How To Prepare For Your Region’s Worst-Case-Scenario

Posted by Katie S on Sep 15, 2020 10:48:14 AM

How to prepare for your region's worst-case-scenario

Did you know that September is National Preparedness month in the U.S.? With so much going on in the world, you may be asking yourself, “how can I possibly prepare for all the things that could go wrong this year?” The simple answer is, you can’t. But, with relatively minimal effort you can prepare for the most likely types of natural disasters in your part of the country. That is the sentiment behind National Preparedness month. Have a plan in place so that you can be prepared and self-sufficient for at least 72 hours in case a disaster hits where you live. The more people who do this, the less overwhelmed emergency services are in a worst-case-scenario situation. Then they can focus all their efforts on those who need help the most. If you need motivation to start prepping, think of it as a future-kindness to the emergency service workers in your area.

Before I jump into tips on preparing for specific types of disasters, there are a few preparedness practices that apply to just about any natural disaster:

1. Always follow evacuation orders and directives from your local officials.

Maybe you have stayed in your house for the last four hurricanes and been fine, but guess what, there’s a decent chance that the next one you’re going to be that guy getting airlifted off his roof on the five o’clock news – and that’s not the worst case scenario. Experts are not perfect in predicting the movements of natural disasters, but they are experts for a reason, and they aren’t throwing darts here. Warning systems save lives. A great way to make sure you receive emergency warnings is to download the FEMA app on your phone and sign up for alerts for your zip code.

2. Make a plan ahead of time.

Take time with your household to talk through a family plan of what to do and where to go in case a disaster happens when you’re not together or can’t go home. FEMA has this helpful worksheet you can fill out as a family and leave on the fridge as a reminder. If you live alone, it’s important to let a nearby friend know that they will be your planned destination in case of an emergency, then they can look out for you. Communication lines often get knocked out or overwhelmed during natural disasters. Text messages will be more likely to go through than calls, but sometimes calling outside of your area will work too, so it’s helpful to designate a family member in another state as the call-in person who everyone can check in with and communicate through.


Go bag checkllist

3. Keep emergency provisions on hand.

The type of emergency kit you build should be customized to the type of emergency you’re most likely to encounter, especially whether it’s likely you’ll need to shelter in place or evacuate (I’ll get into those details more in the section below), and customized to the number of people in your household and any special needs they may have (think: prescription meds, diapers, formula, glasses, pet food, leash, etc…) As you build your kit, the goal to keep in mind is having the essentials needed to keep your family safe and sane for 72 hours without power or support in any season. If you have children, don’t underestimate the importance of comfort items like a favorite lovey – if you don’t have a backup one you can keep in your kit, make sure to add this to your family’s list of “most important items to grab in an evacuation”.

Prepping by Region
Earthquakes: When the ground is shaking, don’t stand in that doorway.

How to prepare for an earthquake

In the moment: Earthquake protocols have changed over the years, but many people still think that the classic Hollywood move of standing in a doorway is what you’re supposed to do – it’s not. The safest thing to do, according to FEMA, is to immediately lay down and cover your head with your hands, if you can easily get under a table, do so, then grab onto a leg to anchor yourself. If you’re outside, great, stay outside and away from buildings and power lines. If you’re in a car, pull over and put on the parking brake.

Preparing ahead of time: Unfortunately, an earthquake early warning system in the U.S. is still in the development phase (learn more about USGS ShakeAlert here), however there are many ways you can prepare ahead of time. Talk through your family emergency plan, research where your local shelters will be, anchor TVs and top-heavy furniture to the walls, and have an emergency go-bag packed. I recommend a go-bag rather than a traditional home kit because in a serious earthquake situation there is a good chance you will need to evacuate, but you should still store extra water and food in your house and use the bag for your other survival items in case you are sheltering in place. Some of my friends in California keep their emergency bags in weatherproof trunks or sheds outside their home. This way, even if their home is unsafe to enter, their emergency supplies are accessible. Click HERE for a comprehensive list of suggested items for your Go Bag.

 

Wildfires: They move fast - so should you.

How to prepare for a wildfire

In the moment: Wildfires are unpredictable and susceptible to rapid changes in size based on wind and other natural elements. If you are under a warning or evacuation order – take it seriously and leave the area. If the fire is very close, N95 masks are great for filtering out smoke and particles, but a bandana will help too. Once in your car, the filter will help do the trick.

Preparing ahead of time: If you live in a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) or a Grassland Urban Interface (GUI) you should have a Go Bag packed in case of an immediate fire evacuation, and a car emergency kit with food, water, a flashlight, blanket, and phone charger in case you’re not able to return to your home. You should have a discussion with your family members of the single most important item in the home to each of them. If you have time, grab those items along with your Go Bag and call it a day. Do not linger, if a fireman comes to your door and tells you have five minutes to clear out, they don’t mean ten. Fires are scary. My intention is not to scare you here, it’s for you to be prepared and therefore less scared in case you find yourself in one of these situations. Here are my suggested packing lists for Car Emergency Kits and Emergency Go Bags.

 

Hurricanes & Tropical Storms: Don’t be that guy on the roof.

How to prepare for a hurricane

In the moment: One benefit of hurricanes is that they aren’t stealthy. They are huge, relatively slow-moving storms that can easily be tracked and therefore people can be warned of their arrival ahead of time. These benefits are also what can make them so devastating. They are huge and can take down power grids and cause devastation over hundreds of miles. They are slow moving and wet, bringing large storm surges and dumping tens of inches of rain before heading inland. If you do find yourself in a scary situation with rising waters, move to the highest interior point in your house but where you could still get to a window to climb out if waters came that high. Never walk, drive, or swim through flood waters. Call for rescue.

Preparing ahead of time: Know your evacuation routes and heed local evacuation warnings. Make a plan with your family, and have an emergency Go Bag packed ahead of time. If you need to pack for your whole family quickly, just grab everyone’s hampers – that way you know it’s a variety of clothes that currently fit. If you are in an area that isn’t at risk for flooding or storm surge and plan to wait out the storm, make sure to have a well-stocked Home Emergency Kit with extra water and food (see a full list of suggested supplies here). When it comes to large storms you should have provisions for the grid being down for at least a week, and water supplies can be tainted for even longer. Two weeks after hurricane Katrina, only 30% of the area’s drinking water facilities and 40% of the areas wastewater facilities were operating (more details here).

 

Tornadoes: Hiding in the basement, it’s the right thing to do.

How to prepare for a tornado

In the moment: If you hear sirens or receive an alert, move to a basement or secure interior room without windows immediately – tornado winds can move at over 200 MPH. If you’re outside and can’t get in, do not seek shelter under a bridge – they can create wind tunnels that blow debris even faster at you. Lay down flat in a ditch and protect your head and neck, cover yourself with blankets, jackets or anything to help protect you from flying debris.

Preparing ahead of time: Be familiar with your local sirens and sign up for digital alerts from FEMA in case you can’t hear the sirens during a storm. Meteorologists are often able to issue tornado warnings ahead of time – there is no shame in heeding these and moving to the basement. Growing up in Indiana we had our fair share of tornadoes, but my parents did a good job of not making it too scary. We just got to do a basement “campout” and all bring our sleeping bags down for the night. Tornadoes are unpredictable and not something to be taken lightly. Even if they miss your house, they can do serious damage to an area and leave you without power for days, that’s why it’s important to keep a well-stocked home emergency kit if you live in the Midwest or South.

 

Blizzards: Is that a “Polar Vortex” or a “Bomb Cyclone”?

how to prepare for a winter storm

In the moment: There are a lot of severe winter weather terms out there that the media loves these days, but good old snowstorms and cold can cause serious emergency situations. If you live in Colorado, you know that sometimes they are predicting 3” and we get 30”. If you live in Buffalo, you know it might end up being 50”. It’s good to be safely indoors when a storm hits. If you have a generator, do not use it in the house or garage. Generators emit high levels of carbon monoxide and have led to many post-disaster injuries and deaths – check out this article by Consumer Reports for generator safety tips. If you are in a car and lose visibility, pull over and turn on your hazards – stay in your car. At the end of the storm, if you are healthy, safe, and home (and maybe have a good snowblower or shovel), use the opportunity to go check in on older neighbors and friends who may need help.

Preparing ahead of time: Keep a Car Emergency Kit stocked with food, water, blankets, flashlights, etc…in case you need to stay in there overnight. At home, if you have a stocked pantry, flashlights, water, and a wood-burning fireplace, you’re in pretty good shape. If you have a gas fireplace, you’ll have a heat source, but if the power’s out and it requires a switch you might think you’re out of luck. However, most gas fireplaces have either an igniter bypass to the switch, or a box that you can put batteries in to turn it on. Look into this before an emergency situation so you’ll know how it works. Always have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home as well. And, as I suggest to most anyone, keep a well-stocked home emergency kit.

 

Strong community ties are essential in preparing for and rebuilding after disasters strike. You are our community and we value your feedback. If you live in an area that is prone to any of the disasters listed above and you have valuable tips to share, please leave them in the comments section below.

Want more information? Check out these useful resources from Ready.Gov:

Earthquake Information

Wildfire Information

Hurricane Information

Tornado Information

Winter Storm Information

Topics: Emergency Preparedness

How The Clip Pock-Its XL Utility Holster Became My Favorite Accessory

Posted by Brian Lambert on Jul 1, 2020 11:13:57 AM

How The Clip Pock-Its XL Utility Holster Became My Favorite Accessory

If you consider yourself a Do-It-Yourselfer, have home projects, or are thinking of adding a new feature to your personal sanctuary, the Clip Pock-Its XL Utility Holster is going to be your new favorite accessory. This is the story of how it became mine….

We purchased our dream home in the mountains a couple of years ago, and with it came the customary honey-do list of things to update. This included replacing some electrical outlets, installing blinds and replacing light fixtures. 

How The Clip Pock-Its XL Utility Holster Became My Favorite Accessory

I broke out the Clip Pock-its XL Utility Holster to begin the job. In mine I keep a Phillips and standard screwdriver, my DoohicKey Key Chain Knife, crescent wrench, pliers, and wire cutters, so I'm always ready to tackle basic tasks. I added a contact voltage tester for the work around the house and the holster carried everything I needed to complete the list (and maintain a healthy marriage).

NiteDog and NiteHowl in the snowIt was still dark when my dog Dexter came running into my room at 5:30am and woke me to let him out. It had snowed almost 3 feet the night before and it was still snowing. The moon was almost full, and it lit the falling snow like glitter gently falling to the ground. I could have used an extra hour of sleep, but the winter scene made it worth getting up early, plus I was going to have to plow the road in order to get to work. 

It was about 15 below zero, so I layered up, brewed a cup of coffee, climbed into my Polaris ATV, and started plowing down the mountain. I was about halfway down the road when I heard a loud pop. I didn’t think anything of it since the occasional rock would bounce into the plow, but when I attempted to brake as I started down a steep descent, the pedal went to the floor. I quickly dropped the plow to stop the rig and climbed out into the cold morning to see what happened. My tire chain had popped, snagged the brake line, and ripped it off. There was no way to move it safely, so I put a couple of rocks under the tires and hiked back up the hill. I was pondering trying to blast through the last half mile with my truck so I could get to work and to the store to get a new brake line, but the wind was picking up and covered what I had just plowed. Plan B…. It was MacGyver time. 

I grabbed my Clip Pock-Its Holster (already loaded with the tools I needed), as well as some silicone tape and sealant and skied back down the hill to fix the brake line. I dug under my rig through the snow, untangled the chain, re-routed the line, wrapped the holes in silicone tape, and spread the sealant to try to stop the leak. Even though I was crawling back and forth in the snow, the holster stayed snuggly on my belt, giving me easy access to my tools without having to take off my gloves. I started the engine to try to warm it under the Polaris enough for the silicone to dry. It worked! The brakes were soft, but I was able to run two lanes to clear enough snow enough to get out. (Warning: It was a temporary fix in an emergency sort of situation. I do not recommend this.  Broken brake lines should always be replaced.)  

How The Clip Pock-Its XL Utility Holster Became My Favorite Accessory

Living in the mountains has many advantages, but anyone with a house in a remote area that is forested is concerned about fires.  Wildfire mitigation to create a defensible space around the home is essential and, in many states, a mitigation plan is required by law. In my case, the area I live unfortunately already burned down. The fire mitigation plan is oriented towards clearing the dozens of downed trees and when possible, harvesting the tree for firewood. This was the perfect excuse to buy a new chainsaw.  Anyone that has used a chainsaw will tell you that it is essential to keep it sharp. I might have to sharpen the saw a couple of times a day, depending on the number of trees.  A good sharpening kit will include a couple of round files, a flat file, and a round file guide and depth gauge. I like to include my DoohicKey Knife and a tweezers, which all fit perfectly in the holster. I wear it around the property so I don't have to walk back to the house when my chainsaw needs to be sharpened. I ended up using it so often that I bought a second holster so I can keep my chainsaw kit at the ready when I need it.

How The Clip Pock-Its XL Utility Holster Became My Favorite Accessory

To sum it up, whether I'm accomplishing a simple task, or in a critical situation, the Clip Pock-Its XL Utility Holster makes the job easier. I don't have to constantly hunt for my tools or worry about how to get them where I need them. If you want an incredibly convenient way to carry essential tools, this holster is the accessory you need…plus, it works much better than a tool belt if you want to wear shorts. 

Topics: Emergency Preparedness, DIY, Home

First Aid Kit Checklist For Hiking & Camping

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jun 18, 2020 10:34:58 AM

How to make your own first aid kit for hiking and camping

Warmer temperatures and sunshine have arrived and the outdoors are calling. June is National Safety Month, so we’d like to take this opportunity to share how you can stay safe when out in the wilderness. Before you head out on your next day hike, camping trip or backpacking adventure, be sure you’re prepared for the worst, so you can enjoy the great outdoors worry-free. Although there are a variety of pre-packaged first aid kits out there, putting one together yourself can allow you to tailor your kit to your own needs, and become more familiar with what exactly is inside. Here you’ll find a checklist of items to build your own basic first aid kit for your summer adventures.

 

Basic First Aid Kit Checklist:
✔️ RunOff Waterproof 3-1-1 Pouch (to keep your kit organized, protected and dry)
✔️ Medical tape
✔️ Alcohol wipes
✔️ Gauze
✔️ A couple pairs of latex gloves
✔️ Blunt-tipped shears
✔️ Pocket knife (the DoohicKey Key Chain Knife is a great choice)
✔️ Band Aids (variety of sizes)
✔️ Butterfly wound closure strips
✔️ ACE bandage
✔️ Antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin)
✔️ Hand sanitizer
✔️ Ibuprofen
✔️ Antihistamine such as Benadryl (in case of allergic reactions)
✔️ Tweezers
✔️ A few safety pins
✔️ Moleskin for blisters
✔️ Emergency contact card
✔️ Pocket-sized first aid guide (in case your know-how is a little rusty)

 

First aid kit for hiking

 

Beyond first aid, here are a few more safety essentials to consider when packing for a day hike, so you can be prepared for the unexpected:

✔️ Plenty of water
✔️ Prescription medications (if you take them)
✔️ Epi Pen (if you have one)
✔️ Sunscreen
✔️ Aloe vera for sunburns
✔️ Lip Balm with UV protection
✔️ Bug spray
✔️ Anti-diarrheal medicine
✔️ Electrolyte tablets or powder (Scratch Labs and Nuun make good options)
✔️ Protein snacks
✔️ Feminine hygiene products (as needed)
✔️ Duct Tape
✔️ Gear Ties (you never know when they’ll come in handy)
✔️ A good headlamp (in case you get caught after dark)
✔️ Map of the area
✔️ Whistle
✔️ Compass
✔️ Bear spray (if there are bears in the area)
✔️ Emergency blanket (such as this one from SOL)

 

How to make your own first aid kit for hiking and camping

Be sure to maintain your kit regularly by replacing any used items or expired medications. Did we miss anything? Let us know what else is in your kit in the comments below, and we wish you a safe and happy hiking season!

Topics: Emergency Preparedness, outdoors, Adventure, dry bags, camping, Mountaineering

How To Prepare For A Power Outage (And How To Stay Sane During One)

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Oct 24, 2019 10:42:41 AM

How to prepare for a power outage

You see them on the news all too often – hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, hail, ice, lighting earthquakes and fires. Severe weather and emergency situations can happen at any time, but fall is especially high for storm systems and fire hazards. If you checked out our September blog posts for National Emergency Preparedness Month, you’re already ahead of the game when it comes to putting together your home emergency kit so you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. (Catch up on those here if you haven’t already.) But aside from the supplies you’ll want to have on hand, you’ll need to be mentally prepared as well.

We’ve become so accustomed to having power that you barely even realize it’s there – until it isn’t! Ever tried to sit in a dark room with nothing but your thoughts for extended periods of time? We don’t recommend it. Here are some tips to keep you sane.

 

Immediately After Losing Power…

First things first – when you’re suddenly left in the dark, check your circuit breaker and surroundings to see if the outage has affected other homes around you (although your first instinct is likely to check your phone battery). Although it’s easy to assume one of your neighbors is or has already done this, take it upon yourself to report the outage to your electrical company. They might have more information for you, but it will definitely help them in identifying the problem (thus, restoring your power quicker).

 

Gather Your Gear

Radiant 314 Lantern

Hopefully you’ve already built your home emergency kit, but if you haven’t yet, start with gathering your light sources. We recommend lanterns, headlamps and flashlights over candles to reduce risk of fire. You should also have some extra batteries on hand to fit your light sources (who knows how long this outage could last). We also encourage you to have some portable chargers at the ready, or even better – one that is solar powered (like this), so your devices can stay charged. The Radiant 314 Lantern from Nite Ize actually doubles as a power bank if you need to charge your devices without losing light.

 

Assess Your Food Situation

Note the time of the outage right when it happens because your refrigerator is now a ticking time bomb of food freshness. The USDA says food will stay cold for only four hours following loss of power, but remember to NOT open the doors until needed – this will only speed the warming process. A full freezer should stay cold for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-full). It’s good practice to keep thermometers in the fridge and freezer to make sure the temperature is right for keeping your food safe.

Backyard barbecue

It might be a good opportunity to have a backyard barbecue if you don’t get power back before your time window is up. Better drink those brews while they’re still cold too. Light ‘em up with a SlapLit Drink Wrap and call it a party!

 

Have Some Fun!

Family game night

Power outages might not be “fun” per se, but they’re a great time for a good old-fashioned family game night. Break out the board games, set up your lanterns and transport yourself back to a time before smart phones, tablets and video game consoles. It’s worth having some non-electronic entertainment at home for situations like these. If you’re by yourself, fear not! We’re willing to bet you have some books (the ones with paper pages) lying around that you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to yet. For a small, cute little reading light, the BugLit works great!

Keeping your head up, mind occupied and remaining calm during a power outage is important for your safety and mental wellness. Hopefully you won’t be left in the dark for too long!

Topics: Emergency Preparedness

National Preparedness Month: How To Build A Home Emergency Kit

Posted by Katie S on Sep 25, 2019 1:45:03 PM

How to Build A Home Emergency Kit

Regardless of location, everyone should have at least a basic home emergency kit. Power outages are the most likely reason you may need back-up supplies, but your kit should be customized for the types of disasters most common in your area. With major disasters, public alerts or emergency personnel will tell you whether to evacuate or shelter in place – always heed these warnings, they truly are in your best interest.

My kit is built for four people for 72 hours, and it’s kept in our basement near the camping equipment which can be used to supplement it. When disasters occur, emergency services are overwhelmed with calls. The best way you can help them is by not becoming another emergency. Have the supplies needed for you and your family to get by for at least three days.

1. Water

I like this style of water pouch as it is packaged for a long shelf life and makes it easy to determine and regulate how much each person should get – two 4.4 oz packs a day. then I have the 25 gallon Aqua-tainer filled for washing and cooking. If you have a heads up that you’re likely in for a power outage, it’s a good idea to also fill up a bathtub with water. Then you have additional water to flush toilets and use for hand washing.

2. Food

Canned goods for emergencies

Ideally you have a stocked pantry when the power goes out, but it doesn’t always work out that way. For emergencies lasting longer than our pantry’s contents, I keep canisters of Mountain House freeze dried meals and a camping stove + plate and utensil sets in our kit. Mountain House has assortment packs for specific numbers of people for 72+ hours, but since we have food allergies in our group, I just picked a few individual ones that work for our needs and don’t sound like they will taste too bad with just boiling water added.

3. Crank Radio/Charger

I like this one from Eton, it’s the same one I keep in my Car Emergency Kit and it can be charged via the solar panel or the hand crank. The radio will keep you informed on the status of the disaster in your area, and it can also be used to charge your phone and flashlights.

4. Lantern, Flashlight, Headlamp + Batteries

Radiant 400 Lantern

Nothing makes a power outage feel scarier than just sitting in the dark. Keep your lights and lanterns charged or with spare batteries nearby and keep at least one of them in a spot that you can easily find in the dark. I have the Radiant 400 Lantern which will run for almost 800 hours in low mode (and no, that’s not a typo!). I have the Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp for hands-free use for whoever is cooking (or dealing cards), and then two 3-in-1 Flashlights so the kids can have their own and feel more empowered as well.

5. Warm Sleeping Gear

How to build a home emergency kit

We have our camping sleeping bags in the basement, but I have added SOL Escape Bivvies to our kit. They can be used on their own or layered with your sleeping bag to increase its warmth rating.

6. First Aid Kit & Manual

Hopefully you won’t need this but if you’re injured during a disaster situation, emergency response teams can be delayed or unable to reach you, and you’ll be glad to have a comprehensive kit with instructions on hand.

7. Hygiene Items

Bath Wipes make a great addition to your kit so you don’t have to use much or any of your water stores for basic self-cleaning. Also handy – a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat, lid, and TP. Ideally you’re not stuck in your basement, but if you might be and if you don’t have a bathroom down there, you’re going to need a bathroom solution – enter, the bathroom bucket.

8. Entertainment

How to build a home emergency kit

A deck of cards or a travel game set can do wonders to keep everyone calm and distracted.

9. The Extras

A knife or knife multitool for utility, duct tape to seal windows and fix anything that breaks, and a GearLine and extra Gear Ties to keep you organized in an unfamiliar situation.

10. A Sturdy, Well-Labeled Container 

How to build a home emergency kit

I have our kit in a large wheeled bin with a handle. Most importantly, I have bright yellow labels on it and have communicated to our family members where it is, just in case I’m not home if it is needed.

 

I hope you found this information useful and that you will move “building my kit” to the top of your to-do list. If you have suggestions for items to add to this list, please note them in the comment section below.

Topics: Emergency Preparedness, Home

National Preparedness Month:  Building Your Emergency Car Kit

Posted by Katie S on Sep 18, 2019 9:30:59 AM

A few years back I wrote a post here about preparing your car kit for winter. As National Preparedness Month is in full swing, I find myself looking back at what I wrote and recognizing the need for an update. As one of my good friends in Indiana brought up, not everyone is preparing for winter driving through snowy mountains into spotty-reception areas, and my original kit might be a little overkill when that’s the case. I assured her that it is beneficial for everyone to have at least a small emergency car kit, and that is the inspiration for this new post where I’ll provide suggested items for your kit – both “full throttle” and “light” versions.

So here you go, first up, your full throttle car emergency kit for those who frequently drive in remote places, inclement weather, and through spotty cell reception.

CarKit-Full

The Full Throttle Car Emergency Kit - What to pack:

1. A Sturdy Container

Emergency Car Kit

Once you have all your items, you’ll have a better idea of what size this should be, but make sure it’s something you can close like a rubber bin or sturdy nylon bag that zips shut. You can also use a good backpack in case you need to carry it, however it’s important to note that if you are stranded on the side of the road, it is NOT recommended that you leave your car. Your car is the best protection from the elements and where rescuers are most likely to find you - so, hunker down for the long haul. If you are in an accident on an icy road, you also should NOT leave your car, if an icy patch made your car spin out, it’s very likely that other cars will do the same. If possible, move your car out of that trajectory.

2. Lights – Headlamp, Flashlight + Lantern

Most references tell you a flashlight - I may go a little overkill, but I have three lights – each of which is rechargeable through my car’s USB port. A headlamp in case I need to be hands-free for looking under the hood or under the car. An INOVA T8R handheld light which has an SOS mode with 782 Lumens behind it, and lastly a rechargeable lantern which conveniently clips under the hood of my car.

Radiant314-Car

3. Visibility Vest

In the case that I do need to get out of my car on a roadway, you better believe other motorists are going to see me.

4. Chargers

If you have cell reception, your phone will be your lifeline, but it won’t do you any good if it has a dead battery. There are classic chargers to plug into your car or innovative external batteries, and battery-integrated phone cases that can be life-savers in a pinch. I also keep this eton weather radio which is solar powered (and has a hand crank option) and from which you can also charge your phone and your flashlights.

5. Shovel and/or Kitty Litter

If you are stuck somewhere safely away from traffic, a shovel to dig yourself out and kitty litter or sand for traction can help you get moving again. If you don’t have either of these things, you can try wedging your floor mats under your tires to help them gain traction.

6. Blankets or Bivvies 

Wool blankets are a classic staple for a reason: they are really warm. I keep a heavy wool blankets in my car – it’s never been used in an emergency but has come in handy for many a road-trip naps and as extra layers on camping trips. The one downfall of wool is that if it gets wet, it’s miserable. That’s why I also keep two Escape emergency bivvies in my kit as well (so my husband and I don’t have to have that awkward conversation about who gets the bivvy to survive the night). These bivvies reflect 75% of body heat back to you, but are also breathable so you don’t get sweaty which is a pitfall of traditional mylar. In general, I recommend staying away from mylar blankets and bivvies as they shred very easily and are flammable - it’s worth spending a couple bucks more to get a durable upgrade. Along the lines of warmth, I always make sure that I have a hat, gloves, hand warmers, and extra socks in my kit - even in the summer months here in Colorado it can drop below freezing up high at night, these don’t take up much space and are probably at the top of the list for most used items in my kit.

EmergencyPrep-AMK-SOL

7. Other Warming Items

I keep fire starting supplies in my kit (fire cubes and a sparker in case I need to start a fire outside the vehicle). One family in Nevada survived two days in sub-zero temperatures, building a fire inside their spare tire to help keep warm. Some people suggest using emergency candles as well for warmth and light inside the vehicle, though I’m noticing them mentioned less and less on recommended lists, probably due to safety concerns. If using one, you should crack your window to avoid possible asphyxiation, and ideally burn the candle inside a coffee can or something similar because many parts of your car (and your kit) are flammable.

8. First Aid Kit

This is essential, don’t bother with kits that are just chock-full of Band Aids, take your time researching kits and find one that meets your needs – and be sure to customize it further if you or any of your family members have special medications or needs. As someone who does a lot of camping and fishing in the backwoods, I carry an Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Kit which has comprehensive medical supplies in case of an emergency including QuikClot, and most importantly, the kit includes a book on how to use all the supplies in it.

9. Water

For drinking, for wound cleaning, for staying alive - I keep a gallon of human-water in an unopened jug. If you have a dog who’s usually your copilot, be sure to keep an extra jug for them too. I keep a RadDog Bowl clipped to my kit which is great pop-up bowl for the pup.

10. Food

Food isn’t essential for short term survival (you can theoretically go for three weeks without it), however, eating does allow your body to produce more heat, and it can make a huge difference in your mood and attitude which will often determine how well you handle an emergency situation. I go for the classics like jerky, energy bars, and dried fruit, and then swap them out annually (or if you just plain get hungry and eat them then replace as needed). A good rule of thumb is to go for items with a long shelf-life that are high in protein, and that you actually like. If you have an ever-hungry dog like mine, make sure your food bag is securely enclosed in your kit, or they might just rip open your kit and gleefully eat all your jerky when you’re not looking.

11. Car Essentials 

Jumper cables, Fix-A-Flat, ice scraper, a siphon (hopefully you’ll find a friendly motorist who doesn’t mind sharing fuel), flares and/or glowsticks, a tire iron, and jack are some basics that I keep because honestly, those are probably the only tools I would know how to use in a break-down situation.

EmergencyPrep-Car

12. A Knife and Cash

You won’t find this on most lists, but my grandfather taught me that the most useful item you can have on you at any time is a knife, and throughout the years it’s a piece of advice that has served me well. And so, I am passing it on to you. Cash, well cash is just handy depending on the type of emergency too, whether you need to pay for gas or a hotel room.

13. Add-Ons

A few other items have accumulated in my kit over the years: Duct Tape (need I say more?), a hatchet which most often doubles as a hammer, a poncho, CamJam Tie Down Straps and Bungees, Gear Ties because they are just too useful not to have a handful, and lastly, a quality whistle for signaling in an emergency.

Pre-made kits and other helpful tips for safety on the roads:

There are pre-made kit options on the market as well, some are decent some are very cheap and not worth the money. Do your homework, and if you do go with a pre-made kit, remember that you will still need to personalize it to you - if you are frequently on the road with your spouse, kids, and a dog, you need to remember to add supplies for them. If anyone in your family has a serious medical issue, always pack extra medication and supplies - you never know when a quick trip can turn into an overnight on the side of the road. Know the risks in your area, if you live near frozen lakes, keeping a window breaker easily reachable in your console is advisable.

Alright, so if that seems overkill for your lifestyle, here is my recommendation for a condensed version:

CarKit-Light

The “Light” Car Emergency Kit - What to pack:

  1. A backup phone battery or solar-powered charger
  2. A blanket or bivvy
  3. A small survival kit like this one
  4. A headlamp or flashlight
  5. Glowsticks
  6. Small first aid kit
  7. Duct tape, Gear Ties, and Bungees
  8. A Multitool/Knife
  9. Jumper cables

Other helpful resources:

American Red Cross, What do You Need In a Survival Kit?

The CDC, Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

Chicago Tribune, Tips to Keep You Going When Your Car Stops

 

That’s all I’ve got! I hope you found this useful, I hope you won’t need it, but I know you will be glad to have it if you do. Let me know the most useful items you’ve found for you kit in the comments section below.

Topics: Emergency Preparedness, LED Flashlights, Visibility and Safety, Gear Ties

National Preparedness Month: How To Build An Emergency Go Bag

Posted by Katie S on Sep 11, 2019 1:53:48 PM

Building Your Emergency Go Bag

A Go-Bag (also commonly referred to as a Bug-Out Bag) is a pre-packed bag that will be your lifeline in case of an emergency evacuation situation.  Unfortunately, I found out the hard way exactly why a Go-Bag is an essential item to have packed and ready in your home. It was the middle of December about ten years ago when I found myself standing outside our Bay Area apartment building with 60 other families watching flames chew through the wooden siding and smoke billowing in every direction. With all of our cars trapped in the building’s basement garage below, we had nothing to do but watch. I was wearing hot pink fleece pajama pants, rain boots with no socks, and a too-light jacket for the unseasonable cold winter we were having. Heat from the flames notwithstanding, it was a chilling moment in every sense of the word. Somehow, despite living in earthquake country and working for a company that specialized in medical and survival gear at the time, I had just never gotten around to building a Go-Bag – it was somewhere near the bottom of my to-do list. You can bet, it immediately moved to the top.

So, here are my recommendations for your Emergency Go-Bag. Mine is built for four people (two adults and two kids) for 24 hours. Given the type of disasters that are most likely to occur where we live (grass fires or floods), we should be able to reach a friend’s home or red cross shelter in 24 hours on foot. If you live in earthquake or hurricane territories, I recommend having enough supplies for all family members for 72 hours as those disasters can take out a much larger area of infrastructure at once. A coat closet near the front door or other place that you would pass on your fastest way out of the house is the ideal spot to keep your bag.

Without further ado, here is the list:

1. Water

I like this style of water pouch as it is packaged for a long shelf life and makes it easy to determine and regulate how much each person should get – two 4.4 oz packs a day. I have water carry bags as well as water purification tablets in case we need more than the pouches I’ve packed.

2. Food

RunOff Waterproof Pocket snack bag

If you are only packing a 24-hour kit, food is not technically essential, however eating can help you stay warm and keep you mentally and emotionally stronger. Plus, if you have kids, you know that snacks actually are essential for everyone’s sanity. I like the classics like energy bars and dried fruit, they have to be replaced more regularly than emergency ration bricks, but they are significantly more palatable.

3. Emergency Radio and Charger

I like this little one that Eton makes for the American Red Cross because it doesn’t take up much space in your pack and it has radio functionality plus you can charge your phone or rechargeable headlamp from it, just make sure you have the correct charging cords packed.

4. Lights

Nite Ize Headlamps

At the very least, pack a rechargeable headlamp like the Radiant 300 which can be recharged as you go using the Emergency Radio from item #3 above. I also have the Radiant 2-in-1 Lantern which pulls double duty as a flashlight and lantern, and the 3-in-1 Mini Flashlight so the kids can feel in control with their own light as well.

5. First Aid

First aid kit

I keep the UltraLight Watertight .9 Kit in my bag because it doesn’t add much weight, but it’s packed with high quality, well thought out medical tools, and has enough room for me to throw in a couple items to customize it for our family. I also keep N95 respirator masks in my kit. In the case of major fires or earthquakes, air quality often deteriorates to harmful levels. If your biggest concern is the next Superbug, these can also help you rest easier.

6. Survival Essentials

Again, weight is a consideration so items that are multifunctional in small packages are key. You have to be able to carry all of this on your back. I keep the Pocket Survival Pak Plus which kills a lot of birds with one stone. It has fire starting tools, a whistle and signal mirror, knife, water-purification tablets, duct tape (for gear repair, clothes repair, really anything repair), and much more.    

7. Emergency Blankets + Bivvies 

I have two emergency blankets and two emergency bivvies so everyone can wrap up warmly if we are sleeping out for a night.

8. Emergency Shelter

Prep2-shelter

I recommend a lightweight, heat reflective tarp that can act as an extra blanket or as a shelter. Make sure to get one with grommets (like this) and pack nylon cording so you can easily rig it up.

9. Extra Layers

RunOff Waterproof Bags

Your emergency blankets can be wrapped to keep everyone warm on the go, but I recommend packing up an extra set of clothes for everyone. I use a Large RunOff Waterproof bag that acts as a compression sack and keeps all of our extra layers dry in the pack.

10. Cash

Emergency cash

There’s no guarantee that you’ll have the ability or wherewithal to grab your wallet on the way out the door, keep cash in your go bag so you can purchase essentials or pay for a night in a hotel/motel if you can.

11. Emotional Support Items

Emotional support items

When thinking about survival, your mind probably goes to the food, water, shelter basics, but the truth is your mental state is equally important. Something as simple as a deck of cards can be a great way to calm your mind and bring levity if you’re holed up in a red cross shelter for the night. Disasters can be particularly difficult on children as they have a harder time processing the rapid change and understanding why this is happening. Our kids are still little and they each have cherished “loveys”. We have extras of these for traveling, laundry time, etc, but we also have an extra for each of them packed away in our go-bag along with one of their favorite books. I have no doubt that these items would bring immense comfort to them in an emergency.

12. Hygiene Items  

Bath wipes, a roll of TP, and dog poop bags…not just for the dog. Let’s just leave it at that, and you’ll be covered until you can get settled into a shelter or friend’s home.

13. Rain Protection

In a worse-case scenario, everything you own is now being carried on your back. Don’t let it get soaked in a rainstorm to boot. Throw in ponchos and make sure at least one is big enough to cover you and the pack. I also keep certain items in waterproof RunOff bags inside the pack for extra protection like my cash, batteries, food and clothes.

14. A Sturdy Pack…or Two 

Prep2-backpack

Once you have all your items laid out, you’ll have a better idea of the pack size you’ll need. Ideally you have an old one in the basement that would love to be given a new life as your Go-Bag. Because ours is packed for four people and pretty heavy, I keep a second smaller bag rolled up and clipped to the side of the pack. This way, assuming my husband and I are together, we can get clear of the emergency and then split up gear into the two packs or cut leg holes in the smaller pack to use as a kid carrier. I also have a bunch of S-Biners, Carabiners, and Gear Ties clipped and strapped to the pack so if we have time to grab extra items, I can quickly clip or strap them to the bag on the way out the door.

If you have suggestions of what to pack in a Go-Bag based on your experiences, please leave them in the comment suggestion below.

Topics: Emergency Preparedness, LED Flashlights, Home

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