Bug Out Bag and other emergency kits

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

Getting Started

Every person, family and group has their own individual needs for what kind of emergency preparedness kit they need or want to carry. I will explore several concepts here to help get you started, then you can customize your kits to your own personal needs and the situations or scenarios that you will or could encounter.

Its been recommended that you should first make a plan, then document the gear you want to support that plan. Next you acquire the gear then last you acquire the bag to hold the gear. If there is too much gear for the bag then maybe you couldn’t carry it anyway. In that case I’d rethink my strategy and see if some items could serve me well in the trunk of my car, in the office or at home.

Keep in mind that you need to carry the pack on your back so weight is a prime concern, if its too heavy for you then you’re likely to abandon it and then its of no use to you at all. On the other hand, a large pack could be useful if you don’t stuff it full, then you can add any items to it that you might encounter on your travels. I certainly would be on the lookout to pick up water and food, as I encountered it. Another practical concern is that a large pack is OK in your home and office because you have plenty of space there to store them but the trunk of modern cars is very small now, to have something as large as a pack taking up permanent residence there. A large pack that is half or two thirds filled could fit into the corner of the trunk (I lay mine on its side then shove it into the space just behind the wheel well and it stays there most of the time.

I also suggest that you put a second backpack in your child’s locker in case they need to survive there until they can be rejoined with any family members. This is a bit more difficult because if you pack long life food in the pack then they will have to share and it might not be enough to make a difference, however I would certainly put a sealed water container, antibiotic triple cream, bandaids, a change of clothing and underwear, winter socks and summer socks, space sleeping bag and as much entertainment as you can stuff in there. Cards, books, small fold up paper games and other items that they could socialize with might be a good starting point.

I’d also include family pictures  and letters from parents that they can read. Tell them that all will be well, that to follow your instructions and that you will all be reunited no matter how long it takes. Make it a very hopeful and uplifting letter and remind them that you’ve discussed this with them and its all part of the plan. To obey the authorities and have faith that the authorities will are for them and that hey might change hands a few times on the way to a safe place.

First Aid Kit

This item is so important that I created a separate page for it Here. Suffice to say that I believe that if I could not carry anything else, I’d grab a bottle of water and a first aid kit and evacuate the area quickly.

 

M3 Medic Bag - Closed

M3 Medic Bag – Closed

 

Detailed information has been moved to its own page here: First Aid Kits. This typically is the very first kit that my family and friends assemble, along with a bottle of water and a handful of food bars.

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), New York City blackout of 1977, 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 always 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 augment the home kit, giving me maximum resilience.

Most disasters call for everyone to “shelter in place”, meaning that you stay and take shelter right whee you are. Years of experience has taught us (and FEMA) that its best to stay right where you are in a disaster. People running around trying to get somewhere else just flag the streets and makes things much worse. Keep that into consideration when you decide how you will pack your kits. It would be wise to have a fully equipped kit in avery place that you spend a lot of time at.

Detailed information on disaster preparedness kits: Bug Out Bag and other emergency kits

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) or a Bug Out Bag. Read on for a detailed list of suggested items.

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 can 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 or N100 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.

Quick Tip: A really great product idea are compressed towels like the Green Sprouts Disposable Compressed Wipes with travel Tube . These particular items are made from plant fingers, not paper, are compressed down to he size of a small tablet and with just a few drops of water they expand into a relatively large moist towellete, suitable for wiping babies or adults for any hygienic needs including bathroom needs. These Green Sprouts Disposable Compressed Wipes with travel Tube are becoming popular with serious campers because the towels are tiny, weigh next to nothing and take virtually no space, so are ideal for camping needs. Generally speaking camping items work well for disaster preparedness so these should do well in all our emergency packs, and in our cars.

It would be nice to carry a nail trimmer that has a built in file but if we carry every possible thing we can thing of, you would’t be able to carry the bag, let alone walk anywhere with it on your back. I chose a folding pocket knife that has a story successor and a metal nail file so I can trim my nails if necessary. My wife has a pocket knife that has an actual nail trimmer built. Use your imagination to achieve high levels of ingenuity with low weight and low bulk.

Plastic zip lock bags and plastic garbage bags could come in useful. They are versatile and can hold used or wet clothing, store items or food you might find in your travels. They don’t take up room and weigh nothing so they are essentially freebies. Garbage bags (33 gallon or larger) can be cut open to create a tent, then place another garbage bag on he ground to keep you dry. If there are lots of loose leaves available, stuff a garbage bag very full (put more than you think you need) and ti hit off then use it as a bed.

While you are at it, consider a plastic collapsable bag designed to carry water like the Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene because they are small and lightweight and when you find a water supply you can fill it up to extend your survival. These Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantenes feature a screw on cap which we believe to be more useful and reliable than the zip lock bag closures sold for some emergency water storage. The zip lock style can burt open easily when put into a pack or even carried in your hand which negates the reason you packed it in the first place. The Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene has a wide mouth which could prove more useful than the tiny opening in the Platypus Platy Bottle 2-Litre (70 ounces) because you should assume that you won’t have the luxury of a faucet or a funnel and a wide mouth is much easier to fill (quickly)  without spilling any precious water.

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.

In one car I have a Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ Pocket Knife (Red) because of its wide variety of blades and a Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool with Pouch in the other car. The SwissTool adds a pair of pliers that fold completely within its handles, which makes it even more versatile. Just choose one for your skill level and the environments that you can find yourself in.

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 have these items then I suggest that you consider getting them now. 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.

Knives unfortunately dull and can’t sharpen themselves. I generally do not like to carry anything that is not a multitasked but I have not yet found a substitute for a good knife sharpener.

Most knife sharpeners are rather hard to use or don’t sharpen well. There are now a few sharpening systems tat are excellent but are a bit expensive or you have to learn how to use them first. My intent is to identify something that anyone in your group can use, with very little skill and yet still works effectively. It would be nice to be reasonably priced, small (packable) and lightweight. My current solution is the  Samurai Shark Tungsten Carbide Steel Knife Sharpener.

This is a simple carbide sharpener, no rocket science or exotic materials here. Its very lightweight because of the plastic (cheap) shell, and is long and narrow should its easy to pack.

What sets the Samurai Shark Tungsten Carbide Steel Knife Sharpener apart is that the carbide edges are adjustable, so as you wear it out you simply click the dial to the next setting and now you are sharpening on a fresh, straight, well aligned part of the carbide sharpener. This is the very first sharpener I’ve seen that was affordable and adjustable. Yes it makes a huge difference, most carbide sharpeners wear out so quickly that you can’t get a good edge after one or two intense uses. No, this is not going to give you the ultimate edge, but it will give you a sharp edge that you can use in an emergency.

The traditional method of using a variety of stones certainly works better but, its slow, it takes skill (a lot of practice), its heavy, potentially expensive and the stones will shatter if dropped.

The Samurai Shark Tungsten Carbide Steel Knife Sharpener has not broken on me any of the times I’ve dropped it. I find that several good swipes gives me a serviceable edge and a few more light swipes even removes most of the curl. If you have a leather belt then you can strop your blade and get a very nice edge.

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.

Oxylent

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.

Sunglasses

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) 

Insects and Bugs

Insect bites are not only annoying, they can be a health hazard and in some instances they can be lethal. Many of the world’s most deadly diseases are transmitted by mosquito bites. In a disaster situation you might find yourself having to try to survive in amongst millions flies and mosquitoes because when municipal services stop (no flush toilets and no garbage pickups), the massive amount of biological and food waste that each human creates cannot be flushed away so it attracts massive insect colonies. If you find yourself sheltering alongside hundreds or thousands of other people, the possibility of getting bit by a bug that was infected by previously biting one of those other people goes up exponentially.

This is a serious risk and a good line of defense is to treat your clothing, jacket, hat, sleep gear and tent with repellent products.

Permethrin for ticks fleas and mosquitoes. repels and kills them, does not leave a strong smell

  • Apply to pants, shirts, hats, tents and jackets ahead of time
  • Lasts six washings or six weeks
  • Ticks often fall from trees and high shrubs onto your head/hat
  • Long sleeve shirts and long pants work better because more of your skin is covered
  • Lightweight fabrics (so you don’t overheat) are fine, the repellant will still repeal them
  • Tuck in your shirt so ticks don’t crawl up and mosquitoes can’t fly up up your shirt.
  • Your skin breaks down Permethrin within fifteen minutes of contact, it’s not useful as a personal protection insect repellent when applied to the skin. (Use Picaridin or DEET for your skin).

For particularly risky situations (lots of tick, flea or mosquito colonies or the there is an outbreak of a human transmittable disease, you can also apply Picaridin or DEET to your skin to create a second layer of defense. Skin treatments typically need to be reapplied two to three times a day and some can lose effectiveness by being washed off by sweat, bathing or wading.

Deerfly Patches: Deerfly are not reliably repelled by contemporary treatments but if you rea in a known Deefly risk area then you can try Deerfly patches on your hat, which claim to be completely effective.

Permethrin (in the family of synthetics pyrethroids) (Lyclear, Nix) in an insecticide and also a first line of treatment for ScabiesSawyer Permethrin

Picaridin (Icaridin, KBR 3023, Bayrepel and Saltidin is: hydroxyethyl isobutyl piperidine carboxylate Sawyer Picaridin

Deet (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, or diethyltoluamide) Sawyer DEET

Don’t forget to put some of these products into your home, car and office kits.

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 don’t 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.

EDC or SNAP Bag

Every Day Carry or Situation Not As Planned bags are lightweight versions of a full blown Bug Out Bag (BOB). The concept with these lightweight bags is to have something with you at all times that is easy to carry and always available with practical supplies to give you basic support. Simple is sometimes best because you’ll always have it and you’re more likely to abandon a heavy backpack if you overpacked it and it exhausts you.

EDC to some people can even be as little as the items they carry in their purses, and pockets. This is minimal but is better than nothing but when I think EDC I envision a fanny pack (belt pack) so you can carry a few extra items.

A sample EDC bag could contain:

  • Bandaids
  • Water
  • Advil
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Imodium
  • LED flashlight, high intensity
  • Pocket knife
  • Cell Phone
  • Printed emergency contact list
  • Printed medical needs list (allergies, prescriptions, previous procedures, limitations, etc.)
  • Pen and small pad of paper, waterproof Rite in the Rain All Weather Pocket Notebooks 3″ x 5″
  • Printed local map (the main roads could be damaged, blocked or otherwise impassible)
  • Topographical map (if you know how to read one) because they show elevation, this way you can avoid exhausting yourself
  • Space Sleeping bag
  • A couple of long life food bars (Millennium Bars)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock (I prefer a tube of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, it is an excellent sunblock and is useful first aid for a wide variety of skin irritations from diaper rash to allergic reactions).
  • External battery to charge cell phone
  • Prescription medication

Soap

Dr Bronner’s Organic Liquid Castile Soap is a good choice. You can dilute it for a variety of needs, is gentle on your skin and dissolves easily. Unlike other soaps it is oil based (yes it leaves your skin clean) so it can wash off most if not all of Poison Oak/Poison Ivy/Poison Sumac, according to wild-land firefighters who are very often exposed to it. You can use it to clean wounds or to just stay clean during a very stressful and challenging time. My favorite is the “Baby Unscented” because it has no sell but there is a huge selection of fragrances that are excellent and can be uplifting during a crisis.