Preparedness Kits

Preparedness Kits

So what do I pack? That is a tough, virtually 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 kind 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.

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 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.

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. ((

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. This is probably the most logical choice for most people.

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.

LifeStraw by Vestergaard

If I had to use a cheaper water filter, I would consider the LifeStraw by Vestergaard (which was founded in Denmark in 1957). Its based on the hollow fiber membrane technology that the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier (with Virustat) uses bit unlike the Katadyn that has multiple stages of filtration, the LifeStraw only has one stage of filtration so it can’t filter as well and remove bad tastes, but in an emergency its certain better than having nothing.



  • LifeStraw is very inexpensive, at this time its only $20 on Amazon
  • Small size, only 9″ x 1″ x 1″
  • A featherweight  at 2.1 ounces, this filter is easily packed anywhere
  • Being a straw type filter you simply stick one end in the water (try to pick water that is least risky) and suck the water up through the mouthpiece
  • Its very simple, no moving parts and no batteries required
  • LifeStraw removes at least 99.9999% of bacteria (including E-Coli) and 99.9% of protozoan parasites (including Giardia & Cryptosporidium) according to independent tests at the University of Arizona
  • Meets or exceeds the U.S. EPA water filtration requirements for bacteria and parasites
  • Indefinite shelf life
  • One year of water for one person (approximately 1,000 liters)
Lifestraw drink

Lifestraw drink

Lifestraw limitations:

  • Lifestraw does not remove viruses, chemicals, salt, heavy metals
  • Cannot clean out the offensive taste from the water (if it had any).
  • Since you have to suck each mouthful of water through the straw, its not ideal for collecting water for cooking.
  • The internal micro-tubes can brea if dropped on a hard surface (not a good thing).

The Bottom Line

If you can’t justify the Katadyn MyBottle Purifier (with Virustat) then the Lifestraw could be the optimal alternative for you.

LifeStraw® Family

If you are preparing for your facility then consider the LifeStraw® Family 1.0 (Filters up to 18,000 litres of EPA-quality water, enough to supply a family of five with clean drinking water for three years) or  LifeStraw® Family 2.0 (Filters up to 30,000 litres of water, enough to supply a family of five with clean drinking water for three to five years). They both use the same technology but are in a different package, allowing you to pour contaminated or uncertain water into the top and then collect clean water from the bottom. This way you can make water for food preparation, washing yourself, dehydration food and powdered drinks, etc.

Unexpected Emergency 

If you run into an emergency before you can prepare your emergency kits,), try to find a an unused (clean) coffee filter and strain the water through that first then hard boil for 10 minutes and hope for the best. 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. 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.

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. 


  • 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

    ContaminantCarbon-FilterCarbon-Filter-w/SilverCeramic-FilterCeramic-filter-w/ CarbonReverse-OsmosisSteam-Distillation-w/CarbonSODIS


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


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 and Baby wipes (for you and your wife) (If you don’t use them, these could be valuable currency to someone who really needs it), I also carry the compressed toilet paper tablets that fit inside a small waterproof tube because its small and versatile; 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.


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.

Baking Soda is very useful, from neutralize an acid (to minimize an acid burn, to neutralizing excess stomach acid (follow the directions on the box. Fighting fires (just sprinkle it on but use common sense and don’t try to fight a fire thats too much for you). Brushing your teeth. Poultice for bug bites. Prevent jungle rot by sprinkling on your crotch. Poultice for skin irritations. Keeping your sweaty body parts dry. Cleaning dishes. Sprinkle in boots to keep feet fresh.

Although Baking Soda might not be as effective as having specialized products for each purpose, its a single product that you can use for many purposes so its a superior multitasker. We like multitaskers so we can cary very little but be able to deal with a lot of things.

Make sure that the baking soda box says clearly on it “Pure Baking Soda” and the list of ingredients says Sodium Bicarbonate on it. The baking soda products that are used for deodorizing, etc. might not be usable for our purposes.

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.

Luggable Loo

Luggable Loo

Luggable Loo

A nice simple way to take care of bathroom waste is to use a Reliance Products Luggable Loo Seat Cover and place it on top of any standard 5 gallon plastic bucket. This is easy, convenient and practical. Ideally I would still put a heavy duty plastic bag inside it and I would still sprinkle a little kitty litter in each time I used it, to control odor. Keep in mind that you have to eventually remove the bag and place it away from your home so don’t let it get so heavy that you can’t lift it (or so heavy that it breaks the bag).

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. I notice that it really needs to be seasoned according to the instruction that comes with it but in a pinch just make sure that there is a bit of oil in the pan (enough to prevent sticking) because no it does not work very well when its dry. The Orgreenic is a 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 for fire starting, practice with it before you need it

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 (according to my Red Cross first aid instructor). 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
License or 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.