset to give it a chance to get up to temperature before it gets too cold. My expectation is that I will keep this running for many hours at a time (so I have a chance to enjoy its heat) so I have a box of spar tea candles in storage just to have enough to keep the post heated.

Emergency Electricity

How do you charge your iPhone or iPad during a power blackout? If you are fortunate enough to have a backup generator then you donut have to worry but very few people are that fortunate. A solar panel would be nice but only works during the day. A new alternative is a clever new product called the PowerPot. ((ThePowerPot.com))

The PowerPot is a brilliantly simple product, by simply attaching a thermoelectric device (like a Peltier Junction device) to a cook pot, the pot can generate a small amount of electricity while its boiling water (or whatever else you put in it.

This is a great ides because you can satisfy two needs at the same time, you would be heating food anyway, so why not use wasted heat to power your devices?

The only real downsides are that The PowerPot is expensive, check their website to get prices, since things are changing rapidly, and it only produces barely enough power to charge one iPhone or one iPad at a time. This is not a terrible thing and during an emergency just having one device charged up could bring a lot of comfort and could even be a lifesaver.

Its lifesaving potential is worth the price tag to me, and bringing comfort to someone who is uneasy or upset during an emergency is priceless.

Its obviously oriented to campers and we know that we get a lot of our equipment and survival techniques from the camping folks so this makes a lot of sense. If you really are a camper then this is even more appealing because you can get your use out of it every weekend.

Just think, if there was a disaster and your iPhone was out of power, how much would you be willing to pay to get an opportunity to charge your iPhone and call for help or at least call your family and friends and tell them you are OK? Those needs are priceless.

Bug Out Bag

The classic disaster preparedness bag, this is commonly the backpack that everyone thinks of when they imagine a preparedness kit. This kit should support you for three days (more of you can manage it). You can load up a kids wagon or have saddle bags on a bike, just figure out what your specific needs need to be met, and how you’ll satisfy them.

Include water in the kit and consider a Camelbak or something similar that you can fill up and carry extra water when you come upon a safe water source. Water purification tablets or a water filter (like a Katadyn) or preferably both, will allow you to lower your risk when you get desperate. Keep in mind that all water is suspect during disasters (pipes break and could allow contaminants in) so if possible, sterilize all water before consumption and that when you are trying to survive you will consume a lot more water that you imagine, so even if you carry water, you will almost undoubtedly need more which will require filtration. Don’t take risks when you are already vulnerable, get the best possible filtration that you can.

You can use water filters intended for hiking, but keep in mind that almost all hiking filters are intended for use in fairly clear running water. Hiking trails naturally develop nearby water sources that are easy to purify with basic filters. The problem with that logic is that in a disaster, sewage lines can break and severely contaminate water sources, even city water that comes your faucet. The classic solution is to use the world famous Katadyn Pocket Filter however its a bit expensive for most people so a potentially better solution would be the new Katadyn MyBottle Purifier (sometimes sold as Katadyn Exstream).

The Katadyn Pocket Filter was intended and designed for, use in disaster areas and only requires you to disassemble it and scrape the ceramic filter with a knife to restore full functionality so its ideal in an emergency situation. The Katadyn MyBottle Purifier also removes viruses, bacteria and cysts, it also has a charcoal filtration section to improve taste and remove chemicals, which is highly desirable however it requires easily replaceable filters to restore full functionality, which might not be available during an emergency.

The Katadyn Pocket Filter is very expensive so I suspect that most will balk at its initial price although in theory tho product could last for decades. The Katadyn MyBottle Purifier is available at a much more reasonable initial price but during an extended emergency you could use up the filters (clogging them) and require replacements that might not available because all services are disrupted. I suggest that if you get the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier that you either but several extra filters and pack them with the bottle, or resolve to buy one filter every six months until you are happy with the supply you have built up.

The Katadyn MyBottle Purifier (with Virustat) is the only EPA certified bottle water filter and is the only one I know of that eliminates viruses as well as bacteria, please make sure that you pick up the Virustat filter for it (it may come with it already included, Katadyn is changing the way they are sold, but its best for yo to check.

If I had to use a cheaper water filter, I would consider treating the water by at last two different methods (including boiling and water purification tablets).

Outdoors.org Most health organizations, including the Center for Disease Control, recommend that you boil water vigorously for 1 minute up to elevations of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) and 3 minutes at elevations higher than that. You’re guaranteed to be safe from giardia and crypto if you follow those guidelines.

Whichever bags you prepare, its best to check their contents at least once a year, and its even better if you create an inventory list for each bag, that way in an emergency you can check the lists to make sure you are about to open the correct bag and its really helps with the annual inventory to ensure that you are fully stocked.

You also want to update yourself on the latest products and techniques at least once a year. To help you remember just do your annual review when you take your family in for their annual First Aid and CPR certification at the Red Cross. Although I have been doing my part to prioritize disaster preparedness, I’ve occasionally missed a product or technique that could really help my family out during a time of need. I now add everything I learn (or remember) to this site. If you provide feedback, tips and tricks that you have learned, I would be happy to add them to this guide.

Kids Fun Kits & Comfort Kits

You need to keep kids calm, comfortable and occupied during emergency situations. A little planning ahead of time can change the experience from being emotionally traumatic for the children to being an unplanned adventure. Kids Comfort Kit:  1 outfit per person 1 pair of shoes per person Games & cards Books Puzzles Extra pair of socks per person Toys for infants & toddlers 1 comfort item per child Kids Fun Kits: Coloring book Crayons, markers, & pencils Notebook Deck of cards Play-doh Crossword Puzzle Book A small toy Place one of each of these kits into a backpack for each ad every child. If you have to evacuate suddenly, a child cannot pack for themselves and you could be too stressed out to remember to pack everything without notice. Children’s packs should only contain items that are not hazardous to the kids, their prescriptions, epi pens, asthma inhalers, etc. should be packed in the parent’s backpacks, until the children are old enough to responsibly treat themselves.


By now you are probably itching to get a backpack and start filling it up. What is suggested is that you gather everything you want to carry first, then determine what size (and features) you need in a backpack. Or you can jump on the bandwagon and get a MOLLE system backpack. MOLLE is the current technology and allows you to add smaller pouches to your main backpack as your needs grow or as your budget allows. (MOLLE is the new U.N. standard for a system of backpacks utilizing PALS which are elastic straps sewn in across the back and sides of the packs so yu can easily attach MOLLE pouches of various sizes and features).

MOLLE system backpack (how to add a pouch correctly)

A nice backpack that is very well rated, versatile, capacious, well built, features MOLLE strapping to attach many pouches and yet features an incredibly low street price is the Condor 3 Day Assault Pack. You can attach a good first aid kit to one side, and your canteen to the other (or use the built in hydration system. and you are ready to go.

I agree with the old timers that say that you want to blend in with the crowd if a disaster strikes so do not wear camouflage clothing or carry a camouflage back pack (if avoidable). The most inconspicuous pack color is thought to be black because that is the color most often seen on packs and suitcases right now. Wear comfy clothes that a civilian would wear, you do not want to attract undue attention or garner suspicion looking like a paramilitary anarchist. Look normal.

If you want to have high visibility then get bright orange ponchos that you can drape over your pack if you are walking on a roadway or are trying to signal aircraft.

How To Pack Your Bug Out Bag, Car Bag, etc.

The most important thing to being prepared is mindset, then comes preparations (buying stuff) and at some point you will wan to put them into a bag of some sort. By this point you have surmised that I prefer backpacks. Its no surprise, everyone likes them, and even school children have gotten in on the backpack action for a few years now (sure wish we had them when I was a kid), so the question that is left is how do I pack my backpack.

Its tempting to have your friend or a local Boy Scout pack your bag for you but I think that you really need to know where everything is and even more important to know for a fact that everything got packed. In an emergency you don’t want to be struggling to look for a first aid kit (or toilet paper) that was packed at the bottom of the main compartment because someone else thought it would fit better that way. Do it yourself and know where everything is. The priorities for disaster preparedness are different than for camping, they seem similar and in some ways they are, but you don’t have the luxury of time of finding a friendly camper to help you out. In a disaster others are very stressed out and primal instincts to take care of oneself, the “survival instinct” kicks in and folks might not be so helpful as when camping on a lovely weekend.

Couldn’t you just throw everything in there? Sure, its a free country, you could just try stuffing it but you do;t do that with your closets at home do you? No, of course not, we all have some sort of organizing principle in place. We use hangers and put certain types of clothing into groups, some stiff is folded on shelves and shoes are at the bottom.

The same can be true for backpacks. The more efficiently you pack the easier it is to find stuff and the less room it takes up, a lot less room.

My priorities are to have whats needed in a crises to be first available from the outside. So in my case I have a Med 3 first aid kit (yes, I know its really a platoon level med kit, I like to be prepared) attached to the MOLLE straps on the outside of my pack. That way if someone is injured, first aid is available instantly.

At the top, external pouch, I have two ponchos and a space sleeping bag. That way if it rains, the poncho comes out effortlessly and if we get tired, we can hop into the space sleeping bag and get some rest. Ponchos are also good because if it rains, you put the poncho on and drape it over your backpack (no, backpacks are not waterproof unless you get highly specialized packs that cost more that $500).

So far, we have not even opened up the pack, which is a good thing. No wasted energy during the initial hours of the emergency so we can focus on getting home or getting to our family rendezvous point.

You need water to be readily available while you are walking so I have my canteen pouch attached to the MOLLE straps on the side of the backpack so I can easily pull it out while walking without unpacking. Once I find a water source, I will not only fill up the canteen, I will also fill up the two hydration bladders that are built into my pack. Now I have triple the storage of water than I began with.

Why don’t I leave the hydration bladders full all the time? At the moment there is no consensus as to this being a good idea. There are rumors of water getting funky if left in hydration bladders for very log periods of time, so I want to find a definitive answer on that one beforeI fill them up. I suspect that its just Internet rumor and innuendo and not really a problem, so I do plan on filling the bladders.

The advantage of having a pack with built in bladders (or a space for bladders that can be added later) is that the pack will have a straw that sticks out from the side and you just suck out water as you need it. Its super easy and very convenient.

Food is next, and depending on your pack you might be able to get a few food bars in an outside pouch. You will probably have to stop and take your pack off t get at these supplies but you will probably want to rest occasionally so this is not a problem.

Naturally, if you eat food, you’ll need toilet paper. I flatten out a roll of toilet paper and put it into a gallon size zip lock bag. If you can, put this into an outside pouch. I also have a pack of baby wipes, if you have a mess (emergencies are upsetting and yo might have to eat some strange food, be prepared) however we have found that the baby wipes dry out once the package has been opened so I also keep this in a gallon zip lock bag but I have i my mind to avoid breaking it open until my wife or I really need it.

When I open my pack’s main compartment, I have an army surplus one piece jumpsuit (100% cotton, super soft and comfy), merino wool and synthetic blend light hiking socks (must be a blend because pure wool collapses when wet with foot perspiration and you will get blisters) a change of underwear, a pair of pants with zip off legs (converts to shorts).

Everything else goes inside the pack, either folded neatly or rolled up in a space efficient manner. This of what you will need next, and when them you will know how to pack your bag.

At Home Kit

Yes, I said it. At Home. In my opinion, most emergencies or disasters will call for people to stay at home and shelter-in-place. Unless your home is on fire, or under water, its likely to be the best, safest place to be. Have a thirty day food supply, thirty day water supply, thirty day prescription supply and you’ll probably be OK. I use several 5 gallon water bottles you can get at the pure water store, and use the water from them so they get rotated regularly.

You can consider using your toilet, hot water heater and bathtub for emergency water storage. The water in the toilet tank is supposed to be clean because it has not flowed down to the bowl yet and hopefully you keep your tub clean at all times. I have no aversion to using these sources for water in an emergency but there are two niggling thoughts I have in the back of my mind.

Tip: It might be safer to use a product like water BOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage (100 Gallons) to hold your water in the bathtub, to avoid accidental contamination, pests, dust, debris, etc. from ruining your water.

The first is that by the time I realize that I need to store water, the water pressure has already failed so I can’t fill the tub, and unless I’m particularly alert, I just might flush the toilet, after the impact of the initial fright and flush away the only water that the tank can hold.

Tip: DO NOT STORE ANY PLASTIC WATER CONTAINER DIRECTLY ON CONCRETE. The concrete will leech chemicals into the water, contaminating it and also degrading the plastic bottle, causing failure. Los Angeles Fire Department Emergency Preparedness handbook

Regardless of what actually happens, I will try to not flush the toilet needlessly and fill the tub if possible. Then if I use that water I will either boil it (on my emergency stove, if necessary) or run it through a water purifier or as a last resort, suck it up through an emergency water filter straw. Typically the better ones will filter 99% of giardia, cryptosporidium and large bacteria. What I intend to do is to drop a water purification tablet into the water (follow the instructions) then drink the water through the straw. In disasters we don’t really know which water sources have become contaminated (sewage pipes and water lines have been known to break and contaminate the city’s plumbed water supply. You can even have flooding push contaminated or ocean water into community fresh water supplies or wells and contaminate them that way. Regardless of the unknown risk, treat your water as best you can. Outdoors.org Most health organizations, including the Center for Disease Control, recommend that you boil water vigorously for 1 minute up to elevations of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) and 3 minutes at elevations higher than that. You’re guaranteed to be safe from giardia and crypto if you follow those guidelines.

Don’t allow yourself to become a victim, take CERT training, make a family plan, equip yourself, practice and stay up to date.

I will print all my survival guides and have Red Cross First Aid books for ready reference in case we lose power and I can’t look up anything on the Internet.

Another good idea is to have dust masks (N95 rated) at home along with a hard hat and goggles. When building structures are damaged in natural events, the drywall breaks and releases a lot of extremely fine particles into the air. If you decide to search your home’s interior for a family member, you should have this minimal safety equipment. Better yet, take a CERT course and learn how to do this safely.

Five Options for Insulin Storage During Disasters Get a generator and plenty of fuel.

Get a refrigerator that runs on propane and plenty of fuel.
Get a solar-powered refrigerator, such as one of SunDanzer
If you live in an area where the humidity doesn’t get to seventy-five percent try a zeer pot (pot-in-pot). All you need are a couple of different-sized clay pots, sand, a cloth to cover it, and any water (even non-potable).
Store your insulin in a hole in the ground. At least four feet deep  in a watertight container. Theoretically the bottles will stay at around fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

Since you will have your Last Resort kit, your Car Kit and your Bug Out kit there also, they all add up to help extend your survivability. You have a huge clothing supply so even if yo cant shower you’ll be more comfortable, you can change shoes and socks often, pile on as many blankets as needed (if there is no heat) so your home is your most likely place to get comfort.

Have sheets of plywood in your shed so you can board up your windows and door to protect against flying debris in storms or against looters (not likely). I like a product called SunTek 90 which is a solar screen material that replaces the bug screens in your windows and screen doors.

SunTek 90 reduces heat by 90%, so when you lose power you’ll stay cooler and more comfortable in your home. A nice side benefit is that you cannot see anyone inside through the screen at night (unless you turn on all your lights and stand within six inches of the screen. I like this for privacy. I use room darkening, foil lined, cellular shades for the center part of the windows that don’t have screens which also reduce heat dramatically and also block visibility from the outside. If you instal and use them correctly you will not only be cooler, you will also prevent anyone from being able to see any light coming from your home. I think that Inconspicuous is best during stressful situation.

One of he forgotten items that residents in flood prone areas (or not even so flood prone) don’t think about is to put a self inflating life raft, with an attached emergency preparedness kit in the attic and paddles that float tied with six feet of nylon cord to the raft (in case they slip from your hands, so you are not left oarless).

When there is a flood the natural inclination for those that can’t evacuate is to scurry up to the attic. The problem is that you now are stuck on the roof with no means of escape. Many of us have watched in horror during past floods, watching trapped residents on their rooftop trying to flag down news helicopters to see if they can get rescued. Not all make it in time.


Emergency Cache

An emergency cache is a bundle of supplies stored in a location other than your regular work or habitation. In the ancient days our ancestors used to store their emergency supplies in caves ir even in earthen jars buried underground. You could store some stuff at a friend or relative’s house but in a disaster, your emergency supplies become their emergency supplies or you amy find that they bugged out (evacuated) with your supplies and left you behind.

Another possibility is to rent a commercial storage unit. Although I’ve tried this off and on over the years, I’m still not convinced that it will actually work during a disaster, but its certainly worth talking about so you can make up you own mind.

My big issues with storage units are:

  • How do you know if the underpaid staff at the storage unit just won’t break into the units themselves to look for supplies?
  • How will you get in to your storage unit if there is a power failure? All the units in my area have tall fences and you have to punch in a code to unlock the access gate. If you are in a multi-story facility, there will be no power for elevators to take you up and down.
  • My final problem is not hypothetical, it actual happened to me. The lowest cost storage facilities (which are ideal for this concept) are unheated. The cinderblock walls and resultant build up of moisture on the inner walls is the perfect environment for mold. Yes, I lost 90% of the stuff I put in storage due to mold damage. Some folks put in small heaters that plug into the lightbulb that hangs in each unit but that is against the rental contract and because its unmonitored for long periods of time could be a fire hazard. If a fire does break out, you could be personally liable for the damages to the building and your adjoining renter’s properties.
  • I also realized that I had a key to the unit that was stored at home so if there was a disaster I’d have to get home, hope the house was still standing and/or not burned down and then find the key and get to the storage unit. If yu have family members then ideally each one of them should be able to go to the storage unit on their own, if they are separated from you and get whatever supplies they need, on their own.

I’d like a better solution to the storage rental unit for emergency supplies. If there were heated units, easy access (but still secure) with a pilfer proof combination lock (I have yet to see one) that would allow any family member access, then I think I will get another unit rented and slowly stock it up with supplies.

If I do restock a storage unit, I’ll be a bit smarter next time:

  • No cardboard boxes, they allowed moisture and mold to get in and destroy my stuff.
  • Nothing will be stored within 12 inches of the floor or any wall because thats where the mold crept in from.
  • All containers will be plastic, with tight fitting lids, sturdy latches and o-ring seals.
  • Each container will have a moisture absorbing packet and an oxygen absorber packet thrown into it.
  • Food supplies will be sealed in mylar bags then placed into the plastic containers.
  • Family members will each practice going into the unit by themselves to retrieve supplies, four times a year.

If you have experience or some good ideas, let me know so I can share your knowledge with everyone.

Supplies by Category

For each kit, decide what from each of the following categories will support the needs of that specific kit. these are listed in the priority order that I have observed over the past 40+ years of my personal experience preparing and actually responding to emergencies. I’ve seen a lot of other lists that are reversed from mine, but just think it through.

You can live a minute without good air, four days without water, over twenty days without food and unless the weather is extreme you can survive indefinitely by relying on makeshift shelters, so I carry that which has the most critical impact to my survival first. If I am  already in severe weather then I’m already outfitted for that extreme, I don’t need to add the bulk of a snowsuit and a second pair of boots to my kit (which would not fit in the kit anyway).

Use good judgement at all times before you prepare for a disaster, during and after the disaster, you are the only one that knows what is appropriate for your needs. Get appropriate, qualified, training for everything you don’t already have mastery over.

First Aid Kit

What’s in my bag? You really need to work out what your own needs are but here is most of what I have packed (I update each year). This list covers all my packs and scales up from my IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) to my Bug-In supplies at home.

Notice that I didn’t mention a surgical kit anywhere. Unless you are an actual surgeon that is currently practicing, this is not likely to be of use to you, bandages, antibiotics, Imodium, charcoal, pain relievers and various other pills are the most likely to be needed and used in these situations. If you can afford a medical kit and hope that you could find someone that could perform the surgery for your, thats great. I’m just trying to help you set reasonable expectations.

Don’t forget to keep your First Aid, CPR and AED certification up to date.

  • Band-aids in various sizes from small to large
  • Sterile gauze pads, large (you can cut them down if necessary)
  • Sterile gauze rolls, two or more rolls
  • CELOX First Aid Temporary Traumatic Wound Treatment (or Quikclot Sport Pack by Adventure Medical Kits or HemCon or WoundSeal)) which is a powder you pour onto a bleeding wound and it promotes very rapid clotting (3-5 minutes) even if the subject has been taking prescription blood thinners). I chose Celox because it has no clay dust that has to be cleaned out of the wound, it can be absorbed by the body and Celox works independently of the body’s clotting abilities. Direct pressure is still the prescribed method for treating a bleeding wound; at least three minutes of direct pressure is typically what’s called for. I carry Celox in case there are extenuating circumstances where I need to treat more that one person at a time or I just couldn’t get the bleeding on one person to stop. This would most likely be difficult areas like joints, etc. where I’m having difficulty apply continuous pressure. There is also “combat gauze” which has a similar compound already packed into the gauze. Celox is also available already impregnated in gauze bandages. While this may be convenient, it adds a specialty item that would rarely be used. A couple pf packets of Celox and regular bandages is more versatile and more likely to be used.
  • ACE (elastic, self clinging) bandages
  • Small bars of soap for cleaning wounds and washing your hands (Purell is not any more effective that a good soap washing)
  • Tube of superglue for sealing wounds when you run out of bandages or can’t stitch the wound closed
  • (n-butyl cyanoacrylate, isobutyl cyanoacrylate, and octyl cyanoacrylate are updated medical grade superglue but in a disaster regular Instant Krazy Glue could be considered) (I chose GLUture Topical Adhesive, 1.5 mL by Abbott Laboratories, comes with several applicator tips so it can treat multiple wounds or multiple people in a hygienic manner, is more flexible than hard drying superglues and dries clear) (trade names: MediBond, MediCryl, PeriAcryl, GluStitch, Xoin, Gesika, VetGlu, Vetbond, LiquiVet, Indermil, LiquiBand, Histoacryl, and others)
  • Paper tape (surgical tape)
  • Scissors (Actually they should be EMT Shears and they should be at the top of the kit so you can cut through clothing rapidly.
  • Eye moisturizing drops (sterile artificial tears)/eye wash (can be used to rinse dirt or other foreign objects from the eyes), usually this is a sterile saline solution with a little eyeball lubricant in it. You can’t do anything if your eye is closed with grit in it.
  • Needle for removing splinters
  • Chap stick for everyone, if you suffer from cold sores then a Lemon Balm (essential oil) based treatment is essential (per Dr Oz)
  • Petroleum jelly (I prefer Aquaphor) Great for irritated skin and burns, my dermatologist highly recommends it.
  • Hydrocortisone cream (several tubes, if you walk through some plant based irritants, this may save your behind)
  • Advil (since you will be out of your element, you could be experiencing more aches and pains than usual and under stress, everything is more annoying. Some folks go so far as to carry an ECA stack. Ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. 200 mg of caffeine gives a little power jolt while the pain killers dull aches and pains from the hostile situation. Ephedrine is similar to adrenaline and is used in the field to give survivors a little more zip in their step. Personally I carry PainAid by Zee Medical. Having used it for over 20 years I just have not found anything that works better for emergency situation for me. (I use Advil (Ibuprofen) for normal every day use). One trick that my nurse told me was that in an emergency they have their patients take Advil and alternate it every two hours with Tylenol (Acetaminophen) because Advil is metabolized in the kidneys and Tylenol is metabolized in the liver. The most recent studies show that Tylenol is very rough on the liver (despite what you may have heard). Together, they have better pain relief than either one by itself. If I don’t have PaidAid (or don’t want to risk the blood thinning due to the Aspirin and Salicylamide components.

PainAid Ingredients (ZEE Medical USA)

Active ingredients (in each tablet) ……………….Purpose Acetaminophen 110 mg …………………………….Pain reliever/fever reducer Aspirin 162 mg (NSAID)*……………………………Pain reliever/fever reducer Caffeine 32.4 mg ………………………………………Pain reliever aid Salicylamide 152 mg (NSAID)*…………………….Pain reliever/fever reducer * nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

  • Povidone-Iodine (Betadine) (This is what I’ve used as my primary antibiotic/wound care for decades and is recommended by doctors since its what they use for surgery. Get the individually wrapped swabs so you don’t have to travel with an open bottle.)
  • Diphenhydramine HCL (Benadryl) Not only good for seasonal allergies, in a disaster situation can be used to help promote sleepiness and calm rowdy children. Talk to your doctor now about how to do this safely. Some children have a paradoxical reaction to diphenhydramine and get hyper instead of sleepy.
  • Naproxyn Sodium (Aleve)
  • Loperamide (Imodium)
  • Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM)
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec OTC)
  • Clotrimazole 1% cream (Mycelex)
  • Potassium Permanganate
  • Epinephrine Inhaler (Primatene Mist) (not available in my area any more, find a suitable replacement)
  • Aspirin
  • Anti-histamine (preferably one that does not make you drowsy).
  • Decongestant (careful to not get something that raises blood pressure, if anyone is sensitive)
  • Burn gel, burn ointment, etc.
  • Ki03 Potassium Iodate (in you live near a nuclear power plant and they experience a major leak)
  • Sunblock SPF 30 or higher (get physical blocks such as zinc or titanium dioxide based products, avoid chemical based blocks because they wear out quickly (as short as 30 minutes). What do I carry? Butt Paste by Boudreaux (Yes its a cream for diaper rash. What it really is, is the strongest zinc oxide cream I could find on the market (16%). Zinc oxide is extremely soothing to irritated skin and some folks use it as an effective sunblock (zinc oxide is the best natural sunblock on the market) so it can be a multitasker and serve double duty to save space in your pack. Some folks are concerned that the higher the SPF rating the higher the risk for cancer (according to some studies). All those studies were done on synthetic sunblocks, there are none that state that all natural sunblocks made from only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both, have any problems at all.
  • Sunburn ointment
  • Lidocaine or benzocaine cream (relieves pan and/or itching) I use Relax and Wax No-Scream Cream by Deborah’s Esthetics which is 20% Benzocaine (it works on everything I’ve tried it on so far), or you could go with VAGICAINE MAXIMUM STRENGTH cream by Meijer Distribution Inc. which has (benzocaine 20% for pain numbing and resorcinol 3% as an antiseptic.
  • Charcoal capsules, many (excellent for gastric distress)(This is actually the second thing I put in my bag, its possible to counter the effects of ingesting poison or food that has gone bad. When there are no hospitals available this may be your ticket to survival. We also find it excellent for meals that make us gassy (take it after you digest your meal, so it doesn’t absorb needed nutrients). Think of activated charcoal as a universal sponge that can absorb many bacteria and toxic substances in your gastro-intestinal tract.
  • Imodium
  • Baking Soda for acid burns such as a car battery leaking onto a person at an accident site (a small amount mixed with water can neutralize excess stomach acid), Ginger root powder is also good for belly aches. Stomach acid increases when a person is highly stressed.
  • Cervical collar (neck brace)
  • SAM Splint (or a cheaper Universal Aluminium Splint/Universal Military Splint)
  • CAVIT (temporary cavity filling, in case a filling falls out to buy you a little time)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Butt Paste by Boudreaux (Yes its a cream for diaper rash. What it really is, is the strongest zinc oxide cream I could find on the market (16%). Zinc oxide is extremely soothing to irritated skin and some folks use it as an effective sunblock (zinc oxide is the best natural sunblock on the market) so it can be a multitasker and serve double duty to save space in your pack. ViscoPaste bandages are zinc oxide paste slathered onto a gauze roll. If you use your own gauze roll and apply Butt Paste you just saved 80% the cost of ViscoPaste and its readily available. I used this on my leg after a particularly bad outdoor encounter that blistered up my leg and arms very badly. It kept me cool and comfortable until I could get to my medical supplies and apply some DomeBoro to dry out the liquids in the blisters.
  • Butt Paste by Boudreaux is also potentially a good substitute for Calamine lotion. Calamine is mostly Zinc Oxide with a tiny bit of Iron Oxide. Butt Paste has a much higher level of Zinc Oxide than any other product that I’ve ever found swe now can use this one product as a multi-tasker, save space in our packs and save money at the same time. I also like that you can get Butt Paste in small indestructible plastic tubes, so yo don’t worry about a broken bottle ruining your trunk and emergency pack, and being a thick paste, it stays in place and does not run down your body, like calamine lotion does. It also smells a lot better than calamine lotion.
    • Butt Paste Ingredients:
    • Zinc Oxide, 16% (this does the majority of the healing)
    • Castor Oil
    • Mineral Oil
    • Paraffin
    • Peruvian Balsam
    • Petrolatum
  • Domeboro (generic Aluminum Acetate Astringent Solution maybe  easier to find) A must have to dry blisters and weeping skin conditions. Its a powder that you just mix a bit of water, wet a gauze with it and wrap the irritated are with it. A must have in my first aid kit, after I had a particularly nasty outdoors encounter with toxic pants. (After the blisters calmed down, I switched to Butt Paste.)
  • Poison Ivy/Sumac skin cleansing wipes. If you contact one of these plants, you want to don your medical gloves and wipe the area down carefully. With some luck you’ll avoid the agony and the hassle of having to mix and apply Domeboro solution.
  • Thermometer, Disposable Forehead (Strips)
  • Tweezer, high quality to remove splinters
  • Sea Salt (not just for eating, yo can put a little in water and swish it in your mouth and gargle, then spit it out, to
  • Duct tape (to wrap bandages when you run out of proper bandages, and if you cover a wart with duct tape for six days take the tape off, take an emery board scrape the top of the wart off, then re-tape for six more days, repeat this three three times and the wart will die and fall off -Dr Oz)
  • Witch Hazel is good for treating hemorrhoids (Dr Oz).
  • Primatene Mist (Epinephrine Inhalation Aerosol USP spray) the only OTC spray for asthma, at the moment its nor available but the manufacturer has changed the propellent so it no longer contains CFCs and it will be back on shelves soon. Even if you don’t need it, this could be a very valuable trade item for someone in need.
  • First Aid Book (The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook; American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Participant’s Manual; American Red Cross Babysitter’s Handbook; The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way by Joseph Alton M.D. and Amy Alton; Where There Is No Doctor by David Werner, Jane Maxwell, Carol Thuman; Do-It-Yourself Medicine: Do-It-Yourself Medicine: How to Find and Use the Most Effective Antibiotics, Painkillers, Anesthetics and Other Miracle Drugs… Without Costly Doctors’ Prescriptions or Hospitals by Ragnar Benson; Wilderness Medicine, 6th: Beyond First Aid by William W. Forgey M.D.; Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook; FIRST AID FOR SOLDIERS FM 21-11, Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook, FIRST AID FM 4-25.11 by U.S. Government, U.S. Department of Defense, US NAVY and US Army Special Operations Command 75th Ranger Regiment; Armageddon Medicine: How to Be Your Own Doctor… in 2012 and Beyond – An Instruction Manual by M.D. Cynthia J. Koelker.
  • PDR Pharmacopoeia Pocket Dosing Guide 2013 by PDR Staff
  • Nursing2013 Drug Handbook (Nursing Drug Handbook) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
  • Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia 2013 Classic Shirt Pocket Edition by Richard J. Hamilton MD, FAAEM, FACMT, (Nov 2, 2012)
  • Nursing Pharmacology Made Incredibly EasyPediatric Nursing Made Incredibly Easy! and Emergency Nursing Made Incredibly Easy! (and others in the Incredibly Easy! Series®)
  • When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes by Cody Lundin (urban survival guide); SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation (2009) by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman (wilderness survival guide)

Acne tip: If you or anyone in your group is suffering from acne anywhere on their body and you don’t have any acne meds, you can make you own by tang some plain old fashioned aspirin, mashing it up with a tiny amount of water to make a paste and applying it directly to the problematic area.

 How to make a splint, by The Survival Doctor

Natural Homeopathic Asthma Therapy

Natural Homeopathic Asthma Therapy

An alternative for Primatene Mist (until it returns to the store shelves, which could be some time on 2014) for persons that do not have prescription medication with them consider an off the shelf homeopathic therapy like the one pictured here. This particular one was taken by a childhood friend of mine recently, when she started having symptoms but did not have a rescue inhaler or any other meds with her. She found that it worked well and sent me this picture for your consideration. Of course, only yo can determine what will work for you so make sure that you work with your doctor to prepare the meds that are appropriate for your needs and the needs of your family. This particular product was found at a major pharmaceutical chain store.

Basics Of Wound Care  Nadine B. Semer MD, FACS Editor Hugh G. Watts MD (free, direct PDF download) for dire emergencies)

Practical Plastic Surgery for Nonsurgeons NADINE B. SEMER, MD (free, direct PDF download) for dire emergencies)

How to Sterilize Instruments

In a disaster situation, you might have to perform a simple procedure on yourself or a loved one if no medical help is available. If you have taken your first aid classes then you know that providing CPR then stopping blood loss are the two most important things you can do but what about if you need to use some sort of medical tool or makeshift instrument to perform a procedure?

A doctor or nurse would use an autoclave to sterilize their tools (which requires a power source, so even if you find one you probably won’t be able to get it running), or they could use some prepackaged sterile products (which is what I have in my kits), but if you don’t have either then you’re going to have to make do with what you have and sterilize the best you can.

Before you sterilize, always clean any obvious debris off your instruments. Clean with soap and water or alcohol. Use a cloth or brush if needed. Now you may start the sterilization procedure.

Quick Sterilization

Heating the instrument. Hold the part that’s going to touch the injury over an open flame. If the handle is also metal, find something to hold the instrument with so you don’t burn your fingers. Heat until the metal turns red. Then let the instrument cool, and you’re ready.


If you don’t have fire and you’re in a hurry, you can wipe the instrument off with a clean cloth soaked in iodine, povidone-iodine (Betadine, which is my favorite) or alcohol. No clean cloth? Dip the instrument in the solution and stir it for ten seconds. This is the riskiest method listed here so please be careful to check the wound once you reach a safe place where you can take the time to treat the patient properly.

Deeper Sterilization

A good method for larger instruments or those that might melt under the flame is to boil it in water. Boil in water for 20 minutes. If no boiling water is available then soaking the instrument in a disinfectant for at least 20 minutes is better than just wiping it off. This disinfectant is now contaminated so keep that in mind if you are thinking of reusing it.

Dress with sterile dressings and keep and eye on it for signs of infection that might require antibiotics.


This may sound odd but some folks order fish antibiotics from the internet to put into their emergency kit. A very wide variety of antibiotics are available at low cost and its now known that they are in fact the same exact antibiotics that usually require a prescription to purchase. 

Fishmox - Amoxicillin

Fishmox – Amoxicillin

You’ll notice in the picture above that Fishmox capsules are exactly the same as the prescription capsules you get at your local pharmacy. Check it out for yourself.


Fishmox container

Fishmox container

I have an aversion to prescription medications, but if there were an acute need, I would take what was needed to survive.

If you are in a disaster situation and you have an infected wound, you are in very serious trouble. Without an ER, doctor, nurse, EMT or Paramedic being available, I would certainly seek out a veterinarian to treat me and if that was not possible I would take fish antibiotics, It might be the only way to survive, however, taking the wrong antibiotic or the wrong dose could make things so much more worse. You really need to understand that this is is a very desperate final measure.

I still think that I’m a reasonably sensible person and would not take antibiotics in the field unless I found someone who could authoritatively tell me which one to take and at what dose. In that case, my having the antibiotics on hand could prove to be a life saver.

If I was desperate enough to dose myself because no medical help was around, I’d try checking Nursing2013 Drug Handbook (Nursing Drug Handbook) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins first with the hopes of not doing more damage than the original problem. And of course you have to figure out which fish antibiotic correlates to human label antibiotics then figure out the risk vs dosage requirements.

If you chose this route, the other risk you will be taking is that you could be buying fish antibiotics from an online fraudster and they could be selling you worthless pills. I’d check with the online pill identifier to at least have some hope that its the correct pill. As best as we know, no one is bothering to  make lookalikes of medications so this tactic might just work.

Don’t forget to check expiration dates before you buy, when you receive them and once a year during your annual refresh. Avoid liquid antibiotics since they seem to not be able to last as long as pills.

The FDA published a quiet little study performed on prescription medicines that were two to ten years old. They found that all of them maintained their medicinal potency. This means that the expiration dates on bottles are overly pessimistic. Check the study out for yourself here: Guidance for Industry Drug Stability Guidelines or Expired Medications – Are They Safe? Are They Effective? – Part 2 BY CYNTHIA J. KOELKER, MD

Some doctors are sympathetic and will give you a prescription so you can have some antibiotics in your emergency kit. In my area they are very strict and not sympathetic at all.

Another issue to consider in a disaster situation is the use of expired medications, fish, human or otherwise. It used to be thought that medications expired immediately after the expiration date stamped on the container but we now have scientific proof that this is not generally true.

October 8, 2012 — An analysis of 8 medications indicates that most of the active ingredients they contain were present in adequate amounts decades after the drugs’ expiration dates, according to results from a study published online October 8 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Lee Cantrell, PharmD, from the California Poison Control System, San Diego Division, University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, and colleagues used liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to measure the amounts of the active ingredients in the medications. The medicines, which had expired 28 to 40 years ago, were found in a retail pharmacy in their original, unopened packaging.

To meet US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, an active ingredient must be present in 90% to 110% of the amount indicated on the label. Drug expiration dates are set for 12 to 60 months after production, even though many compounds can persist far longer.

In the new analysis, 12 of the 14 active ingredients persisted in concentrations that were 90% or greater of the amount indicated on the label. These 12 compounds retained their full potency for 336 months (28 years) or longer. Eight of them retained potency for at least 480 months (40 years). Dr. Cantrell’s team was unable to find a standard for homatropine, 1 of the 15 ingredients.

Only aspirin and amphetamine fell below the 90% cutoff. Phenacetin was present at greater than the cutoff in Fiorinal (butalbital, aspirin, caffeine, and codeine phosphate, but was considerably less in Codempiral No. 3. The authors attribute the deficit in Codempiral to conditions that led to preferential degradation of phenacetin because of its amide group, compared with codeine, which is also in Codempiral but is more chemically stable.

Three compounds persisted in greater than 110% of the labeled contents: methaqualone (in Somnafac), meprobamate (in Bamadex), and pentobarbital (in Nebralin). These relatively high amounts may reflect degradation of other components of the compounded drug, the fact that the samples were produced before FDA-instituted quality control measures in 1963, or inconsistencies of the analytical techniques between when the drugs were compounded and now. The new findings are consistent with the efforts of the Shelf-Life Extension Program, which has extended the expiration dates on 88% of 122 drugs tested so far. Extensions range from 66 to 278 months.

“Our results support the effectiveness of broadly extending expiration dates for many drugs,” the researchers conclude. They also point out that extending shelf life can significantly lower costs to consumers.

Limitations of the analysis, the investigators write, include an inability to confirm the storage conditions of the drug samples, as well as imprecise dating of the samples.

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1377417 


  • For home use I like to have a five gallon bottle of filtered water per person in storage
  • In the car, office and Bug Out Bag:  a US Military 1qt Canteen Set with built in stainless steel cup. The cup makes serving food easier and since its stainless steel can be used to cook in (if you are careful)
  • Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter by Katadyn
  • Water siphon (separate from fuel siphon, so you don’t get sick from cross contamination)
  • The number one phenomenon that kills more Americans than all disasters, combined, each year are summer heat waves. In a disaster you are likely to have to walk to get to a safe place then walk again to get food and medical supplies for your family. Water is critical to your personal survival, don’t take it for granted.
  • The rule of thumb is to have one gallon of clean potable water per person per day.

Water Filter Choices

  • Katadyn Pocket Filter, the only small filter I know of that is rated for use with clear or turbid water. (Others can only be safe when used with clear water. Originally designed for disaster service workers, it has decades of proven performance behind it, but its very expensive.
  • Katadyn Vario has a selectable mode, for clear water that you feel is pretty safe, and a mode that engages a small ceramic pre-filter for slightly less safe water. Either way, its only rated for clear, not turbid water. Popular but does not remove viruses.
  • Katadyn Hiker Pro, Connects directly to hydration packs with 1/4″ drink tubes, not rated for turbid water.  Popular but does not remove viruses.
  • MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter is a similar design to the less expensive Katadyn Vario and Hiker Pro models, its reported to be easier to pump water a bit faster but it does not seem to filter quite as well as that Katadyns.  Popular but does not remove viruses.
  • Katadyn MyBottle Purifier (sometimes sold as Katadyn Exstream) is a new product to me, it combines the advantages of two low cost filters with a final stage of activated charcoal filtration, possibly making this the best, all around filter that can filter chemicals and viruses in addition to bacteria and protozoa. It comes inside a water bottle so it can be very convenient to use. DO not confuse it with the less expensive Katadyn MyBottle Microfilter Water Bottle, which has one less stage of filtration, to make it lighter and lower priced (intended for hikers that know their water source does not have viruses, in a disaster all bets are off so I’d go with the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier so I could feel a bit safer). Katadyn MyBottle Purifier also includes a mechanical feature that counts how much water you have consumed and lets you know when the filters have reached their end of life. This is possibly the best all around bottle to have in your BOB for emergency preparedness. I would still carry purification tablets, boil and distill water and collect clear drink bottles to make a SODIS water disinfection system, for redundancy and to stretch the life of my Katadyn MyBottle Purifier out as long as possible. The Katadyn MyBottle Purifier is my #1 choice for disaster preparedness backpacks, home emergency kits and in my car’s trunk. It offers you the easiest to use filtration system that anyone in your family can successfully use without training, and it comes from the most highly respected company in water filtration, in the whole world.
  • Some folks report that pre-filtering the water yourself through a clean coffee filter will greatly extend the time before most of these filters clog and stop pumping water. It seems that only the Katadyn Pocket Filter does not have this problem (it will clog eventually but can be easily opened so you can scrape the filter clean.
  • Charcoal filters will remove chemicals but not kill living organisms. Activated carbon is used for its ability to reduce harmful organic and inorganic substances in the water. It removes unpleasant tastes, odors, chlorine, pesticides (such as lindane, DDT) and trihalomethanes (THMs). These substances adhere to the surface area of the activated carbon by adsorption (not absorption). Activated carbon granulate cannot be regenerated. Charcoal filters so not filter out bacteria, protozoa or viruses and fact have been known to house bacterial colonies, creating a situation where the colony can break through and infect you. Charcoal filters are easy to clog to its best to have a pre-filter and a filter before the charcoal unit to keep it clear of sediment and living organisms. An approach that I have seen and can appreciate is to add Ultra Violet (UV) light treatment to kill living organisms when there is not sufficient pre-filtration to stop the colony from building up in the charcoal section. If you attempt to create your own UV sanitation system for your charcoal filter, the be aware that the intensity of UV you need is 40 mJ/cmC (milli-Joules per square centimeter) or 40,000 μWsec/cmC (micro-watt seconds per square centime- ter). These UV light systems are called “Class A” by NSF International, an independent water treatment certification laboratory. NSF International certifies that the manufacturer’s claims are true. In order to ensure that disinfection is taking place, it is important to regulate the water type and flow to match the light intensity and specifications.  [Hawaii Rainwater Catchment Systems Program] I have once seen a water filter design where a clear plastic tube was wrapped around a 48 inch, high output UV lamp tube, several times before entering the charcoal filter, then the tube wrapped around the same, already wrapped) UV tube on its way out, after the charcoal section, to give the water as much exposure to UV energy as possible. I suspect that the faster the water moves, the less effective this system becomes, but its the best I’ve seen so far. Systems with tiny UV bulbs probably don’t have enough exposure time to effective destroy pathogens. I’m searching for designs and products that incorporate a high power UV tube in the center of the charcoal filter so that pathogenic colonies trapped inside the charcoal filter will sit still long enough for the UV to do its job. This might require a change in the shape of the charcoal filter elements to a long hollow tube shape to allow a UV lamp to occupy the center of the filter and expose enough filter material to UV energy to make the system effective for human use.
  • Boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on altitude) will kill living organisms but will not remove chemicals, solids or minerals. If you suspect anything other than pathogens then you will need to also filter the water after boiling (which is why distilling seems to be a better choice, if you have the luxury of time and fuel to heat the water long enough to complete the process). Boiling is easy (if you have fire/heat) much faster than distilling. Boiled water tends to taste flat because there is no air in it.  You can add the air back by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers.  This will also improve the taste of stored or bottled water.
  • A commercial grade steam distiller could remove all treats but we don’t have those available to us in a disaster. Distilling in a disaster is desirable when chemicals (or excess minerals like salt, etc.) is in the water and like boiling, it kills pathogens, but is very slow (requires a lot more fuel for heat, can take 5 to 15 times longer than boiling). Simple home made “water distillers” on a small fire, using a jar within a pot with a plastic sheet (or inverted lid) to collect evaporated water can clean the water (mostly). Since the water boils, obviously you can kill pathogens in one to three minutes anyway. This units are not commercial grade they are not guaranteed to actually give you the purity of water that you want, i.e. you expect chemical contaminants to be completely removed but I have not ever found plans for a home made unit that was lab tested to prove that it actually removed any chemicals at all. I’m not saying that you should not try distillation on your own, even home distillation will remove heavy metals and some chemicals, in desperation, if I needed this water to survive I would use it (distillation takes longer than boiling so pathogens are definitely killed, we just don’t know what chemical contaminants could get into the water supply, so remain aware and try to locate higher quality water sources). If I had a charcoal filter I would distill the water then run it through the charcoal filter, just to be as thorough as I could be.
  • LifeSaver Bottle is a relatively new product on the market, the invention of Michael Pritchard, seems quite interesting in that h claims to be able to filter down to 0.015 microns, a phenomenal feat that in conjunction with its built in charcoal filter would make it a likely candidate for our disaster preparedness kit but I have a few questions I’d like answered first. Through research has not lead to any answers so please let me know if you find an authoritative source of answers. The first questions is why does this unit cost so much? Its almost $200 for the one with longer filter life, which is crazy expensive. Second question is how does the filter work? We know that it has a charcoal filter but that is only for odors, taste and some chemicals, no charcoal filter can filter down to anywhere near 0.015 microns so the primary filter must be doing the majority of the filtration, but what is the primary filter? There is some conjecture that it uses narrow hollow tubes, but we don’t know one way or another. The claim is that it eliminates harmful viruses, bacteria and protozoa. The only other filter that I know of that can do that in the field (i.e. its not a multi stage machine you would use at home or a reverse osmosis machine) is the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier. For this kind of money I would get five Katadyns and feel safe that I knew the reputation of Katadyn to be excellent. Katadyn has proven itself or many decades, through many disasters to be a company that can be trusted to deliver on their promises. I don’t know Michael Pritchard, and I don’t know what company or in what country his product is being manufactured so for this very critical task, I’ll stick with a proven winner, Katadyn.
  • You can also consider stocking up on the parts for making your own Ceramic Drip Water filter. These are common in under-industrialzed areas as home water filters and are a good choice when you don’t have water pressure from the municipal water supply or don’t have fuel to burn a fire to boil or distill water. Essentially these filters use two buckets, stacked on top of each other, with a ceramic filter being threaded into a hole that allows water to drip from the top bucket, through the ceramic filter, into the bottom bucket. This type of filter system is also sold in very fancy stainless steel versions (Berky, Just Water, etc.) but utilize the same exact ceramic filters as the units made from food grade plastic buckets. The key to using these systems is to get a top quality ceramic filter, made in the USA that also has a charcoal central core. If you can find one that is also rated to remove viruses then that is the one that I would get. Keep in mind that in a disaster you don’t know how the water could be contaminated. People that use these in their homes already know what is in their local water supply and buy filters for that specific contaminant, we will not have that luxury so we need the nest filtration possible. If you get a ceramic dome filter with 0.2 micron pore size and a charcoal interior you should be able to filter everything except viruses. There is the possibility that there is a manufacturer of dome filters that makes one with the ability to filter viruses, that is the one that I would get. Monolithic claims that their ceramic dome filter removes viruses so I would investigate them to see if I can find independent proof of actual performance.  There are some folks that now apply air pressure to the top bucket to speed up the filtration process. Since one of the important steps in these filters is the charcoal filter, which works by  adsorption, speeding up the process could push the water too quickly past the charcoal section and negate its effectiveness. I would resort to pressurizing the dome Ceramic Drip Water filter only if there was an urgent need for a lot of water and the risk was acceptable. Some ceramic filters are impregnated with silver which naturally kills pathogens, I would also look for this feature because you don’t want your filter to become a breeding ground for bacteria or viruses. The surface of the ceramic filters will become clogged with sediment and water will stop flowing. You will remove the ceramic filter and clean its surface (gently so you don’t lose too much of the ceramic surface, you don’t know when you will find anther one again). Its suggested to pre-filter the water to reduce the clogging effect, and some ceramic dome filters come with a “sock” for this purpose. You can also pre-filter the water externally (which I would do to extend the life of the both the ceramic dome filter and the pre-filter sock. Since the system is gravity fed and uses no fuel to heat water, it can be filled with water and left alone without needing to be attended to. Its even possible to get a fluoride filter that screws into the underside of the ceramic dome filter. I would consider this to be oriented for daily use in areas where the city water is fluoridated but during a disaster I would be far more concerned with pathogens, sewage and industrial contamination long before I’d worry about fluoride. If I were making a ceramic dome slow drip water filter for my family I would install more than one filter, each filter increases the rate at which your water is filtered but maintains its quality. There are some commercial systems sold with three dome filters installed, it seems obvious that there is enough room for six filters or more. If you have a large family you will have to balance the needs of your family, faster water through one bucket that has six filters or the unattended operation of six buckets with one filter each.
  • Slow Sand Water Filter – Also known as a Biofilter , Bio Sand filter or Sand Bio Filter, this concept has been garnering more interest lately for individual use. Its an interesting concept and in case of dire emergency (where I had no other filtration and purification options) I might consider one, but there are caveats. Essentially, if you imagine a barrel that has a layer of sand on top of a layer of activated charcoal on top of a layer of gravel then you’ll have a very rough idea of the concept. It works by depositing roof water (I know, many people are claiming that you can scoop up water from anywhere (even murky standing groundwater) but I don’t see any irrefutable proof that this is actually true, the slow sand filter will certainly trap larger particles so that murky water comes out looking clear, but that in no way means that is clean) into the top of the barrel when the water slowly flows due to gravity downwards through the sand layer which develops a layer of bad bacteria, below which it develops a layer of good bacteria that eats the bad bacteria. In essence this is a multi stage filter, part mechanical and part biological. the problem is that to know if you built and started it up correctly and to know that eery time you draw water from it that the water actually is clean, you’d have to run a lab test to check for bacteria count and other contaminants. Most of us just do not have that capability at home. Yes, there are folks that have been using these filters to clean their water for years but that does not mean that everyone can do it. These filters can and will fail and they freeze when the temperature dips which kills the good bacteria and you have a non functional filter (not to mention that it can’t flow water when its frozen. Slow sand water filters are an interesting concept and I certainly intend on print out a set of instructions once I find an information source that seems to be authoritative, reliable and implementable with my existing skill set. If I get desperate enough in a disaster I’d like to have the knowledge of how to build so I can decide when its appropriate to use it. It could simply be a source of water for cleaning clothes and washing dishes, which I would dry and sanitize in the sun afterwards (just to be sure) and save my truly pure water for drinking.
  • Vitamin C is effective for neutralizing cloramine. Although this is not “purification” in our perspective, however I’ve noticed that many people doing preparedness research expend far too much energy worrying about cloramine in the water. Chloramine is a compound made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Its effective at sterilizing drinking water so it does not pose any short term threat to us. The controversy is that its commonly believed that chloramine is responsible for negative long term health impact. This is possibly true, its pretty nasty stuff and the resulting molecule cannot be filtered with chlorine filters. Our focus here is the immediate need for survival during an emergency scenario, choramine does not pose a short term threat to us so our focus should be elsewhere. If you do want to get rid of choramine, it may be neutralized with the simple addition of vitamin c. Choramine has an alkaline pH, vitamin c has an acidic ph, acids are used to neutralize alkaline substances (also known as “bases”). 1,500 milligrams of powdered vitamin c is enough to neutralize the choramine in a bathtub (which is what we do in our home because the chloramine is very drying to our skin).
  • SODIS  Solar ultraviolet water disinfection, is a method of disinfecting water using only sunlight and plastic PET bottles. SODIS is a free and effective method for decentralized water treatment, usually applied at the household level and is recommended by the World Health Organization as a viable method for household water treatment and safe storage. SODIS is already applied in numerous developing countries. Water may be disinfected using the SODIS technique by exposure to strong direct sunlight for a sufficient amount of time to allow the UltraViolet (UV) rays to deactivate pathogens. By placing water in a crystal clear (not colored or tinted) plastic bottle (with “PET” or “PETE” next to the recycle symbol (with the number 1 in it), because PET will not leech plastic into the water and it will not block UV like polycarbonate will), caping it tightly and laying it in bright direct sunlight. Place it so that the movement of the sun across the bottle will be maximized. Additionally, heating of the water by the sun, above 122 degrees will help increase the rate of disinfection. The hot water trapped in the bottle will also create ozone and hydrogen peroxide which help in disinfecting the water. Suggested treatment schedule: Sunny (less than 50% cloud cover) minimum treatment of 6 hours; Cloudy day (50–100% cloudy, little to no rain) minimum treatment is 2 days; if there is Continuous rainfall the water will not be sufficiently sanitized and other methods for potable water procurement should be employed.
  • If you build or buy water filters with the intention of using it as a life saving device, I suggest that you learn how to test it properly and do so before the emergency so you know exactly what you have and how it will perform.
  • A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Household Use United States Center For Disease Control
  • Food and Water in an Emergency FEMA & Red Cross (PDF download)

    Water Filter Performance Comparison

    Contaminant Carbon-Filter Carbon-Filter-w/Silver Ceramic-Filter Ceramic-filter-w/ Carbon Reverse-Osmosis Steam-Distillation-w/Carbon SODIS
    Microbiological NO PARTIAL YES YES NO YES Yes
    Organics YES YES NO YES YES YES No
    Heavy Metals NO NO NO NO PARTIAL YES No
    Radioactivity NO NO NO NO PARTIAL YES No
    Inorganics NO NO NO NO PARTIAL YES No


Ceramic Drip Water filter

Ceramic Drip Water filter


Ceramic dome water drip filter installed inside a bucket

Ceramic dome water drip filter installed inside a bucket

Ceramic dome filter

Ceramic dome filter

Sock pre-filter for ceramic dome filter

Sock pre-filter for ceramic dome filter

SODIS water bottles

SODIS water bottles, disinfecting in the sun

Using A Tree As An Emergency Water Filter

In case of disaster, when you are making life and death choices over the water that you know that you must drink, but don’t have proper water filtration gear for, it seems possible to use certain specific tree wood as a filter. Researchers have shown that the specific tree they selected did indeed remove 99% of bacteria.

 According to the researchers’ calculations, a single 1.5-inch-wide (38 mm) sapwood filter could be used to produce up to four liters (1 US gal) of drinking water per day. It couldn’t be allowed to dry out when not in use, however. Additionally, although the wood can catch most types of bacteria, it likely cannot filter out viruses, due to their smaller size. Sapwood from some other types of trees has smaller pores that could presumably trap smaller microbes, however, so the scientists are planning on conducting more research.

Since this is such new information I will not post details here but instead refer you to the citation so you can study it very thoroughly and decide for yourself if the risks and benefits suit your personal needs. Citation: Boutilier MSH, Lee J, Chambers V, Venkatesh V, Karnik R (2014) Water Filtration Using Plant Xylem. PLoS ONE 9(2): e89934. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089934


You only need 10 times your body weight, in calories per day to survive [if you are 150 pounds, then 10 X 150 = 1,500 calories], you should have an awareness of how many calories each long life survival food option offers and ration it wisely. Eating fresh fruits vegetables, etc. are the best nutrition but by definition a disaster means that this may be something that is not immediately available. Its best to have 800 to 2500 calories a day in spread out nutritionally balanced meals, if the situation affords you that luxury. That might not always be true. Drink plenty of clean water, its the first think to take you down if you’re not focused on hydrating. If you have access to vitamin and mineral supplements, take them when appropriate and read the labels for proper dosing.

Its unrealistic to think that yo will be able to get by, by thinking that a few cans of tuna fish and/or a few cans of condensed soup will carry you through a disaster. I know, I relied on this plan during the Blizzard of 1977 and I can tell you firsthand that you quickly tire of eating the same two meals over and over again. The next problem is that condensed soup needs water and heat, of which we had neither. I added a can of distilled water that I had actually purchased for the battery in my car, stirred it and consumed that soup cold, very reluctantly. After that event I did not eat canned soup or tuna fish for over a decade. Yes, its that traumatic.

Additionally, everyone thinks that tuna fish in a can will last forever. It won’t. It only is good for up to 9 months past the date on the can (canned soup is only good for a year after the printed date on the can has expired). Think about it, what happens with emergency food supplies is that you put them in your secure locations and the trunk of your car then you forget about it for ten to twenty years. That is what happens to everyone. Still think that yo will eat a can of tuna fish ten to fifteen years after its safe use lifespan has expired. I won’t.

This is why in addition to some canned food supplies, that we keep in reserve and rotate into our normal eating supplies, we also have long life supplies that actually stand a chance of being OK if they have been forgotten for fifteen years.

In: 3 week emergency supplies; Out: 3 day emergency supplies

Remember to date all your emergency supplies so you can rotate them and ensure that you don’t exceed its useful life, when you nee it most.

The FDA Does Not Require Food Dates The answer to questions about food dating and food dates are inconsistent possibly due to the fact that – there are no rules! That’s right, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does NOT require manufacturers to place any dates on food products! “This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.” Furthermore, “with the exception of infant formula, the laws that the FDA administers do not preclude the sale of an item that is past the expiration date indicated on the label.” To put it simply, here are some interesting facts you may not know about the “shelf life” (i.e. the best before date, use by date, sell by date, eat by date) on food: Food Can Be Sold After Date Expires – Stores are not legally required to remove food from the shelf once the expiration date has passed. The expiration dates are strictly “advisory” in nature and are left entirely to the discretion of the manufacturer, thus not truly indicative of an items true Shelf Life.[1] Food Dates Are Not Required By Law – With the exception of infant formula and baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require food companies to place dates on their food products. The only requirement is that the food is wholesome and fit for consumption. Laws Vary By State – States have varying food dating laws. For example, many states require that milk and other perishables be sold before the expiration date, while others do not.

MRE is a popular choice for those that want something with a long shelf life (5 years, to as much as 20 years if its stored in absolutely ideal conditions, mostly at cooler but not freezing temperatures). The US Military invented the MRE as a replacement to soldier’s C-Rations and K-Rations. The MRE is a retort, i.e. a meal sealed in a pouch that can be eaten without heating. (This is a complete balanced meal with lots of calories). It is what our soldiers use for food when they are in the field without kitchens. Because its packaged in a tough plastic-foil-plastic layered pouch its a great choice for backpacks and some folks even store them in the trunk of all their cars.

MRE Shelf Life (Based on taste testing at U.S. Army’s NATICK Research Laboratories)
Storage Temperature (Fahrenheit)
Storage Life in Months (and years)
22 Months (1.8 yrs)
55 Months (4.5 yrs)
60 Months (5 yrs)
76 Months (6.3 yrs)
88 Months (7.3 yrs)
100 Months (8.3 yrs)
130+ Months (10.8+ yrs)

The shelf life figures given in the table for MREs are based on taste test studies conducted by the U.S. Army’s NATICK Research Laboratories. This study was conducted by NATICK without participation of the MRE manufacturers. As such, the manufacturer cannot verify the test procedures used by the NATICK labs, nor do they adopt these shelf life figures as a guarantee of any sort. The data is useful, though, as a general indication of the effects of storage temperatures on the shelf life of MRE-type food products.

Some consumers have reported that their MREs have been completely edible after 15 or 20 years in cool storage. There is no way to validate  their claims but I have eaten the pound cake from one of my own 15 year old MREs and it was just fine. It wasn’t gourmet food, more like cafeteria food but perfectly serviceable. The set of the food in the MRE pouch were perfectly edible if a bit boring, I’d certainly eat it in a disaster situation.

A new variation in MRE technology arrived in 2012, the U.S. First Strike Rations (FSRs), a compact, eat-on-the move ration concept from the United States Army, designed to be consumed during the first 72 hours of conflict, created by the United States Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts. These look to be an interesting meal in a pouch that I will be looking into more in the near future.

MREs offer huge calories (approximately 1200 per MRE) and in a time of stress offer you a hot meal (if you buy and carry the individual heaters, or are able to sit them in boiling water for a while), which is very comforting. They are high on carbs (13% protein, 36% fat, and 51% carbohydrates) but keep in mind that they are designed as fuel for an active soldier who needs a lot of quick energy.

MREs are pre-cooked and can be eaten safely without heating, in fact they are only heated to provide you comfort or keep you from freezing.

For me one, at my weight, one MRE satisfies nearly an entire day’s worth of calories, so I intend to keep that in mind in case I have to ration myself. I also want to keep myself light on my feet and eating three MREs a day is likely to make me sluggish and lackadaisical and in the long term it will make me unnecessarily fat. I’m in a very temperate climate, the colder it gets the more calories you need. By the time it gets to freezing, I’m probably doubling my caloric intake if I’m shoveling snow or trudging through snow and ice. Know your needs and limits.

The old rule of thumb that you needed 2,500 calories a day (2,500 KiloCalories of you want to be precise) is just incorrect. The latest rule of thumb is that you need 10 times your weight per day to maintain an even weight. So if you weight 150 pounds, you only need 1,500 calories a day. If you eat more then you gain weight, if you eat less then you’ll lose weight (in the long term), so you can see that these MREs contain a gigantic amount of calories to keep you alive. That, their long lifespan and tough triple layer pouch is what makes them popular.

I suspect the source of the extra carbs are the dessert items (cookie, cake, crackers bread) plus pasta and rice in the entree, so if you are a bit concerned about the extra carbs just eat the entree and save the rest for later or to trade with someone.

There are many different MRE menus available, check with a legitimate civilian MRE supplier (I use TheEpiCenter.com) and see what fresh choices they have in stock. Don’t be shy about asking about the manufacture dates and contents of the specific MREs you are about to order and check the date when you get them. Civilian MREs don’t have the same exact content as military MREs, often they come without heaters and other items, depending on manufacturer. It might be worth it to pay a little more and get exactly what you want. Buying MREs is all about time, you are paying an insurance policy to give you extended survival time.

A sample MRE contains roughly the following (details change annually): Entree – the main course, such as Spaghetti or Beef Stew Side dish – rice, corn, fruit, or mashed potatoes, etc. Cracker or Bread Spread – peanut butter, jelly, or cheese spread Dessert – cookies or pound cakes Candy – M&Ms, Skittles, or Tootsie Rolls Beverages – Gatorade-like drink mixes, cocoa, dairy shakes, coffee, tea Hot sauce or seasoning – in some MREs Flameless Ration Heater – to heat up the entree Accessories – spoon, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, toilet paper, etc. 3 MREs offer all the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals

Sometimes the suppliers have something called Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDR), these are just the entree portion of the MRE with nothing else. If you are space limited then these might be good way to pack away thousands of life saving calories in a small space. I like to tuck a few of these into the otherwise wasted nooks and crannies of my car. Calories for the ones that I could find information run from 200 to 560 calories. Like any MRE food item, you do have to watch out for sodium, I’ve seen single MRE/HDR contain as much as 1,160 mg of sodium. Yikes! Thats too much for a lot of folks so do be careful if you are sodium sensitive. Again, the better suppliers like TheEpiCenter.com will have documented all this information so you can check it out for yourself.

Variety is key to survival. Its more practical to collect a little of many different foodstuffs that too much of one. WIth only one food choice you’ll be miserable and not want to eat after the second or third. Thats why MREs are so attractive, they come in a variety of different meal plans so if you buy one case a year, it will give you a source of variety. Of corse, I supplement the MREs with as many other choices as I can. Don’t forget to pack a variety of dry spices to give you more flexibility, but don’t put anything in storage that you don;t know how to cook (or use). That said I do have a few items that were given to me that I put in storage because I thought they would be good trade items, but I didn’t pay anything for them.

Also occasionally available are MRE Tray Packs, these are intended to feed 9-12 people at a time and sound interesting if you have a lot of people to feed. I’ve not tried them and they are only labeled as having a three year shelf life so it seems that its intended purpose is more immediate rather than long term. I note them here because I think that there are some folks out there that will figure out clever ways to extend the life of these extra large trays.

A case of MREs, each MRE is still in its individual pouch

A case of MREs, each MRE is still in its individual Retort pouch

MRE (this is what is in the main pouch)

MRE (this is what is in the main pouch)

Here is the MRE meal, served, ready to eat.

Here is the MRE meal, served, ready to eat.

I did just open a 15 year old MRE and ate the lemon pound cake. It looked indifferently baked, but it smelled fine and tasted OK. It reminded me of the food we ate at the school cafeteria, so actually it wasn’t bad at all, it was humble, not gourmet but very welcome in a time of need. I ate the whole thing. This was positive enough for me to go ahead and try the vegetable crackers and grape jelly, which was decent. The grape jelly tasted normal, the crackers had flavor and although they were super dry, they were completely edible and I’d have no problem eating these old supplies in case of a disaster.

If you get anything else other than MREs, do try to balance your intake of food to approximately 30% Carbs 30% Fats 40% Protein, so you won’t get sick due to malnutrition. Food with a lot of sodium (salt) will make you excessively thirsty and cause you to consume your critically valuable, precious and limited, water supply. Of course, in a disaster you have to deal with what you have or can find.) MREs are military grade sealed meals (in a variety of menus) that are so well protected that they can last 5 to 20 years depending upon the storage temperature and who you ask (colder but not below 38 degrees is best). It comes in a tough mylar and aluminum foil wrapper to resist oxygen and pest intrusion. Purchase MREs that are intended for civilian use only (in tan wrapper), the military MREs are identical but in OD (olive drab green) wrappers and are illegal to sell because they are purchased with tax dollars to feed soldiers. Check the date of manufacture, many surplus stores sell old stock and most are highly overpriced. Get fresh, civilian MREs from TheEpiCenter.com, I’ve been buying MREs from him for 25 years now and have always been very happy with him.

I’ve depended on MREs for my family’s security for 20 years, but now have a new favorite, New Millennium bars. There energy bars offer 400 calories each, come in a variety of flavors (that have gotten excellent reviews from everyone), are not salty (you don’t need to be extra thirsty during a disaster, are small and most importantly they are individually wrapped.

Unlike the Coast Guard Approved Datrex Emergency Survival Food Ration (which I’ll talk about next), which the New Millennium bars descended from, New Milennium are individually wrapped, offering a normal eating experience in a compact package the size of a candy bar. Coast Guard Approved Datrex Emergency Survival Food Rations come in a block so once you open it to eat one square, the entire package loses its 5 year rating. I like the Coast Guard Approved Datrex Emergency Survival Food Rations because they are designed for extremely harsh marine environments which are far more severe than anything I can imagine. New Millennium offers the tough Coast Guard approved package, better taste and a variety of nine different flavors. When you consider how compact they are compared to an MRE, you can see that they offer the best space and usability tradeoff we have today.

The candy bar wrappers, in bright colors is very appealing, its seems normal and attractive, something I value during stressful situations.

I bought a case and split them between my wife’s car and mine. That is how much I like them. Sure, we still have unexpired Coast Guard Approved Datrex Emergency Survival Food Rations in the cars, they are perfectly fine, no need to get rid of them, and we still have MREs in the house, I think that maybe having an assortment of choice could make surviving a disaster a bit more comfortable.

New Millennium Bar

New Millennium Bar

New Millennium bars in nine Flavors

New Millennium bars in nine Flavors

Coast Guard Approved Datrex Emergency Survival Food Ration, this is a classic emergency food, like MREs, but are certified for marine use. I figure that if its good enough for marine use its good enough for me. This is what I have in the BOB in each car along with 1-3 MRE entrees (just get the MRE entree because its much smaller than the huge “complete MRE”)

DATREX Coast Guard Approved Emergency Food Ration

DATREX Coast Guard Approved Emergency Food Ration

Survival bars like Mainstay, Datrex or ER Bars are similar to the Coast Guard Approved Datrex Emergency Survival Food Ration but are individually wrapped as bars. Some vendors have flavors available, none of this is gourmet food, its intended to keep you alive. I once survived in a foreign country on bars similar to these, that my wife had stuck into my belt pack, until we could make it to a small village to resupply, trust me, I didn’t care what they tasted like, I was grateful to have them so I could survive.

Survival Tablets By Food Reserves Inc. Are an interesting choice, having been on the market 25 years and come with a money back guarantee. All you need is to take 12 tablets a day and you will survive. They are very small, last a long time in the provided protective container (when you finish consuming the tablets the container can be used as a canteen) and they taste good for emergency rations. This is most compact emergency food I have found and their nutrition is very high quality so you have the opportunity to digest and absorb this critical nutrition. Survival Tablets come in a 180 tablet container which weighs less than two pounds and can keep one adult alive for 14 days. MREs weigh 1.1 to 1.5 pounds for a single MRE, you need 3 MREs a day to survive so its obvious that Survival Tablets are a far lighter and more compact food source thats ideal for BOB and car trunks). We are not searching for gourmet food here, just something that keeps us alive.

The tradeoff with Survival Tabs is that they offer very few calories, instead focusing on the survival aspect by delivering all the supporting nutrition you need but not much in the way of calories. I have not yet been able to verify exactly the amount of calories per tab but the manufacturer seems to state that you get 240 calories a day. I’d prefer something on the order of at least 800 calories a day so that is something to keep in mind.

An MRE by comparison each MRE offers approximately 1,250 calories. Obviously eating three of these is far more than an average person needs but if you are a soldier in action hauling a heavy pack and facing tough conditions, you will burn it off. I would not worry about too many calories, I’d be more likely to keep my consumption down to two MREs a day unless I was expending some serious calories, so I could attempt to survive for more time.

Survival Tabs

Are a nutrient tablet for survival situations. They are not food. i have contacted the manufacturer and they told me that these are intended to offer the bare minimum of nutritional subsistence, so I understand that to mean that they are essentially a vitamin supplement with a tiny bit of calories in them. The calorie count is so low that I would be looking for an MRE or Millennium or Coast Guard bar but if there was nothing else, I would take these to keep my minimal vitamin levels up.

I don’t recommend these as a primary source of nutrition and instead tell my family and friends to focus on building up their MRE and Millennium bar supplies and only after they have a satisfactory amount should they consider stocking these.

Tip: Survival Tablets have a 10+ Year Shelf Life! According to the manufacturer: “The Tabs have been produced and packaged to last at least 10 years. We’ve accomplished this in several ways. Number one, we have compressed the tablets with thousands of pounds of pressure with our specialized tablet presses. Oxygen and moisture, the arch-enemies of food, cannot penetrate the tablets to destroy the ingredients. Number two, we use a heavy-duty, opaque bottle to pack the Tabs. The bottle does not allow either light or outside oxygen to penetrate and deteriorate the product. Number three, the closure is a specially designed screw- type lid which, along with being screwed tight on the bottle, is sealed with tamper resistant tape.

  • The Survival Tabs are a convenient, compact, lightweight, lifesaving food ration for any emergency. They are completely nutritious, have a 10+ year shelf life and are absolutely delicious. Just let them melt in your mouth…you’ll probably chew them up…they are so irresistibly good-tasting! “
  • 10+ Year Shelf Life
  • 100% of the U.S. RDA of 15 Essential Vitamins & Minerals
  • The Best Possible Nutrition in the Smallest Possible Volume
  • The Survival Tabs will keep you alive and moving for months at a time, on the amount you can carry in your backpack.”

Survival Tablets have been to the top of Mt. Everest and have been used on all rescue helicopters in the U.S. Coast Guard Alaska, survival does not get any tougher then it does for these guys.

Survival Tablets NUTRITION FACTS
Serving Size Amount Per Serving Servings Per Container: 15
Calories 240
Calories from Fat 108
  % Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 3g 1%
Sodium 140mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 30g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Carbohydrates 30g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 12g  
Protein 4g  
Vitamin A 100% Vitamin C 100%
Calcium 20% Iron 100%
Thiamin (B1) 100%  
Riboflavin (B2) 100%  
Niacin 100%  
Vitamin D 100% Vitamin E 100%
Pyridoxine HCL (B6) 100%  
Folic Acid 100%  
Vitamin B12 100% Phosphorous 10%
Iodine 100%  
Pantotyhenic Acid (B5) 100%  
Zinc 100%  
Manganese 100%  

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2.000 calories diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat Calories 2.000 2.500

Saturated Fat Less than 65g 80g
Cholesterol Less than 20g 25g
Sodium Less than 300mg 300mg
Total Carbohydrate Less than 2,400mg 2,400mg
Dietary Fiber   300g 375g
Calories per gram:   25g 30g
Fat 9 calories per gram Carbohydrate 4 calories per gram Protein 4 calories per gram

Mountain House (freeze dried) is another favorite of campers, its dehydrated so just mix contents with boiling water in pouch- let stand, and serve. They are tasty (MREs are now also quite tasty, the government has been working on really improving them for the past few years) but they require boing water to consume. Mountain House has a seven year shelf life if you keep temperatures below 75 degrees (might not be optimal for a BOB in the car).

HeaterMeals are a sort of variation of an MRE that is specifically intended for civilians (both are in retort packages). It looks essentially like a frozen dinner, in a paper tray, so it has he appeal that it looks nicer than eating out of an MRE pouch. Although they try to complete with MREs I see them coming up short in a few areas.

First, HeaterMeals have a shorter shelf life than MREs, except for the HeaterMeals EX which could be as long as an MRE.

HeaterMeals Shelf Life

HeaterMeals Ex Entrees Up to 5 years, based on the production date HeaterMeals 3 Self-Heating Meal Kits Up to 3 Years, based on the production date HeaterMeals Entrees Up to 2 years, based on the production date HeaterMeals Plus Self-Heating Meal Kits Up to 1 year, based on the production date

Next, they are lower in calories than an MRE despite having 50% bigger meals. Although its true that you could make a statistical argument that HeaterMeals devote more calories to healthier nutritional components, there are no facts to prove that this is important or makes a difference. In a disaster I want enough calories to keep me alive and keep me going, MREs could give me as much as 600 calories more per day which I think is important during this critical time. If you just don’t need that many calories then just eat two MREs a day and that will stretch out your survival time by 50%.

Finally, I find that HeaterMeals cost more than MREs (by the case) so it just does not make sense to me.

Heating any of our self-heating meals is easy: First tear open the heater bag. Place the meal in the bag against the heater pad. Pour the provided salt water pouch into the bag to start the heater. Fold the opening over and use the tape on the bag to keep it closed. Place the meal in the heater bag on a heat-safe surface.

AlpineAire is a newer competitor in this field, with its new AlpineAire  Instant product which you just snap the bottom of the pouch to self heat the meal. They have also been offering dehydrated foods with a 5 year shelf life. One look at their price tag and I decided to give these guys another year to settle down to a more reasonable price point.


I am not a member of LDS Church but I have a deep respect for the effort they put into disaster preparedness for their members and I also appreciate that they share this information publicly. A nice way to build up your supply of emergency  bulk food stores at low cost is to visit a nearby LDS Cannery (look them up on the ProvidentLiving website (Home Storage Center Locations)). (If you find any place similar or better, let me know so I can add it to this list.) The LDS website also has an excellent page on selection packing and storage of food that can last 30 plus years. Its direct and to the point, a worthy read.

The longest lasting foods listed in the Dry Foods section below all come from the LDS cannery, in addition to the food being dry, it must also be in a sealed container and that container must contain an O2 aborber packet in it, that is the obly way these foodstuffs will last that long. Just buying a bag of a dry food from the supermarket and throwing it in your pantry will not work, just ask anyone that has had moths or mold attack their dry goods after a few months, they’ll tell you of the need to have properly sealed containers (not store packaging for maximum shelf life.

The LDS canneries offer wonderful canned products in sealed #10 cans that each have a packet of oxygen absorber in it. It just doesn’t get any better than this. My favorites are their rice and beans because they can last 30 years.

LDS Drinking Water Guidelines

LDS Online Store (buy your Home Storage food supplies here if there are no nearby canneries)

LDS Preparedness Manual (you may purchase a bound book or you may download a free PDF version in exchange for your email address. They will send you one email offering a discount towards their paid disaster preparedness forum). The beginning of the manual is church oriented, but if you persevere you’ll get to the good parts.

Auguson Farms

Another possibility is Auguson Farms, they have a wide variety of pre-made emergency supply kits, ranging from three day to one year supplies. Its already in containers and can reach up to 30 year shelf life. This makes it so easy to buy then just put the kit away in your closet or outdoors shed and you are all set to sleep peacefully at night.

They also offer a free shipping deal which really helps stretch your dollars (especially important with the larger, heavier kits).

Auguson Farms is one of the supporters of this site and I’d greatly appreciate it of you click my ad to get to their store, so I may get a modest commission from them, a true win-win partnership.

Protein Alkalosis

One very important survival strategy when trapped in the wild for extended periods of time is to not just eat protein, i.e. animal flesh, all the time. Survival instructors teach that this could lead to Protein Alkalosis3  , where you blood turns so alkaline that you get seriously ill. Our disaster preparedness survival strategies are based on many disciplines one of which is wilderness survival so this can apply to us directly.

Survival schools teach special forces units to eat the other parts of the animals they catch so they an avoid this condition but in our case we know that we can’t train the average citizen to do that so we need supplementation such as Fish Oil.

Review of Nordic Naturals Fish Oil

So what do I do? Supplement with fish oil supplements, of course. My classic favorite is Nordic Naturals, who offers a variety of excellent choices for your specific needs. For years I used Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega which reduced my joint pain (doctors told me it was arthritis and to suck it up, now I don’t have to suck anything), its make my skin moist which is important here with the dry weather, we constantly battle dry skin.

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Xtra

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Xtra

After using this product for so many years that I just can’t recall when I first started it, I can say that when on extended business trips and I get to lazy to pack my supplements, my joint pain returns and my skin get s super dry. I also suspect that my brain function is far superior when taking fish oil supplements so I now always pack my fish oil whenever I travel.

WebMD: Findings show omega-3 fish oil may help to:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce triglycerides
  • Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
  • Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
  • Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
  • Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease

In our disaster preparedness kit at home and the BOB in each car there is now packed plenty of extra Nordic Naturals fish oil supplements with the medical supplies. Why with medical? Because I constantly rotate anything that is perishable, putting the newest purchases into the kist them consuming was has been in the kit for the past month.

Ingredients Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Xtra

Ingredients Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Xtra

Unless you are stationed in Antarctica you will probably experience sufficiently high heat that will shorten the shelf life of your perishables. They are necessary for your health and in disaster scenarios we tend to get stressed and stop taking our supplements, I sincerely believe that is a mistake because that is when we need our supplements to support us the most.

Studies4  have for while concluded that fish oil (Omega 3, Omega 6) is beneficial to avoid or reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and for that reason alone its worth it to take this supplement every day.

Please donate today to the Alzheimer’s Association in my father’s name, much of my survival skills I learned from him.

My favorite fish oil supplement is Coromega Omega 3 Squeeze. It comes in very small foil packets, you just squeeze it into your mouth, its somewhat creamy like a pudding, tastes great (orange, chocolate, etc.) and leaves no fish oil aftertaste. My favorite feature of this product is that it really works to soothe my joint pain in my knees (to the loin that I no longer feel it), so its earned a permanent place in my diet.  I keep a three month supply in stock at home at all times.

Dehydrated & Canned Foods

Spam (Shelf Life is 2-5 years past the expiration date on the can, it does not last forever, don’t forget to rotate it).

Beans, dried. The Shelf Life for dried beans is Indefinite, which is why its a favorite of those who are prepared. Canned beans have a shelf life of only one year. I store my dried beans in a clear airtight container (food grade bucket) that has a good o-ring seal in the lid and sturdy latches (and yes, as soon as I remember I will put a fresh oxygen absorber into it from now on). I store it inside a closet so its not exposed to any elements, especially sun or water, but I glance at it once a week when I go into that closet to stock supplies (its part pantry, part winter wardrobe).

Yes, I know that some folks will complain about beans giving them gas, here are a few solutions:

  • Cook the beans thoroughly, that might mean overcooking them slightly, or soaking them in water for 24 hours, whatever works for you.
  • Take some charcoal capsules from the medical kit. These do work  to absorb gas but take a bot of time to work, but at least you’ll get a good night’s sleep. In an emergency situation I would resist using them in case there is a real medical emergency but its useful for a day or two until you lean how to cook the beans properly.
  • Deal with it. As long as you don’t put your back towards the cam fire while you are sleeping, you’ll survive it, its not as toxic as every makes it seem to be.

Food grade buckets are made of PET plastics that do not leech or off-gas chemicals into your food and are impervious to penetration by oxygen.

Tip: Food grade buckets are thrown away by supermarkets and bakeries every day. Make friends with the manager and usually they will be happy if you take them away so they can lower their garbage hauling costs. Some stores have wizened up and started recycling them but keep searching and you could find a free source. Get Gamma Seal Lids if you want an easy way to open and close them (the typical lids that come with these buckets can be very difficult for the inexperienced person to open and close).

Rice, white (Shelf life 5 years, Brown rice spoils very quickly) Polished white rice, when sealed in an oxygen-free container at 40°F or below, can be stored for up to 30 years (with O2 absorbers).

Oatmeal, various types including instant oatmeal (bit not the flavored ones) can last up to three years (flavored/cream oatmeal only lasts up to 9 months). The best way to store oatmeal is to get it canned from the LDS church cannery, theirs lasts 30+ years. This is an excellent source of energy and because of its high fiber content it slows the metabolism of the carbs (a good thing) so your body will bun them instead of of turning them to fat.

Honey lasts essentially forever if in the original jar and has been stored reasonably well. Its possible for it to last your lifetime. (Jam only lasts 2 years, Butters like Apple butter and Pumpkin butter only last 2 months to 2 years so they don’t qualify for inclusion in our emergency supplies pantry). If honey crystalizes on you, its still OK, just warm it up and it will become a lovely thick syrup again.

Maple Syrup also lasts forever, easily your lifetime, if properly bottled and stored. I like genuine US or Canadian made Maple syrup, I still think its the best I’ve ever had and I like to support local producers. This is another item I’ll be storing a few extra of in the future. Gathering maple syrup was pioneered y our Native American ancestors so its essentially part our heritage and tradition.

The reason that honey and maple syrup lasts indefinitely is that they are almost pure sugar, sugar is hygroscopic, absorbing water that comes in contact with it. No water means that bacteria can’t grow.

Important tip about honey. Only buy raw honey that you know for a fact was produced locally (there is no need to pasteurize honey because it already has infinite shelf life and pasteurization is believed to break down some of the desired nutrients i the honey). First it will have pollen from your local flowers so its good for your immune system, secondly, if you buy cheap non-local honey its likely to come from China where there is no quality control and the honey is mixed with undesirable substances [Food Safety News]. How do we know this is happening? U.S. scientists were performing routine testing, checking the DNA in honey and found that a lot of honey had no DNA at all. This is unnatural and impossible unless humans have process and ultra-filtered the honey to remove the pollen, which is the source of DNA in honey. It subsequently came out that Chinese were illegally dumping tainted honey in the US after having been caught and banned from selling their honey in Europe. Its technically illegal for China to do this but the FDA just does not have the funding to stop this  right now. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, buy local honey and be certain that is really is from your local producers.

I always have a glass jar of my local honey in storage and am considering a few more. If I get terribly desperate I can survive on honey alone for a few days, if I’ve already exhausted all other supplies. Its also a good item for trade and in a disaster situation, honey can be placed on wounds to help them heal, I’d prefer medical honey but if the situation demanded it and I’m all out of other supplies, then I’ll use honey.

Honey is a great substitute for first aid antiseptics (hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, triple antibiotic ointment, etc.) according to Dr Oz. Its used in the medical profession to this day because honey will seal up a wound (blocking further contamination), prevent a scab from forming (speeds healing), and it produces hydrogen peroxide naturally at the wound site.

Additional, according to Dr Oz, honey has been found in clinical testing to work better than store bought cough suppressants and he also recommends a spoonful of honey in a cup of very warm (not boiling) water with a quarter lemon for common winter illnesses.

According to Dr Sears: “Surgeons use it to heal wounds from burns and cuts. Plastic surgeons use honey to fix skin grafts in place and prevent complications, such as graft loss, infection and graft rejection.3 Honey can heal acne, and help make post-acne scarring and inflammation disappear.

Honey encourages your skin to make hyaluronic acid (HA). HA fills out your skin because it absorbs 3,000 times its weight of water. Honey also forms a delicate, mesh-like collagen structure that can bring your skin’s surface back to normal and allow it to heal.4,5

You can also use honey for other skin problems like diaper rash, hemorrhoids, psoriasis, eczema and dandruff. And it’s antibacterial, too.

Honey works well against bacteria for two reasons. The first is that its sugars bind to water molecules. This denies bacteria the moisture they need to grow.

The second is a secret ingredient added by bees. It’s an enzyme called glucose oxidase. It helps stop bacteria by increasing hydrogen peroxide, a natural disinfectant.6

Honey is also deadly to the “superbug” bacteria you may have heard about recently. Mixtures that have as little as 40 percent honey kill all the harmful bacteria. Even the newest bacterial threat, gram-negative bacteria, can’t stand up to honey. In one study, researchers used only 30 percent mixture on the five known gram-negative strains and honey killed all of those, too.7

Honey is also a super-antioxidant for skin.

Antioxidants protect skin from UV radiation damage, and aid in skin rejuvenation.

Darker honeys have high ORAC values. The ORAC scale was designed to help compare the antioxidant power of different foods. The higher the ORAC value, the more power it has to stop free-radical damage and help fight off health problems.

A study at the University of Illinois found that some of the darker honeys measure 50% higher on the ORAC scale that even grapes with their high-powered skins.8

Scientists are even developing new alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) skin treatments from honey.

Why is that so important? These acids from fruits and plants work with the slight acidity of your skin to help it exfoliate naturally. AHA helps remove old skin cells by dissolving the fatty deposits that hold them in place, which allows new healthy skin to emerge.

With all the ways your skin can benefit from honey, it’s a good idea to keep some in your house. I keep a jar of raw, organic Manuka honey from New Zealand in my pantry, but any of the darker honeys are good for skin care.

If I get a cut or a scrape, I just put some honey right on the wound and cover it with a bandage or dressing. The honey will diffuse into the wound. Then I just change the bandage when I put on more honey.

1. Bakhotmah B, Alzahranicor H. “Self-reported use of complementary and alternative medicine … Jeddah, Western Saudi Arabia.” BMC Res. Notes. 2010; 3:254  2. ÅariÄ-KundaliÄ B, Fritz E, DobeÅ C, et. al. “Traditional Medicine in the Pristine Village of ProkoÅko Lake on Vranica Mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Sci. Pharm. 2010; 78(2): 275–290  3. Emsen I. “A different and safe method of split thickness skin graft fixation: medical honey application,” BurnsSept. 2007;33(6):782-7  4. McPherson J, Piez K. “Collagen in dermal wound repair,” In: Clark R, Henson P. The Molecular and Cellular Biology of Wound Repair. New York: Plenum Press, 1988  5. “Why do some cavity wounds treated with honey or sugar paste heal without scarring?” Woundcare Journal 2002; 11(2)  6. Pruitt K, Reiter B. “Biochemistry of peroxidase system: antimicrobial effects,” In Pruitt KM, Tenovuo JO, editors, The Lactoperoxidase System: Chemistry and Biological Significance, New York: Marcel Dekker, 1985; 144-78  7. Paulus H, Kwakman, et. al. “Medical-Grade Honey Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria In Vitro and Eradicates Skin Colonization,” Clin. Infect. Dis. 2008;46 (11): 1677-1682  8. Gheldof N, Engeseth N. “Antioxidant Capacity of Honeys from Various Floral Sources…” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002; 50 (10):3050–3055

Personally, I keep a jar of honey at home and am now picking up an extra packet of honey each time I go to the restaurants that put honey in a packet out for us, then putting those packets in my cars’ first aid kits.

Powdered low-fat Milk lasts for 2-10 Years past the printed date (I don’t drink milk, but would in an emergency, I would trade it for something else if possible).  Evaporated Milk lasts for 1 Year, Low Fat Skim Evaporated Milk lasts for 9 Months. Constituted milk lasts up to 3 days.

Protein powder (I snag the free samples in foil pouches when I can find it, then put those in my BOB, the large containers stay at home).

Cocoa powder lasts for 2 Years after printed date

Spices, powdered, last 2-3 years after printed date

Infant/Baby Formula Powder or liquid lasts until use by date

Packaged Tea (most kinds) lasts for 6-12 Months

Flour (most varieties) lasts for 6-8 Months, Corn Meal  lasts for 9-12 Months

Cinnamon Sticks last for 2-3 Years Ground Cinnamon lasts for 6-12 Months

Dried Split Peas and Lentils (Dried) (with O2 absorbers) have Indefinite shelf life

Beef jerky lasts for 1-2 Years, Turkey jerky lasts for 1-2 Years, Homemade jerky lasts for 2-3 Months

Jelly Beans last for 1-2 Years, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans last for 8 Months, Gummy Candy last for 1 Year

Salt lasts indefinitely

Pepper Black lasts 2-3 Years ground or dried, 5-6 Years whole peppercorns

Instant Dry Potato Packages last for 1 Year

Granulated White Sugar, White Sugar Cubes, Raw Sugar, Sugar Substitutes,  lasts Indefinitely. Brown Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Equal and Sweet n Low lasts for Indefinitely, but Best within 2 Years

Ground coffee lasts 2-5 months, instant coffee lasts 2-20 years (its not healthy so I don’t drink it any more but could be useful when food supplies are low or you need to be alert or to trade).

Tip: If you are just starting out, you can use the plastic bottles that your soft drinks come in as a food grade storage container. Sure, they are small, but they are free since you already paid for them. Just look for the recycling symbol on he bottle, if it has a number one in the center of the recycle symbol and if it says PET or PETE under the recycle symbol then its food grade plastic. Just clean and dry it thoroughly then insert an oxygen absorber, your polished white rice or dry lentils and cap it up firmly. Try the bottles that have the taller caps, they have more threads and are more likely to maintain a good seal over the long haul. Its not ideal but its a a start until you can move up to 5 gallon food grade buckets.

Popcorn is listed as lasting indefinitely. I just don’t understand this. For decades I’ve enjoyed a variety of popcorn, from the stuff you buy jarred at the regular supermarket, the low cost bulk no-name offerings to the indecently expensive gourmet stuff. In my home, we actually wear out the popcorn maker because its literally used every day. Our biggest gripe about popcorn is that it dries out, loses moisture, gets tough and chewy and just doesn’t pop well. We always store our popcorn in sealed containers, so its not like we leave it exposed or in inappropriate containers, we don’t. It was a big surprise that I found popcorn to be listed as having indefinite life. I just don’t accept that as being functionally useful information. Maybe popcorn doesn’t go bad technically, but in my experience it loses its functional usefulness and I just won’t use it because it mostly won’t pop or won’t chew. By the way, ground corn flour and ground corn meal only lasts 6 to 9 months, so there’s nothing on the inside that will make it last longer. Some folks argue that the popcorn is a whole grain so the outer shell protects the moisture from escaping. I’d believe that except that each kernel has a huge whole in it where it used to be attached to the cob. I suspect that there are two things going on. First, maybe the for kernels technically haven’t gone “bad” although in reality they are mostly inedible. The second possibility is that popcorn that is still on the cob could actually be good indefinitely, I haven’t bought any for long term testing, but if any of you have tried any that are at least ten years old, let me know your results.

 Will dry food packed in mylar with oxygen absorbers actually last? Is there really a difference?

Make Your Own MRE?

I don’t think so. I’ve seen all sorts of chatter on the Net about making your own MREs (Meals, Ready To eat), but its just not practical. Real MREs are sterilized and sealed in very high tech packaging, which the average person cannot duplicate at home.

MREs come in a “retort” pouch which is made of two layers of impervious plastic sandwiching a mylar layer that prevents oxygen penetration. If you think about it for a moment, then you’ll realize that each food item is actually protected by six layers of material because they are all placed inside the large external retort pouch. Then its sterilized with gamma radiation just to make sure that nothing is inside any of the pouches. We just can’t provide six layers of equivalent protection at home, even with one of those home vacuum sealer bag gadgets and we certainly have nothing to irradiate the food until its sterile at home. Vacuum sealers are great for making camping meals, that will be eaten this weekend, or even this summer, but folks, that just not what we are talking about here.

First of all, Top Ramen does not qualify as a home made MRE, and thats because because you didn’t actually make it, a corporation did. Second, its loaded with unbelievable amounts of salt (910 mg sodium for chicken flavor). I have no problem with salt, and I would eat a Top Ramen if I found it during a disaster situation but, there is so much salt that it would increase my water intake needs excessively. That is not a time when I need to find more water. Also, Top Ramen is not very nutritious, although you could probably survive for a while, its just not what I want to rely on in an emergency.

Dehydrated rice meals are also not home made MREs because you didn’t make this. Both Top Ramen and dehydrated rice meals belong in the dehydrated food category, and they should be at the bottom of that list (for low nutritional characteristics).

Spam in a pouch (i.e. SPAM® Single Classic) is also a poor choice. 730 milligrams of salt (sodium) per pouch is excessive. Same problem as Top Ramen. I do like the single servings in a pouch (no can opener and a lot lighter weight to carry) but its untested technology, we just have no proof that these pouches will last 20 years in storage. Canned Spam officially can lasts 2-5 years which is just a little too low for me to consider it a reliable survival food.

Sardines, canned. Again does not qualified as home made MRE because you did not cook or can it. In this case, I do like having sardines because they have the highest amount of Omega 3 Fatty Acids (the good fat) which your body and brain really needs, so you don’t get protein poisoning which can happen in survival situations.  Unfortunately they only have a 12 month shelf life so they do not qualify as emergency food.

You already see the pattern here. Most people talking about home made MREs are actually doing nothing more than assembling prepackaged convenience food. This is not a good choice. These foods were never intended for long term storage. Our survival food must be capable of lasting very long periods of time unattended because most people forget about their emergency supplies, so vacuum packing a bunch of cheap dollar store snack foods will only give you poor nutrition, far too much salt, make you consume too much water and statistically they are likely to have been long expired before you get a chance to use them. Sure, its cheaper to pack your own “home made MRE”, but that is a trick that is performed on paper. Dollar store MREs can be assembled for around $3.50 as opposed to $5 and up for an equivalent authentic MRE. The catch is that by the end of the first year, the home made product has already expired, and the authentic MRE is still going strong for ten to twenty more years. Yes, I’ve eaten 15 year old MREs, it wasn’t bad, smelled good and reminded me of eating in the school cafeteria. Its not gourmet but you’ll survive just fine.

Getting proteins from animal flesh to last is very tricky,  they just break down too quickly, you are better off cooking rice and beans which when eaten together deliver all the essential amino acids that your body needs to build muscle tissue, and when properly packaged, they can last 20+ years.

Beef (and other) Jerky, originally known as Pemmican, was invented by Native Americans long ago. Made by slowly drying whatever meat was caught that day, then pounded on a rock until it was almost a powder. Next, fat was blended in (along with berries that were pounded into powder, if available). This mixture was stored in rawhide pouches and eaten through tough winters.

Pemmican made at home lasts less time than store bought jerky. We just don’t have the machinery and practice to get the meat dry enough to prevent bacterial and mold growth. Sure, my Native American ancestors made Pemmican, and survived winters with it but we honestly don’t have their skill set when it comes to survival and living off the land, secondly, their Pemmican only had to last one winter, not ten or twenty years.

Protein bars, and other store bought items are in wrappers that are not designed nor certified for disaster storage. If you look carefully at the wrapper that an MRE or Millennium Bar come in, you’ll see that store bought candy or protein bars come in a very flimsy wrapper that are not oxygen barriers (at least not for the length of time that we need it to last for). MRE’s are also irradiated to kill bacteria, after they are sealed so its unlikely that any cooties could ever survive that process (this is needed because of the relatively high water content in an MRE).

The next mistake I see when folks are trying to make home made MREs, is that they just drop the items into a plastic or mylar bag to keep them dry. Its a good start because water is important for bacterial growth, but going back to the MRE example, we cam see that MREs are triple bagged to have maximum water, oxygen and light protection. Then they are irradiated. I can’t overstate that enough because unless you are a scientist or own a major food prep plant, you just don’t have the machinery to sterilize the product after you’ve installed the outer bag.

If you do decide to make your own home made MREs anyway, do try the home vacuum machines so your package will have almost no air in it, then drop into a mylar bag, vacuum and seal, then drop that into another vacuum bag, vacuum and seal lit. This is the closest you’ll get to duplicating an honest to goodness MRE. Don’t forget to drop a printout of the contents of each pouch, face out, so you will know at a glance what is inside.

I have no problem with not wanting to purchase MREs, the choice is yours. I’m just trying to point out here some of the false savings and false sense of security by not going with a scientifically designed and battle proven product. If you are on a severe budget, then I would simply increase my supply of long life foods that I already eat, and rotate them every time I go shopping. I did this in the seventies when I moved to a house in the Connecticut countryside, just in time for a blizzard so horrifyingly bad that the State’s Governer shut down travel on all roads.

During the Blizzard of 1977 only government emergency vehicles and snowmobiles were allowed to be on the roads. I had neither available to me and living out in the country, we only had one grocery store that was within walking distance. Its shelves were empty by the time I got home that day. For the next three days there were no food or water deliveries of any kind. Fortunately, I had stocked up on canned people food and canned dog food, which my dog and I subsisted on for the next three days, while the roads were closed. The morning of the fourth day I was out of food for both of us and convinced myself to face the blizzard and take a potentially hazardous walk that could take me many hours to complete. Fortunately, the governor lifted the ban that morning, the National Guard arrived and plowed the roads, so I was able to get to a supermarket downtown that had been resupplied and refresh my food supplies. That was a close one and I already knew back then that the old rule of thumb to have a three day emergency supply on hand was no where near enough.

I found that the canned foods worked quite well, my only limitation was that I did not have more than a three day supply, an oversight that I immediately corrected, but had the emergency been a day longer I would have been i severe trouble and I was already not wanting to eat the same salty canned food over and over again. A little variety goes a long way.

If you really want to assemble your own long term survival rations, think LDS, you can get good food in bulk from them inexpensively that lasts anywhere fro 5 to 30 years, depending on what you choose. (See LDS elsewhere in this guide).

Life is previous, don’t fool yourself with home made MRE’s, as we’ve seen, there pretty much is no such thing. Instead do your research, make a plan, implement it, review and refresh it regularly.

Other Foods

Anything canned or in a jar will last longer than fresh food, obviously, just be sure to have enough useful canned items on hand to serve as a food supply. Never risk eating product from dented cans, especially of the dent is near the seam of the lid, botulism poisoning can offer you a miserable painful death. These are the longer lasting ones: Canned Tuna lasts for 9-12 Months Vinegar (Shelf life indefinite) I like to sprinkle vinegar on the bland white rice to give it flavor. Maple syrup and corn syrup (Indefinite shelf life in their original air tight containers in the pantry) Soy sauce lasts indefinitely Peanut Butter lasts for 1 year Unopened Bottled Water lasts for 2+ Years (all other water lasts a lot less, opened water is good for three hours)

GORP for last chance survival. Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, or Gorp for short.  The food of our Native American Indian forefathers, they had to survive winter before the time of refrigerators and supermarkets. Berries and nuts work because they contain the three core components of survival.  The berries or fruit provide essential carbs and fiber; nuts give your body the fats and proteins for completing your meal.

The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer (2006); A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides) by Lee Allen Peterson and Roger Tory Peterson (1999), etc.

Comfort Food

Is there anyone that actually enjoys eating the food listed above? No, not that I know of, which its often suggested that once a week or once a month you have one family meal rom the emergency supplies so that everyone can get accustomed to them and not suffer from appetite rejection.

I also think that you should find some comfort food that could provide solace during a stressful period. I don’t normally recommend trying to use food to balance your emotions but this is one of those times that some chocolate could go a long way to make you feel good. Its would also be a great barter item, just ask the ladies how they would like some nice chocolate on a rough day.

You’ll have to figure out for yourself which comfort foods could be stored for long periods of time and still be good and useful. If you find any, let me know, I’d like to add them to my own kit.


Keychain flashlight like an authentic Photon (or a Bear Grylls Survival Torch By Gerber Gear) may be tiny but are priceless if you are stuck in an elevator, basement, building or at night. I believe that flashlights are so essential that my wife and I have carried on on out person, plus spares at hoe and in each car for decades now. Get a good one with a lithium battery so that it will work when you most need it. Lithium batteries have a 10 year shelf life, and yes, I have 10 year old lithium batteries that run just fine when I used them. In fact I have two right now that are over 12 years old, if you want to check them for yourself.

The very best flashlights for our purpose have LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs because they are break proof and last for many decades. Don’t go for the cheap LED flashlights that are next to the cash register at he store, they are useless. Also avoid the flashlights that have more than one LED because they are actually dimmer and much lower quality than a good single LED flashlight.

Look for LED flashlights that use CR123 lithium batteries, they are the brightest and the batteries can stay in the flashlight for 10 years without leaking and still have over 90% of their reserve power still available to them. These are common camcorder and digital camera batteries so although not quite as ubiquitous as alkaline AA batteries, but they are still generally available.

Best brands, that feature sturdy thick aluminum bodies include:

Fenix (I use the Fenix E15 attached to my keychain, as does my wife)




Romisen. A cheaper alternative that I put in our cars many years ago. Despite the modest price they are well built and still work like new after a decade of service. I like to recommend the Romisen RC-N3 CREE Q5 LED Flashlight (this is an upgraded version of the standard RC-N3 and is almost twice as bright) as a good disaster preparedness flashlight. Its currently ver hard to find so I hope they are in the middle of a model refresh. It has a bright Cree Q5 LED (yes, I know that at the time of this writing that the Cree R2 is righter, but its not enough to worry about and its not available yet for the RC-N3) and it accepts both CR123 lithium and regular AA alkaline batteries. When you want to use alkaline batteries you simply twist on the extension tube (provided) and drop in two AA batteries. This gives the best of both worlds in a very sturdy aluminum flashlight.

MagLite. An oldie but still a goodie. An old favorite of police departments (because they used to use them as batons, but that is a whole different story), but those old “D Cell” and “C Cell” (that took D sized and C sized carbon or alkaline batteries) were huge and very heavy. To make things worse they used regular incandescent bulbs (which don’t meet our requirement for reliability in a disaster because they break and/or burn out rapidly) and they were very dim. Today we have super cheap LED flashlights that are much brighter than those old cantankerous boat anchors. Yes, it took a very long time but Maglite finally woke up to the 21st century and started offering LED based flashlights, but now we have choices and they are arguably better than just dropping an LED into an old flashlight tube. The new Mag-Tac is LED based and looks to be a good choice, but there are plenty other with more features and a lower price.


Romisen RC-N3 CREE Q5 LED Flashlight with and without AA extension tube

Romisen RC-N3 CREE Q5 LED Flashlight with and without AA extension tube

Some folks insist that you should use a headlight style flashlight, like the kind that hikers and cave explorers use. I agree that being hands free is important and its something that you could consider but I rely on flashlights to be with me at all times which means that for disaster preparedness purposes you are more likely to have a tiny, compact yet powerful handheld flashlight than a large bulky headband for a headlight style light. Both are good, the hand held flashlights have far more options so you are more likely to find one that suits you, headlights are very limited in choice and until very recently they were not bright, which limited options even more. Keep in mind that nay light is better than no light. This list is by no means complete, these are flashlights I own and use or that have reputations with police and fire departments that rates listing them. There are plenty more choices out there and exclusion from this list does not mean that they aren’t worthy, they could be.

Tip: Never store alkaline batteries inside the flashlight or in a car, the batteries will eventually start to leak a very corrosive acid from it guts which will ruin the flashlight and your car interior. The worst part is that the light will not work when you need it most. I always have CR123 lithium batteries inside the flashlight and I store spare CR123 Lithium batteries in my car. They are heat resistant and will not leak (unlike alkaline batteries) so they will last for many years in the tough interior of the car. I also keep a pair of lithium batteries for my car’s Bluetooth remote, with them, just in case.

If you are into old school flashlights or just don’t like LEDs for some unfathomable reason (some folks don’t like the color temperature of LEDs, trust me its gotten a lot better than it was ten years ago and it far better than the sickly yellow light that all incandescent bulbs throw) but I think you are entitled to your opinion. For you I share my favorite incandescent (non-LED) flashlight, the UKE 2L. This baby is small, lightweight, takes two CR123 lithium batteries, is sealed and truly is waterproof because its actually a scuba light. There is no switch to fail, just twist the head and it lights up. Thats it. No tricks, just a good old fashioned bright light. My wife and I each carried this light with us every day for ten years until I upgraded to even smaller, lighter and much brighter LED lights. Don’t worry the UKE 2L flashlights were not abandoned, I simply moved them to our bedside night tables and they serve as our emergency backups there. They still work fine and in 13 years I’ve only changed batteries once. I don’t know if these are still being manufactured but my initial assumption 13 years ago turned out to be accurate, these scuba lights took a beating for 10 years and never failed, that and the fact that they take lithium batteries make these an ideal solution for preparedness folks.


UKE UK2L Incandescent-Lithium Flashlight

Light Sticks

Originally marketed as a Cyalumestick, and later by other names such as: Chemlight, Glow Stick, etc. is a stick filled with a liquid that will glow when you bend the stick enough to break the inner vial and allow the ingredients to mix. These are quite useful because the harmless chemical reaction produces a cold safe light useful for a variety of occasions (chemiluminescence). Being far safer than road flares, which burn at high temperatures with an open flame, these light sticks have becomes popular with motorists and police alike.

Its an appealing product, but there are two downsides, first, the light from first generation sticks was very dim, useful but barely. Manufacturers took years but finally came up with different formulations that could produce much brighter light.

The brighter the light, the shorter the light stick would stay lit, and once they dimmed out, they remain dark forever, there is no way to recharge or revive them. The brightest sticks could only last five minutes, the sticks that could last 12 hours or more were still very dim. Its a tough tradeoff because what we really want is a chemical light stick that lasts for hours and is super bright at the same time. What we wind up doing is carrying two super bright five minute light sticks and a half dozen 8 hours sticks. You just don’t know how long you will need to signal that your vehicle is disabled or you are calling for the attention of a rescue team.

The other problem with these light sticks is the expiration date. The components inside the tube decay and fail to work after time. In my own personal and informal testing, of a variety of different manufacturers products over the past 20 years, I found that every light stick worked as expected if it had not yet passed its expiration date.

Long term testing showed that most light sticks failed to glow after they had exceeded the labeled expiration date. There seemed to be a pattern whereby the short duration, high intensity sticks failed to work in as little as a few months after their expiration date but the long lasting, but less intense sticks would still work almost a year after expiring. Just to see if this pattern held up, I just tested a light stick that had expired just over ten years ago and tried it. It failed. No light was produced whatsoever. This stick was stored for the entire time in my sock drawer in ideal conditions. This is not buy and forget technology.

This is important to us because we never know how long the individual components in our disaster preparedness kits will be in standby, waiting for us to need them to work for us.

I have no issue with adding a few in your kit, but just to be sure, I throw extra CR123 lithium batteries into my bags and each car, because in parallel testing I found that CR123 batteries, of various different manufacturers always worked as expected after ten years of storage. Always.


Phones lines and cell phone systems fail during disasters. They have in every major event that we have experienced for the past few decades and there is no new technology on the horizon that can change that. Communications are essential to regrouping your family, calling for medical help and for finding shelter as well as notifying the rest of your family of your situation.

Cell phone service can fail when towers are overloaded with calls, or the towers fall down. We’ve seen this even during peak business hours, so during a disaster they could be even less reliable. Cell phones also need power or to be recharged to maintain their usability. On the upside, they are always with you allow you to have communications wherever you are.

I expect most people to have cell phones but tIm trying to raise awareness that they are not an infallible solution.

I carry a spare charger for my smartphone with both an AC adaptor and a 12 volt car adaptor in each car, so if service is available I can use it to notify family, make plans, direct them to a rally loin, look up maps, check weather, check for road closures or government announcements. In the future I will add a thin, flexible solar panel to charge the phone and run my small AM/FM radio.

Old fashioned phones, Land Lines

Old fashioned traditional phones that are plugged into the wall with a  wire are still the most reliable communications we have by far, because the a wire that runs straight to the phone company, and all phone companies in the US run the phone system on battery power that is constantly charged (this is a fact, I used to wok in that industry). On the flip side, there could be times where more calls are attempted to be placed than the phone company switchboards can handle, we’ve seen this occur during severe earthquakes and Mother’s Day.

You might also might not be at home so although I do recommend that you keep one inexpensive old fashioned home phone line installed for emergencies, and carry a cell phone with you wherever you go, I also think that you should consider more than that for emergencies.

Alternatives to cell phones: Ham Radio, CB, or FRS/GPRS

The very best solution is Ham Radio  (officially known as Amateur Radio) which in fact is not a “hobby” but rather has always been intentionally chartered as a civilian emergency radio service (ARES and RACES). Join a local ARES or RACES group, get licenses for your family members and practice. There are a variety of radios on a variety of frequencies which can span your city or span continents. The ARES and RACES groups welcome newcomers and will be happy to discuss all that you need to know. This is what I have relied on since the nineties, after having tried CB radios for the preceding 15 years, and can tell you that the Ham Radio community is far better prepared and has far further reach than the average person has ever imagined.

CB radio can still be useful, if you are within range of other family members or friends, and totally useless if you are not. That is even more true for FRS/GPRS radios, which have even shorter range. Although they are tempting because they are dirt cheap, you get what you pay for. These radios are best for communicating with your neighbors (like we do in my neighborhood’s CERT group) or for short range communications in an outing to a park where there is no cell coverage.

If you already have a CB or FRS/GPRS radio, then by all means include them in your plan right now, train and practice with your family once a month on how to use them and talk to each other once a week (so they stay in practice and so yo know that the batteries are always charged). Then consider attending a local ham radio club meeting and let them show you he range and usability of a small (very small) handheld, modern, ham radio. I think you might be surprised. As the old saying goes, you pays your money and you take your chances.

Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), and Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN)

We now have a new tool to help us respond better to emergencies and disasters. The U.S. Government has set up a new system wireless emergency alert system. This system sends alert messages to newer phones that have been updated with the ability to receive these messages (iPhone 5 or newer). Alert messages can include warnings of potential disasters (storms, tornados, etc.) as well as AMBER alerts and Presidential alerts and are broadcast to all compatible cell phones in the area of interest, simultaneously. I’ve received two alerts so far and am impressed that hey arrived on my iPhone well before there were any broadcasts on television or radio. Since your cell phone is always on, just make sure that its constantly within earshot so you can consider this a layer of awareness as part of your preparedness strategy. Ask your cell phone service provider if they are participating in the program. I’m on AT&T and have already received two alerts so I know that it works for me.

If you have one of the new services like Verizon FIOS or AT&T UVerse, they will fail to operate when they lose power because they each rely on a modem that is plugged into your house power to operate. You will not be able to make any calls, including 911 emergency calls at all.

Sometimes these phone companies will install a battery unit that will run your phone for a while during a power failure. They will not run the phone forever, so if you find yourself in this situation, make one call to a family member, tell them to call everyone else and give them your status and needs (if any) and that everyone should coordinate through that one central person so your phone does not get used up.

This also applies to Internet access. In a power failure any Internet service that relies on a box that is plugged into your house power will fail to operate.

Its a great idea to have an out of town contact to coordinate emergencies, plan this now and have three family members you can rely on, and preferably who are very far away from you (preferably a few States away) so they could not be affected by the same emergency situation.

Instruct them to be the central contact person for you. Their responsibility is to act as an answering service for you and to let everyone know what your status is, to keep your phone line clear. During disasters, even if the phone system is working, so many people panic and call folks who are involve din the incident tat the phone company’s capacity is completely used up and most calls will not get through.

UCO Stormproof Match Kit

UCO Stormproof Match Kit


Waterproof strike-anywhere matches in a sealed case, like the UCO Stormproof Matches with Match Container Kit Orange, or consider a WETSU Pocket Survival Kit BIC lighter (don’t get the cheap ones, they are far more likely to fail when you need them). Wrap a rubber band around the lighter, just under the button that releases the gas so that the fuel does not leak out. The rubber band is a good multitasked and can be used as tinder to start a larger fire. Rubber bands degrade over the years so check them during the inspection. Fire starter/Magnesium Fire Starter like Pro Force Army Fire Steel and Striker. (avoid the ones made in China, they rarely work).

Tip: If you can find a flint but no striker (the piece of metal you scrape on it to create sparks) you can use the back of a fixed blade knife. Never use the sharp side because you will destroy your edge and I never use folding (pocket) knives because if you press hard enough you can overcome the locking mechanism and cut your finger off. Not desirable at any time but especially so in the middle of a disaster. I like multitaskers because they save space weight and money. In this case I use an old army surplus P38 Can Opener and keychain it to the flint, giving me the best of both worlds. It also makes sense because you would want to start a fire then open your can of beans to heat up.

Many folks discount the idea of needing to stock fire making materials because they have a propane BBQ in the back yard, but whats the first thing that happens if you drop in on them unexpectedly with some nice fresh meat or chicken to share? There is s hurried panic to run to a store to fill up the empty or nearly empty propane bottle. This approach will not work in a disaster. The stores will be closed (employees will be headed home to care for their families) and if you think that you’ll just go to the store and fill it yourself, keep in mind that the tank will be empty by the time you get there because everyone else will have thought of that already. Be prepared, have at least two additional alternative fire making materials/methods or at the very least, always have one more full (working) propane tank than you need, so you know it will be there when you need it.

Don’t rely on just one way to start a fire. Always have alternatives because you just don’t don’t know if any of your fire starting gear will fail after being in storage for years. Since fire starting gear is so small (I can hold all of mine in the palm of my hand) its really not a burden to have a small pouch with fire starting tools and another with tinder, I Keep them in two pouches so it makes me feel safer).

Tip: There are many sources of flammable material and many techniques to start a fire. Study and learn, in an extended disaster fire can be your best friend. Its especially good when you reuse existing materials such as duct tape or alcohol based hand sanitizer as tinder and to ignite them you could mix a small amount of potassium permanganate (an antibiotic) with glycerin (for diarrhea) and they will self ignite! (Be careful!)Both of these items could be found in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet.

Tinder (quicktinder, tinder-quick, etc. Wetfire or the equal to wetfire) or even Military Gel Fuel & Fire Starter – Diethylene Glycol Firestarter

Review By Gary D|Verified Purchase I have made my own tinder from boxes and paraffin, dryer lint and cotton balls with some variety of combustible substance soaked into them then stored in an air tight container. Sure, all of them were a lot cheaper but none of them were as sure to make a fire for me as this stuff is and that is what counts. One cube will start a lot of fires, all it takes are some shavings off of one, which you can do easily with a sharp knife. Then a single spark makes these things go, even soaking wet. If all the wood and tinder is also soaked and hard to get going, use a whole cube, which stays burning a long time, and this will dry the wood a bit for you and make it all go. Honestly, nothing makes you feel better when you are lost and lonely than a good, hot fire. Nothing I have found to date can assure me of making one like these little cubes. They are also compact and easy to keep a couple of in your kit, this means a lot of fire in a small space. These are well worth the money in my opinion. Fritos Corn Chips can be used, in a pinch when you can’t find dry tinder, as a fire starter. Just pile four or five chips into a pile, light it and it will flame for almost 5 minutes, which should be enough to get your main fire started.

Siphon, liquid (separate from fuel siphon, so you don’t get sick from cross contamination) in case you have the opportunity to scrounge some gasoline. QuickStove – Cube Stove and Fuel Disks (simple and the fuel is essentially a type of candle, no toxic cubes or dangerous liquid fuels) Thee are many different kinds of choices for camping stoves, and some pretty nice lightweight ones for mountaineering that are very lightweight (and run on white gas) but the problem I have with them is that they are not obvious to use and you don;t want to be struggling during an emergency trying to learn how to assemble, fuel and light up a liquid fueled stove. After struggling with a rather nice MSR stove for years I finally decoded that simpler is better and am switching to a QuickStove. Its so simple that anyone can use it without training, important if you are sick or injured and someone else needs to use it. There are now variations of the Rocket Stove on the market that are small, simple and can use any kind of wood pieces or twigs you might find laying around and get very decent heat from them. I’m keeping my eye on them and will add updates when I feel more confident about their safety, ability and reliability.

 Starting a Fire with a Fire Steel, and Purifying Water by Boiling

How To Make A Penny Can stove

For years I’ve had an MSR WhisperLite stove, two gallons of white gas and two fuel tanks in our BOB. MSR makes fantastic camping stoves, arguably the best in the world, but there was always something on the back of my head that bugged me.

I purchased the stove years ago with the thought that if there was a need to cook or just get some much needed heat, we could use a camping stove that ran on the same fuel as our cars. MSR stoves run on White Gas, which is very similar to gasoline. Since we’d be looking for a source of gasoline anyway, we could double dip by using the same gasoline to fuel the stove.

White Gas is another name for naptha and research revealed that common unleaded automotive gasoline can be used to fuel MSR stoves, but be aware that the formulation is different and it may cause a little more soot and it might need a little more maintenance than usual. Essentially the MSR stoves are tuned to use White Gas as its optimal fuel and gasoline is similar enough to work, just not as perfectly.

So far so good. I now have a good cooking and heating source, but I finally realized what it was that was bugging me. These stoves require that you know how to assemble them (there are only three parts to assemble) and more importantly you have to know how to light them. They do not work like natural gas or propane stoves. They have a specific startup procedure that must occur before the burner will actually create a ring of fire.

That is not a good thing if you never practice using them before the disaster. They also require a cleaning procedure so they don’t get clogged up.

I then realized that I should have MRE heaters to warm MREs up in (I’ve taken care of that), then I should have some solid fuel tablets so I purchased some US Army surplus Triox tablets (trioxane).

Keep in mind that all fuel is toxic to humans, it does not matter what it is so minimize or avoid touching fuel tabs or liquid fuel with your hands.

GI surplus Trioxane  Heat Tabs

GI surplus Trioxane Heat Tabs

These solid tablets have indefinite shelf life (when sealed) and are a little hard to light on fire. This fits in with us having something that is still good years later when we actually might need it and that it doesn’t light up so easily makes me feel that they are safer while stored.

Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove with  Solid Fuel Tablets

Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove with Solid Fuel Tablets

There are other solid fuel tablets on the market, (Hexamine, Esbit fuel, Cochlans Fuel tabs, Solid Fuel Tabs, etc.) which I will call Esbit or Hexamine, and for our purposes they are all good. Note that as with anything else on the internet you’ll find that proponents of one will claim that theirs are better and that the others are toxic. The way I see it the byproduct of any combustion is toxic, I don’t care how clean burning anything is claimed to be, over time we find that they all release something undesirable, thats just life. Cook in a well ventilated area, even if there was such as thing as a perfect fuel, it would still consume the oxygen out of the air and that would still be bad for you. Haxamine based fuel tablets will not evaporate as quickly once opened and exposed to the air, which is an added advantage (in addition to be very commonly available).

Also note that these are fuel tablets, we know enough to not get gasoline or diesel on our hands when we refuel the same applies when handling these tablets. Don’t touch them with your bare hands and if you do, wash your hands throughly before you touch food. Its just common sense.

Its possible to just lay a fuel tablet on the ground, light it up and warm your food up, but the fuel will melt and soak into the ground, wasting fuel and contaminating the soil. If you are starving, you will have to live with this, but if y have the opportunity, get a small Esbit or other tiny inexpensive  stove and you’ll feel better.

Some folks claim tablets can be hard to start and promote the use of windproof lighters t get them started. If you have the luxury of a high power windproof lighter then by all means use it, but in case you don’t or are out of fuel in the lighter, know that its possible to start a fuel tablet by scraping the top of the tablet to form a small pile of  “dust” then use a flint to spray it with sparks and it will light (it might take a few tries).

Esbit fuel tablets

Esbit fuel tablets

Another advantage of Esbit (Haexamine) tablets is that they are very stable and are known to last decades and work well. Liquid fuels (like gasoline and white gas) are know to destabilize (break down) and not work very well, if at all, after years of storage. That alone is a good enough reason to skip white gas altogether and go straight to Esbit fuel (and compatible stoves/pot holders).

If you really want an excellent (tiny, lightweight and inexpensive) solution, take a look at Trail Designs Graham Cracker (ultra small and lightweight) Esbit stove (it fits Esbit fuel tablets perfectly but not long Triox tablets) in their video. It helps extend the life of the Esbit fuel tablet by not exposing the entire tablet and thus not losing half the heat to the air.

Currently I have an authentic stainless steel GI Canteen cup and stainless steel Canteenshop stove that fits perfectly under the GI canteen cup (both in storage mode and flipped over into cooking mode so I can just slip my Triox bars under it to heat the cup (boil water, soup, pouches, etc.) or to serve as a stand for the Orgreenic frying pan, in case we get lucky enough to be able to cook something, but in the future I’ll probably switch to Esbit fuel tablets on a Trail Designs Graham Cracker Esbit holder, but still use it under the Canteenshop stove/pot holder. Esbit is much easier to find than the outdated Triox bars.

Since I’m carrying a canteen anyway, and since the canteen is outside the BOB, this frees up space in the BOB that would be used up by Boy Scout type mess kits. The Orgreenic pan is optional and at this time is not actually in the BOB, its in a Bug-In container that can be thrown in the trunk in case we care bugging out by car, just to give a bit more comfort during uncertain times.


MPI Space Brand Emergency Bag Space survival sleeping bag (better than Space Blankets or Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets because they are warmer (not drafty) since y are completely inside of it and can be cut into a lean-to or into a blanket for two people). We’re not going camping here, regular down sleeping bags are a huge luxury. Most of us just don’t have the experience, strength and patience to read a manual on how to erect a tent in an emergency situation. If you don’t already know how to erect a tent blindfolded, then you cant depend on it in an emergency.

An additional advantage of Space Sleeping Bags (Space Bivy) or even a space blanket, is that they can be turned inside out so the shiny silver side faces out and use that as a signaling device to attract attention, call for help.

Poncho (I use the ones from the camping or surplus stores because they are squeezed down to the size of a small tissue pack.

Personal & Misc

List of emergency phone numbers, printed, in several places Toilet paper Baby wipes (for you and your wife) (If you don’t use them, these could be valuable currency to someone who really needs it) Feminine supplies (even if there are no females in your household, anything you don’t need that someone else wants becomes currency for you, they could also be used as wound care bandages, puncture wound plugs or as fire starting kindling). Toothbrush (there are some travel toothbrushes that have built in toothpaste that seem promising, personally I use Peelu powder because it doesn’t expire.) Peelu tooth powder (since its a powder it should last a time in your BOB or GOOD bag. Yes it tastes like sawdust. Dental floss Soap Campsuds Biodegradable Cleaner (versatile soap that can clean dishes as well as humans) you don’t need Purell, soap works just as well finger toothbrushes (or regular ones) Solar shower Towel (I just hold on to old towels that we are ready to throw away, then put them into the emergency kit) Foot powder, anti-fungal cream like Tolnaftate Nail cutters, file Axe and crowbar or Stanley 55-121 FuBarForcible Entry Tool to get through doors. I like the FuBarForcible Entry Tool because it can shut of gas lines, fire hydrant wrench, one piece forged steel head and handle for durability, 2 tier board jaw – 2nd tier board jaw also fits square hydrant nuts, Hydrant wrench, Spanner wrench and more:

FuBarForcible Entry Tool: Our premier forcible entry tool designed by responders for vehicle extrication and extreme demolition: 8-in-1 tool for prying, splitting, board bending and striking jobs Demolition head Gas shut-off feature Spanner wrench Pry bar for ripping Hydrant wrench 2nd tier board jaw also fits square hydrant nuts Board jaw sized specifically for grabbing common dimensional lumber Beveled nail slot for pulling & prying nails One piece forged steel bar for increased durability Heat treated and tempered striking face prevents chipping Flame-resistant aluminum grips are durable and lightweight Carabiner holes for easy attachment of shoulder strap Hi-visibility 3M Scotchlite enhances visibility

Solar panel, charging cables and adaptors for your critical electronics. Battery for solar panel (like a motorcycle battery) so you can store power when the sun is available and then use it when you need it. GPS (if you have one in your smartphone then test it without any internet connection to see if its useful, most aren’t) Garbage bags (multifunctional) Bic lighters (store these safely, when they get old they leak, I’ve personally witnessed this) Two changes of underwear (in sizes that fit your family. One pair of work jeans, so you can rotate with what you are wearing. One work shirt (real chambray work shirts, with triple stitching at the seams, they are far more durable than normal shirts and are even more durable than regular cheapie work shirts. Hat for sun protection, or at least a large bandana

Wigwam Mills, worsted wool cap (warm and made in the USA) or a nice, military surplus night watch cap (all wool) will go a long way to keeping not just your head warm, it helps keep all of you warm. Wool also can keep you warm even if it gets wet. They don’t take up too much space and can be inexpensive. A fire resistant cap (FR Tuque by Helly) would be more appropriate if you live in the woods and are more likely to encounter threatening forest fires.

Gloves (Deerskin preferred because they are more cut resistant than cow leather, look it up)

Spare prescription glasses for each person that needs them (I have a pair in each car, just in case).

AM/FM radio  (Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger by Ambient Weather)

Plastics – Zip lock freezer bags (much heavier than normal bags, with zipper so you don’t have any doubt that its closed securely) in 6-8 quart size and 3-4 gallon. Useful for water containers, for storing food in. Plus several extra heavy duty (contractor) garage bags. Always pack your clothes or anything else you don’t want getting wet into heavy garbage bags before packing them. Even though they are inside a backpack, you’ll be disappointed if anything gets wet, and wet clothing really weighs a lot more than dry clothes.

Dust masks (N95 rated, there can be a huge amount of dust and debris strewn into the air during various disaster scenarios). Surgical masks could be used and are attractive because they are flat but doctors claim that N95 dust masks filter even more than surgical masks, even for emergency surgery.

Goggles (and hard hat so you can be a bit safer if you are searching for or extricating a family member)

Miniature sewing kit

Nylon line and fish hooks (learn to tie knots and some fishing basics)

Body powder or baby powder: good for keeping your body dryer, baby powder can be applied to hair to absorb oil and extend the time between shampoos, slipping your hands into tight fitting gloves, and to help babies diapers stay dryer.

Razor blades, disposable. Just in case you decide to rejoin civilized society.

Gas Mask for each person (children take a much smaller size) should have general purpose cartridges (like activated charcoal) for eliminating most common threats. If you are near a plant that makes a specific substance then you can get a cartridge for that substance, but don’t forget that they could have many other chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process. This is for a last ditch effort to evacuate when a toxic substance has contaminated the air. The military surplus style appeal to a lot of people because they also protect your eyes. If you are near a nuclear plant then you need a specific solution and potassium tablets, do your homework.

Radiation – Learn More About Radiation and Health. http://emergency.cdc.gov/


Many folks who prep for disasters do so because they are inherently afraid. Don’t let their fear infect you. Many of those folks are police, military, emergency room medical staff or prison guards. They see humanity at its worst and they often believe that all people will revert to wild animal behavior when there is a disruption to the status quo, but experience shows that its really not so bleak in the U.S.

What actually happens is that pilfering does suddenly go up, when people feel their survival threatened, but the target has always been stores and any government employees that oppose the pilferers. Innocent citizens are rarely harmed. I’m not saying its impossible, just that if you stay away from the manic people and the government forces that are trying to quell them that you’re not likely to see any action.

Many preppers will go on ad nauseum that you need firearms and be arm to the teeth with them. That will only get the average person shot. If you’re going to arm yourself then ensure that you and your entire family take highly qualified training like from Tactical Response.

If you believe that there will be personal attacks then you should be taking martial arts classes seriously. No matter how many guns you have, you will run out of ammo sooner or later then it up to you. I suggest Krav Maga, since it the latest updated martial arts to take into account modern needs and incorporates updated techniques from traditional martial arts.

Another approach is to use pepper spray, if its legal in your area. Although most preppers think that the end of the world is coming, the reality is that we are a huge nation and help will eventually get there. If the psychos get out of control, they will have to deal with the National Guard, and we have never seen that happen in the 5o years that I have been active in preparedness. The pepper spray is non lethal and can dissuade most aggressors.

Bear Attack Deterrent with Hip Holster – Maximum Strength & 30 Foot Range by FRONTIERSMAN

A step up from pepper spray is a Taser. If you chose this route, don’t go cheap. Get a real Taser and take classes on how to use it properly. Don’t lend it to anyone other than your spouse or children.

Personally, I’m planning on keeping a low profile, staying away from the desperate folks and riding out the storm. Keep a cool head, form groups with your neighbors and don’t antagonize anyone regardless if they are right or wrong.


Fire extinguisher in kitchen and know how to use it (I have one in every room and one each side of the bed) Carbon Monoxide Detector in the central location (as required by law) and one for each bedroom.

Solar oven (in case the power is out, gas supply is cut off and your backyard BBQ is out of fuel.


What is valid and valuable currency during a disaster. That depends on what has gone wrong. If its a temporary issue, such as a storm that we know will pass in a few days or so then you should have regular cash stashed away where its easy to get to. Some at home, some hidden in your car, a but where you work and some on your person.

If you have only $100 bills, or only $20 bills and you are desperate for a simple bottle of water, do you know how much that bottle will cost you?


You can’t survive if you cant walk to a safe haven. Its just that simple. Unfortunately the majority of folks in this country just don’t bother and could suffer when things go wrong. Devote 20 minutes a day on a HealthRider doing high intensity interval exercises and you’ll be so happy with your newfound strength, endurance and fitness. Its quick and easy, gentle on the joints and gives dividends that pay off in so may ways. This is what my family and I do.

Rotate, Rotate, Rotate!

Your perishable supplies; medicine, prescriptions, food and water must be rotated so they will not be useless when you most need them. Don’t wait until they are expired to rotate them out because then they will have no useful life to offer you during an emergency.

Prescriptions are a restricted item so you can ask your doctor for an extra one month supply for your kit, then rotate the meds so that you consume the oldest ones now and the freshest ones are in your emergency kit.

Eat the food and drink the water you have in emergency storage; when its time to rotate them out. As for over the counter medicines (OTC) you still need to rotate them before they expire but at any given tie, you will not have immediate use for them. Since there are not that many, its cheap insurance (they will be absolutely priceless during emergencies). You can always donate them to needy families, they will not go wasted.

Luxuries or Shelter-In-Place (extras)

If you can manage it, the following items can help improve your comfort level:

Vitamins and supplements. There are too many to list so I stock these in my home for a shelter in place scenario. We have at any given time a two to three month supply of everything on hand. (The Millennium Bars in our Car Kits, Bug Out Bags and Office Kits are fortified with vitamins and supplements.)

Hydrogen peroxide is a very useful, multifaceted tool. It disinfects cuts, puncture wounds, infected gums, as well as useful for cleaning counters and sponges. They are many uses and its worth your time to learn more about this great product. It is a bit delicate, which is why I don’t carry it my car, being sensitive to light (hence the brown bottles) and it loses 10% of its efficacy every year, so keep that in mind if you decide to store some with your emergency supplies.

Radios, portable and battery operated: AM/FM, Weather Radio, Police/Fire scanner and/or Shortwave radio so you can receive (listen) to whats going on. There are some AM/FM radios that have built in solar panels and or cranks to wind them up, which are particularly attractive when there is no power and no batteries can be found (I have had these kinds of radios for years and although they don’t have the most sensitive tuners in the world, they are far better than nothing). If you go with Ham Radios and/or shortwave radios make sure that you understand that they cover a gigantic stretch of frequencies across multiple bands so no one antenna will allow you to tune in all those frequencies.

To transmit (talk back and forth with others) FRS (no license), GMRS (a license can be required under certain circumstances, but its just an applications to fill out), CB radio (license  required but its just an applications to fill out). These are all very short range communications, regardless of what advertisers claim. You can typically get one mile but its gets progressively harder to get much more than that except under absolutely ideal circumstances.

Ham/Amateur Radio (required license) is the very best, most versatile two way communications device during a disaster or emergency circumstance when regular phone (and cell) service fails for any reason. A license is required, you must take and pass a test but the local ham radio clubs will help you study, recommend a study guide and in many areas there are one day crash courses where you take a class and the test all in the same day. Ham Radios come in a huge range of sizes, transmit power, frequency bands and a host of other features.

During disasters Ham Radio operators form emergency communications networks almost instantly. Once you are licensed you can join or or just listen, and find out what is going on, where to go and what to avoid.

I’ve had my ham radio license for many years and have participated in many ham radio practice exercises, as well as having responded in the field to actual disasters. Its deeply fulfilling to be able to help others and you will learn so much from the experience that you will become so much better prepared to help your family survive disasters.

Boots (Light hiking boots are probably best for most people unless you already have a pair you can use. I suggest light boots because if you get heavy hiking boots and you don’t bother to break them in, which most people don’t, you’ll get blisters and have made the problem worse). If there are multiple members to your family then yo have to figure out if you will have a pair for each. I don’t really think that boots are a luxury, but they are listed here because a lot of folks think that they can get by with regular shoes to walk through the debris, flotsam and jetsam in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I don’t think so.

How do you do laundry when there is no power?

Extra clothes, I like to include; pants that have zip off legs to convert them to shorts; surplus military 100$ wool commando sweater (this is far more useful than I imagined, even in California I’ve used mine so much that I bought two more just be sure sure one was always available to me. I like to put a pair of very thin silk undershirt and long johns into my pack because they are extremely thin and lightweight. For a little more warmth I have a pair of Terramar Woolskins (tops and bottoms). They are comfy and warm (my favorite is the wool/silk blend) and feel so good.

Duct tape, a million and one uses.

Dermoplast (spray antiseptic and Benzocaine analgesic) great for calming down the pain of a sunburn.

Lace-up ankle brace, knee brace

Clove oil for toothaches

Guaifenesin (Mucinex), for clearing mucus from lungs, very important in small children and older adults, to avoid pneumonia.

Sports Heat, or other heating chemical heating pack. In case you get desperate, you squeeze the pack and the chemical reaction creates heat. Place it on your kidneys and your natural blood circulation will circulate heated blood throughout your body.

Ear plugs. You never know where you will end up. Your body will have higher levels of adrenaline and yo will be on high alert so sleeping could be more difficult. If you wind up in a shelter with many others, you will need to muffle the sound of conversations, or if you are a city person and are out in the forest, then forest sounds could keep you awake while its your turn to sleep while someone else keeps watch.

Toolkit, every household should already have one, if you don’t then its time to start building one up. Yo can do it economically by picking them up a piece at a time at yard sales or flea markets. Sometimes you can get a whole box of tools inexpensively at an estate sale. Do your shopping and it will pay off. If the reason that you don’t have a tool kist is because you don’t know how to make repairs ten you really need to learn. If you don’t have a cooperative friend or relative then chef out adult education classes at the local high school or college.

FatMax Xtreme FuBar® Utility Bar

FatMax Xtreme FuBar® Utility Bar by Stanley

FatMax Xtreme FuBar® Utility Bar by Stanley would be very useful to break open doors that are stuck due to earthquake or other natural damage, its a pry bar, hammer,  nail puller, board grabber and more.

Or, how about the Dead On AN18 18-Inch Annihilator Utility and Wrecking Bar?

Annihilator  by Dead On -AN18 18-Inch Utility and Wrecking Bar.jpg

Annihilator by Dead On -AN18 18-Inch Utility and Wrecking Bar.jpg

Annihilator by Dead On Features Fourteen inches of forged steel multitool with rubber grip Dead-On bottle-opener Multi-purpose wrench Nail puller Demolition axe rips through dry wall, shingles, strips conduit, etc. Chisel smashes through tile, brick, concrete, etc. 3/4inch (19mm Wrench (not listed in documentation) Wrench hole fits gas valve (not listed in documentation)

A fold up bike at work to pedal home

Off road bikes at home to bug out, if cars are disable or roads are unusable.

Tents are now available that are inexpensive and can collapse into a super small pouch, its not like the old days where the tent alone could overwhelm you.

Emergency Shelter Tent, Reflective Tube Tent, Cold Weather Emergency Shelter, by Emergency Zone Brand

Emergency Shelter Tent, Reflective Tube Tent, Cold Weather Emergency Shelter, by Emergency Zone Brand

Emergency Shelter Tent, Reflective Tube Tent, Cold Weather Emergency Shelter, by Emergency Zone Brand - in package

Emergency Shelter Tent, Reflective Tube Tent, Cold Weather Emergency Shelter, by Emergency Zone Brand – in the package are tiny and pack well


Camping gear

Insect (Bug) Repellant get 100% Deet or something close to it. OFF! and similar products are only 7% DEET, in a disaster it would be worse to ge bit and infected or bit and contract a truly bad disease. You can deal with short term DEET exposure.

Spare prescription and sun glasses

5 Gallon plastic cans, toilet seat (you can use you existing seat, just move it over. There are plans on the Internet on how to secure it so you don’t slip and fall.

Tip: Seattle & King County Instructions To Making An Emergency Toilet

How do I convert a flush toilet or make an emergency toilet from a pail?

  • Line the inside of a toilet bowl, 5 gallon pail, or another appropriately sized waste container with two heavy-duty plastic garbage bags.

  • Place kitty litter, fireplace ashes, or sawdust into the bottom of the bags.

  • At the end of each day, the bagged waste should be securely tied and removed to a protected location such as a garage, basement, outbuilding, and so on, until a safe disposal option is available.

  • Residents may dispose of the waste in a properly functioning public sewer, or septic system, or they may bury the waste on their own property.

  • NOTE: During a declared emergency, these bags may be included with the regular garbage if a public announcement has been made that allows this method of disposal. (For informational purposes, regulations vary by local political jurisdiction, check your regulations now.)

Rothco Potable Camp Toilet

Rothco Portable Camp Toilet

I suggest a large box of multi-cat kitty litter that you will sprinkle some of into the bottom of the bag, knot the bag up well when done and place in an undisturbed area as far from you as possible, until normal services are restored and they can be disposed of properly. These types of seats often can accept regular garbage bags so have plenty on hand (large enough to fit the seat). This can really turn a bad situation into one that is somewhat tolerable.

A product that I stocked up on is What Odor? Having been a pet owner for decades I’ve had to go through the well known issue of odor control more times than Id like to recount. Its a product that does not mask odors but rather truly eliminates them. Its the only products that I have found that works, with no lingering or returning undesirable scents. Its bordering on miraculous and I highly recommend it especially for stubborn urine odors. While I was putting together this section I realized that having to deal with bathroom odors is not something you need to deal with during a disaster so I socked up on several bottles of What Odor? and maybe you should to.

What Odor?

I’ve used it once on each of the stubborn, years old smelly spots and they have gone way and not returned in over five years. I’m a true believer now.

Pregnancy test ($1 at the dollar store). It would be a huge relief for someone to find out that they are pregnant and not sick. Also very useful for barter.

Magnifying lens, preferably a flat flexible plastic fresnel lens, for starting fires and reading fine print on medications).

Pink Eye medication.

Hexapot (a unique paper pot) are biodegradable disposable pots that you can boil water in (and heat meals if they can be in water), they store flat so are great for BOB backpacks or you car’s trunk.

Orgreenic frying pan, I just added this to our kit, having purchased it to see if the new ceramic coatings work, and I found that they work extremely well, its the best cooking surface I have ever experienced. In fact I liked the ceramic cookware so much that I bought my wide a set of new J.A. Henkels Thermlon ceramic pans and put the Orgreenic in the emergency kit. Yes, it really is that slippery and once it cools its effortless to clean, which is one less thing to have to worry about in a disaster. The Orgreenic isa cheap pan, made of lightweight aluminum but in the field that should work perfectly for the small stoves or fires that we would have to cook on. This aluminum heats up much faster than heavy gauge pans. If they would only make pots with this ceramic coating I would be all set (better yet, how about a titanium  stackable pot and pan set. That would be awesome.

Survival knife (after you get a multi-tool like the SwissTool) Most folks will not know how to use a hatchet/axe or machete which means that a full size fixed blade knife (4″ or greater blade length, 5″ optimal) will work best. You should use what you are skilled with.

Choosing a survival knife is just like choosing anything else. What will you use it for? Cutting firewood? Cutting rope for shelter? Whittling wood? Skinning game you caught? Filleting fish? General survival tasks? There are a million and one uses for a good knife but since we don’t know everyone’s experience level, needs and expectations, the best we can do is to illuminate a few choices to get you started with. My first suggestion is to get a fixed blade (not folding, since you already have a folding knife blade in your multi tool) that has a full tang. This means that the metal that makes up the blade extended completely through the handle to the end of the knife. Also avoid knives that just have a rod welded to the blade since they have a reputation of snapping right at the weld point (its just not a good design idea). I can’t give you a suggestion for blade thickness because some folks like thick blades to use it like a pry bar (crow bar), others like a thin flexible blade so they can fillet fish. I think a little thicker is better so you have a better chance of not snapping the blade. Good survival knives (bushcraft knives) can cost several hundred dollars and if you are willing to spend that much, then you really need to go camping and mountaineering so you can try out a variety and figure out what is best for you. Do check out several knives before buying, some have finger groves, so be sure they fit your hand and allow fine motion, some have pronounced hand guards so be sure that it doesn’t impede your grip (I like hand guards but you might not). Blade material is important, stainless steel is rust resistant but does not have a super sharp edge like carbon steel blades (if it doesn’t say stainless steel in the description then its carbon steel). As long as there is a coating on the blade, it should be fine (just wipe it after you use it or it contacts water, then a bit of oil before you put it back in storage). Stainless steel can be easily cleaned with water without suffering from rust. You can try to protect the carbon steel by apply Petroleum jelly (Vaseline or Aquaphor) on the blade and cutting edge for long term storage. Wipe it clean before using for food preparation. Some folks will place their knife, sheath and all, into the smallest zip lock bag that it will fit into and throw a few moisture absorber packs they saved up when purchasing other products. (First they put the moisture packs into a 200 degree oven for an hour so it dries them out again (otherwise they are useless) then as soon as they are safe to handle they drop them into the zip lock bar and seal it up. There is a wide variety of good blade materials available for survival knives, 440C is a stainless steel of very high quality, good sharpness and is commonly available for survival knives. Stainless is generally more expensive than carbon steel but its more sanitary. Carbon steel takes on a much sharper edge but often requires sharpening more often (and oiling to prevent rust. Avoid serrated edges, you will not have a way to sharpen them in the field. A fine edge (normal edge) is al you ned, no gut-hooks either. There are some survival knives that feature a hollow handle to store a few survival items. Since your pack qualifiies as a survival pack I don’t think this is an important requirement, but doesn’t hurt if your choice has this feature.

A sampling of choices: Schrade SCHF10 Drop-Point Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife, Blacke $42 A good compromise of features pioneered by other knife makers. Its not stainless steel but its coated to resist rust, except at the very edge, so it will ned oiling but not as much as other carbon steel knives. This is a very heavy and thick bladed knife so it can also do light duty chopping, possibly eliminating the need for a machete for some people. Feature a beefy handle that tapers at the ends and finger grooves for and very nice, hand filling fit. It comes with a decent sheath that features a pouch that can fit a few small but very useful items. Possibly my favorite under $200 knife Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife by Ka-Bar is as thick as a pry bar with decent blade material (1095 Cro-Van) and good edge. hard plastic Glass-Filled Nylon sheath.  To buy the Campanion sold with a Heavy-Duty Polyester sheath,hard plastic Glass-Filled Nylon sheath $71 Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie Fixed Blade Knife by Ka-Bar featuring 1095 Cro-Van steel blade, 9-inch blade length makes this essentially a Bowie style knife this thing is huge at 14-3/4 inches overall and weighs 1.05 pounds, good for folks that want something approaching a small  machete. $79 Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Fixed Blade, Survival Knife with Sheath, full featured and impressive considering its well under $70 price tag. Features a 9Cr13CoMoV Steel blade. This is 440 stainless steel with extra cobalt mixed in to strengthen the blade. Has about .85% carbon. A good upgrade from the original, non pro version of this knife. Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel $78 Cold Steel SRK Kraton Handle, Black Blade (Concealex Sheath) by Cold Steel AUS 8A stainless-steel blade $78 A sturdy well designed tool. Super inexpensive knives Morakniv (Mora) Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, Military Green, 4.1-Inch $17 Morakniv (Mora) Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, Orange, 4.1-Inch Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, Magenta, 4.1-Inch A Nice variation for those that are fashion conscious.

Knife sharpener, like the Samurai Shark Serrated Knife Sharpener by Smarthome, Knife sharpening takes skill, something most of us don’t have. This product works better than anything I’ve tried (for the average person), is compact, lightweight and inexpensive. If you need a scalpel edge, then carry scalpels, like I do, you should not be doing surgery with pocket or surgical knives.


Surplus USFS fire shelter

Paracord belt; 1 3/4″ Paracord Survival Belt (the belt can be unraveled into a 45ft+ long Paracord) – Unisex

Solar Panels

Ontario SP2 Air Force Survival Knife (low cost, sharp and made in the USA)

Outdoor showers (solar shower)

Hands free lights (LED headlamps)

Lithium batteries (in your sizes) Lithium has a ten year shelf life, have very high capacity and are lightweight. I carry them exclusively. All my flashlights only use CR123 Lithium batteries so they are perfectly interchangeable. I use a super bright single LED (Cree Q5 or better) flashlight that comes with an extension tube. Without the tube I can run the flashlight on one CR123 Lithium battery, with the tube attached I can use two regular or lithium AA batteries. That way I have the bets of both worlds (the AA don’t last long but are so common I’m likely to find some somewhere).

Water filtration, water purification tablets. Coffee filters (you run the water through the coffee filters first to pull out as much as possible, then you put the purification tablets into the strained water.

Henry Repeating Arms Survival Kit (use this in addition to a good first aid kit and in addition to emergency food and water supplies).

Shovel, lightweight (There are no some amazingly lightweight shovels available. Digging holes to make a toilet is backbreaking work with a heavy shovel).

Medical kits that local nurses or doctors can use in case they join up with you

Signal device (in California its so warm and dry that we are more likely to start a fire with conventional flares so we use other lights)

Generators (preferably portable, if you chose to take it with you. I like gasoline powered because here its a common fuel compared to diesel. If you have the luxury, het a “critical muffler” which is a super quiet muffler so you don’t announce to the entire neighborhood that you have a running generator.

Space Heaters


Off road vehicle

Bags for sandbags

Tools that don’t require electricity (even if you have a generator, this will save fuel)

Trailer (that can be towed) with extended survival supplies, each car that will tow need to be professionally fitted with a tow hitch and you nee dto get trained to drive a trailer proficiently).

Wood (plywood sheets and 2×4) to board up windows (gives you privacy and keeps looters and punks from being able to throwing rocks through your windows, just be sure you have a way to watch whats going on outside.

Hand operated water pump

Hand operated liquid pump (for gasoline, etc.)

Backyard cooking gear (stoves, fuel, wood, propane, utensils, etc.)

Large pots (caldrons) to boil water to wash dishes and clothes)

Camping classes, learn what yo can eat, how to build shelters, etc.

Satellite phone and spare fully charged batteries

Compass and ariel maps of your area (you really need to learn how to read maps and how to use a compass, its not obvious and you just can’t pick up a map and get there if you are not in an area that you are very familiar with, that is why I didn’t list it as a necessity). Do not become over reliant on GPS and ONStar, they might not work for nay number of reasons or you just might run out of power (fuel) before you get to your designation and then you’ll be glad you had the maps available to you. In an emergency situation, the roads you are most familiar with could be inaccessible (blocked by crashed vehicles, covered with smoke or engulfed in fire or so severely damaged (by earthquake, broken water mains, sinkhole, flood, twister, etc.) so you’ll have to use an unfamiliar route to get home. You really don’t want to figure out that you unintentionally walked hours in the wrong direction when the sun is starting to set and then realize that you are now hours away from home. Be prepared.

Steel with flint

Tinder cubes

Waxed paper (crumple to use as water resistant kindling) Waterproof container of strike anywhere matches, Life boat matches Eight hour candlesEsbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove with Six 14g Solid Fuel TabletsSterno

Bearcat scanner preprogramed w/ local public safety frequencies (to keep up on whats happening and know if you are safe or should evacuate quickly)

Gerber folding saw (take a class to learn how to use a saw and any knife safely, you don’t want to injure yourself during this critical time)

Wire or chain saw (Ultimate Survival Technologies SaberCut Saw) useful for cutting firewood and if you are very desperate, its a multitasker.

Shortwave radio and a frequency guide that includes stations from other countries (some require a external antenna, learn ho wto make use and install one safely).

Flash Personal Cooking System by Jetboil (super fast way to boil water reasonably safely)

Titanium flatware and cookware (super lightweight)

Bolt cutter (if you can’t get to your keys or can’t find them)

GearPODs Survival System – REVIEW – Pre-Made & DIY, Survival & Emergency Kit

Crow bar

Cordage (String/rope) 100′ or more 550 Paracord cord (better than polyethylene or nylon rope)

DynaMed OB kit (for delivering a a baby) you should have proper training to attempt this. Lineman’s pliers/wire-cutters, heavy duty with built in wire cutter. Good for getting you through chain link fences and a good multi-tasker Zip ties, various sizes Plastic boxes with o-ring seals: good for storing first aid kits and other important items. Clear cases are better so you can quickly see the contents. A case of motor oil for all your engines or for barter Maps, paper

Games, Entertainment & Chores

A deck of cards List of various chores that need to be done, get everyone involved, create new routines Board games, indoor and outdoor sports gear, if its safe to be outside. Crossword puzzle books. Magazines, general interest. Books on how to juggle and other skills. Make a list of chores, everyone works, everyone stays busy, keep their mind occupied. Give rest periods then have a play time. Keep everyone sane by invoking a routine so that they feel that life is going on.

Pet Responsibility

Being responsible for pets means a lot more that having an extra bag of dry food in your disaster preparedness supplies. It also means to ensure that they are spayed and neutered. We have seen this during earthquakes and severe storms where pets initially disappear. They are afraid and don’t understand what is going on, their natural instinct is flight. Even if you are holding hem in your arms right up to the point where you start getting into your car, they will leap out of your arms and run. Running away from danger is embedded in their DNA and they do not have giant brains like ours that can override that instinct. They will run at the first opportunity they have available. Your first priority is your the health and safety of your family. What we have also seen is that all these pets that get loose will find other pets and start dropping off puppies and kittens everywhere. Post disaster areas are littered with feral dogs and cats that spread disease and who will bite your children, who think that they are tame. They aren’t. Train your children to not approach them. Dogs have been seen to form wild packs and could potentially become a danger to your family, in that they could attempt to hunt your children, or even you if you are injured and can’t move evasively. Prepare your children in advance to leave pets behind. Many shelters will only take humans and if you try to brings pets in, you will be turned away. You really don’t want to be trying to find a safe place for you and your family to sleep because you want to hold on to your pet. Its best if everyone spays and neuters all their pets all the time. The feral offspring of lost pets are often found dying in the streets or even in  your home. This is not a sight you want your children to see. Take care of this now.


These are the products I use but that does not mean that they are ideal for you. I live in a part of California that does not snow so I don’t have to plan for sub-zero temperatures.

Socks: Covert Threads™ Sand Military Boot Sock (or Wigwam Merino Lite Hiker if you want a shorter sock). Walking/hiking socks should always be a blend of synthetic and natural fibers. Although I’m typically a fan of natural fibers, in socks you really need the combo because the synthetic fibers keep the natural fibers fro collapsing flat, which leads to bad blistering. After thirty years of testing all the socks I oculd get my hands on, covert Threads and WigWam are the ones in all my kits. If you live in colder climates then get the heavier versions, as is appropriate for your needs. These are much less expensive than the european socks, and they work just as well for me as the european socks, they feel great, and both company’s products are Made in the USA.


Snake Bite Kits: It seems that snake bite kits are no longer recommended. They cause more trauma, potentially increase infection rates, and the anti-venom packaged with them is not terribly effective. The current thinking (2010 consensus) is reflected by the Red Cross instructions:

American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Participants Manual (2010 consensus) If the person has been bitten by a venomous spider or stung by a scorpion:


New Snakebite Treatment Coming

There are 5 million snakebite victims per year. In July 2013, San Francisco Bar Area (Silicon Valley) researchers announced a radical yet simple way to treat snakebite victims with  and easy to use nasal spray. ABC News

Zombies attack Sams Club

Zombies attack Sams Club


 Yes, The US Government has a Zombie Defense plan. Seriously.


CONPLAN 8888 by JDStuster

Tactics for Disaster Shopping at Club Warehouses

Club warehouses like CostCo, Sam’s Club, Price Club, etc. seem to be little talked about but in most people’s heads are thoughts of how great a place they would be to get supplies during a disaster.
Maybe they are correct, they buildings are huge, and there are enough supplies in there to feed and cloth a neighborhood for a while, but have you thought it through? Its not likely to be a stroll in the park, its more likely to be pandemonium and chaos. There might be looters or armed militia groups that you did or did not know existed in your area. How would you deal with that? If for some inexplicable reason, or maybe because you happened to be the first to arrive, these warehouses are gigantic and you’d need a lot of time to cover it all. Time that you might not have before others arrive to have to their pick of the place. Priorities:

  • Is it worth the risk to attempt a supply run while you are vulnerable to attack by others?
  • Is it safe to approach?
  • How much time do you need to get what you want?
  • What is the most effective path through the warehouse to get what you need and get out quickly.
  • How will you carry supplies?
  • Can you drive your car there?
  • If you are walking or on a bike, how much can you safely carry without overloading yourself.
  • Which supplies will give you the best survival, if you can only make one trip there?
  • Are food or first aid supplies more important right now? Clothes, socks, boots? Tents and blankets?
  • Water?

Its worth taking a little time each much, set it aside for specifically thinking about updating your disaster preparedness plan. Put in in your computer, your iPhone and print it on paper.

What’s Next?

I have all the above, and I want to be even more prepared, what do I do next? In addition to taking First Aid/CPR classes, you can get mud more involved medical training (EMT training, etc.), you can help organize your neighborhood’s CERT team, or if you’d like, you could invent in a Survival Capsule (PSS Personal Safety System).

Survival Capsule

Survival Capsule

The Survival Capsule is available in sizes to hold two to ten people, is water tight with a sealable hatch, impact and puncture resistant as well as being able to withstand up to a 2,000 degree fire without harming the occupants. Check out my post on the Survival Capsule for more of its rather interesting details. Dr Bob Tech Blog: Survival Capsules for your family’s safety in a natural disaster

The Lighter Side
Zombie Apocalypse treadmills

Zombie Apocalypse treadmills


Spider Apocalypse

Spider Apocalypse 

Checklists from the LDS Preparedness Manual

“Get Out Of Dodge / Bug Out Bag”, Checklist. The following list is intended to assist you in building up your specific “GOOD-BOB”. It is not suggested that everyone have everything on this list, but rather that you pick and choose from it “Ala-Cart” as dictated by your personal family needs and requirements.
G.O.O.D Bag Paperwork
Cash, Dollars
ATMs will not be working. Include a roll of Quarters for vending machines.
Cash, Gold Coins
As affordable
The highest store of wealth the average person can carry and use.
Cash, Silver Coins
1 roll of 20
If the USA dollar collapses, Silver will always be accepted
Contact List (printed on paper)
List of all your contacts: friends, family, banks, brokerage, employers, utilities, insurance, etc.
Notepad and 2 Pens
A small “Water Proof” spiral bound notepad
Recent Photo of each person
In case you need to provide to emergency authorizes
Secure USB Flash Drive
Every Person
With a digital copy of EVERYTHING on this list in case you get seperated.
Water Proof Document Bag
To carry and protect your documents
Government identification (photo copies) including:
Birth Certificate
Store ALL Document copies in water proof sealable bag or Mapcase
CCW License or Gun Permits
If in doubt, LAMINATE the documents.
Change of Name
SCAN/DIGITIZE all document copies and store on a secure Flash Drive.
Court Orders
Drivers License
Medicare / Medicaid Cards
Military ID
Could be highly usefull in an evacuation situation
Every Person
Get the new “wallet” passport card so you always have Federal ID with you.
Social Security Card
Photo copies of Important Documents
A recent Bank statement
Store ALL Document copies in water proof sealable bag or Mapcase
Adoption Certificate
SCAN/DIGITIZE all document copies and store on a secure Flash Drive.
Any important court orders
Business Licenses
Divorce Decree
Eye Glass Prescriptions
Genealogy Records
Insurance Policies
Land Deeds
Legal Custody of Minors
List of Credit Card Accounts
Living Will
Marriage License
Medical Insurance Cards
Medicine Prescriptions
Mortgage Agreement
Patriarchal Blessing
Power of Attorney Documents
Proof of employment
such as a Paystub
Property / Real Estate Deeds
Rental Agreements
Stocks & Bonds
Vacination Report
Copy of the following
Concealed Carry Laws
Get one of the books that covers every state in the nation.
Local and state maps (on paper)
Ideally a “Gazetter” of your state, Sealed in Zip Lock bag or “Mapcase”
Pocket Constitution
Set of Scriptures
Small “military” style that will fit in a breast pocket (w/waterproof case)
Survival Instruction Book
Recommend the SAS survival hand book
References for debates and legal situations. Stored in zip lock bag to protect against moisture.
Band Aids
One box of assorted sizes and shapes
Burn Kit
one per family
See “Burn Free” or “Water Jel”
CELOX and CELOZ bandage
At least two or more
For severe bleeding wounds
Children’s Meds
Anything specific to your children’s needs..
Cold Packs
Emergency Dental Kit
one per family
See article “TEOTWAWKI Medical Kits ” for full content details.
Emergency First Aid Kit
one per family
See article “TEOTWAWKI Medical Kits ” for full content details.
Emergency Minor Surgery Kit
one per family
See article “TEOTWAWKI Medical Kits ” for full content details.
Emergency Truama Kit
one per family
See article “TEOTWAWKI Medical Kits ” for full content details.
First Aid Manual
one per family
Heat packs
Chemical Hand/Body Warmers, See “HeatMax Survival”
Hydrogen Peroxide
One bottle
Sterilize minor wounds
One pack
If your not used to walking you may develop blisters quickly
New Skin Liquid Bandage
one per family
Very usefull if you end up in a wet environment and can’t keep dry.
OTC Meds
Over The Counter Medicines as appropriate to your family.
Pain Relievers, Pepto-Bismol,Antacids, Anit-Diarrhea,
More as you deem appropriate for your heath situation
Prescription Medicines
All of your current prescription
Put a note on your GOOD bag to grab all prescription medicines before departing
Splint Kit
one per family
See “Sam Splint”
G.O.O.D. Bag -FOOD, BEVERAGES & Cookware
Bouillon and/or tea bags
Breakfast, Instant Oatmeal
Hot Water and you have a hot breakfast to start your day with.
Camping tea pot or coffee pot
To heat/Boil water at camp or melt snow
Can Opener
Canned Meats
Example: Spam, Tuna Fish, Vienna Sausages
Canteen, water bottles, camel back
Two for each adult, one for each child
Camel back is ideal if integrated into your backpack.
Cooking utensils
One Set
Spatula, Ladle, ect..
Dehydrated/Freeze Dried Food
Backpacking / Camping meals
Dried Soup Mixes
Energy Food Bars
As Desired
storable foods that your family prefers & will eat in an emergency. All should be as Heat & Cold impervious as possible for storability.
one per family
Hard Candies
Hot Chocolate Drink Mixes
As Desired
It gets cold at night.
Meals Ready-to-eat (MRE)
The amount you carry depends on the space you have available.
Metal Camping cup
One for each
See “Sierra Cup”
Metal Camping fork and spoon
One for each
Metal Camping Plate
One for each
Metal Pot & Skillet, Nesting
one per family
To cook one-pot meal (soups, stews) for the group or melt snow.
MRE Components
As Desired
Side Dishes, Spreads, Crackers, Desserts, Candies, Beverages
MRE Heaters
As Desired
Its nice to have a quick Hot Meal. (Flameless Ration Heaters)
Portable Water Filter
At least one per family
You can only carry so much water. (with filter replacement)
Powdered Drink Mixes
Gatoraid style powders that add flavor, electrolytes and Calories.
Seasoning Kit
one per family
One of the small round multi-seasoning dispensers
one per family
Small backpacking style stove with spare fuel canisters
Top Ramen Noodles
Several Packs
Water Purification Tablets
One Bottle
Water: Bagged or Bottled
Min 1 Gallon each
As much as you can fit into your vehicle. For easy Long Term Storage, consider the metalized foil pouches of survival water.
one per family
For stove
Baby Wipes
1 Box
More if you have small children
Brush & Comb
Camp Toilet, Honey Bucket, Lugable Loo
Choose the most appropriate style for your family situation
Chemical Toilet Disinfectant
One Pack
See “Reliance Bio-Blue”
Chewable multi-vitamin
One bttle
Collapsible Basin
Small cloth/plastic foldable “bowl” for personal cleaning
Dental Floss
Oral hygiene and 100’s of other uses
Denture Supplies
as needed
One for each
Diapers (or pull-ups)
Two week’s supply for each infant
Dish Soap
One small Bottle
To keep your cookware clean
Elastic Hair Bands
To help the ladies keep their hair up and clean
Eye Drops
Eye Glasses
as needed
Spare pair of Eye Glasses, especially if you wear contact lens
Female Urination Device
One for each Female
See “Gogirl or P-Mate”
Feminine Sanitary Supplies
Two week’s supply for each
(Tampons, sanitary napkins, Ect)
Foot Powder
See “Army Foot Powder” you may be doing A LOT of walking.
Hand Lotion
One Bottle
Hand sanitizer
A couple small bottles
Do NOT underestimate the importance of HYGENE in an emergency.
one pack each
Small pack that fits in your shirt pocket
Laytex Gloves
One Pair each
For when you have to touch things you really don’t want to
Lip Balm
One for each
See “Chapstick”
Mosquito & Chigger repellant
Full bottle
Adjust quantity as needed for your location.
Mouthwash or Breath Strips
One small Bottle or pack
Your family will appreciate it!
Nail Clipper & File
Perri Bottle
One for each Female
For when the toilet paper runs out.
Small Pack
One for each Adult
One pack of spare blades
Saline Solution / Spare Contact Lenses
as needed
Make up a small case with everything in it.
One small pair
Scouring Pad
To keep your cookware clean
Shaving Cream
1 bar of “Anti-Bacterial” soap
Solar Shower
One per Family
A nice luxury if water is plentiful
Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 30+)
One for each
Prepare to be outdoors a lot!
Toilet Paper
2 rolls each
Some camping toilet paper is vacuum packed to reduce size
Toilet Waste Bags
One Pack
See “Reliance Double Doodie”
Toothbrush and tooth paste
1 for each
Towel (Military Field Towel)
2 each
Sealed, pre soaped/pre-wetted, See “Hoo-Aahs”
Towel, Microfiber
1 each
Ultra-Compact, see “Outgo”
Towels, Paper
1 Roll
one for each
Size and Fit accordingly to each person
1 for each
1 for each
Strong Sturdy Belt
Fanny Pack
One for each
Carry small items at your waist
Fun games
Something to help fight boredom and pass down time.
one for each
Sturdy comfortable leather work gloves
Groud Pad
one for each
Foam Pad or Self Inflating Air Matress. See “ThermaRest”
Hiking / Walking shoes
one pair for each
Long Pants
1 set for each
Mosquetto Netting
1 for each
At least a head cover for sleeping at night
Outdoor Sleeping Bag
One for each
Rated for the lowest winter temperatures in your area
one for each
TINY camping pillow, some people can’t sleep without one.
Plastic Tarp
Ground cover for tent or sleeping bags
Portable Tent
Preferable a 4 season tent with enough capacity for your family or Bivowac Bags for each sleeping bag. See “Bivy Bag”
Rain Gear, Pants & Jacket
one for each
Upgraded Better Alternative to poncho, Gortex if possible
Rain Gear, Ponch
one for each
Large full coverage Poncho for hiking in the rain
Repair Kit: Awl
For sewing any heavy materials
Repair Kit: Buttons
One Pack
Assorted Buttons for sewing repairs
Repair Kit: Goop
One Tube
For shoe soul repair
Repair Kit: Mink Oil / SnoSeal
One bottle
For waterproofing leather boots
Repair Kit: Needles
One Pack
Assorted Needles for sewing repairs
Repair Kit: Nylon Thread
One Roll
Repair Kit: Patch Material
Some material to repair major tears in clothing or gear
Repair Kit: Waxed Cotton Thread
One Roll
Short axe
Clear brush and chop good
1 set for each
(in warmer climates)
3 pairs for each
wool/sythetic, NOT cotton, Tall will offer more support & protection
Socks, Liner
2 pairs for each
Comes in very handy if your feet are prone to blisters from hiking
Space Blanket
one for each
Emergency Mylar Blanket, see “SOL Sport Utility Blanket “
Space Blanket, “Bivvy Bag”
one for each
Space Blanket sleeping bag, see “SOL Thermal Bivvy “
Spare Shoe Laces
one pair for each
2 for each
Long Sleave
Tent pegs and Tent Hammer
To secure the tent
2 spare sets for each
Wide-brimmed hat
one for each
Winter: Balaclava
1 each
Winter: Boots
1 pair each
Suitable for the lowest winter temperatures you might encounter
Winter: Cap
1 each
Classic wool/synthetic watchman cap
Winter: Fleece (for severe cold)
1 each
Fleece Jacket and Pants to be worn under outerwear/rainwear
Winter: Gloves
1 pair each
Waterproof & Insulated
Winter: Jacket
1 each
Sturdy all weather “outdoors” winter jacket
Winter: Long Underwear
one for each
Polypropylene Top and Bottom, NOT Cotton
Winter: Scarf
1 each
Polypropylene scarf to seal your neck.
Winter: Socks
3 pairs for each
Heavy Duty, Tall and Warm, Wool/Synthetic, NOT Cotton
Winter: Sweater
1 each
Wool or Synthetic, NOT Cotton
Wool Blankets
1 for each
Things to do before you leave Home
Call ahead for motel or hotel room reservations
Expect hotels to be filled quickly
Call your alarm system monitoring company
Let them know that you are away and that any entries into your home should be reported to police, prior to your return home
Call your extended family
Only if you have time
Call your insurance agents
Only if you have time
Close all interior doors
Lessen smoke damage in event of fire
Close all window blinds and curtains
Do not let outsider see into your home
Fill your water carriers and canteens
Fill vehicle fuel tank and spare fuel cans
Gather prescription medicines
Gather spare eyeglasses
Grab favorite doll or toy for each child
For comforting the little ones
Have your mail forwarded or placed on hold.
Do not let mail stack up at your home. Can do this once you arrive at your destination, if you are in a hurry.
Leave one light on in home
Gives the appearance that the home is lived in
Load bicycles onto vehicle, if possible
Load camping equipment into vehicle
Load extra food into vehicle
Load family picture library into vehicle
Load GOOD Bag into vehicle
Load spare fuel cans into vehicle
Lock all Windows
Secure your home
Lock the Doors!!!
Secure your home
Lock up any weapons that you are not taking with you
Pre-Pay any coming due bills
Can do this once you arrive at your destination, if you are in a hurry.
Monitor the news for traffic congestion
Have three alternative routes out of your neighborhood. Sometime side streets and back roads are less congested. Test your bug out routes during rush hour
Move valuables to the second floor
Move any art, collectibles, rugs and furniture to the 2nd floor, if there is a possibility of flooding.
Notify local police, if possible
Local police will often patrol unattended homes
Notify your trusted neighbors of your plans
Give them forwarding addresses and cell phone numbers
Pack your check book and all credit cards
Pack extra batteries
Pack & Load your money, gold and silver for transport
The amount you pack will be determined by your personal situation. Don’t pack more than you will likely need. Leave the rest secured.
Post “No Trespassing” signs in your yard
Let it be known that no one is legally permitted to entry your home.
Stop delivery of fuel oil or propane for home heating,
if applicable
Stop newspaper delivery
Do not let newspapers stack up at your home.
Turn down furnace to 62 degree F
Lower home heating expenses, but do not let pipes freeze
Turn off automated water sprinkler
Turn off home connect to public sewer
To prevent backup of sewer into home
Turn off main electrical circuit breaker
if applicable
Turn off main water valve
Turn off natural gas valve to house
if applicable
Turn off power strips throughout your home
In case of power surges
Unload refrigerator and freezer, if not returning for a long time
Food will spoil and reek when you return
Unload trash from kitchen
Will stink upon return
Unplug all electronic equipment
Avoid damage from power spikes if circuit breaker left ON

Free Books and References

Stay Safe From Home Fires United States Center For Disease Control (CDC) Stay Safe From Home Fires United States Center For Disease Control (CDC) Fire Safe Seniors Tool Kit United States Center For Disease Control (CDC)Fire Safe Seniors Tool Kit United States Center For Disease Control (CDC)

Earthquake Preparedness Handbook From THE LOS ANGELES CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT

Retail Books

The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook by Kathleen Handal M.D., Kathleen A. Handal (Contributor), Elizabeth H. Dole This book needs no introduction. If you do not have a good first aid book in your home this is the first one you should get Don’t Get Caught With Your Pantry Down! By James Talmage Stevens. How to find the preparedness resources for the unexpected and expected! This book not only suggests what you might want to stock, it lists many many resources for anything you might want, an excellent book. Guide to Emergency Survival Communications by Dave Ingram . How will you get in contact with your family members and friends when the phone lines go down in a disaster. This friendly book offers practical suggestions that are suitable for anyone. “How to Live Without Electricity — And Like It”, Anita Evangelista “The Home Water Supply : How to Find, Filter, Store and Conserve It”, Stu Campbell, Roger Griffith “Woodstove Cookery : At Home on the Range”, Jane, Cooper, Sherry Streeter “Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook”, James Talmage Stevens “The Complete Book of Survival : How to Protect Yourself Against Revolution, Riots, Hurricanes, Famines and Other Natural and Man-Made Disasters”, Rainer Stahlberg


BOB – Bug out bag

Bug out – Leave (evacuate in a hurry)

Bug in – Shelter in your home

Booboo kit – A first aid kit that is tiny and just contains band-aids

IFAK – Individual first aid kit (contains a lot more than just band-aids)

TEOTWAWKI – The end of the words as we know it

This page is presented for informational purposes only, its your responsibility to prepare, get trained, practice regularly and act accordingly. You are responsible for your own risk for things that you might or might not do. If you decide to prepare for emergencies and or disasters then its your responsibility to figure out what is appropriate (and what is needed) for you, your family and friends, for where you live, where you travel, the weather, the stability of the government, the quality of local building contractors, the quality of local emergency services and so many other factors that I just can’t cover them all here.

You might consider starting with a CERT course for you and your family, its probably the one single most important first step that I think you can do. In my area CERT includes a visit from the Red Cross so you can also get your first aid certification. There are plenty of websites and videos online but be forewarned that like most things on the internet that are opinion based, much of it comes from inexperienced people who are over reacting to something they heard and are yelling that the sky is falling. It isn’t. Odds are you’ll be OK with some simple preparedness and awareness. Do seek out those who have decades of experience and have actually put to use what they are preaching.

Its taken me over three decades to learn, and pay for, all the information I have gathered about disaster preparedness and posted here. There has been a lot of misinformation and false trails I had to examine carefully to avoid so I could go on to find the truth.

The information here reflects my opinion and is for informational purposes only. My opinion is subject to change without notice or reason. I suggest using this page, and all the links and references as a starting point for you to use on your on path to enlightenment. I take no responsibility for what you do with this information, I can’t, I’m not there to hold your hand. Get trained, study, learn, be aware of everyone’s needs and take responsibility for yourself. You are responsible for your own actions and outcomes.

Using the links on this page help get me modest commissions and does not cost you anything extra. Please start from these links when you do your shopping, your patronage is very much appreciated by me.

For the past 25 years I have shopped for disaster preparedness supplies at Sierra Trading Post. They have premium brands at superb discounts (their clearance section often features discounts from 70 to 90% off list price) and their service/returns policy is so good that its truly unparalleled. Check them out.

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