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.


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



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.

Portable Personal Records for Emergency Situations Reply

Micro_SD-CardOne aspect of disaster preparation which never seems to get any attention is access to important personal records.  These may be urgently needed during a time of disaster or emergency, but without advance planning you may not have what you need.

Basic records which are critically important include basic identification such as copies of your driver’s license and passport, as well as proof of insurance, basic medical records and copies of prescriptions.  You should also have photos of each family member, as well as emergency contact information for family and friends.

Copies of essential records should be kept in three places:

1.  Secure protection in your home or place of business;

2.  Off-site in a safe deposit box of a financial institution; or, encrypted electronic ‘cloud’ storage with a company that has its servers in a different state; and

3.  An ultra small portable data-storage device which is kept in your wallet, pocket or purse.  Since most people are well aware of the needs in the first two categories where there is an abundance of information, this article focuses on the third category which is essential but often overlooked.

Photocopy IDA few pages of photocopied documents such as your driver’s license, medical cards, and passport, can (and should) be kept in a Ziploc bag stored in your emergency essentials knapsack (Go-Bag). This is a good start, but it isn’t nearly enough.  Since we live in a data-dependent world we also need a digital data storage solution which makes it possible to safely carry dozens, or even hundreds of pages, of truly essential records.  To do this, we need an ultra-small and durable mobile device.

For many people, low-cost is also important, so this article provides both our recommendation as to the best option, as well as the best low-cost solution.

Whatever data is essential to your everyday life and well-being needs to be backed-up and securely stored on a portable device which you keep with you.  (Examples of these types of documents are included at the end of this article).  Since size and weight are factors which limit practical implementation, this article explains how to responsibly meet this need with minimal inconvenience.

These same documents, and more, should be kept in a safety deposit box or uploaded to cloud storage in a different city or country, but it is still advisable to keep a copy of essential information with you at all times.  Disaster often strikes unexpectedly, so access to stored data can be terminally interrupted.  For example, if a bank is destroyed in the same storm as your home or place of business, the documents stored at those locations might be gone forever.  Similarly, cloud (Internet) storage of data can be damaged or lost, or it can be inaccessible when you need it.

Thankfully, the miniaturization and low-cost of data storage and advances in data security, now make it possible to carry this essential information with you at all times.  Even if your house or office is burned in a fire, damaged as a result of flood or storm, or otherwise inaccessible because you have fled the area to escape from turmoil, or simply because you are on vacation, important records can still be quickly accessible as long as you have access to a working computer.

This article provides ideas on how you can safely and securely store essential records in a small lightweight package, so that you can keep this important information with you at all times.  Various tools can be used to accomplish this, but this article describes what we consider to be the two most viable solutions.

The process starts by using a scanner to copy your important records, transforming them into PDF documents which can be opened with any computer.  At the end of this article you will find links to free software for making and reading PDF files, and for the products mentioned in this article.

Ultra-Small Data Storage Options

For many, they see their laptop computer or smart phone as the place to store this vital information.  That’s fine, but since these tools are prone to theft and damage, and security of the data is iffy even if you use security apps, this isn’t sufficient.  Keeping this data on an encrypted memory card or USB device is far more secure and even more portable.

Micro SD CardOption #1:  Memory Card (Approx. Cost, $10)

Memory cards such as those used in digital cameras are relatively inexpensive and ideal for data storage as well as photo storage.  Card readers for these memory cards are abundant, but adding an extra-small USB card reader to your GO-Bag is nevertheless a good idea.  In an emergency situation the data contained on your memory card can be accessed using almost any computer—as long as you have a card reader along.

At little more than ½-inch and less than the weight of two aspirin, the ultra small memory cards like the SanDisk ‘micro SD card’ (15 mm x 11 mm x 1.0 mm, 0.5 grams), is a portable data marvel. These tiny cards can store from 8 GB-32 GB of data or more, so they are ideal for this purpose.  Be sure to buy a well-known brand card like SanDisk as quality is important.

Transport and Packaging of Your Memory Card:  After you’ve added data to your memory card you need to protect it.  To protect the card from moisture and damage and still keep the package small, insert the card into a tiny Ziploc bag such as those used for electronic components or jewelry.  For added protection, consider adding a piece of rigid plastic to keep the memory card from flexing, and then wrap the plastic bag with a small piece of tinfoil to shield it from static, etc.  When you are finished, this little package can still be smaller than ¾-inch (20mm) in size and less than one gram in weight.  Using a piece of duct tape, secure the tiny package to the inside of your wallet for safe storage and ready access, or to the underside of your wristwatch or some other item you wear daily.

Total cost of this project (depending on the storage capacity of the memory card you select), can be as little as $10 (USD).  Note: Remember to always encrypt confidential data; see the below section on “Data Security is Essential” for suggestions.

IronKey USB DriveOption #2: ‘IronKey’ Encrypted Flash Drive (Approx. Cost, $37+)

Designed originally for the U.S. government, defense contractors, and to meet the needs of those who transport secret corporate data, an IronKey flash drive (aka/ ‘USB drive,’ or ‘thumb drive’) is the most secure portable data storage method available to the general public.  And, it’s small enough to carry on your key ring.

An ‘IronKey’ data storage device requires a password to open it, and the data stored on the drive is fully encrypted.  Even the least expensive IronKey model, the D80 (4GB $37; 32GB $116), automatically encrypts anything you add to the drive.  Since it uses the high industry standard of 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption, it is very secure.  At only 3 x 3/4 x 3/8-inch (75mm x 19mm x 9 mm) in size, and designed to ‘plug and play’, you can insert it into the USB drive of any computer to quickly access your stored information.

If you want an even higher level of protection, select the IronKey S250 or D250 USB drives (capacities range from 2GB-64GB, $109-599).  These have an even higher level of encryption, 256-bit AES Cipher-Block, chained-mode (government-grade) encryption, plus an impressive tamper-proof design of the drive itself.  For routine daily use of your personal computer, as well as during a disaster situation when you are using someone else’s computer, these models include the IronKey ‘Identity Manager’ which provides a safe and quick method to store and retrieve all of your passwords.  In regard to durability, all of the IronKey USB drives are water resistant, but the S250 and D250 drives are waterproof and extra durable.  Follow the link at the end of this article to compare the different IronKey models.

ironkey-KeyRing2Summary: When kept on your keyring, your IronKey USB device is available for daily tasks such as routine data transfer between computers, as well as for recovery of your personal records after a disaster.  Though not as compact as a Micro SD card, the IronKey USB data drive (models S250 or D250) is the option which provides the most durable and secure, portable data storage.

For Info on the D80, visit: http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/secure-portable-storage/d80.html

For Info on the S250 and D250, visit: http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/secure-portable-storage/250-personal.html

*** If convenience, ease of use, and easy-setup are important to you, a ‘IronKey’ flash drive is your best choice.  If cost or small-size are your most important consideration, then use a Micro SD Card to store your important records.

Data Security is Essential

If you are storing your data on a memory card or anything other than an IronKey USB drive, confidential data needs to be encrypted.  This is essential for keeping your data secure even if your storage device has been lost or stolen.  Identity thieves would have a field day if they got their hands on your personal records, so all confidential data needs to be password protected and encrypted before you make it portable.

Some manufacturers of USB drives have models which password protect the data.  In our experience, this is inadequate.

At the very least, use the encryption software which probably came with your computer.  With both Microsoft and Apple computer operating systems there is an encryption option built into the software.  Though far from ideal, this software can be used to encrypt the data on a memory card or portable drive.  This protection is far better than nothing, but there are better alternatives.

To learn more about the software that is built into your computer’s operating system, use the “help” feature of your operating system to learn how to access and use the tool.  On PC’s running the various versions of Microsoft Windows operating system, the file encryption feature is referred to as ‘EFS’ (Encrypting File System).  If you are using a Mac computer, you will find the encryption software by searching for the term ‘FileVault’.  Keep in mind that if you utilize either of these methods to encrypt data on your portable drive, you will only be able to access your data by using the same type of computer (PC or Apple), and in some cases, the same version of the operating system.  This might seriously limit your ability to access your data after a disastrous event.

To achieve a much higher degree of data security, use the free encryption program, ‘TrueCrypt’ on your memory card or portable storage device.  This free software provides true 256-bit encryption, and it will also run on nearly all desktop and laptop computers.  For more information and to download TrueCrypt encryption software, visit: http://www.truecrypt.org/.

TrueCrypt encryption software provides a very high level of encryption, plus it makes it possible to hide encrypted files, so even a hacker who has accessed your memory card won’t be able to find the files.  On the TrueCrypt website, be sure to read the ‘Beginner’s Tutorial,’ which is part of the TrueCrypt User’s Guide.  In it you will find instructions on how to set-up the software in ‘portable mode’.  This method loads the TrueCrypt encryption software onto the memory card (or flash drive), and lets you partition the drive.  This makes it possible for you to run the encryption program on nearly any computer, and lets you store both encrypted and unencrypted data on the same drive.  The minimum size for a memory card used for this purpose is 8MB, but a larger memory card will be needed if you plan to store much data.

Whether you use a memory card such as the SD Micro Drive or a flash drive (aka/ ‘USB drive,’ or ‘thumb drive’), remember that you must routinely have it with you, so that your data is available to you when disaster strikes.  An encrypted drive that is left behind may not be a security risk, but the work of preparing it will have been wasted if you don’t have the drive with you when you need it.

What Records to Store and EncryptWhat Records to Store: Encrypted and Unencrypted

Even the most basic personal data such as your driver’s license should be encrypted.  However, you may want to make some information, such as photos and your address book, accessible without entering a password.  At the very least, an unencrypted text file which includes your contact information will make it possible for a lost or stolen drive to be returned to you, and emergency contact information available to authorities, so that they can notify your loved ones if you have been seriously injured.

Remember to add PDF ‘reader’ software to your memory card or USB device, too.  You may need to borrow a computer which does not have this software installed (see links at the end of this article), and the owner of the computer may not want you to download software onto their computer.  Or, the Internet may be down making a download impossible.

It’s up to you to decide what records you store, and what you encrypt, but don’t let a lengthy list delay implementation.  It is much better to have an encrypted drive with just a little information stored on it, than to have nothing at all at a time when it’s needed.

Start with preparing your memory card or USB drive’s encryption.  Then, use a scanner to make copies of your most important ID cards and documents, perhaps starting with what you carry in your wallet.

These scanned records should be stored in PDF format, so that your documents can be read, and even printed if necessary, using any computer.  The below list isn’t your list, it’s simply included to stimulate your thinking, to help you develop your own list of important documents.  If your list is long, don’t let the enormity of the task prevent you from starting right now.  Store your wallet documents now, and get started with the project today.  Continue it as soon as you can.

Consider, too, that you might want to include the same records for your spouse, children, or other close family members or trusted friends.  It’s a simple task to make two identical sets of emergency records, and two identical portable drives.  You might even use the same password on both drives so that you and your spouse can both access either drive.

When you make two identical memory cards or USB drives, your spouse will be able to carry a backup of this same essential information.  If you are separated by circumstances, each of you will have what you need.  And, if one or the other is lost, damaged or stolen, you will both have what you need on the surviving device.

Records to Consider IncludingRecords to Consider Including: 

  1. Driver’s License
  2. Company or Employee ID
  3. Concealed Handgun License (CHL) and Firearm Records
  4. Passport (The two page spread which includes your photo)
  5. Social Security Card
  6. Medical Insurance Cards
  7. Dental Insurance Cards
  8. Organ Donor Card
  9. Pharmaceutical Prescriptions or Prescription Medicine Labels
  10. Medical History & Immunization Records
  11. Copy of your Last Will and Testament
  12. Vehicle Insurance
  13. House/Office Insurance Documents
  14. Titles for Vehicles and Property
  15. Property Descriptions with Serial Numbers
  16. Professional Licenses or Certification Documents
  17. Credit Card Numbers & Contact Info for Card Companies
  18. Banking Information, Including Account Numbers and Passwords
  19. List of Other Access Codes and Passwords
  20. Important Membership or Affiliation Cards (Particularly those which give you permission to occupy facilities and property which you might want to access during an emergency)
  21. Letters of Permission to Occupy Land or Facilities
  22. Address Book (Contact information for family, friends and colleagues)
  23. Photos (Be sure to include close-up, passport-like images of yourself, family members, key friends and colleagues that you might want to find during an emergency situation.)
  24. Physical Description (Yourself, family, friends, and colleagues)
  25. Fingerprints and copies of dental x-rays
  26. Maps and Directions

To download a PDF copy of this article for printing, click here:   Portable_Personal_Records_for_Emergency_Situations.

Links to Products Mentioned in this Article: 

– Free PDF Maker Software:  Girdac  http://www.girdac.com/Products/PDF-Converters/Free-PDF-Creator/Info/Features.htm

– Free PDF Reader Software:  Adobe http://get.adobe.com/reader/

– Free Encryption Software:  TrueCrypt http://www.truecrypt.org/

– Cloud Storage:  Dropbox is one of many options https://www.dropbox.com/

– SanDisk Micro SD Cards, General Information: http://www.sandisk.com/products/memory-cards/microsd/   These cards and card readers are readily available online, as well at electronics stores, and many other retailers such as Costco, Target, and Walmart.

– IronKey D80 Datasheet: http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/resources/documents/Ironkey_D80%20Hardward%20Encrypted%20Flash%20Drive_Sellsheet_Letter.pdf

– IronKey products are not readily available from retailers, but they can sometimes be found at online stores such as Amazon.com.  The below links are to the IronKey official website:

– IronKey Purchase Info for D80: http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/secure-portable-storage/d80.html

– IronKey S250 and D250 Datasheet:  http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/secure-portable-storage/250-personal.html

– IronKey Purchase Info for S250 and D250: http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/secure-portable-storage/250-personal.html

– IronKey Products by Type: http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/resources/documents/IronKey_Product_Diagram_Apr2013.pdf

– IronKey S250 and D250 Comparison Chart:  http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/resources/documents/IronKey_S250_vs_D250_SellSheet.pdf

Water Purification: Simple and Inexpensive Methods Reply

Pure_Water-LittleGirl-GlassIn a disaster or emergency situation your source of drinking water may become contaminated, so it is important to know how to purify it before drinking, brushing your teeth, and before rehydrating or cooking food with water.

After an earthquake, major storm or flood, even if you still have running tap water it may have become contaminated.  Even bottled water which has been in flood water, or exposed to high temperature or frozen, may have become contaminated.

When in doubt, purify.  Even pristine-looking mountain water, river water, and crystal-clear lake water usually contains giardia, a protozoa which can make you violently ill.  This article will provide you with what you need to know to purify your water quickly, and inexpensively.

First, it is important to understand that most water filters do not purify water, they only clean it.  And clean water isn’t enough.  It must be purified because even clean-looking water may be contaminated with illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.

You need to both clean your water, and purify it.

An expensive purification system isn’t necessary.  You can make your water 99.9% safe by following this simple 2-step process:

Step-1:  Clean Your Water.   Step-2:  Purify Your Water.

If your water is already clean looking and clear, start with Step-2.

Contaminated-Faucet-WaterStep-1:  Clean Your Water

If your source of water is cloudy, off color, dirty, or might be contaminated with effluent (sewage, factory waste, animal excretions, etc.), or fertilizers or pesticides, you need to do what you can to clean it before you attempt to purify it.

Even if you have a household water filter such as a Brita, Pur, ZeroWater, or Clear2O (best of these four), these are not adequate for the task of purifying your water.  But they are helpful for cleaning water prior to purification.

Notwithstanding, since water filters are quickly clogged, water which is dirty or colored should be pre-filtered using one of the below methods.  It is desirable to use a household-type water filter for an additional level of cleaning, but the below water-cleaning process should be used first, so that your household-type water filter will have a longer useful life.

Wash-Bucket-FirstClean Your Water Containers:  If your canteen, water bottle, or container for storing drinking water might be contaminated, wash it – including the lid/top/cap, with soap and water before use.  Even if the water you are using for cleaning is contaminated, the soap will make the container safer than an unwashed container.

To clean the container, wash it thoroughly with soap and water, and then let it air dry, or dry it inside and out with a clean cloth.  If you are not able to dry it before use, wash it with fresh soapy water a second time.  If you will be using a funnel or some other object to transfer water from your boiling pot (or treatment container) to your drinking-water container, be sure to wash it, too.

filter-sock-200-micronMake a Water Filter:  There are all sorts of methods which can be used to filter water, but this is perhaps the simplest.

Put the foot of a fine-mesh nylon stocking or pantyhose inside a clean white athletic sock, and slowly pour the untreated water into the opening, positioning it so that the filtered water drains slowly into your clean water container.  If you don’t have a fine mesh nylon stocking and white athletic sock, use a combination of several layers of clean cloth or clothing items to accomplish the same filtering purpose.. You can use a paper coffee filter to filter the water again, to achieve better results.

Reposition your filter periodically so that the water is always flowing through clean fabric.  Keep the sock-filter from coming into contact with the cleaned water, and make sure that dirty water does not overflow your sock-filter and foul the water which has already been filtered.

If necessary, repeat this process until the water looks reasonably clear.  If you don’t have access to something which can be used to filter the water, draw water from the top of the water source, so that contaminants which have settled to the bottom can be avoided.

If your water source is a pool, pond or puddle, the surface water is usually cleaner, but the surface of stagnant-water source may contain oil or insect larvae, so use your best judgment.  A dish pan or bathtub can be used to temporarily store water, so that sediment can settle, before drawing out the surface water for filtering.

Purify_Your_Water-2Step-2:  Purify Your Water

The best purification method is to boil the water, or use a high-quality water purification filter system such as the Katadyn Pocket Water Filter ($370).  However, chlorinating the water with inexpensive household bleach or chlorine tablets is nearly as effective.  Other purification methods are generally less practical, but are included below in case they are needed.

Note: Neither the popular Chlorine or Iodine treatment methods will kill Cryptosporidium (aka/ Crypto), a common microscopic parasite that causes diarrhea. Boiling the water, or a filter designed for this level of purification, is required to neutralize difficult purification problems such as Crypto.

TOption “A”: Boiling to Purify Water

Cleaned water should be brought to a boil, and kept at a rolling boil for a minimum of 1-minute.  Boiling time should be increased for higher altitudes.  Since water boils at a lower temperature at higher elevations, it becomes less effective for purification, particularly if you are above 2,000 feet in elevation.  We recommend that you add another minute of rolling-boil for each 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level.  (At 5,000 feet of elevation, 5-minutes at a rolling boil).  And, that you consider using a second purification method as well, to provide more reliable results.  You don’t want to get sick.

Even a mild case of diarrhea can lead to serious dehydration problems.  Any illness during a disaster or emergency situation can render you incapable of performing essential activities, so it is important to exercise uncommon care to avoid illness and injury.

When you are boiling water, use a kettle or put a lid on your pot.  This will help keep the heat in, and make the water come to a boil faster, and you will use less fuel in the process.  If you don’t have a teapot or a lid for your pot, use another pot or tinfoil as a lid.

Exercise caution with this process.  Hot lids, your heat source, the pot used for boiling, steam or the boiling water itself, can obviously all cause serious injury if hot properly handled.  During an emergency situation it is important to exercise additional caution even with mundane tasks.  It may be difficult or impossible to obtain medical attention, so even a small injury can magnify your problems.

After boiling, let the purified water cool sufficiently before drinking.

Be sure to avoid contaminating the top of your water container when you transfer the purified water from the pot to your water container.

Note:  Since this method requires a stove and fuel, scarcity of fuel and the need for fire may make this method impractical or undesirable. But you have other options…

clorox-bottles-2-Yes_NoOption “B”:  Using Bleach or Chlorine to Purify Water

Stores such as REI (www.REI.com) sell small bottles of Chlorine Dioxide tablets, such as those made by “Potable Aqua” (20-tablest for $10, sufficient to treat 20-quarts of water).  Approximate Cost: $ .50 per quart of purified water.

These tablets are a compact and easy off-the-shelf method to purify water.  But after dropping a tablet into your water bottle, it takes 4-hours for the tablet to fully dissolve and treat one quart of water.  Be sure to shake or stir the water to speed the process of dissolving the tablet.

Liquid bleach is nearly as simple, and treatment is much faster.

Liquid bleach such as used for laundering clothes, is simple to use for water purification, and far less costly than chlorination tablets.  At less than 1-cent per quart of treated water, and ready in only 30-minutes, it is one of the most cost efficient and fastest water purification methods.

However, it is important to use “regular” bleach for water purification.  Scented bleach (lemon, lavender, etc.), “color-safe” bleach, and bleaches which contain additional cleaners or other additives, should not be used to purify drinking water.

A bottle of “Regular” bleach typically contains these ingredients:  water, sodium hypochlorite, sodium chloride, sodium carbonate, sodium chlorate, sodium hydroxide, and sodium polyacrylate.  If the front of the label indicates “regular” bleach, and does not tout other features such as scents, color boosting or added cleaning capabilities, it’s probably okay.

Bleaches which are labeled as “concentrated” are sufficiently similar to regular strength bleach (5.25 to 6.0 % sodium hypochlorite) that the below ratio of bleach-to-water remains the same.

Clear, clean-looking water 1-quart/liter(32-ounces) 2-drops
1-gallon(4-quarts, or 128-ounces) 6-drops
Slightly off-color or slightly cloudy water 1-quart/liter(32-ounces) 4-drops
1-gallon(4-quarts, or 128-ounces) 12-drops

How to Use:  After adding bleach to the water, stir the water (or cap and shake a not-quite-full bottle of water) to thoroughly mix the bleach with the water.  Then, let it sit for 30 minutes. After the waiting period, the odor of Chlorine should be detectable when you sniff the water.  If not, add a second dose (same quantity of bleach as previously used), and wait another 30-minutes.  If the water still does not smell like chlorine, discard the treated water and find a new water source.  If there is no other source, try improving your Step-1 water cleaning method, and try again.

Shelf Life:  An unopened bottle of Potable Aqua has a shelf life of 4-years if stored in a cool, dry place, and the bottle is unopened.  An unopened bottle of bleach under the same conditions has a shelf-life of 1-year.  A glass eyedropper bottle which has been completely filled with fresh bleach can have a shelf life of 1-year, whereas a plastic eyedropper bottle will generally only provide 6-month shelf life.

Safety Considerations for Bleach:  Carefully read the manufacturer’s safety and usage information which is on the bleach bottle label.  Bleach is not safe to drink except in the extremely diluted quantities as specified in this article.  Keep bleach and other chemicals away from children.

For Travel or For Use in a GO-Bag:  Fill a 2-4 ounce glass bottle, which has a glass eyedropper, with regular household bleach.  Be sure to label the bottle, and seal it tightly.  A dark colored bottle which keeps out light will help keep the bleach fresh, longer.  Old bleach can still be used to purify water, but the treatment dosage will increase with age.

Dry Chlorine:  More accurately called calcium hypochlorite, is commonly used for swimming pools, and has a longer shelf life than liquid bleach or liquid chlorine.  If kept dry, cool, and in a dark place, Dry Chlorine can retain most of its potency for nearly 10-years.  It is readily available from swimming pool supply stores, but since the strength varies by manufacturer, extra care must be used to determine the proper dose.  Also, since many pool products have additional additives, it is critically important that the right product is selected for the purification of drinking water.

For chlorinating water in rain tanks, first-time chlorination is often accomplished by adding as little as 7-grams of dry chlorine (1/4 ounce by weight) or 40ml (1.35 ounces) liquid pool Chlorine for 1000 liters (264 gallons) of untreated tap water.  Mix thoroughly if possible, or at least agitate the water to aid the mixing process.  Let the water stand for at least 24-hours before drinking.

To maintain safe levels of chlorination:  In a 1,000-liter (264 gallon) tank, each week add 1-gram dry (.035 ounce by weight) or 4ml (.135 ounces). Stir.  Let the water stand for two hours after treatment, before drinking.

Caution:  Proper dosage differs depending on the form and strength of the chlorine being used.  Calcium Hypochlorite is the solid form of pool Chlorine, and typically is 65% strength.  Sodium Hypochlorite is the liquid form of pool Chlorine, and often is sold in strength of 12.5%. Household bleach is Sodium Hypochlorite (NaHOCl) and typically ranges in strength from 5.25-6%.

Potable_Aqua-IodineIodine-Potable_Agua-n-PAPlusOption “C”:  Iodine to Purify Water

Tincture of Iodine (2% solution) and Iodine tablets are a water purification method that has been used for many years.  Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts often make their own inexpensive Crystalline Iodine solution.  But just like Chlorine bleach, Iodine is not effective against Cryptosporidium.  Chlorine bleach is slightly more effective than Iodine, but neither is adequate for reliably killing Cryptosporidium.

Caution:  Water that has been disinfected with Iodine should NOT be consumed by pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, or those with known hypersensitivity to Iodine.  Also, Iodine treated water should not be used continuously for more than a few weeks.

Hydrogen_Peroxide-bottleOption “D”:  Hydrogen Peroxide to Purify Water

Similar in effect to Chlorine or household bleach, Peroxide has a somewhat similar ability to purify water.  However, since Peroxide degrades very quickly, especially if the container has previously been opened, its primary benefit is that it might be available in an emergency situation when other purification methods are not.

Since the strength of Peroxide declines quickly even if the container is unopened, it is impossible to provide reliable dosing information.  Therefore, if Hydrogen Peroxide is all you have, the best option may be to dose the water with twice the amount of Peroxide than would be used for bleach, shake or stir, and then wait 30-minutes.  If there is a slight odor of Peroxide to the water, it is probably safer to drink than untreated water.  If there is no Peroxide odor for the water, repeat the process.  After the additional 30-minute wait, if there is still no Peroxide odor to the water, the treatment may not have provided a substantial purification effect.  However, the treated water will likely still be safer to drink than untreated water.  Do not drink Hydrogen Peroxide straight, even if the strength is negligible.

Specifics on Hydrogen Peroxide Water Treatment:  If one cup of water has 20 parts per million ‘bugs’ in it, the disinfectant dosage needs to be at least 20ppm but no more than 25 as more than this can produce negative health effects from chemical contamination.  If your supply of water is limited and you can’t afford to discard the over-treated water, set the uncapped container aside for several hours to let the Peroxide escape into the air.

If you have access to water testing equipment:  Peroxide dosage of 23ppm (of the active chlorine component) will show a 3ppm free residual while showing a 23ppm total chlorine level (if the background is zero). Peroxide would potentially have the advantage of breaking down to oxygen and water, but its use is also made more difficult by that fact when measuring reacted components. A quick calculation to use daily is the required dosage in parts per million, times the volume treated in gallons, divided by 120,000 (which is a constant). This calculates the number of pounds needed to give that dosage. Unfortunately there is no simple answer to dosage if you do not have access to test equipment.

Note:  The type of Iodine used for water purification tablets is not the same as the Iodine used for protection against radiation sickness.  Do not consume Chlorine or Iodine Water Purification Tablets like a pill.  For safe use, they must be properly diluted in water.

Stabilized_Liquid_Oxygen_Drops-3Bottles-4ozEa-bOption “E”:  Stabilized Liquid Oxygen (Activated Oxygen) to Purify Water

The chemicals Chlorine and Iodine both create health problems if used for an extended period of time, whereas Stabilized Oxygen has no such undesirable side effects.  An additional benefit is that Stabilized Oxygen does not adversely affect the taste of the water as do chemical treatments.

Dosage:  Use the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.  If not available, purification dosage is typically 10 – 40 drops of liquid Stabilized Oxygen for 16-ounces of clear water, shake or stir and then cap the container.  Let stand for 5-minutes before consuming.  For powders such as Katadyn Micropur and Micropur Tank Clean, use one gram of powder to treat 1-liter of water, dissolve thoroughly and then wait 5-minutes before drinking.

For short-term water storage, treat 1 gallon of already-chlorinated water by adding 10 drops of stabilized oxygen. For tap water which is to be stored long-term, add 20 drops.  For 55 gallon drums, use 55 ml or 1,100 drops.  Store stored water in a cool location, away from direct sunlight.  Keep your bottle of Stabilized Oxygen tightly capped and away from heat and sunlight.

The use of Stabilized Oxygen for water purification is a lesser-known treatment method.  It can be hard to find locally, except perhaps in health food, vitamin, or homeopathic stores.  It may be more expedient to shop for it online.  Commonly found brand names of Stabilized Oxygen are:  Aerox, Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen (formerly Aerobic 07), Aerobic Life, and Aquagen, Dynamo 2, Dexterity Health, and Genesis 1000, Katadyn Micropur.

RedWine-Camaraderie_CellarsOption “F”:  Using Wine to Purify Water

Since ancient Bible times, water was often insufficiently pure to drink untreated. By mixing 1-part red wine to 3 parts water, a limited level of purification was achieved. In modern laboratory tests, bacterium was in fact killed using this method.

In these laboratory tests, red wine ranked 3 to 4 times more effective than alcoholic beverages such as tequila. It is believed that wine is more effective due to the phenol compounds in the red wine, which are enhanced by the charred wood used in some wine-aging casks. This factor is important, and additionally noteworthy as phenol compounds may be related to the basic sulfur drugs historically used in early antibiotics. (Source: Dr. Trichopolou, British Medical Journal discussing the Greek Villager’s Diet.) The full article is here. Do not assume this method kills Giardia and Cryptosporidium, etc. View this treatment as a last-resort method which may be better than no treatment at all.

Emergency-Water-DesalinizationOption “F”:  Salt Water – Desalinization or Distillation to Make Pure Water

Do not drink saltwater.  If seawater or saltwater is your only source of water, the salt must be removed, and the water purified, before drinking it.

If you don’t have equipment designed for this purpose, this can be accomplished by boiling salt water, capturing the steam, and then letting the water condense into liquid water as the steam cools.

How To:  To accomplish this, use an oversize lid or tinfoil over the boiling pot to capture the steam, and provide a method for the steam to cool and transition back into water, and devise a plan to collect this distilled water.

Perhaps the simplest method is to extend the lid over the side of the pot, use tinfoil to direct the escaping steam, and more tin foil to form a trough to let the condensed water flow into a second, clean container.  Be sure to let the water cool before drinking.

If this is accomplished using a sterile container and sterilized tinfoil, this water is also suitable for medical use such as cleaning wounds.

Note:  Even expensive water purification filters will not remove salt from water.  Salt can only be removed by using some method to convert the water into steam, and then back again into liquid water; or, by using desalinization equipment such as found on some yachts and sailboats.

Distilled water is not healthy for long term use as drinking water.

Additional Helpful Information About Water Purification and Related Topics

Water-Filter-System-KatadynWater Purifying Filters and Devices

Advanced filtration systems capable of filtering water at the 1-micron level, can be a great alternative to the Step-2 methods described above.  Ultraviolet (UV-C) light devices for water purification, such as the SteriPEN ($70+), are also useful as they can purify 32-ounces of water in just 90 seconds.  However, since batteries are required and electronic devices are prone to damage, we do not consider Ultraviolet devices to be unsuitable as a sole source of water purification.  A SteriPEN-type ultraviolet purification device is an excellent device, but it is essential to have another method(s) available to you as a back-up.

Purification filters are far more expensive than chemical methods ($70-500), but these units are far better choice for long-term use.  Notwithstanding, even if you have a high-quality purifying filter, chemical purification methods should still be available to use as a second treatment for water which is suspected to be highly contaminated, and as a back-up to filters which can clog and mechanically operated filters which can break.

The greatest degree of safety for long-term use is provided by using a combination of a high-quality water purification filter PLUS an ultraviolet purifier.  For example, a Katadyn Pocket Water Filter ($370) PLUS either a SteriPEN Defender designed for use by the military ($129), or a SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier with Solar Charging Case ($150).

A vendor such as REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc. – http://www.REI.com) can help you select a suitable water purification filter, such as those used for backpacking.  Since portable purification devices are very specialized and must be selected with great discernment, they will be the subject of a separate article.  Caution:  When shopping for this type of device, be sure that it is capable of removing or destroying protozoa, bacteria, and viruses.  The manufacturers of the most popular water purification filters are:  Katadyn, Sawyer, and MSR.

Look for a filter that has a pore size of 1 micron or less. This will remove microbes 1 micron or greater in diameter (Cryptosporidium, Giardia). There are two types of these filters — “absolute 1 micron” filters and “nominal 1 micron” filters but not all filters that are supposed to remove objects 1 micron or larger from water are the same. The absolute 1 micron filter will more consistently remove Cryptosporidium than a nominal filter. Some nominal 1 micron filters will allow 20% to 30% of 1 micron particles (like Cryptosporidium) to pass through.

NSF-International (NSF) does independent testing of filters to determine if they remove Cryptosporidium. To find out if a particular filter is certified to remove Cryptosporidium, you can look for the NSF trademark plus the words “cyst reduction” or “cyst removal” on the product label information. You can also contact the NSF at 789 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48113 USA, toll free 800-673-8010 or 888-99-SAFER, or visit their website:  www.nsf.org/certified/DWTU/. At their Website, you can enter the model number of the unit you intend to buy to see if it is on their certified list, or you can look under the section entitled “Reduction claims for drinking water treatment units – Health Effects” and check the box in front of the words “Cyst Reduction.” This will display a list of filters tested for their ability to remove Cryptosporidium.

Because NSF testing is expensive and voluntary, some filters that may work against Cryptosporidium have not been NSF-tested. If you chose to use a product not NSF-certified, select those technologies more likely to reduce Cryptosporidium, including filters with reverse osmosis and those that have an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller.

Crypto-Parasite-02Cryptosporidium, aka “Crypto”

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Crypto.”

There are many species of Cryptosporidium that infect humans and animals. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine and iodine disinfection.

While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, drinking water and recreational water are the most common method of transmission. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.

Reverse osmosis water treatment and water purification filters which are labeled as providing “absolute 1-micron” filtration are the only reliable consumer-level methods for minimizing the risk of Cryptosporidium contamination.

Water-Heater-Drain_edited-1Often Forgotten Sources of Water Which Are Inside Your Home or Office

Sources of reasonably-clean water within a home are your water heater, ice in the refrigerator, swimming pools, fish tanks, and your water pipes (if you have turned-off the water at the point where it enters the house).  Once the outside water has been turned off, put a clean container under the lowest water faucet in the house (basement, if you have one), and open that faucet.  Then, go to the highest water faucet (top floor, or a physically higher faucet if it is a 1-story house, and open that faucet to eliminate the natural vacuum which exists within your plumbing system.  Any remaining water in the pipes should immediately start draining into the container.  Return to the low faucet and switch containers as needed, or be prepared to turn off the faucet so that you don’t waste water. Toilet tanks also store water, but are unreliable in regard to water quality, but this might also be a source of water that can be used for the purification process.

Soft_DrinksSoft Drinks, Carbonated Beverages, Fruit Juice, Alcoholic Beverages, and Other Canned or Bottled Drinks

Soft drinks, flavored and sugar drinks, and those containing caffeine, can be counterproductive in an emergency situation.  Drinks labeled as containing salt or sodium chloride, can increase thirst.  Liquid Gatorade and sports drinks can be useful, but may upset the body’s electrolyte balance if consumed in quantity.  These liquid sports drinks may also bring on nausea or an upset stomach if consumed in combination with foods not usually eaten, or when the stomach is empty.

Gatorade-Powder-bImproving the Taste of Chemically Treated Water (By Masking)

Powdered Gatorade “Thirst Quencher”: The powdered sport drink Gatorade is useful for masking the taste of water treated with Chlorine or Iodine, as well as for restoring the body’s electrolyte balance after a prolonged period of strenuous exertion, heavy sweating, or an extended time in a high heat environment. When used simply to improve the taste of purified water, use ¼ strength, or just enough to distract you from the unpleasant taste of the water.  Improving the taste of treated water can be particularly important with children who may not drink sufficient water to maintain health because they don’t like the water’s strange taste.

Water-TasteImproving the Taste of Chemically Treated Water (By Treatment)

Anti-Chlorine and Stabilized Oxygen:  Packaged under a number of different names, anti-Chlorine treatments and Stabilized Oxygen can be used to neutralize residual chlorine which remains in the water.  However, since these additives remove the Chlorine and its beneficial ongoing purification properties, it is best to use anti-Chlorine treatments just prior to drinking the water.  Since Liquid Oxygen and Activated Oxygen powder purity water, these can be used to improve the taste of stored water.  Commonly found brands:  Katadyn Micropur Antichlor MA and Potable Aqua PA-Plus Neutralizing Tablets.

Contaminated-PondRadiation, Heavy Metals, Farm Chemicals, and Manufacturing Waste in Water

If your water source is contaminated with radiation or heavy metals you will not be able to clean it using these cleaning and purification methods.  However, these methods will still be helpful, particularly if the source of water has set undisturbed for several days.  (Some of these contaminates will settle to the bottom of the container, so if this type of contamination is a concern, carefully remove the surface water so that contaminates at the bottom of the container are not re-mixed with the water.

Shelf Life of Water Purification Products

When stored at room temperature:  Bleach in a sealed container has a shelf life of 1-year.  Chlorine and iodine tablets have a shelf life of 4-years if unopened, 1-year if the contents has been exposed to the air.  Water which has been chlorinated according to the above storage method has a shelf life of up to 1-year if stored in the dark or in a container impervious to light.  The effective life of filters depends primarily on the clarity of the water being filtered.  If water is pre-filtered until it is clear, most purification filters will last for several years of modest use.  Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions, and purchase additional filter elements if extended use is anticipated.

Expiration Dates:  Unfortunately, Chlorine and Iodine tablets are not required to have an expiration date, so these products should be purchased direct from the manufacturer, or from a trusted retailer which turns over its inventory quickly.  Some manufacturers, such as Potable Aqua, print a code on the bottle which they use to track the manufacturing date and lot number.  You can use this code to decipher the age of the product.  For example, Potable Aqua code:   1 13 01

The code is generally a five or six digit number. The first digit(s) represent the month of manufacture. The next two digits represent a two-digit year, and the last digits represent a batch number for that month and year. Using the code example above, the product was manufactured the 1st month of the year 2013 and was the 1st batch of product made that year.

If in the field, check the tablets appearance to determine if they are still effective. If the tablets are gray or dark brown in color, they are likely still effective. If they are light green or yellow, they are probably not effective. If you have no other method for purification, use 2-4x the standard dosage.  If the treated water has an unusually strong odor after adding the tablets, discard the water and try again using fewer tablets.

Water-Tanks_ArrayTreating Tap Water or Pure Water for Storage

Be sure that the water you are treating is drinking-quality water to begin with. To treat water for storage, use liquid household chlorine bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use bleach with soaps or scents added. Add the bleach according to the table below, using a clean, uncontaminated medicine dropper.

 4 drops bleach per quart or liter container of water
 8 drops bleach per 2-quart, 2-liter, or ½ gallon container of water
 16 drops bleach, or 1/4 teaspoon, per gallon or 4-liter container of water

When treating larger quantities of water, use the following table to convert drops to standard measuring units.

  8 drops = 1/8 teaspoon
 16 drops = 1/4 teaspoon
 32 drops = ½ teaspoon
 64 drops = 1 teaspoon
 192 drops = 1 Tablespoon
 384 drops = 1/8 cup which is equal to 2 Tablespoons

Stir the water and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Chlorine should be detectable by odor after the 30 minute waiting period. If the water does not smell like chlorine at that point, repeat the dose and let it stand another 15 minutes. Place caps on containers and attach labels describing the contents and when each was prepared.

Water stored in metal containers should not be treated, prior to storage, with chlorine since the chlorine compound is corrosive to most metals. Therefore, only very pure water should be stored in metal containers.

Water-Barrels-2Water Storage in 55-gallon Drums & Storage Tanks

If you intend to utilize 55-gallon drums for water storage, first be sure that they are food-grade plastic or metal containers with a food-grade liner or treatment.  If purchased as a previously used product, make sure that the container has not been used for something other than food, and that the contents did not contain a food product which will transmit flavor, odor, or otherwise taint your water.  Suitable “used” containers can often be purchased for $20-50 from a local bottler of Coca Cola or Pepsi products.

Liquid or powder Chlorine, such as obtained from a swimming pool supply store can be used to purify water, but the dosage is far different from that which is listed above for purifying water using household bleach.  Since different Chlorine products contain this chemical in various strengths, you need to check with a knowledgeable source for specific recommendations.  For water storage in drums and tanks, a “test kit” is essential.  Your local water authority, or even a knowledgeable pool supply owner, can help you select the best chemicals and test equipment for treating and testing drinking water.  Fortunately, these items are relatively inexpensive.

Click Here to download a flier containing instructions for “Katadyn Mircobox”, a simple water treatment method for 55-gallon drums and small water tanks.  http://katadynch.vs31.snowflakehosting.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/katadyn_products/Downloads/3-step_Flyer_Microbox_English.pdf

Additional Warnings:

  • Crystalline iodine 4-8 grams used in a stock solution constitutes a human lethal dose if accidentally swallowed in a single dose. Keep this and all chemicals out of the reach of children.
  • Water that has been disinfected with iodine is NOT recommended for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, those with known hypersensitivity to iodine, or continuous use for more than a few weeks at a time.


Though we believe that the information contained here is accurate, it is only a compilation of information assembled from sources we believe to be reliable.  This is not medical advice, and it is your responsibility to validate the accuracy of any information used.  Below you will find links to sources which we have used, which might also be of value to you.

Bibliography (Partial List of Resources Used):

U.S. Center for Disease Control

Source:  http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/emergency_disinfection.html

Source:  http://www.cdc.gov /travel/page/water-treatment.htm

Source:  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/water-treatment.htm

U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Source:  http://www.ready.gov/managing-water

Source:  http://www.fema.gov/pte/foodwtr.htm

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Source: http://water.epa.gov/drink/emerprep/emergencydisinfection.cfm

Red Cross

Source:  http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety/water-treatment

Source:  http://www.clorox.com/products/clorox-concentrated-regular-bleach/faq/

King County Public Health Department, Washington State

Source:  http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/preparedness/disaster/SafeWater.aspx

Source: http://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/EmergencyPreparednessandResponse/Factsheets/WaterPurification.aspx

USA Today

Source:  http://traveltips.usatoday.com/long-boil-water-purification-62933.html

Survival Blog

Source:  http://survivalblog.org/water-purification-with-household-bleach/

Go-Bags and Emergency Provision Kits for Disasters or Evacuation Reply


Prepare GO-Bags for each family member.

What is a GO Bag?  It’s a pre-packed provisions and gear knapsack, and it is a core element for disaster and emergency preparations.  Whether you are forced to evacuated from your home due to a storm, or you have made the choice to flee due to civil unrest or some other cause, you need a pre-packed GO-Bag (sometimes referred to as a GOOD Bag — Get-Out-Of-Dodge, or BOB — Bug-Out Bag).

A pre-packed GO-Bag makes it possible for you to instantly flee in a disaster or emergency situation   If this is the kind of situation that you encounter, at that point it is too late to pack.  It’s literally too late.  You will either throw things into a bag and leave, with only a few of the things you actually need; or you will take the time to do it right, and the window of opportunity will close and it will be too late to get to safety.  Either way, you will expose yourself to unnecessary danger.  A GO-Bag, pre-packed and ready to use, is an essential component for disaster and emergency preparedness.

Advice from the Experts:  A suitcase or duffle bag is inadequate for use as a GO-Bag.  You need to be able to carry your GO-Bag on your shoulders, comfortably, perhaps for an extended period of time and considerable distance if you end up on foot.  

You may flee from your home or work in your car, but you may end up on walking.  Anticipate this situation.  You may have more supplies in your car but you may be forced to leave almost everything behind.  If this is the situation, a pre-packed GO-Bag may literally be a life saver.

A GO-Bag is a knapsack containing 10-15 lbs of essential supplies.  For most people, a knapsack is a better choice because a large backpack can be ungainly if you need to move quickly.  And, if it’s too heavy you might be tempted to leave it behind, and a large bag may make you more of a target for criminal assault or unwanted attention.  

Keep your emergency supplies and your GO Bag protected inside a duffle bag, and store it in your car’s trunk.  The colors of your clothing and GOOD Bag should be subdued and similar to the color of the terrain, but not camo or military-like. Don’t store batteries in flashlights or electronics.  Frequently replace water and other items susceptible to quality or safety degradation.  Check your kit regularly.  Storing your GO Bag in a plastic trash sack may keep it clean, but it may encourage mold or other problems.  Excessive heat or cold will damage some of your GO Bag provisions, so storage must be appropriate to your environment.

Young Children, Elderly, and those With Physical Limitations

Each member of the family or group that is bugging-out (fleeing), who is physically able, should carry their own GO Bag, even if it’s small.  Young children, elderly, and physically feeble individuals may not be able to carry everything they need, but they should at least carry the important items that are unique to their personal needs.  This will include essential clothing, their medicines, their spare eyeglasses and other personal-needs gear, plus at least some water and Power Bars (food).  You may shutter at the thought of becoming separated from them, but if that does somehow happen, or if you need to transfer them to the care of another, you’ll want your loved one to have those things they actually need.

Seasonal Clothing / Needs for Environment or Conditions

In addition to your GO Bag, you need to have a seasonal bag containing such items as warm/cold weather clothing, rain/sun/heat protection, boots and durable clothing to immediately change into when an emergency situation occurs.  Having multiple changes of clothing is overrated.  What you need are the right clothes for the situation.  Change into your situation-appropriate clothing early, and leave the impractical items behind.  More about clothing will be covered later.  The point we’re making here is that these items should be in a separate bag, but stored with your GO Bag.

What to Get? / Where to Buy?

Though a sporting goods store may offer a good selection of suitable clothing items, their “camping” or “backpacking” departments are often stocked with goods that are of insufficient quality.  Shopping online from a trustworthy vendor such as REI (http://www.REI.com and Brigade Quartermaster (http://www.BrigadeQM.com) are usually a more reliable resource.   REI has stores nationwide which offer training and product-comparison materials, and sales staff who are better informed than those found in most stores.

On this website, brand recommendations (italics) are made only when quality or specifications are highly important.  This doesn’t mean that these items are your only choice, it just means that you need to pay particular attention to the specifications and quality.

Specific Provisions & Gear

You can’t have all of the below items in your GO Bag as it would become too large and heavy.  But if you have a number of people in your family or Bug-Out Group, all of these items can be included.

As finances allow, you need to stockpile as much of this as possible.  Again, the below list is a place to start as you develop your own emergency preparations. This list needs to be revised according to your own needs, your financial ability, and your own geography and environment.

Remember to remove unnecessary packaging from all items, and compress clothing in Ziplock-style travel bags.  Everything should be stored together, and protected from excessive heat/cold, moisture, insects, and other things which might cause damage.

Your Emergency / Disaster Supplies List

Below is a basic list of provisions and gear to create a 2-Week Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Kit, and a GO-Bag (Evacuation Supplies).  The items selected for inclusion in your GO-Bag knapsack will be only a small portion of this list, and the contents of your GO-Bag should be selected based on your location and situation.

This list of provisions and gear is provided only as a place to start, to help you develop your own list of supplies.  We hope that you will find this generic list helpful, but it is not intended to take the place of personal planning for your own circumstances and situation.  Be sure to add, remove and make changes to this list as appropriate for the number of people being served, the special needs of children, elderly and infirm, and for health, weather and other environment conditions where you will be operating.

GO-Bag:  Use either a medium-size internal frame backpack or a stout knapsack as your bag.  It should be equipped with a 100-fl. oz. water bladder, stored empty until needed; and your bag needs to be constructed of waterproof materials and designed to be carried on your back using padded shoulder straps.  If finances are tight, go to a Good Will store and buy an old school-bag knapsack.

The decision to use a medium-size backpack vs. knapsack should be based on the fitness of the individual who will be carrying it, environmental conditions, and terrain.  For most reasonably-fit and healthy people the weight of the fully-packed GO-Bag (weight of bag and contents) should not exceed 20% of their body weight.

In an emergency situation, always keep core essentials with you in your pockets, or in the pockets of a vest or fanny pack which is worn constantly, even while sleeping.  The GO Bag is for essentials, but the critically important “core” essentials such as a small flashlight, lighter or fire-starter, water purification tablets, a collapsible water container, face-covering scarf, self-defense pepper spray, and a pocketknife, should always be kept on your person. 

A change of clothing for an emergency situation can be stored in a separate bag and kept with your GO Bag, but be sure to change into these clothes as soon as practicable when an emergency strikes.  Hand carried items reduce mobility and increase fatigue.

Again, the following list is only a place to start.  It is provided to help you develop your own a GO Bag, and your 14-Day Emergency Provision Kit (for home use, office use, or transport in a vehicle).  Personal needs, environmental conditions, health, children, pets, and the need to assist others must also be considered when developing your personal supply lists.  

If you are new to this, and just getting into preparedness, this list will be daunting.  So start by purchasing the most important items first, and add to your emergency provisions as finances allow.

Assembling your GO-Bag, a sufficient quantity of drinking water, food, emergency medical supplies, and preparations for shelter (protection from cold, rain, sun, etc.) are your first priorities.  Concentrate on these supplies first.


–  Hiking Boots; made from waterproof but breathable material, and tops which extend above the ankle for lateral support and protection (wear these).

–  Water shoes or lightweight tennis shoes.

–  Moisture-wicking liner socks, 3-pair (wear 1-pr).

–  Backpacking socks , 3-pair (wear 1-pair).

–  Underpants (3-pr); and for women add a sports bra.

–  Gloves (work gloves AND surgical/latex gloves).

–  Wool watch cap.

–  Boonie or full-brimmed hat with retention strap.

–  Bandana, cotton or water- wicking synthetic.

–  Ripstop BDU pants, 2 pair (wear 1-pair).

–  Polyester long underwear (1 pair).

–  Long underwear shirt (1).

–  2 Polyester T-shirts, one w/ long-sleeves (wear 1).

–  Gore-Tex rain pants or snake-proof gaiters.

–  Heavy-duty belt with strong buckle.

–  Polar fleece long-sleeve pullover (1).

–  Shirt (long sleeve, roll-up sleeve style (wear).

–  Gore-Tex shell or parka.

–  Camouflage GI poncho or Gore-Tex poncho (can also be used as shelter, or to hide unattended gear).



–  Disposable butane lighters (3+).

–   FireSteel or Ultimate Survival fire-starter tool (2).

–  Fire NuggetsTinder Dust, or combustible tinder.

–  Strike-Anywhere or Storm-Proof matches in a watertight plastic container.

–  Magnifying glass (small size, for starting fires, etc.)

–  Space All-Weather Blanket or SOL Thermal Bivy.

–  Tarp (6 x 8’ fiber-reinforced plastic tarp).

–  550 7-strand braided GI paracord (100-feet).

–  Sleeping bag, foam pad and nylon bivy sacks are valuable, but may be too large or heavy if using a H.A.W.G. or other knapsack-size GOOD Bag.


Of the two, pure water is more important than food.  You can live as long as 3-4 weeks on almost no food, but your body and brain will start to suffer greatly after just one day without pure water.

Water and food supplies should be sufficient for 14-days, but you will probably not carry more than 200-oz in your GO-Bag, so water purification tablets or a purification filter is essential.  Prepare for extra people, too.  (Some equipment can be shared, but water supplies and food, shelter, and related supplies must be on a per-person basis.

A 14-day supply of canned food per-person may be difficult to store, but it may be impossible to transport in an average car.  Even a 7-day supply of military meals (MRE – Meals-Ready-to-Eat) would be unreasonable to carry in a GO-Bag knapsack.  So for your transportable supplies, be sure to include quantities of dry goods such as pasta and instant rice to create a more lightweight and compact food supply.

Practice loading your supplies into your vehicle, to make sure everything fits.

For your GO-Bag, pack food such as MRE Entrees (just the meal, not the entire package) or dehydrated meals made for backpacking.  Freeze-dried prepared food, such as those made by “ Mountain House,” are the lightest weight and most easily packed.  And since you only need to add hot water to prepare these freeze-dried meals, it’s an easy and practical way to eat when you’re on the go.  However, keep in mind that when the product label indicates “Serves 2,” it is generally only adequate for one active person.  Power Bars, and lifeboat survival rations (available at a marine-supplies store), can augment these MRE or freeze-dried GO-Bag meals.

Low Cost, Easy to store long-term, and sufficiently lightweight to pack in a GO-Bag, are such things as:

–  Peanuts or trail mix (dried fruits, nuts and seeds), ideal in foil packaging.

–  Power Bars (8+), and Beef Jerky (4+ packages).

–  Gatoraid or similar powder to add to water, to provide carbs and electrolytes.

–  1 -gal Ziplock bag of oatmeal, and a 1-gal bag of rice.

–  Raw honey, cinnamon, salt & pepper, plus a small  bottle of Tabasco sauce or other strong seasoning to help make any food more palatable.

–  1-quart Nalgene bottle, filled with some of above.

–  Drinking water (minimum of 100-oz) of pure drinking water should be in your GO-Bag, plus the capability of purifying water.  Water filtration is not enough.  You need to purify other sources of water.  This can be accomplished by boiling it for at least 5-7 minutes, or by using using purification tablets, or using a water purification system that filters to at least 1-micron.

–  “MSR” water filter (1-micron filtration) or similar is fairly expensive, but can be a life saver.

–  Potable Aqua Iodine water purification tablets (2 bottles, even if you have a water filtration system).

Cooking  at home: Propane camp stove with at least 7-propane bottles, or a one full 5-gallon propane tank.  (Keep in mind that you may be without electricity or natural gas, so your kitchen stove and conventional cooking methods may not work).

Cooking equipment for an extended-duration GO-Bag:

–  “MSR DragonFly” multi-fuel stove, full fuel bottle.

–  Pot w/ lid and heat exchanger (store stove inside).

–  MSR windscreen and heat reflector for cooking.

–  Insulated mug with lid and handle (Size: 16+ oz).

–  Stainless steel spoon, plus sturdy plastic or aluminum spork (fork/spoon combination).

–  Dish/pot scraper and brush.

* Use Hefty OneZip Click plastic bags to organize by category and to protect items as appropriate.



–  Small, strong plastic backpacking spade (small shovel).

–  Backpacking saw (blades for wood and metal).

–  Pry bar, 15”+.

–  Leatherman Wave multi-tool knife/pliers.

–  Knife sharpener or stone (pocket-size).

–  Topographic map GPS receiver (expensive), or
–  NSGS map of bug-out location and route alternatives, laminated or sealed in slide-lock plastic bag.

–   Heavy duty Dacron sail-maker’s thread and needles, or upholstery needles and thread.

–   Insect repellent – 98% DEET (in slide-lock bag).

–  SPF 50 sun-block and Chapstick.

–  Polarized sunglasses, rated also as eye protection, with protective case and floating retainer strap.

–  Molefoam Padding, tape and blister relief items.

–  Cortisone cream (sm. size; poison ivy & bug bites).

–  Benadryll (travel size, for insect stings).

–  Epipen (for severe allergic reactions to stings).

–  Medication for both diarrhea and constipation, as well as for upset stomach.

–  Ibuprofen and aspirin (20 of each).

–  Field guide to edible plants (region-specific).

–  Photocopy of ID (driver’s license / passport / medication prescriptions).

–  Cash, plus items to barter.

–  P-51 military (pocket) can opener.

–  Swiss Army  Explorer-model pocket knife.

–  Sheath Knife 4+ inch stainless steel blade.

–  550 Paracord (braided, 7-strand nylon, military).

–  Nylon fishing net (9 x 3’ min, 1” mesh).

–  Toothbrush and baking soda.

–  Wilderness concentrated soap (1-3 oz plastic bottle).

–  Safety razor, comb, backpacking toilet tissue.

–  Signal mirror (metal, lightweight; protect surface).

–   Greatland Laser Rescue Flare (or a laser pointer).

–   Flashlight: Mini Maglight w/ extra batteries.

–  Petzl or Black Diamond LED headlamp.

–  Rechargeable batteries and solar battery charger.

–  Heavy-duty duct tape (20’ minimum).

–  Gun Oil: Royal Purple or Militech-1  (1-oz  size).

–  Super Glue (6-small tubes, store in Ziplock bag).

–  Sharpie and Fisher Space pens (black ink).

–  “Rite in the Rain Outdoor Journal”-  5 x 3” notepad.

–  Portable radio with hand-crank and cell phone charger / adapters  (operates on AM-FM-NOAA weather bands).  Or, an ultra-small radio such as Kaito KA1121, plus a hand-crank battery charger.

–  Suunto (or similar) backpacking compass.

–  Plastic whistle, with lanyard.

–  Trash Bags (2) 3-mil, 42-55 gal. construction-grade plastic garbage bags for: shelter, raincoat, to bury gear, for water collection and many other uses.

–  Lightweight mesh bag (food foraging and carry).

–   Bible, New Testament w/ Psalms & Proverbs small-size.  (Even non-religious people will find this a source of comfort and wisdom during difficult times).

For information on firearms and ammunition, see article: “Firearms & Tools for Defense and Hunting.”  For training on hunting, and hunting education for children, contact Trinity Oaks: www.TrinityOaks.org.

Supplies for Hunting, Fishing, and Foraging:

–  Selection of fishhooks, lures, flies, bobbers, line-weights, and a spool of mono-filament leader.

–  Wire snares or traps suitable for small game.

–  Wrist-Rocket slingshot (or, 5’ surgical tubing to make a slingshot, and for siphoning fuel, water, etc).

–  Binoculars (small & lightweight, 8 x 25 or greater).


As you develop your list of supplies, remember that there are at least 4-levels of equipment and food/water preparations that are required:

a) Home and Work Preparations (for yourself and co-workers);

b) Vehicle transported supplies, and/or

c) Mountain Bike or Motorcycle Carried Supplies (Optional). These extra items will be in addition to your GO-Bag;

d) On Foot Bug-Out  (Go-Bag for each individual, required in addition to the above).  Note:  GO-Bags, also referred to as GOOD Bags (Get-Out-O-Dodge) or BOBs (Bug-Out Bags), can be either a pack as used for backpacking, or a knapsack which is more convenient to handle, run with, as well as lighter in weight if you find yourself in the situation of having to walk for a long distance;

e) Pocket-Kits. (Items carried in your pocket, purse, briefcase, everyday/always— just in case).


Recommended Retailers for These Products:

REI:  www.REI.com  REI specializes in quality backpacking and camping gear, and these compact and transportable items can form the basis for emergency and disaster preparations.

Brigade Quartermaster:  www.BrigadeQM.com  Brigade Quartermaster is a prime supplier of goods to the military and soldiers serving overseas.  Many of these items are also useful for emergency and disaster preparedness.

Note:  36ReadyBlog does not have a relationship with these retailers, nor do we receive any compensation from them as a result of our making these recommendations.

You’ll Need More Than a First Aid Kit Reply

First aid and CPR training offered by the Red Cross and hospitals, is a good place to start.  But “first aid” is only the first level of care.  In a major disaster or extended emergency situation, you will need more.  Much more.

Standard first-aid kits, and conventional first-aid training programs, assume that you can quickly get the injured person to a hospital for treatment.  Unfortunately, this may not be the case.

In a disaster or protracted emergency situation you may not have access to a doctor or hospital.  Therefore, it is important to obtain first aid training, plus some additional emergency medical training.  Likewise, a traditional first aid kit is a fine place to start, but you will need to augment it with additional supplies.

It’s worth noting that most medical doctors are also not equipped to deal with the lack of access to a hospital, or at least the medical equipment of a clinic and the drugs of a pharmacy.  Hopefully, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals will take the necessary steps to prepare to serve in an emergency environment, but don’t count on it.  It may be the ordinary person who gains the skills, and assembles the basic medical equipment, medicines and reference materials, which will become critically important in an emergency situation.

Many aid organizations, particularly those operated by Christians, provide training for short-term mission teams who do volunteer work in developing countries.  These organizations can be a great help to you, too.  Through them you may be able to acquire no-nonsense medical and health training, reference materials, and advice on supplies.   Remember, in a long-drawn-out emergency situation, your area may become like a Third-World community.  These people are the experts.

Christian aid organizations and socially responsible publishers such as “Hesperian Health Guides” offer free PDF downloads of some of their most sought-after medical and health-care books and booklets.  Purchase these materials now, or, download and print them now, as you may not have access to a computer during an emergency situation.

If you plan to download free resources, make a donation if you are able, but don’t miss this opportunity to secure these important resource materials.  Visit the Hesperian website to order books, as well as to download free materials such as these books: “Where There is No Doctor,” “Where There Is No Dentist,” “A Book for Midwives,” “Sanitation and Cleanliness,” and “Water For Life.”  http://hesperian.org/books-and-resources/

If you are looking for a book to add to your medical supply kit, a great one-book resource is “The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook,” by medical doctor Joseph Alton and his nurse wife, Amy.  This can be ordered through regular book outlets such as Amazon, or directly from the Alton’s website:  http://www.doomandbloom.net/

Their http://www.DoomAndBloom.net website also has free video and podcasts teaching materials, and Joseph and Amy Alton also conduct survival medicine seminars around the country.  Also available for purchase on their website, is various medical kits and equipment such as trauma bags and suture kits.

Another new book, but unfortunately one we’ve not yet had the opportunity to review, is “Armageddon Medicine, How to Be Your Own Doctor,” by Cynthia Koelker, MD.  http://armageddonmedicine.net/

If it’s not practical for you to sign-up for an emergency medical class right now, at least buy the Red Cross manual, “First Aid–Responding to Emergencies.”  Plus, one of the two books mentioned above, and start building your Emergency Medical Supplies Kit.

As previously mentioned, a standard first-aid kit isn’t enough.  You need a good first-aid kit, but that is only one part of your Emergency Medical Supplies Kit.  However, purchasing a first-aid kit which was designed for backpackers who hike into remote wilderness areas, is a good place to start.

Adventure Medical Kits made for those who enjoy wilderness backpacking, are great for GO Bags.  These can also serve as the foundation on which to build your Emergency Medical Supplies Kit.

These first-aid kits for wilderness backpackers, such as the Adventure Medical Kit depicted in the photo, are also great for inclusion in your GO Bag (Get-Out-Of-Dodge knapsack / evacuation kit).  However, you will still need to add some additional medical and health supplies.  Responding to a disaster involves more than backwoods hiking.

Retailers such as Recreational Equipment offer Adventure Medical Kits and related supplies (www.REI.com). http://www.rei.com/search?query=adventure+medical+kit   Many of the online companies which supply police and fire departments and EMT personnel, will also sell medical supplies to the general public.  (For example, BOTACH Tactical:  http://botachtactical.commerce-search.net/search?keywords=first+aid).

“QuikClot ACS Advanced Clotting Sponge TraumaPak” are used for gunshot wounds and in other situations to stop serious bleeding.  They have been used to save many lives, and 1-2 of these bandages should be included in every emergency medical kit.

Gunshot wounds and injuries involving serious bleeding, whether caused by an accident or as a result of violence, require specialized supplies for effective treatment.

The “QuikClot ACS Advanced Clotting Sponge TraumaPak” made by Z-Medica (see photo), has saved many lives because they are so effective in stopping bleeding.  Every emergency medical kit should contain at least two of these QuikClot bandages and one chest-wound sealing bandage.

Military surplus stores sometimes sell genuine government-issue medic kits, and these can include these items at a much reduced price.  However, beware of damaged supplies and counterfeit knock-off kits which might contain substandard products.

Another disaster-situation injury to prepare for is dog bites.  In a protracted emergency situation, abandoned pets will assemble into packs, and they will attack people, especially small children, in an attempt to secure food. Dog bites will become common, along with the more usual broken bones, cuts, and eye injuries which are routine to any emergency situation.

Keep this in mind:  The contents of a typical first aid kit were selected based on the assumption that the injured person will quickly receive paramedic care, or be rapidly evacuated to a hospital’s emergency department or trauma center.  As a result, buying a first aid kit may be a great place to start your emergency medical preparations, but it’s only a place to start.  A standard first-aid kit simply isn’t adequate.

In addition to specialized medical products such as QuikClot, in an extended emergency situation expect to encounter contaminated water and infection-breeding sanitation problems.  This requires different supplies and training.  Simple infection will likely claim more lives than the injuries themselves.

Be sure to do what you can to avoid injury and illness.  Don’t take unnecessary chances.  Be proactive in regard to injury and disease treatment, including the treatment of small cuts and abrasions, minor injuries and ailments.  Poor health also leads to poor decision making, which can result in additional health and safety dangers.

Make sanitation important.  Don’t just filter water, purify it.  If possible, drink water throughout the day, consuming at least 1-ounce of water for each pound of body weight.  (A 150-pound person should consume at least 150-ounces of water, daily).  Proper hydration (electrolyte balance) is essential for maintaining health.

When walking any distance, periodically check your feet for blisters. Apply a Moleskin-type product to protect sore areas before blisters develop, or on top of blisters to help them heal and to protect against infection.

If possible, wear dry and clean socks and underwear to minimize the growth of bacteria.  Don’t hike in wet shoes or boots, as this can result in blisters which can burst and easily become infected.

Blisters can also develop as a result of friction between your foot and footwear, a problem further aggravated by thin socks or  inadequate shoes or boots.  Use moleskin or tape to protect the areas of your feet where blisters tend to form.  Without proper treatment, a simple blister can develop into a debilitating injury.

Take what steps you can to avoid becoming chilled or overheated, and force yourself to eat, even when you don’t feel like it.  When possible, eat nutritious and balanced food, which includes protein, carbohydrates, fruit, roughage and fats.  Each meal probably won’t be balanced, but try to achieve balance in your day’s consumption of food.

When possible, wash your hands frequently, and maintain proper health standards in your environment, particularly before eating and after relieving yourself.  Bury waste to minimize contamination, and to reduce the transmission of disease by flies and other insects.  Establish a habit of not touching your mouth with your hands, and not mopping the mouth area of your face with a rag or handkerchief.

If you are with other people, watch each other closely for signs of health and emotional problems; talk with each other about health issues.  Prevention is better than the best treatment.

Develop an emergency medical kit which includes medical equipment as well as supplies for treatment, not just first aid; and sanitation and water purification, along with a lightweight medical reference book, in addition to an ample supply of basic items such as band aids and antibacterial soap.

If you encounter even a small cut, abrasion, or blister, be extremely aggressive in treatment.  As soon as possible, scrub the affected area thoroughly with soap and clean water, apply an antibacterial treatment, and protect the injured area from contamination.  Replace soiled bandages and re-clean the wound whenever it becomes necessary.  Check the wound frequently for indicators of infection.

Broken bones may be splinted initially, but the bone will need to be set within a few hours.  Deep wounds need to be scrubbed thoroughly, ideally with a small sterile brush made for that purpose.  Bleeding needs to be stopped as blood loss can quickly create a serious health risk, even when the injury itself does not appear to be life threatening.

You may not have access to professional medical help for a very long time.  Be prepared to accomplish wound treatment, suturing, and bone-setting.  Your life, or the life of another, may depend on you, your training and your supplies.

If possible, add a wide-spectrum antibiotic such as Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) or Doxycycline to your Emergency Medical Supplies Kit.  Get advice, and a prescription, from your physician.

Though most antibiotics only have a shelf-life of a year, it’s worth asking your doctor for a prescription for a wide-spectrum antibiotic such as Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) or Doxycycline.  Purchase it and keep it in your GO Bag (Evacuation or Get-Out-Of-Dodge knapsack), along with the instructions and the pharmacy label.  Take note of the expiration date, and replace promptly to maintain potency.  (Be sure to store medicine and all dangerous items away from children).  Get instructions from your doctor, but in some situations you may want to administer an antibiotic regimen as part of the initial treatment, before the victim even has the opportunity to demonstrate symptoms of infection.

If you or a family member needs other medications, such as for a heart condition or diabetes, be sure to maintain a supply of these medications in both your GO Bag and your Emergency Supply Kit.  Keep a copy of the prescription documents, and other essential medical records, in your kits.

If it’s not practical to store these medications in your GO Bag and Emergency Medical Kit, attach a note to the bags with a reminder to get the medicine out of your refrigerator before leaving home.  Use “Blue Ice” and an insulated bag to store medicines which require refrigeration, and keep the bag out of direct sunlight.  In a vehicle, keep the medicine in the vehicle’s trunk, rather than the interior of the car which will super-heat if the vehicle is parked outside.

For centuries, essential oils have been used to aid healing. These have a place in emergency medical kits today because these healing oils can be used for a number of different purposes.  For example, Clove Bud Oil is routinely used as an anti-inflammatory, but when combined with zinc oxide powder it can be used as a temporary tooth filling.

Also, don’t discount the value of naturopathic remedies.  Common food items such as cinnamon, honey, sea salt and baking soda, have many medical and health-improving uses.  And, various organic Essential Oils have a reputation for aiding the body’s natural healing processes for both injury and disease, as well as for other practical purposes.

For example, Tea Tree Essential Oil and Lavender Essential Oil are often used as an antiseptic, and for antimicrobial and antifungal treatments.  Peppermint Essential Oil has been touted as useful as both an antiseptic and for antibacterial use.  Clove Bud Essential Oil has been used as an anti-inflammatory, insect repellent, and even for replacing a lost filling in a tooth. (1-2 drops of Clove Bud Essential Oil, added to Zinc Oxide, will form a paste that can be used to fill a broken tooth.  Bite down and hold for 10-minutes to give the compound a chance to harden.)  Other foods, spices and Essential Oils have long been used for many medicinal and health-enhancing purposes.   Whereas a medicine such as Neosporin is a useful antibiotic for cuts and abrasions, one essential-oil can be used for a dozen different purposes.

Since stress and changes in eating habits often result in stomach upset, heart burn, constipation, or nausea, be sure to include remedies for these problems in your medical kit, too.

Changes in your natural environment may call for the use of sunscreen lotion, insect repellent (100% DEET), tick-removal tweezers, medical mask (particulate respirator), safety classes, small magnifying glass, scrub brush for cleaning wounds, skin lotion, disinfectant, sanitation aides, and water purification devices or tablets.  These supplies are important, too.  Often used consumables such as antibacterial soap, band aids and medical gloves, need to be stockpiled in greater quantity.

Animals get injured and sick as well as humans, so don’t forget these creatures as you prepare for medical emergencies and health needs.  Your veterinarian, online vet supply store, or farm/ranch supply co-op can help you prepare to meet the health needs of your pet, or other animals in your care.

For lists of medical supplies which are recommended for disaster preparedness kits, refer to the Doom and Bloom or Armageddon Medicine books listed above.

Personal and Family Contingency Plans Reply

Do you have a plan? Individuals and families need a contingency plan for disasters and emergency situations. Every family member, including young children, must know the plan.

The Importance of Planning

Those in the vicinity of an attack have the best chance of escaping and reconnecting with loved ones if they have a personal contingency plan.  Sudden disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes, school shootings or the derailment of train cars carrying chlorine, can strike anywhere.

Emergency plans are vital not only for corporations and schools, but also for families and individuals. Such plans should be in place for each regular location — home, work and school — that an individual frequents, and should cover what that person will do and where he or she will go should an evacuation be necessary. This means establishing meeting points for family members who might be split up — and backup points in case the first or second point also is affected by the disaster.

The lack of ability to communicate with loved ones because of circuit overload or other phone service problems can greatly enhance the sense of panic during a crisis. Perhaps the most value derived from having personal and family contingency plans is a reduction in the amount of stress that results from not being able to immediately contact a loved one. Knowing that everyone is following the plan frees each person to concentrate on the more pressing issue of evacuation. Additionally, someone who waits until he or she has contacted all loved ones before evacuating might not make it out.

It also is important to have a communication plan, which should include the contact information for the pre-chosen rallying site, as well as an alternate communications hub outside of the area. It might be difficult to communicate from Point A to Point B, but both A and B might be able to get through to a person at Point C. Alternative means of communication also should be included in the communications plan. If the phone lines and cell phones are clogged, many times text messages can still get through and Internet connections will work to send e-mail. The communications plan also will be helpful in case one member of the family is unable to evacuate immediately or finds it unwise to evacuate at all. In that case, he or she will know where the rest of the family is going and how to contact them once communications are restored.

Planning is additionally important because, when confronted with a dire emergency situation, many people simply do not know what to do. Not having determined their options in advance — and in shock over the events of the day — they are unable to think clearly enough to establish a logical plan, and instead wander aimlessly around. Having an established plan in place gives even a person who is in shock or denial and unable to think clearly a framework to lean on and a path to follow.

If You Must Evacuate

One of the keys to surviving a catastrophe is situational awareness (see post on this topic).  This means recognizing the threat at an early stage — and taking measures to avoid it. Another element of situational awareness is to know where to go when an unforeseen disaster strikes. For example, if an improvised explosive device (IED) were to detonate in a subway car ahead of the car you are in, would you know how to get out of your car and in which direction to travel to get to safety? If your office building is hit by an IED or catches fire, do you know where the fire exits are located and where they lead? Could one fire exit take you out of the frying pan and into the fire? Situational awareness also involves knowing how to react. If a subway tunnel is filling with smoke, you must have the situational awareness to keep low in order to avoid being overcome.

In some cases, evacuation might not be the best idea. If there is no immediate threat to you at your current location, you could run a larger risk of being injured by joining the crowd of panicked people on the street. In some cases, it might be safest to just stay in place and wait for order to return — especially if you are in a location where you have emergency stocks of food and water.

If you work in a high-rise building, frequently travel or take a subway, there are a couple of pieces of equipment that can assist you in case the need to evacuate arises. One of these is a smoke hood, a protective device that fits over the head and provides protection from smoke inhalation. Smoke hoods are relatively inexpensive devices that can be carried in a briefcase or purse and quickly donned in case of emergency. They will usually provide around 20-30 minutes of breathing time — which could quite literally mean the difference between life and death in a smoke-filled hallway, stairway or subway tunnel. The second piece of equipment is a flashlight small enough to fit in a pocket, purse or briefcase. Such a light could prove to be invaluable in a crisis situation at night or when the power goes out in a large building or subway. Some of the small aluminum flashlights also can serve as a handy self-defense weapon.

Even if you don’t live in an area which is prone to extreme weather or is a likely terrorist target, it is still prudent to prepare a “GO Bag” kit (knapsack) containing clothes, water, a first-aid kit, nutritional bars, medications and toiletry items for you and your family.  (See post on Go Bags and Emergency Kits).  It also is a good idea to include a battery-powered radio and other useful items, such as multi-tool knives and duct tape. The kit should be kept in convenient place like the trunk of your car, or some other convenient location that makes it easy to grab it on the way out. Even if it is impractical to keep all Emergency Supplies in one place, develop a list to help you collect other items quickly.  You need to be ready to get out the door and “fly away” in seconds.

Your GO Bag knapsack should also contain copies of important documents such as each family member’s drivers license, insurance papers, medicine and eyeglasses prescriptions, passport, birth certificate, vehicle titles, deeds, credit card information, and photos of yourself, and individual photos of each family member and loved one.  Though a paper copy protected by a zip-lock plastic bag is best, some of this (and additional information) can be stored electronically on a thumb drive, CD, or other small media-storage device.

The Need for Flexibility

It is important to listen to authorities in the case of an emergency, though you cannot rely on the government to take care of you in every situation because the resources simply are not there to do so. You must have plans ready to take care of yourself and your family.

If you have pets, you will want to take them into consideration when you make your plans. Will Fluffy be taken to the evacuation site in the case of a dirty bomb attack, or not?

The emergency plan also must be fluid and flexible. It is important to recognize that even a good contingency plan can be worthless if protective measures taken by authorities during an emergency impede execution of the plan, or if the catastrophe itself closes down a section of your route. For example, bridges and tunnels might be closed and streets blocked off or jammed with traffic, meaning you might not be able to travel to safety or pick up family members or coworkers. Those whose plan calls for a flight out of the city might be unable to get to the airport or helipad and, once there, find that air traffic has been grounded, as happened after the 9/11 attacks. For these reasons, it is best to have several alternate contingency plans that account for multiple scenarios and include various evacuation routes. Once the emergency is announced, it likely is too late to start devising a plan.

Plans must be reviewed periodically. A plan made following 9/11 might no longer be valid. Bridges and roads you included might now be closed for construction. If Uncle Al’s place in Texas is your planned bug-out retreat and communications hub, then that needs to change when he moves to West Virginia.

Your equipment should also be checked at least semi-annually to ensure it is functional. Have you checked the batteries in your flashlight and radio? (Batteries should usually be stored separately from your battery-powered device as prolonged storage make cause leakage and render the item unusable).  Has your smoke hood become battered from being carried around for too many years? Have the power bars in your Go Bag knapsack become fossilized?

Finally, while having a contingency plan on paper is better than having nothing, those that are tested in the real world are far superior. Running through an evacuation plan (especially during a high-traffic time such as rush hour) will help to identify weaknesses that will not appear on paper. It also will help to ensure that all those involved know what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to go. A plan is of limited use if half of the people it is designed for do not understand their respective roles and responsibilities.

No plan is perfect, and chances are you will have to “shift on the fly” and change your plan in the event of an actual emergency. However, having a plan — and being prepared — will allow you to be more focused and less panicked and confused than those who have left their fate to chance. In life and death situations, an ounce of prevention is a good thing.

Contributed by STRATFOR Global Intelligence
Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Gold, Cash, or Barter? Financial Preparations for Surviving a Disaster Reply

Credit cards will be useless during an emergency that involves the loss of electrical power. Short-term you will need cash, but during an extended emergency you’ll want to have goods to trade.

Credit cards, debit cards, cash machines, money in the bank, checks, having a line of credit, and other electronic-based mechanisms for buying and selling, may be useless during a major disaster.

Banks may be forced to close, and electronic transactions such as using credit cards or debit cards, may also not be operational in an emergency situation.  Further, since modern cash registers require electrical power, even a simple power outage will prompt many stores to close since their cash registers and credit card machines will have stopped working.

Even if the banking system remains fully operational, vendors need both electrical power and computer network connections for their credit card machines to work.  Most stores will not even accept a check if their electronic verification system isn’t working.  This is the weak link in our financial system.  You cannot count on using these conveniences during a disaster.

If a store is without power, it will likely close, even if it still has inventory.  Unless they have back-up generators, large “chain” stores are generally the first to close their doors.  These stores are not equipped to accept cash when their electronic systems are inoperable, and managers will deem it unsafe to let customers shop in a darkened store.  Expect this to happen.  Plan for it.  Stockpile everything you need prior to a disaster so that you don’t need to make last minute purchases.

If you are traveling or away from home when disaster strikes, get to the store and purchase what you need right away, without delay.  This is not the time to shop for the best price, nor is it the time to look for your favorite brands.  Prioritize.  Get what you need, and get out.

Even if cash-only shoppers are initially allowed into a store after a power outage, this will quickly come to an end.  Store managers will soon recognize that most of their cashiers are incapable of making change without the aid of their electronic cash registers.  Or, security concerns and the fact that cash drawers will not open without electrical power, will prompt them to close the store.  Even if a store has an emergency back-up generator, don’t expect it to remain open for more than a few hours, or a few days at most.  Small, locally owned and operated stores may remain open longer, so familiarize yourself with these local businesses now, before you need them.

Expect an increase in parking-lot robberies and theft, too.  Opportunistic criminals, as well as those who don’t have cash, will find it easy to steal from shoppers in chaotic or dark parking lots.  Knowing that police are busy elsewhere, and that security cameras are likely not functioning, criminal activity will increase.  At a time such as this, it is essential for you to increase your awareness and vigilance.  Thefts from stores, people, and vehicles, and stealing goods stored in garages and other unguarded locations, will likely skyrocket.  Expect this, and plan for it.

Unfortunately, keeping a quantity of cash on hand can easily make you a target or victim of theft, but it is nevertheless important to have some cash on hand for use in a power-out situation.  Cash kept at home should be well hidden, and money carried on your person should be in a money belt or other unusual location.  Keep some cash in your wallet or purse, in the hope that a robber will assume that it is all you have.  Remove expensive jewelry and other trappings of wealth.

If store owners perceive that the disaster will be a protracted situation, expect prices to skyrocket as supplies dwindle.  The law of supply and demand will apply, and many who have supplies will raise their prices as an opportunity to either maximize their income, or as a way to counter the panic buying of customers and hording.

While gold has value as an investment strategy, it may have little value for making purchases during an extended period of disaster.

In anticipation of inflation and economic disaster, many people have invested in gold.  While this may or may-not be a valid strategy to protect wealth, it is not helpful for operating within an emergency situation.  During an extended disaster when people are looking for food to eat, a bag of groceries will be more valuable than a bar of gold.

Though purchasing gold may be a prudent investment strategy, having goods for bartering will be more useful in the midst of a widespread, extended period of serious disaster.  Water, canned food, gasoline, batteries, candles, guns, ammunition, backpacking stoves, and other small items needed by people during an emergency, may become far more valuable to you than both gold and cash money.

As you consider your needs to buy-and-sell during an extended period of disaster, include some cash in your GO-Bag (evacuation kit), certainly.  But in an extended emergency situation, items which are useful for trade may become worth their weight in gold.  So stockpile extra quantities of items which you can use yourself, but which might also be valuable for trading.  Give particular attention to stockpiling those products which are likely to be in high-demand, but short-supply, after a disaster strikes.

What should you stockpile?  A variety of goods is best, but consider these factors when making your selection:  Products which are small and lightweight to transport, may be easier to carry and barter; food which has a long shelf life, and is securely packaged in a can or other packaging which is not easily contaminated, will be more trusted; brand-name goods which are commonly known to be of high-quality, will provide recognized value; goods related to safety, items which provide warmth during cold weather or shelter when none is available, will be in high demand.

Lastly, don’t let an emergency situation motivate you to become selfish.  You don’t want to help the hoarders, but you should help those who are genuinely in need.  In a disaster situation, it is particularly important for us to help those who are the least able to care for themselves.  We need to open our eyes to see those who genuinely need help, including those who are not asking for it.

Emergency Food: Meal, Ready-to-Eat (U.S. Military MRE) Reply

Developed by the U.S. military after extensive nutritional and long-term storage research, the modern MRE has replaced the MCI (Meals, Combat, Individual – 1980s), the lighter LRP (Long Range Patrol) rations used in Vietnam, and the C-Ration (canned) .

Though far from gourmet fare, the current-issue MRE meals are a quick and tasty meal when compared to many other options.  With more than two dozen menu selections ranging from meat (or meat-like) dishes to vegetarian, spicy to mild, there is something which will satisfy most, especially if the diner is hungry.  The 1,200 calories of food in each packet is adequate for most people, but between meal addition of Power Bars and candy bars can be a welcomed addition and extra energy boost during trying times.

Packaged in a heavy plastic bag designed to be sturdy and bug resistant, MRE meals contain an entrée, side dish, dessert, crackers with cheese spread, peanut butter or jelly, a powdered beverage (coffee, tea, sport drink, etc.), chewing gum, condiments (salt, pepper, sugar, creamer, and sometimes Tabasco sauce), plastic spoon, matchbook, hand-wash towelette, and a tiny packet of toilet paper.  A flameless water-activated food heater is sometimes included in the package, or can be purchased separately.

Three MRE disposable heaters (left in photo), and three MRE entrees (brown boxes on right), weigh just over two pounds, and occupy just over 100-cubic inches of space. Not as lightweight or compact as freeze-dried backpacking meals, the “ready to eat” aspect is what makes these a great emergency food.  The “eat on the run” benefit, and not needing to add a cook pot and stove to your GO-Bag, provide a definite advantage when evacuating.

For use in a standard size GO-Bag, the MRE takes too much space, but since the entrée meal and flameless heaters are available separately, carrying six meals becomes practical  (8-1/4″h x 5″ w x 2-1/2″ d).  Obviously, using the entree-only reduces the calorie count, but in combination with high-fiber and Power Bars, it can meet your on-the-go needs of your GO-Bag provisions.

First Strike Rations (FSR) are the U.S. military’s solution to soldiers stripping down their MREs.  Similar to our Go-Bag needs, soldiers often discard the MRE protective bag and items which they consider to be unessential, in an effort to reduce weight and space for field operations. Unfortunately, this newer ration is hard to find in the civilian market. FSR meals consist primarily of a sandwich similar to a Hot-Pocket, plus an energy bar, but they aren’t nearly as tasty as an MRE meal.

First Strike Rations, or FSR,  are the U.S. military’s response to soldiers stripping down their MREs to reduce the weight and bulk.  FSR meals are not as tasty, but they are lighter in weight while increasing the important calorie count (2,900 calories vs. the 1,200 calories of a full MRE).  Since these are a recent development, it’s hard to find the genuine article in the civilian marketplace.  First Strike energy bars are more readily available, but not the entire sandwich (hot-pocket) meal.

As a point of reference, the U.S. military calculates that an active male (age 18 to 30) will burn an average of 4,200 calories a day in a combat situation, but stress often reduces voluntary eating to 2,400 calories.  The result is a negative energy balance, and this is a problem that needs to be avoided.

The effect of a negative energy balance may not be a major problem short-term, such as a three day on foot trek with a GO-Bag.  However, the cumulative effect over time will create a significant reduction in energy, resistance to disease, and seriously impair decision-making ability (acuity).  The consumption of sufficient water (and electrolytes) will minimize this effect short-term, but sufficient water and food are both essential to an individual’s ability to operate and cope during an emergency situation.

MREs are ideal as a temporary meal solution, but we recommend that you augment these meals with high-fiber energy bars.  Including some freeze-dried backpacking food is a worthy addition, too, but these foods require hydration and cooking, so a backpacking stove and fuel will need to be added to your kit.

For use in your at-home disaster supplies, MREs are a good way to augment what you have in your pantry, but they should be stored inside your home rather than exposing them to the temperature fluctuations and potential rodent problems of garage or shed storage.  Plus, these cases can be quickly thrown into a car for emergency evacuation, they pack well, and they take less space, are lighter, and more nutritionally complete than most canned food meals.

The downside of eating MREs while bivouacked or at home, is that these meals were designed for active combat, so they are high in fat and salt.  Since the meals are low in fiber content, this can be desirable during a few day cross-country trek or during combat, but this leads to constipation, particularly if not active.  So, if consumed during a sedentary period, augment the MRE meal with other foods which are low-fat, low-salt, and high in fiber.

The food from an MRE is not necessarily the most attractive, but it is nutritious.

Unfortunately, shelf-life of MREs is listed as three years under optimal storage conditions, but this low expectation is likely a defense against litigation rather than a literal limit.  In our experience, as long as the foil packets within the MRE bag are intact and not bloated, they taste okay, and they have been stored properly, the meal will probably be eatable for 10-years or more if it has been stored at 70-degrees.  However, though the meal may remain nutritious and reasonably tasty, the primary effect of age will be a decline in vitamins, so plan accordingly.

Date codes on MREs are often hard to decipher.  Sometimes you will find it plainly etched on the case, such as “05/10/12” which you know to mean May 10, 2012 when used by an American manufacturer.  However, some manufacturers will use a different form such as “1068”. In this case, the first number “1” stands for the year (2001) and the next three numbers indicate which day of the year (365 days in a year) it was packed. So “068” would be day #68 of the year 2001…or March 9, 2001.  So if a case is more than 10-years old, the date can be deceptive.  Often the condition of the case, plus the date code, is the only way to differentiate between old and new product.

If you are looking for emergency food supplies suitable for long-term storage, freeze dried or inert-gas packed foods are a better choice.  Even ordinary grocery stored foods, such as dried beans and rice, can last more than 30-years if stored in airless food containers.  This is a different purpose than the need that the MRE was designed to fill.

MRE Flameless heaters are lightweight, water activated, and disposable.

Unlike freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, MRE’s are, as the name implies, ready to eat.  If you are on the go in an emergency situation, you probably won’t want to engage in food preparation.  Yet, a warm meal is a huge boost to the psyche, and the important attitude adjustment which comes from a little rest and a hot meal.  MREs are pre-cooked so they can be eaten cold, but the ultra-lightweight disposable heater designed for them, makes preparing a hot meal a snap.  You just place your MRE entrée into the plastic bag of the heater envelope, and add water to activate.  Within a couple minutes you have a fully hydrated, healthy, fairly-good tasting meal.

MREs can be purchased from many retailers, but we recommend only buying them from reputable sources such as those listed at the bottom of this post.  Many MREs which are sold on eBay and Craig’s List are old and absconded from the military or Katrina disaster stores.  Also, new MREs should be labeled with the date of manufacture, and checking this date is essential, even when purchased from a usually reliable source.  Be aware, MREs sold on “sale” are often old inventory.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat entrees and heaters can be purchased separately, or as a complete MRE.  Civilian packaging varies, but the peel-to-open impervious plastic-bag container is necessary for durability.

Reputable manufacturers of genuine MREs are: Wornick Eversafe (illustrated in above photos) and Sopakco Sure-Pak (Highest rated in taste test and quality review); followed by Ameriqual A-Pack and MRE Star (Mediocre rating); and Menu-C MREs (Unrated).  Expect to pay around $7.50 per meal when purchase by the case (12).  You may pay slightly more when you purchase a case of assorted meals rather than a case containing the same menu.

For more about MREs, visit: