Tag: emergency radio

Top 10 List of Emergency Preparedness Items


Back to the Basics – Updated 11-2022

Matchbook - one of top 10 items for emergency preparedness
But will they light?

At least once a year, we try to quickly go over the top 10 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 this year’s basic top 10 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 categories stay pretty much the same, but a new item is added from time to time, and our top recommendations change as new products become available.

New items for 2022 have pictures and prices shown below.

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. Or, build a list and shop at Amazon and have everything within a couple of days. (Black Friday specials may save a lot of money!)

We’ve added these symbols –  〈〉 – so you can check off each item as you get it!

〈〉  1 – Water

This has to be first on your top 10 list of emergency preparedness items. 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. It’s priced around $25, which is what most filters cost.

LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle with 2-Stage Integrated Filter Straw for Hiking, Backpacking, and Travel, Blue

〈〉  2 – Food

Frankly, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) with a 25-year-life sound pretty awful. The ones I’ve tasted all seem to resemble cardboard. 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.

This year I’ve discovered one bar that tastes particularly great.

It’s not the most nutritious, but it is the most delicious! I’d recommend a box. (Add a second box of YOUR favorite bar. When you click the image you’ll get right to all the goodies made by KIND.)

〈〉  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.

This year we’ve also added a NEW item to the warmth category — the BIVVY BAG.

It’s a small, waterproof sleeping bag packed in its own tiny bag. This product stands out as being practical and packable! You can combine a mylar sheet/bag with this Bivvy Bag, too. This model comes from Survival Frog and includes a whistle. Click the image to check price at Amazon.

〈〉 4 – Light

Light is actually number 2 on my personal list of top 10 items for preparedness. Flailing around in the dark is plain scary and not very smart. I could hurt myself!  So I recommend having 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.

Below is what I consider the best of the basic flashlights. Not too big. Not too fancy. Easy to tuck in a pocket — or a Christmas stocking. This GearLight TAC LED Flashlight 2-Pack uses AAA batteries, so as long as you have batteries, you’ll have light! (Remember, in an emergency, the power will be off so rechargeable batteries won’t get recharged after they wear down.) Click on the image to check the price at Amazon.

We have also reviewed of a number of emergency lanterns. You’ll need lanterns in a longer power-outage situation. Check them out.

〈〉 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.)

Last year we added more info about using your cellphone as an emergency communications device. Portable rechargers, or “power packs” work VERY WELL and are amazingly compact and amazing reliable. They get their charge from being plugged into your electrical system.

Here’s another phone or tablet power source, with charging from the sun!

There are many, many of these solar charger at Amazon. Click the image to check out the model shown here, but don’t hesitate to shop further. Specials are coming online every day.

〈〉 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. (A tarp might work better, but if you’ve really managed tarps before, you realize they are too big and too heavy for your survival kit.) You’ll need a rope or some bungies to build your lean-to, 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 top 10 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.

Get-Out-The-Door Bag


Packed and ready . . .

Packed and ready with room left over

We recently asked readers what worried them the most. There was one clear winner (if that’s the right term for it):
“Not being prepared to evacuate.”

One person (Elizabeth!) had a very specific request regarding evacuation, and that’s what we’re addressing today.

“Can you please send us a SHORT list of what we need to have ready?” 

Here’s what goes into the . . .

Get Out The Door Bag.

This is the bag you need to have packed and available at all times, ready for that unexpected emergency.

This is the bag you grab when suddenly there’s a police officer banging at the door and yelling at you to get out, because . . . there’s been a train wreck, a chemical spill, some sort of terrorist attack, whatever. You have ONE MINUTE to get out! 

You pull this bag out from under the bed, scoop it out of the closet near the door, or maybe it’s already stored in the car when you scramble in.

And if it happens in the middle of the night, remember, you are in pajamas.

The Get Out The Door Bag is meant to get you to wherever you end up and give you a sense of confidence until the situation is straightened out, which may take minutes or hours.

This is not the 3-day or 72-hour kit that we talk about so often. Watch for THAT list later. It’s a longer list, so it doesn’t fit in this Advisory!

What 10 things go into the Get Out The Door Bag?

(If you look carefully, you’ll see all these in the image above!)

  1. Sturdy shoes and socks
  2. Long pants, long sleeved shirt (You might be in pajamas, remember?)
  3. Jacket
  4. Flashlight + extra batteries
  5. Emergency radio
  6. Cell phone and charger
  7. List of emergency contact names and numbers
  8. Toiletry kit including several days’ worth of medicines
  9. Extra glasses, sunglasses, contacts
  10. The one small thing you just can’t leave behind . . .

Everything 1-9 on the list will fit into an ordinary-sized backpack, depending on the size of your shoes! This was my list, and it all fit into my bag, with room left over!

As for that item #10 . . .

If you have extra room, or specific concerns, one or more of these might be your “one small thing you just can’t leave behind.”

  • Cash
  • Extra set of keys
  • Memory stick/flash drive with copies of your important documents including website/account passwords
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Favorite photo, book, etc.
  • Stuffed animal
  • Mylar space blanket/sleeping bag

Because Joe and I are such fans of walkie-talkies, we’d probably each have a hand-held radio, too. You may also have noticed the hard candies in the image above. I always gotta have something sweet!

Some suggestions about how to pack your Get Out The Door Bag.

Line your backpack with a big plastic bag to help keep everything dry.

To make this really work, you will have to “build” a second toiletries kit, just for the Bag. Get a small toothbrush, small sized deodorant, wipes. Pack a supply of pills in small plastic bags. (Get in the habit of replacing pills with a new supply every other week or so.)

Use another plastic bag to build a minimal first aid kit and tuck it into the toiletries bag, too.

And as for phone and charging cables, if you always plug in at the same place, you’ll be able to scoop everything up as you head out the door. Have a plastic bag or see-through packing cube for them, too.

Keep reading for more about plastic bags!

Specific recommendations to consider for your Get Out The Door Bag.

The Packable Jacket

While I was waiting in one of the endless lines at the airport last summer, I watched a young woman dig into her suitcase and pull out a wadded up piece of clothing.

She straightened it up, slipped it on and everybody standing around nodded and smiled in approval! Turns out this is an actual fashion: the PACKABLE jacket. These jackets look like a very light-weight, close-fitting down jacket. Some, of course, are filled with material other than down. The outer material also varies; some are weather resistant. Some have hoods. But all of them are very light, very crushable and would be the perfect item to pack in your Get Out The Door bag and/or have in the car all the time!

Here are a couple of examples from Amazon: prices for packable jackets start as low as $25 (though most are more), so check out several different brands.  (Click on the images below to go directly to Amazon to start your comparison shopping.)

Amazon Essentials Men’s Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Puffer Jacket, Charcoal Heather, Large
Amazon Essentials Women’s Lightweight Long-Sleeve Full-Zip Water-Resistant Packable Puffer Jacket, Black, X-Large

Plastic baggies

A second essential item for packing is something you may have at home, but maybe not – and that is a collection of different sized zip-lock or other plastic baggies! There’s nothing better for building that

  • Streamlined toiletries kit
  • A small first-aid kit
  • A sewing kit
  • Place to store your cell phone cords, charger, etc.
  • Last summer I spent about $2 I think to buy individual pill baggies. They are tiny – and perfect to hold a daily supply of a half-dozen pills!

I saw this collection at Amazon and it looked very convenient, with six different sizes. Get a couple of packs so everyone will have the sizes they need.

You know what plastic bags look like. Click the link to see this collection:

ShipGuard 600 Ziplock Bags 6 Assorted Sizes Clear 2MIL baggies1.5×2 2×2 2×3 3×3 3×4 3×5

Packing cubes

Here’s yet another packing idea. This one you should consider if you travel AT ALL!

They’re called “packing cubes.” The cubes are soft-sided rectangular-shaped  zipper containers that you pack tightly (fold or roll) and then stack in your suitcase. Put underwear in one, socks in another. PJs in another. All your little “kits” – toiletries, sewing, first aid– in another. The idea is to not have to paw through everything to get to the bottom of the case where these socks are hiding.

Obviously, our Get Out Of The House bag won’t have multiples of many items, but still, organizing in layers simply makes sense. Here’s one set that is bright red. Click on the image to get details.)

Amazon Basics Small Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set , Red – 4-Piece Set

Extra warmth

And finally, particularly for the Get Out The Door bag, pop in a couple of space blankets or even one of the space blanket mummy bags. These flexible sheets of Mylar aren’t too sturdy, but could add extra warmth in place of or even inside a sleeping bag. The shiny reflective side goes toward your body to capture heat, or turns outside to reflect the sun.

(I added  some duct tape to my kit. I could use it to tape my blanket into a bag.)

Bought singly they cost somewhere around $4-5 each; buy in bulk and you can get them for more like $1-2 each. We have space blankets in every survival kit we own.

EVERLIT Emergency Mylar Thermal Blanket (4 Pack) Space Blankets for First Aid Kit Camping Kit Hiking Outdoor

Here’s another Mylar product that’s been turned into an instant “sleeping bag” with its own fabric case, perfect for emergency shelter and/or camping:

Tact Bivvy 2.0 Emergency Sleeping Bag, Compact Ultra Lightweight, Waterproof, Thermal Bivy Sack Cover, Emergency Shelter Survival Kit – w/Stuff Sack, Carabiner, Survival Whistle + ParaTinder (Orange)

You don’t NEED any of these Amazon items to pack up your Get Out The Door bag. Still, having the right stuff will make the bag easier to pack, easier to carry and easier to manage when you need it.

Let me know when you’ve got YOURs all packed!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Ready to get an emergency radio — or another one? Check out our radio reviews. One of these small radios will fit in your Get Out The Door bag, just like my black and red one does.

No phone service!

“. . .but it’s fully charged!”

Nearly 20 years ago, Joe and I worked on a marketing campaign for one of the largest telephone companies in the country. Called “Silence can be deadly,” the campaign was aimed at selling more dependable phone service.

In the middle of the campaign the Loma Prieta quake hit in San Francisco. No phone service! Only static on the car radio! Traffic lights missing in action! Worse, because it took the World Series right off the air, the whole country was suddenly struck by the shock of no communications! (This dramatic interruption helped make the campaign a huge financial success.)

That was then. This is now, when we are all carrying cellphones. Still, communications can be interrupted by disasters. Be ready!

For example, just last month, you’d have seen this news coming out of Texas.

“.. . all major cell carriers are experiencing interruptions.” And this meant . . .

“Can you hear me?”  Hundreds of thousands of cell phones were silenced when power was cut to cell tower sites. Even if your cellphone is fully charged, when cell towers don’t function, either because they have lost power or are turned off, that means no calls, no texts and no access to the internet news.

No emergency alerts. When California shut off power deliberately in the summer of 2019, it wasn’t anticipated that without TV, radio or cell service, governmental emergency alert notices do not come through. Without power, the only way you’ll get notified of impending disaster is via physical alarms like sirens, airhorns, car-powered loudspeakers, etc. (Does your preparedness team need any of these devices?)

No 911 service. These days, 96% of people carry cellphones, so that’s where 80% of 911 calls come from. If your cell phone isn’t working, you can’t get through to 911!

It feels as though this list is just a start for the inconvenience and the danger that awaits in a widespread and/or lengthy power outage that includes telephone companies.

What is the answer when you have no phone service?

So far, there seems to be no one perfect answer. If your power goes out because of a disaster or a policy decision, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Adjust your attitude. Just expect to have no instant communication with the outside world – with your family, your work, or your health care providers. It’s not impossible – our grandparents lived this way! As for attitude, one of our Emergency Plan Guide readers reports that she invited neighbors for dinner every night of a recent power outage! Together, by the light of solar garden lamps, they put together meals (cooking with charcoal grills) and enjoyed each other’s company.
  2. “Read you loud and clear.” If you have family or neighbors within a local neighborhood, you may be able to use inexpensive battery-operated walkie-talkies to touch bases, ask for assistance – or invite people to dinner. Longer-rage satellite radios could reach to just about anywhere! (We just added info about satellite radios to our review page.)
  3. Get on the air with HAM radios. Amateur radio operators – HAM radio operators – have higher-powered equipment that will likely be able to get news from other HAM operators and receive emergency communications from official agencies, too. They may be able to send messages from your neighborhood, as well. A good HAM set-up should have battery-back-up — check with your local HAM team members!.

What about getting to the internet via my cellphone?

It’s possible that you can reach the internet through your cellphone or VOIP phone even if your local phone service isn’t functioning. Once there, you could reach emergency contacts using internet phone systems (Ex.: Vonage, GotoConnect) or apps (Ex.: Google Voice, WhatsApp).

This scenario makes a lot of assumptions. First and foremost, you’ll need ready-to-employ back-up power for your own home or office wi-fi set-up (modem, router). It also assumes your internet provider (operating over fiber or in the cloud) is able to continue operations.

Action item: check with your own internet provider to see just what will happen to your service in a power outage! Find out if they have recommendations to keep communications open.

What about my hard-wired landline?

Honestly, I don’t have a solid recommendation here. Many phone companies seem to be discontinuing wired phone service – I know we can’t use our cheap hard–wired phone any longer. Still, some people’s wired phones do seem to have continued to work even during the outages. If you have a hard-wired phone, you may want to hang on to it. (Check first to see if it is actually working!)

Don’t confuse “wired phone” with “portable phone.” Your portable phone’s base may be connected by hardwire, but – surprise! – that system itself needs electricity to operate.

Once again, do you have suggestions? Stories about power outages that might be useful to other Emergency Plan Guide readers? Please share! This is a complicated issue, with many possible variations. And they keep changing. We’d like to hear from you with your latest discoveries!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. And while I’m writing from here in California, where we have experienced planned and deliberate Public Safety Power Shut-offs, please remember that historically, the leading cause of power outages in the U.S. is hurricanes! So if you’re not in wildfire country, don’t shrug this info off as something you won’t need to know!

Emergency Preparedness Quiz for Experts


Ready for Rain

OK, so you have been working for a while on being prepared for disasters. You’ve made it this far, and think you’re in pretty good shape, ready for whatever rain may fall! 

Maybe you even qualify as an expert?!

Last year Joe and I took an emergency preparedness quiz at a meeting sponsored by the Great American Shake-out. Sure enough, although we’ve been “Activists” for years, we were missing several key items!

That inspired me to put this quiz together for all the Emergency Plan Guide readers. (I’ve updated it for 2020, too.) The questions were gathered from a variety of sources. See how well you do! Score yourself at the end!

Emergency Preparedness Quiz

1-Is your house ready to take a hit from a disaster? Check if YES.

  • No heavy/dangerous items over the bed, couch or desk (or wherever you spend a lot of time).
  • Bookcases, TV, speakers, computers, printers, mirrors — bolted to table or to wall. Need a stud finder to finish this job?
  • Water heater and other appliances secured.
  • Outside of home squared away to protect against sudden fire (trash cleared away) or wind.
  • Home adequately insured for standard risks also local risks (flood, earthquake, etc.).

2-Does your family know how to respond to a natural or weather-related disaster? Check if YES.

  • Everybody knows and has practiced: Drop-Cover-Hold On (earthquake), Drop-Roll (fire). Grandma, too.
  • Family members know and have practiced 2 ways to get out of house: doors, windows, second floor. Can you get down the escape ladder?
  • Everyone knows where fire extinguishers are, and how to use them. How many fire extinguishers do you need, anyway? And are they all workable?
  • Adults know where water and gas shut-offs are, and when to shut them off. Tools attached near shut-off valves.
  • You have a back-up plan for pets if you’re not home. Decal on front door or window alerts emergency workers that you have a pet.
  • Everyone in the family has memorized out-of-town contact phone number.
  • Everyone who has a phone has a battery back-up (Power bank), knows how and to whom to text.

3-Are survival kits (72-hour kits) packed and ready to go?

  • Do all evacuation and survival kits have masks so you can operate within COVID guidelines?
  • A survival kit in the house for every family member, customized to size, skill, medical needs, etc.?
  • A kit for every pet?
  • A kit in each car?
  • A kit at work for every worker?

4-What about handling the immediate aftermath of a disaster?

  • Every room has emergency lighting – lantern and/or flashlight.
  • All first aid kits are fully stocked with up-to-date items.
  • We have at least one emergency radio (solar, hand crank, battery) tuned to local emergency station, with extra batteries.
  • Everyone has sturdy shoes for safely getting around, clothing/gloves to protect against cold or broken items. Pets have protective booties/jackets, too.
  • Supply of warm clothing, blankets.
  • Everyone knows ways to report in that they’re OK.

5-Are you prepared at work for the immediate aftermath of a disaster?

  • Every room has emergency lighting – lantern and/or flashlight.
  • First aid kits are fully stocked with up-to-date items.
  • Emergency radio tuned to local emergency station, with extra batteries.
  • Everyone has sturdy shoes for safely managing stairs, getting out. (Particularly important for female employees whose footwear may be stylish but impractical. Stash an extra pair of tennis shoes in the bottom drawer of the desk.)
  • Partners check on each other’s situation. People with disabilities have designated partners who know how to help them evacuate.
  • People responsible for shut-down or evacuation procedures step into action.
  • Everyone knows how to report in assuming phones are out.

6-How about an extended recovery at home after a disaster?

  • Supply of food that doesn’t need cooking. Can-opener. Utensils.
  • If camp stove, supply of food that uses hot water or heating. Fuel for stove. Fire igniter. Pot. (Have you practiced setting up and starting the stove? A challenge under the best of conditions!)
  • Condiments: salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, chilies, soy sauce, sugar, honey, other.
  • Water supply. Clean water supplies, a way to filter and/or disinfect other water.
  • Pet’s food, water and hygiene supplies.
  • Personal hygiene supplies: temporary toilet, toilet paper, wipes, paper towels, Clorox. Trash bags.
  • Personal supplies: lotion, bug repellent, sun screen, soap, sanitary supplies, condoms, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.
  • Medicines and prescriptions for at least 2 weeks.
  • Clothing for cold, rain; ponchos, umbrellas.
  • Tools appropriate for making repairs: saw, hammer, nails, tape, plastic sheets, tarp, crow bar, ax, shovel, emergency lighting.
  • If someone can handle them and manage fuel: generator, chain saw.
  • Emergency two-way communications: walkie-talkies, ham radios.
  • Entertainment: books, games, cards, paper and pens.

(When it comes to extended recovery at work, that’s another quiz. It will be based on the type of work place, key functions of the business, number of employees, etc. Emergency Preparedness for Small Business can give you nearly all the guidance you’ll need to answer THAT quiz!)

7-And here’s a bonus emergency preparedness quiz item:

  • I’ve completed CERT training. (I know, CERT training is being postponed until we can get back to meeting face to face. But at least, you can put it on your to-do list!)

And your score on this Emergency Preparedness Quiz?

There are 41 questions in this quiz, plus the bonus. They don’t have equal importance, so there’s no real way to rate yourself based on the number of boxes you checked off.  Still, just in reading the quiz you should have a FEEL for whether you are:

  • Rookie – 10-15 check marks: A good start but still have a ways to go
  • Solid – 15-30 check marks: Comfortable with your progress; won’t feel (too) guilty if something happens
  • Expert – Anything above 30, plus the bonus! Heck, you should be teaching this stuff!

If you’re not actively “teaching this stuff,” you can use this emergency preparedness quiz to help yourself and other people you care about get started on their own preparations.

How to get started?

Start slowly — but get started!

Did some of these items jump out at you as being really important?

Start with just one or two. Work on a new one every week.

If you are part of a neighborhood group, maybe pick a couple of items to work on every month. (Our new Mini-Series was designed PERFECTLY for groups! Schedule one topic per week or per month, get people together — in person or via zoom — to discuss and share.)

Every small preparedness action you take will add to your family’s and your community’s resilience. Since your neighbors are most likely to be the people who end up rescuing you in a disaster, this step-by-step method has a double pay-off!

Let us know how it goes, and what YOU would add to the quiz to make it even more useful. We are all in this together!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team


10 Solar Tools for Preppers

Sun going down at campground. It will be dark soon.
“It will be dark soon . . .!”

As we head into summer, our thoughts just naturally turn to outdoors activities – camping, hiking, picnics, travel in an RV.

If any of these is on YOUR list, even if it may have to be postponed, you’ll enjoy this week’s Advisory because it highlights some of the handiest, smartest and most useful tools you can find for outdoor, off-the-grid activities.

In summer, we can also expect power to be out because of storms, fires, etc. So solar tools and equipment are popular with preppers because they all operate at home when there’s a power outage!

Solar tools give you twice the value!

Joe and I have used versions of nearly every one of these items. Like everything else, there’s a new model nearly every time you turn around. And, like everything else that’s based on technology, prices keep coming down.

So let’s take another look at 10 of our favorite small solar tools and accessories, starting with items that everyone should own.

1 – Solar Powered Emergency Radio

Because we believe every household needs at least one emergency AM/FM radio, radios land at the top of our list. Once again, I have reviewed our own collection, and taken another look at our Emergency Radio Reviews page, and I come back to this radio as being one of our favorites.

Why? Briefly, it operates with power from AA batteries, a rechargeable battery, AC current (the cord is extra), DC current (plug into the car), hand-crank and solar! So, you can use it for music at your picnic, or as a light source in the campground, or to check in with the weather report.

Note that this radio isn’t tiny. It’s about 9 inches tall by 5 high by 2 wide. Check out all the features by clicking on the image or link below, which will take you directly to Amazon. Again, shop carefully to be sure you are getting what you really want. If necessary, take another browse through our Radio Review page to see all the features of emergency radios that you might want to consider.

2 – If a solar-powered radio is first on our list, then a solar-powered lantern or other light source will have to be second.

And here’s something new! You’ve seen before, perhaps, that we have really fallen in love with the expandable battery-operated emergency lamps made by VONT. Now here’s a very similar product that adds SOLAR as a way to keep the lantern charged and functional for longer.  

3 – Solar Powered Flashlight

We review flashlights practically once a month! (We buy them, too, because new models keep adding more features.) Check these out for yourself, your car, your kids. Our motto is a flashlight in every room or in every hand when camping.

This flashlight is rechargeable, waterproof and, you guessed it, powered by solar. (I really like the bright color, too.)

Hybridlight Journey 300 Solar/Rechargeable 300 Lumen LED Waterproof Flashlight. High/Low Beam, USB Cell Phone Charger, Built In Solar Panel Charges Indoors or Out, USB Quick Charge Cable Included

4 – And another new Solar Powered Flashlight with multiple accessories

Otdair LED Flashlight Solar Power Tactical Flashlight,Ultra Bright Flashlight,Safety Hammer,High Lumens Tactical,USB Rechargeable,5 Modes for Outdoor,Camping,Hiking

5 – Solar battery charger for all your devices

We’ve used and reviewed these regularly. They get better and better and cheaper. Here’s a new one. The charger itself gets charged up from the sun or from the wall plug using an adapter (not included), can serve as a lantern at night, and then can charge 3 of your devices at the same time, with 25,000 mWh! No reason for you not to know what’s going on!

6- This simple and lightweight solar lantern can charge your devices, too.

Hybridlight Solar Rechargeable Lantern/Cell Phone Charger. 150 Lm. Built in Solar Panel, Hi-Vis Yellow

7 – Solar security lights for home or for camping

When the power really goes out, not only do you lose your house lights but streetlights are out, too. And when you’re camping in the wild, you KNOW it will be totally dark!

Without any light , you’re going to feel – and be — a lot less secure.

Of course, you can carry a lantern or flashlight with you wherever you go, inside or out. But there’s a certain sense of relief to know that if someone or something approaches your campsite or home, they’ll be visible.

We use permanently mounted security lights in a couple of places at our home: in the car port, and also at the front steps. This solar-operated light is PORTABLE so you can hang it over a simple screw or nail at home or when you’re camping.

You’ll want to set the appropriate mode: turns on when motion activated, always on, or “smart” mode (dim gets bright when activated).

Solar Lights Outdoor, 3 Optional Modes Wireless Motion Sensor Solar Light, IP 65 Waterproof, Security Lights for Front Door, Yard, Garage, Deck, 1 Pack

8 – Solar powered pool pump

Don’t have a pool?

In an upcoming Solar Advisory we’re going to cover “bigger” systems, and that will include a roof-mounted solar system big enough to power your pool pump. Watch for that Advisory.

In the meanwhile, smaller water features also are quickly compromised when their pumps fail. I’m thinking about garden fountains, greenhouses, animal watering troughs, hydroponic gardens, etc. If your emergency preparations include a “survival garden,” you surely wouldn’t want to lose it just because the power goes off!

Therefore, time to consider a solar pool pump. This one might be the starter equipment you need.

Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit – 360+GPH Submersible Pump with Adjustable Flow, 20 Watt Solar Panel for Sun Powered Fountain, Pond Aeration, Hydroponics, Aquaculture (No Battery Backup)

9 – Solar oven for the adventurous!

I have to admit this is one tool I have never used. I have seen them being used (and smelled the delicious odors) at fairs, by Girl Scouts, at energy efficiency demos — and I have been threatening for years to get one for myself as a present! If kids can use ‘em, then so can I!

I find this model the most intriguing. It’s lightweight, folds up, comes with trivet and pot. Keeps the food protected as it cooks, has a thermometer so you know what’s happening. (Heats up to max 285 degrees.)

This is the mini-version, probably best for small groups of diners.  There’s also a larger one from this same company that comes complete with pots, pans and dehydrating racks. 

Sunflair Mini Portable Solar Oven

10 – End the day with a warm shower!

Looks like a UFO, doesn’t it? But no, it’s a warm shower, perfect for your campground or as adjunct to your RV or, in an emergency, when you have no other way to get hot water to get clean!

This shower holds 2.5 gallons. (You’ll have to act faster than usual, perhaps, to get all the soap off. ) The company also makes larger versions, but I know how much 2.5 gallons weighs and that’s just about as much as I want to struggle with.

I liked this brand for one particular reason: it has a temperature gauge!

Advanced Elements 2.5 Gallon Summer Shower / Solar Shower

Well, that is quite a list of solar tools! I hope you’ve found some ideas for gifts. Maybe your gift could start a conversation about renewable energy!

Again, we’ll be addressing larger solar systems in a coming Advisory. In the meanwhile, let’s look forward to some sunny summer days!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. If you have favorite solar tools or gadgets, let us know about them in the comments!

Disasters in the News

Newspapers with burning headlines showing disasters
Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

Just a week ago I was sweeping up the last remnants of 2019 and getting set for 2020. Remember? I ended 2019 with some entertaining books and movies with disaster themes!

Well, that easy start was obliterated by recent 2020 REAL disasters in the news.

In just the last 7 days we’ve seen headlines like: Assassination — Missile strikes – Earthquakes — Raging Wildfires – Retaliation — Plane Crash – Deepfakes – Drone Swarms – Power Grid Cyber-attack — and of course, Harry and Meghan.

(I added that last item just to lighten things up a little.)

All the turmoil was enough to cut through any complacency I was feeling and bring me sharply back to reality.

Above all, it prompted me to once again make sure that I have basic emergency supplies at the ready – in the house, in the car, and in the office.  Supplies I can tap if I’m  stuck at home, and supplies that are packed up (or could be quickly packed up) if I have to leave and head somewhere safer.

The following list of emergency supplies is the most basic I can come up with.

I hope and trust you are familiar with everything I write about here!

In any case, here it is for your review. I am adding a few details that might encourage you to refresh or add to your supplies.

If you do see something that’s missing from your list, don’t delay! If one of the disasters in the news comes to pass in YOUR neighborhood, you  may NOT have the opportunity to get any of these essentials!

LifeStraw personal water filter for emergencies

Water in an emergency.

Earthquake, cyber-attack, flood, accident – any of these could interrupt your supply of clean water. Be sure you revisit your long-term supply. And if you haven’t yet, get a LifeStraw personal water filter for everyone in the family. Cheap, pretty sturdy, and easy to use. Even a child understands how to use it. (Click on the link above to check pricing at Amazon, where we are Associates. This LifeStraw was on sale when I grabbed the image!)

Keeping warm.

As I’ve mentioned many times, it doesn’t take actual freezing temperatures to create an emergency; a few hours at 50 degrees may be enough. Do you have blankets in the house and in the car? What about emergency sleeping bags?

We all are familiar with Mylar space blankets, costing less than $5 each. I’ve talked about the advantages of buying them by the dozen, so everyone in the family (or the neighborhood group) has several in every backpack.

Mylar space blanket with tarp, perfect for creating outdoor shelter

Lately I’ve noticed some better quality space blankets. Some are larger sizes. Others are gold/silver reflective. Still others, like this one, have Mylar on one side and a waterproof tarp on the other. (See the grommets? Meant to help turn it into a shelter.)

You can get this version in orange/silver and in green/silver (from other manufacturers). Again, click the link in the text above — not the image — to compare prices and styles at Amazon.

And in this Mylar category I have to include — again! — the Bivy Bag. Here’s the whole description of this WATERPROOF bag:

Life Bivy Emergency Sleeping Bag Thermal Bivvy – Use as Waterproof Emergency Blanket, Mylar Sleeping Bag, Survival Sleeping Bag – Includes Nylon Bag with Survival Whistle + Paracord String (Orange)

Wondering about that word “bivy?” (Also spelled “Bivvy.” I assumed it was from the French, bivouac  – “a temporary camp without shelter.” Actually, after writing this I then had to look up the word. I found what I had expected. I also found “bivvy sac” – a waterproof bag meant to protect a sleeping bag. Eh, voila!)

Something nourishing to eat.

I am sure you have snacks, hard candies, and some pop-top cans of fruit in every survival kit. These will work for a day or two. But if the power is off and the emergency continues, particularly if there is damage to your environment, you’ll need more than snacks! The easiest things to buy and to count on to be there when you need them?  MREs.  Delicious? Maybe not. Nutritious and comforting?  Yes. (In this case, both the image and the link will take you to Amazon so you can compare MRE packages — sizes, menus, etc.) (While we’re on vocabulary, MRE = Meals Ready to Eat.)

Western Frontier 2021 and up Inspection Date, 2018 Pack Date, Meals Ready-to-Eat Genuine US Military Surplus with Western Frontier’s Inspection

Light in the dark.

You know our attraction to emergency lanterns. (I have one of the Vont pull-ups right here on my desk as I am typing this.) Don’t overlook extra batteries for lamps, lanterns or flashlights. In addition, you may want to consider a solar-powered battery charger.

Likewise, you may want to take a look at this new gadget. (New to me, anyway.) It charges 11 sizes of batteries that fit in your lanterns, your flashlights, and your emergency radio. Click on the image and read all the details carefully to be sure this will work for the batteries you’re using. I have not personally used this charger, so I’d welcome any comments!

Emergency radio.

I notice that some of the emergency radios are on post-holiday sales, so don’t hesitate. What to look for? Sturdy. Powered by solar, battery and hand crank. AM/FM and probably NOAA. What you want to know is how the disasters in the news are developing. Everything else — flashlights, etc. — are extra.

This image shows an emergency radio from RunningSnail. The company makes a couple of versions — I like this one because it can store more power than the less expensive model.

Actually, consider getting several radios (perhaps with different features). You’ll want one for the house and one to keep in each car.  (Our radio reviews are being updated right now for the New Year.

Emergency communications.

Your cell phone will be the first thing you turn to when you hear about disasters in the news. Be sure you have a car charger plug. And get a power bank and/or solar charger for the phone, too. Remember, TEXT messages may get through when a phone call won’t.

(Do you know the number of your emergency contact? In your phone does run out of battery, you won’t be able to look up a number. You need to know it by heart!)


Stock up on toilet paper NOW!  The shelves in the grocery store will be emptied within hours of a storm announcement! (You can always use extra paper supplies for bartering.) Same with baby wipes and antiseptic wipes. And be sure you have some sturdy plastic bags in the car, packed in a plastic container (with lid) big enough to serve as an emergency toilet. Messy but better than getting out of the car in the blowing sleet — or having an accident IN the car . . .!

First aid and medicines.

Only you know what you need. The trick is to actually have your pills and/or drops with you at all times. Not so easy, actually. You’ll need to find the right size plastic containers, label them, and hoard enough extra pills so you can pack up a couple of week’s supply. Really, do it.

Now I wear contact lenses, so one of my emergency challenges is to have extra lenses and a packable size bottle of lens fluid ready. (I have to search to get the 4 oz. sizes – necessary if you fly, too. Actually, even my 4 oz. bottle was confiscated at the airport last year, so I had to board without anything other than a tiny bottle of artificial tears. NOT good for a 15 hr. flight . . .!)


The recent national study by FEMA reported that most people who have set aside money for emergencies have less than $500. If disasters are threatening in the news, and you have to leave home, that money isn’t going to take you far.

Talk to friends and family about being ready to take in someone when disaster hits the news. Maybe you could get a bulk deal on blow up mattresses! (I borrowed a mattress over Thanksgiving. These days nearly all mattresses have built in electric pumps – fantastic! – and most are at least 18 inches high so they are like a real bed, not like camping on the ground. I figure you know about what a blow up bed looks like. Here’s a link to a positively reviewed queen sized mattress that’s actually 22 inches high, so you can get an idea of prices!

Intex Comfort Plush Elevated Dura-Beam Airbed with Internal Electric Pump, Bed Height 22″, Queen

How can you afford to stock up on emergency supplies?

Now, as I look back over this list I see that many of the items cost less than $25! A few are more expensive, of course. All these items are readily available. And many are on sale right now, when merchants want to clear the shelves for spring and summer items.

Push back against the negativity of disasters in the news by taking positive action.

Please, make up your own shopping list and get started checking things off as soon as you can. And share this list with friends, family and neighbors.

We all need to bolster our feeling of confidence in the face of so many disasters in the news. Knowing you’ve taken basic precautions will make a big difference in your outlook.

But don’t be foolish! As you shop, watch for these dangers.

In the aftermath of the holidays there are still lingering sales promotions. And, of course, some people prey on the fear and concern that comes with negative headlines, and they offer deals you “need to get before it’s too late.”

So while I encourage you to shop, I also urge caution. Here are three reminders about sales scams to avoid:

  1. Don’t click links in emails that go directly to products. These products could be counterfeit. Get the name of the manufacturer and go to their website or to a trusted retailer where you have some recourse if the product isn’t what it was advertised.
  2. Don’t open ads or click on product pop-ups on your computer or smartphone. Not only could you be being scammed as far as the product goes, you could be inviting malware onto your computer. Again, go to the source or to a trusted retailer.
  3. “Free” or “introductory” offers are always suspect.  Watch for “shipping and handling” costs (Often that’s where the seller is making his or her profit). And be particularly careful to read “the fine print” which might reveal you will be charged “the regular price” starting two weeks from now!

Whew, that should be enough for today! So I wish you well with your shopping — and getting started in this New Year!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Holiday Gift List for Mom


Even if you’re one of the 33% of Americans who “wish they could skip the holiday season rather than spend money on gifts,” we think you’ll agree.. .

You really can’t skip over Mom!

But look past silly or pointless gifts. Rather, give her a gift that will make you feel better about her security and will show you really care. We’ve put together a Gift List for Mom to get you started. (If you don’t have a mom, just substitute any older person you care about!)

Click here for a Full Page Version – but read the whole Advisory first so you don’t miss any of the details!

Here’s what’s behind this gift list for Mom . . .

My shopping recommendations follow, along with some specific examples in a chart at the very bottom of the page.

Part One: Gifts to make life easier for Mom.

Most of these gifts are long-lasting material “things” that make fun stocking stuffers and great “mystery” gifts.

Part One gifts have been perennial favorites in our family. (You can actually find a gift for every age here!)

  • Bottle opener suitable for the kinds of cans and bottles that Mom opens
  • Flashlight/lantern/solar lamp with glow-in-the-dark handle
  • Emergency radio for news if the power is out
  • Motion-activated light in the driveway or on the porch
  • Portable cellphone chargers
  • A collection of batteries of various sizes

Part Two: Gifts to help Mom avert or avoid an emergency.

Part Two of the Gift List for Mom is another category of gift altogether. Each of these items requires some involvement on your part!

No use waiting for Christmas. Consider some of them for Thanksgiving . . .

  • Take a walk around the outside of Mom’s place. See some things that need to be taken care of before winter really hits? For example: trimming branches that may break in high winds. Making sure downspouts all connect and lead away from the house. Bringing in or covering up outdoor furniture.
  • Take on some fire prevention around your Mom’s’ home: rake up piles of dried leaves and clean out gutters where flying embers could find purchase. (Get the kids involved in this one, too.)
  • Make sure there’s a tool kit in Mom’s car that contains at the very least an emergency light, jumper cables and flat tire inflator. (Even if she isn’t sure about how to use these tools, a good Samaritan could make use of them on her behalf.)
  • Pack a simple Survival Kit for each car in the family, including Mom’s. Fill with warm clothing and/or blanket, snacks, a flashlight, a bottle of water. You never know when rain, snow or an accident will trap you for hours or even overnight on the road. For Mom, being trapped like that could be a real emergency. (You can find more info about what to look for on our Emergency Kit Reviews page.
  • Install a couple of new, lightweight fire extinguishers in Mom’s home. Put one in the kitchen. Make sure Mom holds and handles the extinguisher and understands how to use it. (PASS: Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the handle, Spray from side to side at the base of the fire.) Again, see the chart below for a specific recommendation.

Part Three: Gifts that could save Mom’s life.

Before you head out for your next visit, pack up a few essential tools and supplies so you have what you need to complete these important household chores.

They may have been overlooked for too long.

  • Test Mom’s smoke and CO alarms! You may not enjoy climbing ladders, but your Mom may not be able to! Bring a few 9 volt batteries when you come to visit and take 15 minutes to test all the alarms in her house. (If the alarms are over 10 years old, replace them.) (We have more about CO alarms here.)
  • Does Mom live in earthquake country? Load up on a few brackets and straps at the hardware store and fasten shelves and bookcases to the wall. Tie down computers and TVs. Every day we get closer to one of the “big ones” and these simple preparations can save lives.
  • Has Mom added more electrical gadgets in the house, like fans, heaters or lamps? Maybe even an electric chair? Arrive with a couple of heavy-duty power strips and make sure none of her plugs is overloaded. (Get the kind with an overload switch. And choose the right length cord – 2, 4 or 6 ft.)

And here are some selected examples of gifts from the list for Mom!

All these items come from Amazon, where we are Affiliates. If you click on the images, you’ll go directly to Amazon where you can check full details including prices. Note that in a couple of places I’ve suggested variations on the basic product. Scroll down the Amazon page and you may find a comparison chart with those other variations listed.

Emergency lamps and lanterns -- These lightweight inflatables are solar powered! They do need to sit in the sun for several hours before they are charged - but if Mom has sun, she won't run out of light even during an extended power outage. Plus, these lamps are durable, waterproof, and the amount of light is adjustable. (If you need even more info about lanterns, remember we have a whole review page devoted to them here at http://emergencyplanguide.org/reviews/best-emergency-lanterns-for-power-outage/

Findable Flashlights -- The top one in the picture is a typical metal flashlight with a glow-in-the-dark handle. The second image shows a whole collection of smaller flashlights with entire rubberized, glow-in-the-dark cases. I've said it many times -- have a flashlight in every room! Having glow-in-the-dark models will make them a lot easier to find in an emergency.

Emergency radio will pick up news and weather even when the power is off. I like this radio particularly because it can operate with solar as well as with batteries. And it has a powerful battery storage bank.

Dawn to dusk security light is motion activated, powered by batteries. Once you have one on your porch, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it. Once Mom has one, she'll wonder why you never thought of it before now!

Batteries and Power Banks. Yes, you could add a whole collection of batteries as a great holiday gift. But I'd also add a simple power bank like this one, to charge Mom's phone. (We own a couple of similar ones. They hold a charge forever -- well, not really forever, but for weeks.)

Car Tool Kit. We all have tool kits in our cars, in various conditions. Be sure Mom has one that's complete. This one holds jumper cables and emergency items; if Mom lives in a place where she could get stuck, find a car kit with a tow strap. (That will add another $10 to the price . . .)

Fire extinguishers -- yes, more than one. Be sure to have one near the exit in the kitchen! And get a size and a squeeze mechanism that fits Mom's capabilities. (There are even spray can extinguishers but they empty out almost instantly. Still, better something than nothing.)

In my experience, moms often delay making decisions that someone else might label as “just for her.” You can help your Mom avoid any of that by making sure YOU take action for her welfare.

She will appreciate your thoughtfulness. She may even love you more!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Top Survival Resources: Five Popular Stories and Subjects

Top Survival Trends

After 20 years of training and writing about disaster preparedness, and with well over 500 articles now 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 also track which articles are most often viewed on our site, too. Here are our top survival resources!

Here are the 5 most popular topics on our site, with links that will take you immediately to more information.

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. We’ve added new info about some nifty, palm-sized radios that fit perfectly in a pack, glove box, 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 walkie-talkie 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 the top survival resources for city dwellers:

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 20-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 list of categories in the sidebar and clicking on “CERT” or “Neighborhood.”

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

I hope you’ll find this list of top survival resources 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!

Emergency Radio Update


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!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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Hand-Held Survival Tool


We have spent a lot of time talking about the various emergency radio choices that are available — solar/crank-powered for receiving emergency communications, and hand-held walkie-talkies for keeping in touch. We even did a video about workplace communications — you’ll see the link below this post.

But when you’re caught on the road . . .

But, it’s clear that we need to address the reality that few people caught on the road or away from home will be carrying their solar/crank-powered emergency radio with them — and their walkie-talkies won’t do them much good, either, since those are limited in range.

If you stay in the car, you’ll probably be able to get emergency news and weather reports on your car radio. But if you have no radio,

Or if you have to start walking . . .

You need a reliable alternative.

Reliable emergency radioThe only one we have found that is consistently reliable, affordable and the right size is the Ambient Weather WR-090 Emergency Pocket AM/FM/WB Weather Alert Radio with Digital Tuner and Flashlight

You can gauge the size of the radio by seeing it in the photo, in my hand.  In the photo, the antenna is fully extended; when you store it, of course, you’ll retract it into its 2-inch antenna stub  (shorter than my thumb).

When you select the weather band mode, there’s a red LED ALERT feature (right under the screen), and a clearly marked button on the side turns on a reasonable built-in flashlight.  (Photo insert)

This powerful gem is powered by three replaceable, AAA batteries. It only weighs 4 ounces (including the batteries) and

Easily fits into a pocket, purse or glove compartment of the car.

Most alkaline batteries have a shelf life of ten years. We recommend, however, that the batteries be changed at least once a year, depending on the frequency of usage and exposure of the unit to excessive heat, etc.

As with any battery-powered electronic device, you always want to have extra, fresh, replacement batteries on hand. We prefer the premium Duracell Quantum or Energizer equivalent high-density core. These premium batteries deliver full power longer than the standard models. When you’re dealing with emergency-related devices, you want the best quality, most dependable power available.

(Store extra batteries in your Commuter Kit. )

We personally have three of these units, one for each of our two cars and one for the kitchen drawer.  You’ll feel better if you have a couple of them handy, too. Here’s the direct link to the radio at Amazon, which is where we get ours.

Joe Krueger
Emergency Plan Guide


If you’re interested in radios, here are three more resources:



Emergency Radios – Updated Reviews


Emergency Radio review

Where’s the radio?

The recent earthquake in Napa, California happened at 3:20 a.m. The electricity immediately went out, so no TV, no radio, no news! And for most people, no light. If you have seen any pictures of the insides of their homes, with furniture tipped over and everything strewn around, you can imagine how terrifying and how dangerous the situation was.

So it’s back to the basics. Having a good battery-operated or crank emergency radio HANDY will provide news and light to help you navigate the disaster. You can get a very serviceable radio for under $50, and more elaborate ones for less than $100. You probably want more than one radio.

I went back to our radio reviews to be sure that our recommendations still hold.

The best emergency radio of the bunch: Ambient Weather

The least expensive of the radios we tested is still the best, overall.  It’s the Ambient Weather Adventurer.  Sturdy, compact, lightweight. Charge it by cranking or with solar, and when fully charged it can power your phone. Use it to get NOAA weather alerts and local news.

As you know we use Amazon to deliver our recommendations, so I went further into the Ambient Weather site as well as the Amazon site to see what else I could find.

There are a couple of newer, more powerful models.

Add a siren: The original model 111 that we own has been upgraded to the model 112 with the addition of an emergency siren, a flashing red light (there’s already a really good   regular LED flashlight), and some internal improvements for charging. You have the option of getting a whole “connections” package to hook up to your various electronic devices.

Add AAA batteries:  The 333 models add AAA batteries to the mix, giving you a sixth way to charge the radio. (It already comes with a Lithium-ion battery, has solar, connects to AC — the wall — and DC — car battery — can charge from your computer, and, of course, cranks.) In direct sunlight the 333 will charge itself and play continuously, which means it’s pretty strong. (No solar charging at 3:20 a.m., of course.)

Add Shortwave:  All these radios have Digital AM/FM and NOAA Weather Alert channels; the 335 models add shortwave. According to the description, the 335 can charge your cell phone, MP3, MP4, Kindle, iPod, iPad, and iPhone. And your computer. The package comes with various adapter cords including, of course, an AC adapter.

From our experience with shortwave radios, if this is important to you, you may want to spend time looking at some of the other radios on our list that specialize in shortwave.  Professional shortwave (with fine tuning ability, for example) adds cost and you really want to be sure you have top-rated equipment if this is what you need.

We’ve added more to the reviews of the other radios in our list, too.

We have added new remarks to all our Radio Reviews, and upgraded to newer models.  Before you buy, take a look at all the comments here.

But do buy. Having an emergency radio that works is essential. And knowing you can get to it in the dark at 3:20 a.m. makes sense, too.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team


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