What to put in a modern day survival kit?
March 16, 2008 7:07 AM   Subscribe

What to put in a modern day emergency kit in the event of Katrina like situation? I realize there are lists that cover this, but I'm looking for what people who have been through this situation have personally found useful. Yeah, I've looked through previous similar questions.

Ok, we lost power throughout the entire city last night, due to storms and it illustrated a couple of points to me. Namely that beyond having the basics, having an extra cellphone or ipod battery might be a good idea in the event that the power outage lasts for days, which isn't hard to imagine with hurricane season approaching for the region.

So, if you were redoing an emergency kit for the Southeast region of the United States, what would you suggest to put it?

Obviously there's the handcrankable flashlights and weather radio, a couple change of clothes, canned food (suggestions for protein rich goods especially), first aid kit, extra batteries, but what else? How much water person per day? What exactly should one put in a first aid kit? What are some good extra batteries for cellphones or ipod/iphone? What to use to store vital documents and accounts info in? etc etc...
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
The US government has compiled some useful info, I'd suggest taking a look at the "Are You Ready" manual, but some of the other documents may be useful to you:
posted by hungrysquirrels at 7:19 AM on March 16, 2008

When we went through the week-long power outage in Detroit, an extra cellphone battery would have helped a little, but what really helped us was having a car charger and also an OnStar system in the car. Phone service was crucial (no power, no water). It was also important to have a couple of full gas cans to run the car. Water, water, and more water. The pumps were down in the city, and clean water was hard to get.
posted by clarkstonian at 7:40 AM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

ipod battery

EXTRA IPOD BATTERY?!? You need to rethink your definition of "survival". Besides, they're not easy to replace.
posted by mkultra at 7:56 AM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I live in tornado alley, ice storms zone: beside the items mentioned by BrandonBlatcher and clarckstonian , I keep one of those old fashioned phones that do not depend on electricity to operate. A lot of times the phone lines are still up while the power is out.

For tornadoes emergencies hard hats are a must. Also, dry pet food if you have a pet.
posted by francesca too at 8:11 AM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't have one of these, but Electrilite sells combo hand-crankable flashlight/radio/cell phone chargers. That way you don't have to worry about your cell phone battery dying.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:26 AM on March 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you have pets, don't forget them! Keep a supply of canned food (with pull-tops, of course) and enough water in the kit for humans AND animals - as well as photographs of the pets which will serve to identify them should they escape.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:29 AM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Copies of your important documents--e.g., social security cards, car & home ownership documents, birth certificates--all in a waterproof ziplock bag.
You should have at least enough water for 2-3 quarts per day per person
Can opener
Cork screw ;)

If you can find an old iPod on Ebay, you might consider using it as a external hard drive. Copy your important files onto it, e.g., meaningful photos and other stuff.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:45 AM on March 16, 2008

Tools and a basic toolbelt: a one-piece forged steel claw hammer and a good pry bar are paramount. How you fill your toolset and what sort of belt you use depends on your emergency plan.

If you own a home and expect more natural or power emergencies, you'll want to gear towards building and rebuilding tools and fasteners. You may want to store lumber for boarding up your windows and doors. If you plan to stay put, keep a toolbox or -bag alongside your emergency pack and a basic toolbelt with it.

If you live in an apartment or in a city and your best plan is to escape, you'll want to pack a lighter and more mobile toolkit and choose tools with an eye towards versatility and necessity. You are more likely to use tools to break or pry your way into places on your way out of the city, whether to help trapped neighbors or loot necessary supplies; self-defense is also a consideration in a panic or refugee situation.

Good work gloves, a hardhat, a respirator, and safety glasses; comfortable reinforced boots, strong work coveralls. An emergency could turn your world into a big work site, maybe demolition, maybe construction. Assess likely scenarios and prepare for them first and foremost.

Worst-case scenarios don't just stop at destruction of lives and property; society can fail, and emergency preparation should include being ready to kill to survive.

That means versatile tools.
posted by breezeway at 8:57 AM on March 16, 2008

Protective shoes for climbing through debris. Laminated (or waterproofed) copies of critical documents--passport, local terrain maps showing shelters & pay phone locations. Water purifier.
posted by cocoagirl at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2008

Ok let's list this up:
1)handcrank radio/cell phone charger
2)Led Flashlight with extra batteries. I recomment Olights. They are very durable and much more efficient than a traditional flashlight (i.e. waterproof, shockproof, LED with never burn out. Batteries can last 3-6x as long)
3)Regular people need about 1.5 liters a day. SO either stockpile or have a handpump filtration device. TO stockpile you can fill 2L bottles with water and put a touch of bleach in it to help keep it sanitized.
4)Canned food. Or buy a couple of cases of military rations. Might not be tasty but plenty of calories and last for a looooong time. Also, a couple boxes or powerbars/energy bars are always nice to have around
5)Extra Gas for Car
6)Personally I would want a good shotgun
7)Sleeping bags. Sub zero. Living in Northern Michigan you can never say if heat is going to be an issue.
8)Waterproof container with important docs etc. etc.

Overall just sorta plan as if you were going backpacking in the wilderness!
posted by cdcello at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

A portable radio of some type and extra batteries is a must. We bought one of Electrilite hand-cranked flashlight/radio/etc combos two years ago and it was a godsend during the last power outage. When the sun goes down and there's no power (and thus, no lights), unless you're ready for bed you have to have some way to entertain yourself which is why a radio is necessary (plus you can keep up with the news and what's happening Out There.) Also it's a good idea to keep an emergency stash of cash (in smaller bills); during a power outage, ATMs won't be working, but some stores will open their doors in order to sell stock before it spoils. But they'll only deal in cash; no credit cards or checks.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:05 AM on March 16, 2008

The Red Cross site is quite useful. In addition to emergency & first aid kits, take first aid classes, go camping and hiking to develop skills, and have a good network of skilled friends.

Several times, I've been without power for several days. Camping gear was really helpful. Friends have helped and I've helped friends in emergencies. You don't have to have every tool and skill if you have friends who share.
posted by theora55 at 10:21 AM on March 16, 2008

Best answer: We store our important stuff in Peli boxes, sat phones, server-backups etc. They are essentially indestructable. Good investment if the contents are important to you. The 1500 series are a good general size-- can normally find them for a little over a hundred bucks.
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:29 PM on March 16, 2008

Food and Water
posted by neuron at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2008

A rain barrel makes for a easy backup source of water that's naturally circulated; here in Seattle I get 2700 gallons streaming off my roof a month. Also make sure your supplies are stored in a part of the house that will be easy to get to in the event of a collapse. Mine are along the outer cinderblock wall of the garage, in sturdy boxes, next to my camping gear and tools.
posted by bizwank at 5:01 PM on March 16, 2008

I've never heard of Peli boxes, but our insurance agent told us to put our insurance papers in a ziploc bag in the freezer, because refrigerators generally survive even the worst storms (all the insulation and shielding).
Peanut butter (unless you have allergies). It lasts a long time and you can eat it with nothing but your finger if you have to.
Baby Wipes. To clean cuts, general maintenance if you can't get hot water to even wash your face.
Gallons of Water. Really important. Tons of water, more than you think you will need. People can last a long time if they have water to drink. Also, fill up a bathtub in case of a hurricane, to use for flushing when the water mains break.
MREs. In fact, I should order some of these. What the military feeds their folks to keep them going, calorie and protein-rich meals ready to eat.
Weber grill or bunsen burner and fuel, whether it's charcoal and matches or sterno. Down here, people existed on hot dogs on their grills and later canned beans
heated up.
Gas. Fill your cars and a couple big red gas cans extra.
Cash. ATM's don't work when the bank is gone. Small bills are best.
We have a backup generator, which means even more fuel, because down here in summer with mosquitoes, after a storm, in 100+ weather, it's unthinkable to go without at least a fan, but YMMV.
posted by misha at 7:18 PM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and you should have a gallon of water per person per day, but most people don't, because of storage issues alone. And I forgot hurricane candles and TOILET PAPER!
posted by misha at 7:19 PM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just finished up a "go-bag" (I've also heard it called "evacuation bag"). I found a couple of sites that gave guidelines (I'll try to find them at home), but I think your best bet is to consider what type of "emergency" would you most likely encounter, and prepare accordingly.

Consider possible scenarios. If you have to abandon your house/apartment, where would you go, and how would you get there? Would you be without shelter? What types of natural disasters are common in your area? With questions like these considered & answered, put your bag together, and have it at the ready - meaning, say, an emergency worker has showed up at your house, and given you five minutes. Go! (For me, this would mean grabbing the go-bag, jacket and boots in the hall tree, and a gallon water jug in the pantry right nearby.)

That said, here are a few things I remembered, that you might find useful:
- Medication. (I have a bad back, and if my back "goes out", I need a few days of anti-inflamatories/muscle relaxers/pain killers.)
- Flashlight. (LED is best. And extra batteries.)
- Radio. AM/FM/Emergency band. (Keeps you updated in an emergency, and provides entertainment. And extra batteries.)
- Toiletries kit. (I don't need to shave, but I can't go more than eight hours without brushing my teeth.)
- Copies of important papers. (Home/auto insurance info, credit cards, ID, etc.)
- Cash. ($100 in tens, $10 quarters.)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:12 AM on March 17, 2008

A couple links.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 4:03 PM on March 17, 2008

You might want to concider an electronic survival kit to hold copies of all your important papers.

It's not a bad idea to scan all your photo albums and burn it all to cdr or dvdr disks.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 6:12 PM on March 20, 2008

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