Whether you call it a KOP Kit, EDC Kit (Every-Day-Carry), COP Kit (Carry-on-Person), or by some other name, these pocket-size mini kits contain a collection of small but essential items that can be a godsend in an emergency situation. Requiring only the space of a hip-pocket wallet, this little collection may save your life. It has for others. For example, during the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001, occupants used small KOP Kit items to save their life or the lives of others.
While the Twin Towers burned, several occupants used pocket knives, another a can opener, to cut escape holes in the sheet-rock walls when fire or debris blocked their office doors. Others used wet handkerchiefs to filter smoke to aid breathing. A menstrual pad was used on an injured leg to stop severe bleeding. A thin rope/cord was used to help lower people when a stairway collapsed. Small keychain-size flashlights were used to navigate interior hallways and stairs. And, when a trapped person lost their voice after prolonged yelling, they used a whistle to get the attention of firefighters. Simple little items such as these can save lives.
Our KOP Kit list (below) is slightly broader because it is designed to be useful in a wider range of disaster-related situations. But whatever you choose to include, the keep-on-person (KOP) aspect is essential. For commercial airline travel, except for items which have a blade, FAA regulations allow passengers to carry all of these items.
This isn’t a GO-Bag or Survival Kit. It isn’t a kit which contains everything you might need. It is an “essentials” mini kit that includes little items which can make a big difference.
These supplies can be bundled in an extra wallet or coin purse, or you carry them in an Altoids or mint tin, or a passport pouch or security pocket, or, you can divide up this collection of items and carry some on your key chain and others in your wallet and a pocket. The method used for carrying these emergency supplies isn’t important; what is vital, is that you have these items with you. So, your carry method does need to be convenient—so you don’t leave home without your kit.
Contents of Your KOP Kit
Select contents to match your circumstance and lifestyle. To help you get started, here are the items we recommend.
Pocketknife – Option #1 – A small serrated-edge knife with one small blade; or,
Pocketknife – Option #2 – Medium-size multitool pocket knife such as the Victorinox brand, Swiss Army ‘Explorer’ model pocketknife; or
Pocketknife – Option #3 – Larger-size knife/multitool. A standard multitool such as the Leatherman OHT will not fit into a wallet-size container with your other items. And, its weight may exceed that of all your other supplies combined, but it is a versatile tool that you might find useful in an emergency situation as well as in your daily life—as long as you don’t leave home without it!
Flashlight – Option #1 – Streamlight 73001 Nano will comfortably fit on a keychain since it is only 1.5-inches in length. Unfortunately, it uses non-standard batteries (4xLR41) which makes it a less desirable choice than a slightly larger model which uses a single AAA-battery. It does have an impressive run-time of 8-hours, but it only produces 10-lumens of light. Nonetheless, in our opinion, it is the best of the ultra-small flashlights. Its best use is as a backup flashlight kept on your keychain.
Flashlight – Option #2 – The Maglight Solitaire uses one standard-size AAA-battery. It is our first choice for key chain-size flashlights as it is bright (47 lumens), has a 1-hr 45-min run time, is waterproof to 1-meter, it can be switched from spotlight to flood-beam, and it can be used like a candle by removing the tip to illuminate a 360-degree area. If you can accommodate the 3.2-inch x 1/2-inch size, which is only slightly larger than an AAA battery, we regard it as a better choice than a Nano light.
Flashlight – Option #3 – The Nitecore Defender SRT3 is an example of the new generation of flashlights which are durable and multi-talented. Most people are not willing to daily-carry even a small pocket-size flashlight like this one, but if you are, this is a light you might want to consider. It is only 4-inches long and it is lightweight (2-1/2 oz), so it will fit in a pocket and in many coin-purse size pouches. Yet, it can generate a blazing 550-lumens of light and is capable of illuminating objects that are more than a football field distant. And yet, the beam can be dialed down to just enough light to read a map, a setting which provides 150-hours of run time. In addition to its red and green beams which save your night vision, it has a strobe which flashes a constant S-O-S signal. Plus, the Nitecore Defender is waterproof to 2-meters (IPX-8 standard), and it can be operated using an assortment of batteries, ranging from a sleeved Alkaline AAA-battery or standard AA-battery, to a high-energy CR123.
* If you have space in your kit, also include a spare battery for your flashlight.
Compact Liquid-filled Compass – Option #1 – It is easy to get disoriented when you are forced to take a new route, during inclement weather and dusty conditions, and when land-features have changed due to a disaster. Unfortunately, a small compass such as those selected for KOP Kits, are not precision instruments. Still, they can point you in the right direction and keep you oriented as you travel along your route.
Compass – Extra Small – Option #2 – Suunto ‘Clipper’ or similar.
Compact whistle; flat models and small whistles are easier to pack into a KOP Kit. A whistle is an important part of your kit as it makes it possible to signal for help when you can no longer yell.
Breathing Protection – Option #1 – Medical face mask, a flat style which you can fold to fit inside your kit. These do not provide the protection of an N95, N100, or biofilter mask, but these don’t require nearly as much space either, and importantly, they can be folded to fit into your KOP Kit.
Breathing Protection – Option #2 – Cotton bandana/handkerchief, 24-inch+ to use as a face mask. If dampened with water before use, it will increase the cotton cloth’s ability to filter particles out of the air. Neither of these options will protect the wearer from chemicals, smoke, and serious airborne threats, but they can be better than nothing. A bright-color bandana can also be used for signaling.
Water Purification – Chlorine Dioxide water purification tablets. We have found the Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets to be superior to all other brands of purification tablets, and for KOP Kits, they provide the added benefit of being very small. The Katadyn Micropur MP1 is the only tablet or liquid, which is effective against viruses, bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium in all water conditions. One tablet is used to treat one quart/liter of water. Do not open the foil packet until ready to use as once opened; the tablet has a short shelf life. A KOP Kit should contain at least 4 of these small, foil packets. Note: This method is far more effective for water purification than the popular and much larger, LifeStraw.
Water Transport – Option #1 – Collapsible Water Bag. Even a small collapsible bottle will not fit into a KOP Kit, but if you do have space in a briefcase or computer bag, this Sawyer SP-108 Water Reservoir is a compact easy-to-carry solution.
Water Transport – Option #2 – Using a Condom as a Water Container. Made for durability, a non-lubricated condom is sturdy, watertight, and they are stored in a small package. A standard-size condom will hold 16-20 fl. oz. (.5 L) of water and can still retain structural strength. In tests conducted by a major university, the Trojan ENZ was identified as the most durable. Insert the condom into a sock to stabilize it for filling, and to transport it more securely. A twist-tie, such as those used in grocery stores and bakeries to close plastic bags, are ideal for closing-up the top of the condom after filling it with water. In addition to the twist-tie, also include a plastic straw for drinking.
* If you are not sure that the water is pure, add a Katadyn tablet before filling the condom/container with water.
Fire Starting – Option #1 – Mini cigarette lighter; or,
Fire Starting – Option #2 – Flint and magnesium fire-starting tool. Starting a fire may seem like an unnecessary task, but in various setting it may be needed for heat, cooking food, for light, signaling, and to help keep animals away.
Can Opener. If it becomes possible to scavenge food, you don’t want to be without a small can and bottle opener. Yes, a knife can be used to open a can, but it’s dangerous. It’s much better to have a small military-style can opener like a P-51 or P-38 in your KOP Kit. If you enlarge the hole in the P-51, this miniature can opener can be carried on a key ring. Tape the blade to the body of the can opener so it doesn’t snag or cut.
Band-Aids – A couple of Band-aids take up almost no space in your kit, but can be helpful for covering a blister on your foot when you need to walk a long distance, as well as to protect minor cuts from infection. Disasters are environments that are often filled with germs and bacteria, so protecting a simple cut can be important.
Cash Money – During an emergency situation, credit cards often don’t work so cash is needed to make purchases. Small denomination bills may be best as vendors may not be able to make change.
Inexpensive Make-Shift Compact Bandage – In a pinch, a feminine Ultra-Thin Pad can be used as a bandage for the temporary treatment of injuries. For this purpose, it must be a pad without odor inhibitors, lotions, or other additives. Select a brand that has each pad sealed in a waterproof envelope, as the envelope itself can also be used to seal a small diameter chest puncture. Since these pads are very compact.
Pepper Spray – If legal in your area, a pen-size container of pepper spray can be a formidable but non-injurious weapon. These are not legal for travel on a commercial airliner but they are legal in many areas, so carry one on your key chain if you can do it legally. We recommend pepper spray made by a manufacturer which supplies these products to police departments. The contents should be a 10% concentration of the chemical Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).
Plastic Garbage Sack – Useful for carrying supplies, for use as a sleep sack to increase body heat or protection from insects, for making an emergency shelter, and as a rain poncho (cut holes for head and arms, and wear it like a pullover jacket). An ordinary trash bag has many uses.
Signal Mirror (optional). A small signal mirror has multiple uses in addition to using it to flash signals using sunlight.
750 Paracord – It isn’t practical to carry even a short length of rope, but Paracord as used for parachutes, is extremely strong, thin, and lightweight. The diameter of “750” paracord is only 5mm (.2-inch) but has a break strength of 750-pounds. (That does not mean it will support 749-pounds.) The interior of military-grade paracord has 11 strands, and these are also suitable for sewing, repairing clothing and gear, and emergency suturing. The space limitations of most KOP Kits limit the length to around 12-feet.
Pen and Paper – If you have room in your kit, a write-on-anything “Space Pen” and maybe even a few sheets of weatherproof paper can be valuable when you need to leave notes or make notes. To save space, use just a Space Pen refill rather than the whole pen.
Sewing Needle, 1-large, and 1-small. A large needle that can be used with a paracord strand, and a small needle to use like a nail or to remove splinters.
Paper Clip. One large and one small clip. These can be used as wire for an assortment of repair and electrical purposes.
Micro SD Card. Us this to store essential data and records such as contact information, identification, ID photos of family and friends, medical records, insurance information, property titles and other key records. Use encryption for sensitive and confidential information. Your SD Card ‘Adapter’ and ‘Reader’ can be stored separately, but the card itself should be kept on your person. For physical protection, wrap the card in three layers of plastic wrap (Saran Wrap) and then three layers of aluminum foil. This will help prevent damage if it is exposed to water, and it will disrupt RFD probes and help isolate the chip from electromagnetic pulses. To avoid loss of the chip, use duct tape to attach the wrapped chip to the back of your wristwatch, or your KOP Kit container.
Pocket-Size Containers for Your KOP Kit
How to Carry your KOP Kit? Cloth passport pouches and metal wallets are favorite containers for these supplies, but some people prefer carrying a few items in a small tin such as an Altoid or Sucrets box, with other pieces of their kit are carried on their key chain. Some people prefer to carry certain items, like a pocket knife, loose in their a pocket or purse. It doesn’t matter how these things are carried, but that they are kept close at hand.
Altoids Mints – Re-purpose the metal box. If you are interested in this carry method but aren’t acquainted with these breath mints, or you can’t buy them at your local grocery store, this link is provided. You might be able to find some other product which utilizes a similar, rugged little pocket-size box.
Security Pocket / Hidden Pocket – These fabric pouches can be carried in a pocket or purse, or worn on a belt and then flipped inside your skirt or trousers, to keep it invisible. These are often available in travels stores as they are popular for hiding cash and passports.
Credit Card Wallet / Zippered Coin Purse – Available in various sizes, these can be carried in a pocket or purse.
Key Wallet – Smaller than a credit card wallet or coin purse, these small pouches often have zipper closures to keep items secure.
* It may not be practical to keep every item in one container such as those listed above, but it is sensible to keep most things together in one package to avoid loss and damage.
Paracord Survival-Bracelet: Depending on the knots used to make the bracelet, these can condense 1 to 1.5 feet of paracord into each 1-inch of bracelet length. (i.e., an 8-in bracelet contains 8-14 ft of paracord). These can utilize a buckle which contains a fire-starter or knife as well as a compass. The bracelet itself can conceal such things as fire tinder; a P-38 can opener; a ceramic knife; micro SD card; fishing line & hooks; mini signal mirror; large, curved sewing needle; a mini glow stick, and a Nano flashlight. If you want to use a survival bracelet as a portion of your kit, look online for one that has the features you want. Or, you can make your own using D-I-Y instructions found online.
The ‘Minimalist’ KOP Kit for every-day-carry
At the very least, make it an every-day-carry habit of keeping a few essential items with you every day, wherever you go, whatever you are doing. A ‘minimalist’ collection of supplies might include a Swiss+Tech tool/mini knife, a micro LED flashlight, and a compact whistle, all carried on your keychain. Plus, in a pocket, a small cigarette lighter and large handkerchief. Add to your watchband, a compass. In your wallet, store a P-51 mini can opener, four water purification tablets, and a non-lubricated condom to use as an emergency canteen. Just these nine little items may someday save your life—they did for people inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.