Posts Tagged ‘survival kit’


Back to School Emergency Checklists

Thursday, August 10th, 2017
Share

Safe at School Ready for the first day of school?

Every year new students wait eagerly for that first day of school. And often in the background, proud yet nervous parents hope their child will flourish in this new environment.

Many parents have already “done their homework” on what will be necessary for their child’s success. Parents and children have shopped for school supplies and probably some new clothes, too. Older students have invested in everything from electronics to sheets and bedspreads.

Everything is ready! Or is it?

What about being ready for an emergency at school? Are the children prepared? Are parents prepared?

If you’re a parent, use these questions to put the finishing touches on back-to-school preparations for your student.

Grade-school Parent Checklist

While there are no national guidelines for emergency preparedness for schools, you can find out your child’s schools procedures. You may need to be persistent to get answers to these basic questions:

  1. Threats. What emergencies does the school prepare for? (fire, natural disasters, active shooter?)
  2. Supplies. What emergency equipment is available for teachers, and have they been trained on it? (fire extinguishers, first aid kits, emergency lighting, lockdown safety kits?) Are several days’ survival supplies (food, water, blankets) for kids and faculty stored at the school?
  3. Student Practice. What emergency response procedures do students practice? (evacuation, lock down/secure school, shelter in place?) How often?
  4. Communications. What communications can you as parent expect in case of an emergency at school? (a phone call or text? notice on public radio or TV? a written follow-up report?)
  5. Parent Responsibilities. What does the school expect of parents? (list of emergency authorized caregivers/family members, provide emergency supplies for child?)

What if your persistent questions are not answered?

Worse, what if you realize that there are no answers to some of these questions at the school your child attends?

Step up and take a leadership role.

You can help improve the situation. Join the PTA. Get a copy of the 2013 Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans and, with a committee, put together recommendations for necessary changes based on your own location, size of school, etc. Present your recommendations to your school administration along with whatever publicity is appropriate.

The Guide is available for download here:   https://rems.ed.gov/docs/REMS_K-12_Guide_508.pdf and may also be available for purchase at Barnes & Noble. While the Guide was written by a number of government agencies (FEMA, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Federal Emergency Management) it is perfectly readable!

(I add this exclamation point because some similar documents are NOT readable by the average person, even ones as dedicated as I am!)

As you might expect, the Guide introduces the standardized “vocabulary” used by professional emergency planners everywhere, concepts such as Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery.

It also includes a discussion of privacy issues and the need to plan for disabled people.

The list of “emergencies” in the Guide needs to be updated, once again. In 2013 “active shooter” was added to the list of threats. Now, given developments in North Korea, Hawaii is formally adding “How to Respond to a Nuclear Disaster” to its emergency response plans!

College Campus Checklist

Every school will be different in the way it handles emergency preparedness. As a parent of a student or prospective student, you can help make sure the self-reliance you’ve encouraged at home will continue when your student is away at college.

Up until now your student may have counted on you for direction. Now that responsibility has shifted.

In working together to get answers to the following questions you’ll get the process started.

  1. Threats. What emergencies does the school prepare for? If your new school is in a totally different part of the country, the experiences you’ve had with natural disasters, for example, may be irrelevant. What NEW or DIFFERENT threats exist at this campus?

    UC Berkeley’s Office of Energy Management website starts with this eye-opener: “All campuses have their faults. Ours is 74 miles long and runs directly under our campus . . .!”

  2. Procedures. Who are the planners and the actual Responders on campus? It’s usually easy to find details on the campus website. (Check out Berkeley’s for example.) Read about security procedures, emergency operations, etc. Are all emergency plans only for administration and faculty? What role does the campus envision for students – do they get any training?
  3. Student Responsibilities. On nearly every campus students are expected at registration to connect with all emergency communications methods. This usually means providing emergency contact information (text, phone numbers, emails) and signing up for an alert service.
  4. Campus Resources. In addition to the emergency alert system, your campus may use sirens or loudspeakers to issue warnings. It may have a campus emergency website, emergency radio station and/or toll-free emergency information lines. Know when and how to use all these resources! Incidentally, it’s possible that the 911 number you’ve always considered as “your” emergency number may not be the best one on campus. Find out about special campus emergency numbers. Store all this info in your phone.
  5. Parent Responsibilities. As an adult, your student will be expected to make his or her own decisions in an emergency. Encourage your student to learn about evacuation routes, understand the definition of “shelter-in-place,” and to maintain at least a minimal survival kit. Some first aid knowledge helps, too. (Here’s an Advisory with more about survival at college, with particular emphasis on personal safety.) Of course, parents can probably access campus emergency websites or toll-free numbers, too, for up-to-date info when something happens.

As always, it’s the people closest to you — roommates, people on your floor — who will be there when the emergency happens. They are the ones who may need help — or will be able to help YOU. Building a strong team around you is the best thing you can do for your safety! 

Action Item: If your children aren’t quite ready for school, or are long past that stage, please pass this Advisory on to someone whose children are of school age.

Being ready for the school year happens to someone new every year!

Virginia 
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. One of our readers sent us his school’s “Emergency Information” publication delivered to all parents. It was crammed with good information — but unfortunately, “crammed” was the operational term. If you get something like that from your school, attack it one page at a time. There are sure to be good ideas hidden in there. Then share them with us!

P.P.S. This week the National Fire Protection Association came out with these pertinent statistics for college students:

 Firefighters respond to 11 dorm fires a day, and 86% of them are related to cooking!

If your college-aged kid is considering a hot plate or a microwave (legal, of course), at least review some safety measures. And don’t forget a Kitchen-sized Fire Extinguisher! (I own this one and like how it fits in because it’s white.)

 

 

 

 

Survival Kit Supplies

Thursday, May 18th, 2017
Share

Survival Kit SuppliesBy now you know that at Emergency Plan Guide, when it comes to survival kits, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.

By now you know that having “the one perfect kit” doesn’t work, either!

No matter how well stocked your survival kit, if it is at home when the emergency strikes, and you are 43 miles away in the car, that kit will do you absolutely no good!

Different Survival Kits for Different Situations

The chart shows the four different sets of supplies that we think everyone needs:

1-A Go-Bag or Survival Kit (also known as a 3-day or 72-hour kit)

This is the kit you grab as you head out the door in an emergency. This kit needs to provide basics for the top  nine categories: water; food (stuff you like and can eat cold); shelter/warmth (clothing, blanket, sleeping bag, fire igniter); health/safety (first aid kit, medicines, sanitation supplies); communications (radio, whistle); light (flashlight, headlamp, lantern); clothing (shoes, gloves); cash (for vending machines and/or for buying supplies); personal items (toothbrush, prescription drugs, extra eyeglasses, paper and pen/pencil, and if it suits, a weapon for self-defense).

By and large, an off-the-shelf kit will be missing more than one of these main categories, so while it may serve as a start, you really can’t count on it.

2-A kit for the car

We all travel. And any of us could be trapped overnight in a car for something as mundane as road construction, a fallen tree – or a full-blown blizzard or hurricane. Your car kit will keep you comfortable and safe until you can find your way around the damage.

Your car kit contains the same basics as listed above for the Go-Bag, but it also may have some transportation-related items including tools for car repairs, jumper cables, a work light, maps, and flares. In snow country? Consider a folding shovel and non-slip mats. (You can see that you may actually have to pack two kits – one with personal stuff, and the other with car stuff. Tools and jumper cables are heavy and get dirty.)

One final note about your car. Remember it has a battery that can be used to charge your phone and power other items (like flood lights) as long as you have the right connections.

3-A kit for at work

Once again, this kit starts with the basics. Then, depending on where you work – how far it is from your home, what sort of building it is, what actually happens at the workplace – you may need some specialty items.

If you have to set out on foot to get home, you’ll need, above all, comfortable shoes. (Break in new shoes/boots for your office or car kit by wearing them on the treadmill at the gym!)

Your work kit might contain any of these specialty items: the comfortable shoes mentioned above, personal safety equipment including gloves, dust mask, and safety glasses; tool for shutting off equipment; list of business and family contacts; a good whistle.

If people have already left the workplace, and aren’t planning to come back, you might check out your colleagues’ desk drawers for extra snacks, band aids, etc. Most office workers have that “personal drawer” that could be a small treasure trove in a big emergency!

4-Shelter-in-place

Here in California, we have been asked by our local fire department to be prepared to shelter in place for 10 days to 2 weeks after “the big one” hits. If you live in a different area, with different threats, you may want to pull together supplies that will keep you going for months, not weeks.

Shelter-in-place supplies start with the basics, just as in the smaller kits. But you’ll need more of everything. Think of it as an extended camping trip, and build a plan . . .

Plan for buying and rotating canned food, stocking up on toilet paper and other sanitary supplies and buying and storing extra batteries. You may need more substantial shelter – like a big tent, or plastic to seal windows, with the ever popular duct tape, of course. A variety of more substantial tools. Like the concept of dried meals? Be sure you have something to heat water in so you can reconstitute it – for example, a camp stove and pot.

For each kit, your complete list will be longer that what we’ve just gone over.

But today, we’re not seeking perfection. We’re getting a handle on general readiness!

Rate yourself on the state of your own survival supplies. 

So as you have read these reviews of the different emergency supply kits, how would you rate yourself? One easy way is to estimate the percentage completed for each of the following statements.

  • I have assembled supplies for all four needs — Go Bag, Car, Work, Shelter-in-Place. My percentage completed _____
  • I have considered all nine major categories — water, food, shelter/warmth, health/safety, communications, lighting, clothing, cash, personal items. My percentage completed _____
  • I have added specialty items that I personally need or want for each kit. My percentage completed ___

If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, consider the following.

Over the years we’ve asked many, many people why they haven’t put together their preparedness supplies. Here are the most popular “reasons:”

  • I don’t know how to get started.
  • It will take too long.
  • People will think I am strange or weird.
  • Why bother?  If it is the end of the world, it will not matter.
  • Nothing has happened so far, so why should I start to worry now?

Any of these sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve thought or heard them all at one time or another!

However, here at Emergency Plan Guide we figure these are all pretty weak reasons. In fact, we call them “excuses!”

Why so weak?

Because we’ve seen so many people start with one or two items and just keep working at it over time until they have built up a perfectly respectable stash!

When they do, they feel pleased and satisfied and a lot more confident that they’ll be able to handle that emergency, whenever it DOES come!

And that’s what we’re all working toward!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Here are more complete lists of emergency supplies that you may be interested in:

One size does NOT fit all

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
Share

Take a look at your collection of Emergency Kits

Survival kits

Which bag still works?

We regularly (although not often enough) pull out our various emergency kits to see what’s in them, whether they need re-stocking, or maybe even replacing.

Some change is always required!

So over the weekend we took a look at what’s in the various closets and trunks of our cars. The photo shows five of the current collection.

It should raise some questions for you, like it did for us!

1-How many survival kits do we need, anyway?

Joe and I are a two-person household. We’ve written often about the different items that you’d find in our kits:

  • The Commuter Bag, stays in the car, designed to get us safely home if something happens when we’re on the road. One 2-person kit per car.
  • The 72-hour Survival Kit, the true “Grab and Go Bag” for immediate use in an emergency. We each have one.
  • The 14-day Survival Stash – food and other supplies that will carry us through in the case of massive storm, big earthquake, etc. The Stash is spread around the house, and doesn’t leave it.

When it comes to Survival Kits, we have published a whole workbook. Below is one of the charts from it. You’ll see that the chart adds a Workplace Kit and a School Kit to the other two.  Now, we work from home, and don’t have kids at school, so they aren’t on our own list. Nor do we have pets. But what about your family?  (Get the details of the workbook here. If you haven’t really begun assembling your preparedness items, this may be just the kick-start you’re looking for.)

Family Survival Kit Chart

2-So are the kits different?

I think EACH kit needs to be unique!  Not entirely, of course. We’ve written before about the top 10 items to consider for each short-term kit. (Here’s the Top Ten list of Emergency Kit Starter Items, with discussion.) Some of these, for example knives or other tools, might be inappropriate for small children or older people.

But as soon as you stop to think about it, you will want other stuff in YOUR kit that no one else might think of. And there are things others in your family might need that you have no interest in packing for yourself. For example:

  • Personal items — toothbrush, floss, tampons, diapers, eye shades, sunscreen, glasses/contacts, dark glasses, chewing gum, etc.
  • Medical items – pills, allergy cream, bee sting kit
  • Comfort items – candy, toys, a book

Most of these extras don’t take up much room, but without yours you’d be miserable!

3-What’s the best container for a kit?

So again, it depends. How much needs to go into the kit? Who is going to be carrying it and how far? If you look again at the photo, you’ll see some kits which have turned out to be pretty good for us, and others that really don’t make the grade. Here’s some of what to consider.

SIZE – We got the Big Yellow/Black Banana Pak Kit (center of the photo) early on. It was designed and sold by a thorough professional – everything you’d need, of the very best quality including the bag itself. Unfortunately, the minute it arrived we realized it was TOO BIG AND TOO HEAVY. I’ve kept it in the back of the closet because I really like some of the specialty items (whistles, binoculars, knives) but it is now relegated to the long-term, permanently stored Survival Stash. I can hardly carry the darn thing. Fortunately it has wheels.

Other kits in the photo are at the other end of the scale. For example, the small black kit with green base was one that we actually sold on Amazon as part of a “starter kit.” It works fine as a Commuter Bag – room for snacks, water bottle, flashlights, radio, a jacket. But with only two compartments, it’s not very flexible.

My latest acquisition is the black “Tactical Bag” at the left in the photo above, and here in a closer look.

I just received it (That’s why it’s empty!) and it seems to have a number of attractive features:
Tactical Bag Survival Kit

  • All the straps are adjustable, and the body of the bag is expandable. (I adjusted the shoulder straps. Took a while, what with all the buckles and loops.)
  • It’s made for carrying long distances – with a front chest strap and a belly strap, padded shoulder straps, etc. Everything cinches down tight for comfort and control.
  • The bag has 9 different pockets of varying size. The larger pockets zip all around for easy opening.
  • Multiple straps and loops make it possible to easily attach more gear: a jacket, bottles, blanket, lights, boots, weapons, whatever.
  • Bag is waterproof. (I always pack a couple of large trash bags so I can cover the whole pack in one fell swoop!)

A quick detour for vocabulary:

I described this bag as a “tactical” bag. This definition of tactical comes from The Free Dictionary:

Tactical — characterized by skillful tactics or adroit maneuvering or procedures especially in military or naval operations.

Molle — And in reviewing backpacks I also discovered the word “Molle” which stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It refers to the ability of a  backpack like this one to attach other modular gear components: vests, pouches, etc.

QUALITY – As I already mentioned, the big yellow pack is made of the highest quality materials. It rolls like luggage, has shoulder straps, and can be carried by a top handle or a side handle like a duffle bag. Its zippers are industrial strength, as is the canvas bag itself. Real leather zipper pulls. Special separate pockets for different items: glasses, water, etc. Top quality, top price, heaviest by far!

The green/black “starter kit” is medium grade nylon material, with ordinary zipper and fabric zipper pulls. Medium quality, inexpensive, very lightweight.

The other bags in the photo lie somewhere in between.

If you are going to store a kit in the car and only grab it in an emergency, a medium quality bag will work fine. (Keep it out of the sunlight, of course!)

On the other hand, if you plan to carry your bag on arduous hikes or use it camping, or even as a daily carry full of books, invest in the best quality you can afford. Nothing worse than a broken zipper when you need reliability!

So go back to your chart. You are likely to need multiple kits – for different needs, for different people. (You may want to start with some used backpacks you already own, just to get a better idea of how much each pack needs to hold and thus how big it needs to be.)

Start building your kits. Soon, you will have a collection just like ours!

4-Consider a “Tactical Bag” for your collection.

There are plenty of backpacks out there labeled “tactical.” Some are absolutely huge! For your first survival kit purchase, you might consider something smaller, like this one, available from Amazon at what appears to be an excellent price. And this one gets some of the best Amazon reviews I’ve seen. (I always read all of them.)

Click on the link for details and the current price. (Remember, we’re Amazon associates and may get a small commission for sending you there to buy.)

Military Tactical Assault Pack Backpack Army Molle Bug Out Bag Backpacks Small Rucksack for Outdoor Hiking Camping Trekking Hunting Black.

Over the years we’ve worn out a number of bags and backpacks, so we’re always on the lookout for new ones for our stuff. And our “stuff” has changed, too, as we’ve moved around the country.

No matter where or when, however, we try to have a survival kit handy. When the emergency hits, it’s too late to start searching for what you need!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

How to Light a Flare

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
Share

Accident in Darkness

Winter darkness makes accidents on the road hard to see and even more dangerous.

Having a good accident kit in the car can help protect YOU, and might help protect others if you come across an accident scene.

An accident kit is different from a car survival kit. The survival kit has stuff for YOU – warm clothing, flashlight, food, water, etc.  The accident kit has stuff for the CAR, like jumper cables, emergency reflector triangles, flat tire inflator, and flares.

Does your car accident kit have road flares?

When it’s dark, there’s nothing better than flares to warn oncoming vehicles of an accident, a stranded car or even an injured person. Flares are easy to get, easy and safe to store, and they last a long time. The problem that people have with ‘em is . . .

How to light a standard industrial flare?

Our CERT group had the opportunity to practice one evening with the police department. We hung around in our official vests, enjoying the cool evening and the chance to see each other again. When it came time to light the flares, however, some of us looked pretty dumb.

It’s not as simple as you might think!

Here are some guidelines that I took away from that evening.

1Have more than one flare so you can warn oncoming vehicles and direct them around the accident.

2-Pick where you want each flare to go BEFORE you attempt to light it. Once the flare is burning, you will not want to carry it around to be positioned! It’s BURNING and shooting off white-hot bits!  Some things to keep in mind:

  • If there’s spilled gas, don’t use a flare nearby at all.
  • Keep flares on the road so they don’t roll into a ditch or catch vegetation on fire.
  • Go to where you’ll place the flare, and then light it.

3-Remove the cap on the flare to expose the rough striking surface.

A flare has a plastic cap. Part of the cap contains a rough “striking surface.” Under the cap is the “igniter” end of the flare. You want to hold the striking surface in one hand and the flare in the other.

4-Light the flare by scratching it across the striking surface.

Extend both arms and scratch the flare across the striker in a movement going away from your body.

It’s rather like striking a very large match. Too soft a strike, nothing happens. Too hard, and you can break the “head” off the match.

In our group, most people had trouble getting the right amount of pressure and speed to get the flare to light. One person actually broke the head off the flare because he “scratched” too hard.

5-Place the ignited flare where you had planned to place it.

Put the cap back on the non-burning end of the flare. If you’re carrying it, keep the flame pointed down so you don’t get any drips on your hand.

Don’t drop the flare – you could break or extinguish it. Don’t place the flare in a puddle – it could go out.

If it’s raining, place the flare so any running water goes around the base of the flare and not directly against the flame end. You can prop it up to keep it dry.

6-The flare will burn for 10-30 minutes.

When you’re ready to extinguish it, break off the burning end and let it burn out. You cannot easily smother this flame.

(In our group, we picked up the burning flares and carefully tossed them a little ways down the road. When they landed the burning end broke off.)

After practicing, we all felt more competent.

It’s like so much else. Until you’ve practiced, you really can’t count on being able to make it work! So here’s a suggestion:

Buy a supply of flares and set up a practice. Even if everyone doesn’t attempt to light a flare, everyone in the group will clearly see how it’s done – and what NOT to do! A great CERT group exercise, and a great family exercise, too.

Hi-tech No-Flame Alternative  — LED, Battery-driven Flares

Obviously, First Responders use “real” flares because they work! Everyone recognizes just what they mean, and starts paying attention as soon as they become visible.

But not everyone is ready to handle industrial flares as described above!

If you find this just too challenging, consider a good alternative: plastic strobe light flares that are safe and comfortable to use.

These flashing, reusable flares come in two styles – stand-up flares with a tripod base, and round, disc-style flares that lie on the ground or attach magnetically to a car.

I personally prefer flares that are really bright and can be seen from all sides – so the disc style would not be my first choice.

In fact, here are flares that we own. (We also own reflective triangles made by the same company). I particularly like that they come in their own case; otherwise, the flares (and their bases) can get lost in the trunk of the car.

Click on the link or the image to get full details. (As you know, we’re affiliates at Amazon so this link will take you there.)

Magnatek LED Flashing Roadside Emergency Beacon Flares-Two RED Flares with Solid Storage Case

A couple of hints if you’re considering flares like these.

  • Each flare has 3 different settings, one of which converts it to a flashlight. Handy.
  • The flares use AAA batteries. If you leave the batteries installed in the trunk of your car for weeks and months, ultimately they will corrode. So, store the batteries in a baggie UN-INSTALLED but in the package with the flares. Of course, it makes sense to PRACTICE installing them as soon as you get the flares so you’ll be able to do it in the dark and when you’re nerves are frazzled because of an accident.
  • These flares also have magnetic bases so you could place one on TOP of your stranded vehicle for more visibility.

 

(This image – for one order — shows the front and back of the case. It’s misleading. Each individual case comes with two flares. If you want more than two, then you’ll have to order more cases.)

Another good idea for a stocking stuffer!  (A very large stocking, perhaps!)

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Again, a reminder to check the status of the batteries in your emergency lights, flashlights, etc. They ultimately do go bad if not recharged or replaced. Now’s a good time to do that.

 

 

Coconut Oil for Your Survival Kit

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
Share

“Good to know about” or “Essential” ?

When I’m writing about items for a survival kit, I often have to distinguish between “good to know about” and “essential to have.” Today, I’m writing about coconut oil. It straddles the line between “good to know about” and “essential to have.”  I’ll let you decide!

Coconut Oil

From my stash . . .

Coconut oil has been popular in health and beauty news for several years, and a couple of years ago coconut water emerged as a very popular drink. (I don’t care for it, myself.)

Coconut Oil for Emergencies

Lately articles about coconut oil as a survival item have jumped out at me. Then, when I got a sample recently — as a unique favor at a wedding party! — I looked into it at more depth.

Here’s what I’ve found out, and tested for myself. See if any of these work for you – then try some of the oil!  It’s inexpensive and available everywhere.

First Aid with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is claimed to have antiviral, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties!  Whew! Makes me wonder how I got along without it so far!.

Some simple ways to use it that certainly sound sensible:

  • Apply to a cut to prevent infection.
  • Dot on bites, stings or rashes to relieve itching.
  • Rub between toes to prevent athlete’s foot (a fungus).
  • Relieve chapped lips with a thin coating.
  • Apply to scalp to kill lice (and get rid of cradle cap).

 

Shelter-in-Place with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has an extended shelf life (up to two years, maybe longer), doesn’t need refrigeration, hardens at temperatures below 76 degrees and is liquid at temperatures higher. The image above shows my two bottles — the one I’ve been using and the one I stuck in the refrigerator.

Some excellent survival or camping ideas:

  • Rub into wood or leather to condition and protect.
  • Use to season pans and in fact, as a substitute for butter or oil for frying.
  • Use as the basis for a candle. Just add a wick to liquid oil, then allow oil to harden.
  • Use coconut oil to clean your hands – of dirt, wax, paint. (It works great as a make-up remover, too, but you won’t be needing that in an emergency!)

 

Eat Coconut Oil

I’m not a trained dietitian or a doctor, so I’m not making any recommendations about taking coconut oil internally. Certainly, there are many, many testimonials on the internet and on TV about its ability to improve your health. I suggest you simply research on your own. (Try looking up “coconut oil + _____” and fill in the blank with your own condition: constipation, diabetes, cancer, acne, etc.)

I did find an article that laid out healthy limits for a daily dosage of coconut oil based on your weight. Find out more about this, too, before you start taking it.

Finally, consider the quality of the coconut oil you buy. While there are no internationally agreed-upon quality terms (like “extra virgin” vs. “virgin” olive oil), it does make sense to read about how the oil is captured and processed. It all comes from the coconut — but can be washed, steamed, pressed, bleached, etc.  For our survival purposes, I would look for virgin oil for the best benefits.

Here are some examples of what look like good buys in three different categories. Click on the image to get full details and current pricing.

Island Fresh – Virgin

I selected this because its labeling specifically calls out some of the survival uses discussed above. Note that some other jars of coconut oil at Amazon refer only to their use for COOKING. In fact, some of them add extra flavors to the coconut! Anyway, this is the one I would start with for my own survival kit.

 

 

 


Majestic Pure – Fractionated

Note that this oil has been treated to remove certain fatty acids, rendering it odorless and greaseless and permanently liquid. So-called “fractionated” oils like this may be more convenient for cooking or general purpose beauty care, but may have lost some of their anti-oxidant properties.

 

 

 

Nativa – Refined, in Gallon size!

If you are planning on cooking with coconut oil (French fries!), you may want to purchase refined oil in much larger quantities. Here’s an example of an oil that has a high smoking point, no coconut smell or taste. The customer reviews are very positive.

 

 

 

 

Note: At Amazon many of the coconut oil product distributors assume you are going to want to sign up for a regular delivery, and they offer a discount for that purchase. My recommendation: try out ONE item first, or even better, try out at least TWO so you can compare, before you sign up for monthly delivery. Don’t accidentally click the wrong box!

I think you’ll end up adding coconut oil to your survival stash, just as I have!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you have discovered great uses for coconut oil, write and let us know in the comments!

 

Off to College? What’s in your survival kit?

Thursday, July 21st, 2016
Share

Pretty exciting, isn’t it? New freedom, new friends, new food (!).

And, new dangers.

Survival kit for collegeWe can’t deal here with all the social issues on campus. But there are some things you can do to make your life away at school a bit safer and more secure. Take the time to check these out.

1-Be Ready For An Active Shooter on Campus

The news has been full of shooter incidents lately, so perhaps you’ve spent time talking about what YOU would do in that situation. But maybe you haven’t.

People most at risk are – OBLIVIOUS!

  • Walking around with their eyes glued to their cell phones.
  • Chatting or goofing off with friends and not paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Half asleep, waiting for somebody else to tell them what to do.

Time to change those habits!

Here’s a video put out by the University of Alberta that is pretty effective at reminding you what to do in case you hear what sounds like gunfire. The best stuff comes after the 2 minute intro.

Action item: Take 8 minutes right now and watch this video.

https://youtu.be/gHNApS-MC18

And then consider these actions for when you get to campus:

2-Secure Your Dorm Room or Apartment

Let’s assume that any room you are sleeping in has normal locks, and that you use them. However, if you want to be more secure – and particularly if you have been notified of danger on campus – you want to be sure you are extra safe inside.

Depending on the construction of the door, here are three things to consider.

= = > Barricade the door.

Somebody dangerous threatening you? The classic chair under the door handle really DOES work, as long as the angles are right. In an office setting, though, you may not find the stiff chair you’re looking for. So, in an emergency, don’t hesitate to pull a HEAVY piece of furniture (table, copy machine) in front of the door. Add a second heavy piece behind it.

= = > Disable the mechanism.

Keep door from openingThe working of a typical commercial door hinge may be defeated by use of a belt. Tighten it down to prevent the door from opening, as shown by Bill Stanton, safety expert.

= = > Get a door wedge.

In your bedroom or dorm room, a simple investment in a rubber door stop may be all you’ll need. (This one looks as though it will work on any surface.) Click on the image for details.

Keep intruders from coming in through a balcony with the help of a sliding glass door bar – you can place it in the track of the door, or, if you’ve bought one for that purpose, lock it across the center of the door. Obviously, a determined intruder can break a glass door if he or she has the tool to break it with.

3-Be Prepared For Evacuation or An Extended Lockdown

It’s far more likely that your college stay could be impacted by something less dramatic than an active shooter. But it might be equally serious – like a storm, flood, electrical outage, or even some sort of disease outbreak.

Be ready to respond to a call to shelter in place or to evacuate by having your own survival kit. Figure you need to take care of yourself for at least 72 hours – and remember, you will have no access to electricity, water or food. Or a toilet.

Stuff your kit (use a backpack) and have it handy so you can grab it at a moment’s notice.

What should be in your kit?

Basic Emergency Supply Checklist

  1. Water – 1 gallon per day. (Tough to fit in a small backpack, admittedly!)
  2. First Aid Kit with fresh supplies.
  3. Food – Canned or dried foods that you like and that don’t require cooking.
  4. Clothing – A set of warm, comfortable clothing. Extra sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses.
  5. Medicine – At least a two weeks supply of any prescription medicines.
  6. Sanitation – Garbage bags, including small, compactor-strength bags for waste. Sanitary supplies. Toilet paper, baby wipes, paper towels.
  7. Flashlights, emergency radio that operates with batteries, solar or by hand crank – NO CANDLES!
  8. Car – Always ready with half tank of gas.
  9. Cash – No electricity = no ATM, no credit card.
  10. Telephone numbers – Write on paper. Your cell phone and computer will run out of battery unless you have a solar charger.

You should be able to collect just about everything on this list right at home, before you leave for school. There’s one possible exception — the emergency radio.

Here’s a link to Amazon that will get you one of the best ones we’ve found. It operates using AA batteries, its own solar panel, or you can crank it for power. You can even charge it from your computer. Click on the image for details. (If you buy through Amazon we may get a small commission. It won’t impact what you pay.)

OK, we know you have put in a lot of effort to get to where you are. Don’t overlook some of these common-sense preparations that will KEEP you at school just the way you have planned.

Best of luck,

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

P.S. Please share this article with friends. It’s possible they won’t have thought of all these things, either!

 

 

Emergency Radio Update

Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Share
Panasonic Emergency Radio

How old do you think this radio is?

Radios — The Most Popular Piece of Emergency Gear

More of our readers “invest” in emergency radios than in any other one piece of emergency equipment. (Makes sense, of course. Without a reliable emergency radio, when disaster hits you could be completely cut off. Without a good emergency radio, you may not even know that a disaster is COMING!)

Because of this interest, we continually comment on what to look for when you’re shopping for a radio. And we regularly update our Best Emergency Radios review page to be sure the radios listed there are still available.

So it’s time for yet another radio update.

Status of our long-time favorite emergency radio

The Ambient Weather Adventurer, original cost around $30, has been our favorite for a while. We own more than one, and many of our readers have them, too. It’s a great radio to tuck into your pack or simply have on the kitchen counter.

Bad news! This model seems to have been discontinued. Here and there online you can find one for sale, but their prices make no sense! I saw one yesterday at $281!

So we aren’t recommending this model anymore. (Maybe you want to try to sell yours for a profit???)

New favorite, the Eton FRX5

Eton makes several different radios, and the brand carries a number of labels including one from the American Red Cross.

The FRX3 costs about $10 more than the original Ambient Weather, and has most of the very same features.

The one we’re recommending today, though, is the Model FRX5.  It costs nearly twice as much, but for that you get double the power, more lighting options, the ability to charge a smart phone, capture localized emergency alerts, etc.

Here’s a link to the radio: Eton FRX5 Hand Crank Emergency Weather Radio with SAME Alerts

And here’s what it looks like:

This is a very compact radio, just over 7 inches tall and a couple of inches wide. It operates on battery, AC, solar and crank. In fact, this radio earned the best score in a recent test measuring how much listen time was created by 2 minutes of cranking. (In this case, something like 10-12 minutes.)

What I like is the SAME Alert feature — stands for Specific Area Message Encoding. You enter in your county and the radio will automatically send alerts for that area.  (Seems to me this would be essential in Tornado Alley of the U.S.!)

When you click the link above, you’ll go directly to Amazon. Scroll down to the bottom of the Amazon page for a full description of this radio, with several more photos.

First time radio purchaser? Get answers to 7 important questions.

If you haven’t yet added a radio to your survival supplies, check out the Eton model above. Just click on the blue link to get started.

If you have NEVER shopped for an emergency radio before, go first to our Best Emergency Radio Reviews page because you’ll find there the 7 questions you need to consider before adding a radio to your pack, or to the survival kit of any of your family members. And you’ll see a number of other radios that we have reviewed and recommend.

The radio we would upgrade to if we were flush

I’ve mentioned before that we have an old Panasonic shortwave radio. (Joe’s had it ever since we’ve been together, and that’s over 33 years now, so its age is something older than that!) That’s the radio in the picture at the top of this page. Joe was changing the batteries, which explains the red ribbons at the bottom.

We have hauled this radio from coast to coast and back again, and Joe loves it.

Yesterday Joe handed me a spec sheet for the radio he would LIKE to have. It’s also available at Amazon, and also made by Eton. As far as I am concerned, it certainly looks a lot like the old Panasonic (!), but . . .Joe assures me that it’s “the ultimate” in radio receivers. It gets AM, FM, Aircraft, Longwave and Shortwave bands, has a rotating antenna plus you can tune-in stations by keying them in or searching for them. You can actually store 1000 stations!

If you’re really serious about emergency radios, check this one out.

Alert – Prices for the SAME RADIO vary considerably. Shop carefully to get the best deal!

Eton Grundig Satellit 750 Ultimate AM/FM Stereo also Receives Shortwave, Longwave and Aircraft Bands – Black (NGSAT750B)

And doesn’t it look a LOT like the Panasonic collector item above?


You need at least one emergency radio, and probably several. The good thing about radios is you can select the features you need (for each use or each person) and not have to buy features you don’t want, and you’ll save by choosing carefully.

Do you already have an emergency radio? Would you recommend it?  Let us know in the comments!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Don’t miss any of our equipment updates. Sign up below to get our Advisories directly into your email each week.

 

Plastic Bags – Use or Reuse for Emergencies

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
Share

PlasticBagsToday I stuffed 20 or so plastic bags into one, so I can take them back to the store to be recycled. It’s amazing how many accumulate in just a couple of weeks – and we carry reusable shopping bags!

Be that as it may, I always keep some bags handy for emergency use! Here are 20 ways they can come in handy or even save the day!

And the best part? You can collect these bags and add them to your kit for free. (Or at least you MAY get them for free. A new law was just passed in California to ban free plastic bags . . .)

Keep out moisture

  1. Use a plastic bag to line your Bug Out Bag, to help keep it water proof.
  2. Use zip-lock bags for storing food, small items, cosmetics, etc. in your bag.
  3. Put a plastic bag OVER a backpack to keep out the rain.
  4. Turn a large plastic bag – like a trash can liner – into a rain poncho. Just make a slit along the seams for your head and arms.
  5. Use bags inside your boots to keep your feet dry.
  6. “Wear” underneath your clothes for extra insulation.

Protect from dirt

  1. Pull a plastic bag over your hand before picking up something dirty. Then just turn the bag inside out and dispose of it.
  2. Tie a bag over your face to keep out blowing dirt or sand. (Of course, don’t use thin plastic that clings for this!)
  3. A plastic bag can work as a diaper. (Why, I remember the earliest plastic diapers that I used on my daughter really weren’t much different!)
  4. Water out of order? Use plastic compactor bags in the toilet to capture waste. (These won’t likely be bags that are reused. But having a supply is essential for your emergency stash.)

Aid for First Aid

  1. Use zip-lock bags to store different first-aid supplies, keeping them clean and dry. You can pack full small bags into a larger bag for easier and more efficient access. (For example, pack gauze in one bag, band aids in another, tape and scissors in a third; put them all in one larger bag.)
  2. Fill a bag with ice and apply over an injury to keep swelling down.
  3. Turn a plastic bag into a sling.
  4. Tie a bag over a bandaged wound to help keep it dry.
  5. Somebody sick? Use a bag to catch vomit or diarrhea. Yukky, but better than having it spread all over the car or your living area.

Other smart uses

  1. A bag with no holes can be a temporary carrier for water, snow, berries, etc.
  2. Twist a bag or two together and use them as a belt or a carrying strap.
  3. Fasten a number of bags together end to end to use as rope. Braid several strands for more strength.
  4. Use a white bag as a signal or strips of bag to mark the trail.
  5. If an emergency keeps you trapped in the house, use trash bags – for trash! You can always dispose of it later.

As you’re packing your Survival Kit, use a few extra bags as padding, to cushion the sharp corners on tools, keep shoes separate, etc. That way you’ll always have some at the ready.

And one last note about the “secret ingredient”

Many of the ideas above would work a lot better if, in addition to the right sized bag, you have DUCT TAPE. (That’s an old roll in the image, above. Recognize it now?)

Use duct tape to close gaps, make sure the bags stay put, and even to seal them up when they’re full of waste.

These two essentials – plastic bags and duct tape — should be in every one of your kits. And the good news? They’re practically free!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

Readers and friends send me ideas all the time. Don’t hesitate if you have one. And don’t miss ANY of them. Sign up below to get all our Advisories.

 

Top 10 List of Emergency Preparedness Items

Thursday, March 17th, 2016
Share

Back to the Basics – 2017

Matchbook

But will they light?

At least once a year, we try to quickly go over the items that belong in every survival kit. If you have a basic pack in the car, one in the office, and one in the house FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER, you can breathe a lot easier when someone asks,

“Are you really prepared for an emergency?”

Here’s our end of the year basic list, with some suggestions about how many of each item to get, where to get them and what they might cost. You’ll notice that the list stays pretty much the same, although our top recommendations change as new products become available.

As always, if you click on the product links, you’ll go over to Amazon, where you can shop for just what you want and likely get the best possible price, too. And as we’ve explained, Emergency Plan Guide may get a small commission on the sale — a commission that doesn’t affect your price.

You don’t have to do it all at once!

If you’re just starting to put together your survival kits, consider doing the research and getting just 2 or 3 items a week. Some of them you may already have — they just need to be assembled in one place. We’ve added these symbols –  〈〉 – so you can check off each item as you get it!

〈〉  1 – Water

If you can grab a bottle of water, or store one with your emergency supplies, great. But bottled water gets old, and is really heavy. What you CAN pack so it will always be ready is a water filter. We’ve written a whole review of water filters, here, explaining and showing the different types. For all-purpose use, we like this one, built right into a plastic bottle that can be refilled over and over again. Its priced around $25, which is what most filters cost.

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1000-Liter LifeStraw Filter

〈〉  2 – Food

Frankly, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) with a 25-year-life sound pretty awful. Still, if you’re really hungry, having a couple of them handy make sense. Easier and tastier: sealed bags you fill with dried fruit, trail mix, or energy bars. Buy your family favorites and replace regularly — and after the bag gets raided by hungry kids.

〈〉  3 – Warmth

Camping out in the car overnight in a storm . . . uncomfortable at best. Stuff a warm coat into the trunk, or a blanket.  And for your emergency kits, grab a pack of Mylar survival blankets (preferably the sleeping bag model) and put one in every kit you are building. Shiny side out when you want to reflect the sun, shiny side in to trap body heat. The great thing about Mylar space blankets is their price — typically, less than $1 apiece for the simple ones!

This package includes 4 mylar sleeping bags: Pack of 4 Emergency Sleeping Bags, Thermal Reflective Survival Bags, MCR Medical

〈〉 4 – Light

Flailing around in the dark is plain scary and not very smart. You can hurt yourself!  Have an easy-to-reach flashlight — in the glove compartment of the car, in your bottom drawer at work, in every room of the house. Plus one for every survival kit. Yes, you need at least a half-dozen flashlights, and maybe more! Their prices range from a low of $4 to well over $100, depending on power, different light features (pulse, zoom, etc.) and size.

We have written before about the collection of different-sized flashlights described below. Each is top quality. Take a look to see if you could distribute these flashlights so they would work for your family. (Remember extra batteries, too.)

Feit LED Flashlight Kit | 3-pack with Case | 1000, 500, 250 Lumens | Slide Zoom | Batteries Included

〈〉 5 – Communications

In a widespread emergency the only communications you may be able to receive will be those being put out on official emergency channels. To get them, you need a radio – preferably one that operates with batteries, solar, and a hand crank. You may not need one for every person, but certainly you need a couple of radios, stashed intelligently at home and at work.

Our review of different emergency radios will give you a run-down of all the available features and prices. (As you can imagine, you can spend anywhere upwards of $25 dollars on an emergency radio.)

〈〉 6 – First Aid

You may be caught in a storm or other disaster and only be inconvenienced. But the chances of someone needing first aid are pretty good. Buy a kit, go through it, and add extras that you think you’ll need. Typically, purchased kits (ranging from $10 to over $80) are really skimpy on bandages, first aid creams, bug spray, etc. Once again, you’ll want multiple kits: one for the car, one for the office, one for the house. You could start with one like this:

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit (205-Piece), Red

〈〉 7 – Matches/fire

The warmth and light of a fire may be very welcome. They could also be life-saving. But don’t even light a candle inside unless you are SURE there are no gas leaks! And watch out for open flame in a closed-in area. You can kill yourself with carbon monoxide.

Assuming it’s safe, though, here’s what you need to get that fire started. You may need to practice getting a fire started BEFORE the emergency hits!

Magnesium fire starter with some extras:

#1 BEST Fire Starter – SurvivalSPARK Emergency Magnesium Fire Starter – Survival Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle

All-weather matches (not like the ones in the photo above!):

UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case, 25 Stormproof Matches and 3 Strikers – Orange

〈〉 8 – Shelter

Your kit doesn’t have room for a tent. The best suggestion: another simple survival blanket that you can string up as a lean-to. You’ll need a rope or some bungies to accomplish this, of course. You could also use duct tape to turn the blanket into a sleeping bag.

Emergency Mylar Blanket 52″ x 84″ – Pack of 12 Blankets

And here’s the cord you could use for your lean-to. Paracord bracelets are cool, too. All under $15.

Paracord Planet 100′ 550lb Type III Neon Orange Paracord

〈〉 9 – Personal items

This category could include extra eyeglasses, medicines, small tools that you know how to use, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, sanitary items. (For children, it could include a favorite stuffed animal.) Include a list of important contact information, too.

Everyone needs a pouch for personal items (use baggies) and everyone’s pouch will be different!

We really like these wet wipes that are individually packaged, easy to tuck in your survival kits:

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes Singles, , Fresh Scent, 24-Count (Pack of 5)

〈〉 10 – Something to carry it all in

A fully packed survival kit or go-bag, with everything possible in it, probably weighs more than you can carry. For sure, it weighs more than your mother can carry, or your 5 year-old. So, keeping their weight and size in mind, consider the best container for each person and each kit.

The best thing is to assemble the supplies for each person, and THEN decide how big a carrier you need.

A simple backpack is probably the best all-purpose carrier. Dig through your closet or head to your local sports shop or big box store and get a pack that fits the person who’s going to be carrying it. Here’s a new resource about backpacks: One Size Does Not Fit All.

Some packs have wheels. It makes them heavier, but may make them more flexible.  Here are some wheeled carts we’ve seen being used, too. Consider whether you will be in an urban setting, where you’ll be hiking along a road or sidewalk, or in a more rural setting, where wheels just won’t work.

The main thing is that . . .

Each person must carry his or her own survival kit.

Please use this list as a quick reminder. If you can check off each of the ten items, congratulations! You’re ahead of about 90% of the rest of the world! But let’s not stand around feeling smug. Share the list with other family members, clubs you belong to, etc.

The safer the people around us are, the safer we ALL will be!

Virginia and Joe
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

If you are interested in more details about any of these items, we probably have written at least one Advisory on it! You can use the search box at the top of the page or skim the list in the Advisory Archives. Or, drop a comment with your question and let others chip in.

 

Pedestrian Killed In Accident

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
Share

When you’re driving, how well do you see pedestrians or bikers?  How about at night?

Man in darknessIt’s raining in California – at last! Yesterday our day was wet and gray and darkness came early. We stuck close to home and didn’t even take the car out.

Probably a good idea. According to Marc Green, legal expert in “Human Factors” (vision, perception, memory, etc.), “ [the] pedestrian fatality rate is three times higher at night.”

Darkness, smoke, fog, rain = all mean lower visibility and even greater danger for pedestrians.

Somewhere someone is experiencing these conditions right now.

In an emergency, conditions will be worse.

Imagine yourself on foot, either as a victim or as a responder. Street lights are out. The roadway has buckled and cracked so vehicle headlights are jerking and flashing in all directions. Blustery rain is coming down and water is pooling everywhere.

Drivers don’t know what to expect — so their reaction times are slower than ever.

What can you do to protect yourself? Wear high-visibility clothing.

We see safety vests every day, worn by people working in construction, landscaping, traffic control and clean-up. These workers’ vests are required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Agency) and, in fact, they must “reflect from all sides for 1,000 feet” in the dark.

Smart joggers and cyclists have taken to wearing reflective clothing as a safety precaution when they are out in the dark. Typically they have wrist or ankle bands or reflective tape on a backpack or fender. High-fashion garb has stripes, sometimes even small LED lights built in.

(As a driver, I appreciate their efforts, and find myself yelling at those who DON’T make it easy for me to see them.)

The BEST gear is both fluorescent and reflective, or retroreflective.

Fluorescent materials actually emit light by converting invisible ultra-violet rays to visible light. They work best in low natural light, particularly dawn or dusk. Reflective materials bounce a beam of light off their surface – thus they only work as long as a light is shining on them. Retroreflective materials combine both fluorescent and reflective properties.

Get high visibility gear into your emergency kit.

Some popular high-visibility “vests” really look just like a pair of wide suspenders and belt. Convenient to carry and easy to slip on and fit. Here’s a popular one from Amazon: Rioa Best Reflective Safety Vest – Stay Safe Jogging, Cycling, Working, Motorcycle Riding, or Running – Elastic and Easily Adjustable Means the Best Running Gear Around


In my estimation these belts, even with wrist or ankle bands, may not provide enough coverage.  In fact, if you are moving in an emergency situation – crawling, running, bending, digging – the viewer may see movement but not be able to tell what it is he or she is actually seeing.

I prefer a full vest, like the one pictured below: High Visibility Gear Set of Reflective Safety Vest with Pocket + 2 Wristbands+Bag | Perfect for Running Walking Cycling Jogging Motorcycle | Fluorescent Yellow | Size L/XL This vest will make it clear that you’re a person. It has a pocket for your phone or keys, and comes with a small storage pouch.  The hourglass design leaves your sides less visible, so arm/wrist bands help fill in that gap.

Adding a high visibility vest to your emergency kit is easy, and you will find that you pull your vest out more often than you might have thought. For example, I’ve used mine just to walk from a distant parking lot to an event, and I’ve lent it to a friend who found herself drafted to direct traffic during a race. Of course, for CERT trainings I wear my CERT vest, but it is bulky and no where near so comfortable (!).

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Be sure to consider what you might be wearing UNDER the vest to be sure you get the right size.

 

Hang On To That Swiss Army Knife

Monday, January 11th, 2016
Share

A Gift for a Lifetime

I got my first Swiss Army knife when I was about 8 years old, a gift from a friend of my mother’s. (A boyfriend? We’ll never know!) I don’t think I’ve been without one in my pocket since.

When I say without “one” I should really be saying “without several” since there are so many different models, each with some special feature, that you want to own one of each! (Well, maybe not every one. Read on . . .)

Real Swiss Army knives, brand name Victorinox, last nearly forever if you don’t lose them.

If a part breaks or goes missing, you can fix it!

Replace scissors spring on Swiss Army Knife

Replace scissors spring on Swiss Army knife

Here’s what got me started on this Advisory. I had to . . .

Replace the broken scissors spring

in one of my favorite small knives.

I use these scissors a LOT, for cutting everything from paper to fingernails to packaging tape.

(Once I even used the scissors to give myself a quick haircut when a posh restaurant thought my hair was too long to let me in.)

Where to find the spring

In years past I have found the scissors spring at hardware or sporting goods stores, but for the last three years I’ve had no luck. (Maybe people prefer to sell a whole new knife rather than a $2 set of springs!) I( knew I could get them from Victorinox, but that involved more shipping that I wanted to fool with.)

This time, I went to Amazon to get what I needed. Here’s the link to the purchase, for a grand total of $2.95. Victorinox Scissor Spring, Small

How to replace the spring

Replacing the spring takes four things: a new spring (image 1 shows the package), some sort of round file or punch (image 2) , a pair of needle-nose pliers (3) and a little dexterity.

And here are the steps to replacement.

  • Open the knife so that the scissors extend at a 90% angle.
  • See the round hole near the base of the scissors? One side of the hole has sharp edges; on the other side, the edges have been rounded.
  • Use the pliers or a punch to push/pull the old spring out so it comes out the rounded side of the hole. I found that the tip of a small round file worked perfectly for me.
  • Use the pliers to press the new spring into place from the rounded side of the hole.
  • Be patient and persistent. You may need to flex the spring slightly to get it into the hole.

Knife like new, back in my pocket for another day!

What about other models of the Swiss Army knife?

Victorinox (and competitor, now partner Wenger) has produced many different models since the company started in the late 1800s. All have a main blade plus various auxiliary tools – as many as 30 in various combinations! Most also have the familiar red handle with white cross logo.

Most practical multi-tool

While it’s great to have different tools all in one, the largest Swiss Army Knife that I find practical is the Swiss Champ. It costs $73.49, and its holster adds another $8.34.  (Yes, I own both.)
Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ Pocket Knife (Red)

If you want more tools, of course, you can get more. In 2006 Guinness World Records recognized a knife (made by Wenger) that had 87 tools and 141 different functions and that cost upwards of $1,000!

Best for everyday use

And for everyday use, I carry the “Midnight MiniChamp” version with built-in ball point pen and flashlight . . .

Victorinox Swiss Army Midnite Minichamp, Sapphire

(This picture shows the knife in blue, but of course, it comes in red, too.)

If you’re shopping for yourself or for a gift, take the time to review all the different models to get the exact knife you need. Again, a small convenient pocket knife is one thing, and a versatile multi-tool for your survival kit and/or emergency kit for the car serves a completely different purpose.

Either way you can rest assured that this will be something to treasure.

And one final note, just for fun. It turns out that the name “Victorinox” is a combination of the original owner’s mother’s name – Victoria – and the French word for stainless steel, “inoxydable“, shortened to Inox. (Stainless steel was invented by an Englishman in 1913.) Oh, and the clever family that named the company still owns it, four generations later.

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. I’ll bet you have a favorite Swiss Army knife. Which one and why? Your comments may help others decide which one(s) to get!

 

Best Survival Flashlight

Sunday, December 27th, 2015
Share

Essential for Each Emergency Kit

When your house suddenly goes black because of a power outage, or you find yourself marooned in a rain storm, or you’re simply late getting out of a meeting and have a large dimly-lighted parking lot to cross in order to get to your car . . . you want a good flashlight!

Flashlights

Which is best for you?

Any flashlight is probably better than none, but what is the BEST one to have?

As always, the best flashlight depends on what you need.

  • Do you need a very bright narrow beam to be able to repair broken machinery?
  • Do you need a wide, broad beam to show all the places where someone could be hiding?
  • Do you want your flashlight to be so lightweight that you carry it all the time?
  • Do you consider your flashlight to be a weapon?
  • Do you need a flashlight whose batteries are easy to change – even wearing gloves?

Let’s look at the features you’ll need to consider.

Assume you will be looking at an LED (light-emitting diode) flashlight. LED flashlights last longer, weigh less, don’t get hot, and are smaller and sturdier than the incandescent lights we grew up with. Above all, they are brighter. So look for the LED description!

Brightness

Light output is measured in lumens. It can vary from as low as 19 lumens, for a simple all-purpose light to wear around your neck on a lanyard, to as high as 3,000 lumens for  so-called “tactical” flashlights. In our experience, the minimum you want for your survival kit is 200 lumens, and 500 or more is preferable. As you can imagine, the more power the more the flashlight costs – BUT IT’S NOT THE CASE OF A SIMPLE PROGRESSION. Be sure to comparison shop!

Beam

The reflector around the bulb determines whether all the light is focused in one narrow beam, or whether it spreads out more like a flood light. What you need the light for determines what shape beam you like.

News alert! Some LED flashlights allow you to adjust the beam by zooming in or out. Keep reading. . .!

Battery

Batteries help determine the weight of the flashlight, its cost, and its overall convenience. Having to replace batteries frequently can be a nuisance as well as expensive, but you can easily keep extras at hand. Most flashlights still use AA, AAA, C or even D cell disposable batteries. (A big flashlight with D batteries can be a formidable personal defense weapon.)

Rechargeable batteries last longer and are more convenient as long as you have recharge capability (from your computer, an electrical outlet or a solar panel, or a hand crank). These batteries do cost more.

For your survival kit, the best power source is likely to be a rechargeable battery.

Mode

The best flashlights are no longer simply on or off. As mentioned above, they may be zoomed in or out for less or more light. They may have a low beam and a high beam, both of which may be zoomed. They may have two or more modes: a solid white beam, a blinking white beam (strobe) for signaling, a blinking red beam, or even a blink pattern that sends out an SOS in Morse code.

More modes typically mean more switches and circuitry and thus more expense.

Extras

Other features you may look for include . . .

  • A design with one flat side so the flashlight doesn’t roll when it’s set down on a flat surface
  • Extra heavy duty or water resistant case depending on how you’ll use the flashlight
  • Wrist-strap or specially designed grip

Our recommendation

We own many flashlights, and seem to keep trying new ones.

  • We like to give small, inexpensive flashlights as gifts or as rewards (“Use this to start your emergency kit!”).
  • I have a couple of compact, light-weight flashlights that fit in my briefcase and purse.
  • In our cars we carry large, heavy-weight flashlights that could be used to break a window as well as find a disconnected fuse or wire in the engine compartment.
  • Every room in our house has a simple 200 lumen or more light tucked in a handy place. (Remember, we’re in earthquake country!)
  • And finally, our recommendations for the BEST flashlights for your survival kit —

The variety pack

If you want to compare and test, the best collection of flashlights we’ve found in one kit, taking into consideration brightness, power, beam options and price, is this one:
Feit LED Flashlight Kit | 3-pack with Case | 1000, 500, 250 Lumens | Slide Zoom | Batteries Included

  • The largest FEIT flashlight light switches from 250 lumens low-beam up to 1000 lumens high-beam, and has an impressive, sliding zoom as well as strobe and SOS options. (All white, no red.) This flashlight takes D batteries and is quite heavy; you’ll want to use the wrist strap.
  • The middle-sized light is the one Joe is holding in the photo. (He has very big hands so as you compare sizes, keep that in mind!) This flashlight also has a low (160 lumens) and high (500 lumens) setting, the zoom, strobe and SOS. It takes C batteries.
  • The small flashlight (AAA batteries) switches from 78 lumens to 250 lumens and has the zoom feature, too. (No strobe.) This one is small enough and light enough to carry in a pocket or purse.

The 3-in-one kit is heavy because it comes with all the necessary batteries. The expected life of the batteries varies depending on how high you set the power.

The one drawback common to these three flashlights – common to many – is that they are perfectly round. No non-roll feature.

We got our kit at Costco, and were glad to see it at Amazon so it’s more widely available.

The all-time single favorite

A couple of years ago we discovered this flashlight and have purchased several over the years. It’s Techlite’s 200 Lumen Master model.  (Techlite has new flashlights of different power and with different design, so what I am describing here refers ONLY to the 200 model.) It’s the flashlight on the left in the photo, the one with the wrist strap.

I like its size and how it fits easily into my hand or pocket. I also feel very comfortable carrying the light in the dark, knowing that the design of the rim, with cutouts and sharp surfaces, turns it into somewhat of a weapon.

This model also has flat surfaces to keep the light from rolling when it’s placed on a flat surface.

Here’s the link; there are options there for buying more than one.
(Little Monster) High Power Techlite Lumen Master Tactical LED (Cree) Flashlight, Weather Proof, Compact Size, and Impact Resistant with Strobe Function Great as a Self Defense Tool

Check out both these recommendations and compare carefully before you buy. But get the flashlights you need – several for the house (We have one in every room.), one for each car and one for each emergency kit.

This is essential emergency gear!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

Top Survival Resources: Five Popular Stories and Subjects

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
Share

Top Survival TrendsAfter 15 years of training and writing about disaster preparedness, and with well over 250 articles under my belt, I discover that some topics keep coming up again and again – in the news media, in questions people ask, and on the various internet sites and in specialty magazines that report on “survival trends.”

Thanks to Google Analytics, we can track which articles are most often viewed on our site, too – and they reflect these same topics.

Here are . . .

Five of the most popular topics on EmergencyPlanGuide.org

with links that will take you immediately to more information on our site, and in many cases to outside resources including government and special industry sites.

Are you in the mainstream? Are these among YOUR favorite subjects? Check them out!

 

1. Emergency Radios and Radio Communications

If there is one topic that stands out, this is it.  In fact, radios and radio communications are twice as popular as anything else we report on!

A radio for your personal survival kit.

Are you ready to buy an emergency radio for yourself or a family member?  Check out our Updated Reviews of Emergency Radios with comments about solar, hand-crank, etc. Most of the radios we discuss are found on Amazon, where prices are as good as they get, and buyer comments are very helpful in selecting the best fit for your needs.

Two-way radio communications for groups.

Interested in how to use radios effectively for your group, whether it’s your family or a neighborhood response team? Then you need a way to not only listen, but also to speak.

We have used many different models, and review walkie-talkies here.  EmergencyPlanGuide.org also has a number of Advisories on walkie-talkie use:

If you are serious about building a neighborhood group, each of the books in our Survival Series has a complete discussion and a diagram showing one way to use radio communications, how to assign channels for your different divisions and specialty teams, etc.

2. Emergency/Survival Kits

We know that some people simply don’t have time to actually build their own kit, so we start with a review of Popular Ready-Made Kits to be found on Amazon.  The purpose of the review is not to recommend any one kit in particular, but to highlight different things to look for as you shop. (Again, please be aware that if you buy something from Amazon through one of our links, we may receive a commission from Amazon. The commission does not influence the price you pay.)

Because every person and family is unique, we recommend strongly that you Build Your Own Basic Kit, and we have written a booklet to guide you through the various decisions that need to be made.  Once you have the basic kit, add items that fit your climate, your skill and your interest level.

We have also discovered that most people continue to improve their kit by adding specialty items. Some of the most interesting additions:

 

3. Special Preparations for City Dwellers

Much of the “prepper” literature deals with developing skills that allow you to survive by living off the land. For urban or suburban dwellers, particularly people living in apartments or condos, these survival skills need to be adjusted to the realities of the city.

Some of our popular articles on these special situations:

 

4. Emergency Water Supplies

We probably spend more of our time on water than on anything else (even though, as reported above, website visitors seem to prefer reading about radios!). How to store water for an emergency, where to find more water when the emergency hits, and how to protect yourself from contaminated water – these are ongoing challenges that need to be overcome if we are to survive.

A few of the most comprehensive articles focused on water:

 

 

And finally, one topic unique to EmergencyPlanGuide.org  . . .

5. Counting on Neighbors  for Survival

We know that the first people to be there to help in an emergency are the people already there – the neighbor at home next door, or the co-worker at the next desk or in the next room.

With that being the case, we think that the more we all know, the better chance we’ll all have to survive, at least until professional help arrives.

We also know that professional help – police and fire – will be overwhelmed in the aftermath of a widespread disaster, so it may be hours or even days before they do arrive. A strong neighborhood team, ready to take action, just seems to make great sense.

Our 15-year commitment to neighborhood emergency preparedness has been focused primarily on building a neighborhood response team. It has been a labor of love – and yes, a LOT of labor!

The website has many stories about what it’s taken to build the group. You can find many of these stories by heading to the site and simply typing “CERT” into the search box!

We have even compiled much of this information into two in-depth resources:

 

I hope you’ll find this list helpful, and a reminder of areas in your own planning that may not be as secure as you’d like. Also, if you would like to see more on any aspect of emergency preparedness or disaster recovery, please just let me know!

Virginia and Joe
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

We mean it! Let us know in the comments what topics YOU like to read more about!

 

Pack Your Survival Kit for Evacuation

Sunday, May 24th, 2015
Share

At our neighborhood CERT meeting yesterday, the question came up about the best emergency supplies kit.

Whatever kit you have is better than none.

If you are forced to leave home (or work) in a big hurry, you’ll only have time to grab “the kit,” and hopefully a bottle of water. Whatever is in the kit is what you’ll have to work with. You won’t have time to do any packing!

If you don’t have a kit, you’ll be worse than useless – you’ll be a burden on others.

Assume you have to manage your kit yourself.

Here in California nearly every trip I take is in my car, so I have several types of emergency stuff packed in the trunk. But what if roads are impassible, or the car is disabled, or we are asked to evacuate ON FOOT?

The only solution: ONE bag that I can carry myself.

Can you carry your kit?

At our meeting, several people stated flat out, “I can’t carry anything.” These were people who need a cane or a walker, who have back problems, or who are simply not very strong.

How many people in your family or your team at work would have trouble carrying a bag?

Which survival kit option would work best for you?

The best option . . .

for a survival kit is a backpack that will leave both your hands free.

When Joe and I decided to put together our kit  we looked for a backpack that was light, flexible and NOT TOO BIG. (Our build-it-yourself kit, shown in the image with its accompanying book, has sold out at Amazon.)

If you’re a hiker, you’ll be familiar with much larger and sturdier backpacks, with many more features. Maybe you even have one you can use for a survival kit. But we looked for a pack that the ordinary person could (1) afford and (2) be able to manage.

Because your backpack needs to be compact, you have to be deliberate in selecting what needs to be in it. It’s easy to lay out too much stuff!

Second best option . . .

in my opinion is a rolling cart. You can select something as sturdy as a rolling suitcase, but for emergency, infrequent use you likely will want something simpler, smaller and lighter. Here’s what looks like an excellent choice. This one’s called the  California Pak The Big Eazy 20 Inch, Navy Blue, One Size
and it comes in various sizes and colors.

 

Some things to consider about a rolling cart:

  • Does the cart/bag have a handle so it can be carried by hand if necessary?
  • Could you fit it on your lap in a bus?
  • Does it zip up or otherwise close completely?
  • Is the handle long enough for you?

Each person needs a kit, and each kit will be different.

What you think is important and are willing to carry is up to you. Your 10-year-old child, though, probably needs a few different items (including snack food!). And your 79-year-old grandmother needs other items altogether.

Action Item: Build a basic kit for each person, and then add those individual items to customize the kit to its owner.

Store the kit near the exit door, so you can grab it on the way out. You’ll only have minutes – but you’ll feel a lot more secure heading out if you have your survival kit in your hands.

It’s always back to basics, right?!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Your pet needs an evacuation kit, too. Here’s a link to more about your pet’s survival kit.

 

Stocking Stuffers for the Whole Family

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014
Share

Traffic was CRAAZY today, and it’s not even Thanksgiving! Everywhere the news is about early shopping (plus some football games, of course).

If you’re ramping up for some holiday shopping of your own, I’d like to suggest the following . . .

Emergency survival kit items

“Makin’ a list . . .”

Small, very cool, dual-purpose gifts

By which I mean, gifts that are fun to receive and even to play with, but which have a much more lasting value because they become important items for a survival kit!

Here are seven such treasures, each under $25

If you need a shopping list, just print out this page!  If you want to shop (which I recommend!), click on the links below each item description.

Clicking the links will take you to Amazon, where you can compare and combine items for the best possible pricing plus free shipping. Just so you know, if you buy from Amazon, we may receive a small commission.  It doesn’t change the price you pay.

 *  Headlamp – Of course you have a flashlight in every car and hopefully one in every room of the house. And, we hope, with at least 200 lumens. Now, consider how handy a HEADLAMP will be when both arms are full of blankets, children, toys, or other supplies!

LE LED Headlamp, 18 White LED and 2 Red LED, 4 Brightness Level Choice, LED Headlamps, 3 AAA Batteries Included

*  Magnesium lighter – Hold a fire-lighting contest for all your teens on Christmas Day. This 3-pack of magnesium lighters gives you the chance to compete – and learn an essential skill!

The Friendly Swede Magnesium Emergency Fire Starter Blocks (3 Pack), Black

*  Paracord bracelet – Totally cool, totally comfortable, and very handy in an emergency, these bracelets contain 17 ft. of strong cord and come in just about any color you – or family members – could want! This link is to a braid-it-yourself kit, which would be a great holiday activity. Or pick out an already-made one.

Paracord Planet 550lb Type III Paracord Combo Crafting Kits with Buckles (ZOMBIE)

*  Tin of hard candies – Chocolate melts, caramels ooze and stick, mints crumble. But hard candies withstand all sorts of weather and when you need a pick-me-up in an emergency – or on the long drive home after the holidays! – this will do the trick. Top quality, top flavor.

Cavendish And Harvey Candy (3 Pack) Fruit Hard Candy Tin 5.3 Ounces Imported German Candy (Orange Drops)

*  Swiss Army Knife, the classic – We all love our Swiss Army knives. Whether you get this simple, efficient one or a giant, every-tool-in-the-toolbox version, it will be a welcome gift. And a great addition to a survival kit.

Victorinox Swiss Army Camper II Folding Camping Knives, Red, 91mm

*  Walkie-Talkies — Favorites of children, parents and CERT members, these handy radios work for fun games around the house, at the mall for keeping track of the family, and in an emergency when all other phones are out!  (We have several pairs, with pre-arranged channels in case we are separated.) (As you shop, consider the range figures as approximations only, achieved under “optimal conditions!”)

Midland LXT118 22-Channel GMRS with 18-Mile Range, E Vox, and Channel Scan (Pair)

*  Water Bottle with Built-In Filter This may not fit in your traditional Christmas stocking, so add it after everything else has been opened. We know water is essential, but bottled water gets old, and is really heavy. What you CAN pack so it will always be ready is a reusable water bottle with built-in filter.

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1000-Liter LifeStraw Filter

Now, if you’re VERY detail oriented . . .

. . . you will have compared this list with the photo and you will have discovered two discrepancies. First, the list contains a water filter bottle that isn’t shown. (Too big to fit in the sock, and too big to fit in the picture!) and Second, the image shows a radio that’s not listed.  This happens to be one of our favorites, so I included it because I do as often as I can.  Find out more here on our radio review page.

Do you have recommendations we can add to our list of “Favorite Survival Kit Goodies Under $25?”  Send them along!

 

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

 

Don’t miss any of our free Advisories. Sign up below to get them every week.

 

 

Value of Employees . . . Before and After a Disaster

Saturday, November 8th, 2014
Share

If you’ve been following this blog for the past several weeks you know that we’re big on coordinating Personal Survival Plans with Business Emergency Planning.

The reasoning is simple . . .

Businesses depend on their Employees and Employees depend on their Employers.

But it’s pretty well known that most small businesses don’t have adequate Emergency Response Plans.  (Only around 67% have any plan at all.)

Small businesses never reopen after a disaster.

The future of your business?

Worse, statistics show that following a catastrophe, half of the businesses affected NEVER re-open their doors!

Why are businesses at such high risk?

  1. Owner attitude.

First is the attitude of some owners that they’d rather just cope with an emergency when it hits rather than make any plans to prevent or mitigate it. (We have to ask, if this is you or your boss, are you really a business person?)

  1. Emotional impact.

A second factor to business survival is that a major emergency has a dual emotional impact on employees.

Beyond their direct experience at the workplace, with damage and possible injuries, is the safety of their family members who may have been affected, too – but are spread out in the community somewhere.

Since communications are likely to be disrupted, employees will want to leave the workplace immediately to check on their loved ones. Once they disappear, the business has little chance of maintaining critical functions.

Improve the odds: integrate personal emergency planning with business survival planning.

Anything the business principals can do to facilitate employees’ family and neighborhood emergency planning will work to the benefit of all concerned.

One way to begin is by making sure that all employees have adequate Personal Family Survival Plans. This includes:

  • Personally-tailored survival kits at home
  • Kits at work and/or in their cars
  • Communication Plans for family members.

Take advantage of holiday timing.

Now might be a way to kick-start this by seizing on the holiday spirit.

Since we do not advocate buying pre-made, one-size-fits-all, survival kits — which typically include a lot of useless (or low quality) items – we strongly recommend that you consider getting them started with an empty backpack like this one from Amazon. It is big enough, but not too big, and has the advantage of opening from the top to give easy access to everything inside.  And if your company gift policy limits employee gifts to a maximum of $25, you’re in luck!  (Click on the image to get full details, price, etc.  Different colors have different prices.)

As a gift, the survival kit meets important criteria.

  1. It’s meaningful.

Every step that an employer can take to help employees prepare their own personal disaster plan will be meaningful for both.

  1. It’s personal.

Some people really like clothing with logos, or parties, but others don’t appreciate those gifts at all! Candy? Cheese? Wine? These all depend on people’s personal tastes.

The survival kit is a backpack waiting to be filled with items that the employee chooses!

How to add value to this gift.

The business can use the survival kit to kick-start a more in-depth discussion of preparedness. Setting up an emergency supplies fair at lunch or after work, for example, can improve the odds of employees actually building their kits.

The business can do even more by adding an item to go into the kit – for example, a flashlight or solar-powered or hand-crank radio. Here’s a link to our updated list of the top 10 survival kit items.

And an additional benefit. . .

If your business is one of the 37% of businesses without any business continuation plan at all, this whole campaign could be the impetus to get a company plan started!

If this idea makes sense, you can head directly to Amazon to take a look. Here’s the link: Fuel Top Loader Cargo Backpack (Black)

And if you want to talk over some ideas of how best to present the backpacks to your employees, or how to speak to your employer about providing them to the workforce — just give us a call.  We have a lot of good experience with “employee gifts” that we will be happy to share!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. I mean that about the call!

 

 

 

 

Survival Kit Missing Item

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Share
Prescription medicines

Do you recognize this warning?

Do you have basic survival gear packed and ready? The dozen or so basics plus personal items? Water for at least three days?

What about supplies for the longer term?

Enough for 10-14 days

We work on a 10-14 day plan, since that’s how long it could take in a widespread emergency for rescue workers and government agencies or the Red Cross to reach us. And when we look at that time frame, we see an immediate problem. It’s medicines.

Many prescriptions can’t be renewed in advance.

Most medical and pharmaceutical offices have a policy of not renewing prescriptions until the last possible minute – that is, not until the current supply is exhausted, or, at the most, 2-3 days before the last pill or dose is due.

On its surface this seems like a rational policy, and, of course, is probably the best way to manage inventory.

But, on closer examination, the logic breaks down completely. If the disaster hits when you’re down to your last 3 or 4 pills, you could be facing a compound emergency.

“Do not skip doses or discontinue.”

You may survive the disaster only to have created a medical emergency for yourself! How often have you seen a message like the one in the image:  “Do not skip doses or discontinue unless directed by your doctor.”

Power outages will make purchasing medicines impossible.

Following a major disaster, entire regions may be without electricity. This means ATMs, credit cards, and gas stations won’t be working. Mail won’t be delivered.

This also means medical offices and pharmacies, along with all other businesses in the region, may be closed entirely. It could be days or weeks before life returns to normal – and thus days or weeks before you can get your prescription refilled in the normal way.

Discuss this with your physician and pharmacist.

Could your first prescription be renewable after two weeks instead of only after 30 days? Or could the initial prescription contain enough for 45 days, and not just the usual 30? You’d then at least have a chance of having enough pills so you could continue your prescribed treatment even if your normal source of medicines is unavailable.

We suggest that you have this discussion with your physician and/or your pharmacist. Surely they will see the logic of your request — unless they simply don’t see the benefit of preparing for emergencies. You might want to put your request in writing to get “on the record” and give them something to work with.

Consider this fall-back strategy.

In the face of this problem, we order refills as soon as we can: in 25 or 26-day increments. This gives us the chance to build up an extra 14-day supply, 3 or 4 pills at a time.

We keep the extras in our survival kit, rotating them regularly to be sure they are fresh. Naturally, this means the kit has to be opened up and closed up again pretty often.

It seems a shame to have to “outwit the system” this way, but when health (or even survival) is at stake, it’s simply necessary.

Don’t overlook this survival kit item.

If you know friends or family dependent on medications, send this post to them and suggest they print off a copy for their doctor and their pharmacist. And encourage them to consider how they will get that extra 10-14 days’ supply of prescription medicines to keep them going in an emergency.

Emergency Plan Guide
Joe Krueger and Virginia Nicols

 

 

Survival Kit Stories

Friday, July 4th, 2014
Share

Real life emergency stories, from real people.

Thumbs down Survival Kit StoriesSetting: In the rental office, talking to the woman behind the desk.

“Do you have some food for if you were trapped here in the office in an emergency?”
“Well, no. I thought that was the job of the Red Cross.”

Setting: Talking to a featured speaker at my recent Las Vegas conference.

“You’re living on the beach in North Carolina, right? Do you have emergency food set aside for when the next hurricane hits?”
“Well, not exactly. But I did unplug the freezer so I don’t have to throw all the spoiled food out, like I did last time. That cost me $300!”
“But what about food supplies for after the storm?”
“We eat only healthy, fresh food, so there’s no way I can store anything . . .”

Setting: Video snippet from a recent training held here in our neighborhood. The TV camera is trained on a hysterical woman in New Jersey, after Sandy:

“Where’s the government!? We’ve been waiting three whole days . . .!”

What’s your survival kit story?

If you and I were to meet on the street, and I posed these questions to you, how would you respond?

  • How many 3-day survival kits do you need for your family?
  • Where does each kit need to be? At your home, in the car, at the office?
  • How many kits have you actually put together?

As I’ve mentioned before, our local fire department has told us flat out:
“When the big one hits, you’re going to be way down on our list.”

All this points to our having to manage by ourselves for the first 72 hours.

You know that we have done a lot of research on pre-made kits, and generally find them lacking when it comes to quality and quantity.

Worse, having a pre-made kit may give you a false sense of security.

So our recommendation has been, and remains:

Build your own customized 3-day survival kit.

Here’s a link to an updated list of our favorite starter items : Top 10 Survival Kit Items

It may take you a few days to a week to assemble all the items for your kits. Turn kit-making into a family “pick and pack” activity!

Three days.

Easy enough to get through when you’ve got the basics: food, water, light, communications.

Really tough when you have nothing . . .

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Commuter’s Go Bag — Will the road home get you there?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Share

My daughter’s long commute by car.

Commuter's Go Bag MapOne of my daughters is an executive and works in Beverly Hills, California. With no real public transit available she is forced to drive over 100 miles to and from work, spending a total of almost four hours on the road every day. Every morning she sets out in her executive clothing and footwear and with a list of business calls to make along the way.

With two children in separate schools and on different schedules, her chances of a speedy reunion with family following a major earthquake are slim. Roads and freeways could be restricted for use by emergency vehicles responding to calls . . . or even possibly blocked by collapsed bridges and overpasses. At the very least, if the earthquake happens during the workday, roads will be massively congested with people trying to reach home.

If she had to walk to get home . . .

. . . she could. But 50 miles could conceivably take days.

Fortunately, she is conscientious and, of course, has me to help keep her on track!

What’s in her personal Commuter’s Go Bag?

In the trunk of her car she carries a Commuter’s Go Bag that we put together just for her. It has the usual Survival Kit items that you’d expect: walking clothes including comfortable shoes, a jacket, some energy bars and water, a portable radio, and a flashlight with extra batteries. There’s a notebook and pen. And because this is California, she has a space blanket AND an extra pair of sunglasses.

In addition, she carries extra prescriptions for a medical condition, and some cash (coins and small bills).

And because she is competent to deal with it, she has pepper spray.

Perhaps most important, she has paperwork: a list of contact numbers including some for family out of state, and maps that show her route and alternate ways to get home. (GPS may well be out.) She has teamed up with other employees who live in the same general area so they could travel in groups, and they have made note of “safe house” locations along the way where she — and any companions – can stop and rest.

She is good about keeping her car’s gas tank at least ¾ full at all times. If there is a general power outage that could last for days, neither ATMS, Credit Card Processors nor gas station pumps are likely to be operating, of course. I have suggested to her that a small, plastic, fuel canister and siphon hose that could siphon gas out of other stranded commuters’ cars may come in handy along the way! (She gets it, but hasn’t been ready to practice siphoning yet . . .!)

Finally, my grandchildren also have emergency supplies at home and know where to go and whom to call following a major emergency because neither mother nor dad is likely to get home any time soon.

Doesn’t it make sense for the commuters you know to have such a kit?

To help people to take action we’ve put together a page where you can buy the basic items mentioned above. Cost is about the same as a tank of gas. Naturally, you’ll have to complete your kit with the personal stuff like maps and clothing.

Let us know how it goes!

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
Share

Show and Tell

At our recent neighborhood meeting, our CERT leader asked me to do a “show and tell” on the LifeStraw® that I have in my emergency supplies. The photo shows what I shared with the group.

Lifestraw

My LifeStraw: mouthpiece open at left

The LifeStraw is a tube you suck through (the “straw”) to filter water when you’re out camping or in an emergency.  I discovered it about three years ago after my son became very ill from swallowing water on a hiking trip. (He spent 5 days in hospital; his organs started shutting down due to dehydration.)

LifeStraw features

There are other products that look the same, but the LifeStraw appears to be “the original.” It won awards when it came out in 2005, and was chosen by the U.N. to provide clean drinking water in developing countries. Later was it made available in the U.S. by manufacturer Vestergaard Frandsen. It costs about $20.

The LifeStraw is handy and simple:

  • It is small and lightweight, so fits into anyone’s survival kit.
  • It requires no batteries or replacement parts.
  • It filters up to 1,000 liters – about 265 gallons.

You can stick the straw into a puddle or stream and drink directly, or scoop up water into a bottle and then stick the straw into the bottle. It filters out 99.99% of bacteria (for ex., e coli and salmonella) and protozoa cysts (Giardia), which is what made my son so sick. It does NOT filter out viruses, which are too small to be caught. And it does not make salt-water drinkable.

How to use it

Since there are no chemicals in the straw, the water coming through has no chemical taste. You remove the caps at both ends and sip through the mouthpiece. It takes a good 4-5 pulls to get the water started. To keep the filter clean, you blow back through the straw to unclog it.

You can use the Straw over and over again.  Just keep it clean and let it dry out before you recap the ends.

Here where we live in Southern California, we are not likely to have puddles to drink from in an emergency since we get so little rain! However, in an emergency, we might be forced to look for other sources of water: water heater, toilet tank, or big water barrel. Getting water out of these tanks would likely involve some dirt, grains of rust, sediment, etc. Filtering the water through the LifeStraw would be a reassurance of its quality.

If you or family members live stormy areas or hike or camp a lot, this is a no-brainer addition to your emergency kit. Get more information at Amazon:
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Next time: Water from Swimming Pools

I’m on a roll now about water. Next blog will be about how to use SWIMMING POOL WATER in an emergency.  Can you?  Should you? How to treat it first?

Stay tuned.  (If you don’t want to miss that next Advisory, sign up right now on the form below.)

And do check out that LifeStraw. It just feels right.  It makes a great gift!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28th, 2013
Share

 We hope you are enjoying a pleasant and safe Thanksgiving.

How about preparing your car for winter driving?

EPGFlyer2

Share this flyer! Click on the link to get a full-sized pdf to print out ->   Winter Driving Reminders

 

Ouch! What I found in my Survival Kit!

Saturday, September 7th, 2013
Share

As a part of National Preparedness Month, we’re going to be staffing a table at a neighborhood preparedness faire. So I pulled out of my car the emergency kit I had first put together after my Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.

Outdated CERT gear

Don’t use these!

Look at the photo and you’ll see some of the yucky things I found!

* Corroded batteries in my flashlight! (Upper right arrow) The kit actually has two flashlights in it. One was the high-tech model (from Sharper Image, no less) that holds AA batteries. Look closely and you’ll see the totally blown-out end of one of them! We find that batteries need to be replaced every 6 months if they are in a light or radio.

* Dried up and useless first aid items! On the left in the photo you can see the shriveled up antiseptic wipes and the stained band aid packages. Although they had been stored in a plastic bag, not one of them was usable.

* Melted and leaking pens! CERT training reminds you to have a way to write on a door when you’ve searched the room, write on a piece of tape to label someone, or write right on their skin. We assembled a variety of writing implements for these purposes, including crayons and permanent markers. Again, stored in a plastic bag, they melted and leaked. I could hardly get that one crayon out to be able to photograph it!

What’s the state of your Survival Kit? How about your CERT bag? (These are two different things, of course. Survival Kit is to help you; CERT bag is to help others.) Consider setting up a schedule to update and refresh your kits.

Use the twice-a-year time Daylight Savings Time change as an update reminder.

In addition to replacing old items, here are a couple of other suggestions for keeping your kit ready for use:

1. Best battery solution. Store batteries in a bag taped to the flashlight or radio. Whereas they seem to deteriorate quickly when stored INSIDE the device, they keep much longer when stored separately.

2. Rubber gloves. Your CERT kit will have disposable nitrile gloves — the thin rubber kind that your doctor wears – for use in an accident. These gloves are very fragile; replace every six months.

3. Environment. Think about where the kit is kept. I keep my kits in the trunk of my car – where temperatures reach over 100 degrees. Obviously, crayons aren’t going to be happy in this environment.

4. Backpack. If your kit lies in direct sunlight (in your car, for example), the duffle bag or backpack material will deteriorate over time. The first to go on my CERT kit were the carrying straps.

5. Clothing. I have a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and hat in my kits. While they don’t deteriorate, a wash and fluff keeps them more usable.

Reviewing and updating your kit takes only a few minutes – less time than it has taken me to write this article! You’ve made the investment – be sure to keep it tuned up.

What have YOU found in unattended survival kits that we should be warned about?  Let us know in the comment box below!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Lessons from the Village of Cold Spring – Seven Steps for Eastern Cities

Sunday, September 1st, 2013
Share

An excellent article by Michael Turton came out today in the Philipstown.info. It hit on important preparedness issues for cities in the east – or anywhere, for that matter.

Map of Cold Spring NY

Thanks to Wikipedia for this map.

(In case you aren’t familiar with this part of the country, the Town of Philipstown is in Putnam County, New York. Two incorporated villages lie within the Town. The Village of Cold Spring, focus of Turton’s article, is one of them. It lies across the river from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.)

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here are highlights, with my comments. Every single one of these points could be an action item for your group or community!

1. Leadership. Set up a local committee if you don’t have one yet. Turton’s article refers to a specific committee being put together for the Village of Cold Spring. The Mayor and a Trustee sit on the committee, as well as residents.

2. Registry. Find out who in your community needs special care. First Responders need to know who lives where and what special circumstances exist, such as a need for oxygen or wheelchair access. Having this information allows them to check even before a storm hits. The Cold Spring committee is starting with volunteer participation in assembling a resident registry – but the committee is willing to consider a local law if necessary.

3. Local centers. Identify local venues that could serve as temporary respite centers – but not necessarily “shelters.” As reported in the article, a formal “shelter” may require security and medical personnel.

4. Emergency supplies. Put shelter in place as first priority, evacuation as second. Of course, shelter in place requires that people have survival kits for the first 72 hours, enough to get them home safely. And then, at home, they need more emergency supplies to carry them through.

5. Priorities. Set guidelines for the distribution of community resources: sandbags, medical supplies, pumps, fuel supplies, etc. Who gets first access?

6. Gawkers. Educate the community about the dangers of gawkers. (Aside from Virginia Nicols – This is a tough one! We’ve had neighbors get all in a huff when our local team kept them from driving right up to the site of a fire, impeding the fire department and hindering rescue efforts!)

7. Authority. Make sure people know HOW to turn off community utilities (gas, lights, etc.) and that the turn-off switches work in all conditions. (Another aside from Virginia: Authority to turn off community systems – such as natural gas distribution systems — needs to be limited, and those people need to be properly trained.)

Here in the west, more groups are forming this month to do precisely what the Village of Cold Spring has begun. What’s going on in YOUR community?  Let us know by sending a comment.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Survey Shows Half of American Families Without Survival Supplies

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Share

Which half do you fall into?

A 2012 poll conducted by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation revealed the following:

Equation◊  48% of Americans don’t have a survival kit or emergency supplies.
◊  Americans believe they can survive an average of 16 days in their homes . . .but over half don’t have even a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and water.
◊ 55% of Americans believe that “authorities” will come to their rescue when disaster strikes.

If you had been a part of this poll, which half of the group would you have fallen into – the half with a survival kit and emergency supplies, or the half counting on someone else to take care of them?

Are you a “taker?”

There’s a lot of political talk about our American Society being “a society of takers.” Most of the rhetoric has been distasteful, some has been ridiculous.

But when it comes to disaster preparedness, there does seem to be a “taker” group — a group that somehow expects others to take care of them. In my estimation, that “taker” half of the population seems to be either lazy, in denial or just plain . . . well, you add in your own best word there!

This month is National Preparedness Month. People around the country are planning events to get neighbors and neighborhoods involved. Joe and I will be part of the activity – we’ve already got three different activities on our calendar.

When it comes right down to it, though, there’s only so much we can do. Ultimately, it is up to individuals.

It’s up to individuals . . . meaning you.

Remember that great advertising line, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”? Here’s another version aimed at disaster preparedness: “It’s not hard, it’s just common sense.”  The first three steps are particularly easy:

1. Build or buy a survival kit for yourself and for each person you care about. Here’s a link to our updated Top 10 List Of Emergency Items for your kits. Or, if you just don’t have time to put them together, buy pre-made kits. Check out our emergency supply kit reviews to be sure you’re getting the most for your money.

2. Buy some extra food and water every time you shop, and stick it in the back of the cupboard.

3. Get to know your neighbors. They are the ones who will come to your rescue, not the authorities.

Three simple steps will put you in the other half of the equation – where you belong!

Please share this article with the people around you. The more prepared they are, the safer YOU will be. And the better you’ll sleep at night.

 

Virginia Nicols

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

 

Coming soon to a location near you!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Share

Today as I write this, the news is amazingly full of bad weather reports!

  • Wet weather for parts of the Eastern U.S.
  • Showers, along with chances of thunderstorms from the Carolinas through areas of the Southeast
  • Heavy rain and thunderstorms from areas of Nebraska through Oklahoma and into the Mid-Mississippi Valley
  • Risk for severe thunderstorm development in the South-Central Plains through the evening with chances of damaging wind gusts and severe hail
  • A cold front ejecting form the Northern Rockies kicked up showers and thunderstorms in North Dakota
  • Out West, monsoonal moisture will maintain chances of showers and thunderstorms across the Four Corners, including the Southern and Central Rockies

And Hawaii is shaking off the arrival and passing through of Tropical Storm Flossie!
Flooded street
Do you know what to expect in your town tomorrow?

In your community, what’s the likelihood of damaging winds? Overflowing creeks and rivers? Flooded streets and intersections? Traffic lights out? Widespread power outages including your home or business?

Action Item: Check the weather report now, and every day! Download a severe weather app onto your phone. Simple, sensible, free!

 What emergency plans have you made for tomorrow?

Do you start off each day as always, trusting that you, your family, your neighbors and your car will get through OK? Or, do you consider alternatives, based on the weather report?

Action Item: Alert family members to the weather report. As appropriate, remind them of your family communications plan, change travel plans, check to be sure family members have their Survival Kits with them or nearby before they set off.

What’s the worst that can happen?

In most weather-related emergencies, a 72-hour period is all you’ll have to deal with. After three days, ground water will have dried up, streams will be back within their banks, the utility company will have restored power, and stores will reopen with full shelves.

If the worst happens, though, take a leaf from the book of Hurricane Sandy survivors. Even those whose homes were undamaged waited days and weeks for normal services to be restored!

A Survival Kit will keep you going for 3 days. Planning for a long-term emergency requires a lot more thought and the stockpiling of a few more items.

Sorry to nag, but . . . Do that emergency planning now. Better to have prepared or even over-prepared BEFORE the emergency hits than to not have prepared at all!

 

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

You may want to take another look at the Shelter-in-Place section of

Our Best Long-Term Emergency Supplies Checklist