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Having a kit is a great place to start but,

BEING PREPARED IS MORE THAN JUST HAVING A 72-HOUR KIT

Number One is a positive attitude and a calm, level-headed frame of mind: it can save lives. The Emergency Kit is for survival, it’s job is to keep you alive. But it’s the extra things that mean the difference between just staying alive or living with some degree of comfort. We offer not only the Kits, but also the “extra things” that can make a bad situation better.   Who says you gotta be miserable in a disaster?   Not us.

what do you need?

Stock your home with:

  • Water for drinking, cooking and sanitation
  • Food that is shelf stable, 3 month supply or more
  • A way to cook and heat water when there's no power
  • Lighting that doesn’t depend on electricity
  • Alternative sanitation facilities
  • First aid supplies
  • Basic tools for repair and rescue
  • Extra warmth
  • Emergency shelter
  • Protection against bird or swine flu, looters, and other threats

According to a NASA-funded report published by The National Academy of Sciences in 2008, if we get hit with a severe space weather event in the US it could induce ground currents that would knock out 300 key transformers within about 90 seconds, cutting off the power for more than 130 million people. First to go – immediately for some people – is drinkable water. Anyone living in a high-rise apartment, where water has to be pumped to reach them, would be cut off straight away. For the rest, drinking water will still come through the taps for maybe half a day. With no electricity to pump water from reservoirs, there is no more after that.

The truly shocking finding is that this whole situation would not improve for months, maybe years: melted transformer hubs cannot be repaired, only replaced. "From the surveys I've done, you might have a few spare transformers around, but installing a new one takes a well-trained crew a week or more," says John Kappenman of the Metatech Corporation who contributed to the report. "A major electrical utility might have one suitably trained crew, maybe two." Within a month, then, the handful of spare transformers would be used up. The rest would have to be built to order, something that can take up to 12 months."

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO IF THIS HAPPENS? That is one BIG question to look at. Unless you can provide yourself with safe water you are at the mercy of over-burdened relief agencies who may or may not be able to provide help. They are going to be SWAMPED with helping the elderly, the disabled, the single mothers with infants and small children. If you have the ability to take care of yourself, then you need to look at what you can do to make yourself as self-reliant as you possibly can.

This is not coming from some fringe group living on a compound in some remote part of the country. This is coming from NASA! Mainstream scientists are coming up with these models so if one of these events engulfs you, you have things in place to help you, your family, and maybe even some friends, relatives and neighbors who just couldn’t or wouldn’t look at the potential problems they could be facing in the next 2 or 3 years.

Think about it, you who live in the big cities: no trains, underground or overground. No taxis. No buses. No water. Everyone, city or country gets most or all of their food from a grocery store. If the trucks don’t bring in more stock at least twice a week, the supermarket shelves will be empty within 2 days. Anyone in hurricane or snowstorm country has seen a grocery store with nothing left in the whole store but a couple of jars of mustard. It is a very unnerving sight to see NO food AT ALL at your local Safeway. No fuel for the trucks, no refrigeration at the warehouses, and you have no food until when? Until you go to the shelter?

Hopefully the worse thing you see is a week or two without electricity. Hopefully it won’t happen during the winter. Here in mild WA State the power went out in the dead of winter for 8 days, back on for ½ a day then back off for 3 more days. Some people had the money to go visit relatives elsewhere. Some had money to go to the nearest city not effected and get a room in a hotel for a couple of weeks. The rest went out and bought generators and heaters and food and cookstoves. Those without a bunch of credit cards went to the shelters.

Taking responsibility for your own well-being – not luxuries, but life saving things – is very empowering. Yes, some very bad stuff might happen. This is what you need to keep in mind:

The more PREPARED you are, the less scared you are. It’s as simple as that.

Start with the 4 essential basics and build from there. Water, Food, Light and Medical Supplies. Believe me, when any kind of a disaster hits, those EMT guys (male and female) are going to be dispatched to life and death calls only. If you’re cut or hurt and you aren’t dying, then you are last in line for help. This isn’t a pessimistic or negative viewpoint. This is How It Is. And hospitals will be running on skeleton crews if they can get fuel deliveries to keep their emergency generators going. Typically they have 72 hours worth of fuel. Then they need a delivery or it is bye bye medical help.

Once you start to get the First Four handled, then keep right on getting supplies, because Eight is Great: a radio that runs on several power sources that will pick up NOAA for weather updates, that gets AM and FM (emergency broadcasts are often done on the AM band), like this hand crank dynamo plus solar weather radio, with built in flashlight, alarm clock and cell/smart phone charger. You’ll want to have a good plan for sanitation – you manufacture waste product each and every day without fail. You need to have a plan on how to efficiently and SAFELY dispose of that waste. Plus there are some great tools and kits that will prove extremely useful should an emergency or disaster strike.

Start with what you can afford and go from there. If you think you just don’t have the money to do ANYTHING at all but you still get that Mocha Caramel Grande Latte everyday, and you eat out 5 times a week, you just might have money for getting prepared if you rearrange a few priorities. It boils down to ‘Once your ass is covered, then go get all the lattes you want’.

Water

In the event of an earthquake, water mains may be ruptured rendering normal water supplies unavailable or contaminated. Flooding can cause serious contamination to a city’s water supply, requiring you to boil or filter your water for drinking and bathing for up to a month. Hurricanes and tornados can damage municipal water systems.

At Optimum Preparedness we take a clean safe supply of water seriously. Water is essential for staying alive and safe water is essential for staying healthy. Without potable water, you won’t be able to ‘weather the storm’ in your own home – you will have to relocate, to a relative’s, a hotel or a shelter with hundreds of others (not a pretty picture when you take into consideration the threat of a pandemic).

Experts at the Red Cross and FEMA recommend that you store a two week supply of water, enough for one gallon per day per person MINIMUM. That’s a minimum of 14 gallons per household member (and a gallon a day = no showers, no washing your hair, no water for the dog or cats). In keeping with the findings of the NASA report we referred to above, that there might be no electricity for months or years, 2 weeks just might not be enough. Two weeks worth of water is better than no water, but you should consider storing a whole lot more water than that…(see our article about water storage).

So what should you get?

Several things: large water storage containers plus 2 or more 4-7 gallon spigoted containers for sink side use, a water filter that will filter larger quantities of water without pumping (like a Katadyn Countertop Drip Filter), a portable water filter for your evacuation kit in case you just CAN’T stay in your home (like a Katadyn Pocket Filter or Katadyn Combi Filter) and for people that work or travel, a small filter or purifier that fits in your briefcase or car/office kit (like the SteriPen Journey LCD UV Purifier).

Large water storage containers + spigoted containers

You’ll want to have some large plastic containers or barrels for water storage. You can often get these locally for very little money and clean them out with Clorox and water – see our Barrel Washing Instructions for details. Even people in apartments could keep one barrel out on the balcony or patio – put a big round table cloth over it and use it as a plant stand.

You’ll also want to have at least a couple smaller water containers that have spigots to use sink side in the kitchen and bath – see our 4 and 7 gallon Aquatainers. These are easy to store – just put 2 or 3 in every closet. Change the water every 6 months (New Years and 4th of July) or add a water preserver to keep the water good up to 5 years. You can also add some Water Preserver Concentrate to stored water with a flat taste and it will taste like it just came from the tap.

Water filter or purifier for home

Because you might not have the room to store enough water for an extended period of time, you will want a way to filter or purify water that may be contaminated with E. Coli, cryptosporidium and other contaminates. Take into consideration that you may be at work, and could be stuck there for a while before you could get home.

For home use, one of the best filters there are is the Katadyn Drip Filter. It requires no electricity, no pumping, no chemicals or mixing. It sits on your counter top (or picnic table if you are camping). You pour the raw water in the upper container and it moves thru the 3 filters into the bottom container. There’s a spigot on the bottom container to get your drinking water. And it’s good for 13,000 gallons of water. Made in Switzerland, Katadyn is the world leader in making safe drinking water. We have used and trusted Katadyn water filters for over 20 years.

Water filter or purifier for car/office kit

It is also highly recommended that you have a portable water filter or purifier in case you need to evacuate your home, plus one that is with you if you are at work or traveling. Katadyn makes portable filters that are lightweight and good for thousands of gallons of filtering – they are the most field maintainable portable filters available and are used by our military and special forces personnel for a reason. A relative newcomer on the water purification scene is the SteriPEN which uses Ultra-Violet light to sterilize the water. We use the SteriPEN now, when traveling, taking day hikes, and keep it in our car/office/grab n go kits. Click here to see the SteriPEN.

Because the SteriPEN may or may not have made it back into the car/office kit after the last trip to Brazil, it is an excellent idea to have a package of Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets in your home evac kit and your car/office kit so you can always make drinkable water.

Food

Next to water and some sort of shelter, food is going to be the most important item to keep you alive and healthy. You’ve either personally experienced a grocery store stripped of food or seen it on TV (not near the gut level impact). Most Americans have less than 3 days of food on hand. In an emergency you may not be able to count on the Red Cross or FEMA to feed you and your family.

If there was a serious natural disaster (hurricanes, tornados, solar super-storms, earthquakes) or even an interruption in the food-supply chain due to an economic upheaval, it is going to be up to you to supply yourself and your family with food. Gardening, hunting and fishing are great, but having a ready supply of food on hand will be critically important. There are great freeze-dried and dehydrated foods for long term storage (and they taste good too!). You can also store canned goods, can your own food, and stock up on extra dry goods at the grocery store. Probably one of the best ways to ensure a food supply if you can't get to stores is to package up your own dried foods like rice, lentils, beans, dehydrated veggies etc in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. While people used to fill a 5 gallon bucket with one food (like 40 lbs of rice), what they do now is use 1 gallon Mylar bags to pack up about 7 lbs of rice for long term storage and put several of those in a 5 gallon bucket. Packaged this way, the shelf life becomes 10-20 years rather than just a year. So this is much, much longer than the canned goods, etc. that you get at the grocery store.

It is good to have staples like sugar, salt, honey, spices, pastas and comfort foods to supplement your canned goods and long term storage foods. For canned goods and things like flour and rice you will want to rotate it so what you have stored is always fairly new.

See our Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers HERE

Read about packaging food in Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers HERE

Cooking

You have no power so your electric stove is useless. Never ever bring a BBQ grill indoors to cook. Bad Bad Bad. And boiling water outside in a rainstorm or blizzard just to have coffee in the morning gets old immediately. You need a stove that is safe to use indoors on your kitchen counter or table – one that is foolproof and safe for anyone to use, like our Portable Countertop Butane Stove.

There are stoves everywhere that run on small dark green propane bottles (really metal cannisters). Most are safe to use indoors with ventilation. And there are stoves that run on butane. Definitely safe to use indoors, and very easy too. We have found from experience that the 1 lb green cannisters of propane have a tendancy to leak after a few years so that you go to use one and Surprise! It’s empty. Not good when you are counting on that stove for food, coffee and hot water.

With a percolator type coffee pot and a stove-top toaster, you’ll hardly miss that electricity! There are also some very nifty ovens that sit on top of the stove so you can bake as well. And don’t forget matches and/or a lighter (most of the stoves now have a piezo electric ignition so you don’t need the lighter for the stoves). You’ll need them for candles and more.

Light

A combination of light sources is a must. It’s the same thing as not putting all your eggs in one basket. There are oil lamps and hurricane lanterns that burn lamp oil or kerosene, solar lanterns, battery operated lanterns, flashlights, flame-free 12-hour Snap-Lights and long-burning candles or even votive candles to provide light for just about any emergency.

Lamp oil or kerosene stores almost indefinitely and candles are the same. Use oil lamps, hurricane lanterns and battery/solar lanterns where you need more light (like for reading or cooking). Use candles or Snap-Lights where you want to be able to see but don’t need as much focused light, like the bathroom. Light also has a profound psychological impact, providing a sense of security and safety so add a couple of bags of tea lights to your emergency supplies - you get 100 per bag for only $5 or $6!.

Headlamps provide hands-free light which can be a real advantage when two hands are better than one. I wouldn’t be without mine – I use it every day (well, every night). I love my Petzl headlight and take it with me everywhere (OK, I do live out in the country so there are no street lights and it is dark as pitch at night, but that doesn’t stop me from getting a load of wood or packing in the groceries after dark).

First Aid

Even though you might have a first aid kit at home, you should also have a smaller, personal first aid kit in your car or at work which would enable you to attend to minor cuts or scratches (or worse) before you could get back home. We always suggest getting the best first aid kit you can afford for your home kit and your car kit. If things really hit the fan, that first aid kit could mean the difference between life and death – yours or someone else’s.

You also need to supplement ANY first aid kit you get with additional items – simple things like extra band aids and gauze and tape that you can get at any pharmacy, extra tubes of goo – triple antibiotic ointment, Neosporin, anti-itch cream, vasoline, etc. Then there are the items that you can’t find just anywhere, items we provide so that you CAN procure them. Some of the items we sell should be in your emergency medical supplies even if you personally wouldn’t know how to use them – items like our Suture/Syringe Kit. Then there are the QuikClot® products – they stop bleeding fast – and if you get the QuikClot® with Silver they stop bleeding AND stop the bacteria. Get everything you can afford. Then keep adding to what you have. Get books like U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook, Ditch Medicine and Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria.

Print out and go over out our Checklists for Sheltering in Place at Your Home, and for your Car Kit. The checklist lists several other things to add to your emergency first aid supplies like meds for you, your family members and your PETS.

Communication

A radio tuned to the Emergency Broadcast Service will help you make informed decisions. Local telephone communication may be difficult or impossible during an emergency. We carry emergency weather radios that will give you NOAA weather reports, as well as radios that receive shortband radio stations. Some of these radios even run on solar power or a hand crank dynamo. You should have one at home and one in your car kit.

Sanitation

Without a supply of water, your present sanitation facilities cannot be used for long. Alternate sanitation facilities include a portable toilet, toilet bags, toilet paper and cleansing towelettes. Maybe even a shovel for a "pit latrine" or a place to empty the porta-potty. We offer not only a great portable potty but also some super double sealable waste disposal bags that can be used with the portable toilet plus a size that can be used with your standard home toilet when water is not available. It is VERY important to dispose of human waste in a proper manner to avoid all manner of sickness, something that YOU DO NOT WANT when in the midst of a disaster or emergency.

Tools

A pocket-size multi function tool or knife will come in handy in all sorts of unforeseen circumstances – tools like a multi-function swiss army knife or a Leatherman tool. BEWARE of cheap Swiss Army Knife pieces of crap and boy, are they out there. Take it from a knife and flashlight gear freak – you DO NOT want to pull out that $4.95 or $5.95 "swiss-type" multi-function knife and find out what you have is no better than a paperweight. (I got stuck out in the mountains a 2 day hike from the trailhead and could no longer carry my 45 lb pack. Luckily I had my trusty Victorinox Swiss Army knife with the saw blade amongst other integrated tools. I sawed a couple of BIG tree pieces, lashed them together with my paratrooper cord, and fashioned a travois (like the indians used to use to haul loads) that I used to haul my pack out of the mountains with. Could I have done that with a 5 buck piece of crap? No way. (We will have Victorinox Swiss Army knives and paratrooper cord on the site a bit later this summer – you’ll want some of the cord in every car kit, plus some extra, once you hear ALL it can do).

You should also have the bare basics in tools such as hammer, pry bar, both kinds of screwdrivers, pliers, etc. In the event of an earthquake, door jambs can shift making doors stick tight so a crow bar would be very handy. And they’re not expensive – you can get them at Home Depot. Also, store some duct tape, a roll of plastic sheeting, maybe a staple gun and some staples – if windows shatter you’ll be able to put up temporary coverings over them.

Once you start thinking about it, you’ll come up with even more tools that it would be good to have – machete? Ax? Chainsaw? I have one, along with the bar oil etc. even if I can’t use one. I have neighbors that can, and push come to shove I’d figure it out.

Warmth

Warmth can be provided by wood stoves, kerosene heaters and propane heaters. Make sure they are approved for use indoors! Do NOT use those square propane heaters that mount on top of a 5 gal propane tank. They are NOT safe for use indoors. There is a GREAT propane heater called the Big Buddy propane heater. It has an oxygen safety shut off sensor, and has a built in fan operated by 8 D-cell batteries. Works Great! It costs around $130-$150 – you need that, a 12 ft. cord plus a couple of 5 or 10 gallon propane tanks (or more). Make sure you know how to use them! It’s no fun to learn how to use a new thing when you are in the middle of a disaster. Learn while things are nice and calm.

Having warm clothing, extra blankets, sleeping bags, etc. No power in the winter can make for some cold times. Carry sturdy walking shoes, jeans, and warm jackets and hats and gloves in your car in case you have to abandon your car and walk home.

Have a woodstove? Keep extra cord wood at all times so you can build a fire.

Personal Protection and Safety

Whistles can be heard farther than shouting, and are great for signaling others or scaring assailants. Pepper spray can be used to deter ruffians or attackers. They make pepper spray with and without mace and other irritants. Plus they make a super jumbo size cannister of the stuff to prevent BEAR attacks. It has LOTS more spray inside than the little ones for a human assailant. Carry a small one in your purse, fanny pack or car kit. Use a great big jumbo size at home. No sense in screwing around. You want the bad guy to fall down and not be able to do anything so you can escape or you can overpower him and tie him up.

Then you should think about guns. Guns can be used for more than shooting people: there are guns that are good for shooting at packs of dogs roaming wild and attacking domestic animals, there’s coyotes and racoons that can attack (and kill) smaller domestic animals, even kids. There are guns for hunting large and small game. There are guns for personal protection. Having a gun for any of those reasons is a very personal decision. We offer a couple very good books for people considering having a gun or guns for protection and or hunting purposes but are not sure what would be the best thing to get. It is worth the cost of the book and the time to read so that you can make an informed decision rather than a decision based on fear and ignorance.

Portability

You want to be prepared, and that is a good thing. What is not such a good thing is to have an extra bed room with all manner of sack and bags and tubs and boxes and piles of this and that kind of emergency preparedness supplies. If you had to evacuate within half an hour you’d be up a crick without a paddle as they say. You want to have a plan.

Think of it this way: You should have the bulk of your disaster supplies at your home. This is where you have the largest collection of resources right at hand – beds, furniture, pots and pans. If you are somewhere other than home when a disaster hits, you’ll have what is in your car kit to get you home. All the family members should try to get back home if it is safe to do so.

If the disaster necessitates you evacuating your home or your apartment, you will want to have your EVACUATION supplies all together, and separated from the rest of the disaster supplies, so you can quickly grab it and leave. Most likely you will not have time to sort, pick and choose what you take with you in the event of an evacuation. You may have half an hour to leave, you may have only minutes. Do the sorting now.

Your SHELTER IN PLACE supplies can be in plastic totes. Plastic is better than cardboard boxes: if you have 4" of water in your home from a flood, plastic totes will keep your preparedness items dry while they will all get wet if in cardboard.

But what if you MUST evacuate? Your EVACUATION supplies need to be in something portable and easy to move. Many people who live in large cities don’t have cars. They use bikes or public transportation. You would want your evacuation supplies in a backpack or a duffle bag with handles that can be used to carry the duffle on your back, leaving your hands free to carry a flashlight, to ride a bike or to move debris. MAKE SURE YOU CAN CARRY THE PACK! IT IS NO GOOD IF YOU CAN’T CARRY IT!

A great idea, especially for families, is to use 2 rolling clamp-lid garbage cans for their EVACUATION supplies: one can is for a daypack for each family member with water, food, other supplies, plus supplies just for that family member. The person-specific packs might have a spare pare of eye glasses or extra meds where applicable. It is very important to have a comfort item for small children such as a doll or stuffed animal. For teens and up, sitting at a shelter with no TV, no Game Boy or PSP, no form of any entertainment, is going to cause one restless, bored person. A paperback book or travel board game won’t take up much space and they are very lightweight. We carry non-noisemaking, lightweight games that are perfect for evac packs, and can be used while stranded at home as well.

We have a great checklist for disaster supplies that we’ve divided into 2 sections – the stuff that goes into the plastic tubs and the items that you’ll want to have in the EVACUATION pile, packed into a backpack or into daypacks and your rolling garbage cans. (Why the ROLLING trash cans? If it is full of supplies, it can be quite heavy. If you need to evacuate in a hurry, you can roll the can over to your car or van, pop the trunk and just shove the whole garbage can right into your trunk or the back of your van or SUV. In a disaster that requires evacuation you won’t have the luxury of walking next door to see if someone can come back to your house and do it for you. SELF RELIANT is the thought here.)

Water     Food     Cooking     Light     First Aid     Communication
Sanitation     Tools     Warmth     Personal Safety     Portability