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September 14, 2005 1:08 PM   Subscribe

What's your 72 disaster preparedness kit like?

What with the apocalypse looming and all, what kind of disaster preparedness gear are you stocking up on? This kit looks good, albeit pricey. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, I suppose, and I like one stop shop, ready-to-go-in-an-instant aspect of it. Recommendations of better stores for this kind of purchase? What else would be good to have? Partially inspired by this previous thread on Ask MeFi.
posted by Scoo to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Two bullets (one for the wife).

Kidding. We can't drink the water in DC so we always have bottled on hand. I always keep a variety of medications anyway and canned goods, plus we have camping gear. Do we need much more than that?

My job handed out iodine tablets at one point back in the height of the dirty bomb fad.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:17 PM on September 14, 2005

You might want to see Jim Macdonald's jump kits, tailored for various situations, written by a registered wilderness EMT.
posted by Jeanne at 1:18 PM on September 14, 2005

"72" - What?

I really look foward to good responses in this thread, I was about to post the same thing... What should one keep in a "jump kit"?
posted by phrontist at 1:57 PM on September 14, 2005

72 hours.
posted by sfluke20 at 1:59 PM on September 14, 2005

Anything labeled "Executive" is bound to be way overpriced, if not completely impractical. Also think about it this way- if the shit ever hits the fan, I'm following the survival nut, not the CEO.

Remember, if nothing else, your priorities in an emergency- safe, warm, dry, nourished, rescued. If whatever you're thinking of packing doesn't directly impact one of those things, you don't need it.
posted by mkultra at 2:03 PM on September 14, 2005

The city of San Francisco has a good guide to building a kit at
posted by jjg at 2:04 PM on September 14, 2005

My two cents.
posted by cribcage at 2:09 PM on September 14, 2005

jjg beat me to it- check out the website.

For me, a short list is: water for everyone (including the dog!), cash (if power/phones are out, credit cards won't do much good), camping gear, a backup supply of prescription meds, spare contacts/glasses, food that keeps well, and kibble for the dog. We also have one of those wind-up powered radios, and a squillion candles.
posted by ambrosia at 2:11 PM on September 14, 2005

Best answer: These links have some thorough lists for kits.

--Primary Kit
--Mini Kit
--Car Kit
--72 hr Kit
posted by lobakgo at 2:16 PM on September 14, 2005

Don't forget your pets.

--Red Cross
--Humane Society
posted by lobakgo at 2:31 PM on September 14, 2005

72 hours? It doesn't take much to last 72 hours, for healthy people anyway. A source of water. uh... that's about it really. Some food would be nice I guess. I think maybe kids don't do as well without it. So keep some water and food in the house, which I guess most people do anyway. Going to further trouble seems unneccessary, but go for it if it makes you feel better.

And watch Survivorman, to get yourself in the mood. This fan says the series will be starting on American TV this Friday.
posted by sfenders at 2:41 PM on September 14, 2005

...I guess I should answer the question and confess that I do almost always carry a pocket multi-tool thing, a tiny LCD flashlight, and a butane lighter. Good stuff to have I guess. Useful often enough even without civilization collapsing and all that.
posted by sfenders at 2:52 PM on September 14, 2005

LED flashlight, that is.
posted by sfenders at 2:52 PM on September 14, 2005

Sneakers, my bike, and a map.
posted by footnote at 3:09 PM on September 14, 2005

The Red Cross has good advice. I was given one of the flashlight/radio combos in that executive kit. It didn't last long, nor did a cheap hand-cranked radio. LLBean has a cranked radio that might be better. One Red Cross recommendation I read was to use 2 liter soda bottles for water. Cheap & food-safe. Since the big ice storm of 1998, I've kept emergency supplies. Mostly in the form of some extra food in the cupboard, and making sure the camp stove & fuel are within reach, and there's some water stored.

Take a 1st Aid class. It's good to know.

great /. post
posted by theora55 at 3:10 PM on September 14, 2005

My disaster kit consists of a closet full of backpacking gear and a bunch of water left over from Burning Man. If it will keep me alive and happy for a week in the mountains (or the desert, for that matter!), then I think it should do just fine should the city fall apart.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2005

Sealed copies (using my SuperSealer Vac thing to waterproof them) of my Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) and Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide (PDPG).

I used to work at the nonprofit that created them so it was a job requirement to fill out but it is helpful info to have, especially post 72 hours.
posted by karmaville at 4:14 PM on September 14, 2005

Given the situation in the Gulf right now, I think 72 hours is a bit optimistic.
I plan for a week at minimum in a "jump bag" with enough cached supplies to last the family a month(presuming the shed is still accessible).
posted by madajb at 5:11 PM on September 14, 2005

Oh, and don't forget for one of the only good things to come out of DHS.
posted by madajb at 5:13 PM on September 14, 2005

I went out and got two cases of MREs, 10 gallons of water, a hatchet, various first aid supplies, flashlight, radio, batteries, glucose tablets, toilet paper, feminine products for the ladies, and assorted other small stuff. I'm in DC, and I could see the situation here closely resembling that in NO, so I want to be sure we can last for a week or so with no outside aid at all.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:19 PM on September 14, 2005

i'm sure i'm forgetting a lot, but...

(the Black Duffel Bag by the door)
  • water purification tablets
  • cipro
  • various rx meds we use
  • about 200 rounds ammo, 9mm and .38spl
  • set of two FRS radios
  • chemlights
  • MREs and granola bars for 3-5 days
  • mini-MRE-stove and extra fuel
  • one gallon of drinking water
  • crowbar (doubles as hammer) and pliers
  • flashlights
  • a few clean shirts and underwear
  • big fuckoff knife
  • tons of batteries
  • shortwave radio
  • particle masks
  • cigarette lighters
  • north american road atlas
  • spanish phrasebook
  • emergency cash
  • first aid kit
(in the car)
  • sleeping bags
  • 6-person tent
  • 2 gallons drinking water

posted by crabintheocean at 8:47 PM on September 14, 2005

You people *really* have these kits ready in case Russians attack/ Martians land?
posted by Pericles at 1:02 AM on September 15, 2005

I would like to pose a second question -- everyone who has these kits, could you please post the general area that you live in?
posted by Jairus at 5:39 AM on September 15, 2005

Pericles, I didn't until I saw what happened in NO. The idea of being trapped in my house with my wife and child with no food or water for a week scared the shit out of me. For about $200, I sleep a lot easier.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:29 AM on September 15, 2005

My kit:
  • one forty-five caliber automatic;
  • two boxes of ammunition;
  • four days' concentrated emergency rations;
  • one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills;
  • one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible;
  • one hundred dollars in rubles;
  • one hundred dollars in gold;
  • nine packs of chewing gum;
  • one issue of prophylactics;
  • three lipsticks;
  • three pair of nylon stockings.

posted by justkevin at 7:39 AM on September 15, 2005


Cute reference...

You have to read it in Slim Pickens's voice...
posted by jpburns at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2005

Pericles, we live less than a mile from the Hayward Fault, so, uh, yeah. We have all that stuff. It's a bare minimum really; when The Big One hits, our house will likely be okay, but nobody will have running water for probably 2 or 3 months.
posted by ambrosia at 7:58 AM on September 15, 2005

Wow.. Soz if I sounded snarky. I'm glad I live in gentle Britain where we have the occasional small tornado or mild earthquake, but nothing like you yanks have.
posted by Pericles at 8:29 AM on September 15, 2005

I grew up in Los Angeles/SoCal, so being prepared for an earthquake was hammered in to us from a young age.

This list of stuff is in various bags or scattered around the house at the moment, but the main bag is a sturdy and simple cordura/nylon type square carryon. Some of the stuff serves double duty, namely the camping gear, flashlights and geek tools and toys.

A lot of the stuff in the main grab bag is single or double bagged in ziploc bags, especially the water sensitive stuff like matches, lighters, first aid and batteries.

Camping gear: Two dome tents, tarp, old and reliable small multifuel stove, hatchet/hammer combo, sleeping bags, giant expedition non-framed backpack with chest and waist straps - easily capable of carrying *everything* on this list with some room to spare for clothes and whatnot.

Batteries, numerous flashlights and headlamps and other illumination sources. Candles. Wall and car rechargeable 1 million candlepower portable spotlight.

First Aid kit: Bandages (rolled and adhesive), tape, disinfectants, pain relievers, ointments, info cards and cheat sheets. Toiletries, bar soap, toilet paper, napkins. Medicine. Spare old glasses.

Portable radio(s), one of them solar powered. Portable/pocket TV. FRS/GPRS two-way radios.

Space blankets / aluminized mylar sheeting.

Plastic Ponchos.

Plastic Tube tent.

Plastic bags and sheeting: Garbage bags, ziplocs, more.

DATREX long shelf life water in thick mylar pouches. DATREX "blue" survival rations - need replacing. These meet or exceed SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) specs.

Duct tape, parachute cord and/or rope, nylon zip ties, dozens of safety pins and a few small sewing kits. Binder clips are also a great fastener-type widget. So are surplus rare earth hard drive magnets. Baling wire.

Stand-alone can opener. Swiss army style pocket knife with corkscrew, scissors and can opener and tools.

Various hand tools. Also, in California lots of people keep a "gas meter/main" wrench handy, either in the the slot/bar variety or just a plain adjustable crescent. These are frequently tied or affixed with magnets to the the meter or shutoff valve area itself.

Water purification tablets.

"Sterno" style instant fuel (EcoFuel brand) with folding steel stove. Each can is rated for 8-16 hours of burn.

Mess kit with pot, pan, cups and silverware.

Lighters, hurricane matches, plain matches.

Food and water: Food: I like to keep a lot of non-perishables and canned goods around. This is basically stored in the normal pantry. My GF and I just did over two weeks without any heavy grocery shopping due to an emergency car repair, but we could easily go a week or two more, as long as we could survive the boredom.

Water: Unfortunately right now there's not really any stored. But I don't really live in a strong earthquake zone any more. However, due to my now living in Arizona I've taken up the habit of keeping containers of frozen water in the freezer. Why? We have had a couple of power outages over the last few months. We can drink the water in an emergency. And it helps the fridge run better in hot weather. The water is removed or replaced as needed for room for more or less frozen goods.

Here's the stuff I like to carry with me or have handy. I keep this stuff in pockets, a geek bag/manpurse or whatever backpack or laptop bag I'm carrying:

Batteries. LED flashlight or headlamp. Pelican brand waterproof Xenon mini flashlights. Depending where I might go or end up I have at least one of these with spare batteries, or a device I can cannibalize for batteries. I won't go to an Ikea, huge warehouse store, skyscraper, mall or nightclub without at least one light. They're really non-intrusive and rather easy to carry.

Medium grade folding-lockback pocket knife with half serrated and half straight edge, drop point.

Leatherman Micra paired with a Coast brand "Micro-fisherman" mini-pliers. This are both the same size when folded and offer some of the same tools. One is a pair of super sharp scissors, and the other is pliers. This tool combo has saved my geek butt so many times I practically owe them my life by now. I keep them velcro'ed together in as handy little metal brick of geek goodness.

Mapping GPS. (Garmin eMap model)

Digital Camera. (Nikon CoolPix 885 and/or Ricoh 300Z. There's a lot of times I'll carry both of them. The Nikon takes better pics, but uses a CR5 lithium battery. The Ricoh uses AAs and is practically indestructible. I'll often loan out the Ricoh on hikes and trips so someone else can take photos too.)

Largish folding tripod, Velborn. Desktop sized, stands about 35" to the head fully extended. Collapses to about 8-9" x 3-4".

If I'm biking, bike tools.


Safety pins, small sewing kit, zip ties.

Small first aid kit and cheat sheet, pain killers (Ibuprofen).

I often keep a very slim folded space blanket and/or a kitchen-sized trash bag and/or a disposable blue "utility towel" in the back pocket of the geek bag, or in whatever bag I'm carrying. Even if I'm carrying all three, it takes up much less space than a short and thin paperback, and provides a nice thin layer of padding for the electronics, as well as my hip.

There's more random stuff I'm probably forgetting.

Things I want or need to add to the gear and emergency survival kit:

Better/more rations. Stored water.

A better stove and fuel bottles or sources.

A ceramic hand pumped and field-cleanable water purifier.

5 gallon collapsible water cube.

CamelPak type hydration bladder.

A better knife, folding or fixed.

Better tools - pocket multitool and otherwise.

Better LED and/or combo Halogen/Xenon headlamps. (Headlamps are frickin' awesome tools. I don't know how I ever lived without them.)

A medium to large foldable solar panel capable of charging batteries, cell phones, and other devices, with built in adjustable DC power supply and an assortment of adapters. The ability to trickle charge a 12v car battery or directly run a small DC-AC inverter is a major plus.

A portable HAM/amateur transceiver and antennae.

And finally, I've been considering getting a handgun for some time now. I'm not totally anti-gun, but I think it should be much harder to get them, require rigorous training courses and perhaps even a psychological profiling or something like it. But under such a rigorous system I think that concealed carry permits should be a little easier to get. You don't really hear about concealed carry permit owners shooting up the local store, but you hear about them dropping some crackhead trying to do the same. I'm super liberal and anti-death penalty, but, damn. "An armed society is a polite society" has some merit.

I'd like to at least add a wristrocket or something small for emergency hunting, but if it comes down to that kind of squirrel or rabbit-eating Red Dawn survivalism I can make deadfall traps and snares.

There's more I'd like to add, but that's pretty inclusive for now.

It sounds like a lot of stuff, but it really isn't. The whole some total of this list wouldn't even really fill the trunk of a car, barring a bunch of water storage and more than a week or two of food.

It also might sound rather paranoid or obsessive, but it really isn't. I don't spend a lot of time on this stuff, and everything has just been gathered and collected over years. Trust me, I'm not sitting in a basement somewhere obsessively honing a hunting knife and handloading ammunition or anything.

I did time in the Boy Scouts, and of course their motto is "Be Prepared". The whole paramilitary aspect of the Boy Scouts is ugly, but the camping and survival skills stuff is awesome. Because of my experiences in the Scouts I've been able to rough it and bivouac in all kinds of places.

There's been dozens and dozens of times I've been out and about either in the city or out in the boonies where having some of the stuff on this list has been highly useful. Flashlights and tools for emergency car repair, for example. It's amazing how much easier a light makes just looking at your car in the dark.

The geek tools and toys I carry around have proven useful for group camping trips, adventures and all kinds of things. I've fixed many different things in the field for people, unlocked locked cars, fixed amps for outdoor or indoor parties, have been able to do small scale search and rescue for when people have wandered off alone in the desert, have had radios and cameras available for numerous situations, fixed torn pants, tents or whatever with needle and thread or safety pins, removed splinters, had a bandaid or aspirin just at the right moment, and more.

All of it so far has been in non-life-threatening moments, and have mostly been just simple comfort or safety issues, but people dig it. And I dig it.

It's cool to me that in my circle of friends to be known as the guy who always just happens to actually have a bit of parachute cord or duct tape to fix an art project, or a safety pin, or a band aid, spare earplugs or whatever.
posted by loquacious at 9:33 AM on September 15, 2005 [3 favorites]

We have our kits due to earthquakes and possible tsunamis. There are also storms here that knock out power. We're in Seattle. My parents have one because they have tornadoes where they live.

I do it because I feel it's responsible to be prepared, because I'm responsible for our pets and that doesn't stop when there's an emergency, and because I don't want to be dependent on someone else if I can avoid it, especially since that "someone" might be worse than useless.

I'll add that after watching the footage of people in New Orleans, I'm adding some things to ours.

--hand truck that converts to a cart
--5 gal. jugs for water and for gasoline
--muzzle for our dog
--toilet seat that snaps on a 5 gal. bucket
--spray paint
--bottles of booze for bartering
posted by lobakgo at 10:11 AM on September 15, 2005

everyone who has these kits, could you please post the general area that you live in?

I lived in New York until late 2003. I started keeping a scram!bag / survival kit at home, plus some supplies at work, very shortly after 9/11. This was during the period when news and government officials were often saying we might need to evacuate parts of Manhattan (where I lived and worked) at any time--all sorts of false alarms came up in the following months, and we all got very jumpy.

I now live in Los Angeles. Whereas in New York I was stuffing a backpack with essentials with the intent of being able to grab it and my cats and leave the city, now I prep for the possibility of being stuck in my house without city services for a week or more during some sort of catastrophic or at least extremely annoying event, such as a bad earthquake or a riot.

I also now keep stuff in my car, since I'm in it so much out here: high-energy foods (dried apricots, etc.), lots of water, toliet paper, wet wipes (good at getting dust off your face), towels (as Ford Prefect would say...), flashlight, Leatherman tool, and spare sleeping bag.

BTW, I've bought individual products from before, the site mentioned in the original question, and they're good quality and ship very quickly. The Steri-Pen is awesome technology, and works well with a Nalgene bottle. Haven't had to use it yet, luckily, but it's very nice to know I own one, just in case.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2005

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