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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

162.400 162.425 162.450 162.475 162.500 162.525 162.550

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

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

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

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

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

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


La_Crosse-810-106_front_back_LCD_NOAARadio Power Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pepper Spray as a Self-Defense Option Reply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kimber-PepperBlaster-IISide Effects of Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Important Legal Considerations

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

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

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

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

ASP-Pepper_SprayWhere to Purchase

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

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

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

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


Examples of Popular Pepper Spray Products:

ASP Street Defender OC Pepper Spray

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

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

Kimber Pepper Blaster II

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

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

Mace Pepper Gel

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

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

Sabre Red

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

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


Gun Selection for Survival Kits Reply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


The Key Factor for Choosing a Survival Kit Gun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Target with holes from .22 bullets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Our Recommendations for a Packable Survival Kit Gun


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Optics (Rifle Scope) and Sights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Recommended Models of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown

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

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

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

Which 10/22 Takedown Model is Best?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Extra Magazines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


For Additional Information

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

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


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

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

Click Here:  Gander Mountain, gun and outdoor supplies.


Firearm Safety:

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


Recommended Reading on Firearms for Self-Defense:  

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


Recommended Reading on Guns for Survival Kits:

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

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

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



Preparing for a Dental Emergency Reply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do these detail repair kits work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mylar Bags: Inexpensive Do-It-Yourself Long-Term Food Storage Solution 2

Packing-Party-02Do-it-yourself long-term food storage is not only possible; it’s easy when you use Mylar bags and oxygen absorber packets.  It’s inexpensive, too.  In fact it’s downright cheap if you purchase bulk foods at a restaurant supply store.  No special tools are required; you can use a standard clothing iron to seal the Mylar bags.

You don’t need to buy expensive emergency-food buckets of dry goods such as rice, beans, and pasta.  Shop for these foods at a big-box store or restaurant supply, and then repackage the food yourself in Mylar bags for long-term storage.  Just follow the simple 7-step process which is illustrated below.

Unfortunately, plastic bags, including the thick plastic materials used in expensive vacuum sealing machines, are not adequate for long-term food storage.  Surprisingly, for multiple-year storage, even the thick plastic of a 5-gallon food-grade plastic bucket is not enough.  Plastic alone simply doesn’t work for long-term food storage.  Over time, even the best plastics cannot stop the infiltration of oxygen and moisture.

Mylar bags are the answer.  These are essentially a flexible metal can that you can heat-seal at home.  Though Mylar is not as durable as a metal can, and thin Mylar bags are susceptible to damage, they are still far superior to even heavy plastic when it comes to long-term food storage.  Heavy-duty Mylar bags (7 mil) are an even better choice, especially for large packages, though it takes a bit of practice to seal the heavy-duty bags with your household iron.


???????????????????????????????What You Will Need for Do-It-Yourself  Mylar Packaging and Storage

(Retailers for these products are listed at the end of this article)

1.  Mylar bags.  (Bag size and thickness depends on how they will be stored).

2.  Oxygen Absorber Packets.  (Or, a desiccant for the storage of non-food items)

3.  Clothing Iron and a Carpenter’s Level; or Mylar Bag Sealer.

4.  Storage Container.  (Plastic 5-gallon food-grade bucket, or a new galvanized trash can or used food-grade steel drum)


The “How-To” of Packing and Storing Mylar Bags

Mylar-Packing-Label02Step #1:  Label the Mylar Bag in Two Places

Use a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie, to label the bag.  Use clear packing tape to protect the ink from damage.  After the bag has been filled and sealed, add a paper label protected with clear packing tape.  Using these two forms of labeling is a hedge against a potential failure of one of the labels.  You can use ordinary paper to make your second label, but size it to fit the width of the sealed edge of the bag.  Then use packing tape to attach the paper label.  Wrap the tape around the entire bag, so that it seals on itself.  See photo.

???????????????????????????????Step #2:  Fill the Bag

Use a dry-measure scoop to ladle food into the bag.  Use care to keep the surface clean which will be sealed.  Keep track of the quantity of food so that the bag can be properly labeled, not just with what food is contained in the bag, but also the quantity.

Mylar-Packing-Ox-Absorber-01Step #3:  Add Oxygen Absorber Packets

Use the proper size oxygen absorber packet for the air volume of the Mylar bag.  Since your emergency food supply is so important and these packets are so inexpensive, it’s a good idea to add an extra packet to each bag.

Keep you absorbers fresh by storing them in a small jar with a tight lid.  Don’t remove absorbers from the jar until you are ready to use them, and be sure to re-cap the jar immediately.  It is important to remove only the oxygen absorbers you need for the bag you are about to seal.  Oxygen absorbers start working as soon as they are exposed to air, so take care to keep them fresh.  Your food storage efforts will be wasted if you allow your oxygen absorbers to get to work before they are sealed into your food bag.

Mylar-Packing-Seal-Bag-02Step #4:  Seal the Bag

If you don’t have a Mylar bag sealer such as the “Hot Jaws,” a standard household clothing iron can be used to seal your Mylar bags.  (Instructions below).  Whichever sealing method you use, be sure to practice before starting to seal bags filled with food.  A high heat setting will likely work best, but take the time to experiment with different settings on your iron.  Be sure to turn-off the iron’s steam feature, as steam will add damaging moisture to your food.

On the side of the bag opposite the iron, use the metal edge of a clean carpenter’s level.  This metal surface will reflect back the iron’s heat, making it possible for you to deliver sealing heat to both sides of the bag at the same time.  (In the following section you’ll find more detailed instructions on how to seal Mylar bags). 

???????????????????????????????Step #5:  Remove Excess Air from the Bag

It is not necessary to remove all the air from the bag, but your oxygen absorber packet will be more effective if you remove excess air before you finish sealing the bag.  Removing the excess air will also make the bag more stable, and less likely to “pop” if it is exposed to pressure.

The easiest way to remove air from the bag is to seal all but the last couple of inches, and then press the air out of the bag before sealing those last couple of inches.

Several days after the bag has been sealed, the Mylar bag may, or may not, look like it has been vacuum packed.   This is not significant.  This outcome does not indicate that one bag has a better seal than the other, but only that more air (not oxygen) was removed prior to sealing.  These absorbers remove oxygen from the air, they do not remove air.

???????????????????????????????Step #6:  Inspect the Seal

After you have finished sealing the bag, take the time to closely inspect the seal and the bag itself.  If the seal does not look reasonably smooth, run the iron over it again.  If the seal is bunched or deformed, cut the bag open and start over.  Look for pinholes and damage to the bag, too.  If the bag has been damaged, it’s better to waste the bag than to store food which may spoil.

???????????????????????????????Step #7:  Store in a Protective Container

Whether you use the lighter-weight (3.5 mil) Mylar food storage bags or the heavy-duty (7 mil) variety, it’s a good idea to store your food bags in another container.  Ideally a container that will make it easy to move or transport the food, and as well as protect the Mylar bags from puncture and wear.

The most popular storage container is an ordinary 5-gallon food-grade plastic bucket, but there are other options.  New galvanized steel trash cans work great, as do used 30-gallon food-grade steel drums.  These steel containers are far superior if you want to also protect your food against rodents.  If you select a “used” container, check to make sure that it was previously used for food, and that it never contained anything hazardous.

Not only can rodents chew through Mylar bags, they can even chew through plastic buckets and plastic food-grade barrels.  So a metal container is your best bet if this is a concern.


???????????????????????????????The “How-To” of Sealing Mylar Bags:

A regular household iron, such as the one you use to iron your clothes, is adequate to seal a standard 3.5 mil Mylar bag.  But before you start filling bags, experiment with different heat settings, and practice your technique.  As long as you monitor the heat setting and results, you can easily do this without any damage to your iron.  If the iron starts sticking to the Mylar bag, your heat setting is too high.

Whether you opt for a thinner Mylar bag (3.5 mil) or one that is thicker, it is important to experiment with the temperature setting on your iron.  You need to identify the optimal heat setting; one which provides a smooth, secure seal to the bag.  It is more difficult to get a good seal on a heavy-weight Mylar bag using a clothes iron, but it is possible.

Be sure to “turn off” the steam setting.  You want to do what you can to avoid introducing moisture into your bag of stored food, as moisture will cause your food to spoil more quickly.

If you opt for the clothing-iron sealing method, you will also need something like a metal carpenter’s level.  When placed on the other side of the bag (see above photo), opposite from the iron, the edge of the metal carpenter’s level will reflect heat back onto the bag.  This will improve the seal.

Move the hot iron back and forth along the edge to be sealed.  If you hold it in one place too long, you may actually melt the bag and damage your iron, so keep it moving, slowly.  If you don’t have a carpenter’s level, try experimenting with steel bar stock or another metal object which has a ½-1 inch edge.  Repeat this process, to make at least two sealing bands

Another option is to purchase an electric Mylar-bag heat sealer.  For about $100 you can buy a hand-held “Hot Jaw” heat sealer which produces a professional-looking seal.  There are various brands of Mylar heat sealers, but an expensive professional-grade model isn’t necessary.

For Optimal Health

For optimal health during an emergency situation, augment these dry goods with canned foods, freeze-dried vegetables, and dehydrated or freeze-dry meat-flavored soy protein.  Foods with fats, such as meat and butter, have a much shorter shelf life.  (Usually 2-years in cans, 5-years in freeze-dry form).  Vegetables containing acids, such as tomato products, have a shorter shelf-life than vegetables such as corn or green beans.  For long-term food storage, soy protein, pinto beans, black beans, etc. are a better source of protein than meat due to this spoilage problem.

Even coarse-ground spices have a relatively short shelf-life, but adding savor to food in a protracted emergency situation is important.  Some spices, particularly those which are not yet ground and still in their natural form, have a longer shelf life.  For example, salt can be stored almost indefinitely, but should be packed with a desiccant rather than an oxygen absorber because the long-term storage problem is moisture, not oxygen.

Storing basic food supplies isn’t enough.  You also need to store what you need to make your meals nutritious…  and palatable.  Think about menus and what you will need to make your food taste good.

Don’t just pack food for emergencies.  Bulk foods repackaged and stored in Mylar bags can be your main source of dry goods for your everyday diet.  This rotation of food will keep your emergency supply fresh, and it can dramatically reduce your monthly grocery costs, too.

Oxygen-and-Moisture-2Enemies of Long-Term Food Storage

There are four main enemies to defeat when it comes to long-term food storage:  1) oxygen;2) moisture; 3) light; and 4) contamination by bacteria.  Mylar bags are effective against all four of these hazards.  But even zip-lock style Mylar bags are not adequate for long-term food storage, unless they have also been heat sealed.  An airtight seal is the key.

Heat-sealing of the Mylar bag is essential to create a permanent oxygen, moisture, and bacteria barrier.  The downside of Mylar is that improper packing, sealing, or handling can result in tears.  As with any storage container, even a small pin-hole will defeat the protective barrier.

Thicker bags would therefore seem to be an obvious solution, but for do-it-yourself  food packaging, the thicker bags are more difficult to seal with a clothing iron.  So if you use the lighter-weight bags, it’s best to store your Mylar packaged food inside another, more durable container.  This keeps it easy, and inexpensive.  If you use the thicker bags this isn’t as much of a problem, but it is still a consideration.

Food should be removed from the manufacturer’s packaging before being placed in a Mylar bag.  Do not use the manufacturer’s packaging unless it is necessary to protect the Mylar bag from the sharp edges of the food.  In these situations, make sure that the manufacturer’s wrap is thoroughly punctured.  This makes it possible for the oxygen absorber to work on the food contained in the package.

Ideally, store your food inside your home, or in a storage area which will keep your food cool in the summer and above freezing in the winter.  High heat and freezing temperatures, and temperature fluctuation,  will degrade the quality of your food much more quickly.  If you are able to store your food at room temperature it will likely last 3-times or longer than the expiration date indicated on the manufacturer’s packaging.  Some foods, like rice and beans, can last as long as 20-years if stored properly in Mylar bags.

Mylar Storage of Non-Food Supplies

This same Mylar bag storage method can be used for other important emergency supplies, as well.  This technique is also useful for the storage of infrequently used electronics, optical gear, firearms, and expensive metal tools.  Follow the directions above, but for these non-food items substitute a desiccant packet in place of the oxygen absorber.


Where to start…

Retailers for Mylar Bags, Bag Sealers, and Oxygen Absorbers:

Click on this link Mylar-Bag-Storage-BlogPost-130315 to download a PDF of this article for printing.

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.

No Power. No Heat. No Problem. Reply

Hurricane Sandy left 4.5 million people without power.  How would you survive the cold for a protracted power outage?  What would you do if you were stranded for days in your home or office, and it started to get cold?

Even houses equipped with generators rarely have sufficient fuel to maintain a household for more than a few days, so how would you handle a situation like hurricane Sandy?  What will you do when there is no power, no heat, and you are stranded?

Those who live in cold climates generally know what to do, and they are usually at least somewhat prepared.  But even if you live in a warm climate you can be hit by a freakish winter storm.  Even if the outside temperature isn’t close to freezing, you and your family can experience serious problems if your furnace isn’t working.  Temperatures in the 40s and 50s can still be life threatening, if you aren’t prepared.

Fortunately, with just a little preparation, you can easily survive such an event.  The easiest way is indoor camping.  An inexpensive tent, the size to fit your family or a little bigger, is perhaps the easiest solution.

Set up your tent in the warmest room in your house.  Close all the doors leading to that room, and use duct tape to seal any drafty doors or windows.  If there is an unused fireplace, make sure the damper is closed, and use duct tape to seal several layers of cardboard over the fireplace opening.

For comfort, a family of 4 should have a 6 person tent (a family of 2, a 3-person tent, etc).  A larger tent will be more comfortable, but much harder to heat using body heat.  Because of this, it is  best to select a tent size that is not much larger than what is actually needed for the number of people you have in your family.

Once the windows and doors of the tent are closed with your family tucked inside, you will be surprised how little time it takes for body heat to warm the tent’s interior.  As long as you aren’t sleeping, you can use a few carefully placed candles to speed the warming process.

If you don’t have warm clothing and sleeping bags, wear your baggiest clothes and stuff wadded-up newspaper between you and your outer layer of clothes.  This will produce an air-gap that your body will heat.  Though this isn’t as effective (or fashionable) as expensive winter clothing, it is extremely effective for maintaining warmth.

If you don’t have warm sleeping bags, you can make a newspaper-insulated quilt.  Simply sew, pin, or duct-tape the edges of two blankets (or sheets) together to form an envelope, leaving just enough space unsealed so that you can insert crumpled newspaper.  Then fill the interior space with wadded-up newspaper, and finish sealing the envelope.  Ideally, fill the envelope with sufficient wadded-up newspaper to maintain space between the two blankets (or sheets) when you are tucked underneath.  This will work like a down comforter to keep you warm.

Wadded up newspaper and corrugated cardboard boxes are very effective insulation.  Windows which radiate cold can be covered with cardboard (or even garbage sacks).  Be sure to leave a little space between the glass and the cardboard, as this gap will increase the insulation effect.  Seal the edges of the cardboard to the wall or window frame using duct tape, or small nails or staples and duct tape.  (It’s important to use tape on the edges as this helps prevent the insulated air from escaping).

Wear a cap.  Even a baseball cap will help you stay warmer.  We lose an amazing amount of body heat through the top of our heads.  If you have a stocking cap or a sweatshirt with a hood, that’s even better.  If you don’t have a hat, wrap a scarf (or item of clothing) over the top of your head like a hood, especially when you are sleeping.

If you get wet, be sure to immediately remove your wet clothing, towel dry, and put on dry underwear and clothing.   Unless you are wearing wool or one of those unusual fabrics which insulate when wet, remove ALL wet and damp clothing.  When cotton and most synthetic fabrics get wet, they suck heat away from the body, and this can quickly become dangerous.  This is a problem even when goose down winter clothing gets rain soaked.  Don’t risk becoming chilled.  Get out of those wet clothes.

Once your body temperature drops, it is very difficult to bring it back up.  It’s far easier to maintain body temperature than to try and increase it after you’ve become cold.  Being naked under a blanket is warmer than wearing wet clothes under a blanket.

If you are stranded with others, you can increase a cold person’s body temperature by cuddling together with them in a “spoons” position.  Since a healthy body radiates a lot of heat, this is much more effective than trying to get a cold body to radiate heat for itself using blankets.  Skin-to-skin transfer of heat has saved many lives.

Remember, too, that open flames consume oxygen.  Carbon monoxide poisoning claims many lives each winter, so don’t be tempted to use a barbecue indoors.  Be extremely cautious about using a camp stove indoors, or a propane or kerosene heater in a confined space.  Adequate ventilation is essential. Headaches, or unusual drowsiness, are indicators of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Use a carbon monoxide sensor inside your tent, or wherever the family congregates.

In addition to the standard at-home survival kit and preparedness items, and in addition to the more sophisticated cold-weather supplies you might be able to afford, be sure to have the following items available for cold weather emergencies:

1.  Sleeping bag for each family member, or lots of extra blankets.

2.  Tent, with floor and doors which can be tightly closed.  If the tent has windows, these must have covers.  Tents designed to be watertight in a rain storm are best.  (As opposed to a summer tent which uses mesh rather than waterproof fabric).

If you don’t have a tent, you can make one using plastic tarps, blankets, sheets, or even plastic garbage sacks pieced together using duct tape to form a tent.  Do the best you can to seal the edges, and the doorway.  This will help eliminate drafts, and prevent heat from leaking out.  Use paracord, heavy twine, or clothesline to form your tarp into a tepee or pup-tent shape.

3.  Duct tape (minimum of 6-rolls).

4.  Paracord (lightweight rope, 50-ft minimum).

5.  18” stack of newspaper (or more).

6.  Corrugated cardboard (collapsed moving boxes, etc.)

7.  12-hour (long-burning) candles (50), plus at least 4 safety bases (to prevent burning candles from being knocked over).

8.  Carbon monoxide sensor, battery operated.  (Similar in appearance to a smoke detector, but for detecting carbon monoxide).

Generators for Emergency Power Reply

Having the power needed to produce light and prepare food, maintain refrigeration, and to provide for heating/cooling of your home may not be essential for life, but it is nevertheless important in any emergency situation.

Though the loss of grid electrical power is not part of every emergency, many incidents do include at least a temporary loss of utilities such as electrical power.  To provide a hedge of protection against potential power loss, many people buy either a gasoline, diesel or natural gas fueled generator.  This can provide an easy, albeit temporary solution.

Despite the popularity of these generators, there is still a lot of confusion in regard to what to buy.  This article is provided to help you evaluate your needs and consider your various options for a fossil-fuel powered generator.

It must be understood that long-term failure of the electrical grid will require a different solution.  This information on generators is only to help you solve the problem of short-term outages.  The equipment mentioned in this article is not adequate for an electric grid failure lasting more than two weeks.

Long-term power generation must come from an alternative power source such as solar, wind, or some other renewable energy source.  It usually also involves the use of deep-cycle batteries to store the electricity as it is generated, so that the power can be used later.  This particular article will only address the easy-to-solve short-term electrical needs using fossil-fuel powered generators to produce electrical energy on demand.

For as little as $700, a small portable gasoline generator can be purchased to power the essential electricity needs of the average American household.  However, important components and features which some feel are important, will cost extra.

Yet, even a low-cost generator will make it possible for you to use your existing electrical equipment, appliances and power tools.  Conversely, long-term solutions involving the use of batteries, are not only much more expensive, but also often include the acquisition of specialty appliances which operate on 12-volt DC power.

Generators and Security Considerations

The noise of a generator and the use of lights during an emergency situation can have negative consequences.    If there is a concern for safety from violence during an emergency, the use of a generator may focus unwanted attention on your home.  Further, the noise of a operating generator can mask important warning sounds of approaching trespassers and impending violence.

It is important to be judicious in the use of a generator during a serious emergency.  At the very least, it may be prudent to run your generator only during daylight hours, or for a short period of time to satisfy specific needs rather than creature comforts.

If the danger is minimal but it does exist, consider using your generator during the day for a few hours, just to charge batteries and to operate essential appliances such as a freezer.  This way you can plan to have your generator turned-off before dusk.  This will help reduce the likelihood of drawing unwanted attention to your home and family at night, and it will also stretch use by consuming less fuel.

Generator Features and Specific Recommendations

The following information was supplied by Consumer Reports, a good source for reliable information on various home-related products.

They focused on moderately priced portable and stationary models that deliver 5,000 to 7,000 watts, enough for most needs. Portables cost the least and can be stored in a garage or shed when you don’t need them. A lower-priced model powered refrigerators, well pumps, and other home gear almost as well as a more expensive top-scorer.

Stationary models install permanently outside your home and start automatically when needed. And because they run on propane or natural gas instead of gasoline, they offer extended or unlimited run time.

Buying a generator is just the beginning. Many models don’t come with parts that you’d think would be part of the price. And some could let you down when you need them most or put an added load on appliances. Here are the details.

Reliability Matters

Generators are typically sold by wattage. How much they put out determines not only how many lights and appliances you can run at once but how well they run. For example, a refrigerator often requires about 600 watts, a portable heater 1,500 watts, a window air conditioner 1,000 watts, and lights 60 to 200 watts. Our wattage calculator provides an average wattage rating for most appliances and devices to help you to tally your needs.

“Batteries not included” applies. Several portables offer electric starting. But the battery required for that feature usually costs an extra $50. And if you think all portables have wheels, think again: They’re a $150 option on one model we tested.

Some slipped when demand surged. All of the tested generators met their basic wattage claims. Manufacturers also make higher surge-wattage claims for the extra power needed when fridges, air conditioners, and pumps cycle on. Subpar surge wattage lowered the power-delivery scores of some models in our tests.

Some can overheat appliances. Our power-quality test judges the ability to deliver the 120 volts that home circuits usually need. Most met that challenge although one model was more than 10 volts shy under a heavy load and voltage from another was also low–and slightly uneven. Both conditions make motorized appliances and some electronics run hotter.

How to Choose

Decide what you really need to power. If that includes a central air conditioner or an electric dryer or oven, you’ll need a larger generator than the ones we tested. Here’s what else to keep in mind:

Count on a transfer switch. It costs about $500 to $900 installed and connects a portable generator to your home’s circuit box as with a stationary model. In addition to eliminating the risk and hassle of extension cords, the switch protects the generator and appliances from damage when grid power returns and keeps the generator from endangering technicians working on the power lines.

Think about the fuel. Most portables use roughly 8 to 22 gallons of gasoline a day, compared with four to eight 20-pound tanks of propane for portable models. (A 250-gallon tank for stationary units can run 8 to 15 days.) Buying and storing lots of fuel before a storm can be unwieldy, although you can pour unused gasoline into your car’s gas tank.

[If you are thinking of using gas cans for fuel storage, be sure to read the 36ReadyBlog.com article on Specter fuel cans, the gas cans used by the U.S. military.]

Look for smart features in your generator. All but two of the portable generators in our tests turn themselves off when engine oil is low. And the fuel shutoff on all tested gasoline models lets you run the engine dry to draw gas out of the fuel system to keep it from fouling parts if it degrades during storage.

Play it Safe

Powering too many appliances will trip the generator’s circuit breakers, causing power loss. Be sure what you’re powering is within the generator’s rated wattage; most transfer switches make that easier by showing wattage levels.

And protect against carbon monoxide, which kills about 86 people each year–and sends thousands more to the emergency room. Run any generator outdoors and away from the house, far from doors, windows, and anywhere else air enters the house. Never run it in a basement or garage; even with the garage door open, it endangers people inside the house.

Types of Generators

Knowing what you’re powering is the first step to choosing the right generator. Here are the types of generators and their pros and cons.

Portable Generators

These small and mid-sized models typically put out anywhere from 3,000 to 8,500 watts. They cost from $400 to $1,000 and are adequate for many homes, which is why they’re the biggest sellers. Most portables run only on gasoline, but some can also use liquid propane or connect to a natural gas line.


They cost the least and are relatively easy to move and store. And they’re adequate for powering common plug-in appliances and lights.


Portables don’t provide nearly enough power for heavy drains like central air conditioning. And for most, you’ll have to store large quantities of gasoline, a hazardous fuel.

Stationary Generators

These large models mount permanently outside the house and are growing in popularity. Their roughly 5,000 to 15,000 watts let the largest power an entire house, including central heat and air conditioning.


Besides providing plenty of watts, stationary generators can power a bevy of hardwired items, eliminating the hassle and risk of running power cords. Most run on either propane or natural gas, eliminating the risks of pouring and storing gasoline.


All of that power and convenience comes at a price ($5,000 to $10,000 for the largest models). Stationary generators also require professional installation.

Features to Consider

Wheeled, portable generators are the biggest sellers. But whatever you buy, make sure its features help make it safe and easy to use. Here are the generator features to consider.

Alternative-fuel capability

Stationary generators often run on either propane or natural gas. Most portable models run only on gasoline, though come equipped to run on a propane tank or natural-gas line or can be converted with kits.


A single person can move a portable generator with wheels, but you’ll still need two people to lift it. Models with pneumatic tires are easier to roll.

Oil guard

This feature protects the engine from damage by shutting down the generator if the oil level falls below the minimum. It’s typically on stationary generators and on some portables.

Fuel gauge

The gauge lets you check a portable’s fuel tank at a glance. It’s especially useful during a prolonged power failure.

Electric starting

Portable generators with a battery-powered, pushbutton starter save you the hassle of pull-starting the engine. But we’ve found pull-start models relatively easy to start. All stationary models have this feature.

Inverter technology

A feature on higher-end portables, it makes wattage output smoother and more consistent via a microprocessor-controlled circuit.

Multiple outlets

Four or more outlets let you best use a generator’s wattage by spreading the load through more outlets–important if you’re using extension cords instead of a transfer switch.

Wattage Requirements

Wattage ranges:  How much machine do you need?

How much generator should you buy? Here’s what different sizes can power. Pick a model with a wattage at least equal to the total for what you’re powering. Manufacturers also suggest totaling the higher surge watts some appliances draw when they cycle on. Models that scored well for power delivery were up to that surge; for untested models, we suggest simply focusing on running watts.

To Estimate Your Wattage Requirements:

Inspect the label on your tools and appliances to determine your specific power needs.  These estimates are provided to help you estimate the size of generator that you will need.  Keep in mind that it is best to operate a generator at 75% of its rated capacity.

Refrigerator (600 watts)

Microwave (1,500 watts)

Sump pump (600 watts)

Several lights (400 watts)

TV (200 watts)

Price range. $400 to $800 for most; more for inverter models.

Midsized portable and small stationary, 5,000 to 8,500 watts

What it powers. Same as small models, plus:

Portable heater (1,300 watts)

Computer (250 watts)

Heating system (500 watts)

Second pump (600 watts)

More lights (400 watts)

Price range. $500 to $1,000 for portables; twice that for stationary.

Large portable, 10,000 watts

What it powers. Adds choice of:

Small water heater (3,000 watts)

Central air conditioner (5,000 watts)

Electric range (5,000 watts)

Price range. $2,000 to $3,000.

Large stationary, 10,000 to 15,000 watts

What it powers. Same as large portable models, plus:

Clothes washer (1,200 watts)

Electric dryer (5,000 watts)

Price range. $5,000 to $10,000 or more, plus installation.

Recommended Generators

Recommended models are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. (Occasionally, high-scoring models are not recommended due to their Brand Repair History or other issues.) When narrowing your choices among models, weigh performance, features, price, and attributes that matter to you, such as color, size, or style.

Generators that made our winners list produce smooth, steady power for refrigerators, well pumps, and other home items without losing voltage under load. Most also shut off automatically if engine oil is low.

Portable Generator Recommendations
Portable generators cost less than stationary models and can be stowed away in a garage or shed when you don’t need them. To use a portable, you wheel it outdoors and start it manually, replenishing fuel and adding oil when necessary.

Troy-Bilt XP 7000 30477

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $900

Overall score: 100

This 7,000-watt, gasoline-powered portable generator from Troy-Bilt was tops among portables. Helpful features include electric start, fuel shutoff (which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage), low-oil shutdown, a power meter (needed only with a low-end transfer switch that lacks one), a 9-gallon tank for an average 15 hours of run time, and a fuel gauge. And unlike some, it comes with the battery for the electric-start feature. It also includes the starter bottle of engine oil you’ll find with many portable models.

Generac GP5500 5939

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $670

Overall score: 100

This gasoline-powered portable is rated at 5,500 watts and performed almost as well as the top-scoring Troy-Bilt for hundreds less.Features include fuel shutoff (which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage), low-oil shutdown, and a fuel gauge. It also comes with the wheels and the starter bottle of engine oil you’ll find with many portable models. One feature you give up is electric starting (you’ll need to pull a cord, as you would with many lawn mowers), though the Generac is still a great value.

Troy-Bilt 6000 30475

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $700

Overall score:  100

Ample power delivery is a top attraction of this 6,000-watt, gasoline-powered Troy-Bilt portable, though you might miss a couple of important features. Included in the package is fuel shutoff, which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage, a fuel gauge, and a starter bottle of engine oil. Three features you give up: electric starting–you’ll need to pull a cord, as you would with many lawn mowers–a low-oil shut-off (protects the engine from overheating if the oil level dips too low), and an hour meter (tells you how long since the last oil change). But the Troy-Bilt remains a great value.

Honda EM6500SX

Type: Portable

Price as tested:  $2800

Overall score:  100

Providing ample power, cleanly and consistently, are top strengths of this 5,500-watt, gasoline-powered Honda portable–though you might balk at its price. You get a number of helpful features for the price, including electric start, low-oil shutoff (protects the engine from overheating if the oil level dips too low), and fuel shutoff, which prevents leaks and keeps fuel from getting trapped in the fuel system and spoiling during storage. There’s also a fuel gauge and a starter bottle of engine oil. But what isn’t included considering the price is surprising: a battery for the electric start (about $50 separately). There’s also no hour meter, which tells you how long since the last oil change.

Stationary Generator Recommendations
Stationary models are the most expensive but start automatically when needed. They’re permanently installed outside the home, connected to a transfer switch, and run on natural gas or propane for extended or unlimited run time.

Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7

Type: Stationary

Price as tested:  $3,200

Overall score:  100

Stationary generators turn themselves on and off when needed and run on propane or natural gas for longer run time and safer fueling. The Kohler delivered smooth, steady power and offers 7,000 watts with natural gas and 8,500 using propane. It was also quietest of the models we tested, and it shuts down automatically if the engine-oil level gets low. On the downside, it is pricey and requires costly professional installation.

GeneracCorePower 5837

Type: Stationary

Price as tested:  $1,800

Overall score:  100

This Generac stationary generator offers capable performance for roughly half the cost of the top-rated Kohler. It offers 6,000 watts using natural gas and 1,000 more if using propane, saving you the risks and hassle of storing gasoline. An added benefit: This generator was the only one we tested that comes with a transfer switch–usually an extra $400. Automatic low-oil shutoff is part of the package as well and a starter bottle of engine oil. It requires professional installation, but it’s still a great value.

Comparisons and Ratings

Portable Generators

Ratings Troy-Bilt XP … Generac GP550… Troy-Bilt 600…
Overall score (Out of 100) 72 Very Good 67 Very Good 65 Very Good
Ease of use
Power delivery
Power quality
Run time range (hrs.) 12 – 18 8 – 14 9 – 16
 Features & Specs Troy-Bilt XP … Generac GP550… Troy-Bilt 600…
Claimed output (watts) 7000 5500 6000
Electric start Yes No No
Fuel gauge Yes Yes Yes
Fuel shutoff Yes Yes Yes
Fuel type Gasoline Gasoline Gasoline
Low-oil shutoff Yes Yes No
Weight (lbs.) 270 212 204
View Full Features & Specs View Full Features & Specs View Full Features & Specs
 User Reviews Troy-Bilt XP … Generac GP550… Troy-Bilt 600…

Stationary Units

Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7 Generac CorePower 5837
Brand Reliability
Price & Shop $3,200.00No sellers available $1,800.00No sellers available
 Ratings Kohler 8.5 RE… Generac CoreP…
Overall score (Out of 100) 92 Excellent 77 Very Good
Ease of use
Power delivery
Power quality
Run time range (hrs.) 196 – 252 226 – 366
 Features & Specs Kohler 8.5 RE… Generac CoreP…
Claimed output (watts) NG 7000 LPG 8500 NG 6000 LPG 7000
Electric start Yes Yes
Fuel gauge No No
Fuel shutoff Yes Yes
Fuel type LPG/NG LPG/NG
Low-oil shutoff Yes Yes
Weight (lbs.)
View Full Features & Specs View Full Features & Specs
 User Reviews Kohler 8.5 RE… Generac CoreP…
Brand & Model Price Ratings and Test Results
Portable Approximate retail price
Troy-Bilt XP 7000 30477  $900 72 12 – 18
Generac GP5500 5939  $670 67 8 – 14
Troy-Bilt 6000 30475  $700 65 9 – 16
Honda EM6500SX 4  $2800 64 7 – 12
Yamaha EF6600DE 3 4  $2450 62 7 – 14
Champion 41535  $1000 57 7 – 11
All Power APG3560 1 4  $850 51 4 – 6
Gentron GG3203 2  $1250 50 7 – 11
Generac XG7000E 5798  $1200 49 11 – 19
ETQ PG60B12 1 4  $900 47 3 – 4
Briggs & Stratton 30468  $700 45 7 – 12
Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7  $3200 92 196 – 252
Generac CorePower 5837  $1800 77 226 – 366
Briggs & Stratton EmPower 040301  $1800 69 200 – 353

Features & Specs

Brand & Model Price Features & Specs
Portable Approximate retail price
Troy-Bilt XP 7000 30477  $900 7000 Gasoline 270
Generac GP5500 5939  $670 5500 Gasoline 212
Troy-Bilt 6000 30475  $700 6000 Gasoline 204
Honda EM6500SX 4  $2800 5500 Gasoline 298
Yamaha EF6600DE 3 4  $2450 6000 Gasoline 291
Champion 41535  $1000 7500 Gasoline 248
All Power APG3560 1 4  $850 5000 LPG 218
Gentron GG3203 2  $1250 5000 Diesel 358
Generac XG7000E 5798  $1200 7000 Gasoline 262
ETQ PG60B12 1 4  $900 6000 LPG 194
Briggs & Stratton 30468  $700 5500 Gasoline 199
Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7  $3200 NG 7000 LPG 8500 LPG/NG NA
Generac CorePower 5837  $1800 NG 6000 LPG 7000 LPG/NG NA
Briggs & Stratton EmPower 040301  $1800 NG 6000 LPG 7000 LPG/NG NA

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.

The 10 Rookie Food Storage Mistakes to Avoid Reply

Are you new to food storage?  Each experienced prepper began just as you.  Take advantage of their mistakes by learning the 10 Rookie Food Storage Mistakes that should be avoided:

1. Having buckets full of grains, beans or wheat, but have never cooked them before.  Make sure to practice cooking with your food storage.  Also note that if storing wheat berries you will need to have a wheat grinder to make flour.

2. Storing food that your family does not eat.  In a stressful emergency time, it will be such a comfort to serve familiar foods. Make a list of favorite foods then begin storing them.

3. Not rotating food storage.  Even though some foods can go past their expiration dates, you should try to use your oldest food storage first.  A system of putting newer food toward the back of the shelf and rotating the oldest to the front of the shelf will help prevent food waste.

4. Minimal variety of food for a balanced diet.  To prevent food burnout it is best to store a wide variety.  Try storing many varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, meats, seasonings and staples.  Also keep on hand foods that are freeze dried, canned, dehydrated, MRE’s, and prepared as instant packaged meals.

5. Poor choice of storage containers.  Prevention of pests and rodents invading your food storage is key.  Using the right food storage containers also prolongs shelf life, nutritional value and taste. Food grade plastic containers, Mylar bags, glass canning jars, #10 cans and even buckets all help to maintain a longer shelf life.

6. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and/or freeze dried foods as well as home canned and “store bought” canned goods.  These varieties will help to balance out your cooking options and even add a variety of textures and flavors.  Another take on this point, is to not store all of your food storage in one location.  Instead of having all of your food storage in one location, it may be wise to have other hiding locations.  False walls, under floor boards, another building on your property, at your emergency bug out location or even a storage facility.

7. Forgetting salt, cooking oil, shortening, baking powder, soda, yeast, and powdered eggs. You can’t cook even the most basic recipes without these items.

8. Not storing water to cook the food.  Many food storage meals require water to rehydrate.  Pasta, beans and soups all need water for cooking.

9. Forgetting to store spices, salt, oil and basic condiments that are needed for your food storage. How will your famous spaghetti sauce taste without Italian seasoning, salt, olive oil and that pinch of sugar? Beans are a great staple to have on hand and can be seasoned in a variety of ways using salt, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce, ground red pepper and more.

10. Not having an alternative cooking source if the power goes out.   There are many alternative cooking sources such as the Kelly Kettle, Volcano Oven, Wonder Oven, Propane Camp Stove, Solar Oven and much more.  Research now to see which option is best for your family.

One last tip, don’t forget to store easy to prepare foods to help you get through on difficult days.  Even though they may not be on your list of required food storage foods, you may want to reconsider puddings, juice boxes, instant packaged foods, coffee, candy, muffin mixes, cake mixes, Hershey’s chocolate syrup (lasts a long time without refrigeration), brownie mix and other specialty comfort foods.

– Cindy Castillo, American Preppers Network

Food for Emergencies; a Summary of Your Best Food Options Reply

L-to-R: Grocery store canned goods and foil packaged food; military MRE meal; freeze-dried food; and lifeboat rations.  All of these have a place in a properly stocked emergency food larder.

The internet is full of advice on food for emergencies and long-term food storage, but what is really the best?

This primer on food selection is designed to help you select the best types of food for your emergency food supply.  This article will help you understand the pros and cons of each category of food, so that you can make informed choices.  The topics of how to store these foods, water storage and sanitation, are not part of this summary but are equally important.  This post is just a primer on food; a great place to start planning your food supply for emergency situations.

Getting Started

The simplest way to get started is to increase the quantity of canned food and dried foods (beans, rice, pasta, wheat, etc.) that you maintain in your pantry, making a deliberate effort to store a variety of food.  For those who live on a tight budget, purchase a few extra cans of food each week until you have enough to sustain your family for at least two weeks.  If you can afford it, go to a big-box store like Costco or Sam’s Club, and purchase canned meats and other staples by the case.  It’s less expensive; often better quality than low cost grocery-store brands, and the box or shrink-wrap packaging helps you store it more compactly.

Ideally, purchase the type of foods that you normally eat, so that you can keep your meals during an emergency as normal as possible.  This is especially important for children who might be finicky eaters.  Be sure to give particular attention to storing the foods needed for both variety and a balanced diet.  This will typically include canned foods such as meat, beans (protein), vegetables and fruit, as well as dry goods such as pasta and rice.  Don’t forget the supplementary foods such as sugar, salt, and flour, as well as the condiments and spices you will need to make your food tasty.  There is a tendency to not eat enough during a high-stress emergency situation, so palatable food will help, particularly with children.

Keep in mind that fresh food such as milk, butter, eggs and bread, will likely be unavailable to you in an emergency.  Therefore, it makes no sense to stockpile a food such as breakfast cereal unless you are prepared to eat it with water rather than milk.  Similarly, prepackaged foods which require fresh or frozen ingredients to complete the recipe, are useless.

For those food cans and packages without an obvious “use before” date, use a Sharpie pen to put a date on the lid/package, and rotate these items so that nothing gets old.  Swollen cans, leaking jars, or contents which smell odd, are indications that the food has spoiled and should not be eaten.  Food poisoning is far more serious than being hungry.  An adult can live for nearly a month with almost no food as long as they are able to consume plenty of pure water.  So don’t get panicky just because you are hungry.

Even if you are breast feeding an infant, be sure to stockpile baby formula in case your milk dries up due to stress, or for some other reason.  If you don’t want to use the formula, donate it to a food bank before the expiration date.  If you have pets, be sure to sore food for them, too.

In addition to stockpiling food, don’t forget that you will need a liquid-fuel or propane camp stove, along with sufficient fuel. In an emergency, you will probably not have electrical power or natural gas, so you will need a method to cook your food.  Heed warnings about only using the stove in a place with adequate ventilation.  This is essential to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  Since you will be without refrigeration, food products which will spoil without refrigeration should be purchased in 1-meal size cans or packages.

As you expand your inventory of stored food, purchase airtight, insect and rodent-proof food containers for dry foods, and add other types of food (freeze dried, dehydrated, retort packaged, vacuum packed, etc.) to your larder to store a long-term food supply.  Manny canned goods only have a shelf-life of a year or two, but dry beans, rice, grains, and a few other staples will last more than 30-years if properly stored.

For storm and emergency events which are not severe, it may be best to stay in your home.  However, you need to always have a GO-Bag for each family member, and box(es) of food ready for immediate evacuation.  Be sure to practice fitting your evacuation supplies into your car now, in advance of an emergency situation.  When an emergency situation strikes, you may only have a few minutes (at most) to load your car and flee.  Be ready.

Increasing the quantity of canned goods and foil-packaged grocery store food is your first step in emergency food preparation. You need a minimum of two weeks of canned goods and water stored in your pantry, and a way to cook without using electricity or natural gas.

Canned Foods and Foil-Packed Foods

Pros:  These foods are inexpensive in comparison to MREs and freeze-dried food, and quality canned good tend to taster better.  And, since many of us routinely eat canned food, this makes it possible to keep your diet fairly normal during an emergency situation, which makes it a simple task to keep your stored food fresh.   (As long as you routinely eat the oldest items first).

Cons:  Canned foods which contain acidic items, such as a soup which contains tomatoes, usually have a shorter shelf because the acid interacts with the metal of the can.  Though glass jars are not as durable as a metal can, they are better for storing acidic foods — as long as they are stored upright and the contents are not in contact with the metal lid.  Also, canned prepared foods, such as chili, contain a lot of water.  Keep in mind that prepared foods which include a gravy or sauce will be much heavier than solid-packed foods.  Test the various brands of canned vegetables and fruit, and select those products which have less liquid which you will discard.  If you are including canned food in your GO-Bag or evacuation supplies, this added weight and waste becomes a very important consideration.

Dry Food (Rice, pasta, dry beans, wheat, flour, etc.)

Pros:  When considered by weight and space, dry products generally represent a lot of food per dollar, and they require little space for storage.  When stored in airtight, food-quality, insect-proof and rodent-proof containers, most dry foods have a long shelf-life.  Stored using air-removal techniques and the proper containers, many dry foods can be safely stored for 20-30 years or longer.  Bought in bulk, dry foods can be repackaged at home using food-grade 5-gallon buckets, which you seal with Gamma lids after inserting oxygen-absorbing packets.  This is by far the most economical way to prepare a long-term food supply, but the food alone is uninteresting, so you need to get a cookbook with recipes which are designed to make these bulk-stored foods more palatable.  These recipes use a small quantity of freeze dried meat or vegetables, with a sauce made from dehydrated condiments, to transform a mundane meal into a savory feast.

Cons:  Since these dry foods require water to hydrate and cook, you must increase your water supply accordingly.  Having sufficient water for drinking is more important that using water for food preparation.  Consuming dry foods, including cereal, without first hydrating them will cause health problems.  Once water has been added to dry food it must be eaten soon.  It will spoil quickly without refrigeration, so only prepare what you intend to consume for your meal.  Additionally, most people eat dry foods with a sauce, gravy, or spices to make them palatable, so don’t forget to include these food supplements in your planning.  Some dry foods, such as Raman noodles, provide bulk and quell hunger but have no nutritional value.

Note:  When planning for a food supply designed to last more than a month, additional planning and other dry goods are required.  Whole grains such as wheat, corn and oats will require a hand-crank grain mill.  Baking soda and yeast are important for baking.  Salt has many uses including preserving foods and a number of medical uses, plus it can attract game animals and it’s useful as a commodity for barter, so you should store a large quantity.  Honey and certain spices have medicinal benefits, while a number of other spices meet other needs such as encouraging animals to stay out of your vegetable garden.  Fats and oils are essential to health (annually, 96-pounds, which equates to about 17-gallons per person), yet most freeze-dried and dehydrated foods contain almost no fats or oil, so you need to make provisions for this need.  Medicines for diarrhea, and especially natural laxatives such as Metamucil, are vital dry goods because a change in diet often upsets your body systems.  Vitamin C is useful for healing after an injury.  Comfort foods like coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate syrup are not technically essential, but nevertheless important.  Aluminum foil has scores of uses.  If you do not know how long the emergency will last, be prepared to plant a garden to augment your food supply.  This will require sprout seeds (short term), and heirloom seeds (long term) and gardening equipment.  And the list goes on and on.  The point is this; long-term food storage requires extra planning.  This article is only an introduction.

Home-Canned Food

Pros:  Same benefits as for manufactured canned foods, but often far less expensive and food can be fresher and spiced prior to canning, making it more palatable as well as more nutritious for you and your family.  More types of food can be stored safely in glass than in a metal can, and glass is a safer canning medium and makes it possible to inspect the food prior to opening.

Cons:  Food cleaning and preparation is time consuming, and sanitation and proper canning methods must be strictly monitored to insure safety and stability.  Home canning is generally accomplished using glass jars, so the food supply is more susceptible to breakage, so proper storage is essential.  Transportation of food canned in glass jars is problematic.  When opened, jars should emit a distinct sound indicating a release of the vacuum seal.  If the jar opens silently, the food may be spoiled.

Retort-Packaged Food

Pros:  For milk which more closely resembles fresh milk in taste, ultrahigh-temperature pasteurized milk stored in retort packaging, is the answer.  Non-fat cow milk stores better than low-fat milk, but rice and soy milks have a longer shelf-life.  Since many grocery stores do not stock these items, they must be purchase from a vendor such as Walton Feed (WaltonFeed.com) or Ready Made Resources (www.ReadyMadeResources.com).

Cons:  Though the taste of these milk products is better than powdered milk, the taste is nowhere close to its fresh counterpart; so many people will not want to use these products routinely. For most people, these milks will work in recipes, and perhaps cereal, but will not be suitable for drinking.  Unfortunately, the shelf-life is only six-months, but this can be extended slightly if refrigerated.

U.S. military “Meal, Ready-to-Eat” food, more commonly referred to as MREs, are available in the civilian market.  These quick and easy meals meet the need for a short-term emergency food supply, and the 24+ menus offer variety, however they are bulky and have a limited shelf-life. But with MREs, a hot meal is available in minutes using the water-activated disposable heater.

Military MREs; Meal, Ready-toEat

Pros:  Extensive research has been done by the U.S. military to develop the optimal food for combat troops operating in the field.  Civilian versions of these pre-packaged meals are available from the same manufactures that make these meals for the government.  Each MRE contains approximately 1,200 calories of food which has been fortified with vitamins and other nutrients.  Each MRE is a complete meal, including condiments, desert, powdered drink, and even a hand wipe and bit of toilet paper.  Since these meals are already hydrated and precooked, they can be eaten direct from the package without any food prep.  Disposable flameless-heaters which are water activated (often purchased separately), can be used to quickly heat the meal.  With more than two dozen menu selections, including vegetarian, MREs have become popular for emergency food storage.  MREs is what the U.S. government generally distributes to disaster victims in the country and abroad.

Cons:  The full MRE meal packet is bulky and far heavier than dehydrated or freeze-dried backpacking food, but since they don’t require any food preparation, they remain popular.  Soldiers and civilians seeking to reduce weight and bulk, often separate the entrée and flameless heater from the other contents of the heavy plastic envelope, and carry only the items from the meal which they like.  However, though you can purchase just the entrée and heater on the civilian market, utilizing only part of the meal represents a substantial reduction in calories and nutritional value.  Further, when consuming the entrée only for multiple days, constipation is likely so these entrees need to be augmented by high-fiber food supplements such as high-fiber meal-replacement bars.  Though MRE meals are extremely convenient, they are expensive.  When purchased in a case of 12-meals, average cost is around $7.50 per meal (for true military-specification MREs).  Though an MRE may be safe to eat for 20-years, shelf-life is only listed as 3-years.  Many MREs purchase on “sale” in the civilian marketplace have expired dates.  For more on MREs, search in our database for MRE.

Freeze-dried foods are available in single-serving size (recommended for evacuation and GO-Bags), in #10 cans (recommended), and in 5-gallon buckets (ideal for large families or groups).

Freeze Dried Food

Pros:  Using a process originally designed by NASA for the Apollo space missions, freeze dried foods are flash frozen and then vacuum packed.  These foods do not require refrigeration or special handling, but water does need to be added to rehydrate the food.  Once reconstituted with water and cooked, these foods retain much of the fresh taste, color, and aroma of frozen food.  With nearly 98% of the water removed, the weight of the food is reduced by 90% compared to fresh food.  Since quality manufacturers vacuum pack their food in Mylar or foil packets, or specially designed cans, the oxygen can be removed from the food.  This stabilizes flavor, texture, and nutritional value.  Quality manufacturers such a Mountain House boast a shelf-life of 7-years for their backpacking meals, and 25-years for food which they factory pack in special #10 cans.  Freeze dried food has long been a favorite of wilderness backpackers, so manufacturers such as Mountain House routinely package their foods in small quantities, or as complete meals, which is particularly handy when used in a GO-Bag.  Eggs, and even ice cream, can be freeze dried so this process offers a great deal of food variety.  Five-gallon buckets lined with Mylar bags containing freeze dried food, is also available from vendors such as:   However, once the package is opend the storage life drops quickly.  The freeze drying process coupled with enamel-lined cans, and oxygen removal and nitrogen flushing processes, also retains the nutritional value of the food better than any of the other processes, so the #10 can option is the best for most situations unless the food is being prepared for a large group.

Cons:  Food packages labeled as “Serves 2” are generally only sufficient for one person.  Pound-for pound, freeze-dried prepackaged meals are generally more expense than any of the other emergency foods.  Since hydration and cooking is required, a stove (and time) is required for proper preparation.  Individual meals can often be prepared using the foil packaging of the food, but bulk foods require cookware.  Like MREs, freeze dried foods have a reduced shelf life if exposed to temperature fluctuations and high ambient temperatures.  Single-meal packaging is generally not durable, so when transporting in a Go-Bag the foil packet should be protected by a zip-loc plastic bag.

Dehydrated Food

Pros:  Less costly than freeze-dried foods, and sometimes even cheaper than fresh food, dehydrated foods are a cost-efficient alternative to freeze dried.  Like home-canning in jars, dehydrated foods can also be produced at home with minimal equipment.  When a home-use dehydrating machine is used along with a vacuum-packaging machine, reasonable shelf life can be attained.  However, dehydrated food made by a quality manufacturer, reconstitutes better and more uniformly.  Commercial dehydration works better on some foods than others, so experimentation is advised before you purchase any food item in quantity.  Dehydrated mashed potatoes, puddings, peanut butter, pancake and bread mix, and vegetable and fruits designed to be added to a meal as a supplement, are the most popular dehydrated foods.   Visit Walton Feed (WaltonFeed.com) for more information.

Cons:  Generally a far shorter effective shelf-life than freeze-dried foods.  Only experienced amateurs or professionally manufactures can usually produce dehydrated foods which have a reliable shelf-life.  Homemade dehydrated foods are often snack foods such as apples, bananas, and apricots.  Over time, the nutritional value of dehydrated food declines, textures change, and taste diminishes.  For those dehydrated foods requiring reconstitution with water, some do not fully rehydrate, which makes the food less palatable.  However, dehydrated foods such as potato flakes make savory mashed potatoes after many years if repackaged into suitable airtight containers with oxygen absorbers.

Note Regarding Long-Term Food Storage:  Due to the lower cost, most families will want to store nearly all bulk grains, legumes, peanut butter, honey and other bulk foods in dehydrated form.  These foods should be stored in food-grade buckets with Gamma lids (or at least Mylar bags), and the packer should have used nitrogen to remove the oxygen prior to sealing the container.  This is best accomplished by a reputable supplier who specializes in food for long-term storage.  However, for those who are more budget minded, home methods using food-grade buckets with Gamma lids (or properly sealed Mylar bags), and inserting oxygen-absorbing packets or chips of dry ice before sealing, can be nearly as effective.  To make this stored food more palatable, store a smaller quantity of freeze-dried vegetables, fruits and meats, in addition to spices.  Use these as supplementary foods to make your meals more interesting and nutritious.  Review the recipes in cookbooks designed for these foods for suggestions on what supplemental foods and spices should be included in your larder.   

Lifeboat rations are not suitable for long-term use, but they are a valuable addition to your GO-Bag or for storage in a vehicle.

Lifeboat & Emergency Food Rations (Brand must be U.S. Coast Guard Approved)

Pros:  Lightweight and very inexpensive, these are the most compact of all the emergency foods, and yet these food-bar rations are an amazingly complete nutritionally-rich on-the-go meal.  Unlike most sports bars and meal-replacement bars, these rations do not increase thirst.  For many years, these rations have continued to be a standard component in the survival kit packed into the lifeboats of large ships.  These compressed food bricks are vacuum packed in foil, which gives an unopened ration a 5-year shelf-life.  Unlike other emergency foods, these rations retain most of their nutritional value even after exposure to temperature extremes.  The most popular and palatable brands are: “Mainstay” and “Datrex.”  The manufacturer of Mainstay claims a formulation designed for more active, land-based survival needs.  A 9-meal packet of Mainstay costs about $7, yet it is only the size of a paperback book, and weighs only 24-ounces.  Each pre-measured meal cube offers 400 calories of nutrition (for a total of 3,600 calories per packet).  Whichever brand you purchase, make sure it is fresh, and that it has been approved for use by the United States Coast Guard.  (Coast Guard approval is like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval for this type of food ration).  At least one packet of these rations is a prudent addition to every GO-Bag, to be eaten if you’re on the run, or when other provisions have been exhausted.

Cons:  Taste and texture are unappealing, and these bars (or cubes) are not stomach filling, but they do provide short-term emergency sustenance far better than energy-bars or meal-replacement bars.  Per-meal cost is incredibly low.  Though the taste is acceptable, these meal cubes will not make you look forward to your next meal, so you may need to discipline yourself to eat because you must.  If given any other option, these rations are not suitable for long-term use.  True, they have kept many inactive sailors alive after more than a month on the sea, but these rations lack many essential micro-nutrients and fiber which are essential for an active life and robust health.

Each type of emergency food has its place in your emergency food supply.  Some, like canned foods purchased from a grocery store, are easy to use in everyday life, making these a good choice as the first level of emergency food storage.  But MREs and lifeboat rations are clearly better for food-on-the-go as will be needed for traveling by vehicle or on-foot with your GO-Bag.  For long-term food storage, it’s hard to beat the great taste of freeze-dried food, but it is expensive, so augmenting it with bulk-packed 5-gallon buckets of dry food will save you money.  In short, it makes sense to have a combination of all of these types of emergency food in a well-planned emergency food larder.

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:









Firearm Selection for Emergency Situations Reply

SIG 1911 semi-auto pistol and Smith & Wesson 340PD revolver with laser.

There is a great deal of debate on this subject, and the real­ity is that no single weapon is the best choice for all emergency situations.  Circums­tances and con­ditions vary, as does the use of firearms for self-defense vs. hunting.  There is no universal solu­tion.  Yet, an understanding of the options availa­ble to you is the best place to start.

The purpose of this post is to provide a brief summary of your firearm options, and to identify the pros and cons of each firearm category so that you can begin the process of making an informed choice.

Whatever firearm(s) you select, it’s important to un­derstand that a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) is necessary in most States, and there are State and federal laws which govern firearm use and possession.  Even if you do not want to routinely carry a firearm, you may want to be able to legally carry a handgun during an emergency sit­uation.  Therefore, you need to obtain a concealed handgun license.  (In some States, this is referred to as a “Concealed Weapon License.”  Visit the website of your State’s Department of Public Safety for details).

If you own a firearm as a tool for self-defense, you need to be trained in the proper use of that firearm, and regularly prac­tice with it.  Owning a gun is not being prepared.  You need to be prepared to use the gun.


Revolvers (illustrated above) and semi-automatic pistols come in many sizes, ranging from ultra-small to full-size.

Handgun Benefits:

a)  Can be con­cealed, so you won’t be making others nervous;

b)  With concealed carry, criminals don’t know that you are armed, which gives you the advantage of surprise and the option of restraint;

c)  Semi-auto pistols (left gun in top-of-page photo) can be reloaded quickly.  Revolvers (3 guns in left photo) are simple to operate, and can be fired from inside a pocket or purse;

d)  Handguns are relatively light (12 to 42-oz).

Handgun Disadvantages:

a)  Far less accurate than a rifle;

b)  Limited to short-range use (typically 75-feet);

c)  Only modest stopping power;

d)  Revolvers are slow to reload.  (Not a problem with semi-auto pistols).


Remington 870 Tactical Shotgun, 20-inch barrel, in 12-gauge.  Also available with pistol-grip.

Shotgun Benefits:

a)  Intimidating in appearance and sound;

b)  Require less accuracy in shooting;

c)  Devastating knock-down power (when loaded with 00-Buck shotgun shells);

d)  Loaded with OO-Buck shells, each shot consists of as many as 15-pellets (.33 inches in size);

e)  Loaded with the proper ammunition, shotgun pellets are less likely to penetrate the interior walls of a home.  (12-ga. #4 Buckshot compared to a standard 9mm pistol loaded with FMJ ammunition).

f)  Different types of shotgun shells can be carried to meet the needs of self-defense, as well as for hunting of large and small game.

Shotgun Disadvantages:

a)  Not concealable (Mossberg #55340 is among the smallest);

b)  Even when equipped with an extension-tube magazine, a shotgun only holds 6 or 7 shells;

c)  Very time consuming to reload;

d)  Ammunition is much heavier, reducing the amount that can be easily carried when on foot;

d)  Shotguns designed for sporting purposes are difficult to use indoors as their longer barrel makes them ungainly.  When the purpose is self-defense, a “tactical” or “home defense” shotgun should be used (illustrated on left);

e)  Medium distance effective-range (with most loads, typically less than 100’, further with slugs).

f)  Heavy in weight, typically 8 pounds.


Rifle Benefits:

a)  Longer effective range (400+ yards);

b)  Much greater accuracy;

c)  Combat-style or “assault rifles” are fast to reload, and durable;

d)  Ominous appearance can intimidate assailants.

Rifle Disadvantages:

a)  Cannot be easily concealed;

a)  Sporting rifles hold few cartridges, and reload­ing of sporting rifles is time consuming, making assault rifles the best choice for self-defense.

c)  Heavy to carry.  Most assault rifles are 9-12 lbs, so they are heavy if carried for a long distance.

d)  Rifle ammunition is lighter than that of a shotgun, but spare magazines are bulky and the weight of extra ammunition is significant.

Special Purpose Guns

Special purpose guns come in many forms, some designed for unique and limited self-defense purposes, while others are designed for highly specific hunting or survival use.  These special pur­pose guns are far less versatile but may work well for the certain purposes.

North American Arms “Black Widow” in .22 Magnum is ultra-small, but has marginal value for self-defense.

The North American Arms (NAA) “Black Widow” and other micro-guns are incredibly small, but though the .22 Mag is impres­sive for its size and can be deadly, it has almost no stopping power.

The Taurus “Judge” is a large revolver, cham­bered for both the .45 Colt handgun cartridge and .410 shotgun shell.  Unfortu­nately, the .45 Colt is not available in the newer high-power hollowpoint self-defense ammunition, and the .410 is a diminu­tive shotgun shell, but at close range The Judge can be very effective for self-defense, and for snakes and small game at very short range.  For most people, this gun is far too heavy for concealed carry, but it is popular with backpackers and for survival kits.

The Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle (pictured on right) stores the barrel and action inside its plastic stock.  Only available in .22 LR, this gun is designed to be carried in a knap­sack or survival kit.  Though this caliber is best suited for hunting rabbits and squirrels, a well-placed shot can kill a small deer.  And, a hundred rounds can be carried in a pocket.

Recommended Calibers

Handguns:  9mm and .38 Special are good for new gun owners as they have less recoil but still deliver reasonable stopping power.  (We do not recom­mend using a caliber smaller than this for self-defense.  Yet, any gun is probably better than no gun as long as it is not displayed until you plan to use it.)

Most self-defense handguns carried by police officers are in one these calibers:   9mm, .357 Sig, .40 ACP, and .45 ACP.  The U.S. military primarily uses 9mm pistols, but experts agree that this caliber has far less stopping-power than the previous standard which was .45 ACP.  Reduced recoil and the ability to carry more ammunition in the same size pistol, are the benefits of 9mm over .45 ACP.

If opting for a 9mm pistol, be aware that standard (FMJ) ammunition as well as many 9mm hollow-point bullets (JHP) have excessive penetration.  This can result in the bullet passing through the target and injuring someone else.  If you intend to use a 9mm pistol for self defense, it is recommended that you load your pistol with Speer “Gold Dot” or Remington “Golden Saber,” or another brand of ammunition which has passed the FBI’s stringent standards for use by law enforcement.  Don’t believe the hype and don’t just rust the advice of a friend or salesman, depend on actual research.  This decision is too important.

Shotguns:  12-gauge is the gold standard.  If con­cerned about recoil, use 2-3/4” shells.  To increase your firepower but still carry the maximum number of shells in your gun, use 3” Magnum 00-Buck (Double-Ought Buck).  Ammunition capacity for a shotgun with an extended magazine is typically 6-7 shells.  For self-defense use when you also want to minimize the likelihood of pellets penetrating interior walls, use #4 Buck.  For hunting small game, use birdshot, for large game use lead slugs.  For longer range accuracy (rifle-like) use sabot slugs.  Shotgun shell “rescue flares” can also be launched from a 12-gauge shotgun.  Note: A shotgun with a barrel length less than 18-inches requires a special federal license.  A barrel length longer than 20-inches will produce a tight pattern of pellets, making it less effective for most self-defense applications.  Police and home-defense shotguns generally have a barrel length of 18-20 inches.  For self-defense use, it is best to purchase a shotgun designed for police or a home-defense style shotgun.

Rifles:  5.56 NATO (or .223) or 7.62 NATO (.308) are the standard cartridges for self-defense use.  The 5.56 cartridge is lighter in weight than the 7.62, making it possible to carry more ammunition.  The 7.62 bullet is heavier and the bullet is not as easily deflected by branches and obstructions.  Both are devastating for self-defense use, but the larger caliber is more popular for hunt­ing, and better against vehicles and shooting through walls and obstructions.

Gas cans, long-term fuel storage, fuel transport, and the peerless Scepter gas-can used by the U.S. military Reply

Specter-Military_Fuel_Can-36ReadyBlogIf you’ve been in the military, chances are you have seen the Scepter fuel can.  In our experience, these are the best and safest fuel containers available in the general-use market. They are far superior to both the ordinary red-plastic and red-metal gas cans widely in use. In the last decade, plastic gas cans are almost the only type of gas container you can find in retail stores.  The old-style steel “Jerry-can” has become too costly to produce.  Chinese made Jerry-can knock-offs are available, but these are generally substandard in quality– and you don’t want to skimp when it comes to the storage of an explosive liquid such as gasoline. In addition to lower manufacturing cost for plastic fuel cans, they have also become popular because they are less prone to leak over time and exposure to abuse.  The red-plastic fuel cans available today, with semi-rigid sides, are generally better than the old Jerry-cans for this reason. What to Buy:  A fuel can labeled with a U.S. Department of Defense number, indicating that it qualifies as “ mil-spec” is generally your best bet.  The U.S. military has very high standards. Of course, many products claim to be mil-spec when they are not, so be sure to look for a procurement number stamped into the side of the can.  This is the best validation.  (By the way, there is even a brand name “Mil-Spec” which tries to capitalize on the mil-spec reputation of quality, and most of their goods are definitely not mil-spec).  Specter_Fuel_Can-36ReadyBlog-SmoothCapSpecter Fuel Container U.S. military-surplus 20-liter (approximately 5.3-gallons) plastic-looking fuel cans are by far the best choice.  New ones are available, too, but they are oftentimes staggeringly expensive. Positive Features:  1.  Far more durable than consumer-grade fuel containers;  2.  They don’t leak fuel or fumes, even when exposed to temperature fluctuation;  3. They are reasonably lightweight;  4. They have an internal vent mechanism which provides a smooth flow when fuel is poured from the container;  5.  They are far safer in a fire, and in a traffic accident, than consumer-grade fuel containers. The U.S. military gas cans are made by Specter, a company based in Canada.  A genuine Specter fuel container will have the “Specter” brand name, and “Made in Canada,” molded into the plastic on the side of the can.  (It will also say “U.S. Government Property” or “Military Use Only,” but don’t let that put you off.  With the winding-down of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the government auctioned thousands of these cans.) Scepter Military Fuel Containers (Gas Cans) are made out of tough injection molded polyethylene, not just ordinary plastic.  Though Specter cans may look heavy in appearance, they are actually relatively lightweight due to the advanced materials and manufacturing method used. U.S military surplus Scepter fuel cans are usually sand-color (tan) or olive drab (green), but occasionally you will find them in yellow.  The Specter cans made for the civilian market are similar in appearance, but have a high-visibility yellow check-strap attached to the lid. Caution: Blue plastic cans, including those made by Specter, are for water-only.  They do not have the same safety features as the Specter fuel cans. Also, Specter water cans can be found in the same colors as the fuel cans.  These do not offer the same design features and safety as the containers made for transporting fuel.  You can quickly tell the difference between a Specter fuel can and a Specter water can, by the distinctive small-spout built into the larger cap of the water can. specter-water_can-36ReadyBlog-Arrow (2)Photo on Left: Arrow points to distinctive spout on the water can, whereas the Specter fuel container has a plain, smooth cap (see above photo). Negative Features:  The only downside of purchasing Specter fuel cans is that it may be difficult to find a spout.  And, they are apparently illegal for use in the State of California.  Go figure. In any case, it’s easy enough to make a spout for the Specter if you can’t find one to purchase.  Another option is to buy a flexible metal gas-can spout at an auto supply store which may fit the inside threads of the Specter can.  (Unfortunately, this is a trial and error process). If you find a good deal on Specter fuel cans, but can’t get a spout from the same vendor, it is still worth buying the cans.  They are extremely popular and getting hard to find, so don’t delay. If you purchase a used U.S. military-surplus fuel can, be sure to rinse it with gasoline before filling it with fuel.  Let it sit outside for a couple of days with the lid off so the contents can fully evaporate, before you fill it.  Diesel and gasoline cans are made in all three military colors, so if it is important to you to get a can that has only held your type of fuel, follow the link at the end of this post to view a look-up table of model numbers. Other Fuel-Storage  Containers Gas_Can-NATO-wSpoutIf you can’t find a Specter fuel can, NATO fuel cans can be an acceptable alternative.  However, these other “mil-spec” gas cans are a mixed bag, and in our experience, none of them come even close to the quality of Specter.  But whether you a mil-spec NATO can or a genuine Specter, be sure to inspect it closely before making your purchase.  These containers are extremely durable, but they aren’t indestructible.  A can that leaks isn’t a bargain.  Keep in mind that a painted and scratched Scepter can still be very serviceable, and the faded exterior can often be restored using rubbing-compound purchased at an auto supply store. Gas_Can-RustAnother caution:  Most of the surplus mil-spec NATO fuel cans are metal, and used metal cans have a tendency to leak due to internal corrosion, or paint-covered rust along the seams.  With this in mind, it’s best to buy them from a store which will let you return them if they are defective. By the way, these NATO fuel cans are a risky-buy if they are second-hand (used) and you purchase them online.  This is because surplus goods are often sold by the military due to the fact that they are damaged or defective.  You can mend a torn army tent, but repairing a damaged fuel container is more difficult.  Unfortunately, it’s commonplace for resellers of surplus goods to put a fresh coat of paint on a rusty gas can.  Above Photo:  Inside of new NATO gas can nozzle (left), and repainted gas can (right) showing rust inside the freshly painted fuel can. Also, be sure to purchase fuel-can spouts from the same supplier, as it is sometimes impossible to find spouts for NATO fuel cans.  A big funnel may work, but it’s messy. Used cans made by Specter generally cost between $50-100, which is considerably more than an ordinary plastic gas can purchased at Walmart, but there is no comparison in quality.  And, no comparison in regard to safety, either.  This safety-issue is a very real concern if you intend to store gasoline, not just temporarily transport it.  Gasoline and diesel fuel can be stored much more safely in a Specter fuel can than a standard red-plastic or metal gas can. Never transport fuel inside the cab of a vehicle.  The fumes can be deadly. Only transport gasoline or diesel fuel in a container made for this purpose.  It is too dangerous to store or transport fuel in a container that is not specifically made for this purpose.   Fuel Treatment for Long-Term Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Storage PRI-G_Pint-New-LabelIf you store fuel for more than a couple of months, it needs to be conditioned with either PRI-G (gasoline) or PRI-D (diesel) stabilizer.  Be sure to purchase the right PRI product for the type of fuel you are storing. If you know you will be storing the fuel for more than a few months, be sure to add PRI to the fuel container before you fill it.  The filling action will help to thoroughly mix the PRI treatment compound with the fuel. Similarly, if you plan to store a vehicle or fuel-powered equipment, it’s a good idea to add the PRI to the tank and then top it off with additional fresh fuel.  This will not only help the PRI mix with the fuel that was already in the tank, it’s also a safer way to store the equipment.  With gasoline, it’s the fuel vapors at the top of the tank that are combustible.  As a result, a full-tank is generally less of a fire hazard, and a full-tank will also diminish destructive moisture condensation. Another fuel-treatment product, STA-BIL, is more readily available but it does not provide nearly the same level of protection.  In our tests, gasoline treated with STA-BIL was marginal after just 18-months, and completely unusable after 24-months.  Whereas with PRI, independently conducted tests indicate that PRI-treated fuel can be stored for 5-6 years if it is re-treated annually.  Consumers have reported successful use of PRI-treated fuel after 12-years of storage. Also, with PRI, even old fuel can sometimes be brought back to life.  Just give it a double-dose of the appropriate PRI product, and make sure it is well mixed with the fuel before trying to use it.  If the fuel is in a vehicle, the fuel lines need to be purged of the old fuel before trying to start the engine. As to the PRI fuel-treatment product itself, it will remain fresh for decades, as long as it is properly stored and the container remains unopened.  Once opened, PRI should be used within three years. Fuel Transport and Dispensing Remember, if you are transporting fuel, the container needs to be strongly secured. Bungee cord attachment is not enough.  The container needs to be held securely, so that even in a traffic accident it will not become dislodged.  In most States, you can receive a traffic citation if a fuel container is inadequately secured.  But that’s not the main concern.  More important is that traveling on-road or off-road, a loose fuel container may become a deadly missile and cause injury or death. Gasoline weighs around 6.59 pounds (3.9 kg) per gallon, so a 5-gallon gas can that is full of fuel, can easily weigh 35-pounds (16 kg) or more.  So a dislodged gas container can be more dangerous than a duffer with a sledgehammer. Dispensing:  Be sure to test your fuel-can and nozzle, together.  Don’t assume it’s going to work, nor that you can handle the weight of a full can of fuel. Even if you can handle the weight and you are able to pour the fuel into your vehicle, you may want to use a siphon instead. Self-priming siphons (with an anti-static hose), such as the one illustrated here, are an easy solution for fuel transfer.  With minimal training, even a young child can manage this task, but they should be supervised as fuel transfer can be dangerous.  For the syphoning process to work, remember that the fuel container needs to be higher than the tank of the vehicle.  The siphoning process depends on gravity to work. A funnel with a long neck (illustrated in the photo on the left) is also a handy addition to your fuel-transfer kit.   The long neck of the funnel simulates a gas station’s fuel-pump nozzle, and this can help un-restrict the flow of fuel during the transfer process.  This is noteworthy because most modern cars have an anti-theft device in the neck of the filler pipe.  Though some siphon hoses may be rigid enough to bypass this anti-theft device on your vehicle, it may worth having one of these long-neck funnels, just in case. Be sure to test your fuel-transfer method and equipment before you actually need to use it.   Links to Manufacturers and Additional Information: Specter – Manufacturer’s Website:   http://www.sceptermilitary.com/ Specter Fuel Can Look-Up Table by Part #:  http://www.sceptermilitary.com/fuel_containers/product_table_1/ Article with additional detail on Specter fuel cans:  http://www.pangaea-expeditions.com/scepter/index.html PRI Fuel Treatment Products:  http://www.priproducts.com/preparedness.cfm Fuel Siphons:  Only use a siphon device which is actually made for the transfer of gasoline, as other siphons may have parts which can cause a fire-creating spark.  Not all self-priming siphons perform the same.  We recommend that you purchase a siphon with a semi-rigid hose that has a large diameter, as it will transfer fuel much faster. Super Jiggler:  http://www.superjiggler.com/#pro Safety Siphon:  http://www.safetysiphon.net VDP Super Siphon:  http://www.vdpusa.com/universal/super-siphon.php