Tag: survival kit

Best Survival Flashlights


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 the best flashlight possible! The picture below shows some of the best survival flashlights in our collection.

Some of the best flashlights in our collection

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

  • 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 ve hiding?
  • Do you want your flashlight to be so lightweight that you carry it all the time?
  • Do you consider your flashlight as a potential weapon?
  • Do you need a flashlight whose batteries are easy to change, even when you’re wearing gloves?

Let’s look at the features you’ll want 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!


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 1,000 or even 3,000 lumens for  so-called “tactical” flashlights. (So bright they blind the opponent.) In our experience, the minimum you want for your survival kit is 200 lumens, and you may prefer 500 or more.

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!


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.

Many LED flashlights allow you to adjust the beam by zooming in or out. Keep reading.


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. For your shelter-in-place stash, which may have to carry you for quite a while, consider traditional batteries and/or crank or solar power.


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.


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 recommendations

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, secure place. (Remember, we’re in earthquake country!)
  • And finally, our recommendations for the BEST flashlights for your survival kit —

We always have flashlights, and because styles change (and companies go in and out of business!) our favorite changes, too. Here are two to consider for 2023.

Click on the images to get current prices at Amazon.

(As an Amazon Affiliate, I will receive a small commission if you click on one of our links and make a purchase. There is no extra charge to you.)

GearLight LED Flashlight for everyday use

  • I like the size of this flashlight, 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.

This light is plenty bright. And today, when I checked, it is on sale!

In any case, it claims to be “Military grade” – and water resistant. It has 5 lighting modes. Great for everyday use. Again, click on the image to get the latest price and packaging.

Take a look at some of the other small flashlights, too. As always, by shopping you may get a better deal.

Option for heavy-duty security flashlight

This classic flashlight from Everbright uses C batteries — so it is larger and heavier than the everyday model above. We like the 3 different lighting modes (high, low and strobe) and the fact that the beam can reach clear out to 1000 feet on high-beam mode! We have similar lights in our cars, for emergencies and as potential weapons. Check costs and get all details for this Everbright by clicking on the image.

Check out all 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.

Flashlights are essential emergency gear!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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.

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


Dust Mask for Your Survival Kit

dust mask for survival kit
Useful for emergencies?

Update as of 9-2020. Because of COVID-19, supplies of commercial masks may be limited. Take steps NOW to get the masks you need.

Do I need a dust mask for my survival kit?

As the pandemic continues, and fires explode in California, we are taking yet another look at the role masks play in protecting our health.

This week, a question first asked over a year ago was raised again.

What’s the best dust mask to protect me from smoke from a wildfire?

In my neighboring county here in southern California the overall Air Quality Index today registers more than 5 times the “safe” levels as set by the EPA!

Air quality considers gases and particles. Particles are the first thing a dust mask attempts to stop. Masks are labeled according to how much particle protection they offer. For example, a mask will get a measurement like “90” or “95” or even “100.”  This tells you the percentage of particles this mask can block from entering your lungs.

Particles are also measured by size. Some masks protect against particles down to 10 microns in size. Others protect against particles down to 2.5 microns. The smaller, the better.

Let’s look more closely at some of the options from the standpoint of preparedness.

1-Option One – standard disposable paper or cloth dust mask

(FYI, the child in the image at the top of this Advisory is wearing a standard surgical style disposable paper mask.)

As we wrote just a couple of weeks ago, your Go-Bag should include a supply of surgical style paper masks as protection against the spread of COVID-19 in a evacuation or shelter situation. Thin paper masks are meant to stop YOU from transmitting virus via droplets from your breath.

They can also protect you from breathing in larger particle pollutants that may be in smoke.

These masks typically have thin elastic straps that go around the ears or around the head. You can see that the one in the image has only one strap. This means it probably won’t fit too well — particularly if you have a beard or mustache.

These masks are for one-time use only.

Inexpensive cloth masks – or just a bandana — can be washed and reused but tend to get wet around the mouth. These masks may give you the impression of providing security. They may stop you from passing on the virus. But they can really only prevent some of the very largest smoke particles from getting into your lungs.

2-Option Two – “respirator” built for better protection

It appears that the best all-purpose masks are those labeled N95. They filter out 95% of pollutants that aren’t oil-based. (Some masks are labeled N99 or even N100 and are more effective.) These are the masks that health care workers, first responders and volunteers working in the burn areas of California wear – or should be wearing.

Like the Option One masks discussed above, these masks are also disposable. But they fit better (two straps, nose piece) and are more comfortable and thus can be worn longer before being replaced. One additional comfort feature is an exhalation valve. The valve makes it easier to wear the mask in hot or humid conditions.

Here’s an example from Amazon (where we are Associates) of an N95 mask with exhalation valve. This model comes 10 to a box.

3M 8511 Respirator, N95, Cool Flow Valve (10-Pack)

Caution: While a mask with an exhalation valve may make it easier for you to work in smoky conditions,, it does not protect you from harmful gases. Moreover, the CDC warns that because an exhalation valve makes it easier to breathe out, the mask will not keep you from transmitting a virus to others.

Masks can also be combined with additional layers or filters to keep out specific pollutants. The more layers, the more effective (as long as the fit is good). The mask below, for example,  is designed with extra layers of activated charcoal. (Note adjustable ear straps.) My research does suggest that while these masks with filters can protect against particles as small as 2.5 microns, they are NOT rated by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the one that gives us the “N95” rating.

Mouth Mask,Aniwon 3 Pack Anti Dust Pollution Mask with 6 Pcs Activated Carbon Filter Insert Fashion Cotton Face Mask PM2.5 Dust Mask for Men Women

3-Option Three – masks for specialty use

If you find yourself in a specialty situation — for example, where you are engaged in grinding or welding, or working in heavy pollution caused by a fire – you need a reusable respirator. Typically, it will have one or dual cartridge holders permanently affixed to a half-face or full-face mask. You add filters or cartridges to the holders to match the job you’re performing. If you’re looking for the highest level of protection, go for P100. It filters out 100 percent of both oil-based and non-oil-based particles.

3M Rugged Comfort Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6502/49489, Medium

You can probably find specialty, reusable masks like the one above starting as low as $25. (Prices quickly go up to well over $100). Be sure you’re getting the filters and/or cartridges you need. In particular, be sure the mask fits WELL. Any air leakage defeats the purpose entirely. Straps that are too tight will keep you from wearing the mask when you need to.

If you prefer a half-face mask, you may want to add goggles or some sort of eye protection.

For everyday survival kits, a full face respirator is probably more than you need. But if you know you are heading into a dangerous air situation, and can grab some extras from your stash of supplies, having a reusable mask with the appropriate cartridges would certainly be useful.

Some final thoughts about a dust mask for your survival kit.

Putting on a mask seems simple, but wearing one for hours can be difficult for some people. The masks become hot and scratchy, and if they get wet they may become soggy and block air altogether. People with facial hair and small children can’t get the fit that’s necessary for the best protection.

But in an emergency, it makes no sense to be without sensible simple protection.

I recommend you buy a box of surgical masks and another of N95 masks and put some in each survival kit you own — family members, the car, and the office. Practice putting on one of the masks to check its fit.

Now, take that mask off and tuck it back in the bag with the others and know protection is there when you need it.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Have you had experience with face masks? Tell us your story!

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

Garlock – A Major Earthquake Fault Awakened

Original map from Math/Science Nucleus showing major faults in California

During the summer I wrote a couple of times about the earthquakes we experienced on the 4th and 5th of July. If you recall, those quakes, a 6.4 magnitude followed the next day by a 7.1, were centered in Ridgecrest, a town of about 30,000 located north of Los Angeles. (I added the approximate location to the map above.)

At the time, we saw news videos of homes on fire, store shelves emptying onto the floor, and images of cracks in local highways.

Ridgecrest faded from the front page of the news, but suddenly it’s right there again because there have been over 110,000 aftershocks in the web of interconnected faults in the Ridgecrest area. And as a result:

A once dormant fault has been awakened! And it’s a major one!

Look just below the red Ridgecrest label on the map to see the Garlock Fault. For well over 500 years the fault, running in an east-west direction for nearly 200 miles, has been silent.

But since the Ridgecrest quakes, that major earthquake fault has begun to move. Garlock has been reported as capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake!

Here are the questions I’ve had, and the answers I’ve found.

Is the Garlock Fault actually part of the Ridgecrest network?

No. The Ridgecrest network of smaller quakes stopped a few miles from the Garlock. But their activity destabilized the Garlock fault, which is a major fault. And as you can see on the map, the Garlock fault DOES connect to the San Andreas fault.

What kind of movement does the Garlock show?

The Garlock fault is just creeping at a slow pace, without any shaking going on. No one living in that area has really noticed it. But satellite imagery is so precise that it can measure the movement. Add the satellite info to measurements taken from seismometers and scientists now have an accurate picture of what’s happening. The fault has crept about .8 of an inch since July.

Doesn’t creeping lessen the strain on the faults?

Apparently not. Sometimes creeping can reduce the strain on the faults, but it could also trigger an earthquake.

Does all this mean that a major quake is more likely?

All the reports that I read said the same thing: “We just don’t know. The chances of ‘The Big One’ hitting are the same as they have been for years. It could arrive at any minute.”

What should we be doing as a result of this discovery?

Let’s review. When a major earthquake hits, buildings and roads collapse, cutting off communications and transportation and causing injury.  However, most injuries are not from falling buildings. Rather, they are from items flying across a room or falling from shelves. Preparing in advance can reduce these dangers.

The good news is if you haven’t started preparing yet, you can start today using the step-by-step list below! (Find more to-do lists at BusinessInsider and also at Earthquake Country Alliance.)

Do a few things every day. Any preparations we make give us a better chance of making it through.

Step 1: Secure your house and where you work.

Just stand in the middle of a room and slowly turn around, and you’ll see what needs to be done to protect yourself from falling or moving items!

  • Fasten down heavy pieces of furniture (refrigerator, bookcases, computer stands) using earthquake straps.
  • Anchor light fixtures to the ceiling.
  • Hang heavy items using brackets and screws and special earthquake hangers (monitors, mirrors, pictures).
  • Remove heavy books and decorative items from high shelves and move to bottom shelves.
  • Put small items into cupboards or use Museum putty to stick them to shelves (vases, collectibles).
  • Store glass food containers in closed cabinets with latches.

Step 2: Have supplies to carry you through.

After a major earthquake, you are likely to be on your own, with no immediate help, for hours or even days. (1) Build a 72-hour survival kit that you can grab if necessary. Have one for each person at home, at work and one in the car. (2) Store other supplies in convenient places so you’ll be able to shelter in place for at least 10 days.

Here are the 8 categories you’ll want to consider for both the kit and for the shelter-in-place supplies: water, food, shelter/warmth, health/safety, light, communications (assume no power), sanitation, and personal items. (You may also want to add tools to help you make repairs after the quake.) Here’s a link to our two complete lists with dozens of items to consider.

This is a lot of stuff to think about! Make your own customized list and start to pull things together day by day. Don’t forget pets.

Step 3. Make a disaster plan.

Decide on an out-of-town friend or relative as the contact person for your family. Be sure everyone knows the contact’s cell phone number! Teach everyone in your household how to text, because when communication lines are overloaded a text may get through when a voice message won’t.

Train family members on how to use emergency equipment that might be necessary after a major earthquake: emergency radio, fire extinguisher, gas turn-off wrench.

Step 4. Start now to protect yourself financially.

This can include reviewing insurance coverage, setting aside emergency funds, and organizing all important documents. (Many disaster victims can’t prove they own their home, don’t have car ownership documents, lose IDs showing eligibility for pensions, etc.) Scan important documents and store them on an easy-to-manage flash drive or “in the cloud.”

Step 5. Know what to do when the quake hits! 

There are many out-dated notions still floating around about standing in doorways, finding a “triangle of life,” etc. In a major earthquake you will NOT BE ABLE TO MOVE SAFELY. Try to keep away from glass windows and doors as you . . .

How to respond to an earthquake!
Earthquake? Act NOW to save your life.

If you are outside, stay away from buildings, power lines, etc. that could fall.

Step 6. Organize your neighborhood for more resilience.

Recent disasters of all kinds have shown that neighbors can and will help, particularly if they know each other and have trained on what to do. (1) Get CERT training as a start. (2) Get one of Emergency Plan Guide’s Neighborhood Disaster Survival guides and use its suggestions to help your neighborhood get organized.

And something new if you are in California: the MyShake cellphone app.

Last Thursday was Great California Shake-Out Day. Over 10 million people participated! And Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of the nation’s first statewide earthquake early warning system.

The ShakeAlert system, developed by the University of California Berkeley and the Wire Emergency Alert system, has been available for schools, hospitals and other public agencies for a while. Now it has been made available to all citizens through a simple cellphone app – the MyShake app.

The MyShake app can be downloaded from Google Play (Android) and through iTunes from the Apple app store (iOS).

Basically, hundreds seismic sensors track ground movement, transmit it for analysis, and then if a quake of 4.5 magnitude or stronger is expected, the system sends an alert to selected grid locations. The alert message will be simple: “There is an earthquake. Drop, cover and hold on.”

(It all works because shaking waves travel at around .5 to 3 miles per second — but electronic transmissions are instantaneous. Want more details about ShakeAlert? Get this fact sheet from the US Geological Survey. )

What good will a few seconds warning do?

In a few seconds . . .

  • You’ll be able to grab a child and huddle under a sturdy table or desk.
  • You will have time to turn off the stove or blow out a candle.
  • Doctors and dentists can lift the scalpel or drill.
  • Officials can slow or stop trains.
  • Elevators can be shut off.
  • Automatic doors can be opened.
  • Equipment can be shut off or set to safe mode.

What would YOU do right now to protect yourself if an earthquake were arriving in 5-10 seconds?

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. During the time I was working on this Advisory, two more quakes were felt in Northern California – 4.5 and a 4.7 magnitude. Earthquake activity is continuous. You can be prepared.

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!

Earthquakes in California

Map of Active earthquakes in Southern California
Best source for earthquake news – USGS

A “robust sequence” of earthquakes.

That quote above is from the eminent seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones. If you’ve watched the news about the earthquakes in California, you’ve seen her.

Here’s a quick report from our community in Southern California.

We’re in Orange County, along the coast in Southern California, about 160 miles from the earthquake epicenter at Ridgecrest, which is more in the center part of the state.

But even here, we felt both of the largest quakes – the 6.4 on July 4th, and the 7.1 yesterday on July 5th. No comparison – that second quake was MUCH bigger! 

When it started, I was seated right here at my computer. The chair seemed to be moving left and right. Then it was definitely moving left and right! That died down, and then things started shaking. The whole house started bumping, rattling, creaking, clunking, blinds banging and banging against the windows! Happily, our lights stayed on. I moved away from the computer and monitor and my bookshelves, but nothing fell.

In the end, things gradually returned to normal. Today, the only damage I could find in my house were three new hairline cracks, perfectly aligned about 4 feet apart, from one side to the other of the tile kitchen floor.

Our neighborhood emergency response team got into action.

We are always preparing for earthquakes in California. Here in our community, several people quickly made phone calls, and we were also able to connect via email, but our main communications took place via walkie-talkies. Within about 5 minutes, neighbors were checking on neighbors and reporting in. Two of our team members monitored the news (using ham radio, too) and shared what they were learning. That info was passed along via the walkie-talkies. Within about 20 minutes, everyone had reported in to our “Command” channel: “People in the streets, no damage.”

What happened in Ridgecrest was far worse, and is a reminder about being prepared.

We should be prepared for any emergency with basic supplies:

  1. Sturdy shoes
  2. Flashlights and lanterns!
  3. First Aid kit
  4. Water
  5. Non-perishable food (in non-breakable containers)
  6. Blankets

In earthquake country, you want to stash these items throughout your house.

An earthquake isn’t like a storm, where you probably have some warning to grab your survival kit and head to shelter. In a quake you will still be at home afterwards, and so you want to be able to get to your supplies even if parts of the home are damaged.

And talk over a plan for contacting family members after an emergency. Be sure to include an out-of-area contact number.

Now, in my case, our out-of-state contact person, my brother – was somewhere on a boat headed to Alaska! So we need to set up a secondary contact right away.

What comes next?

We’ll be operating for a while based on what we learned last night about earthquakes in California. For us, the good news is our neighborhood volunteers were prepared and DID WHAT THEY HAD TRAINED TO DO.  

If you are interested in building a neighborhood emergency response group, or strengthening the one you have, we have resources that can help! Check out our website: https://EmergencyPlanGuide.org! and if you have specific questions, please be in touch directly. We have some real experience — even more today than before — and we’d love to share.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Day 6 of Summer Vacation: A time for some shorter and lighter Advisories as a welcome change-of-pace! (Or at least, that was the plan!)

CERT Challenge: Overcoming Apathy and Procrastination

“How prepared are they?”

We sat at the 2nd Wednesday monthly meeting of our CERT Leaders and stared gloomily as one of our members gave yet another status report about some of “her” residents in the community. “Not one extra can of food. Not one extra bottle of water.”

Her neighborhood had many elderly residents. In some cases, residents are handicapped by lack of funds. In others, the reason is plain apathy, procrastination or worse. You may hear: “It’s the government’s job to provide for us in an emergency.”

Are “governments” responsible to care for us in a disaster? How capable are they?

We saw an answer to the second question in interviews by the media following Hurricane Sandy’s damage in New Jersey. Local and state governments were overwhelmed and unable to respond. Likewise, relief agencies like the Red Cross and Salvation Army were also overtaxed by the enormity of the event. Some people went weeks without services.

More recently, we watched the Federal Government pretty much abandon the victims of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico.

And here in California, huge fires have pulled emergency responders from communities distant from the fires and even from other states — leaving the people left at home without full protection for days and even weeks.’

These disasters damage communities and even destroy them. And usually, it’s people who are less affluent who suffer the most.

And these disasters pose an important question for all of us: What can we do to help? Are we doing it?

And the most difficult version of that same question:

Are we prepared to share with people who ignored warnings?

Are we ready to care for irresponsible neighbors as well as ourselves in a disaster scenario? That question presents responsible citizens with untenable choices.

Here in our neighborhood we are admittedly better prepared than most. Over 70% of our residents indicate that they have some food and water set aside for emergencies, largely as a result of ongoing education programs that span a decade.

But 70% isn’t 100%. More needs to be done.

Never stop educating people on the realities of a disaster.

Here in our neighborhood we regularly publish “educational bulletins” and, when circumstances allow, bring in guest speakers to talk about preparedness. Some of the best bulletins:

  • Recognize a gas line leak. (Gas company)
  • Clean up around the house to prevent a wildfire. (Fire Department)
  • Vial of life — important emergency info for the refrigerator.

Some of our most successful meetings:

  • What’s in your emergency kit? (Show and tell!)
  • Try out a fire extinguisher! (Thanks to Fire Department)
  • Retrofit your home to withstand an earthquake. (Neighborhood contractor)

Maybe if we make a party out of preparing for emergencies . . .

Every neighborhood volunteer group is always looking for ways to engage new neighbors. We hear about some of the good ones!

During a power outage, one neighborhood held a “Power Outage Picnic.” People brought meat to the party and a couple of volunteers with gas-burning grills cooked it up for everyone to share! By lantern light!

We held an “emergency preparedness fair” sponsored by the local hardware store. They brought dozens of items as demos, then handed attendees a coupon for 20% off if they would come to the store to buy.

After all these years of coming up with educational ideas and trainings, we finally put together a whole book with ideas for 21 activities to help overcome apathy and procrastination. That book has been our consistent best seller! If you are looking for some inspiration, consider getting a copy for YOUR neighborhood.

Emergency Preparedness Meeting Ideas

Each one of the activities comes with objectives, procedures, materials you’ll need, and commentary. And there’s a separate planning sheet for each activity to make it easy for volunteers to step up and take a turn as host. You can find out more about Meeting Ideas here.

The point of all this? Leaders have to recognize that preparedness is an ongoing challenge. You may have to wheedle or even use a little guilt now and then to get people to take action. But with a few ideas and some energetic team members, you can make a big difference in how resilient your community will be.

We think it’s worth it. That’s what this website is all about!

Automatic Survival Habits

Automatic survival habit - looking for exits at the theater

How would you rate your everyday survival habits?

It’s such fun to get caught up in whether your next knife should be full tang or folding, or maybe assisted folding. Whether you need a sleeping bag that has synthetic insulation or goose down. Whether to buy last year’s model hand-held radio (to save a lot) or splurge on the very latest version.

These are fun decisions and here at Emergency Plan Guide we engage with them just like you do.

But these decisions are one-time. What we want to talk about today are:

Simple survival habits as second nature.

As you know, we are part of a neighborhood emergency preparedness group. A lot of what we do is aimed at getting other neighbors to take even their FIRST step toward preparedness!

Actually, we work on at least a dozen survival habits, trying to turn them into second nature to improve the readiness and resilience of the whole community.

Below is a recent list of survival habits we’re trying to instill in everyone around us. As you look through the list, ask yourself.

  • How well do you measure up?
  • What steps would you add for your neighborhood group?
  • How will you share the list with them?

20 Easy and Smart Automatic Survival Habits

1 – Heading to the grocery store? Buy just one or two extra cans of food for your emergency supplies. You don’t have to stockpile everything all at once!

2 – Adding to your emergency food supplies? Be sure to get things you like and eat regularly. That way, you can eat from the front of the shelf and replace at the back.

3 – Building a better emergency kit for your car? You may be able to get a used backpack or tote bag at Goodwill – cheap, serviceable, and unnoticeable.

4 – Keep your car half full of gas all the time. (I keep mine 3/4 full!) Nothing worse than being caught in a traffic jam, watching that gas gauge go down and down!

5 – Keep your car locked when it’s parked, even at home. An unlocked car is an invitation a passerby might not be able to resist.

6 – Whenever you go into a building – theater, store, school – get in the habit of noting the location of other exits. In an emergency you may want to avoid the way you came in. This survival habit may save your life in an active shooter situation.

7 – Update the emergency info on your refrigerator at least twice a year, when the time changes. Have there been changes in your medications? The phone numbers of your emergency contacts?

8 – Don’t have the Vial of Life info on your refrigerator? Here’s what we did with our group.

9 – Need help? Can’t call loudly enough to be heard outside your home? Consider adding a simple whistle to your key ring or someplace else where you can reach it in an emergency.

10 – Flying? Keep your shoes on for the first 3 minutes after take-off. That’s the most dangerous time, and if you have to evacuate you don’t want to do it bare-footed!

11 – Teach your grandchildren their first name and last name. Absolutely necessary if they get separated from their parents.

12 – When you’re planning for emergencies, start your planning with the most likely emergencies, not the most severe. For most people, the most likely emergency is a power outage. Not too hard to plan for! All you need right away is emergency lighting and a way to keep warm.

13 – Heat wave and no A/C? Don’t try to tough it out! Put up shades to block the sun coming in the windows. Take a cold bath. Drape yourself with wet washcloths and towels.

14 – Power out during cold weather? Pick a small room, hang or tape blankets over the windows and door, get into bed with blankets.

15 – Best emergency lighting? Inflatable solar lanterns and/or battery-powered lanterns. It should go without saying that you have a flashlight in every room, with extra batteries handy.

16 – After a couple of days of eating out of cans, you’ll really appreciate having condiments to spruce up the taste! When you are out, collect packets of BBQ sauce, honey, jelly, soy sauce, ketchup, syrup, etc. for your emergency food stash.

17 – Canned meat may not taste so good, but it will give you the same protein as fresh meat – and will last for years. Add canned chicken, tuna in oil, and spam to your supplies.

18 – Don’t forget to refresh your first aid kit. Throw out dried up bottles or anything that’s gotten wet. You may want to add liquid skin as a new way to treat scrapes and cuts.

19 – Be sure to store an old pair of shoes, comfortable for walking, in your car. Heels or flip-flops won’t work if you have to hike for help!

20 – If you haven’t done it yet, freeze some plastic containers filled with water. (Leave space at the top for the water to expand.) Use the containers to keep your freezer fully packed. Saves energy when you have electricity, provides emergency water when you don’t!

Do all these ideas sound familiar?

Have you taken any of these steps and/or practiced them more than once? Have they become automatic survival habits?

I hope the answer is yes!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Here’s something that you may find it interesting in light of the things we’ve talked about lately.

It turns out that Amazon (where we are Associates) has a service called PRIME PANTRY where you can buy everyday first aid, household, cereals, packaged items, etc. – what they call “everyday essentials” – and have them delivered for free. You don’t have to buy huge quantities, either.

Click on the ad to find out more. This may be a convenient way for your group to stock up on some of the things you want for your survival kits.

Everyday Household Supplies as Tools for Survival


Tin Foil Frying Pan

Don’t you love lists? I see them everywhere I turn online.

And I read a lot of them, particularly those in the survival niche. Mostly, they confirm what I already know. But every once in a while I find survival ideas I hadn’t really considered before.

What follows are some ideas using everyday household supplies as tools for survival. Maybe you can add them to your list, too!

Six reasons to have aluminum foil in your survival supplies.

Who knew all the things it can do in an emergency – and, for that matter, every day!?

  1. Cooking over a campfire? Wrap smallish pieces of food in a foil pack, cook over or buried in coals.
  2. Add a foil reflector to block the wind from your fire, and to direct its heat.
  3. Position a foil sheet to reflect and enhance the light from the sun or from your lantern.
  4. Use crumpled foil under a bar of soap and under a scrub pad to keep them from getting gunky or rusting.
  5. Fold a small piece of tinfoil and stick in your flashlight between the battery and spring to improve a loose connection.
  6. And this, from Reader’s Digest. (And see my image, above.) Make a temporary tin foil frying pan by covering a forked stick with a double layer of foil. Make a slight depression in the space in the V of the fork — that’s where you’ll put your food for frying!

Four more survival uses for everyday household supplies using everybody’s favorite — duct tape.

I’m sure you have plenty of duct tape at home. I hope you have some in your survival kits, too. The “flat packs” are much lighter and more convenient than the heavy roll. (See below.)

You can use duct tape to fasten just about anything, but here are a few more ways to use it as a survival tool:

  1. First aid supply – Use thin strips to close a wound. Use thicker strips of tape plus small branches or pieces of wood to create a splint for a sprained ankle.
  2. Twist a length of tape to create a rope for tying anything. Fold a length of tape in half onto itself to create a strap – for a belt, a sling, a carrying handle.
  3. Keep out cold air by closing leaks in clothing using tape. (Don’t tape to your skin. )
  4. Tape together Mylar blankets or large size plastic bags to make a sleeping bag or a shelter.

And while we’re on plastic bags, here are seven ways to put these everyday household supplies to use as survival tools.

Different weights of plastic have different uses. And, of course, the heavier the weight, the more they add to the weight of your survival kit. Here are some often overlooked survival ideas using bags and baggies. (More info, with prices, at the end of this Advisory.)

  1. Trash compactor bags are very thick – and thus work well to manage human waste in a survival situation. Place the bags in the toilet, or in a plastic bucket. (When full, add kitty litter or some disinfectant, close and dispose of.)
  2. Use ordinary plastic bags from the grocery store to line boots (over socks, inside boots) to keep your feet dry. (Probably won’t work in a stream but does fine through wet grass and puddles.)
  3. Use plastic bags as temporary gloves to protect your hands from germs, blood, yucky stuff, etc. (I used one just last week to dispose of a dead rat.)
  4. Large garden size bags can be used to line your pack to keep it dry. Raining? Cut a hole for your head and turn the bag into a poncho. Tape a couple of bags end to end for a makeshift one-person tube tent.
  5. Ziploc bags of different sizes are helpful for sorting clothing (clean, dirty, wet), protecting foodstuffs and matches from the damp, and keeping first aid items readily visible. And you can use a baggie to start a survival fire. A fire?
    1. Fill the bag with water.
    2. Twist to create a tightly filled plastic water “ball.”
    3. Position the ball over fine tinder and use like you would a magnifying glass. The sun shining through the ball of water can heat tinder sufficiently to start a fire! Here’s a great YouTube video from the King of Random showing just how to do it: https://youtu.be/vMcgs7Tx3Hs
  6. And from Primal Survivor, this idea for using a plastic bag to catch fish. Find a stream with fish. Create a sort of funnel in the stream by building a V with stones. (Open end upstream. ) At the tip of the V fasten a plastic bag with its mouth open and a few holes cut in to allow water to flow through. Go upstream and scare the fish so they head downstream – into your funnel and then into your plastic bag!
  7. And a final idea – using a clean clear large-sized plastic bag to capture water from a plant or tree. Pick a NON-TOXIC plant with large leaves. Pull a bag over a large branch with lots of leaves and tie it tightly. Be sure the lowest point in the bag is below the tie. Over time, the plant will release water vapor. The vapor will condense, run down the sides of the bag and collect in the bottom, where you can capture it to drink.  This will take time and patience, but could save your life in an emergency.  You can find an easy to follow picture-by-picture explanation here. https://www.instructables.com/id/Extract-Clean-Drinkable-Water-From-Plants/

I’ll soon be testing both the baggie-full-of-water-as-magnifying-glass and the bag-to-collect-transpiration-from a tree. (No streams with fish near me . . .) I’ll let you know how it goes.

Maybe YOU can test these two ideas with your own kids or other members of a group – Scouts? Sunday school?  Your neighborhood emergency response team?  (Watch the video and check the how-to-pictures first. They include a couple of safety messages you don’t want to overlook.)

Three ways to get everyday household supplies for your survival kits.

  1. Start by going through your cupboards and pull from your regular supplies. You’ll probably have aluminum foil, duct tape and a few assorted bags. If you find ties, pull some of them out, too.
  2. Make a list of other items you might want: flat packs of tape, trash compactor bags, heavy-duty large black trash bags, maybe even that very light-weight see-through bag that will work to capture water from a plant.
  3. If you are part of a group, consider pooling your money and making a bulk buy. By buying in bulk you’ll be able to save money and give everyone a chance to get a few of what they need and not overbuy.

Here are some suggestions from Amazon, where we often go first for our shopping. Since most of these everyday household supplies are probably readily available in your local stores, you may want to shop specials. I’m including price info from Amazon so you can get an idea of costs if you’re shopping for a group. And if you are a prime member at Amazon, all the supplies could be delivered at once, making it easy to get everything distributed.

Buy over time!

Not everyone can run out and immediately buy everything on every survival list. But items like the ones on this list are pretty inexpensive, so you can buy one or two every so often until you have everything you need.

It’s the same with assembling ALL your survival supplies — emergency radio, batteries, food, etc. Slow and steady means when the disaster hits you may not have everything, but you will have more to help you get through than you did last month . . .!

Good luck with your shopping!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team





School Preparedness Questions for Kids


Kid at school

How well will your kid do in answering these school preparedness questions?

Last time we listed some school preparedness questions to take with you to a Back to School meeting.

(I trust you realize that some of them will make your teachers or administrators uncomfortable.)

Today we’re turning the spotlight around, and shining it right on your kids – and thus on you as a parent.

Some of these school preparedness questions for kids are bound to make YOU uncomfortable!

The reason?

You will not be there when something happens at school! If you haven’t worked through these questions, you may not be able to count on  your kids when it really matters.

These school preparedness questions are meant to instill confidence, not fear.

If you live in the country or spend time camping or even scouting, your kids may “score” well on the following questions. If your kids don’t have access to those experiences, you’ll want to start building some of them into your everyday lifestyle. Over-protective parents don’t do their kids any favors.

Obviously, the “correct” answer to any of these school preparedness questions for kids depends on the age of the child, where you live, etc.

On the way to school – preparedness questions for kids 

  • Does your child know his or her full name? In an emergency, just a first name alone won’t do! Get your kids in the habit of always answering “What’s your name?” with their full name, so it will become automatic.
  • Has your child memorized key phone numbers and addresses – at least one or two? (Have you?) Yes, all names may be in your phone’s database, or your kid’s phone’s database, but you have to assume that in an emergency (earthquake, flood, tornado) phones will be lost. Even if emergency personnel are there, trying to help, if your child can’t give them key information . . .!
  • What are realistic threats that your child could face on the way to (or from) school? Depending on the age of your child and where you live, going-to-school threats might include:
    • Dangerous traffic
    • A car or bus accident
    • Being approached by a stranger
    • Having to ride with an unfamiliar person (neighbor, etc.)
    • Falling ill or getting a scrape or cut
    • Witnessing a fight or other violence
    • Being harassed or bullied by other children
    • Being threatened by a dog or other animal
    • An unexpected weather event
    • Fill in the blank, here, with a threat that might appear in YOUR neighborhood.
  • Is your child aware of these threats? Does he or she know how to respond?You’ll probably want to discuss likely threats one at a time and be ready with some good suggestions for your child on how to handle them. (Reading books or watching TV together may give you a way to start a conversation.)

Caution: If your child walks to school, or you are eager for him to begin, be sure he’s old enough! There’s no set age when that makes sense, but most experts seem to agree that kids aren’t really able to make judgments about moving traffic until they are 9 or 10.

Why, just last year I watched a newly-9-year-old come dashing down the hill from school and tear right across two lanes of traffic without even looking. His mother and I, standing together across the street, were horrified. She shook him, and I asked, “What were you thinking?!” His simple answer shows clearly what he was thinking, and ALL he was thinking: “I saw my mom!”

Selected resources for kids walking to school

Some of our Emergency Plan Guide Advisories may be perfectly good “training courses” for kids. And here are a couple of other resources specifically for children.

Blood is always upsetting, but it needn’t create an emergency. Make sure your kids know some of the basics: https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/teaching-first-aid-kids/

And if your kids walk or bike, check out this article. It has tips for different ages. https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/blog/pedestrian-safety-tips-teach-kids

Preparedness questions for kids facing an emergency at school

  • Have you confirmed that your child understands the what and why of school safety drills? Have you shown you think these drills are important by practicing some responses together at home?
  • Does your child understand that in an emergency kids might have to stay at school for a long time? Or leave the school and go somewhere else? If they know this could happen, it won’t be such an upset.
  • How well would your child take emergency direction from someone else? (Teacher, crossing guard, police officer, etc.)
  • Would your child be willing to come home with a neighbor if you were not available? (You may have to adjust your teaching about “Don’t ever get into the car of a stranger.”)
  • In an emergency, could your child walk home alone from school? Does she know when that would be allowed?
  • Does your child know more than one route home?
  • Can your child get home by taking the bus?

Emergency supplies for children at school

  • Does your child have an emergency kit for school, one that he carries in his backpack all the time?
  • Does your child understand that the kit is ONLY for emergencies? (How often do you replace and replenish the kit?)
  • In addition to a list of contact numbers, snacks and water, does the school kit contain items like wipes, first aid supplies, a blanket for warmth, a flashlight, and a good whistle? What about an emergency phone?
  • Are all the items in the school kit allowed by the school?

Emergencies at home

If preparedness is important to you, then your children will pick up on that and just naturally become more aware and more able to take care of themselves. You may already have trained them in important survival skills. Many EmergencyPlanGuide.org Advisories are written for the whole family, and we assume you share them as appropriate.

But don’t overlook this one important skill that every young child needs to know:

How to call 911.

It seems simple for grown-ups, but isn’t.

First, the kid has to have a phone. A landline is easiest to find and more reliable; a cellphone has to have battery power and the child has to be able to unlock it to get to the keypad.

(On my iPhone 6, for example, I have to press the round Home button to get to the Lock screen. Then, without unlocking, I look for the word “emergency” at the bottom of the page. When I press it, another key pad comes up so I can dial 911 and then press SEND and then I have to wait to be connected.  Lots of steps.)

This article has good hints about dialing 911 and practicing the dialog.

We’ve all heard the stories of toddlers dialing 911 and saving a parent. Those parents weren’t lucky – their kids were trained!

One final note. Older children may be more effective and training younger children than you are, so give them the chance!

Until next time*,

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

*Next time I’ll be addressing some of the best student emergency items I’ve found. Don’t miss that Advisory because the new school year is just around the corner!

And once again, if you didn’t get the questions to ask school administrators, get them now.


Your Survival Kit – Just “a Preparedness Placebo?”


Fortune Cookie

I first saw this “placebo” expression a week ago in an article on LinkedIn. I liked the article (about the failings of FEMA) and liked the expression, in particular. It inspired me to write again about survival kits!

Just as a reminder, a “placebo” is defined as “a harmless procedure prescribed more for a psychological benefit than for any physiological effect.” (Other words that appear in other definitions for placebo are “fake” and “inert.” I love words!)

Do you have a survival kit?

As you know, we recommend kits for everyone, and often more than one per person. One of our most widely read articles offers a handy chart  to help you figure out how many you need.

Could your current kit be considered a “placebo?”

  • A harmless survival kit would probably be a kit that contains just a few miscellaneous items and hasn’t been updated or replenished in a long while. Actually, this kit might actually be harmful if you are counting on it to meet your needs in a real emergency.
  • What psychological benefit do you get from your survival kit? Do you feel you’ve done your part? Taken all the steps that could logically be expected of you? Does your kit give you actual peace of mind?

How do you answer? Unfortunately, in answering this question, many people who own pre-built survival kits will have to agree that their kits ARE placebos.

What makes a “real” disaster kit?

It’s going to be one you built yourself!

Whether you call them disaster kits, preparedness kits, survival kits, 72-hour kits – doesn’t matter. Putting them together yourself offers important benefits.

  • Figuring out where you need kits – at home, in the car, at work, at school, on vacation – starts you thinking about all the potential threats you and different family members face.
  • Building a kit for yourself and another one for your 8-year-old makes you realize that one size does not fit all. Why, your identical twin would need different stuff than you need!
  • Packing for self-sufficiency for 72 hours – and getting it all into a kit you can carry — makes you realize what is really essential and what is a convenience you can do without.
  • Sorting through a first aid kit, a set of hand tools or a box of snacks forces you to evaluate benefits, uses, and quality of each item. You’ll discover you want the best, not the cheapest.

What goes into every “real” disaster survival kit?

I am assuming that since you’re reading this at Emergency Plan Guide, you already have an idea of the basic list.If you need a review, here’s a link to our lists. (The first list is the basic 72-hour list – pick what you can use.)

How should I customize my kits?

Here’s where your disaster kits stop being “placebos” and start being really meaningful to your successful survival!

We’ve pulled five interview questions from our Survival Kit Workbook, so they may be familiar to you. They’re worth answering again.

Question #1. What emergencies could actually arise?

Your answers will depend largely on where you live. For example:

  • Sun. Say you live in the moderate climate of Southern California, and have everything organized for that. But, you decide to drive from LA to Las Vegas! Now that takes you into real desert! If your car broke down you would need MORE water, sunscreen, hats, dark glasses, maybe even reflectors (mylar space blankets) to stay alive! Add these items to your car kits as necessary. (Also, don’t start walking . . .)
  • Damp. Whether you live in the jungle, or take a trip there, you don’t want to forget to pack a poncho and rain hat, mosquito repellent, snake bite kit, etc. Once again, your pre-built kit may have a poncho, but is VERY unlikely to have any of these other items. Don’t forget a plastic bag to pack INSIDE your kit to keep things dry, and another one to put OVER your kit to keep things dry!
  • Cold. Most life-saving items for extreme cold won’t fit in a regular back-pack, so if you live or travel in these conditions, pack a second bag with gloves, boots, warm hat, a cold-weather sleeping bag, hand warmers, fire igniter.
  • Coastal area. It’s probably going to be cold even in the best weather, so consider warm clothing. If there’s the possibility of flooding, have an escape tool that will get you out of a seatbelt and out of a car being threatened by deep water.
  • Hurricane or tornado zone. You want to know when the storm is arriving! So have an emergency alert radio or mobile phone app for warnings. Have storm or rain gear. Consider tools to help you escape from a damaged building, and a signal device to warn rescuers if you can’t escape.
  • Earthquake. Add to your escape tools and signaling devices some extra items to help with digging out – like gloves and a dust mask.

We’ve mentioned natural disasters. Don’t overlook man-made disasters that could require special equipment, too! The list is long: bomb blast, gas line leak, power failure, water supply problem, etc. We’ll take a look at the whole list another day. Back to the interview questions.

Question #2. Where am I likely to be when disaster strikes?

If you are a commuter or driver (soccer mom), you could be in your car. Your car survival kit should include the basics, plus specialty items like decent walking shoes, maps (GPS may be out.) and car safety gear in its own pack (flares, tools, etc.).

As a student away from home, your dorm room or apartment is where you’ll want to store your kit. Be sure it has the basics, plus a copy of the family emergency contact list!

If you are retired, spending most of your time at home in familiar surroundings, your kits can be handy in the closet or near the door. Don’t forget to include medicines enough for 3 days. (If you had to leave home, it might take that long to get hold of replacements.) How about glasses, hearing aids and batteries?

Do you have pets? They’ll need kits, too! Start with a container, and put into it leash, food, dish, pee pee mats and/or dog poop bags. Don’t forget medical needs and a photo ID of you and the pet together. (Don’t want a lost pet sent off with the wrong person.)

Question #3. How capable and strong am I?

There are some pre-built kits on the market that are very complete – and they weigh so much you probably can’t lift them! So, can the person the kit is meant for actually carry it? Unzip and unpack it? It makes no sense to have a full kit for someone who can only manage a half dozen items in an old purse.

Your general level of competence will also have something to do with whether you pack these items: cash, keys, copies of important documents (on flash drive, I hope).

Question #4. What skills do I have and what tools could I realistically use?

One of the most popular items for a kit is a multi-purpose tool, with knife blade, scissors, can opener, pliers, etc. However, not everyone can use one of these. Some people wouldn’t even be able to open it! Maybe a simple knife or pair of scissors would be better suited. Don’t include items – tools, medicines, rope, matches, weapons, etc. – that waste space or worse, become dangerous in the wrong hands.

Question #5. Where will I store my kit?

We already talked about this. The idea is to have the kit handy, so you can grab it and go.

It doesn’t make sense, by the way, to broadcast that this is a survival kit. Avoid bright red cases with the words “Emergency Supplies” on them! We prefer non-descript or even used backpacks or duffle bags.

Whew. We jumped right into this, didn’t we! But I am confident that if you answered all the interview questions, and made appropriate adjustments to your survival kits, not one of them could be considered a placebo.

Here at Emergency Plan Guide, our kits are “the real thing!”

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. What have you included in your survival kits that wasn’t mentioned here? Let us know so we can add it!


Survival Kit Supplies


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!


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!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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