Water Purification for GO-Bags and Every-Day-Carry Reply

Clean looking water is often not pure.  Don’t be fooled.  Even clean looking, cool, clear moun­tain streams often contain giardia, crypto, and other illness-causing micro­organisms. Similarly, rainwater runoff from roofs, as well as water gathered from farmland or manufacturing plants, may contain dangerous, hidden chemicals. Even normally safe tap-water and well-water can become unsafe due to a storm or disaster.

Purification Methods for Evacuation (Bug-Out)

There are various water treatment tablets available for water puri­fication, but they are not all equally effective.  You need a product that will kill 99.99% of the bacteria in the water, but you also want a product which will kill viruses.  Most water filters do not pro­vide this level of purification, nor do most purifica­tion tablets.  Boiling is ideal, but often impractical in an emergency situation, especially if you are engaged in an evacuation.  If you select a method or product other than one of the two methods included below, be sure it offers the same level of effectiveness as these recommended products.

Option 1:  Water Purification Filter

There are two water purification filters that we highly recommend for inclusion in a GO-Bag or evacuation kit. There are other excellent filters available, but these two are small and lightweight—and economical.

The Sawyer “MINI” is used like a straw, or it can be inserted between a water bladder and drinking tube, or, used in several gravity-fed methods.  (The Sawyer SP160 comes with a MINI and a lightweight collapsible water bladder for gravity-feed operation.) Weighing only 2-ounces, the MINI is capable of purifying 100,000 gallons of water.

The other GO-Bag water filter we recommend is the Sawyer “PointOne Squeeze.” It will also fit in the palm of your hand, but weighs 1-ounce more than the MINI (3-ounces). Both are simple to use. The Sawyer PointOne Squeeze is perhaps a better choice if the goal is to fill water containers.  Use: Just fill the included pouch with water, screw the filter onto the water pouch, and then squeeze the bag to filter water directly into your water bottle or canteen.  It couldn’t be easier.

Note:  Products sold as “water filters” are very different from “water purification filters.”  And, not all water purification filters provide the same level of protection, either.

We strongly recommend a filtration system which will kill 99.99% of pathogenic bacteria. Your water filter should be able to remove protozoa, viruses, and bacteria such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli. To accomplish this reliably, you need a filter that is rated at “1-micron absolute.”

When shopping for a water purification filter, be sure to compare apples-to-apples, and don’t believe advertising hype. If you are considering a filter other than the ones recommended here, read the fine print on the product’s packaging.

There are a number of high-quality filters which have not been subjected to costly independent verification. Nevertheless, when you shop, keep in mind that the industry standard is NSF 53 or NSF 58.

Warning: “LifeStraw,” and many other filters promoted for inclusion in evacuation (GO-Bags) and survival kits, in our opinion, are inadequate. Also, many products sold as “water purification filters” do not remove the common bacteria and viruses which are routinely found in water after a disaster. To solve this problem, we recommend purchasing a filter such as the above-recommended filters which provide filtration at the “1-micron absolute” level.

Option 2:  Chemical Treatment – Chlorine Dioxide Tablets

Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets’ are one of the few truly effective chemical products. They are more effective than Chlorine Bleach, and far more effective than Iodine tablets.

Chlorine Dioxide will kill most protozoa and viruses in 15-minutes, giardia in 30-minutes, and cryptosporidium within 4-hours. Katadyn Micropur is easy to use, and the tablets are packaged in small, individually wrapped foil packets. This makes them ideal for inclusion in a GO-Bag, as well as for a KOP Kit or every-day-carry in a wallet or purse. It is available in both 20-tablet and 30-tablet packages. Both sizes contain individually-wrapped foil-protected tablets.

Redundancy:  For adaptability and additional redundancy, many people include both of these methods in their GO-Bag.  Or, one of these methods, plus a UV-light treatment device such as a SteriPEN Quantum. (Or, the SteriPEN Quantum UV Water Treatment System which combines basic filtration plus UV purification).  This may sound excessive, but since maintaining health is so critical, it is worth considering the use of multiple methods to be sure that your water is pure before drinking it.

Caution:  Most water purification methods, including these, are not 100% effective. This is why it is worth the effort to use two top-rated methods back-to-back. This redundancy is also recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). They agree that using two different methods together, is the only way to reliably produce safe drinking water during an emergency situation.

Don’t take chances:  Don’t let urgency or fatigue distract you from using safe, pure water for drinking, food prepara­tion, hygiene, taking medications and other medical needs. If you are not 100% sure that the water is pure, purify it.

Be Prepared:  These water purification tools are small and lightweight, making them easy to keep close at hand. Since purification filters such as the Sawyer MINI are small, it is easy to keep one in the glove box of your car, your briefcase, sports bag, and your suitcase when you travel.  Purification tablets such as Katadyn Micropur, are so small that several can be stored in a wallet, or an entire package can be stuffed in a cosmetics bag or shaving kit for travel, as well as with your every-day-care gear.

It’s a simple task to be prepared to purify water.  After personal safety, securing pure drinking water is the #1 need in an emergency situation.

Emergency Situations:  During evacuation (bug-out) for a storm, disaster, or any emergency situation, it is best to purify all water before drinking it. Even improperly bottled or stored water can be contaminated.

Waterborne viruses and bacteria can not only make you feel sick, vomit and give you diarrhea, they can also immobilize you at an inopportune time. And, they can quickly create deadly health problems when medical care is limited or unavailable.

Purify your water after storms, floods, and during certain other emergencies. Keep in mind that even normally-pure tap water, and well-water, may not be safe during these times.  If you are not 100% confident that the water is pure, purify it.

For more information on water purification, read “Prepared, Ready to Roll – Book 2 & 3” by SIG Swanstrom.







PDF Reference and Medical Documents

Kingston_USB-Drive-Fingers-Hand-v01bHaving access to personal records and identification during an emergency situation is important, but other documents, such as medical reference documents, equipment and product manuals, schematics, maps, and other reference materials may also be a godsend.

If you are anywhere other than at home when disaster strikes, you may not have access to your laptop computer or file cabinet, so it makes sense to keep a digital copy on a small USB drive.

An inexpensive, small, USB drive (aka/ thumb drive) that is routinely updated, is an easy solution to this potential need.  These diminutive drives can be used to store hundreds of PDF-formatted or scanned documents, military field manuals, radio, electronics and product user-manuals, shortwave band charts, equipment repair guides and schematics, and repair information for guns, vehicles, mechanical and electric items of all sorts. They can also be used to store vital medical “how-to” reference materials, shelter, and survival manuals, instructions on water purification and dose charts, free USGS maps, an address book of friends and relatives (including phone #s and alternate addresses), close-up photos of family members (in case you need help looking for someone), and a myriad of other useful PDF documents.

Be sure to add to your drive a copy of the PDF-reader software, just in case it’s not already installed on the computer to which you are able to gain access.  Or, include the appropriate-format reader software if you are storing e-books.

This safety and security measure is an inexpensive and easy undertaking.  Costing about the same as a couple of burgers from a fast-food restaurant, a small USB drive (thumb drive) such as the Kingston Digital DataTraveler is inexpensive to purchase.  Kingston_USB-Drive-on-Keychain-v01bIt will fit on your keychain, and adding files to it is as simple as saving a computer file.

While this little device may not survive an EMP or solar flare event, or a swim in salt water, it may nevertheless prove invaluable during most other emergency situations. Yes, it’s worth keeping printed versions in a file cabinet, and electronic copies on your laptop computer or iPad, but you may not have access to these when they are needed most.  Conversely, you probably always have your keys with you, so a keychain USB drive may be your best choice for storing this reference information.  Of course, you will need to borrow a computer to access the files on this USB device, but that’s often possible.

An example of reference materials which may prove to be invaluable are the medical documents which are available from nonprofit organizations such as Hesperian.  Some can be downloaded free chapter-by-chapter, or they can be purchased inexpensively as complete PDF documents.  Note: If you purchase books in e-book format, be sure to also store the reader software on your portable drive.

Recommended Hesperian PDF Documents Include (Example):
– When There is No Doctor (Updated 2017)
– When There is No Dentist
– A Book for Midwives
– Sanitation and Cleanliness

For other reference materials, such as product manuals, go to the manufacturer’s website.  They almost always have PDF versions available as “free” downloads.

Another source of valuable reference documents is government organizations.  For example, there are many useful documents available from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Army (U.S. Army Field Manuals). These military manuals cover a variety of non-warfare topics such as wilderness first aid, survival, and map reading.  These pamphlets and books can be found online as “free” downloads from government agencies and nongovernmental sources, and they can also be purchased inexpensively as reprints or as PDF versions made by publishers such as Carlile Military Library. These books are available from online retailers such as Amazon.com.

Sensitive or Confidential Data
Since a family member or friend may need to access the reference information on your Emergency USB Drive, or you may forget the password, don’t store these PDF reference documents and manuals on an encrypted drive.

ironkey-USB_Drive_in-hand2However, since sensitive information does need to always be encrypted to avoid theft, your drive either needs to have an encrypted partition (portion), or you need to carry a second, encrypted USB drive containing your sensitive or personal information.

Always store confidential data such as medical records, account numbers, deeds, titles, passwords, and even copies of identification, in an encrypted format.  The simplest way to accomplish this is to use a highly secure UBS drive. For example, a device such as the IronKey D3000 device resists tampering and uses military-grade encryption to protect its contents.

For more on this topic, read the post “Portable Personal Records for Emergency Situations.”

goTenna: Texting and GPS Without Cell Phone Service Reply

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YIf you have a smartphone and a goTenna device, you can send text messages even when the cellular phone system is down or overcrowded.  The goTenna partners with your phone, like a headset or your car’s hands-free phone system via Bluetooth, and then uses its built-in miniature 2-way radio (MURS) to transmit your text message to other goTenna devices in your vicinity.

When combined with a “goTenna Plus” subscription ($10 annual), it provides topographic mapping and routes. And, it can show you the location of the other goTenna users that are part of your group so that you can rendezvous with them or help them if they are lost. (Assuming that GPS satellites are functioning.)

Yes, it’s true that a cell phone may be able to send text messages even when voice communication doesn’t work. But in reality, during a major disaster or emergency situation, cell phone systems routinely become overcrowded, making it impossible to connect with loved ones by either voice or text.

If you want to be able to communicate during these stressful times, you will need an alternative communication method.

Don’t depend on a mobile phone for emergency communication.  There is a good chance that it won’t work.

The ‘goTenna’ is an innovative device that is worth considering for emergency communications, and for when you are with friends or family in a rural or wilderness area which does not have cell phone coverage.  But first, you’ll need to understand how the goTenna works, so that you can evaluate if it will meet your needs.  For some, a GMRS walkie-talkie or an Amateur (Ham) 2-way radio will be a better choice (see below).

Think of it as a third option. Your smartphone is already designed to work using both the cellular phone network and Internet wi-fi.  This just adds a third option, a 2-way radio (151.820 – 154.600 MHz).

How Does the goTenna work?


Once the antenna is extended, the goTenna is automatically turned “on” and is ready for use.

When you combine a ‘goTenna with your iPhone or Android smartphone, you bypass the cellular network and its inherent unreliability.  The goTenna is essentially a 2-way radio that is designed to work with your smartphone–but only for sending and receiving text messages. It does not work for voice communication.

Using your phone’s Bluetooth connectivity, the goTenna app, and the goTenna device itself which is essentially a text-dedicated walkie-talkie, you have the power to communicate.  Even when you are off-grid you can pair this device with your phone to send text messages to those who are nearby–as long as they also have a goTenna device.

 goTenna’  Positives

Ease of Use:  The ‘goTenna is easy to use. Since even young children are often comfortable using smartphones, this add-on device for mobile phones gives both kids and adults alike, an alternative communication method. This is particularly useful during an emergency situation when cell phone towers are busy or unavailable, or when the user is in a no-coverage rural area.  No license is required to use this device, nor is there an age requirement. (U.S.)

Range-Boosting Capability: Another advantage of the go-Tenna is that when multiple devices are in use, the radio signal can be automatically relayed by the other goTenna devices which are operating in the same geographic area. This increases the effective transmitting range.

Encryption: The standard signal of the goTenna is encrypted to provide communication privacy, but this feature can be switched off, giving the user the ability to broadcast an emergency text message to all goTenna equipped phones in the immediate area.

GPS and Mapping:  The goTenna app can also be paired with your smartphone’s GPS, a feature which adds yet another level of usefulness.  With this ‘location’ feature enabled, the goTenna can be used to find a user who is lost.  Or, you can use it to send your own location to another goTenna user.

Optional Subscription Service:  For those who have opted for the optional “goTenna Plus” service, which requires a modest annual subscription fee, the ‘location’ and ‘mapping’ functionality is expanded to include some additional useful enhancements such as:

  1. Up to four topographic maps of regions of your choice, to help you with land navigation, and to make it easier to find another user.
  2. It can be used to repeat-send the same message again-and-again over a 12-hour period, at a timing frequency of your choice. That way, if your initial message was not received, the device will keep resending it, so you don’t need to stop and physically resend your message.
  3. It can be used to chart your route, which makes it easy to retrace your steps, or you can send your routing information to another user.
  4. The “plus” subscription lets you ‘group chat’ with up to six users, and it provides ‘message received’ confirmation.

The primary advantage of the ‘goTenna’ is that it is:

  • a) simple to use,
  • b) compact in size (5.8 x 1 x .5 in. / 147 x 25 x 13 cm),
  • c) lightweight (1.8 oz. / 52 g), and
  • d) you can learn how to use it in under five minutes.

 goTenna’  Negatives

Cost:  Though less expensive than a GMRS radio with a built-in GPS, and cheaper than a single brand-name mobile ham radio, the goTenna is still relatively expensive. (Later in this post, you will find specifics on 2-way radio options.)

The “goTenna MESH” is a cheaper version of the standard, 2-watt “goTenna.”  But in our view, it is a waste of money since it has half the power (1-watt) of the standard goTenna, which is already an underpowered device.

Limited Functionality:  Though the features of the goTenna are robust, its usefulness is nevertheless limited since it can only be used for texting, and its range is limited to a few miles, maximum.

Professional Versions:  The goTenna Pro devices use a different radio technology to extend the operating range of the unit, but they are substantially more expensive. This added cost diminishes their usefulness for the emergency communication needs of most people, which is better served by more robust texting + 2-way radio options such as the Garmin Rhino 755t radio (no license required) or a ‘ham’ (amateur radio operator’s license required) 2-way radio.

Range:  The biggest downside of the goTenna is its limited range.  In a downtown city environment, don’t expect to communicate at a distance greater than ½ – 1 mile.  If you are in a nearly flat, unobstructed rural environment (or if you get to a higher vantage point), you might be able to communicate with another goTenna user at a distance of 2 – 4 miles.  Despite the fact that users have claimed successful communication at much greater distances, such success is highly unusual and cannot be expected.

Note:  Both the sender and receiver need to have a goTenna and a smartphone, and have them switched “on.”  The goTenna will probably not work from inside a concrete, masonry or steel structure, and it will have limited connectivity when used from inside a vehicle.

Short of hacking the device, there is no way to extend its range, other than to make sure it is not in contact with the human body when in use.  For best reception and to achieve the greatest range, carry the goTenna on the outside, very top of a knapsack, or hold it by its strap over your head while transmitting. The unit itself will not operate properly if held in the hand or next to the body.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YOther Considerations

Battery Life:  The built-in Lithium-Ion battery of the goTenna has a useful life of about 20-hours, but this can be extended by switching the device and your phone “off” when they are not needed.  To further maximize the battery life of the goTenna and your smartphone, switch your phone to “airline” mode, followed by turning “on” the phone’s GPS.

Like most mobile phones, the goTenna’s battery can be recharged in about two hours using the supplied USB power cord. Unfortunately, the device cannot be re-powered using disposable batteries, but a battery powered recharger can be used to recharge the unit partially.


When in use, the goTenna should be attached to a backpack or held high by the strap. It will not work properly if held in the hand or next to the body.

Durability:  The goTenna is not waterproof, but it is water-resistant so it can be exposed to rain. The goTenna is reasonably durable, but it is not ruggedized to military specifications.

GPS & Mapping Features:  The GPS and mapping features are dependent on the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, which can be damaged, turned off by the government, or intentionally misdirected when the U.S. Government has identified a threat which might utilize the GPS system to coordinate an attack.  Therefore, even elaborate GPS devices cannot be relied upon as your only navigation tool.

Legal Issue:  It is technically illegal to use the goTenna outside the U.S.   However, since these devices have such limited range and look innocuous, their use may not create a legal problem for the user. Nevertheless, some governments may consider them illegal-tech.

Electronic Devices:  Electronic communication devices like mobile phones are inherently unreliable and subject to damage, as well as exhausting their battery power, so a backup communication method is essential.  Therefore you will need more than a goTenna, but this device may still be a viable backup communication tool that is worth considering.  It is included here due to its ease of use by adults and teens alike, and because it is a lightweight add-on which can transform your phone into functioning texting device, even when the cellular network is inoperable. We have also included it here because we consider it to be a “kid friendly” device that phone-savvy children can quickly learn to use.

Click Here for additional ‘goTenna’ details.


Other Emergency Communication Options

Midland_GMRS_2-Way_RadioFRS/GMRS 2-Way Walkie-Talkie Radios.  (In the U.S., no license required, but regulations in other countries vary greatly.)  The inexpensive hardware store/sports store models of these radios are rarely adequate, and in our testing, none of them came even remotely close to being able to communicate over the distances claimed.

Nevertheless, a higher quality GMRS radio such as those made by Motorola, Midland, Uniden, or Cobra, are worth considering. These will have a similar operating range to that of the goTenna, but maintaining a stable voice connection over a radio is more difficult than the digital signal of the goTenna so it can have a greater effective range than most FRS/GMRS radios.

FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies for voice-only communication, are available at a fraction of the cost of the goTenna. But those with the same transmitting power of the goTenna (2-watts) will typically have 15% less operating range.  However, high-power GMRS radios are readily available, such as the Midland GXT1000VP5, which boasts the maximum legal power of 5-watts.

Garmin_Rhino-Trio-ModelsIf the GPS features are important to you, the Garmin Rhino 755t also has a built-in GPS.  Since it also provides the capability of voice communication and text, rather than just text, it is far more versatile than the goTenna. It can even monitor NOAA weather frequencies.  On the downside is the high cost, it’s not quite as easy to use, and the map screen is smaller (3-inch), which is far smaller than some cell phones.

Notwithstanding, detailed and purpose-specific maps can be uploaded to the Rhino 750 series devices. The 755t comes with color topographic maps for the United States, preinstalled. Yet, you may want to add detailed local maps for the area where you will be operating.

If you buy the Rhino 750 rather than the 755t, and later decide you want to add the Garmin U.S. 100K map that comes with the 755t, the cost is $ 100. For both the 750 and 755t, add-on maps are available for specific purposes such as marine and aviation, city maps, and unique maps such as the $80 Garmin “HuntView” maps for each State (2 for TX and CA). These include added features such as landowner names and boundaries, fuel locations, and land boundaries, all applied to a digital topography map that is equivalent to 1:24,000 scale U.S. Geological Survey maps. The HuntView map also includes Garmin’s BaseCamp software. This makes it possible to tether a Rhino 750-series device with a laptop computer to establish a command center for charting the position of the devices operating in the area.

Another plus is that the Rhino 750 is far more durable than the cell phone/goTenna combination required for the goTenna system to work. And, the Rhino 750 is sufficiently waterproof to withstand submersion in 1-meter of water for 30-minutes (IPX7).

The Garman Rhino ‘700′ is less expensive, but it has a B&W screen which negates many map features, and maps cannot be uploaded to the device. Garmin also makes similar-looking devices which are GPS-only, without the 2-way radio features.

BaoFeng_Ham_RadioAmateur (Ham) Radio (Requires a license).  These radios come in various sizes and transmitting power, but a budget radio such as an 8-watt BaoFeng can be purchased for under $50 (each). Whereas a radio capable of transmitting around the world will be larger and be connected to a larger antenna, as well.

If the need is for greater operating range, nothing beats an Amateur (Ham) radio.  These 2-way radios can be used for both voice and digital communication, and they can be operated over impressive distances. With the right equipment and environmental conditions, they can be used to communicate to those who are on the other side of the world.

Even a budget Amateur radio, such as the miniature-size BaoFeng UV-5R Tri-Power (8-watt) 2-way radio, or the improved version of the same radio, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP (8 watt) which has a stronger case, larger battery, and improved antenna, are capable of voice communication at 5x+ the distance of a goTenna–and they are less expensive.  Even when you add in the cost of an external magnet-mount antenna such as the Nagoya UT-308UV which vastly improves radio communication from inside a vehicle, the total price can still be less expensive than a goTenna.  However, these radios do require a license, and advanced features beyond voice communication require more expertise and add-on equipment. For more information about Amateur radio and licensing, visit www.ARRL.com.

Reminder:  To communicate with family and friends, they will need to also be equipped with a goTenna, or a walkie-talkie which uses the same radio frequencies.


You do have choices when it comes to emergency communication. But to communicate with family and friends during a major disaster or emergency situation, you will need something other than your mobile phone. Don’t expect your cell phone to work during a widespread emergency. A communication device such as a goTenna or 2-way radio is a necessity.

KOP Kit (Keep-On-Person) Emergency Every-Day-Carry Supplies Reply

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veWhether you call it a KOP Kit, EDC Kit (Every-Day-Carry), COP Kit (Carry-on-Person), or by some other name, these pocket-size mini kits contain a collection of small but essential items that can be a godsend in an emergency situation. Requiring only the space of a hip-pocket wallet, this little collection may save your life.  It has for others.  For example, during the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001, occupants used small KOP Kit items to save their life or the lives of others.

While the Twin Towers burned, several occupants used pocket knives, another a can opener, to cut escape holes in the sheet-rock walls when fire or debris blocked their office doors. Others used wet handkerchiefs to filter smoke to aid breathing. A menstrual pad was used on an injured leg to stop severe bleeding.  A thin rope/cord was used to help lower people when a stairway collapsed. Small keychain-size flashlights were used to navigate interior hallways and stairs. And, when a trapped person lost their voice after prolonged yelling, they used a whistle to get the attention of firefighters. Simple little items such as these can save lives.

Our KOP Kit list (below) is slightly broader because it is designed to be useful in a wider range of disaster-related situations. But whatever you choose to include, the keep-on-person (KOP) aspect is essential.  For commercial airline travel, except for items which have a blade, FAA regulations allow passengers to carry all of these items.

This isn’t a GO-Bag or Survival Kit. It isn’t a kit which contains everything you might need.  It is an “essentials” mini kit that includes little items which can make a big difference.

These supplies can be bundled in an extra wallet or coin purse, or you carry them in an Altoids or mint tin, or a passport pouch or security pocket, or, you can divide up this collection of items and carry some on your key chain and others in your wallet and a pocket. The method used for carrying these emergency supplies isn’t important; what is vital, is that you have these items with you. So, your carry method does need to be convenient—so you don’t leave home without your kit.

Contents of Your KOP Kit

Select contents to match your circumstance and lifestyle. To help you get started, here are the items we recommend.

Pocketknife – Option #1 – A small serrated-edge knife with one small blade; or,

Pocketknife – Option #2 – Medium-size multitool pocket knife such as the Victorinox brand, Swiss Army ‘Explorer’ model pocketknife; or

Pocketknife – Option #3 – Larger-size knife/multitool. A standard multitool such as the Leatherman OHT will not fit into a wallet-size container with your other items. And, its weight may exceed that of all your other supplies combined, but it is a versatile tool that you might find useful in an emergency situation as well as in your daily life—as long as you don’t leave home without it!

Flashlight – Option #1 – Streamlight 73001 Nano will comfortably fit on a keychain since it is only 1.5-inches in length.  Unfortunately, it uses non-standard batteries (4xLR41) which makes it a less desirable choice than a slightly larger model which uses a single AAA-battery. It does have an impressive run-time of 8-hours, but it only produces 10-lumens of light. Nonetheless, in our opinion, it is the best of the ultra-small flashlights. Its best use is as a backup flashlight kept on your keychain.

Flashlight – Option #2 – The Maglight Solitaire uses one standard-size AAA-battery. It is our first choice for key chain-size flashlights as it is bright (47 lumens), has a 1-hr 45-min run time, is waterproof to 1-meter, it can be switched from spotlight to flood-beam, and it can be used like a candle by removing the tip to illuminate a 360-degree area. If you can accommodate the 3.2-inch x 1/2-inch size, which is only slightly larger than an AAA battery, we regard it as a better choice than a Nano light.

Flashlight – Option #3 – The Nitecore Defender SRT3 is an example of the new generation of flashlights which are durable and multi-talented. Most people are not willing to daily-carry even a small pocket-size flashlight like this one, but if you are, this is a light you might want to consider.  It is only 4-inches long and it is lightweight (2-1/2 oz), so it will fit in a pocket and in many coin-purse size pouches. Yet, it can generate a blazing 550-lumens of light and is capable of illuminating objects that are more than a football field distant. And yet, the beam can be dialed down to just enough light to read a map, a setting which provides 150-hours of run time. In addition to its red and green beams which save your night vision, it has a strobe which flashes a constant S-O-S signal. Plus, the Nitecore Defender is waterproof to 2-meters (IPX-8 standard), and it can be operated using an assortment of batteries, ranging from a sleeved Alkaline AAA-battery or standard AA-battery, to a high-energy CR123.

* If you have space in your kit, also include a spare battery for your flashlight.

Compact Liquid-filled Compass – Option #1 – It is easy to get disoriented when you are forced to take a new route, during inclement weather and dusty conditions, and when land-features have changed due to a disaster. Unfortunately, a small compass such as those selected for KOP Kits, are not precision instruments. Still, they can point you in the right direction and keep you oriented as you travel along your route.

Compass – Extra Small – Option #2 – Suunto ‘Clipper’ or similar.

Compact whistle; flat models and small whistles are easier to pack into a KOP Kit. A whistle is an important part of your kit as it makes it possible to signal for help when you can no longer yell.

Breathing Protection – Option #1 – Medical face mask, a flat style which you can fold to fit inside your kit.  These do not provide the protection of an N95, N100, or biofilter mask, but these don’t require nearly as much space either, and importantly, they can be folded to fit into your KOP Kit.

Breathing Protection – Option #2 –  Cotton bandana/handkerchief, 24-inch+ to use as a face mask. If dampened with water before use, it will increase the cotton cloth’s ability to filter particles out of the air. Neither of these options will protect the wearer from chemicals, smoke, and serious airborne threats, but they can be better than nothing. A bright-color bandana can also be used for signaling.

Water Purification – Chlorine Dioxide water purification tablets. We have found the Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets to be superior to all other brands of purification tablets, and for KOP Kits, they provide the added benefit of being very small. The Katadyn Micropur MP1 is the only tablet or liquid, which is effective against viruses, bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium in all water conditions. One tablet is used to treat one quart/liter of water.  Do not open the foil packet until ready to use as once opened; the tablet has a short shelf life.  A KOP Kit should contain at least 4 of these small, foil packets. Note: This method is far more effective for water purification than the popular and much larger, LifeStraw.

Water Transport – Option #1 – Collapsible Water Bag.  Even a small collapsible bottle will not fit into a KOP Kit, but if you do have space in a briefcase or computer bag, this Sawyer SP-108 Water Reservoir is a compact easy-to-carry solution.

Water Transport – Option #2 – Using a Condom as a Water Container. Made for durability, a non-lubricated condom is sturdy, watertight, and they are stored in a small package.  A standard-size condom will hold 16-20 fl. oz. (.5 L) of water and can still retain structural strength. In tests conducted by a major university, the Trojan ENZ was identified as the most durable. Insert the condom into a sock to stabilize it for filling, and to transport it more securely. A twist-tie, such as those used in grocery stores and bakeries to close plastic bags, are ideal for closing-up the top of the condom after filling it with water. In addition to the twist-tie, also include a plastic straw for drinking.

* If you are not sure that the water is pure, add a Katadyn tablet before filling the condom/container with water.

Fire Starting – Option #1 – Mini cigarette lighter; or,

Fire Starting – Option #2 – Flint and magnesium fire-starting tool.  Starting a fire may seem like an unnecessary task, but in various setting it may be needed for heat, cooking food, for light, signaling, and to help keep animals away.

Can Opener. If it becomes possible to scavenge food, you don’t want to be without a small can and bottle opener.  Yes, a knife can be used to open a can, but it’s dangerous.  It’s much better to have a small military-style can opener like a P-51 or P-38 in your KOP Kit. If you enlarge the hole in the P-51, this miniature can opener can be carried on a key ring. Tape the blade to the body of the can opener so it doesn’t snag or cut.

Band-Aids – A couple of Band-aids take up almost no space in your kit, but can be helpful for covering a blister on your foot when you need to walk a long distance, as well as to protect minor cuts from infection. Disasters are environments that are often filled with germs and bacteria, so protecting a simple cut can be important.

Cash Money – During an emergency situation, credit cards often don’t work so cash is needed to make purchases. Small denomination bills may be best as vendors may not be able to make change.

Optional Items

Inexpensive Make-Shift Compact Bandage – In a pinch, a feminine Ultra-Thin Pad can be used as a bandage for the temporary treatment of injuries. For this purpose, it must be a pad without odor inhibitors, lotions, or other additives.  Select a brand that has each pad sealed in a waterproof envelope, as the envelope itself can also be used to seal a small diameter chest puncture.  Since these pads are very compact.

Pepper Spray – If legal in your area, a pen-size container of pepper spray can be a formidable but non-injurious weapon. These are not legal for travel on a commercial airliner but they are legal in many areas, so carry one on your key chain if you can do it legally. We recommend pepper spray made by a manufacturer which supplies these products to police departments. The contents should be a 10% concentration of the chemical Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).

Plastic Garbage Sack – Useful for carrying supplies, for use as a sleep sack to increase body heat or protection from insects, for making an emergency shelter, and as a rain poncho (cut holes for head and arms, and wear it like a pullover jacket).  An ordinary trash bag has many uses.

Signal Mirror (optional).  A small signal mirror has multiple uses in addition to using it to flash signals using sunlight.

750 Paracord – It isn’t practical to carry even a short length of rope, but Paracord as used for parachutes, is extremely strong, thin, and lightweight. The diameter of “750” paracord is only 5mm (.2-inch) but has a break strength of 750-pounds. (That does not mean it will support 749-pounds.) The interior of military-grade paracord has 11 strands, and these are also suitable for sewing, repairing clothing and gear, and emergency suturing. The space limitations of most KOP Kits limit the length to around 12-feet.

Pen and Paper – If you have room in your kit, a write-on-anything “Space Pen” and maybe even a few sheets of weatherproof paper can be valuable when you need to leave notes or make notes. To save space, use just a Space Pen refill rather than the whole pen.

Sewing Needle, 1-large, and 1-small.  A large needle that can be used with a paracord strand, and a small needle to use like a nail or to remove splinters.

Paper Clip.  One large and one small clip. These can be used as wire for an assortment of repair and electrical purposes.

Micro SD Card. Us this to store essential data and records such as contact information, identification, ID photos of family and friends, medical records, insurance information, property titles and other key records. Use encryption for sensitive and confidential information. Your SD Card ‘Adapter’ and ‘Reader’ can be stored separately, but the card itself should be kept on your person. For physical protection, wrap the card in three layers of plastic wrap (Saran Wrap) and then three layers of aluminum foil. This will help prevent damage if it is exposed to water, and it will disrupt RFD probes and help isolate the chip from electromagnetic pulses. To avoid loss of the chip, use duct tape to attach the wrapped chip to the back of your wristwatch, or your KOP Kit container.

Pocket-Size Containers for Your KOP Kit

How to Carry your KOP Kit? Cloth passport pouches and metal wallets are favorite containers for these supplies, but some people prefer carrying a few items in a small tin such as an Altoid or Sucrets box, with other pieces of their kit are carried on their key chain. Some people prefer to carry certain items, like a pocket knife, loose in their a pocket or purse. It doesn’t matter how these things are carried, but that they are kept close at hand.

Altoids Mints – Re-purpose the metal box. If you are interested in this carry method but aren’t acquainted with these breath mints, or you can’t buy them at your local grocery store, this link is provided. You might be able to find some other product which utilizes a similar, rugged little pocket-size box.

Security Pocket / Hidden Pocket – These fabric pouches can be carried in a pocket or purse, or worn on a belt and then flipped inside your skirt or trousers, to keep it invisible. These are often available in travels stores as they are popular for hiding cash and passports.

Credit Card Wallet / Zippered Coin Purse –  Available in various sizes, these can be carried in a pocket or purse.

Key Wallet – Smaller than a credit card wallet or coin purse, these small pouches often have zipper closures to keep items secure.

* It may not be practical to keep every item in one container such as those listed above, but it is sensible to keep most things together in one package to avoid loss and damage.

Paracord Survival-Bracelet: Depending on the knots used to make the bracelet, these can condense 1 to 1.5 feet of paracord into each 1-inch of bracelet length. (i.e., an 8-in bracelet contains 8-14 ft of paracord). These can utilize a buckle which contains a fire-starter or knife as well as a compass. The bracelet itself can conceal such things as fire tinder; a P-38 can opener; a ceramic knife; micro SD card; fishing line & hooks; mini signal mirror; large, curved sewing needle; a mini glow stick, and a Nano flashlight. If you want to use a survival bracelet as a portion of your kit, look online for one that has the features you want. Or, you can make your own using D-I-Y instructions found online.

The ‘Minimalist’ KOP Kit for every-day-carry

At the very least, make it an every-day-carry habit of keeping a few essential items with you every day, wherever you go, whatever you are doing. A ‘minimalist’ collection of supplies might include a Swiss+Tech tool/mini knife, a micro LED flashlight, and a compact whistle, all carried on your keychain. Plus, in a pocket, a small cigarette lighter and large handkerchief.  Add to your watchband, a compass.  In your wallet, store a P-51 mini can opener, four water purification tablets, and a non-lubricated condom to use as an emergency canteen.  Just these nine little items may someday save your life—they did for people inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.


Dogs & Pets: Turning a Problem into an Asset Reply

Dogs n Cats - TSA imageWhether you love or just tolerate your pet, now is the time to consider what you will do with them when you are facing an emergency situation. It is irresponsible to leave a pet behind except in the direst of circumstances. (And, by the way, your convenience is never a dire circumstance.) So, you need to formulate a plan. You need to decide now, how you will handle it.

Unfortunately, most pets, except some dogs and a few other animals, increase your problems during an emergency situation. But if you leave them behind to fend for themselves, a domesticated animal, like a pet dog, will probably either starve, become injured and die a horrible death, or join a pack and become dangerous to people, especially children.

On the other hand, if you take them with you, then you will need to feed and care for them. This can make evacuation more difficult, but it is a responsibility of ownership to care for your pet during both times of ease and periods of hardship.  A medium-to-large size dog can be trained to carry a saddlebag backpack so that they can carry enough food and water for two days.

As mentioned earlier in this book, when facing a disaster or emergency situation, don’t plan on leaving your animal at your favorite pet boarding kennel, veterinarian, animal care services center, or with a family member or friend, either. You are just handing off your problem to them, and that isn’t fair.  You can’t shirk your responsibility.

Furthermore, in the U.S., if you take your pet with you to a federal or State sponsored shelter, they will separate you from your pet, and though they may not tell you, the official protocol calls for euthanasia.  They will kill your pet.  Do you think I must be wrong?  Read the confidential (but not Classified) U.S. Government document, FM-39.40  Internment and Resettlement Operations.”  Of course, you may encounter a shelter operator who loves animals and ignores this directive, but are you willing to gamble with your pet’s life?

So, what are your options?  In my view, you have three choices.

  1. Either keep your pet with you and stockpile/carry the food and water they will need, and hope for the best; or,
  2. When that time comes, humanely euthanize your pet(s); or
  3. If your pet is a dog, turn them into an asset. These benefits are enjoyed today, and you will be ready to face tomorrow with your loyal companion as a valuable partner.

Unfortunately, the third choice is not available to owners of cats and most other pets, but it is a great option if your pet is a healthy dog.  If you’re up for 20-minutes of training 3-days a week for four months, Option #3 is the best choice. I heartily recommend it.

In any case, we can’t avoid facing the truth.  Dogs tend to be either a security problem or a security asset, and they require extra work and supplies that may be difficult to provide.

Today, if you unleash your dog and it runs off, or it barks without sufficient provocation, the animal represents a security risk. This problem is most glaring with yappy little dogs. During an emergency, a barking dog attracts attention and miscreants do not perceive small dogs to be a threat, so the animal generates dangerous, unnecessary risks to you, the owner. Importantly, the unwelcomed attention may make you a victim of a crime. No one likes yappy dogs, including violent criminals.

When we asked a FEMA dog trainer, “Why are little dogs so often barkers?” Her answer, “Because their owners allow it.”

Yes, a barking dog may be an unrivaled asset, but only if you are the one controlling that response. A well-trained dog that barks in accord with your training can provide valuable early warning, but a dog that indiscriminately barks may create added risks for you and your companions.

A dog’s fine-tuned hearing and sense of smell can provide far better early warning than can the most sophisticated electronic alarm system.  But, these amazing attributes are only helpful if the animal is properly trained.

Unfortunately, most people do not know how to turn their pet into a service dog; an asset which can be valuable during ordinary times as well as during a crisis. Thankfully, this lack of knowledge can be overcome.

The first step in transforming your dog from liability to asset is obedience training. Yes, it is easier to train a young dog than an old one, but both can be taught if you are patient and know what you are doing. You need to teach your dog to not bark without provocation and to obey immediately.  Basic training must include both voice and signal commands for: heel, come, stay, down, growl, bark, and silence.

Once these problem-erasing basics have been handled, you are ready to start transforming your dog into a working-dog asset, a partner.  This will require the professional help of an experienced dog trainer who has done this for the government or a private security agency. Or, use the online training offered by a company such as Remnant K9 (www.remnantcanine360.com.)

An ordinary dog trainer cannot take the place of one who has extensive experience in the behavior you are trying to model.  My recommendation is to not waste time with YouTube videos produced by self-promoting people without serious credentials, nor kindly dog-trainers who are well-meaning but lack the specific skills necessary for this task. If you don’t have access to such a trainer or can’t afford to hire one, use an online training program such as Remnant K9 360.

Use an expert.  In the long run, you will not only save time and money, but you will also be far more successful.

Whether evacuating due to an emergency, or living at your safe-haven retreat location, or leaving a place of safety to help a friend or family member who is in need, don’t discount the benefits that a well-trained dog can provide. If you live in a place where you cannot carry a gun, a well-trained medium or large-size dog that is properly trained can be both a reliable low-tech security system and a source of unparalleled defense.  Even if you do have a gun and know how to use it, a dog can still be an indispensable partner.



Double Disaster:  A Home Fire During a Broader Emergency Situation Reply

homeonfireConsider these scenarios:  What if a fire develops and the phones are not working, so you are unable to summon the fire department?  Or, what if you telephone for help, only to discover that the fire department is too busy with other disaster-related emergencies and is unable to respond?  What if your fire is at a rural location, far from emergency services and they can’t get there in time? 

A fire in your home, storage building, shop, or business can be heartbreaking under normal circumstances, but what if fire strikes in the aftermath of a disaster when the world is topsy-turvy?    At times such as this, even a small fire can grow and become a life-threatening tragedy for you and your family.  Fortunately, you can minimize this risk by being proactive with fire prevention steps and assembling some basic firefighting supplies and skills.  If you are prepared, you may be able to solve the problem yourself.  This article will help you get started.

The first step is prevention.  Since there is an abundance of information on fire prevention, we will sidestep this issue except as it relates to preparing for a fire during a natural disaster, social unrest, or widespread emergency situation.  It’s a simple task to obtain general information on fire prevention from your local fire department or the Internet so we won’t address that important topic here.  Rather, here we will address those steps you can take to aggressively fight a fire yourself when help isn’t coming, or won’t come in time. 

The key to do-it-yourself firefighting is immediate action.  You can often put out a fire if you are prepared and you engage in effective action immediately.

The “Q” Steps for DIY Firefighting Success:

  • Quickly assess the situation
  • Quickly implement your plan of action
  • Quickly overwhelm the fire with decisive firefighting action. 


stopwatch-act-quicklyFirst-Steps in Any Fire Situation

1.     Quickly evaluate the situation and formulate your response. 

If there is a fire alarm, activate it, and then give warning to others who may be in the area.  Assign someone to call the fire department to inform them of the details of the fire (if it is possible to contact them), and then get others to help you with what is needed to fight the fire.  If you are the most knowledgeable on firefighting, take charge.  If someone else is better suited to the task, make it clear that they are in charge. 

Act quickly.  Seconds count.

If the fire is beyond the incipient stage (early, manageable size), get everyone to safety.  The safety of people is more important than saving a structure, so deal with this concern first.  Prioritize your response.  After people, what is most important to protect? 

2.      Quickly implement your plan of action.

Hopefully, you aren’t in this alone.  After you have sounded the alarm, recruit those who are capable of helping.  Give assignments; even older children can help.  Don’t assume that children will act prudently; make sure someone is keeping track of them. 

Remove flammable items from the fire zone:  If the fire has the potential to expand to other flammable materials, or jump to something that is highly flammable like cardboard boxes or gasoline stored nearby, remove these items—if you can do so quickly. 

If you can remove fuel from the fire, you can often keep the fire small and manageable, thereby buying yourself more time to fight it.  If others are available to help, send them to fetch the fire extinguishers while you remove the fuel and valuable items from the fire’s expansion path. 

If it is an electrical fire, turn off the power.  If it is a natural gas or propane fire, turn off the gas.

In advance, make sure everyone knows the location of the electrical box and gas shut-off valve, and how to turn them off.  If a key or tool is required, keep these close to where they will be needed.

3.     Quickly overwhelm the fire.  Don’t just fight it, overwhelm it. 

Hit the fire hard with everything you’ve got.  If you can knock it down quickly, you may be able to put out the fire yourself. 

If you are reluctant to use a fire extinguisher because you are untrained, or because you’re concerned that you might be overreacting, or you are hesitant because you know the fire extinguisher will create a mess, or you decide you’d rather wait until someone arrives to help, then you will likely lose the battle.  

Your window of opportunity to start fighting the fire is fleeting.  It may only last for a few seconds. 

Fire is your enemy, treat it as such.  Fight back with rapid, forceful, determined action.  Don’t delay.

Don’t fail to plan your attack, either.  The answer isn’t just rapid action.  You need to engage in effective and decisive rapid action.  Don’t be timid.  Don’t be hesitant.  Switch-on your mind and body; explode into action and overwhelm the fire. 

CAUTION:  Modern homes and vehicles are filled with products that produce noxious and poisonous smoke. Stay upwind from these fires, and do not enter a smoke-filled area except to save human life. Your possessions may be important to you but they are not worth sacrificing your health or life.  This risk is far different from the annoyance of campfire smoke. The smoke from plastics and other chemical-made substances is toxic and extremely dangerous. 

smokealarmsEarly Warning:  The Importance of Using Multiple Smoke Detectors and Alarms

To successfully fight a fire, you must have early warning of the problem.  Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide, and other electronic smoke, fire, heat, gas, and threat warning devices can provide you with this critical edge of early warning.

If you have a large house, or you need to protect garages or outbuildings, be sure to add detectors that send a signal to a central receiving station in your home.  This receiver needs to be in a high-traffic area of your house to make sure an alarm is noticed.  Without this feature, you may not hear the alarm emanating from an unoccupied area.

Even if your home, garage, shop, and storage buildings are already equipped with smoke alarms, it is often a good idea to add additional smoke detectors and fire sensors.  Local and national building codes now require smoke detectors, but many contractors only install the minimum number of detectors. 

In an emergency situation, these electronic devices are force multipliers.  They are not only needed, you need them in abundance.  Like burglar alarms, these tools can give you the crucial extra minutes needed for safety and advance warning.  With their help, you may be able to extinguish the fire before it grows into a blaze that is too big for you to fight.

Firefighting Equipment:  Fire Extinguishers

Amerex-Fire-Exinguishers-L-GOnce the fire extinguishers are at the location of the fire, before using, confirm that they are the correct type of extinguisher for the fire you will be fighting.  Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher can make matters worse, so check to be sure that you have the right type for the task.  This is critically important. 

For example, an extinguisher which contains water may spread a kitchen fire that is fueled by grease or cooking oil.  Similarly, you may receive a deadly electrical shock if you use a water or wet chemical extinguisher on a fire that started in a computer or electrical appliance.  The bottom line:  Know what you are buying and using.

Use the below chart to understand what types of extinguishers can be used safely and effectively, and what types of extinguishers are needed for the locations you are preparing to protect.  Know what you need before you shop.  Then purchase what you need, and place these items in higher-risk areas.

Know Your Fire Extinguisher ABCs

If you will be purchasing fire extinguishers, use the below list to help you select the best fire extinguisher for each area to be protected. 

Though the “Class” ratings are similar around the world, the below information relates specifically to the United States.  If you live in a different part of the world, the letter designations may be slightly different.   

116239-photo-page1Fire Extinguisher Types

Class A Ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, paper, cardboard, rubber, fabric, and some plastics (mainly, those which leave a residual ash after burning).

Class B Flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline, diesel, alcohol, automotive oils, oil-based paints, and lacquers.

Warning: Before fighting a fire involving a flammable gas, turn off the source of fuel feeding the fire.  Often the best method for fighting a fuel fire, including propane gas, is to shut off the fuel supply valve. Moreover, even if you are successful in extinguishing a fuel fire, if the gas supply has not been turned off, this may result in an explosive accumulation of gas vapors which can lead to an explosion. 

Class C Electronic and electrical equipment still connected to power.

Class D Generally these fires are confined to manufacturing sites and involve fires fueled by combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, sodium, etc.

Warning:  ABC and other firefighting agents may cause a combustible metal fire to spread or increase in severity.  When in doubt, use dry sand to extinguish the blaze.  If feasible, stay back and work to prevent the burning metal from spreading the fire into other nearby combustible materials.  Waiting out a combustible metal fire may be the more prudent than fighting the main fire.  If the fire isn’t measurably growing, it may be more prudent to simply protect the surrounding area rather than try to put out the burning metal fire which is very likely also emitting noxious or poisonous gasses. 

Class K Kitchen fires, involving cooking oils, animal oils, and fats, which are typically ignited by stove burners, ovens or cooking vats, grills, and other cooking appliances.  Commercial kitchens are required to have automatic Class-K fire suppression equipment, but Class-K extinguishers are also available for home use.

Warning & Recommendation:  The powerful spray of a pressurized fire extinguisher can spread oil,  grease, and burning-liquid fires.  So, if you use a standard “red steel-bottle” fire extinguisher, start fighting the fire from a distance of 20-feet (6 m) and work your way closer to the fire.  Watch the effect closely, to make sure you aren’t inadvertently spreading the fire. 

Kidde-2packFire Extinguishers: Additional Selection Criteria

Size, placement, and the number of fire extinguishers you have on hand is a topic rarely addressed,  However, this is an important topic. 

A good example of this is the standard 2-1/2 pound fire extinguisher.  These simply are not adequate.  Nevertheless, it’s these small extinguishers that are found in most homes, workshops, cars, recreational vehicles and boats.  But since they only work for about 10-seconds, these are not even sufficient for many small fires.  If this is what you have, don’t replace it, just add to it. 

Store Your Fire Extinguishers by the Twos:  By the time you react and decide you need a fire extinguisher, grab it from where it is stored, and start fighting the fire, there is a good chance that you’ll need more than one extinguisher to put out the fire.  Thankfully, if you grabbed two 5-pound rated (10-pound physical weight) extinguishers at the same time, you may have what you need to put out the fire.  If you only have one it may not be enough.  So the first task is to double up and store two fire extinguishers near each location where a fire is likely to erupt.

If the fire is small and you are highly competent in the use of a fire extinguisher, a unit containing 5 – 10 pounds of fire extinguishing agent may be enough.  However, when it comes to preparing for a disaster or emergency situation, or rural firefighting, redundancy is important.  Have at least twice the number of fire extinguishers that you think you will need.  The old military adage is a good reminder:  “One is none, two is one.”  Establish redundancy into your preparedness plan. 

Escape  Ladders:

If you have bedrooms on floors that are above ground level, you either need a fire escape or a portable fire-escape ladder. These collapsible ladders can be stored in a bedroom closet where they can be quickly accessed if needed.  Use is simple. The window is opened, the u-shaped bracket for the rolled-up ladder is placed over the window sill, and then the ladder is allowed to unroll.  Be sure to pick a model that is long enough, and that it incorporates a method to keep the ladder away from the side of the house as this makes a decent much easier and faster.

Firefighting Equipment:  Other Firefighting Methods and Tools

Traditional fire extinguishers are not your only options.  Here are some additional tools which are worth including in your firefighting plan.

Chimfex_box-and-stickChimney Fire Extinguisher Chimney fires are always a risk, but additionally so when a fireplace or a wood burning stove is the sole source of heat, as is often the case during an emergency situation.  During periods of high use, even those homeowners who are meticulous about keeping their chimney clean can be hit with a no-warning chimney fire.  And, since these fires can reach 2,000 degrees (1,093 C) in less than a minute, it’s not unusual for a chimney fire to quickly spread into the attic and roof, and then throughout the entire house.  So if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, you need a plan for fighting a chimney fire. 

Many fire departments routinely use Chimfex Fire Extinguisher sticks to fight chimney fires.  These consumable fire extinguishers can be purchased online and at some fireplace and wood-stove shops.  This is arguably the easiest solution for fighting this type of fire.  It’s also the least expensive.  With a MSRP of $42, these are easy to use and post-fire clean up is a breeze.  We recommend a minimum of two (2) Chimfex Fire Extinguisher sticks for each fireplace and each wood burning stove in your home.

Made by Orion—the company which makes highway safety flares, the Chimfex Fire Extinguisher stick looks a lot like a 14-inch flare.  It’s even activated in a similar fashion.  After activation, the fire extinguisher stick is simply placed inside the firebox, next to the fire.  If there is a door or vents on the fireplace or stove, close them to force the fire extinguishing gases up the chimney.  As the chemical smoke of the Chimfex is emitted, the fire’s heat is cut in half and the oxygen is displaced, extinguishing the fire.  If the chimney fire isn’t completely extinguished within half a minute, add another Chimfex stick.  Be sure to avoid breathing the device’s chemical smoke as it is toxic. 

This simple method has been used by professional firefighters to put out chimney fires for more than 40 years with great success, so there is rarely a need to retreat to other methods—unless you didn’t have the foresight to buy a couple Chimfex fire extinguisher sticks.  Water and dry chemical fire extinguishers can also do the trick, but expect these alternative methods to do far more damage than a Chimfex stick.

Baking_Soda-Large_BagsBaking Soda Keep a large bag of baking soda in a handy location in your kitchen.  In the event of a fire, you can use it to extinguish a burning pan of grease, a fire created by a pot that boiled over onto a stove burner, as well as many other types of cooking fires.  If used quickly, it can be very effective.

After purchase, open the baking soda bag/box and then reseal it with a binder clip or a large paperclip so that it is quick and easy to open using only your hands.  Store the container in a cabinet near the stove or oven, but not above these appliances.  As soon as a fire flares up, open the bag and liberally sprinkle the baking soda onto the burning liquid, blanketing the burning surface to block air from getting to the fire.  With this method, you may even be able to eat your food after rinsing off the baking soda!

shovel-fireFirefighting with Sand and Dirt: 
Historically, buckets of sand were stored in garages in case of fire.  This sand was used to extinguish small gasoline, diesel and oil fires.  Just blanket the burning liquid with it to starve the fire by eliminating exposure to the air.  Though this is far less effective than using a fire extinguisher made for this purpose, it is an inexpensive, simple and handy alternative.  A bag of sand stored in the garage, off the floor and away from damp, is a worthy addition to your firefighting supplies even if you have a fire extinguisher nearby. 

Similarly, a small outdoor grass fire or fuel fire can sometimes be extinguished by shoveling dirt onto the burning material.  A shovel is a great firefighting tool for fighting small outdoor fires.

bucket_brigade_travisFirefighting with Water:  Ordinary water is a great way to extinguish fires fueled by burning wood, cardboard, brush, leaves and yard clippings, paper garbage and some plastics.  The problem with using water is that most people are not equipped to deliver the volume of water needed to fight a fire.  With water, a high volume of water is critically important. Regardless of your delivery method, adding firefighting foam to your water will greatly improve the effectiveness of the water by forming a blanket-like foam which helps deprive the fire of oxygen. 

If you don’t have a firefighting hose and related equipment, you can often extinguish a small fire simply by throwing multiple buckets of water on it.  This is generally more effective than using a garden hose, especially if there are enough people around to form a bucket brigade

Though many homeowners have attempted to put out a house fire using a garden house, it is rarely effective, even when the fire is small.  This is because the volume of water delivered is simply insufficient to stifle the fire.  That explained, it may still be better than nothing, but before you grab your garden hose, try to think of another solution. 

If you find yourself without anything other than a garden house, use the shortest length of hose needed to reach the fire, and keep the hose as straight as possible.  (Not kinked, and also not in a circle, nor wrapped around a hose cart.  This will increase the water flow and give you added pressure at the nozzle.)

Promising New Firefighting Technologies

In addition to new fire retardant building materials, there are a number of innovative products designed to automatically put out fires.  The below items are harder to find than traditional fire extinguishers but nevertheless worth considering.  These may be used as a first-defense against fire, but we recommend that traditional fire extinguishers also be available for firefighting.

AFO-Fire_Extinguisher_Ball-GrenadeFire-Extinguisher Ball  (aka/ Firefighting Grenade):  Though specifications vary by brand, most fire extinguishing grenades are only about 6-inches (147 mm) in diameter and weigh a modest 3 pounds (1.3 kg), yet they purportedly have the firefighting capability equivalent to several 5-pound ABC fire extinguishers.  Plus, they will work on ABC and E fires.  Since these four types of fires include 98% of all structure fires, these truly are a multi-purpose firefighting device.  [We have not yet had the opportunity to test this product]

Invented by the Israelis and in use by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), we have not yet had the opportunity to test this new product.  Several different brands are currently available online at prices ranging from $50-$230 per unit.  (It is the “Elide Fire” Self-Activating Multi-Purpose Fire Extinguishing Ball that is in use by the IDF.)  Expensive, certainly, but the cost is insignificant if it saves a life, or your house, shop or storage building. 

These “grenades” are a pyrotechnic device, designed to instantly blow an environmentally-safe fire retardant into the air, temporarily displacing the oxygen and thereby extinguishing the fire.  If activated in the middle of a fire, one ball apparently has the capacity to extinguish all fire within a 400 sq. ft. (37 m2) area.  Multiple grenades can be used in a larger room, but it is confined space which will maximize the effectiveness of the fire extinguishing ball.

Only minimally effective outdoors, in a confined area like a storage room, these may be extremely effective.  These dual-use balls can be used two ways.  For proactive defense, a fire extinguishing ball can be stored unattended in a room, ideally placed in its wire bracket, high on a wall or on the ceiling above the most likely source of a fire.  Or, the ball can be used to fight an active fire, by tossing or rolling it into a fire by hand.  Either way, after 3-10 seconds exposure to flame, the unit “pops” and fills the air with its fire extinguishing chemical.  

While not safe to hold when it discharges, these balls are supposedly safe for use in occupied rooms if the inhabitants have been rendered unconscious due to smoke inhalation.  However if possible, the ball should obviously be discharged in a part of the room away from people.  Yet, a minor injury from the ball discharging its contents would seem to be more desirable than death from fire.  But again, we have not personally tested these promising new devices.

Extinguish_Stick-50secFire Stick:  Developed for use inside the space station, this compact non-pressurized fire extinguisher is easy to use.  At only 1.7 x 10.5 inches in size (30-second model), an Extinguish Stick will fit into a cabinet, drawer, or the console of most cars.  However, we recommend that you store it in a visible location to ensure quick access.  Since this pipe-shaped device weighs less than 1-pound (.4 kg), several can be easily and compactly transported. 

Available in 50-second and 100-second models, the manufacturer claims that the Fire Stick is equivalent to a much larger and more expensive, 30/60-pound ABC Dry Chemical fire extinguisher.  MSRP is $100 for the 50-second model and $130 for the 100-second version, but discounts are available online.  (Be sure to compare apples-to-apples.  The 50-second and 100-second models of Fire Stick look essentially the same in photos.) 

Since the Fire Stick is lightweight and only requires the use of two hands to activate, and one-hand to use, it is not only ideal for astronauts but also us ordinary people.  Even a wheelchair or walker-bound person, as long as they have use of their arms and hands, can use one of these extinguishers. 

The downside of the Fire Stick is that once it is activated, it will immediately discharge its entire contents.  Unlike a traditional fire extinguisher which can be turned off, enabling the user to move to a new place to attack the fire on a new front, the Fire Stick operates continuously until it is empty. 

Rated for ABC and E fires, a Fire Stick is suitable for use with almost all types of fires we are likely to encounter.  The tube is simply opened, and the yellow activating ribbon removed, to initiate a chemical interaction which sprays retardant from the other end of the tube.  Since it is noncorrosive, it can also be safely used to fight fires involving electronics such as computers, as well as electrical box fires, burning liquid fires such as kitchen grease fires and automotive fuel fires, in addition to wood, cardboard, small debris piles, and small grass fires.

In use in Europe for several years, the Fire Stick is not in common use in the United States, so we have not yet tested this product.  Nevertheless, it looks to be a promising new firefighting technology.    

Kitchen Stovetop Fire Retardant Dispensers and Automatic Fire Extinguishers:   According to the National Fire Protection Association, kitchen fires are the #1 cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries.  Since distractions which take the cook out of the kitchen are the leading contributing factor, it makes sense to install an automatic fire extinguisher over the stovetop.  These range in price from highly effective units similar to those used in commercial kitchens, which start at about $200, to relatively inexpensive units which are simple to install that cost a more modest $40-75. 

Whichever model you select, be sure that your unit is designed to operate in the space you have available.  For example, units designed for use inside cooking hoods will not work effectively in the limited space under a microwave that is located above a stove.  Understand too, that the relatively low-cost units are often just automatic dispensers which pour baking soda onto the stovetop.  This can work very effectively, but it is a much different level of protection than that which is provided by pressurized automatic fire extinguisher designed for kitchen fires.


The bottom line is that we need to equip ourselves with firefight tools and basic skills now, in advance of the need.  Even under normal circumstances, we need to be proactive with our preparation.  This is important if we want to maximize safety and minimize our loss in the event of a fire.  We are conditioned by advertising to be meticulous about maintaining adequate fire insurance, but few take the additional steps necessary for prudent, personal preparation. 

When we take into account the increased risk of suffering a structure fire during a natural disaster, or a time of civil unrest, when the fire department may not be available to respond, we should feel a sense of urgency about these personal preparations.  An insurance settlement sometime in the future is irrelevant if you and your family are at risk today.

We appreciate and are thankful for our professional firefighters, but we have a personal responsibility to do our part in preventing and preparing to personally fight a fire.  If a fire strikes when no one is available to help, and we are adequately equipped and prepared, we may be able to handle the emergency ourselves.  Failure is not an option. 

During an emergency situation, if we are unable to deal with the problem ourselves, then the loss may be more than just our home or business.  We may risk the loss of life or the supplies and facilities we desperately need, to survive during a difficult time. 

Hope for the best.  Prepare for the worst.


Personal Hygiene and Family/Community Health Reply


Medical Team 01A message from one of our 36READY team doctors:

During an emergency situation a few very simple precautions may keep you and your family healthy. This is critically important.  Remaining in good health will not only help you cope, it is essential for peak performance during high-stress or dangerous situations.  It’s a simple truth that healthy people can respond more effectively to a disaster situation.  Moreover, when health risks are greater and medical care more difficult to obtain, hygiene and sanitation mistakes can produce disastrous consequences.


Personal Hygiene.  Personal hygiene and cleanliness is a serious challenge during many disaster situations.  Unless you have adequate clean water, hand washing and bathing and other activities of hygiene may be difficult or impossible.  Unfortunately, dirty bodies are breeding grounds for microbes.  As a result, emergency situations where there are limited bathing opportunities can be expected to bring additional health challenges.

Even small cuts, blisters, thorns, insect stings and minor burns can become infected and lead to serious complications, additionally so if they are not cleansed and treated quickly.  Be aware of even minor injuries.  Anytime the skin is penetrated, take steps to clean and protect the skin in that area.


Hand Sanitization.  Numerous medical studies have proven that the most effective way to prevent the spread of contagious diseases is very simple—wash your hands.  Avoid touching your mouth and rubbing your eyes with your hands.  Scrub your hands for at least 30-seconds (sing the “Happy birthday” song twice) with antibacterial soap and hot potable water after every trip to the latrine, after contact with someone who is ill, before food preparation, before touching clean cooking utensils and water purification equipment, and of course, before eating.  This is vitally important.

If you can’t scrub with soap and hot water, at least cleanse your hands with a hand sanitizer or wipes.  Since pure water may be in short supply and reserved for drinking, stockpile a quantity of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.  For your GO-Bag, include a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


Dental and Oral Health.  Oral hygiene remains important, even in a disaster situation.  If regular tooth brushing and flossing is not possible, and a toothpick and mouthwash aren’t available, after eating use a clean handkerchief to rub your teeth and tongue.

Now, in advance of a disaster, keep up to date with your 6-month dental checkups and teeth cleaning.  If your dentist finds a problem such as a cavity, cracked tooth or a loose filling, get it fixed right away.  Problems which are simple to fix today might become debilitating in the future.  If a problem develops during an emergency situation it will diminish your ability to cope with the problems you need to face.

Keep a dental-emergency kit in your GO-Bag, and a more complete kit with your other emergency supplies.  You can build your own kit with the help of your dentist.  Or, at the very least, purchase an inexpensive basic kit such as the one produced by Adventure Medical Kits.


Sneezing and Cough Hygiene.  Many communicable diseases are transmitted by airborne (aerosolized) pathogens.  A simple way to prevent the spread of these diseases is to insist that everyone always cover their mouth and nose any time they sneeze or cough.  Turn your head and cough or sneeze into your shoulder, rather than covering your mouth with your hand.

Those who have a contagious illness, like the flu, must wear a mask.  Their caregivers must also wear a mask, as well as eye protection (wrap around inexpensive plastic safety glasses are effective).  Caregivers must always sanitize their hands after contact with the patient, as well as bedding and other items that their patients have touched.

Medical masks are best, but inexpensive masks like those available from hardware stores, can be very effective.


Family and Community Health:  Safe disposal of human waste is one of the top needs during any disaster situation.  Moreover, after some disasters, a previously safe water supply may have become compromised.  Don’t assume tap water is safe to drink.


Toilet:  If plumbing doesn’t work, create a latrine outdoors.  Fecal material should be buried, ideally after sprinkling a spade-full of lime over the excrement.  The deeper the hole the better, as the same hole can be used repeatedly.  Remove a toilet seat from the house and use it to build a makeshift seat over the hole.  Dig the hole at least 100-feet away from creeks, rivers, lakes, water-well heads and food-growing gardens.  (Do not use human excrement as fertilizer for growing food as it can contain harmful pathogens that can be transferred to growing food.)  Locate your makeshift latrine in a place which affords privacy, and where prevailing winds will not send odors into living space. Covering it with a canvas tarp or old sheet can diminish the inevitable annoyance of flies and other flying insects.  If toilet paper is unavailable, use paper napkins, book pages, and other sources of non-glossy paper.  (Newspapers are less than ideal as the ink is often water-soluble and can become messy.)  Pioneers used fresh grass and tree bark.  


Sanitization of Counters, Toilet Fixtures, Furniture, Toys.  A 10% solution of plain (no additives like scents) household bleach (Chlorox) is an excellent disinfectant for bathroom surfaces, kitchen counters where food is prepared, children’s toys (as possible), as well as objects in the “sick room” where a patient is recuperating.

* This solution is not recommended for disinfecting skin or open wounds.


Quarantine and Isolation.  Even if no one in your group is currently ill, make plans for a place where you can effectively quarantine individuals who become ill.  In the no-so-distant past, epidemics of influenza (“flu”) killed many people—especially children, the elderly and the infirm.

These higher-risk groups will generally be more susceptible to secondary serious complications.  This is because their immune systems are not as effective as that of healthy, young adults.

If an outbreak of a contagious disease occurs in your group, the individual and their immediate caregivers must be immediately isolated from the group.  In advance, consider now how you will accomplish this task.  To reduce resistance, make sure that each member of your group understands this policy prior to the need for implementation.

If multiple individuals are sick, if possible, isolate them in separate rooms.  If this isn’t possible and you have to place two or more individuals in a single room, erect a barrier between their beds (folding screen, hang a tarp or blanket, etc.).  This will help prevent the patients from passing infectious agents back and forth when they sneeze or cough.

During   pandemics, such as the “Spanish flu” outbreak in the early 1900’s, patient beds were organized so that the position of each patient’s cot was alternated; the head of each patient was at the feet of the patients on either side of him/her.  This helped as a coughing patient projected their infected aerosol toward the adjacent patient’s feet rather than their eyes, nose or mouth.


Medical Readiness: Proactive Personal Responsibility Reply

Prevention is KeyA message from one of our 36READY team doctors:  Whether your focus is preparing for a major natural disaster or one that is human caused, too many of us focus on two or three areas of preparedness while ignoring or putting off other important issues.  As a friend recently reminded me, “We tend to prepare most vigorously in the areas of our interest.”  Very true.  When we concentrate on one, or just a few facets of preparedness we are often neglecting others which are also critically important.  These deserve our attention, too.  We cannot afford to be myopic when it comes to preparedness.

Medical readiness is such a topic.  Unless your career or vocation is in some aspect of medicine or public health, your medical preparations are probably inadequate.  Having a well-stocked first aid kit is not enough.

Be proactive.  Be thorough.  Make preparedness a lifestyle of readiness.


Prevention is the first step in medical preparedness.

Safety Precautions.  During an emergency situation you will likely engage in activities, and use tools, that are not part of your typical life.  Simple precautions such as properly handling a knife, hammer, chain saw, ladder and other tools which can inflict injury, are a must.  During an emergency situation, medical care may not be readily available, so even simple injuries can become serious as a result of inadequate treatment or infection.

Relatively minor injuries like a twisted ankle can disable you, or reduce your effectiveness at a time when you need every ounce of your physical abilities.  Be safe.  Wear safety glasses, gloves, toe and ankle-protecting boots, as well as and other activity-specific safety gear.  Safety is your #1 priority during an emergency situation.

Expect fatigue.  Stress and physical exertion will increase fatigue, and the onset of fatigue.  Fatigue mixed with hazardous activities, tools and equipment is a situation ripe for disaster.  When possible, frequently rotate heavy physical work among several individuals.  This will delay the onset of fatigue and help heighten attentiveness.


Stay Hydrated.  As the tagline of the most popular water bottle/bladder manufacturer reminds us, “Hydrate or Die.”  This isn’t an empty slogan.  After air, your next priority for survival is to drink water.  Generally, at least 100-oz of water per day for an adult, much more as the temperature or exertion increases.

Adequate hydration is critical for your health, additionally so if you are engaged in manual labor, hiking, or operating in a hot climate.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very dangerous but entirely preventable conditions.  The likelihood of either condition can be significantly decreased with frequent rest breaks and adequate water (and mineral) intake

Naturally, the water you use must be potable (i.e. safe for drinking, cooking and brushing your teeth).  Unsafe water can kill you.  If it doesn’t kill you, it can make you extremely ill with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

During periods of exertion or high temperature, add to your water a Gatorade-like sports-drink powder product that is high in electrolytes.  Recipes for homemade electrolyte-replacement powders can be found on the Internet.  They typically include Kool Aid for flavoring to make it palatable to children, sugar, electrolytes and salt.


Get Physically Fit.  Strength and stamina may be life-saving attributes in an emergency situation.  With almost any disaster your physical abilities will be taxed.  Moreover, those who are physically fit and suffer an acute illness or injury almost invariably recover more quickly, more completely and with less medical intervention than those who are physically unfit.

Fitness requires consistency, time, perseverance during fatigue, and a mindshare commitment.  With your physician’s approval and guidance, setup a slowly graduated program to improve your overall fitness.  If you have not been getting exercise, start with a daily walking program or other aerobic exercise, alternating days with resistance (weights) training.

Many of us know how and what to do, yet we fail to consistently apply our knowledge. If you don’t know what to do, get your physician‘s help or find a certified trainer with a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) degree.  Private gyms are oftentimes better than big chains.

The time is now.  Add exercise to your daily schedule as if it is an important appointment.  It is.  Recruit a friend to join you; together you can help each other remain consistent.  You are more likely to faithfully exercise if you are doing it with someone.


Lose Excess Weight. Morbid obesity is a common and serious medical disorder involving excessive body fat, but simply being overweight by 15-20 pounds can also create health risks.  Excess body weight increases the risk of other health problems.

Stress and new levels of exertion during an emergency situation can be deadly for an overweight person.  Excess weight also interferes with basic physical activities such as breathing, sleeping and walking.  It will be a serious handicap in a scenario where everything is being accomplished by strenuous physical activity.

Those who are significantly overweight are at much greater risk for developing other serious disorders, too.  This can include health problems such as:  diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, chronic heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gallstones, degenerative arthritis, and even stroke and many types of cancer.  Medical conditions such as these can reduce your survivability during even a minor disaster, so do what you can now to improve your health.

Ask your physician for help in maintaining a 2-3 month supply of the medicines you need.  This may be a life saver during a disaster.  Notwithstanding, if your medicine is left behind or damaged as a result of a disaster, or the situation is protracted and you don’t have access to a pharmacy, your health problems may proliferate explosively.  Weight loss is a simple way to mitigate these potential problems.

Excess weight isn’t just a health risk; it may also reduce your ability to respond to the disaster.  Moreover, as your family and friends try to help you, it may increase their risk, too.

If you are overweight, schedule a doctor visit and start dealing with this problem today.  Lose the weight.  It can save your life and maybe the life of your loved ones, as well.


Eat Right.  Our bodies require high quality nutritional sources to run all of our bodily systems.  Even if you are typically health conscious about diet and nutrition, you may not have access to the foods you normally eat.  A change in diet can cause stomach upset, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea.  Keep medicines for these ailments with your food supply.

It is difficult, but nevertheless important to be nutrition-aware during an emergency situation.  Read food product labels, be aware of calorie intake (a minimum of 1,200 calories for most adults), and do what you can to maintain a balanced diet that includes fiber (and plenty of water).  You may ordinarily avoid fats and sugar, but these may be advantageous if your situation involves stress or exertion.  Alertness and good decision making are aided by a balanced diet.

An extended period of dietary deficiency can also produce serious illnesses.  The classic example is scurvy, a disorder that was literally killing British sailors who were at sea for extended periods.  Scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C, was easily prevented once sailors were given citrus fruits and other foods high in this vitamin. (For British sailors, a daily ration of limes was added to their diets.  As a result, the “Limeys” no longer suffered from scurvy.)


Take a Multivitamin.  Consider taking a daily multivitamin, now, and rotate a supply through your Emergency Supplies Kit and GO-Bag.  Since vitamin products degrade quickly when exposed to heat, light and moisture, keep this in mind when you select your storage method and location.

It’s not just advertising “hype” that multivitamins can enhance health, particularly for those who don’t eat nutritionally well-balanced meals.  Keep in mind, too, that people have different nutritional needs.  For example, growing children have different nutritional needs than adults, as do pregnant women and women in their reproductive years.  Seniors need age-specific multivitamins or supplements.

Though some physicians and dieticians dismiss the need for vitamins and supplements, most people find them helpful.  Today, most of our foods are over processed or prepared in a way which significantly decreases their nutritional value, so taking vitamins and selected supplements seems to provide some added “nutrition insurance”.

With the help of your physician or a competent advisor, decide what multivitamin is best for you; your health needs and your environment.  Since many major brands are useless because they fail to dissolve fast enough to be absorbed by your body, test each vitamin and supplement you are considering.  To test absorption, put the vitamin or supplement in a glass of room temperature water and wait 30-minutes.  If the pill has not dissolved in the glass, it may not dissolve in your stomach.

* As with medicine, protect children from unauthorized access to vitamins.

Selection of Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements.  If you and your physician think that it is safe to take these products, do your own research.  The websites for manufacturers of effective vitamins and nutritional supplements will contain more than marketing hype.  For example, the website for “Life Extension” (www.lifeextension.com) includes information on clinical research conducted using their products, blood testing services, articles on specific health concerns, a helpful online magazine which includes erudite articles, and evidence that their products are routinely referenced in independent medical and health journals.

Vitamin and Supplement Details:  Multivitamins can be a cost effective way to cover all the basics, but you may also want to include nutritional supplements for specific health goals.  The following information is for an adult, and is provided only as an example.  We include it here to help you formulate your own plan.  What you take, and the dosage, should be determined as a result of your own research, and validated in consultation with your physician.

Vitamin C, 1,000 mg/day.  Vitamin C boosts the immune system and promotes rapid healing of connective tissue injuries (cuts, sprains).  Some nutritionists advocate much higher doses, especially during a disaster scenario.  However, with a normal diet that contains vitamin C (citrus fruits especially), 1,000 mg/day is generally considered adequate.

Zinc, 50 mg/day.  Reported to be a significant immune system booster.  Do not exceed a dose of 50 mg per day as a higher dose can produce adverse effects.

Magnesium, 500 mg twice or three times per day.  Magnesium helps to keep blood pressure normalized.  It also helps decrease the risk of stroke and heart attack and helps prevent muscle cramps.

Fish Oil, 2000-8000 mg/day.  Fish oil is an effective anti-inflammatory, and also has effects similar to mild blood thinners.  These two beneficial effects may help decrease the risk of heart attack and brain attack (stroke).

Other Popular Supplements:  Green Tea Extract, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine).

Top-10 Medical Preparedness Questions to Ask Your Doctor Reply

Medical-QuestionsAt 36READY we are thankful to have a team of volunteers that are medical doctors and emergency medical care specialists.  We are using this opportunity to highlight the top-10 medical preparedness questions that we receive from those who are preparing for, “When there is no doctor” and “When there is no medical care” situations.  

This article is not medical advice, it is solely to help you prepare your own questions for your personal physician.


Question #1:  

What can the responsible individual do to minimize the adverse impact of no modern medical care for himself and his family?

Doctor:  In my research I came to realize that there are numerous medical conditions and events that we can avoid or mitigate with the proper preparation NOW.  Even those without any medical training can learn enough first aid and rudimentary health and sanitation principles to make a life or death difference for their loved ones.  This preparation will require the same diligence that we use in any other area of preparedness.


Question #2:

I have no medical knowledge or background, so what can I do to prepare medically for me and my loved ones?

Doctor:  Let’s be clear.  It will take diligence and a serious commitment of time and effort to be an effective caregiver for your nuclear group.  Set realistic goals for yourself.  Unless you decide to go to medical or nursing school you won’t get that level of knowledge and experience.  However, basic and advanced first aid can be learned by almost anyone and can be a lifesaver.  But to be proficient you will have to read, study, take courses and gather materials.


Question #3:

In addition to gaining knowledge, what practical things can me and my loved ones do now to begin to prepare for a medical emergency?

Doctor:  Start today, and begin the process of assembling three (or four) medical kits.  Though we often own many first-aid products, very often we can’t quickly find what is needed.  Change that today.

First, develop a small first aid kit that can be carried on your belt (or in your GO-Bag).  After you’re satisfied with the contents of this first small kit, make a duplicate for each family member’s GO-Bag.  Second, pull together a more complete medical bag to keep at home.  You can use this at home if needed, but it is designed as a self-contained multipurpose kit to grab if you ever need to evacuate (bug-out).  Design your third kit to be routinely carried in your vehicle.  The contents of this shoulder-bag size kit should be oriented toward traffic accidents and other serious injuries.

Fourth, if you are preparing a ‘safe haven’ retreat as a destination for evacuation, you will want to have heavy-duty plastic bins filled with all sorts of first aid and medical supplies.  In addition to quantities of first aid bandages and related gear, these bins of supplies should also include prescription drugs needed for you and your family, and nonprescription medicines for routine ailments.  In addition, these bins should have sanitation gear and other health care goods that might be needed for your family / community.

For the first three types of kits, use soft-sided bags.  This makes them easier to carry, transport, and easier to cram into limited space.  If you don’t currently have something suitable, don’t let that stall your implementation.  A cardboard box works fine as a container to start the process. 

Inventory what you already have, and make a list of what you need.  To save money, basic bandages can be obtained at a Dollar Store or Wal-Mart, while other items can be purchased online or at a medical supply store.  If you are planning for a protracted emergency situation, you will want a lot more in the way of medical supplies. 

At the very least, you and each adult and teen in your family should obtain formal first aid training.  The American Red Cross and other organizations offer courses such as, ‘Wilderness and Remote First Aid.’ This particular class was developed cooperatively between the Red Cross and the Boy Scouts, so you will probably find this type of medical training more helpful than just a basic first aid course.  Though not as practical as the hands-on classroom version of this course, this class is also offered as an online 16-hour course. 

The “Emergency Reference Guide” for this Wilderness and Remote First Aid class can be downloaded for free from the Red Cross website.  Print or buy a copy of this 121-page handbook and keep it in your larger medical kits.  Inside this Guide you will also find a list of items to include in your first aid kits.  In my view these lists are far from complete, but it is a good place to start.  Also, if you have a smart phone or tablet device, purchase a first-aid app or an e-book on wilderness medicine and emergency first aid.  That way you’ll have these reference materials handy.

In addition to these medical kits, review my responses to the below questions.  This should spark other thoughts regarding what you can do to prepare for a medical emergency. 


Question #4:

My doctor recently talked to me about having elective surgery.  I’m not sure I want to do it, but I realize that this could become a problem, especially during a protracted emergency situation when there is limited (or no) access to competent medical care.  

Doctor:  If you or your physician know that an “elective” procedure will need to be done at some point—do it now!

Doctors use the word ”elective” in two entirely different ways.  A truly elective procedure is one which is not essential to good health but is desired by the patient.  Examples of truly elective procedures might be plastic surgery for breast implants or a face lift.  These are certainly worthwhile procedures if they are important to the patient but they will have little or no impact on enhancing survival.

Doctors also use the term “elective” to describe medical abnormalities that do not have to be fixed right now but should be taken care sometime in the future.  These medical abnormalities will likely cause a problem at some point.  I strongly urge you to get these procedures done now!  Right now modern medical treatment is available. Safe, effective anesthesia can be administered by experts.  This ideal situation will not be available in a meltdown scenario.


Question #5:

What are the medical procedures that are important to deal with right away?

Doctor:  Repair of hernia (herniorraphy), removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) if it has ever been symptomatic, removal of hemorrhoids (hemorrhoidectomy), sinus surgery for serious recurrent sinus infections, knee or hip replacement, herniated disk surgery, carpal tunnel release and removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy) for recurrent serious throat infections.  If you have decided that you don’t want children then you might consider a vasectomy (males) or women might consider having their fallopian tubes tied now.

One additional comment is needed regarding gallbladder removal.  At the present time just the presence of gallstones is not considered justification for removal.  At the present time and with the medical resources currently available I concur with that guideline.  However, the question is will your gallstones at some future time (when modern medicine may not be available) cause a blockage of the duct?  I can’t answer that and neither can anyone else.  Gallbladder “attacks” are painful, accompanied by nausea with or without vomiting and may produce a serious condition called pancreatitis (inflammation and damage of the pancreas).  The pancreas secretes the enzymes we need to normally digest food. It is also the organ that manufactures insulin for control of our blood sugar levels.  Another consideration– if you have gallstones and have never had symptoms from them it is likely that your medical insurance will not want to pay for the surgery.  It’s an issue that you will have to decide for yourself with the input of a trusted personal physician.


Question #6:

My best friend visits her demonologist twice a year.  Is this really necessary?  What is the likelihood that a skin problem would develop so quickly, that it would become a problem during an emergency situation?

Doctor:  I think it would be prudent to have a competent dermatologist perform a careful examination of your skin to identify any premalignant or cancerous skin lesions.  The vast majority of these skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).  If caught early they are easily treated and completely curable.  These two skin cancers almost never spread to other areas of the body but if left untreated they can become very destructive leading to open wounds that are disfiguring and subject to secondary infection.


Question #7:

I’m a father of adult children, and am wondering if there are any special medical tests I should undergo as part of being prepared for an emergency situation?

Doctor:  Is it time for your colonoscopy?  I urge you to get it done so that any benign polyps, precancerous lesions or other abnormalities can be dealt with now.

Chronic Conditions:  If you or your loved ones have any chronic diseases you will need to prepare for their long term care.  This will require careful thought and planning.

Start by making a list of every disease or condition currently affecting each individual. If a medical person is available in a societal collapse environment, just having this information could be lifesaving.  By having a detailed list of medical problems, the medic can do a brief survey physical exam and probably be able to quickly determine the cause of the current acute problem and deal with it.

You also need to have a complete list of all vitamins, supplements and medications being taken by each individual to provide to the medic.  Be sure to include the dose (amount), the frequency with which the medicine is taken and how it is taken (by mouth, by suppository, etc.).  Drug interactions can mimic medical conditions and complicate diagnosis.


Question #8:

Obviously we may not have access to medical clinics, medical tests, and hospitals during a serious disaster.  Should I somehow get some antibiotics or other prescription medicines in case they are needed?

Doctor:  If possible, start to accumulate “extra” medications that are needed for each individual.  This is going to be hard to do because most medications are now fully or partially paid for by insurance companies.  Understandably, these companies are unwilling to pay for more than is needed for a given period of time (usually a 30 or 90 day supply).  So try to always get a 90 day prescription from your physician, so that if the “balloon goes up” tomorrow you will have that three month supply instead of just one month. 

If you want more of a medication than your medical insurance allows, then you will have to pay for it.  There are ways to get around medical insurers’ limitations but to do so is dishonest.  Don’t go there; honesty is important.  Cheating a medical service provider or an insurance company is not just illegal, it’s dishonest and unethical.  If you want more than your insurance company will provide, pay for it yourself out of your own pocket.

There are other, honest and legal, ways to accumulate prescription medications.  For example,  Do not discard old medications that weren’t completely used.  Pain pills that were prescribed for treatment of pain after a dental or surgical procedure, can be used by that individual in the future.  But be sure you know what you are doing.  Improper treatment can create more problems than they solve, and even be life threatening.  A doctor spends years in school to make sure he prescribes the appropriate treatment, don’t assume that you can do this with no training. 

In any case, if you were given a five day supply of pain killers but you only used it for two days, you have the option to save the extra.  Many preppers are doing this to make sure they have it available during an extended emergency situation. 

* If this is what you choose to do, be sure these medications are stored in a safe place, where children and unauthorized people can’t access them. 


Question #9:

What about the expiration date on medications?  Can they be used safely after that date has passed?

Doctor:  Although every medication has an expiration date, it has been scientifically proven that most medications (if stored correctly) are still effective for years (in some cases even decades) after that date.  Besides, even if an expired medication isn’t at full strength, in a situation where no medical care is available and you won’t have access to care for a long time, past-date medicines may be far better than nothing. 


Question #10:

I’ve heard that it’s possible to order medications online, from other countries, without a prescription.  Is this true?  Is it legal?

Doctor:  In some locales, another way to legitimately accumulate your prescription medications is to ask your care provider to write an identical, additional 90 day prescription for you. These patients don’t turn this second prescription in to their local pharmacy.  They use the first prescription to legitimately obtain their medications locally, using their medical insurance pharmacy plan.  The second prescription is used to order additional medication online, at their own expense. 

If this is what you would like to do, you will need to see if this is legal in your location.  If it is legal, be sure to ask friends for reliable vendors, and undertake your own online research.  Many people have successfully used Canadian mail-order pharmacies as well as those based in other countries.  However, there are multitudes of scammers and unethical vendors who are taking advantage of those who seek offshore medical supplies.  So, use caution.



This is only a conversation; we are not providing medical advice in this article.  We are only sharing general information to help you develop questions to ask your own doctor, so that you can better prepare for a situation when you cannot get medical care.  It is essential that you seek advice on these issues from your personal health care provider.  DO NOT act on this information without the corroboration of that licensed medical professional.

Doctor:  Although I am a physician, I am (obviously) not your personal or family physician.  So please understand, the purpose of this article is to respond to general questions, and share my thoughts and personal opinions.

As I consider the needs of my family and friends who are preparing for a “When there is no hospital or clinic” situation, I feel compelled to offer my opinions.  None of this should be considered a treatment plan, or medically directed advice.  It is solely for a “When there is no medical care for months” circumstance.

To be clear:  These responses are provided solely for those individuals who do not have access to medical care, and circumstances in which you have no choice but to handle medical care situations on your own.  Since I don’t want to leave you stranded, I have responded to these questions with the specific understanding that your circumstance is that no medical care will be available to you for many months.

Post Script:  I must confess that initially I was discouraged thinking about all the medications and technology I won’t have available to me in a societal meltdown situation.  But as I continue to study what can be done in such a situation, I became excited about the very real difference that we can make in the lives of others during a time such as this.  What an incredible opportunity to show the love of Jesus to those who will be desperate for help.




Evacuation: Pre-planning is Essential Reply

1-evacuation-crowds-of-people1. Get out early. Don’t delay.
2. Pre-plan your evacuation. Do it now, before it’s too late.

Routing, navigation, timing of departure, and predetermined locations to meet-up with family and/or friends, are all critically important elements of every personal emergency plan.

Unfortunately, evacuation routes are often thought to be obvious, and yet the obvious routes are usually a poor choice when disaster strikes.

In large urban areas, as well as rural locations where major storms are a part of life, evacuation routes have often been established, and these are generally marked with special signage. Maps of these ‘official’ evacuation routes are typically available online at the website for your local government’s Emergency Management Planning office.

Notwithstanding, it may be more prudent to review these ‘official’ routes and then formulate your own evacuation route. Actually, you need several routes. Routes to the rendezvous location where you intend to meet your family or friends, and a route from that location to a more distant safe haven. Plus, direct routes and ‘Plan-B’ routes to use when your first-choice route is compromised.

In a danger-is-imminent situation you need to skip the rendezvous location and immediately flee to a nearby safe (or safer) location. Then, once the initial danger is past, the maps and other items in your GO-Bag will make it possible for you to escape to a place where you can reconnect with family and friends.

Flexibility is essential, so an understanding of evacuation route options, and a good map, are important components of your GO-Bag.

1-Bug-Out_Team-Walking‘GO-Bag’ is an acronym for a “Get Out” bag of essential items. This emergency supplies kit is sometimes also referred to as a ‘GOOD Bag’ (Get-Out-of-Dodge Bag), or ‘Bug-Out Bag’ (old military term). Whichever term you use, this is a knapsack containing 12-20 pounds of essential items, things that you may desperately need for safe evacuation.

You always need to plan for more than one evacuation route. Though part of the route may be the same, you need alternate routes not only to your final destination, but also from your home, work, and the other areas you frequent.

If disaster strikes when you are on vacation or traveling, you have hopefully planned for that eventuality, as well. Most people will not take the time to make a detailed plan for every eventuality, but we nevertheless need to keep this possibility in mind while away from our hometown. Remember, disasters and emergency situations can be even more catastrophic for those who are far from home.

Since you might be someplace else when disaster strikes, you also need general maps, and ideally topographic maps which show terrain and land features in great detail. Beyond this, you also need to develop an understanding of choke points, local dangers and high-crime areas to be avoided.

1-Family-Bug-OutMoreover, for most of us, it’s not just about getting out of the area, it’s about getting out and being able to quickly rendezvous with our loved ones. That acknowledged, your plan needs to articulate when, and under what conditions, you abandon the local rendezvous plan in favor of meeting-up at your ‘Plan-B’ location. Safety and the reality of current conditions may make it necessary for you to head out alone, and meet your family and friends at your ‘safe haven’ final destination.

How do you know when to switch to ‘Plan-B’? How do you know how long you should wait before abandoning the local rendezvous location and heading out to your more distant safe haven? And, how do you decide when to go looking for a missing family member vs. getting the rest of the family to safety?

The answers are in your plan. Or at least they should be. That is why it’s so important to develop your own, personalized, evacuation plan. And why it is so important for each family member and friend involved, to understand the plan so that they know what to do, and when to do it.

Developing route options and establishing a distant safe haven isn’t enough. You need to also answer “if, then…” questions because adaptability and resiliency are essential for a safe evacuation.

How to respond to disaster and emergency situations does not fit neatly into a one-size-fits-all task list.  However, there are common needs which can be addressed.


evacuation_ukEscape “From” vs. Escape “To”

It’s not enough to evacuate ‘from’ a danger area. You need to flee ‘to’ a safe place where you can ride out the danger. Oftentimes more people are harmed or killed in the aftermath of an emergency incident than by the actual event. We need to keep this in mind as we consider evacuation to a safe haven.

As important as timely evacuation is, it’s only one component of the equation. The formula for safety includes not only pre-planned evacuation routes, but also quick departure, readily accessible emergency supplies, and advance selection and preparation of a safe haven.

Unlike the masses who travel the evacuation routes prescribed by a government plan, your pre-planning gives you the opportunity to choose your destination. Don’t just plan a family rendezvous point and an evacuation route; be sure to pre-plan a suitable destination, too.

Where do you want your evacuation route to take you? Ideally to a pre-planned ‘safe haven’ retreat location which is safe and pre-stocked with emergency supplies.

Either way, it may be smart to go somewhere that is 20+ miles away from the displaced crowds who are fleeing the danger area. Preferably, a location that is not on a main road; a retreat area that is not easily accessed by those who become frustrated and leave the pack of escaping people. Increased violence, erratic behavior, and a shortage of supplies are attributes of displaced people. By preplanning, you have the opportunity to avoid this fate.

Remember too, though you may need to evacuate alone, or just with your immediate family, you cannot expect to sustain an extended emergency situation alone. Develop a team; create your own ‘community’ to deal with an extended emergency.

On the other hand, to depend on community ‘camps’ or refugee areas established by government agencies or relief organizations isn’t generally a good idea. Too often these simply trade one dangerous situation for another.

Those who pre-plan, prepare, and retreat to a well-selected safe haven, can often avoid internment in refugee or FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) camps. If you have the option, avoid these camps.

It’s far better to maintain your independence by retreating with a group of trusted friends and family to a private location: A retreat location prepared by you in advance, where your group can be self-sufficient and self-reliant; where you depend on each other for safety and security.

Notwithstanding, after taking time now to plan and prepare, when the emergency situation is actually upon you, the best evacuation advice is:

Get out early. Don’t delay.

Even if you act on this foresight and establish a group retreat and a plan to evacuate together, it’s not unusual for an individual, or part of the group, to not arrive at the rendezvous point in a timely manner. Consider this possibility now. Plan for it.

How long will you wait? Your plan needs to include this detail. If not, the delayed person may waste valuable time trying to get to you when they should be opting for ‘Plan-B’ and a different rendezvous location.

bridge-accident-bMoreover when you wait for them, your window of opportunity for a safe escape may close. You may become trapped by circumstances.

In advance, build into your plan the amount of time you will wait at your first rendezvous location. Then, when disaster strikes, stick to the plan; that way everyone knows what to expect, and what is expected of them.

For those who are elderly or with physical limitations, there is an even greater tendency to wait. Yet, this understandable inclination can make escape even more difficult. There is a fine line between waiting for family and friends who can help, and waiting too long and losing the opportunity to get to safety. This is yet another reason why it is advantageous to have pre-arranged routes, and secondary rendezvous locations, along the route to a ‘safe haven’ retreat location.

If you delay your departure as a result of waiting for someone, or to assemble more supplies, etc., you are asking for trouble. At the very least, you will likely get bogged down with the thousands of other people who waited. This doesn’t just represent a time delay; it translates into increased danger. Every minute you delay represents increased danger.

1-survival-family-child-disasters-sc4Identifying sound evacuation route options and rendezvous locations is foundational to every personal emergency plan. Regrettably, in surveys taken among both adults and children regarding disaster preparedness, most were unable to recall the details of their family’s plan, even when they remembered that a plan had been established. This is a solemn reminder that an outstanding emergency plan is only vapor if the participants can’t remember the details.

Adaptability is another attribute that must be considered. Unfortunately, this aspect is also often neglected, rendering the plan irrelevant at the time when it is desperately needed.

Complexity hampers memory and the retention of plan details. Whereas an emergency plan with insufficient depth and adaptability, can make the plan ineffective. So what do we do?


Develop a brief, written “Plan Summary”

The solution is to develop an adaptable, flexible and resilient plan that is straightforward and easy to remember; a plan that is supported by a printed ‘Plan Summary’ which includes brief but specific reminders of the key details (and maps). A copy of this summary document should be kept in each person’s GO-Bag.

Maps, routing details, addresses, notes and reference materials are all useless if not readily available when disaster strikes. Your brief Plan Summary, along with maps marked with routes and related reference materials, needs to be included in each GO-Bag.

If you have a smart phone, store a PDF copy of the plan, and maps, etc. in your phone. The screen may be small and hard to read, but this back-up copy may prove to be invaluable.

Vigilance without adequate preparation is like a baseball player stepping up to the plate without a bat. Don’t leave important details to chance, or assume that the information will be remembered during a high-stress situation.

Just as a baseball player can’t expect to score a run without coaching and practice, you and your team need to get ready, too. Pre-planning, recollection of the plan’s details by everyone involved, and adaptability (contingency plans), are all essential components of every emergency plan.

Plan now; save lives later.

If you don’t have a plan, start today by making a basic bullet-point plan or numbered list that can be expanded over time. If you do have a plan, use this reminder as an opportunity to refresh your plan, and to remind each participant of the details.

When disaster strikes, most people will not stop to read a lengthy plan. This is a trait of human nature. Don’t expect to change it. You can mitigate this problem by making sure they are familiar with the plan in advance. If they understand the plan, then they are far more likely to use the Plan Summary to find the details they need but can’t remember.


1-remote-secure-cabinDestination, home? Or, another location?

The best answer is both. But each member of your family (or group) needs to know where they should be heading, and the conditions or timing which will redirect them from the primary to a secondary destination. And, what route to take.

Invariably, when someone fails to arrive at the predetermined location, it is tempting to organize a search party to look for the missing person. Unfortunately, if you aren’t confident of the route which would have been taken, this may not just be a futile exercise, it may also be extremely dangerous.

Make decisions such as this in advance. In your Plan Summary document, be specific regarding timing, and under what conditions you will move to Plan-B.



Bugging-out from home or work to a safer, less-populated rural location

If you live or work in an urban or suburban area and disaster strikes, the best plan may be to get to a less populated area where self-sufficiency is possible. If the situation affects thousands of people, and it looks to be an emergency situation which will last for more than a few days, then you need to get out early, while you still can. You need to evacuate to a safe rural location.

If you wait until the masses of people arrive at the same conclusion, it may be too late. You may be trapped by traffic congestion, blocked roads or frustrated crowds; conditions which are often followed by violence.

Where will you go? How will you get there? What will you take with you?

Ideally, the selection of a retreat location is a decision to be made in advance, as part of your emergency plan. With advance planning, you have the opportunity to select a suitable location, make arrangements with the property owners, develop a team, stockpile supplies at that location, and to identify routing and transportation options for safe and expeditious travel.

Last minute decisions of this magnitude can often be disastrous if poorly conceived. Advance planning is imperative.

If your primary retreat location is many miles away, be sure to select a “Plan-B” location that is on the way, but within 1-2 days (or 1-2 nights) walking distance. For those who live in a major city, this Plan-B retreat may not be in a rural location, but rather a better place within the city; a location where you can congregate with other family and friends for mutual aid and improved safety.

Irrespective of whether your retreat location is rural or urban, community is essential for surviving an emergency situation that lasts more than a few days. If you can avoid it, don’t try to go it alone.

Invariably those who bug-out early, before the rest of the population realizes their plight, are far more likely to reach safety. Delay can be deadly. But to leave for an non-specific location may also be deadly. Make your plans now, before you need them.

Recommended Reading: “Strategic Relocation” by Joel Skousen.


Route Selection

In an emergency situation, the shortest distance between two points may not be the best route to travel.

Environmental factors such as the effects of a storm and storm damage, traffic congestion, traffic signals not working, accidents and choke points created by bridges and tunnels, new dangers such as social unrest, or the expansion of high-crime areas, may make a circuitous and longer route far more prudent.

Remember, a multitude of factors may make car travel, subway, and commuter bus travel impossible. You need a back-up plan to these modes of transportation.

What is your best route if you find yourself walking instead of riding? Freeway routes may be too dangerous for foot travel. Major thoroughfares may offer the shortest travel time by vehicle, but they may not be the safest or fastest choice in an emergency situation.

Importantly, your usual routes which utilize major roadways are often miles longer than a more direct route which can be utilized by those who are walking or riding a bike.

Keep in mind that railroad tracks and above ground subway tracks may be more direct but not included on maps. Tracks and power line right-of-ways may be fine for walking, but these routes may actually be more tiring as your walking stride may be affected.

Factors such as these must be taken into account. It may seem like a bother, but when legal and possible, it is better to walk these routes in advance so that you know what to expect.

It is to your advantage to walk, or at least drive each alternative route, as maps never provide all the details you need. An emergency situation is not the time to find that your selected route has become inaccessible due to road changes, construction, new security fences, or the emergence of unsafe neighborhoods.

Use an indelible-ink pen (Sharpie) to mark your maps with routing and relevant route details. After you have traveled each route, produce an updated set for the GO-Bag belonging to each member of your group. Treat each map with AquaSeal Map Seal to protect it and make it more durable.


Not just evacuation routes, but an Emergency Plan

Anyone who has been in combat is acquainted with the adage, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” And the saying, “The plan is nothing, but planning is everything.” These military truisms, which emphasize the importance of adaptability, are valid for our personal emergency plans, as well. Awareness, and an orientation to problem solving based in prior planning, is necessary for timely decision making, prudent action, and resiliency.

Developing an emergency plan has huge benefits. It provides advantages such as the ability to make strategic decisions unhampered by stress, it gives you time to do research, the opportunity to obtain expert advice, and to select participants and get buy-in from them.

Importantly, it gives you the opportunity to work on the plan together, and to obtain agreement on the details. By taking the time to actually develop a plan, all of this can be accomplished in advance.

Anticipate potential problems. Identify solutions. Build-in resiliency.

Your Emergency Plan doesn’t need to be an elaborate document. Bullet-point details that are discussed can be enough – especially if the concept of writing a plan is so daunting that you won’t do it. It’s far better to have a detailed outline that is written and discussed, then to wait until someone writes it all down.

Every thinking person knows that an emergency plan is important. Unfortunately, the tyranny of the urgent often keeps us from getting to the things which are truly important.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Start now; don’t wait until you have the time to make a plan exhaustive or professional looking. When you are done reading this, take a few minutes to outline a personal plan. Then, get a collection of maps to evaluate, and select which ones are best for this purpose.

A personal or family-and-friends plan needs to be simple yet specific, and at the same time resilient. Adaptability needs to be built into your plan. Decision making, and appropriate action, must be clear to each participant.

For example, if your spouse plans to take a certain route from work-to-home in the event of an emergency situation, then it is possible to search for them if they don’t arrive home within a reasonable timeframe. Conversely, without this most basic detail, a timely and effective search is next to impossible, and may compound the problem rather than solve it.

When ‘Plan-A’ isn’t possible, everyone needs to know when to switch to ‘Plan-B.’


What to include in a personal Emergency Plan / Evacuation Plan

Don’t delay. Take the time now to…

1. Investigate route options for getting to your gathering place, with departure points from the locations you and your family/friends frequent often. Identify at least four very different routes which will get you home or to your gathering spot, with departure locations emanating from work sites, school, church, shopping, and other places you frequent.

Google Maps and similar online map resources can be helpful for this process, but don’t limit your efforts to the high-traffic main-road type routes that computer software usually identifies. Back roads provide important alternatives. If you live in a flood-prone area, you will need to use a flood map or topographic (land features) map to help with your route planning.

2. Next, repeat the same exercise but for traveling on foot, and/or by bicycle.

3. Using a highly detailed paper map, identify your potential routes.

4. Drive or walk each route to verify viability of each. Measure time and distance for each route, and between obvious milestones, and note this information on your maps.  During an emergency situation these times will likely be very different, but these details are still helpful.

5. Use this opportunity to make additional notations on your map using a fine-tip waterproof pen (Sharpie). Mark directly on your map the location of gas stations, convenience stores, nearby hospitals and emergency clinics, and police and fire stations. Add notations relating to sources of water, places to hide or sleep, possible rendezvous locations where you can comfortably wait for others, etc.

6. Mark your map with landmarks and other land features which will be helpful if street signs are missing. Since disasters can destroy signage and buildings, be sure to include structures and landmarks which will likely remain.

7. Now, transfer your route and notes to a fresh map, and make a similar map for each member of your family-and-friends evacuation group. Coat each map with a clear, waterproof sealer/durability-enhancer such as ‘Map Seal’ made by AquaSeal. After waiting several days to make sure each map is dry, fold and store each map-set in a large waterproof plastic bag which is large enough so that the map can be used without removing it from the bag. This will help protect your maps from damage during storage, and during use.  Or better yet, use a waterproof map case such as the clear vinyl ‘Dry Doc’ Map Case made by Seattle Sports. Each vehicle, and each ‘GO-Bag,’ should have a set of these route maps.


Practice Your Plan

Walk or drive each route and alternative route.  Or, you can make it fun for family and friends by making it into a Geocaching– type game.  Most geocaching clubs utilize electronic devices, but you can create your own, similar games using just a map, compass, and ‘clues’ based on permanent land features.  It’s like a treasure hunt, but a game that provides serious benefits.


Click here: Article – Evacuation: Preplanning is Essential to download a PDF copy of this article for printing.


Additional Resources

Topographic Maps (www.USGS.gov):  U.S. Geological Survey Store

Source for Map Seal, compass, map cases, etc. (www.REI.com):  Recreational Equipment online

Tutorial on how to use a topographic map: GeoSTAC

Orienteering: How to Use a Compass

Recommended Compass: 3H Military Compass

Recommended Budget Compass:  SUUNTO A-30

Recommended Book: “Be Expert with Map and Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook” by Bjorn Kjellstrom and Carina Elgin

Recommended Book:  “Strategic Relocation” Third Edition, by Joel Skousen.

Note:  We do not derive any benefit from our recommendations.

Emergency Radios: “All-Hazards” Notification and News Updates During an Emergency Reply

Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Digital Solar-Dynamo AM-FM-LW-SW-NOAA Weather Emergency Radio with Alert n RDFor those who live in the United States, the U.S. Government maintains a nationwide network of 1,000 emergency radio stations (NWR).  These continuously broadcast region-specific weather information, and now other emergency information, too. Therefore, all emergency kits assembled for use in the U.S. should include a radio which is capable of receiving these “All-Hazards” radio broadcasts.

Originally designed to provide the public with emergency storm warnings, NWR radio stations are now equipped to broadcast official warnings for all sorts of public safety emergencies.  These broadcasts are generally in the format of recorded messages which repeat the important details continuously until the next update, or until the hazard is over.

Working with the Federal Communication Commission’s Emergency Alert System , NWR is now an “All Hazards” radio network.  It is the single best source for reliable and up-to-date information on storm alerts, and for receiving “official” government information during any major emergency situation.

The dispatches for these regional NWR broadcasts are assembled from information gleaned from NOAA meteorologists (for weather events), as well as input from other government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.  Since NWR incorporates information from federal, state, and local Emergency Managers and other public officials, it is a consolidated source of important time-sensitive information for local, regional, and national disasters and emergencies.

In it’s new format, regional emergency broadcasts include information on nearby natural disasters such as earthquakes, environmental disasters such as a train derailment which created a dangerous chemical spill, as well as all other major public safety emergencies.

NWR regional stations have the ability to provide rapid notifications for routine local matters such as AMBER Alerts, as well as network-wide national warnings on active terrorist threats.  NWR will be used to broadcast DHS information on nuclear, biologic and chemical attacks; CDC information on the spread of a pandemic and quarantine measures; and by local law enforcement to notify the public of lock-down measures and curfew information during periods of social unrest.  In short, any broad emergency which impacts the lives of the general public regionally or nationally.

Historically known as the “Voice of NOAA’s National Weather Service,” it’s important to understand that NWR now provides a much broader range of warnings.  However, since it is still a service provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it can be expected to maintain its primary focus on weather-related warnings.

NOAA_Weather_Radio-Coverage_Area-MapTo accomplish it’s threefold radio-broadcast mission of early warning, disaster response, and post-disaster information, NWR maintains a network of more than 1,000 transmitters to cover all 50 U.S. states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories.

However, as the above maps shows, there are still some rural areas without good reception.  Nonetheless, all population-dense areas are well covered, usually by several broadcast stations, thus the need for multiple radio frequencies.

To receive NWR broadcasts, a special radio receiver dedicated to that purpose is required, or, a radio which is capable of receiving these seven frequencies (MHz):

162.400 162.425 162.450 162.475 162.500 162.525 162.550

!BReTGuQ!Wk~$(KGrHgoH-DUEjlLlypo6BJ-KyEkTNQ~~_3_5101_1Radio Selection

If you are located more than 150 miles from a NWR transmitter, or in a mountainous area, select a radio receiver that is equipped with an external antenna which is capable of boosting a distant radio signal.

Since each region uses a specific frequency(ies), identify the ones you will need in an emergency.  (Click Here for NWR transmitter locations).  If your radio has pre-sets, lock-in your station frequencies in advance, so that you won’t need to search for that information during an emergency situation.

In addition to specialty radios designed to listen to these NWR stations, you can also find AM/FM radios which include the seven NWR frequencies.  These are usually advertised as including “NOAA Weather Alerts”, “NOAA Emergency Broadcasts” or “WB” frequencies.  The term “NWR” is rarely used.

Uniden PC68LTW Bearcat Series 40 Channel CB Radio with NOAAAlso, some 2-way radios, such as certain brands/models of CB radios, SSB, marine, FRS and GMRS radios, have an added feature which allows them to be used to listen to these NWR emergency broadcasts.  Multipurpose 2-way radios such as these can provide an added advantage during an emergency situation, especially if paired with a walkie-talkie.

Emergency radios marketed under recognizable brands such as “Red Cross,” do not necessarily indicate high quality.  Among knowledgeable experts, popular emergency radio brands include:  Grundig, Kaito, Yaesu, and Sangean.  Also popular are emergency radios made by Midland, Cobra, Sony, Uniden, Motorola, Eaton and C. Crane.


La_Crosse-810-106_front_back_LCD_NOAARadio Power Options

With all emergency radios, AC (wall) power and battery-powered operation is essential.  And, automotive 12-volt adapters are a top priority option.

Some emergency radios can also be powered with a built-in hand crank, which is a nice, albeit laborious-to-use helpful feature.  Or, a small solar panel incorporated into the radio, which generally only works marginally well even on bright sunny days.  Yet, these minuscule solar panels still provide a modest benefit if you are in an area where daylight also brings distinct shadows (indicating enough sunshine to energize a small solar panel).

Despite the shortcomings of hand-cranks and radio-mounted solar panels, it is still advantageous to have an emergency radio that is equipped these features.  The Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 digital radio, depicted in the photo at the top of this article, is an example of a compact radio which incorporates all of these power options, plus a telescoping external antenna.

Some hand-crank models not only power the radio, but can also be used to charge your cellular telephone.  But if you intend to use this added feature, be sure to purchase the power-tip adapter needed to connect your model of cellular phone, and don’t forget to buy a new adapter if you get a new phone.

Less-expensive models of hand-crank radios generally use Ni-Cad batteries, and these can fail after long-term storage.  If your radio came with a Ni-Cad battery, check the manual to see if it can be replaced with rechargeable Lithium batteries.  These will provide more hours of listening, and they have a long shelf life.

Either way, if you won’t be using your radio for daily listening, be sure to remove the batteries prior to storage.  If you leave the batteries in the radio, after a few months of no-use, even the best batteries might corrode or leak, causing damage to the radio.  Don’t risk this potential problem; remove the batteries before storage.

During an emergency situation, NWR/NOAA radio messages are constantly transmitted, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  To alleviate the jading effect caused by the repetitiveness of these recorded messages, some radios provide an alert signal when the message changes.  This is a helpful feature.

Batteries-D-C-AA-AAABattery Size:  To increase adaptability, select an emergency radio which uses standard-size batteries such as: AAA, AA, C or D.

A radio which requires a special battery is not as useful during an extended emergency.  It’s not unusual for these proprietary batteries to fail, or no longer accept a full charge.  A replacement or spare specialty-battery may be impossible to find, whereas a standard battery can often be cannibalized from another device.

When possible, standardize the batteries you use in your radio, flashlight and other battery-powered devices.  This will make it possible for you to share batteries between devices.

Also, just as with flashlights, some radios work longer than others, even when they are using the same type battery and the same number of batteries.  So look for information on “operating time per set of fresh batteries” when you compare different radio makes and models.

Long-term power consumption is an important consideration which is often overlooked when purchasing an emergency radio.  This run-time difference can be very significant if you are in a protracted emergency situation.  The battery pack in some radios can be drained after just a few hours of listening, while another brand of radio can continue to operate for multiple days, powered by an identical set of batteries.

Earbuds:  If conserving battery power is a concern, use earbuds (in-ear headphones).  These can substantially extend battery life since the battery isn’t being used to power the radio’s internal speaker.

Extra Batteries:  Each radio must be stored either with sufficient back-up ‘spare’ batteries to keep it powered for two weeks, or utilize an off-grid recharging method such as a hand-crank, efficient solar, or an adapter which makes it possible to connect the radio to a 12-volt battery which has been removed from a vehicle.  Or, an external hand-crank or solar device designed for charging batteries.


Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Close-Up-circleSelecting Optional Features for Your Emergency Radio

Having a radio that can receive broadcasts from commercial radio stations on the AM and FM bands, in addition to the NWR/NOAA broadcasts, is extremely helpful during an emergency situation.  Local radio stations may be off the air, but a station which is located outside the disaster zone might still be a valuable source of news and information.  Therefore, a multipurpose emergency radio which also includes AM/FM bands, provides a clear advantage.

For emergencies of extended duration, and for non-weather emergencies of all sorts, a radio capable of receiving international broadcasts (shortwave radio) presents yet another advantage.  Unfortunately, most lower-cost hand-crank radios which receive AM/FM/SW/WS (NWR/NOAA), provide minimal access to shortwave (SW) frequencies, but some access is better than none.

Some emergency-style radio brand/models claim to be able to receive the audio of television broadcasts, police and fire department activity, and airline or airport frequencies.  Though this sounds impressive, these claims are generally false.  Though this was possible a decade ago, today most government broadcasts are digital and encrypted, making it impossible for the general public to receive these broadcasts without sophisticated equipment.

Having the ability to re-charge your cellular telephone through your emergency radio may be a life saver.  For some people, this will be an important feature.  However, there are other methods for recharging a cell phone.

Note:  During a terrorist incident or times of social unrest, the government will likely turn-off the cellular network, or block civilian use of the system.  So don’t count on communicating via cellular phone, text messaging or Internet during certain types of disasters.

Also, during extreme weather incidents, cellular towers are often damaged, making cell phone use impossible or coverage spotty.  Moreover, since cellular systems often operate at near capacity routinely, high-demand during an emergency will quickly overwhelm the system.

Don’t count on a cellular phone’s radio app or news app, either.  These will not work if the cellular network is inoperable.  So don’t depend on a mobile phone for communication, or news gathering, during an emergency situation.


Oregon Scientific WR602 Portable Public Alert Weather Radio with SAMERadios for GO-Bags

Our recommendation is that every GO-Bag (aka/ Bug-Out Bag, GOOD Bag, Evacuation Knapsack) be equipped with a small, lightweight AA or AAA-battery powered radio which is capable of receiving AM/FM/SW/WS (NWR/NOAA) broadcasts.

Earbuds (small in-ear headphones) should be stored with the radio, since battery life can be greatly extended by using earbuds.  Plus when using earbuds, a small radio can be quietly used while on the move, and it can also deliver clear audio even in a noisy environment.

Keep a Cyalume Light Stick (aka / Snap-Light, Chem Light, Glow Stick), or an inexpensive flashlight with batteries installed, stored in an outside pocket of your GO-Bag.  During hours of darkness, this light source will help you install batteries into both your radio and better-quality flashlight.  If your emergency situation occurs at night, a Cyalume light (or inexpensive flashlight specifically designed for emergency use and long-term storage), can be used to quickly find items stored in your knapsack.

As to quantity of batteries, a GO-Bag should be equipped with at least two extra sets of batteries for each radio, flashlight and important electronic device.  For radio use at home and work, a sufficient quantity of batteries should be stored to facilitate 2-weeks of radio operation.  Or, an off-grid smart charger and sufficient quantity of rechargeable batteries, to power your radio and essential devices for two weeks.

Selecting flashlights and other electronic devices which use the same type of battery provides a major logistical advantage.  If your radio, flashlights and other electronics use the same type/size of battery, you can share extras if that becomes necessary.

Be sure to store your emergency radio and one set of batteries, inside a plastic container with padding, and then put the container in a Zip-lock bag to help protect it from damage.   When you’re in the midst of a situation but not currently using your radio, return it to the Zip-lock bag and protective container.

For long-term radio and electronics storage, the best solution may be a heavy duty heat-sealed Mylar bag and desiccant packet, in addition to a Zip-lock bag and plastic container.  The sealed Mylar bag and desiccant will protect your electronics from atmospheric moisture, as well as exposure to leaky food and beverage bottles, rain and floods.

Since Mylar bags are generally one-time-use containers, also utilize a Zip-lock bag.  After you have torn open the Mylar to retrieve your radio, the Zip-lock bag can be used to provide some water protection, and a rigid plastic container can be used to further protect the radio from damage caused by accidental drops.

In an emergency situation, between uses of your important electronics, it is still prudent to protect these items from accidental damage.  For more on safe storage, and easy do-it-yourself tips on Mylar packaging,  Click Here.


Sangean-CL-100-2Emergency Radios for Home and Work

In addition to a GO-Bag emergency radio, your vehicles, home and office should all have a more substantial portable emergency  radio.  These larger radios should also be equipped with an external antenna.  (An attached telescoping antenna is the most common, but other types of external antennas can be even more effective in Kaito-external-antennapulling-in distant radio stations).

These radios should also be equipped with a hand crank (or in sunny climates, an external solar panel), in addition to having extra Lithium rechargeable batteries on hand.

Even if your home or workplace has an emergency generator, these usually produce unfiltered electrical power, so they may damage sensitive electronics.   It’s therefore better to operate your emergency radio using battery power.  Use the generator to power a separate smart-charger unit to re-charge your radio’s batteries, not to run your radio.



Warning:  Never store batteries in your radio or electronic devices.  Batteries can leak acid or corrode, causing damage.  Batteries stored in an electronic device for more than a month or two, can render it inoperable.  

Rather than store your equipment with batteries installed, it is much safer to store batteries in their own container.  Yet, it is important to keep at least one set of batteries handy, so that you are able to quickly install batteries and make your radio operational.  So be sure to include a container of fresh batteries in your radio bag.

Consider using duct tape, rubber bands, plastic wrap, or some other method to securely attach a set of batteries to the outside of your radio (and your other battery-powered equipment).  This makes it possible for you to quickly insert the batteries and use the device, while still protecting your equipment from damage caused by in-device battery storage.

Over time, most disposable batteries, including the better-quality Alkaline and Lithium types, will leak if installed in a radio, flashlight, or other battery-powered device.  Short-term storage is fine, no problem.  However, long-term storage of a device with batteries installed, will generally damage the device, often rendering it unusable at a time when it is needed the most.

It may seem odd, but the same batteries stored separately, rarely leak or corrode.  Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to wrap batteries in plastic wrap, a small Zip-lock bag which keeps them tight together, or a small plastic battery box (above photo) made for that size battery.

When packaging batteries, store them in a manner which keeps the poles of the batteries from touching each other, and also keeps the poles of the batteries from coming into contact with anything which might drain them of their energy.

A plastic box designed to store batteries is not essential.  Three layers of plastic wrap, or electrical tape, is usually sufficient to protect standard AA, AAA, C or D-cell batteries.

Alkaline and Lithium batteries are the most stable disposable batteries, and they provide longer operating life than standard batteries.  So unless you have the money to buy exotic batteries, Alkaline and Lithium batteries the best choice for emergency kits.  (Lithium batteries are generally more expensive than Alkaline, but they will last longer.)


Tenergy-Smart-Charger-110v-12-v-SqRechargeable Batteries and Battery Chargers

If you intend to recharge your batteries (a good idea) rather than use disposable batteries, Lithium rechargeable batteries are generally the longest-lasting consumer battery.

Note: You cannot safely recharge disposable batteries.  When in doubt, read the label.  Rechargeable batteries are always labeled as being rechargeable.

When it comes to selecting a charger to re-power your rechargeable batteries, make sure it is designed for use with the various size batteries you intend to recharge, and the type of rechargeable battery you want to use (i.e. Lithium Rechargeable, etc.).  Importantly, though sometimes a bit more expensive, a “smart” charger will do a far better job of recharging your batteries.

A smart charger will condition your batteries during the recharging process, will protect them from overcharging which can be dangerous, and will enable the batteries to power your device as much as 30% longer.  Plus, a smart charger gives your batteries 200-300% longer life (recharge cycles).

GoalZero-Portable_Solar-w-Battery_ChargerA smart charger is well worth the added expense.  Some models can be used using multiple power sources: 110/220-volts and 12-volt power, while others, like the “10 Guide Plus” made by GoalZero, are bundled with compatible solar panels for recharging.

A radio without power is useless, as is a radio which is unusable due to poor storage, so don’t neglect these concerns when preparing your GO-Bag and emergency kit radios.  Further, a radio you don’t know how to use is of minimal value, so learn how to use your radio now, before the emergency situation.  Even if you are familiar with the operation of your radio, pack the instruction manual with your radio, inside its protected long-term storage packaging.

For more information on NWR: Coverage MapsStation ListingsAutomated VoicesReceiver Info, SAME CodingAll HazardsEASReport NWR Outages, Special NeedsFAQs
NOAANational Weather ServiceOffice of Climate, Water, and Weather Services.  National Weather Service, 1325 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Pepper Spray as a Self-Defense Option Reply

Pepper-Spray-PreparedFor those who are prohibited from having a gun, or who can’t countenance using a gun to defend themselves against violence, pepper spray is an alternative that is worth considering.  Unfortunately, most major disasters are followed by a dramatic increase in the number and severity of crimes of violence, so self-defense is an important aspect of all disaster preparation.

If a gun is not an option for you, consider obtaining a pepper spray device to use as a tool for self-defense.  Though pepper spray is not legal for civilian use everywhere, it is legal in many places.  In most regions, you don’t need a license or special training, either.

It’s a simple and inexpensive solution.  A $15 can of pepper spray can literally save your life, or keep you from being seriously injured or violently abused.

PeppersprayWhat is commonly referred to as “pepper spray” is a small hand-held aerosol device which dispenses a liquid or gel formulation of the chemical Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).  OC is derived from hot chili pepper vegetables, thus the nickname, pepper spray.

When used against a normal, reasonably healthy assailant, Oleoresin Capsicum, aka pepper spray, is non-lethal and non-injurious.  It is a chemical agent designed for use in self-defense situations where physical violence is eminent.

When sprayed into the eyes of an attacker, pepper spray can have a debilitating effect for 15-45-minutes.  Yet, it does not cause permanent injury or physical damage to a healthy adult, nor does it require medical attention for them to fully recover.  The effect simply wears off, or the chemical can be washed off to obtain relief.

When used on a human attacker, pepper spray is designed to produce a burning sensation to the skin, coughing, and copious tearing and swelling of the skin around the eyes.  This can limit the aggressor’s ability to see his or her intended victim, making it possible for the victim to escape.  Also, since these effects often take the fight out of a violent attacker, the aggressor is motivated to disengage from the attack and often flees the area.

On the downside, pepper spray works somewhat like an allergic reaction, so effects vary.  Unfortunately, results are inconsistent, but since it is somewhat debilitating 85% of the time, it’s still worth having.  It’s certainly a lot better than being defenseless.

Just as some people can better tolerate spicy foods, the reaction to pepper spray can be very different from one person to the next.  If you opt for pepper spray, keep in mind that results can vary greatly, causing some people to be completely debilitated, whereas others will not be affected at all.

Assailants who are hopped-up on drugs, intoxicated with alcohol, or mentally ill, tend to have little or no reaction to pepper spray.  Nevertheless, pepper spray is still worth having, particularly if a firearm isn’t an option.

Mace-Gel-Pepper-SprayThree things to look for when selecting a pepper-spray product:  

1. Select a model that shoots a stream of the OC chemical at least 10-12 feet in distance.

2. The contents of the device should include 10% Oleoresin Capsicum (aka / “OC”, or “OC spray”), as this is the optimal strength for use against humans.  This is the formula-strength that police officers usually carry, and it is the same  strength usually used for riot control.

A more accurate measurement of effectiveness is Scoville Heat Units (SKU), but this measurement is typically only found on the label of pepper spray dispensers marketed to law enforcement agencies.  If this is the measurement you encounter, then 150,000 SKU should be considered the minimum level of potency.

The most accurate measurement of pepper spray effectiveness is obtained by using the High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method, but this is rarely encountered.  If you do find this measurement, select a product that has an HPLC Capsaicinoid rating of 0.7% or higher.

3. The dispensing container needs to hold enough of the liquid to make it possible to deliver a minimum of seven 1-second bursts of OC spray per assailant.

A formula of 10% Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) is optimal for people, and it can be useful against aggressive dogs, too, whereas 50% formulation of OC is used against large mammals such as bear.  Any formulation which contains less than 10% Oleoresin Capsicum is not adequate for self-defense use.

Pepper spray is worth owning, but it is important to understand that it is not reliably effective against all human attackers, nor will it stop all vicious dogs.  It is a useful product, but it is not perfect; it doesn’t always work as advertised.  Nevertheless, it is the best non-lethal choice for most civilians.

Mace-pepper-sprayThere is some confusion between “pepper spray” and the terms, “Mace” and “teargas.”  Mace is a brand name for a company that sells self-defense products, and teargas is a different chemical (usually labeled as CN teargas or CS teargas).  To add to the confusion, some pepper-spray dispensers also contain CN or CS teargas. (Of the two types of teargas, CS is more powerful.)  The reason that teargas is sometimes included in a pepper spray formulations is that some people don’t react to pepper spray, but they still might react to teargas.  However, most experts agree that teargas is not necessary since OC is more universally effective.

Available in various types of dispensers, ranging from devices which fit onto a key ring, to those which are incorporated into a cell phone case (usually inadequate), to various shapes and sizes of small canisters, there is a multitude of sizes and formulations of pepper spray.  Most devices utilize a water-like liquid or oil as a carrier for the Oleoresin Capsicum, but gel is becoming increasingly popular as it sticks to the face and skin.

Pepper-spray-shot-into-eyesHow to Use  Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is designed to be shot directly into the eyes of your assailant at a distance of at least 3-feet, but not further than what is indicated as the maximum range on the dispenser’s label.  If you are inside this effective range zone, be sure to aim for the eyes.

Don’t stop delivering bursts of the spray until the assailant’s eyes are completely doused, or the attacker has run away.  If an assailant has swollen-shut eyes they will not be able to chase you, and they will not be able to continue with their acts of violent aggression.  This is the objective of pepper spray.

Once a person is hit in the face with pepper spray, it usually takes 2-5 seconds for them to react.  Nevertheless, don’t wait to see if it’s working.  Keep delivering bursts of the spray into their eyes until the threat has totally stopped.  Or, just keep spraying a solid stream of pepper spray into your assailant’s eyes until they stop their aggression and are fully debilitated.

An assailant who is wearing eyeglasses or sun glasses will take longer to react.  Eyeglasses, and the brims of caps, will often reduce the quantity of OC chemical that is reaching the assailant’s eyes.  So, keep spraying until the aggression has completely stopped.

Some pepper-spray formulas include a dye which marks your assailant, making it easier for the police to identify them.  This is a nice touch, but it’s not an essential feature.  More important is to select a device model that is easy to carry, and easy to use.  Unlike a lot of spray bottles which need to be looked at, to determine which direction it sprays, a quality pepper-spray dispenser will be tactile, so you are instantly able to grab the device and point it in the proper direction, just by feel.

Kimber-PepperBlaster-IISide Effects of Use

If you ever use pepper spray or teargas, expect to get some on yourself, especially if the wind is blowing toward you.

When you get hit by even a little mist of OC spray or teargas, it can make you cough uncontrollably.  And, it can make you to feel like you’re having a heart attack, so keep in mind that it’s actually harmless for those who are reasonably healthy.  Remind yourself that you’ll be okay, and you can still run or fight if the circumstance demands it.

OC spray, as well as tear gas, will actually not incapacitate you unless you get enough in your eyes to make them swell shut.  Even then, you can usually see enough to get out of the area.  So even if you are affected, don’t delay, get out of the danger zone as soon as possible.  This is additionally important as you may be further exposed to more OC, as the gas vapors if you linger in the area.

After using pepper spray, don’t touch your face with your hands, and don’t rub your eyes with a finger, as this can introduce OC residue into your eyes or skin.  Any sweaty area of skin, like your neck and underarms, will be particularly susceptible to a burning sensation.

When convenient, remove and wash your clothing as they will likely have become contaminated.  When possible, wash your hands with soap and water shortly after using pepper spray, and again after removing your clothing.

* Be sure to read the cautions and usage directions on the label of the device you purchase.  Absent other instructions, the below remedy is considered to be universal.

pepper-spray-splash-waterTreatment for Exposure to Pepper Spray or Teargas

If you become exposed to OC or teargas, the best treatment is simply to force yourself to breath normally, and flush your skin with cool, fresh water from a drinking fountain or garden hose.  You can use regular soap to remove the pepper spray from skin, but do not use regular soap on your face, at least not initially.   Just use plenty of fresh water, and blink repeatedly as this will produce a squeegee-like effect that will gently push the OC or teargas out of your eyes.

If you have access to baby shampoo, combine it with the water to speed the recovery process for your eyes and face.  You can use this mixture to splash on your face, or put the baby shampoo and water mixture into a clean spray bottle that is capable of gently misting your face.  Use the gentle spray from the bottle to mist your face, making the natural tears and blinking process more effective.

Do not use other types of soaps  around your eyes it can introduce additional burning and irritation to the eyes, whereas baby shampoo does not irritate eyes and its detergent action can help remove the oily OC compound.

Either way, the irritation will pass in 15-45 minutes, so the discomfort is only temporary.  Breathe normally, and force yourself to relax as this will help the discomfort pass more quickly.


Keeping additional devices in the door-pocket of your car, and your pocket or purse, may also be a good idea, but for most people it’s best to use the exact same device so that you don’t become confused in an emergency situation.

Since pepper spray is a weapon, it is important keep these devices out of the hands of children and unauthorized individuals.  If kids do get into it, they’ll probably only make that mistake once as it’s pretty unpleasant, but it is nevertheless your responsibility to keep these weapons out of the hands of children and other unauthorized users.

It’s a good idea to replace your pepper spray dispenser every four years.  With all of the models listed below — except the Kimber Pepper Blaster II, once you get your unit, test it using two quick 1-second bursts shot at a head-high target that is 10-feet distant from you.  (Just so you know how it works.)

Important Legal Considerations

As odd as it may seem, pepper spray is not legal everywhere, so be sure that you understand your local laws before you possess or use pepper spray.

In most jurisdictions where pepper spray is legal, you still must be an adult to possess these self-defense tools.

If you ever use pepper spray—even if your assailant runs away and no harm came to you, be sure to immediately call the police.  You need to immediately report the incident, and express to the 9-1-1 dispatcher that you were in fear of your life or physical safety.  This is important as criminals have been known to report the incident themselves—claiming that they were the victim of an assault!  To minimize the possibility of unnecessary hassle and legal problems, be the first one to call the police.

Caution:  Some people advocate using ‘wasp spray’ as a weapon, claiming that it is more effective than pepper spray.  This is ill-advised as it may cause blindness and life threatening injuries.  It may also result in criminal prosecution and huge civil liabilities for anyone who intentionally uses it as a weapon.  A court may determine that using wasp spray as a weapon is on par with the use of chemical warfare materials.

ASP-Pepper_SprayWhere to Purchase

It’s probably best to purchase pepper-spray devices online, as the selection and price is generally better than what you will find at a sporting goods or running-products store.  Moreover, oftentimes the models found in a local store will contain less than the optimal 10% of the Oleoresin Capsicum chemical, so be sure to carefully read the label.  It is very important to select a pepper spray device that uses 10% OC.

Illustrated by the photos and in the below links, are four distinctively different pepper spray models which meet the above criteria.  Each has its merits, and selection should be made based on personal preference, the number of times it might be needed, and how you plan to carry the device.

Remember, you will need to select a device which contains more of the chemical if you want to be able to protect yourself (or others) from multiple attackers, or for use in more than one altercation.  Needing it more than once may be likely in the aftermath of a disaster, particularly if you are traveling in a post-disaster environment.

The below models are single-use devices.  For protection against multiple assailants, or more than one violent encounter, select a larger model which contains a larger quantity of the chemical.  The below devices are considered the smallest personal-use devices which are still viable for self-defense.


Examples of Popular Pepper Spray Products:

ASP Street Defender OC Pepper Spray

Mfg:  https://www.asp-usa.com/store/defenders/street-defender.html

Vendor:  http://www.amazon.com/ASP-Street-Defender-Pepper-Spray/dp/B001D7U7NY

Kimber Pepper Blaster II

Mfg:  http://store.kimberamerica.com/pepperblaster-ii-gray

Online Vendor:  http://www.lapolicegear.com/kimber-pepperblaster-ii-pepper-la98002.html#qa

Mace Pepper Gel

Mfg:  http://www.mace.com/mace-pepper-spray-gel/mace-brand-families/pepper-gel/mace-peppergel-large.html

Online Vendor:  http://www.lapolicegear.com/mace-80352-pepper-defender.html

Sabre Red

Mfg:  http://www.sabrered.com/servlet/the-190/SABRE-Red-1.8-oz/Detail

Online Vendor:  http://www.copsplus.com/prodnum8471.php


Gun Selection for Survival Kits Reply

Tania Mallet as Tilly Masterson with an AR-7 survival rifle in the movie Goldfinger, 1964.

Tania Mallet as Tilly Masterson with an AR-7 survival rifle in the movie Goldfinger, 1964.  The modern version of this rifle, and the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, are the most popular survival kit guns.

There are many opinions as to what gun is best for inclusion in a survival kit, and there is certainly no consensus, even among the experts.  But if you are not planning for a specific type of emergency, and self-defense is NOT your primary concern, then a .22 caliber rifle is generally considered to be the best all-around choice.

No matter which gun or caliber you choose, it is essential to learn how to safely operate and shoot your gun.  (You will find a link to safety rules at the end of this article.)  Further, guns which are stored in a survival kit must be secured so that children and others cannot access the firearm.   

A takedown rifle such as the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle or the Ruger 10/22 Takedown can be quickly assembled or disassembled into 2-3 pieces.  This feature makes it possible for the rifle to fit inside a GO-Bag, some hydration packs, and most survival kits carried in vehicles and small airplanes.  For most people, this is important because the gun is unobtrusive as well as compact when being transported.  Plus, you can carry a lot of ammunition, because .22LR ammunition is small in size and it is lightweight.

Note:  For specific survival situations and threats, you may want a different type of survival kit gun.

First Step:  Select the Purpose for Your Survival Kit Gun—and Your Limiting Factors.

If size, weight and concealing the gun aren’t important to you, then the best gun for survival in the wild, plus general self-defense, is a shotgun.  Unfortunately, a shotgun is too big and heavy a gun for survival kits that are compact. Yet, for all-around hunting of small and large animals in a survival situation, and protection from wild animals and self-defense, a shotgun is the most versatile choice.  If you are only going to have one gun in your non-portable survival kit, you’ll probably want it to be a shotgun.

Self-Defense Use:  For defense at close-to-medium range (up to 100+-ft / 30 meters), it’s hard to beat a 12-gauge tactical shotgun.  A tactical 12-gauge shotgun is extremely intimidating to criminals, and it delivers potent stopping power.

Multipurpose Use:  Versatility is the primary strength of a shotgun, and this is what makes it our top-choice for a survival kit gun when size and weight isn’t an issue.  Just by changing the type of ammunition you have loaded in the shotgun, you can switch from a shotshell that is great for self defense, to a different shell that is ideal for stopping a pack of rabid dogs or wolves, to another which works for hunting small critters, and then to yet another which can take down big animals, even a brown bear.  Then, you can unload and reload with yet a different shotgun shell to hunt birds.  No other type of gun possesses this kind of extreme flexibility.

The downside of a shotgun for a survival kit is not that the gun is so big, but rather that the ammunition (shells, shotshells) is large, bulky, and heavy.

Remington_870_MarineIf you do opt for a shotgun for your survival kit, our recommended gun is the Remington 870 Marine model.  Unloaded it weighs 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg), and it is 38.5 inches (97.8 cm) in length.  Since it has nickel plating covering the gun, including the inside of the barrel and receiver, it is very durable.  The operating action is very dependable, too.  Perhaps the best testimony to the reliability of the Remington 870 is that it is the shotgun of choice for most law enforcement agencies in the United States.

One of the strengths of this survival gun is also a weakness.  With the Remington 870 Marine model shotgun, the bright electrostatic-applied nickel finish on the gun can easily reflect light and thereby draw attention to its owner.  Thankfully, this problem can be readily solved.  The bright surface can be subdued by painting the gun as described below as a treatment for the Ruger 10/22 stainless steel model, but in this case, DuraCoat Aerosol paint is recommended.  This can be accomplished as a simple do-it-yourself project, or something that a gunsmith or gun store can do for you.

Unfortunately, a shotgun brings with it a number of major problems for those who are looking for a survival kit gun that can be carried in a portable kit.

A tactical shotgun is impossible to conceal, it won’t fit into a GO-Bag knapsack, and it is three pounds heavier than the Ruger 10/22 which won our #1 Choice Award for a survival kit gun (below) that will fit inside a backpack.  Nevertheless, a tactical shotgun is a superb choice as a survival kit gun if size, weight, and ammunition-bulk aren’t a consideration.  For more about shotgun selection, Click Here to download the Remington Guide to Shotguns and Shotshells, or Click Here for an e-book on shotguns for defense and survival.


Ruger Mark III Hunter, a 10-shot .22 pistol with a 7-inch (17.5 cm) barrel, and weight of 41-ounces (1.2 kg).

If portability and concealment of the gun is a primary consideration, then it’s hard to beat a handgun, even a long-barrel handgun which will better meet the hunting purpose of a survival kit gun.  A 9mm or larger-caliber pistol (or revolver) is your best bet to meet the need for self-defense, but it’s overkill for small game.  Moreover, even a very powerful handgun isn’t a great choice if your goal is protection from dangerous predators, such as bear.

If concealment isn’t required, a shotgun, rifle, or tactical rifle is usually a better choice.  But if concealment is essential, or if you need to have a gun in a holster while you labor with your hands or are seated in a vehicle, then you might want to consider a handgun.  Be sure to look at the .410/.45 combination guns made by  Magnum Research, Rossi, and Taurus.  However, if you want to maximize the amount of ammunition that can be carried, a long-barrel .22 LR handgun such as the one pictured on the left, will be a better choice.

Keep in mind that a rifle is easier to shoot accurately, and the bullet fired from a rifle will generally deliver more punch (power).  The exact same cartridge fired from an equal-quality rifle rather than a handgun, will be more accurate, and it will have more wallop when it reaches its target.  This is because the added barrel length makes it easier to accurately aim the rifle, and the added barrel length makes it possible for the gunpowder to more fully burn, thereby providing more power and velocity behind the bullet.  Still, a handgun is easier to carry, especially indoors or in a vehicle, but outdoors a rifle carried using a sling is better for most survival situations.


The Key Factor for Choosing a Survival Kit Gun

L to R: .22 LR, 9mm, .45 ACP, .223 / 5.56 mm, .30-06, 12-gauge shotshell

L to R: .22LR, 9 mm, .45 ACP, .223 / 5.56 mm, .30-06, 12-gauge shotshell

The important key to unlock the answer of, “What is the best gun for a survival kit?” has more to do with the issue of ammunition, than it does the type or brand of the gun.  When making a decision regarding what gun to pack into a survival kit, the detail most often forgotten is the bulk and weight of the ammunition the gun uses.  Obviously, a gun without ammunition is useless, so the ability to carry plenty of ammo is a critically important consideration.  This is even more significant if your survival kit is in a GO-Bag or backpack size.

As a point of reference, here is a ballpark comparison of ammunition weight, by ammunition type:  For every 1-pound of weight, you can carry either:  137 –.22 LR cartridges, 38 – 9mm pistol cartridges, 39 – .223 / 5.56 mm rifle cartridges, 18 – 7.62/.308 rifle cartridges, or 11 – 12 ga. 00-Buck shotshells.  So it’s no surprise that .22 LR is the most popular caliber for survival guns.

For all around use, when defense is not the primary consideration, a takedown .22-caliber rifle is a hard-to-beat choice; additionally so if your goal is to pack a gun and lots of ammunition in an unobtrusive, compact, and lightweight survival kit.

Fortunately, a .22 caliber rifle is usually the least expensive type of firearm to purchase.  Furthermore, it is also the simplest to operate and the easiest for people of all ages and sizes to shoot accurately.  Since a .22 rifle produces almost no recoil when it is fired, it is also a popular choice for those who do not have any previous experience with firearms.

Rifles designed for the .22 LR (twenty-two Long Rifle) bullet are the most common—and there is a good reason for this.  It is typically the least expensive firearm ammunition, it is accurate, it’s fun to shoot for target practice and plinking, it’s useful for controlling populations of small animals which destroy food crops and harm domestic and farm animals, and it is ideal for hunting small game when you want to minimize damage to the meat.  It’s win – win – win – win – win choice.

22LR Ammo in PalmEspecially important in regard to survival kit guns, .22 LR ammunition is lightweight and compact; a hundred cartridges (shots) can easily be carried in the pocket of a pair of jeans (2 boxes of 50).

In a pinch, a .22 rifle or handgun can be used for self-defense.  A .22LR rifle can be used to accurately hit a human-size target at distances up to 500-yards.  However, the .22-cartridge is definitely NOT adequate for self-defense.  Even at short range it has little stopping power.  Nonetheless, there are more people killed each year by .22 bullets than any other caliber gun.  This statistic is a sobering reminder that these guns are not toys.  (This death rate is because the .22 is such a common caliber, not because it is so inherently deadly).

If you are selecting a gun primarily for self-defense, you will want to select a gun in a much larger caliber.  However, if you are looking for a gun that can be used for self-defense in a pinch, but the anticipated use is primarily for hunting small game, then the .22 is a great choice.  (Note:  In most places it is not legal to hunt deer-size animals with a .22, but if you are starving, a well-placed .22 bullet can do the job.)

In the hands of a skilled shooter, a .22LR bullet fired from a rifle still has enough kinetic energy to take down a deer-size animal at a distance of up to 440-yards (402 meters), but this is not achievable for most hunters.  Realistically, even a reasonably accurate shooter should not expect to hunt a  deer-size animal at a range that is greater than 150-feet (46-meters).

Within the world of .22 caliber firearms there are hundreds of gun choices, so we can’t begin to cover every option in this summary.  Nevertheless, there are a number of details which must be understood before we get into our specific recommendations for packable survival kit guns.

.22 Caliber Guns and Ammunition (metric labeling, 5.6×15R)

Target with holes from .22 bullets

The .22LR bullet is so small that 10-shots can fit under a dime.

The designation “.22” (pronounced “twenty-two”) indicates the diameter of the bullet, which is .22-inch.  This is a very tiny bullet.  Depending on brand, it weighs between 20 – 60 grains (0.05-0.14 oz / 1.3 to 3.9 g), and upon firing it exits the barrel at a velocity of between 575 to 1,750 feet per second (ft/s) [175 to 533 m/s].  Both .22 rifles and .22 handguns can use the same .22 ammunition.

When people talk about a gun that is a ‘twenty-two,’ they are referring to the type of ammunition that is used in the gun.  Most twenty-two caliber guns are chambered for ‘.22 LR’ (twenty-two Long Rifle) ammunition, but there are other variations.  In addition to handguns and rifles which are designed to use the .22 LR cartridge, other twenty-two guns are chambered for other similar cartridges such as the ‘.22 Short,’ ‘.22 Long’ and ‘.22 Magnum.’  Technically, these are all twenty-two guns.  Important Note: A .22 Magnum (Mag / WMR / WRF) cartridge may fit into a .22LR gun, but it is unsafe to do so.  Do not attempt to fire a .22 Magnum in any gun that is not specifically made for that caliber.

If you aren’t knowledgeable about these variations, buy a gun chambered for the ‘.22 LR’ cartridge, and only buy ‘.22 LR’ ammunition for that gun.  If you have selected the correct ammunition, the text .22 LR or .22 Long Rifle will be prominently printed on the flap of each box of ammunition.  Make sure you buy the right ammunition for your gun.

Though many people use the term “bullet” to indicate what is loaded into the gun, this is not the proper use of the word.  Strictly speaking, the bullet is the projectile which is shot out of the barrel.  What you load into the gun is a cartridge (or round), and it consists of a bullet, gun powder and the primer which ignites the powder, and the brass case which holds it all together.

L to R: Lead Bullet, Copper-Plated Bullet, and Cooper-Plated Hollowpoint Bullet

L to R: Lead Bullet, Copper-Plated Bullet, and Cooper-Plated Hollowpoint Bullet

Within the same ‘.22 LR’ caliber there are different types of .22 LR bullets (projectiles), too.  Don’t let this confuse you.  You will commonly find .22 LR ammunition with bullets (projectiles) that are made of uncoated lead, and also copper-plated lead.  (The copper coating keeps the barrel cleaner).  In a sporting goods store you will also find .22 LR ammunition with hollow-point bullets that are designed to expand, as this can provide more stopping power and less risk of over-penetration and ricochet.  Another variation is cartridges which are labeled “Match,” and these are made for target-shooting matches and other circumstances where increased accuracy is desired.  Another increasingly common variation is “subsonic” ammunition which is quieter, but generally less powerful.  Shotshell .22 LR ammunition is also available, and it is primarily used for killing snakes at short range.  (Warning:  Plastic-nose shotshell or snake-shot projectiles tend to jam in semiautomatic guns.)

Since we are talking about survival kits which are often stored for many years, it is worth noting that uncoated lead bullets will oxidize when stored for a long period of time.  So, if you have a choice, select a brand of ammunition which uses copper-plated bullets.  Notwithstanding, oxidized lead bullets are often still serviceable.  Before loading them into your gun, first rub the bullets with a coarse cloth to remove the oxidation.

Federal 22 Brick w Ammo CanFor safety and longevity, it is best to store all ammunition in steel containers such as military ammo cans.  Add a packet of desiccant (moisture absorbent) for long-term storage.  Occasionally you can find .22 ammunition already sealed in a tin can, and this is excellent for long term storage.  Even better is packing the ammunition in a 7-mil Mylar bag with a desiccant packet.  And for long-term storage of your survival kit gun, treat it with a rust-inhibiting oil like Boeshield T-9, and then seal it in the same type of packaging material with desiccant.  Click Here for instructions on do-it-yourself Mylar packaging, and sources for Mylar bags and desiccant.

You will find that .22 LR cartridges come in standard power (not usually labeled, as it is standard), high-power, high-velocity or ultra-velocity, and also subsonic (low-power, which are quieter).  For survival kits, any of these will suffice.

Unless your .22 LR gun is finicky, it will shoot various types of .22 LR ammunition.  But before you purchase a quantity of ammunition, shoot a hundred rounds to verify that the brand shoots accurately and reliably in your gun.  A well-lubricated, quality rifle or pistol should be able to shoot 200-rounds (shots) without jamming.

A small, lightweight cleaning kit must be kept with your survival kit gun.

A small, lightweight cleaning kit must be stored with your survival kit gun.

If you are using ammunition with copper-covered-lead bullets, a good .22 rifle should be able to shoot several hundred shots without additional lubrication or maintenance of any kind. Nevertheless, cleaning, re-lubrication and rust-prevention treatment is important after each day of shooting, and also whenever the gun is exposed to dirt, sand, perspiration, high humidly, rain, or sea air.  No survival gun is complete without a small gun cleaning kit such as the small and lightweight Otis Tactical.

The Ruger 10/22 seems to digest all brands of .22 LR ammunition, that’s one reason it’s so popular.  However, the Ruger 10/22 does not do well with ultra-high velocity cartridges such as “Stinger,” a .22 LR cartridge made by CII.  The Henry AR-7 rifle can be a little more finicky, and seems to operate best using high-velocity ammunition.

For a survival-kit gun, reliability with different brands of ammunition is an important consideration as resupply in an emergency situation often means you can’t be picky.  This is one of the reasons we selected the Ruger 10/22 as the best survival kit gun for GO-Bags and knapsack-size survival kits.

Online or in sporting goods stores, you will usually find .22 LR ammunition in boxes of 50 cartridges or a “brick” of 500 – 555 cartridges, but other sizes are also sold.  When feasible, always use the same ammunition, as different brands can produce a different point-of-impact of the bullet.

When you are carrying ammunition, make sure the cartridges are not banging around as this can damage them and adversely affect accuracy.  Never use penetrating oil such as WD-40 on your ammunition as it can seep into the cartridge and damage the gunpowder.

After purchase, and whenever your gun is knocked around or falls on a hard surface, it needs to be “sighted in” to adjust the gun’s sights to match the bullet’s point-of-impact.  Since different brands can produce a different point-of-impact, be sure to use your usual ammunition.  This “sighting in” should be accomplished using the standard distance you expect to shoot the gun.  For most people, this is 50-75 yards (45-70 meters) or less.  For shooting small game, effective range of a .22 LR is about 150 yards (137 meters).  Yet, a .22 LR bullet can travel a mile given the right conditions, so be sure of your backstop before shooting.


Our Recommendations for a Packable Survival Kit Gun


Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifle in stainless steel, model 11100, shown with included bag.

Best Survival Kit Gun for GO-Bags and Backpack-size Survival Kits:  Ruger 10/22 Takedown – Semiautomatic .22LR Rifle

First introduced in 1963, the lightweight and reliable Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic rifle quickly became the most popular .22 rifle in the United States, and it has retained this lofty position for decades.  However, it is the relatively new Ruger 10/22 “Takedown” (TD) model that we specifically recommend.  Since it is made to be a ‘takedown’ style rifle, the barrel and the stock/action are easily and quickly separated, making it possible to unobtrusively carry the two rifle pieces (20-1/4 inch / 51.5 cm) inside a standard survival kit or GO-Pack (GO-Bag, Bug-Out Bag).  MSRP: $399/$419.  Market price, $350-400.

Packable Weight:  Further, since .the ammunition for the rifle is also small and lightweight, it is reasonable to carry the rifle and 200-rounds of ammunition along with your other Go-Bag or survival kit gear, inside a standard knapsack.  Total weight of the rifle is 4.67 lbs (2.12 kg).  When you add 200-round of ammunition to the rifle and case, the total package is a little more than 6-pounds (2.7 kg).  This means you can still carry a lot of other gear without exceeding the desirable 20-25 pound (9-11 kg) weight of a GO-Bag or portable survival kit.  (Weight of 22 LR cartridges:  1-pound = 137 cartridges / 1 kg = 300 cartridges.  A 500-round brick of .22 LR ammunition is 4.8 pounds (1.7 kg) including box and packaging.)

Made by Henry Rifles, the  U.S. Survival AR-7 is only 3.5-lbs and 18.5-inches stowed

Made by Henry Rifles, the U.S. Survival AR-7 is only 3.5-lbs and 18.5-inches stowed. The waterproof stock holds all the pieces, including 3 magazines.

Runner-Up Choice:  Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle (It Floats!)

In addition to the Ruger 10/22, there are other takedown .22 rifles, most notably the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle.  What is unique about this survival rifle is that it has a storage compartment for the gun’s barrel, action and three magazine inside the rifle’s floating stock.  It is even lighter in weight than the Ruger 10/22 at 3.5 vs. 4.67 lbs (1.6 vs. 2.1 kg), and it boasts a smaller take-down size, 16.5-inches vs. 20-1/4 inches (42 vs. 51.5 cm).

Unfortunately, the AR-7 does not have the reputation of durability and reliability that the Ruger 10/22 enjoys.  This was earned during the days when Charter Arms owned the patent, but since Henry Rifles started making the rife in 1980, the quality is excellent.

The one lingering problem is a design disadvantage:  The feed lip, which transports the ammunition into the chamber of the gun, is on the magazine rather than the gun itself.   The feed lip is therefore susceptible to damage if the magazine is dropped or abused, and this can cause a failure to load.  Therefore, extra magazines are a necessity, and they should be carried in a pouch which provides protection for the feed lip.  (This is a good idea for spare magazines, anyway, no matter what type of gun you have.)

The AR-7 is easy to operate, and though the assembly/disassembly process involves three components rather than the Ruger’s two (making the smaller size possible), it’s quick and easy to accomplish.   Regrettably, the assembled rifle is not as comfortable to shoot as the Ruger 10/22, but it is smaller and $50 cheaper.  And most notably, it floats if you drop the rifle in water.  The old Charter Arms AR-7 had an inferior barrel, but Henry AR-7 comes standard with a sturdy steel barrel covered in tough ABS plastic that is coated with Teflon for improved protection against corrosion.  MSRP & Market Price for AR-7 rifle in Black: $290.

At the end of this section you will find a link to the Ruger and Henry websites, and the specific model number(s) we recommend.



The scope mounted on the top rifle is the proper size, whereas the scope in the inset photo extends far beyond the action, making the rifle less compact.

Optics (Rifle Scope) and Sights

If you opt to add an optical sight to your rifle, it is extremely important to select a scope and scope mount that is compatible with the rifle you select.  For example, once a scope has been mounted onto a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, you don’t want that portion of the rifle to become significantly longer (see photo) in length.  If it is, you lose some of the small-size advantage of the ‘takedown’ style rifle.

It is also important for the scope to retain its zero (accuracy) when the rifle is repeatedly disassembled and reassembled.  If you select a rifle other than a ‘takedown’ (TD) model, this isn’t such a big issue.  However, if you select the Ruger 10/22 Takedown and want to maintain something close to the 20-1/4-inch length of the disassembled rifle, then you will need to carefully select your scope and a quick attach/detach scope mount.

If you select the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle, you’re stuck.  You will need to remove the scope whenever you put the pieces inside the floating stock.  So, if you want to mount a scope on an AR-7 Survival Rifle and you want to take-down the rifle and store the barrel inside the floating stock, you will be forced to store the scope separate from the rifle. Of course, this is a non-issue if you don’t want an optical scope on your rifle.

A scope mount with a quick-attach mount will help, but the rifle will still need to be re-zeroed.

A scope mount with a quick-attach mount will help, but the rifle will still need to be re-zeroed.

The major downside of mounting a scope on an AR-7 Survival Rifle is that once you remove the scope from the action, so that the pieces will fit inside the floating stock, you will need to re-zero the scope’s point-of-impact when you reassemble it.  This will take time and ammunition.

In an emergency situation with the AR-7 rifle and scope, your first task may be to assemble the rifle, attach the scope, and then test-fire until you have successfully realigned the scope to match the bullet’s point of impact.  After accomplishing this task, you probably won’t want to disassemble your rifle until the emergency situation is over.  The rifle will still float when it is assembled, as long as the scope isn’t too heavy.

As to the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, it shoots great out of the box, and the iron-sights which come mounted on the gun are adequate.  Unfortunately, the standard sights which come on the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle are not as well liked.

To make these rifles more serviceable at greater shooting distances, many owners do add a 4-6x rifle scope.  You will also want a sling, although in a survival situation you can make a sling out of 550 paracord, and secure it in place using duct tape.  Whichever rifle you choose, you will certainly want to buy extra magazines, especially since a damaged or lost magazine can create a serious survival problem.

Top: Stainless Steel, mdl  Bottom: Black Alloy, mdl

Top: Stainless Steel, mdl 11100; Bottom: Black Alloy, mdl 11112. Both come with Nylon Case.

Two Recommended Models of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Even if you don’t want to put the Ruger 10/22 inside your GO-Bag, the included storage bag which comes with the gun is great.  It looks like an ordinary small knapsack or hydration pack.  It won’t float the rifle, but the backpack case is still a nice touch.

If you opt to carry the gun in the included nylon storage case, and you want to make it even more nondescript so that most people won’t know you have a rifle, use a black Sharpie permanent marker to blot out the red Ruger logo that is embroidered on the bag.

Model Numbers:  The two variations of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown model rifle are:  Stainless Steel (model # 11100) and black steel (model #11112).  You may not have the luxury of selecting one over the other as these rifles can be hard to find, but you may still want to understand the merits of each model.

Which 10/22 Takedown Model is Best?

The stainless steel Ruger 10/22 (model 11100) has a reputation for being more durable and less prone to rust, but that isn’t completely accurate as the black model isn’t just made of ordinary gun steel, it’s an alloy.  Nevertheless, the stainless steel model is probably slightly more durable, and this may be an advantage if you anticipate operating in a marine environment or a rainy climate.

The downside of the stainless model is that the shiny surface will reflect light, and this may draw unwanted attention to you and your assembled rifle.  But if you want the advantages of the stainless steel but not the bright finish, the solution is simple.  Paint and wrap the metal parts.  It’s an undemanding process to use a combination of flat-spray paint and a gun wrap to solve the problem.

This is honestly a simple do-it-yourself project:  With the rifle assembled (and scope attached), using a cotton ball as the applicator, rub isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or a hand-applied (not spray) degreaser, to remove oil from the exposed metal surfaces.  After the alcohol has fully evaporated, wearing gloves to keep oil from your hands off the gun’s clean surface, wipe the gun with a coarse cloth.  Then use painter’s tape or masking tape to cover the gun’s sights, the operating / moving parts, ejection port (bolt area), the rifle’s stock, and anything else you don’t want painted.  Use a flat-black or flat-color spray paint to coat the exposed metal parts.  To avoid paint drips, apply several light coats of paint.  Once the first coat dries, paint the surface again with another light coat.  Repeat until the bright finish is completely concealed.

There are paints designed specifically for guns, such as DuraCoat Aerosol, but a quality hardware-store spray-paint is adequate if you plan to wrap the gun after painting.

Us a non-adhesive gun wrap such as Camo Form to protect your survival rifle.

Us a non-adhesive gun wrap such as McNett Camo Form to protect your survival rifle.

Once the paint has dried, use a non-adhesive gun wrap to protect the paint from chipping and wear.  A gun wrap material such as McNett Camo Form is easy to apply, and the McNett website has easy-to-follow written and video instructions.  Non-adhesive dark-color medical wrap can also be used if you want to save a few dollars.

Your other option is the black-color, Ruger 10/22 Takedown (model #11112).  Purchasing this model saves you the bother of customization, but the black alloy is more prone to rust.  Yet, some people prefer the black model because it comes with a slightly shorter, threaded barrel.  This is a feature that makes it possible to screw-on a suppressor to make the gun quieter.  However, since a noise suppressor requires a special federal license issued by ATF (NFA tax stamp), most people don’t want to bother.

The Ruger 10/22 has been around since 1964, so many variations have been produced over the years.  In addition to suppressors made for this rifle, there are many aftermarket add-ons and doodads if you want to customize your rifle.  However, as long as you purchase a Ruger 10/22 with a synthetic stock (which is more weather resistant and durable than wood), the rifle doesn’t really need any customization. If you buy a used 10/22 with a wood stock, consider replacing it with a good-quality synthetic (not plastic) stock as these are more durable than wood.  The most popular aftermarket stocks are made by Archangel.

The ‘Ruger 10/22 Takedown’ and ‘Henry AR-7’ are Easy to Pack in a Knapsack

Many rifles and shotguns can be disassembled for storage, but the unique feature of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown is that it can be assembled or disassembled in under 5-seconds, and similarly, the Henry AR-7 rifle in under 10-seconds.

Click Here for Videos:  Various short videos on the Ruger 10/22 Takedown and other 10/22 models.  Note on Laser Video: For most people, the optional laser sight is not worth the money as the laser is not sufficiently visible in sunlight, and it requires special batteries.


Top Left: Ruger 10-Rnd Magazine.  Right: Ruger BX-25  25-Rnd Magazine

Extra Magazines:

The Ruger 10/22 usually only comes with 1-magazine (which holds 10-rounds of ammunition), and the Henry AR-7 comes with two 8-round magazines.  We recommend a minimum of 5-magazines, so be sure to order extra when you purchase your rifle.

Note:  In addition to the factory-made magazines that come with each gun, there are banana-shape and AR-style magazines which hold 25-30 rounds of .22LR ammunition.  There are even giant 50-round magazines available for the Ruger 10/22.

If they are legal in your area, Ruger 25-round magazines (BX-25 or 2x BX-25) and after-market high capacity magazines for the AR-7 can be obtained from online retailers such as Brownells (www.brownells.com) and Midway USA (www.midwayusa.com).  If the magazines aren’t made by the manufacturer, be sure to check the online reviews before purchasing as some brands are unreliable.

Some people want to purchase high-capacity magazines either because they don’t want to reload as often, or because they look more menacing in a self-defense situation.  That’s fine, but it’s important to understand that high-capacity magazines may not be as reliable as the standard factory magazine.

The AlanGater 3Mag Coupler makes it possible to clip together three of the factory 10-rnd magazines.

The AlanGater TriMag Coupler makes it possible to clip together three of the Ruger 10/22 10-round magazines.

Moreover, the Ruger 10/22 magazines, including those made by the factory, are plastic.  Therefore they are prone to damage.  Similarly, the AR-7 magazines have a feeding lip that is easy to damage if the magazine is mishandled (or an aftermarket brand that is poorly constructed).

Plastic high-capacity magazines are far easier to damage than the stock magazines due to their size, shape, and propensity to snag on branches and bushes in the field.  For Ruger 10/22 owners, it may be more prudent to purchase the TriMag Coupler made by AlanGator as it makes a more compact package when installed on the gun.  This device clips together three of the factory 10-round magazines, a technique which minimizes snags while facilitating a quick change of magazines.


For Additional Information

Click Here: Link to the manufacturer’s website for the Ruger ‘Takedown’ models.

Click Here:  Link to the manufacturer’s website for Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle.


Click Here:  Brownells, the largest online store for ammunition and magazines, scopes, gun cleaning supplies, etc.

Click Here:  Midway USA, another popular online store for gun supplies.

Click Here:  Gander Mountain, gun and outdoor supplies.


Firearm Safety:

Click Here to download a copy of the TXRFA Firearm Safety Rules


Recommended Reading on Firearms for Self-Defense:  

For an overview of the different options within the category of self-defense firearms, read “Family and Personal Protection: Selecting the Best Gun for Self-Defense at Home” by Sig Swanstrom.


Recommended Reading on Guns for Survival Kits:

Summary of Survival-Kit Firearms:  Click Here for a  2-Page PDF on the positives and negatives of each type of survival kit gun.

Air Guns for Survival Use:  Click Here to jump to our blog post on powerful air guns.

AirSoft Guns for Shooting Practice:  Click Here for Wiki article on AirSoft Guns for Shooting Practice



Preparing for a Dental Emergency Reply

Emergency-Dental-Repair-dental-first-aidDisasters can become an even greater disaster if you are coping with the pain of a broken tooth, particularly if it is severe pain such as is caused by a broken tooth with an exposed root.  Since a trip to the dentist may not be feasible in an emergency situation, it’s a good idea to include a dental repair kit in your at-home emergency supplies.  You may also want to add a small 1-tooth repair kit to your GO-Bag, and your vacation or business travel bags, too.  Dental problems seem to frequently happen at inopportune times, so we need to be prepared for this potential problem.

The basic components of a dental repair kit can be bought online.  A complete (1-tooth) kit can be purchased for under $15, or you can build your own for $7. 

Since dental emergencies take various forms; a broken tooth, a lost filling, or a crown (cap) that has fallen out, it is important for your emergency dental kit to be both universal and reasonably complete.  At a minimum, it should include: pain killer, dental glue, compact cotton balls (pellets) or gauze, round toothpicks, dental floss, dental wax, and tooth-filling material.  Optional but valuable additions include: medical gloves, a small mirror, magnifying glass, and a small, lightweight flashlight.  (In a bind, you can use Super Glue to reattach a crown).

Inexpensive dental repair kits may not have all of these supplies but they can be a great place to start; augment your pre-packaged kit as necessary.  Emergency repairs of dentures and partials requires additional materials made specifically for this purpose.

At a minimum, GO-Bags should include dental wax which can be used to cover a broken tooth that has an exposed root.  Tooth pain is not just inconvenient; it can create a life-threatening distraction.

In addition to the other obvious problems, tooth pain (or any other pain) will drain your body’s energy reserves at a much faster rate.   You may be able to cope with the pain, but it can nevertheless become a serious impediment to safety at a time when you need to be focused and attentive to problem solving. 

Pre-packaged dental repair kits are not all the same, and professional-grade repair materials are a must, but you don’t need to purchase an expensive kit to get what you need.

Emergency_Dental_Repair-Dentemp-CustomThe 1-2 tooth repair kit illustrated in the photo (DenTemp Custom) was purchased online for $4.85.  It is not complete, but it does have two critically important items, so it can form the basis for building your own kit.  The DenTemp package contains Zinc-Oxide and Eugenol putty, a material which can be used to repair or replace a missing filling or cover the void of a broken tooth.  Zinc oxide forms the putty and the Eugenol reduces inflammation and protects the nerve of the tooth. These are the same materials that many dentists use to bring temporary relief to their patients.

Thankfully, application of these tooth repair materials not only doesn’t require a dental degree, it doesn’t even require any experience.  A good kit will include diagrams and all the instructions needed, so being trained by your dentist in how to use the kit is helpful, but not necessary.  If you are building your own kit, make sure you include printed instructions which relate to the materials contained in your kit.  These instructions can often be found on the product manufacturer’s website.

Since it is difficult to accomplish dental repairs when you can’t see what you are doing, in most dental emergencies it’s easier to have someone else do the work on the damaged tooth.  However, it’s certainly possible to do it yourself.  Many people have accomplished the task alone, with excellent results.

Most dental repairs can be accomplished by touch, but a mirror is helpful if you find yourself alone.  If you have the benefit of having the help of another person, you will find that a lightweight, small flashlight and magnifying glass (or a magnifying glass with a built-in light) will be a great help.

How do these detail repair kits work?

Emergency_Dental_Repair-Kit-DentalMedic-byAdventure_Medicine-2Pre-packaged dental repair kits are not all the same in regard to how complete they are, and what materials are used.  The inexpensive dental repair kits found in many drugstores are typically inferior for emergency use, especially when you many not have access to a dentist for many days.  The first aid kits made by “Adventure Medical Kits” are reasonably complete yet relatively inexpensive, so it’s no surprise that their emergency dental kit is similarly useful (DentalMedic Kit by Adventure Medical Kits, $15).  Be sure to check the contents list of the kit before you make your purchase decision.  Just because the package is larger or more expensive does not mean that it contains a larger quantity of useful supplies.

All the better kits utilize a similar process.  Here is how they generally work:  The area of the tooth which needs to be treated is first dried as much as possible using dental cotton pellets or gauze.  If you have electricity and a hairdryer, consider using it on the lowest setting to thoroughly dry the tooth which needs repair.  Be sure to test the hairdryer first to make sure the air isn’t too hot or forceful.  (Keep the hairdryer at least two feet away from the mouth to avoid problems.)

A completely dry tooth will make it possible for you to achieve a better bond between the broken tooth and the tooth repair material, so take the time needed to thoroughly dry the affected area.  Have all your supplies at hand and everything ready to go before starting to work on the tooth.  If possible, wash your hands with disinfecting soap before starting.  Medical gloves are best, but many people end up removing the gloves once they get into the task–dental repair work requires all the dexterity you can muster.

Once the tooth is dry, the tooth putty from the kit is applied.  Gently tamp it into the damaged area of the tooth with a damp cotton pellet.  Or, use a rounded toothpick after removing its sharp point.  Rather than break the toothpick which will splinter the wood, use a knife to carefully cut the sharp tip from one end of the toothpick.  Next, remove any wood debris from the toothpick surface before proceeding.  Now you can use the flat, non-pointed end of the toothpick as a tool to tamp the tooth repair material firmly into place.

To fill the void of a lost filling, or to repair a broken tooth, the putty should be mixed fairly dry, making it possible for you to roll it up into a ball that doesn’t stick to your fingers.  Place the ball of repair material onto the broken (dry) area of the tooth, and then shape it to cover the entire region of the break, being careful to keep it off of the smooth, undamaged area of the tooth.  (Since the tooth repair material will not bind as well to the smooth, undamaged surface of the tooth, extending excess repair material onto this area can result in the repair being less durable, and not lasting as long.)

The filling material can be shaped using rolling action on the little cotton ball or gauze roll, or with a round toothpick or even your finger.  Make sure that the filling material is level or lower than the tooth above or below it, as even after the material is cured, you don’t want chewing to add unnecessary pressure on the temporary filling.  When in doubt, make the filling lower than the surrounding teeth.  The filler material does taste bitter, but it’s not toxic in these small quantities.  The bad taste will go away in less than an hour.

It is important to keep excess pressure off of the repair for the first 20-minutes.  With most of these kits it takes 60-minutes to achieve a complete “cure” of the filler material, after which you can resume drinking and eating.

Emergency_Dental_Repair_Travel_KitSee the manufacturer’s directions on how to use their products.  The instructions incorporated into this article are generic, and are provided simply to illustrate how easy it is to use these do-it-yourself dental repair kits.

The dental repair materials contained in kits such as these are for temporary dental repairs, so the repair material is designed to not fully bond to the tooth, thereby making it easy for a dentist to remove the temporary repair.  So it is easy to understand why these kits do not provide a durable long-lasting, long-term repair.

Emergency dental repair kits were originally designed for people who travel to remote areas of the world, or regions without easy access to competent dental care.  The objective of the manufacturer is to temporarily solve common emergency dental problems, giving you time to return home to your dentist, or at least to an area where you can get professional dental care.

Since these materials do not provide for a permanent bond with the tooth, temporary repair materials can soon fall out if there are no undercuts on the tooth, or if the broken tooth does not have a rough surface to help the materials adhere.  Yet in optimal conditions, these temporary dental repairs can last 3-months or longer.

Longevity of the repair is best achieved by completely drying the tooth before making the repair, by proper mixing of the repair material, and after the repair is made, by careful eating.  Avoid chewing on ice, foods which contain seeds, hard or sticky candy or other hard or sticky foods, and in other abuses of the repaired area.

Emergency_Dental_Repair-Kit-FieldtexIf you are preparing emergency supplies for a family or group, it is a good idea to have a more elaborate emergency dental kit, or at least several of the  smaller kits.  Keep in mind that an inexperienced user can easily need two of the small, basic kits to accomplish the repair if the initial effort was not successful.

For those wanting to prepare for longer-term emergencies, sailing adventures, jungle treks and other activities which may prevent you from visiting a dentist for an extended period of time, more kits or a larger kit will be needed.  If longer-term care is your preparedness goal, it is best to consult with your dentist and get their help in preparing a kit specifically for your purpose and expected duration.

A 2-week GO-Bag and all in-home emergency supply kits need to contain at least one dental repair kit per person.  These kits are small and lightweight, but since space in a GO-Bag is a premium, you may choose to not include a dental emergency repair kit.  If this is your decision, at least include a small piece of dental wax.  Like duct tape, dental wax can be used for many emergency and repair purposes, in addition to providing relief to a painful, broken tooth.

High Demand for Potassium Iodine Reply

Potassium-Iodine-65mgWhen this current flap dies down, consider buying potassium iodine as a just-in-case drug for your emergency medical kit.

The current rush to purchase (by civilians) is likely due to Japanese nuclear debris which is now washing up on the beaches of the west coast of the United States.   This development, combined with the U.S. government’s huge order for an unspecified purpose in the same time frame, demonstrates that existing stockpiles will instantly disappear if this emergency drug is ever needed; thus the need to maintain your own supply.

Liquid potassium iodine which is often sold for this purpose, is generally inadequate to the task.  If you don’t have medical expertise to guide your purchase selection, you may want to follow the U.S. government specs which are included below.

A U.S. government purchase solicitation recently posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, indicates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sought an emergency purchase of  potassium iodide tablets, 65mg each, packaged in unit dose packages of 20 tablets.  This DHS purchase was for 700,000 packages (of 20s), for a total of 14 million tablets.  The supplier must deliver these packages of medicine before February 2, 2014.
Drug Purpose:  Potassium iodide helps block the absorption of radiation by the thyroid gland which is easily damaged by exposure.  These tablets will not stop severe radiation poisoning, but they may reduce the damage to a human body which has been, or may become exposed to lower levels of radiation.  
These tablets have traditionally been used to aid victims of nuclear accidents, and proactively by members of the military and emergency workers who may become exposed to radiation in the near future.  
Under current regulations, U.S. state governments which have populations living within 10 miles of a nuclear plant, are encouraged to maintain a supply of potassium iodide.  However, this is not a federal mandate.  

The current purchase quantity by DHS of these tablets is unprecedented in recent years and reflects a perceived need for this drug domestically.  (

DHS does not stockpile supplies intended for military use.)  Information regarding the size of the U.S. military’s inventory and recent purchase activity which may have been made by the Department of Defense, is not available.