Self sufficiency and being prepared for emergencies go hand in hand. Since emergency situations can easily result in days of inconvenience or may result in you having to leave your home, it should be part of your overall strategy to build an emergency kit. This is important whether you live in an isolated area, which I do, or you live in suburbia. It is important to prepare for every contingency and that is why I keep an emergency kit on hand.
When emergencies occur, you may have to do without electricity, water, telephone, and easy access to a grocery store. Local resources will become strained very quickly. Consequently, one of the best things you can do to assist first responders, as well as your community, is to have the ability to be self sufficient. It is important to understand that when these types of situations arise, resources may not be able to reach you for a variety of reasons. Therefore, you need to have certain things on hand that are going to take care of your specific needs.
Emergency kits are commercially available. However, these kits can easily be assembled at home with minimal cost and can be tailored to your personal needs. A suitable kit is simply a collection of basic items around the house that you will need in the event of an emergency. Keep it simple. It does not have to be fancy.
This kit should be assembled in advance and organized in a container that is easily mobile. This is important in the event you have to evacuate. Your DIY emergency kit will be somewhat specific to your personal needs, as well as the needs of everyone in the family. Before assembly your kit, it is important to decide if the items are going to be disposable or reusable.
In emergency situations, it is always preferable to shelter in place if at all possible. Because if you leave the confines of your home, you may very well walk straight into a situation that is much worse. Additionally, leaving your home without a predetermined plan or destination makes you no better than a refugee.
In the event that you do have to leave your home and suddenly find yourself having to deal with the great outdoors, there are ten essential items you will need. More accurately stated, there are Ten Essential Systems for basic survival. This is a list that I took from a book about climbing and outdoor exploration. It is called Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. However, this list is an invaluable guide that will serve as a foundation for basic survival and help you fully prepare your emergency kit.
There was a list of the original Ten Essentials published in the 1930’s, which has now been updated to the Ten Essential Systems.
-Navigation (map and compass)
-Sun Protection (sun glasses and sunscreen)
-Insulation (extra clothing)
-First aid supplies
-Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
-Repair kit and tools
-Nutrition (extra food)
-Hydration (extra water)
Although I think that living a self sufficient lifestyle is the best possible “prepping” strategy, there still may be times when you are forced to leave your home. Some time ago I purchased a cheap, water resistant, plastic trunk that contains all of my ready-to-go supplies and equipment, which serves as my emergency kit. The best part is that every item in the trunk is something I had around the house anyway. I just organized it for quick departure.
Food and water
-At least three days of nonperishable food
-Make certain the food is something that you normally eat
-Focus on foods that have a high liquid content
-Avoid salty foods or other types of food that will increase thirst
-Stock up canned goods, dry mixes, and other foods that can be stored without refrigeration and do not require water, cooking, or other special means of preparation.
-One gallon of water per person per day as a minimum
-High quality water filters
-High energy foods: protein and fruit bars
-Dried cereal, granola
-Ready to eat canned meats, and vegetables
-5 gallon food grade storage containers. These are inexpensive and can easily be obtained at a low cost market.
Other items to consider
-Extra clothes in the event you need to change. Don’t forget cold weather gear if you live in a cooler climate
-Matches in a waterproof container
-Baby formulas and diapers if you have small children.
-Sleeping bag for each person in the household
-Chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper: Do not use scented bleach or other types that have added cleaners. Regular household bleach can be used as a disinfectant (9 parts water to 1 part bleach) or as an emergency water treatment (16 drops per/gallon of water)
NaDCC (Sodium Dechloroisocyanurate) This is a very safe chlorine compound that is extremely stable in tablet form. It can easily be used to disinfect water. (167 mg tablet per 6.6 gallons)
-Pet food and extra water
-Important documents such as insurance policies, bank records, identification all in a waterproof container
-Flash light with extra batteries
-First aid kit
-Whistle to signal for help. This is far more effective than yelling. Make sure it is plastic. A metal whistle in cold weather could freeze to your lips.
-Basic tool kit (knife, scissors, hatchet, hammer, shovel, baling wire, screw drivers, multi-tool)
-Camping cookware set with utensils
-Sanitation and personal hygiene items
-Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
-Portable solar panel for charging cell phones and other electronics
-Solar powered battery charger. I use this to recharge batteries for my head lamps.
Being prepared for emergencies is truly a simple process and is not something you should stress about. I have lived in several places where I’ve had to deal with severe weather conditions that resulted in a loss of utilities for days at a time. Being prepared made all the difference. To me it was like a stay-home camping trip, only a minor inconvenience. Although my neighbors would have disagreed.
Take the time to do this simple thing and be a little prepared. A little forethought and planning can result in a little bit more security and peace of mind for yourself and your family. Not to mention turning a potentially stressful situation into a minor inconvenience.
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