Rich begins his story, about his recent travels around America…and why.

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…Finally Back Home… It’s been exactly a year since I began the job that took me across America, into the backest back roads, up mountains, down valleys, and across rivers, up the west coast from Mexico to Canada, down across the entire western tier of states, all around the parts of Texas I grew up […]

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Food In Your Vehicle – What’s Best For 72 Hour Survival Kit?

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Do you keep any ‘survival’ food in your vehicle? Is it more than just a few snacks for while on the road? I’ve posted a number of articles on 72-hour kits to be kept in one’s vehicle along with suggestions for items that you might include. One important item is food. While the vast majority of circumstances will benefit from simply having a snack, you don’t want to overlook having some substantial food too. There are some hypothetical scenarios whereby you might not have the luxury of stopping at a fast food joint, grocery store, or other establishment to get

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The 10 Best Reasons to Bug In and NOT Bug Out!

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bugging out, bugging in, evacuation plans, bug out location, bug out bagI like the idea of bugging out as much as the next guy, testing my mettle against zombies and a world without a power grid.

The reality is that most of us, by far, will be better off in an SHTF scenario staying right where we are — at home. The reasons to bug in far outweigh most other options. Over the years I’ve given this a lot of thought because like a lot of you, I, too, was swept up in all the glamour of planning to bug out. It’s the stuff prepper novels are made of but it’s what I call over-rated prepper advice!

The bug out bag — What should it contain? Let’s talk about that for a couple of years. I have nothing against a well-planned 72-hour kit, but once put together, move on already!

The bug out vehicle –Which make? Which model? How can I customize it and convince my wife to let me spend serious money on a side project when I already have too much on my plate?

The bug out location — Where will we go and, more importantly, how will we be able to afford what is a second home by any other name?

The bug out PLAN — Put all the pieces together and revel in the tactics, the strategies, the finest details and then go over everything in forum discussions that last for years.

All that aside, the cold, hard truth is that home will almost always be the safest place to be and guys like me who work some 15-20 miles from home base would be better off having a couple of simple plans for getting there. Reasons to bug in are smart and worth considering in spite of all the bug-out information on the web.

Off the top of my head, there are 10 reasons why your home is the best place to hunker down if you’re wondering, should I bug out. Spend your time figuring out non-crazy ways to fortify it and getting to know as many of your neighbors and fellow citizens as possible. In a crunch, they’ll end up being your actual survival group, like it or not.

So, in no particular order, here are the top 10 reasons to bug in and why it will almost always be the best course of action.

1.Far less risk to you and your loved ones when you plan on bugging in

Now that my kids are teens, I’m not quite as worried about being on the road with them as I was when they were younger. When you think about it, hitting the road in a bug out situation is fraught with extreme dangers to your family members. You and I might be able to hoist a 50-pound pack, strap on a firearm or two, and then hoof it to a remote, safer location. I guarantee you, a wife, kids, grandparents won’t be able to do that and what, then, is your choice? Will you leave them behind?

It’s much easier to have a comprehensive plan to gather everyone together in a single, safe location which is probably going to be your home. This article about low-tech ways to protect your home may be helpful to secure your home and property.

2. You know the terrain

When Hurricane Harvey hit our town, all of a sudden everyone was interested in the sea level of their home, their distance from the nearest lake and river, and whether or not the bridges around us were covered with water.

It doesn’t take long for a curious person with some time on their hands to learn all that and more, and that’s what needs to be done way before a real crisis hits.

Put me in a locale that I’ve only visited on weekends and then challenge me to get there with my family, in a crisis, with adrenaline is pumping, and I might be able to do it. There’s also a good chance that in all the confusion we might make a wrong turn or run into an unforeseen challenge, such as roadblocks, washed-out side roads, and the like.

3. You know the people

If you’ve read my article about the most dangerous threat, you understand how vital it is to know as many people as possible in your neighborhood and the surrounding areas. Now, most of my neighbors are a lot like me — hard working people who just want to do their own thing and be left alone. I respect that.

Alex, a few streets away, may have a hobby of collecting old pinball machines and his kids are a lot younger than mine, but he’s also one of the most industrious guys I know. He has a way of coming up with creative solutions to problems that makes me think he’d be ideal as a survival-group buddy. Joseph, on the other hand, is my next door neighbor and as far as I can tell, his only interests are going to and from work every day and watching TV. That’s good information to file away in my head, along with Caddie, the elderly widow 3 doors down who is a hoarder and emotionally and mentally scarred by decades of abuse. My daughter checks in on her from time to time.

I also know who doesn’t belong in this neighborhood and that is just as important as knowing who does. It makes it easier to identify potential threats, an excellent reason to bug in. Away from my home base, I’m not so sure who belongs and who doesn’t.

In a survival situation, you’ll have hundreds and hundreds of new and very difficult decisions to make and most of them will, in one way or another, involve the people around you. At your home base, you’re in the perfect situation to get nosy and learn all you can about them now. If you have a bug out location in mind, how well do you know those people and just as important, how well do they know you?

4. You’re more likely to have common ground with neighbors

When it comes to your kids, are you just a little paranoid about who you can trust? I am. My wife labeled me The Paranoid Dad a decade ago, and nothing has happened to make me behave otherwise. In my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that most parents, by far, are protective of their kids — we have that in common.

And it’s not just our parenting style that is similar but our general view of the world, our high regard for our constitutional rights (this is east Texas, after all), and how we value family. Sure, there are plenty of differences when it comes to political and social issues, but there’s a foundation, a common ground, that I’m not sure I would share with random, unknown people if we bugged out.

5. You already know multiple routes for bugging in

I know my neighborhood. I’ve driven the roads hundreds of times and have made a game of using as many different routes as possible to get from Point A to Point B. I know this area. In a pinch, I could figure out some back ways to retrieve one of the kids if they were at a friend’s house or my wife from one of her hair appointments.

Make a game out of finding different routes home. Use my strategies in this article about utilizing Google Maps to plan an evacuation. My wife even makes a point sometimes to get lost on purpose and then figuring out how to get home. It’s a good idea and so far, she’s managed to make her way home every time. I’m proud of her.

6. You know how to get in and out

This advantage is similar to the previous one but has more to do with knowing multiple ways to get back in your town and neighborhood and then out, if necessary, and not using just paved roads.

In a pinch, we could load up our bikes and take bike trails we’ve been traveling for the past 4  years. I’ve thought of packing my bike in my work truck so I’d have an alternate method of transportation but I haven’t done that, yet. Since we live near water, I’ve also been checking out streams, rivers, and lakes as yet another way to get out in an absolute worst case scenario.

You probably have similar information stored in your own brain and if not, start checking out all the different ways you could get back in and then out if need be. Also, with knowledge of terrain, entrances, exits, and infrastructure, you’ll have knowledge for defending your ground if it becomes necessary.

7. It’s easier and cheaper to maintain one home site

My main beef with all the know-it-all survival gurus who claim that a second home, aka a bug out location, is an absolute necessity is the cost involved. For someone like me, a guy with a well-paying job but also with the expenses that come with raising a family and owning a home, finding the money to buy property in an outlying area and then equipping it with not only another house but preps as well isn’t very likely.

And, it’s not helpful at all to tell me I’m dooming myself and my family to horrible deaths if we don’t have that rural home. Years ago my in-laws owned a beautiful cabin a couple of hours north of Phoenix. Nestled in the pines, it was a darn good bug out location, but when the economy went belly-up, they had no choice but to sell. Along with the mortgage, they had to maintain some county fees for roads, property taxes, and utilities. It all adds up.

Simply put, it’s just a whole lot cheaper to assess your home right now wherever it is and figure out how to best make it defensible and get it fully prepped rather than dividing your time, attention and money between 2 different properties.

8. My family knows where to come

As our kids have gotten older, there’s no telling on any given day where everybody is. My daughter now has a part-time job at a grocery store and meets up with friends a couple of times a week. My son has sports practice about 40 minutes from home, goes fishing with his buddies at nearby rivers, and gets to the gym on his bike a few times a week. My wife — well, there’s no telling where she’ll be during the week.

In a crisis, I want every one of them to know how to get home. Home is our #1 meet-up place, no matter what happens. I don’t want them wondering, should I go home or to our hidey-hole cabin 95 miles away? Is Dad coming home or heading there? I’ve already told my wife that if all hell breaks loose, I WILL find a way to get home. It may take a few days, but I’ll get there. With only one single survival location, our home, there’s no wondering where to go or where everyone is.

9. You know business owners, churches, and community leaders

I have a network of people in our lives that we know we can rely on for good service, good products, advice, and support. After the major flooding from Hurricane Harvey, these were the people who immediately volunteered their services, their property, their time, their money, and their connections to help out.

In many cases, they were helping strangers but in others, they knew the names and faces of their clients, customers, and church members. A support system like this is invaluable in a crisis.

10. It’s where all your stuff is

Speaking of Harvey, right before that storm hit, my wife and I quickly pulled out necessary supplies and gear we thought we might need to get us through everything from a boil notice to a long-term power outage. It was all there — the Mini Sawyer water filters, the solar lanterns and flashlights, our water storage barrels and filled WaterBricks, the Sun Oven, and a lot more.

We’ve been prepping for over 9 years now and have accumulated a lot of stuff including a solid 72-hour kit. Our preps are pretty well organized in closets, a spare room, and an attic. We know what we have, where it is, and how to use it. We are also right here on the property to protect what is ours if it ever came to that.

That isn’t the case for a bug out location. Even with a security system and watchful neighbors, if you have them, it’s all too easy to raid and loot a property that appears to be vacant. Some will argue, “You’re supposed to LIVE at your bug out location!” and that works for some people but not most of us. One of the major concerns of people who own these secondary locations is how to protect the property and all their belongings. There’s no easy answer to that.

What other reasons can you think of for planning to bug in rather than spending most of your time planning to bug out? I just don’t think that is the wisest course of action unless your home has become extremely unsafe.

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Bug Out Bag Kit (Checklist – Packing)

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I was recently asked the following questions regarding the Bug Out Bag and bug out bag packing.   When you travel, what top 3 survival items do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings? It depends! Well, I suppose it partially depends on what’s considered common stuff that everybody brings. And it also depends on where I’m going and how long I will be away. Additionally, if I could “only” bring 3 items my answer would be different. That said, I always bring the following 3 items regardless of where or how long. 1. Knife 2. Fire kit 3.

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MRE Meals for Food Storage & Survival Kit

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MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) are US Military precooked ration packs designed to feed soldiers who are currently engaged in ongoing missions. Just like regular meals, the military MRE is fortified with vitamins and minerals, enough to nourish and replenish the body. Today’s MRE’s are a lot better than when they were first introduced! They’ve come along way since C-Rats. They are made with a very wide variety of foods and flavors – and are available for civilian use.   Why MRE Meals are good diversification MRE meals are a good addition to part of one’s overall food storage preparedness

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Three Layers of 72 Hour Preparedness

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The first 72 hours following any disaster are the most critical, but it’s also during those intial hours that emergency services and personnel are stretched to the limit. With a system of carefully planned 72 Hour Kits, your family can be self-sufficient until help arrives. 72 Hour Kits, or Bug Out Bags, are those handy-dandy, all-in-one […]

Battle of the Mini Survival Kits: Which one is best?

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best mini survival kitEarlier this year I was intrigued when asked the question, “Which is the best mini survival kit?” I had never purchased a store-bought kit, so I ventured over to Amazon and ordered several, just out of curiosity. Here is my review of those kits and, at the end, the #1 mini survival kit that is, by far, the best of all those tested.

If you’re interested in any of the first 4 kits, they are available on Amazon.

Teaker Professional Outdoor Survival Kit

mini survival kit reviewThis kit contains 9 items, plus a sturdy plastic case. You can see the contents above. They include a tactical pen, compass, flashlight, a flintstone and scraper, a very small keychain mini-light, multi-function knife, a Swiss Card, and a whistle. I consider this to be just a collection of EDC gear.

My son was excited to see the tactical pen, but within 5 minutes, the pen broke. Assessing the tools included in this kit, you could probably start a fire, open a bottle of beer or soda, head North using the compass, blow the whistle if need be, and use the blade/multi-tool for miscellaneous tasks. As far as a “mini survival kit” goes, this one is pretty standard. I wouldn’t want to bet my survival on these 9 items and at $21.99, current price, it’s not a bargain. Because of the knife and Swiss Card, this wouldn’t be an appropriate gift for anyone under the age of 12 or 13. NOTE: The photo shows something that might be an emergency blanket, but I did not receive that in the kit I ordered from Amazon. Don’t be fooled by the 5-star ratings. Those appear to be written by paid reviewers.

Eachway Professional 10 in 1 Emergency Survival Gear Kit

mini survival kit reviewHey! What do you know! This kit is identical to the Teaker kit but you save a whole penny if you buy the Eachway!

No kidding. I was disappointed to see virtually no difference between the Teaker and the Eachway. The flashlights are identical, except the “UltraFire” branding on the Eachway light. Every tool is identical, and my assessment is the same as for the Teaker. For $21.98, you can do better at Walmart.

Survival Kit EMDMAK Outdoor Emergency Kit

mini survival kit reviewI suppose if you were on your last leg and had nothing else for survival, maybe you could survive for a few more hours if you had this kit. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The emergency blanket, made in China, is like every other emergency blanket. It has some uses, for sure, but most survival experts agree that the typical thin, mylar blanket will do very little in a survival situation. I was disappointed by the keychain compass — I’m pretty sure I’ve seen similar compasses in Oriental Trading Company catalogs, and the one I got looks nothing like the one in the photo. The whistle, fire starter, and wire saw are also of poor quality. There isn’t anything in this kit that is well-made, except maybe the Swiss Card, and those are probably mass produced for a penny each. This kit is priced at just under $15 on Amazon. Save your money.

Emergency Survival Kit Grenade

mini survival kit reviewI bought this kit because it looked pretty cool. I knew when I was finished with the review, my son would want it. For the review to be fair, though, I decided to unwrap the paracord to check out the tools inside, and now we’re left with a pile of paracord, foil, and a bunch of little tiny things.

The 26 feet of paracord is very good quality, as is the small caribiner. You can easily connect this grenade to a backpack or another larger piece of gear. It takes a few minutes to unwrap the grenade to reach the aluminum foil-wrapped contents. This kit might be useful for someone who already has some pretty good survival skills, because the contents can be useful, you just have to know what to do with them. Examples: the fishing hooks, line, and weights. You could use the paracord strands and some know-how to set a snare, but again, that relies on prior knowledge and training. Bottom line: the best feature of this kit is its unique packaging. The gear inside the paracord grenade would be of little use to most people, and the pieces small enough to make this a gift only appropriate for kids ages 12 and up. At $10.99, it’s not a bad end-of-the-line survival kit.

The Tact Mini Survival Kit

At this point, I kind of gave up on buying additional mini survival kits. I was browsing on Amazon, and mostly saw kits that were virtually identical to the ones I purchased and reviewed here.  Then I received the Tact Mini Survival Kit to review from Survival Frog. (This is the only kit I didn’t personally pay for.)

The concept behind this kit is different from the other minis. Its focus is less on giving you little gadgets that may or may not help you survive and more on covering the most important survival bases: shelter, warmth, light/signal, a whistle, and a small spork with multi-tool capabilities.

The Tact kit is quite a bit larger than the other kits reviewed here and comes in a drawstring bag, rather than a hard plastic case. In the world of survival kits, it still qualifies as “mini”. I prefer the bag over the plastic case because it can be useful in dozens of other ways in a survival scenario. Of everything included, the Bivvy is the largest piece. It’s a lightweight waterproof and windproof emergency sleeping bag made of space-age material that reflects your body heat and keeps you warm. Similar bags sell for close to $20 in sporting goods stores.

Next to the Bivvy, I was impressed with the stainless steel, 16 ounce camp cup. I like the way it looks and feels (very solid), but with its larger size, it can be used as a drinking cup or, over a fire, used to make a small cup of soup or oatmeal. It really is a handy size and is what I based my own Winter Survival Food Kit on. You can read details of that here. The heavy duty spork is more than just an eating utensil. It’s also a multi-tool, with a bottle opener, 3 sizes hex wrench, and a flathead screwdriver.

With the sleeping bag for warmth and shelter from the elements and a quality cup/cooking pot, the Tact Mini  Survival Kit adds a smokeless pocket stove, a few fuel tablets, and waterproof matches in a case. Now you’re ready to purify water, melt snow, cook, or just keep warm. With a few packets of dried soup mix, oatmeal, or packs of coffee, you would have the makings of a Winter Survival Food Kit, as detailed in this article. The stove could also be used as an emergency signal if you weren’t able to start a small fire using materials around you.

With the flashlight and whistle, you’re ready to signal for help, and the small flashlight is another source of light.

The Tact Mini Survival Kit is more expensive, as you might expect — $49.97 — click on this Survival Frog page. Pick up more than one and Survival Frog throws in some bonuses and free shipping.

If you don’t have time to thoughtfully and carefully put your own mini survival kit together, then the Tact Mini Survival Kit is the way to go. There’s enough room in the drawstring bag for your pocketknife and a few other EDC items, so you can get the best of both worlds — a high quality kit that is ready to go and then customized with your own favorite gear before you pack up and head out.

So, there you have it. Five reviews of mini survival kits. When I first set out to do this, my curiosity level was high and I was optimistic. As the kits began arriving and I had time to check them out, overall it was disappointing. The potential is there for a company to produce a well-thought-out kit, truly designed to help people survive in an emergency, and with very high quality gear. Only the Tact Mini Survival Kit delivered and is one reason I’ve selected Survival Frog as a Survival Mom affiliate. If you buy the Tact for yourself or as a gift, let me know what you think.

Make Your Own Winter Survival Food Kit

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A while back my family spent 2 weeks camping around the beautiful and very cold country of Iceland. (You can read about our adventures in this article.) We had a cozy camper van with a propane stove, a small sink, table, and bunks, and as you might imagine, coming up with plans for hot meals every day became an interesting challenge!

Make Your Own Winter Survival Food Kit via The Survival Mom

There’s something deeply satisfying about a hot drink or hot meal on a cold day, but have you ever thought about how you could manage that on a long, winter drive or if you were stranded in cold weather? A Winter Survival Food Kit might save the day.

immersion heater for winter survival food kitThis very, very simple, inexpensive, and very portable Winter Survival Food Kit that will provide you and your family with warm drinks and small, hot meals, and it all begins with a $6 gadget, the immersion heater. (see image)

An immersion heater like this one heats up almost instantly and if you were stranded in the snow, which happens to thousands of people every year, having the ability to melt snow into drinkable water is vital. Although it might seem like a good idea to eat clean snow if you don’t have water, the fact is, that icy snow will lower your core temperature, making it even harder to stay warm and avoid hypothermia.

With an immersion heater in hand, you’ll next need a metal container that can hold at least 16 ounces of liquid/food. The one I have in my kit looks something like this pot. In a pinch, you could use an empty, clean aluminum can but without a handle of some kind, you would need to have a potholder or something similar.

You now have a heat source and a container for food and/or water, so the next step is to think about what you could pack that wouldn’t be affected by very cold temperatures, and here is where small packets of food, like oatmeal, are the perfect solution.


Some of the foods I’ve found to be perfectly sized for a Winter Survival Food Kit are:

  • Packets of dry soup and bouillon
  • Hot chocolate and cider packets
  • Packets of sweeteners and honey
  • Teabags of different varieties  (Teas containing ginger, lemon grass, and lemon verbena are very good for fighting colds.)
  • Oatmeal
  • Ramen (bulkier but more filling)
  • Packets of coffee and lemonade mix
  • Emergen-C (You may lose some of the nutrients when added to hot water but you will still get a healthy jolt of the ingredients, including Vitamin C, electrolytes, and zinc. It comes in a few different flavors as well.)
  • Theraflu Flu and Sore Throat Powder  (There is also a nighttime version that will put you to sleep. Avoid that one if you’re driving!)

You’ll be surprised by how many of these packets can easily fit inside your kit’s metal pot. If you store them in a Ziploc or, preferably, a vacuum sealed pouch using a Food Saver, it will help keep the packets dry.

One final and necessary ingredient for all these foods and beverages is water. If snow is your only source, then choose snow that hasn’t been plowed, appears to be clean, and, preferably, is snow that has fallen during the middle or toward the end of a snow storm. That snow will have fallen through cleaner and less polluted air.

You can store water in your vehicle using the tips in this article to keep it from freezing. I always have a case of water bottles in the passenger area of my SUV and even if a few get partially frozen, I’ve never had the entire case freeze — but then, I don’t live in the most frigid parts of the country, either!

Check out Minimus, for buying packets of food and beverage mixes in bulk. This is especially helpful if you’ll be putting together more than one of these kits.

Your Winter Survival Food Kit is now complete! Is there anything else you would add? If so, add it in the Comments section.

Make Your Own Winter Survival Food Kit via The Survival Mom

Don’t Leave Home Without It: The Vehicle 72-Hour Kit

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vehicle emergency kitSoccer moms, football moms, cheerleading moms, whatever they call us, “chauffeur” better describes what we, Survival Moms, do every day. In my world, it’s not unusual to have a kid’s dentist appointment, a field trip, and a swim meet all on the same day, transported by our trusty Tahoe. Now, if that Tahoe ever broke down or for some reason we couldn’t get home as planned, what would we do?

My answer is the Vehicle 72 Hour Kit, or Emergency Kit. If you were well and truly stuck somewhere, this Kit could see you and your family through at least 72 hours. That’s three days. It wouldn’t be luxurious living, that’s for sure, but it would be survival, and that’s what we’re talking about here.

I consider the Vehicle 72 Hour Kit to be an essential part of being prepared for emergencies, and fortunately, it’s pretty easy to put together. In fact, you might have all the necessary, basic supplies in your home and garage right now.

Putting the vehicle 72 hour kit together

To get started on your own Vehicle 72 Hour Kit, you’ll need some type of container that will fit in the back of your  minivan, SUV, or in the trunk of your car. I chose a Rubbermaid clear plastic bin, the type that is designed to fit under beds. It’s the perfect width for our vehicle, and I like the fact that I can see what’s inside. It also holds a lot.

The typical 72 Hour Kit, also sometimes called a Bug-Out Bag, is stored at home and ready to grab as you run out the door in case of an evacuation. Since we’re building a Kit for the vehicle, we want it filled with items we’ll need if stranded somewhere. If you have more than one vehicle in the family, make a kit for the one you use most often and then add kits to the other vehicles as you have the time, supplies, and money.

You can find numerous lists online of what should be in a 72 Hour Kit, but since I’m a mom, and I pretty much always have the kids with me, my own list is a little different.  A lot of these items are available online, and I’ve included links. Anything to make shopping easier, right?

Here’s what I’ve packed.


(With kids, you just have to start here.)

  • A 4-pack of toilet paper, flattened  (Take the center cardboard tube out to make it as flat as possible. You can put these flattened rolls in a Food Saver bag and vacuum seal for even flatter toilet paper.)
  • Baby wipes
  • Small box of tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bar of soap
  • Clorox wipes (Germs never take a vacation.)
  • A few plastic grocery bags stuffed into another grocery bag.
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Tampons/feminine protection. A menstrual cup is a great option. You can read more here to decide if this is something you might want to try.
  • Paper towels
  • Emesis bags for unpleasant car sickness incidents. These are so much easier to use than a random trash bag or, worse, your purse.


(Kids will quickly panic if they think you’re out of food, but whatever you pack, make sure it’s something your kids will eat.)

  • Beef jerky or something similar
  • Trail mix
  • Shelled sunflower seeds
  • Small cans of food, such as fruit, ravioli, tuna
  • Protein bars and granola bars
  • High calorie energy bars. This article compares several different brands.  (Handle these with care. High energy may be the last thing your kids need!)
  • Hard candies (Offer a prize for whoever can make their Lifesaver last the longest!)
  • Packets for flavoring water
  • Can opener, unless all your cans have a pop-top
  • Plastic forks, spoons and knives, one set per person. I like this set of sporks from Amazon.


(After everyone has eaten and gone to the bathroom, then what??)

  • A read-aloud book  (Should be something entertaining for the whole family with plenty of chapters. I packed Journey to the Center of the Earth and Charlotte’s Web.)
  • Small Bible  (This is more for my own sanity than that of the kids!)
  • Paper and pens/pencils
  • Deck of cards  (Think “War”, “Go Fish” and math flashcards. If you’re stranded for very long, your kids will invent their own games!)
  • Single-use digital camera  (Not only good for entertainment, but it might come in handy to document your emergency situation.)
  • Small binoculars
  • Sharpie  (Drawing fake mustaches on each other should keep the kids busy for a couple of minutes (make sure it’s a WASHABLE Sharpie!), and you’ll be grateful for this if you have to leave a note on your vehicle.)
  • Glo-sticks  (Great value:  entertainment and emergency light in one!)
  • Ibuprofen  (For me.)
  • Ear plugs  (Again, for me.)

Hard-Core Survival

  • Emergency blankets. These have multiple uses.
  • Fleece blankets  (Cheapest way to get these?  Buy two yards of any fleece print at a fabric store.  Instant blanket. Bulky, but can be stowed beneath a seat.)
  • Light sources  (Headlamps are worth their weight in gold, but also have a traditional flashlight or two.  These can be stored in a glove compartment or other niche in your vehicle.)
  • The Luci light. My current favorite solar lantern because not only does it charge quickly using sunlight, but it collapses to a thin disk, which is very easy to pack.
  • Rain ponchos
  • Duct tape
  • Hand and foot warmers  (Small, stashable)
  • Rope  (Check out paracord for top quality and versatility.)
  • Knife  (A cheapie pocket knife is better than nothing, but you’ll be grateful if you pack something sturdier.)
  • Battery/solar-powered emergency radio in case your car battery dies
  • Ground cover (I packed two large heavy-duty plastic tablecloths purchased at a dollar store.)
  • Work gloves
  • Extra batteries for anything battery powered in your Kit
  • Umbrella
  • Waterproof matches
  • Whistle
  • Water purification tablets
  • Small portable water filter
  • Mirror for signaling — this one comes with a whistle
  • Small, sturdy shovel  (Check out a collapsible shovel if space is tight.)
  • Two heavy duty black trash bags

Medical Emergencies

(With kids, need I say more?)

  • Basic First Aid Kit from Wal-Mart, price $9
  • Children’s pain relief medication and dispenser
  • Adult pain relief medication. Read more about pain relief choices in this article.
  • QuickClot (This product quickly stops bleeding in the case of a serious wound.)
  • Benadryl
  • Aspirin
  • Small bottle of bleach to use for water purification and sanitize medical supplies
  • Thermometer
  • Sunblock
  • Medical gloves and face masks
  • Tweezers
  • First Aid reference book. I own this one by Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy and this book by the Survival Doctor.
  • Super glue
  • Additional medical supplies according to the needs of your family, e.g. inhaler, a few doses of prescription meds


  • Ziploc-style bags  (Just store some of your items in different sized bags so you’ll have them already packed.)
  • Rubber bands
  • A bungee cord or two
  • A cell phone charger, unless you know that you know there’s one elsewhere in the car.
  • A charged battery pack for your small electronics
  • Comb/hairbrush
  • Small scissors
  • Sewing kit
  • Cloth sheet
  • A couple of compact nylon bags and a nylon backpack  (If we have to leave our vehicle, we’ll need something for carrying our supplies.)
  • Money in small bills, along with plenty of change  (If nothing else, this will help greatly with bribing your children to be nice to each other!)

In addition to storing things in the plastic bin, I took a long, hard look at the Tahoe to find other nooks and crannies where I could put additional supplies. A large city map book, along with maps of neighboring states, is in a back seat pocket, and there are two Gymboree baby blankets and a couple of beach towels rolled up and stored beneath the back seat.

I also have several 2-liter bottles filled with water stashed beneath the back seat. I’m not so sure the water/plastic bottle/heat is a good combination, so when we leave the house, I always make sure we have a handful of fresh water bottles with us. However, if the stored water was all we had, we’d drink it until we could get fresh water. Even if we don’t drink the stored water, it can be used for washing grubby hands and faces.

It’s recommended to have a gallon of water on hand per person, per day. It would be pretty difficult to keep that much water stored in your vehicle.   One option, in addition to the 2-liter bottles, is a 5-gallon collapsible water bottle or two. My family has used the inexpensive Coghlan brand for years and recommend it.

What about a change of clothing for each person? It depends on how much space you have in your Kit and in your vehicle, but a clean shirt, pants, underwear and socks shouldn’t take up too much space. If you have Space Bags, a Food Saver, or something similar, clothing and items like the fleece blankets will take up even less room and can be stored beneath the back seat.

For warmth in extreme cold condition, check out this homemade heater demonstrated by Erich over at Tactical Intelligence.  If you use this, be sure to roll down a window for ventilation. This article contains many more ideas for surviving cold weatherif you are ever stranded in your vehicle.

Finally, not to be a fear-monger, but there’s always the chance you’ll be stranded far from any bathroom facilities. A 5 or 6 gallon bucket, equipped with a portable potty lid is a big improvement over squatting by the side of the road.  Be sure to include toilet bags and there are even chemicals to have on hand that keep the odors down.

You’ll be surprised by how quickly your own Kit comes together once you get started.  I was able to finish mine in just a day or two.  I actually had most everything on hand already.  You may never need this Vehicle 72 Hour Kit, but I’ll bet it will bring you and your family peace of mind just knowing it’s there.

Get the printable list!

Click here to get a printable list for your own Vehicle 72 Hour Kit!

vehicle 72 hour kit



The #1 Item Every Bug Out Bag Should Contain — But Probably Doesn’t

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For more than a year my husband walked around, worked at his job, went scuba diving, and tried to lead a normal life, all with a broken back. He was in pain 24 hours a day, and his insurance company would only pay for chiropractic treatments. That’s right. To this day he hates insurance companies, and I don’t blame him.

It took a single visit to the right doctor to determine that not only was the pain real but that two of his vertebrae were broken.

So, he knows a bit about pain.

bug out bag pain relief

With that in mind, one item I am always sure to have on hand, whether in my car, in my desk, or in a bug out bag is a bottle of pain killers. The pain killer of choice for our family is usually ibuprofen. I’ve also been known to favor a topical product like Biofreeze, which, incidentally is something our local physical therapist uses from time to time.

Why do I think pain killers, or pain relief, are a vital addition to your bug out bag? Because no one can accomplish much, travel far, carry much weight, or assist others if they’re in pain. Even a blister or two on the heels can slow down the strongest and best prepared prepper and an ingrown toenail? You might as well lie down on the side of the road and tell your survival group, “Go on without me.”

In a dire emergency, from the loss of our power grid to a natural disaster that destroys your home, you will be on your feet more, the sedentary lifestyle will be but a memory, and you’ll discover muscles (and pains!) you never knew you had. So, it makes sense to stock up on pain relief medications in order to walk just a little farther, carry the toddler a little farther, or set up a campsite when your back is killing you.

While I generally prefer ibuprofen, there are other pain killers that might be more suitable for you and your family or group. Let’s take a look at them.

NSAIDs as an effective bug out bag pain relief

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are one of the most common categories of pain killers and have brand names you’ve surely seen around: Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin, Advil, Motrin IB, Aleve. Their generic names are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Aspirin — Brand names: Bufferin, Bayer, Excel

Aspirin’s active ingredient has been used for more than 2,000 years, and is the original medicine for all aches and pains. Its history is fascinating, and it’s been one of the most researched drugs ever. This article explains how willow and aspirin are similar and this article tells how to use willow as a pain killer, in a pinch. You can count on aspirin to reduce the pain in muscles and joints and for toothaches. Doctors prescribe it on a regular basis to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The main warning a bottle of aspirin carries is that it can cause stomach irritation and bleeding. If you have ulcers, a bleeding disorder, or kidney or liver problems, you should talk with your doctor bef:ore planning on using aspirin as your pain killer of choice. Aspirin shouldn’t be given to children under the age of 2 and any child or teenager recovering from chickenpox or the flu.

Still, aspirin is readily available, inexpensive, and can be effective for years after the so-called expiration date stamped on the bottle. You can expect to feel relief from your pain within 15-20 minutes and get the full effect of the aspirin within 49-100 minutes, based on a dose of 500 mg.

Ibuprofen — Brand names: Motrin IB, Advil, Equate

For the most part, this is what I always try to have on hand. I’ve found that it’s quite effective for headaches and when anyone in the family has body aches from a cold or minor episode of the flu. This is a good choice for bringing down a fever and can even help with migraines, arthritis, and with pains caused by an injury. Like aspirin, ibuprofen can irritate the stomach, although it generally has fewer side effects.

For a few months, I was taking a prescription version of ibuprofen with a dose of 800 mg, twice a day. It was effective, but after a couple of months I had to switch to a naproxen pill due to stomach pains. For this reason, it would be a good plan to have on hand pain killers from the 3 different categories of NSAIDs. If you begin to suffer side effects from one, you can switch to a different one while still contuing to manage the pain. With larger doses beyond the typical dosage of 200 mg every 4-6 hours be sure to talk with a doctor first. Ibuprofen can be very unsafe taken in large doses or for extended periods of time.

A dose of ibuprofen will start to kick in within 20-30 minutes when taken on an empty stomach, so keep an eye on your pain level and take that dose before the pain becomes extreme.

Naproxen — Brand names: Equate, Aleve

Naproxen is another type of NSAID that many experts recommend for the type of muscle aches and pains you get from a workout or vigorous physical activity — something you might expect in a SHTF scenario. It’s also used to treat the pain of gout and osteoarthritis, tendonitis and menstrual pains as well as bursitis.

Like aspirin and ibuprofen, naproxen can also irritate the stomach and it’s not something to take over a long period of time as it can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Risks seem to be higher for older adults. A pregnant woman shouldn’t take naproxen during the last trimester as it could harm the baby.

If naproxen is your choice of NSAIDs, it will take about 45 minutes before it fully takes effect.

Warnings for NSAIDs

Studies have found that NSAIDs (excluding aspirin) increase the risk of heart attack and stroke when taken regularly. NSAIDs can also reduce blood flow to the kidneys, so if you choose to take them, be sure to stay well-hydrated. Just because these are over-the-counter meds does not mean they are meant to be taken daily, over long periods of time

Generally, your best option is to take the least risky drug, at the lowest dose you need to control your pain, for the shortest amount of time possible.

NSAIDs for kids

In the past I’ve been able to stock up on various OTC meds for cheap by watching for coupons and store sales. Often you’ll see coupons for Advil Junior, Advil Children’s Ibuprofen, and other versions of NSAIDs for kids. Read the directions and warning label carefully to make sure that particular medication is safe for your child.

NSAIDs should be given with food in order to alleviate any stomach pains associated with them and NSAIDs have been known to make kids sun sensitive as well. If they’ll be spending time outdoors, apply sunscreen so you don’t have a sunburn to worry about on top of their other complaints!

Acetaminophen for pain relief

The second category of OTC pain killers is acetaminophen, Tylenol being the best known brand. Since acetaminophen isn’t a NSAID, it won’t irritate the stomach but it also won’t reduce inflammation. Instead, it’s usually given for headaches, muscle aches, back pain, colds, fevers, and toothaches. It’s generally quite safe when taken as advised, but it’s also easier to overdose on acetaminophen, and too much can be fatal.

If you’re taking other meds, check the label to see if they include acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated APAP), and if so, add up the total number of milligrams you are taking. Since acetaminophen is a common ingredient in other medications, it’s possible to overdose without realizing it. 2600-3000 mg is the maximum daily dose for an adult, whether taken straight up as a Tylenol capsule or in a combination of other medications taken throughout the day.

One bright spot when you’re in a lot of pain is that it’s generally safe to alternate acetaminophen with a NSAID in order to maintain a higher level of pain relief. Surprisingly, the combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen is more effective for dental pain than opiods, such as vicodin. The two work together well as companions as acetaminophen is cleared by the liver, while ibuprofen is cleared by the kidneys.

Ask your doctor or pharmacisit for their recommended dosage, but generally, a dose of acetaminophen and one of ibuprofen taken alternately every 4 hours is safe for most people and is what our doctors have recommended to us over the years.

What about prescription pain killers?

I’m extremely wary about all pain killers, even though I recommend their inclusion in emergency kits and bug out bags. I’m especially wary when it comes to prescription pain killers, and have had friends become addicted to them. Having said that, there are times when the strongest possible pain medication is called for.

This is a tricky area because, first, without advice from a doctor or pharmacist, giving a Tramadol, Vicodin or Percocet, for example, to someone with pre-existing conditions or allergies could be deadly. Dosages are based on weight and the health history of the patient.

Technically, it’s illegal to give a prescription medication to anyone other than the person it was prescribed for. True, in a worst case scenario this isn’t likely to be an issue, but all the same, it’s something to be considered for your bug out bag.

Natural pain killers

Most of the focus here has been on OTC pain killers because they are generally very effective and give quick relief. Natural remedies, though, shouldn’t be overlooked. Be aware, though, that just because a remedy is “natural” doesn’t mean that it won’t interact with other medications you may be taking with negative results. Also, try out any of these herbs ahead of time to see if they are effective or not.

Here are a few common herbal and natural remedies for pain that would be practical to include in a bug out bag.

  • Turmeric — For back and joints discomfort
  • Boswellia — For osteoarthritic pain.
  • Capsaicin — For muscular pain.
  • White willow bark, for headaches. Also read this article for in-depth information about headache treatments.)
  • Arnica herbal rub — For topical pain.
  • Bone broth — Supports joints and is anti-inflammatory. You can buy a powdered version of this.
  • Caffeine — May be effective for migraines and is sometimes combined with ibuprofen or acetaminophen for greater relief.
  • Kava kava — Sore muscles

There are many other herbs that may help with pain, so continue researching and testing to see what is most effective for you. Then, put several doses of that herb in a water-tight container in your bug out bag. Another tip is to research natural pain killers in this book about foraging and learn how to identfy these plants, so you’ll be able to access them if you’re ever out of range of a pharmacy or doctor’s office.

Prepping for bug out bag pain relief

The best practices for dealing with pain are, first, identifying all the possible causes of the pain and eliminating as many as possible. If the pain persists, then it’s vital to know about the individual OTC drugs, their potential side effects, and how they are best utilized. A well-equipped first aid or medical kit would contain a bottle of each drug that is safe for you and your family members to take, including infant and childrens versions. The charts at this website provide a good summary of information that you can save to your computer and print out.

If you want to carry smaller amounts of these meds, then a vacuum sealer is your best friend. You can create very small pouches using a Food Saver type bag. Use the smallest size bag you can, seal several doses inside, and then trim the edges to create a tiny, sealed pouch. Use a Sharpie to label the pouch with the name of the drug and dosage. You can read more about using a vacuum sealer for things like this here.

Finally, take some time to educate your family members about the safe use of these medications. At some point, it may be up to one on of your children or grandchildren to either take a pain killer dose themselves or provide that med to a family member. They will need to know what is safe and what isn’t.

Survival Kit List Of 10 Essential Items

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Looking for a survival kit list? Here are 10 essential items which you might choose as a minimum to start any survival kit. Then build up the list and tailor the kit from there depending on the specific purpose for the kit, your personal preferences, needs, methods of carry, etc. (UPDATED) When making your own survival kit list and deciding what to include, first think about where and how you might use it, or it’s purpose as it relates to your activity. Is it for your car? In your backpack on a day hike? A week-long camping trip? A bug-out

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Five Benefits of Paracord

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Paracord is a highly versatile multi-filament nylon cord with nearly unlimited uses, applications and benefits, and is pretty much a “must have” for preppers (or anyone!). It’s like the duct-tape of cord! Here are more details about this amazing cord and a good supplier here in the United States of U.S. Made Military 550 Paracord: […]

Legacy Food Storage 72 Hour Food Kit: Classic Chili Mix Review

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Here’s another yummy meal from the Legacy Food Storage Kit we’ve been looking at in recent weeks, this time the Classic Chili Mix: I’m not sure why I keep showing you the front of the packages since they’re all the same besides the name… guess I’m just being thorough. And the backside as usual: Again, … Continue reading “Legacy Food Storage 72 Hour Food Kit: Classic Chili Mix Review”

A Four-Seasons Emergency Plan: Summer Survival

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Not long ago I was feeling pretty good about my food storage and other preps, perhaps even a bit smug, until someone asked, “Are you stocked up on potassium iodide tablets?”

“What??” was my incredulous response.

After some research at I discovered a significant gap in all my survival preparation. I had not considered how my family would survive a nuclear blast. How foolish of me to overlook that contingency!

The truth is that it’s impossible to prepare for every possible scenario. There are just too many variables. To make the task more manageable, set a seasonal preparedness goal. Right now it’s summer in Arizona, and oh so hot! Preparing for a summer evacuation or crisis is different than for other seasons. If a sudden emergency happened during the summer, how would you need to be prepared? What are your summer survival plans?

The Basicstemperature

First on the list, make sure there is plenty of stored water in each vehicle. This is true for any season, but especially so during the summer. If there is the possibility of a disruption in your home water supply, buy and fill 55-gallon water barrels. One barrel per person would be a good rule of thumb for a three-week supply of water.

To ensure your water is safe from dangerous microbes, follow these instructions for water purification. If you live in a rural setting or spend a lot of time camping and hiking, stock up on water purification tablets also in case you have to rely on a possibly contaminated water source, such as a lake, pond, or stream.

Food is an obvious second priority. The food in your Vehicle 72 Hour Kit should be safe in  high temperatures. In fact, do a quick check to make sure everything in your kit is safe at high temperatures, including any medicines. Double check any canned items for signs of expansion. An explosion of Spaghetti-O’s in your kit will not be a pleasant surprise!

summer fruitWarm temps also bring the very best summer fruits and lots of them. It’s an ideal time to buy in-season fruits and veggies in bulk and get busy canning and/or dehydrating. Since your kids are out of school, you have additional slave labor!  Take advantage of it!

How about the temperature in your food storage area? Ideally, it should be cooler than 70 degrees, which may be difficult during summer months. Our long-term food storage is meant to be long-term, and it would be a shame to end up with ruined food because your storage area was too hot. If you’re unsure of your pantry’s temperature, keep a thermometer in there for a few days and check for temperature fluctuations. Above all, never store food of any kind in your garage or outbuilding unless it’s well-insulated.

Beyond Food and Water

The clothing items in your 72 Hour Kits should reflect summer temperatures in your area. Include a light-colored cotton long sleeved shirt for each person to help ward off sunburn and overheating as well as a floppy, brimmed cotton hat. Why a cotton hat? Unlike most straw hats, they can be rolled up and stored just about anywhere and the fabric will absorb sweat. As long as you’re out shopping for floppy hats, look for children’s summer clothing in the next size or two larger. When next June rolls around, you’ll already have clothing in the right sizes for your kids.

Hypothermia is something you probably won’t need to worry about over the summer, but sunburns, heat stroke, and breathing problems abound. Polluted city air is often exacerbated by warm temperature inversions. If someone in the family has breathing problems of any type, be prepared with the appropriate medication and breathing treatments ahead of time. If you had to suddenly evacuate or couldn’t leave your home for a period of time during the hottest part of the year, what types of over-the-counter and prescription medicines would you need the most?

In my part of the country, powerful thunderstorms blow in every July and August. They’ve been known to hit power lines and even major transformers, knocking out the power for large sections of the city. If your electricity should go out for a few hours, days or longer, you’ll need a plan for coping. A top priority is keeping the food in your fridge and freezer from spoiling. Follow these excellent directions for keeping your cold foods cold. Once you’re sure your frozen steaks and veggies are safe, you’ll need to stay cool yourself! A portable Misty Mate fills the bill for staying cool no matter where you are. It’s a great product, and being a swim team mom who sits out in the heat every day, I should know!

Get Out of Dodge

Finally, do you have a plan for getting out of town quickly? Remember the horror stories from Hurricane Ike in 2008? Cars were overheating along the highway, and it took hours to travel just a few miles. If your area was being evacuated this summer, what other routes are there?

Is this really the only route?

Is this really the only route?

Being stuck in a world-class traffic jam in the summer isn’t just inconvenient, it could become a death trap. Spend some time studying maps of your area and marking various routes from Point A to Point B. If necessary, have maps of any neighboring states. Then, on a pleasant weekend, when you have some time on your hands, actually drive one of those alternate routes.

There’s nothing like a re-con mission to determine if the plans you’ve made will work out!


Legacy Food Storage 72 Hour Food Kit: Pasta Primavera Review

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I was recently sent this Legacy Food Storage 72 Hour Emergency Food Kit in exchange for an honest review. I figured rather than reviewing the entire bucket contents at once that I would taste test a few of the meals and share my thoughts each time… probably once a week or so. With that in mind, … Continue reading “Legacy Food Storage 72 Hour Food Kit: Pasta Primavera Review”

Level-1 Prepping and Preparedness -72 Hour Kit For Your Car

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Although it might be nice to pull your emergency kit behind you as pictured above pulling my cargo trailer, lets downsize it a bit to level-1…   Basic level-1 prepping and preparedness includes the following topics, of which today’s topic will cover the 72-hour kit for your car. –Water and Food -72 hour kit for […]

REPOST: SurvivalRing Guide #1: Five Most Important Skills for New Preppers…Set Your Foundation First (plus bonus Bug-out section)

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“Hello…We’re the Preppers…” The “Prepper” movement has grown exponentially in the last few years, thanks to reality TV shows such as “Doomsday Preppers” (aka DDP), and all the knockoff shows and repeats on many other networks, as well as online TV show services like Hulu and NetFlix. Mainstream print and online media is following in […]

The post REPOST: SurvivalRing Guide #1: Five Most Important Skills for New Preppers…Set Your Foundation First (plus bonus Bug-out section) appeared first on SurvivalRing.

Completed Incremental Disaster Kit

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At Week 21 we are finally done with our incremental shopping list.  Now that you completed your  incremental disaster kit you will have completed many activities that help better prepare your family, as well as have a fully stocked 72 hour kit.  I urge you not to stop here, but to continue to plan and […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 19)

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We are getting close to the end of the incremental disaster kit posts.*  By this point you should be amassing a goof bit of gear, have some new skills, and feeling much more prepared for disaster. Having worked in Emergency Management for more than a decade, I have been to disaster shelters.  While the government […]

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Cold Weather Survival: Survive in a Stranded Car

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survive stranded carI’ve experienced that gut-jolting feeling more than once, and you have too. You turn the key to your car expecting to hear the roar of the engine…and…nothing. Or, you’re cruising along the highway when you notice that the gas pedal isn’t quite working right, and it dawns on you, you’ve run out of gas. Or, a nail in the tire leaves you stranded miles from home.

Even on a pleasant, balmy day, these scenarios are frustrating but on a cold day with freezing temperatures and dangerous driving conditions, they can become deadly.

Dress for the occasion

Any time you’ll be traveling in a vehicle through winter weather, you should first dress for that type of weather. You can always change when you get to your destination or remove a layer or two, but if you are well and truly stuck in snow and ice conditions, that business suit, party dress, fancy shoes will be the death of you. Atlanta drivers were reminded of this fundamental truth a few years ago when snowstorms hit their city and stranded thousands of commuters, many in warm-weather business attire.

Your main challenges will be moisture from precipitation and the cold, so plan for both.

If you can’t dress for the weather, then have these items in a waterproof pack or maybe one of those storage bags that allows you to squeeze all the air out so the bag takes up less room — like these.

  • one pair of wool socks for each person in the family
  • sturdy walking shoes or boots, waterproof if possible. If you have hiking boots but rarely wear them, why not keep them in the trunk of your car or underneath the back seat?
  • a tube of Shoe Goo to seal the exterior of shoes against water (You should have a tube of this in your emergency kit, too.)
  • hand warmers
  • warm, waterproof gloves
  • rugged work gloves (In case you need to change a tire, clear a road, or do some other manual labor in freezing temperatures.)
  • foot warmers
  • knitted wool caps (These are my favorite for keeping my head warm, key to keeping the entire body warm.)
  • rain ponchos with hoods (large “contractors” trash bags are an okay substitute)
  • wool long johns

If you are packing these things for multiple members of the family, make the entire pile easier to organize by separating out each person’s set of clothes/gear and keeping them in separate bags. This way there’s no need to dig through a huge bag of clothes to find one pair of socks.

Keep your feet, hands, and head warm and dry at the very least. You can find more good cold-weather clothing tips here and in my trip report from Iceland.

Stuck in the car, with nowhere to go

If the weather is so bad that you can’t even get out of the car, then you’ll still be needing those warm clothes. The temperature inside your car will quickly drop to just a few degrees warmer than outside. The warm socks, caps, clothes, and hand/foot warmers will help a great deal.

To that, add a small heater that is safe to use inside a vehicle. This portable, small space heater runs on propane and would be a safe choice. Store a couple extra propane containers in your vehicle to insure you have a supply to last a few days, just in case.

Since body heat counts for something, even in very cold weather, you will probably need to run this heater for just a few minutes every hour or so. If your car has plenty of gas, you can turn on your car’s heater every so often as well. Just make sure that the exterior exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with mud or snow. If it is, clear it out completely before turning your car on, otherwise carbon monoxide can build up inside the car, causing another deadly problem worse than being stranded. This carbon monoxide detector for the car looks intriguing, although I haven’t used it personally.

Another heating option is one that uses a couple of cans, a roll of toilet paper, and a bottle or two of alcohol. This DIY emergency heater will require some practice using it. I recommend watching this video to see how the heater is put together, reading the results of actual use in a car, and then reading through the comments on this site to learn from others’ experiences. I file this in the “emergency use only” category, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have it put together with a bottle or two of alcohol — just in case.

You probably have some spare blankets around the house, so go ahead and roll those up, store in a space-saver bag and add them to your supplies in the trunk. I’ve kept spare blankets and towels underneath my Tahoe’s back seat for many years, and they come in handy, no matter the weather.

If you have sleeping bags that are rarely use, toss them into the trunk of the car. You might as well store them there as in the garage or attic. Caught in cold weather, they could very possibly save your life.

Along with resources to stay warm, food, water, and a toilet (of all things!) are going to become necessities. This article details how to store water in a vehicle during the winter. It’s important to know that eating snow, while technically is water and life-saving, can also work against you by lowering your core temperature. Granola or energy bars, crackers, beef jerky, lollipops — all do well when stored in cold temperatures. Sugary and salty snacks, though, will increase your thirst, which leads us to the toilet situation.

Most likely, you’ll need to just hop out of the car, do your business, and then hop back in. A child’s training toilet can be stored in the trunk, along with some plastic trash bags and toilet paper.

Finally, think about  how you will wile away the hours before getting rescued and put together a sanity-saving kit. It might contain a charged and loaded mp3 player with earphones, a book you’ve been meaning to read, paper and pen, coloring books and colored pencils for the kids, hard candies, and so on. Your “adventure” may last just an hour or two but you could also be stranded for much longer. If so, you’ll be needing these supplies.

By the way, do stay in or very near your car. Unless you are 100% certain that a well-traveled road or occupied home/building is within a very short, easy walk and the weather allows, you will be found much more quickly if you’re with your vehicle. Exertion that causes a lot of sweating (moisture) will only make it more difficult to stay warm and you’ll become dehydrated.

For a very complete list of what to keep in your car, this printable is ready to download!

Getting help

Obviously, getting stuck in your car is a situation that isn’t desirable! Even if you’re toasty warm, the kids are napping, and you’re listening to your favorite Pandora channel, you want to get home!

A charged cell phone is a necessity, as is an external battery pack. A charged battery pack like this one has saved my bacon on many occasions when my cell phone was nearly dead. With your phone, you can utilize Google maps, emergency scanners, first aid apps, and even this winter survival app. This survival manual app has extensive information at your fingertips.

In a winter landscape, bright colors are easy to spot. Imagine a bright red cardinal against white snow and bare, gray tree branches. If your vehicle is off the main roads, you may need to figure out how to make it more visible for rescue workers or the casual passer-by.

A mylar emergency blanket can be stretched across the top of your car and secured in place with your car doors. Brightly colored clothing can be tied to an antenna. A mirror can be used to flash passing cars or airplanes and honking your horn can attract attention as will flashing your headlights. If you’ve told someone where you are going and when to expect you back home, it won’t be long before an active search will be called and help will be on its way.

survive stranded car winter

Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 18)

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We are getting close to the end of the incremental disaster kit posts.*  By this point you should be amassing a goof bit of gear, have some new skills, and feeling much more prepared for disaster. Having worked in Emergency Management for more than a decade, I have been to disaster shelters.  While the government […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 17)

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We are getting close to the end of the incremental disaster kit posts.*  By this point you should be amassing a goof bit of gear, have some new skills, and feeling much more prepared for disaster. Having worked in Emergency Management for more than a decade, I have been to disaster shelters.  While the government […]

The post Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 17) appeared first on Dave’s Homestead.

Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 16)

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We are getting close to the end of the incremental disaster kit posts.*  By this point you should be amassing a goof bit of gear, have some new skills, and feeling much more prepared for disaster. Having worked in Emergency Management for more than a decade, I have been to disaster shelters.  While the government […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 15)

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We are getting close to the end of the incremental disaster kit posts.*  By this point you should be amassing a goof bit of gear, have some new skills, and feeling much more prepared for disaster. Having worked in Emergency Management for more than a decade, I have been to disaster shelters.  While the government […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 13)

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We are getting close to the end of the incremental disaster kit posts.*  By this point you should be amassing a goof bit of gear, have some new skills, and feeling much more prepared for disaster. Having worked in Emergency Management for more than a decade, I have been to disaster shelters.  While the government […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 12)

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We are getting close to the end of the incremental disaster kit posts.*  By this point you should be amassing a goof bit of gear, have some new skills, and feeling much more prepared for disaster. Having worked in Emergency Management for more than a decade, I have been to disaster shelters.  While the government […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 11)

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If you haven’t been following the incremental plan or are just starting I want you to realize how just getting started is a BIG DEAL.  The majority of the citizens (and occupants) of this country have less prepared than what you would have if you followed this plan to this weeks amounts. Most people have […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 9)

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If you haven’t been following the incremental plan or are just starting I want you to realize how just getting started is a BIG DEAL.  The majority of the citizens (and occupants) of this country have less prepared than what you would have if you followed this plan to this weeks amounts. Most people have […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 8)

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If you haven’t been following the incremental plan or are just starting I want you to realize how just getting started is a BIG DEAL.  The majority of the citizens (and occupants) of this country have less prepared than what you would have if you followed this plan to this weeks amounts. Most people have […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 7)

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More food (you can never have too much food), but also we are starting with longer term sanitation and comfort. Being able to repair your clothes and start dealing with hygiene issues is becoming important

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 6)

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In an emergency situation you may not be able to rely on infrastructure. Hospitals may be full or even closed. Being able to take care of small injuries may keep them from becoming larger emergencies.

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 5)

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Growing up, my Mom instilled in me a very expensive habit, I feel the need to east something every day. Each day of food I have stored, is one day longer I keep the wolf off the door in the event of a major disaster.

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 2)

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Last week’s list got you through one day of food, so this week we are focusing on the hardware store items to help with immediate shelter issues. Also, as I have learned from working in actual disasters, in many households, a pet is more than just an animal, it’s a member of the family. If this is the case, don’t forget to plan for their health and welfare also.

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Doomsday Preppers? You’ve GOT to be kidding me…

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This post was written exactly 4 years ago, on my Facebook page. I still stand by it. Rich Fleetwood – February 7, 2012 · Riverton · Watching “Doomsday Preppers” on NGC this evening, with an as objective as possible viewpoint. I’ve been doing this stuff myself for 20 years, and in my position and experience, with the […]

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Comparing Emergency Ration Bars

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comparing emergency rations barsIf you’ve explored survivalist and prepper circles for any amount of time, you’ve probably seen those emergency ration bar thingies packaged in mylar. These bars are made by several different companies. They are all slightly different but are usually composed of some combination of flour, shortening, and added vitamins and electrolytes. Recently my dad had this cool idea for our family to do a taste test on as many different brands as we could, to see which one was the best. We had a little party and involved my kids to see which one was the best kind.

Before I tell you our ultimate verdict, I will tell you up front, we weren’t crazy about any of them. One member of our testing panel described the taste as “shortening and horcrux.” It would be a little depressing to have nothing but emergency rations to eat for any stretch of time. Why, then, do they even exist?  This isn’t 1914 any more! This is the 21st century! Are you telling me we have developed EZ Mac technology and people are still buying emergency rations?

All good questions. Outrage over the bland taste is misplaced, however, because emergency rations continue to fill a very specific niche in the emergency preparedness/ military world. In fact, when I set out to look into the history of these things, I discovered an interesting bit of information: they taste like that on purpose.

You’re skeptical. I can tell. But hear me out.

History of Emergency Rations

The very first “emergency ration,” that is, a processed food high in nutritive value that doesn’t take up a lot of space, would probably be pemmican, a Native American creation made from meat, fat, and berries. Prepackaged bars first appeared toward the latter end of WWI, but field rations didn’t get to how we know them until the second World War.

Enter the D ration. I just love this story. When military officials approached the Hershey chocolate company about churning out field rations, one of the actual requirements was that it “taste a little better than a boiled potato.” Meaning, I suppose, that they wanted it to taste a bit on the “blah” side. The reasoning behind it was because they were so dense in nutrition, to eat more than the prescribed amount would be a hindrance rather than a help as far as the war effort was concerned. In this they succeeded — D rations were “universally detested for their bitter taste,” and were thrown away just as often as they were eaten.

Modern emergency rations also come with instructions on the package: “Eat one bar every six hours.” If they tasted like Lorna Doones, you’d be in danger of eating the whole package within twenty minutes. A bland taste ensures that you’ll be able to make them last.

What Role Do Emergency Rations Play in Survival?

Datrex bars have written on the packaging, “Approved by the United States Coast Guard.” ER Bars also carry USCG approval and state that they are “specially formulated for emergency victims.” Knowing that the Coast Guard plays a role does provide a degree of explanation. Emergency ration bars, whatever else you think of them, are efficient, light, do not require any preparation, and are compact. The same cannot be said of nearly any other emergency food item on the market. This makes them perfect for stowing into a life raft in large quantities, or for delivering en masse to survivors of a severe natural disaster.


There are many different types and flavors available on the market (or, as an interesting experiment, you could try making your own), and each has its own pros and cons. Our testing panel included three young children who have no sense of propriety when it comes to sharing their emotions. While there was quite a bit of comedic value in their reactions (mostly having to do with the bland taste, which as we have already discussed is a feature, not a bug), after some thought it was determined that no public good could come of making the children’s opinions known to the general public. Here’s a brief and objective synopsis of what there is and how they differ from each other.

Mayday Apple Cinnamon Bar

Pros: Come in individual packets, which make for easy use. It’s the only bar on the market with a specific flavor. The taste is not unlike apple cinnamon cherrios, but with the texture of compressed flour.

Cons: A little pricier than other brands, and you have to buy them individually, as they don’t come as a three-day supply.

Datrex 3600 Food Ration Bar

Pros: Comes with multiple bars, each sub-packaged to keep them fresh over a long period of time after the initial mylar packaging is opened. Package is easy to open. Texture most resembled that of a cookie.

Cons: Claims a “superior coconut flavor,” but this claim was not based in fact. Has a strong shortening taste.

ER Bar

Pros: The individual portions are bigger (it is recommended to eat three per day) so the large size means you are more likely to feel somewhat full afterward. Package is resealable.

Cons: One big cake that is difficult to break along the scored lines.

SOS Emergency Food Ration

SOS ration bars

Survival Mom’s pick!

Pros: Comes in individually packaged pieces.

Cons: I will admit that I liked this one the least of all, taste-wise. The main package is harder to open, and the outside plastic of the individual packages feels greasy to the touch. (Survival Mom likes the coconutty-shortbread flavor.)

Mainstay Emergency Food Rations

Pros: The taste is reminiscent of sugar cookie dough. Includes a hint of natural lemon flavor.

Cons: Not individually wrapped, all one giant cake.

Final Verdict

In the end, my family settled on the Mayday Apple Cinnamon bars as the clear winner, with the Mainstay Emergency Food Rations as a close second. However, everyone’s taste buds experience things differently. If convenience and practicality is more important than taste, then my recommendation would be the Datrex bars, because of the ease of opening the package and the convenience of having individually wrapped portions.

If you are serious about making emergency food rations a part of your overall preparedness strategy, I encourage you to purchase a small amount of each variety and embark upon your own taste tests. Holding a taste-test party will be helpful for children, because if they have to eat them later they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they had a hand in choosing what kind to buy. Emergency rations are quite a bit different from other preparedness food, so it is wise to expose the kids to it prior to an emergency.

Have you had any experience eating emergency rations? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments.

comparing emergency rations bars

The Well-Prepped College Student

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prepper college students

Having the kids away from home without parents is inevitable and a source of worry for all parents. For preppers, there are even more worries because your home is likely prepared for any number of disaster scenarios. If your kid is already preparedness-minded, getting them into a prepper mode for college, or just moving out, will be easy because they share your point of view. Even kids who may think you’re daft for preparing, though, can also be prepped with a few handy supplies.

Car emergency bag

College students need more than one emergency bag because they need one for their room and one for their car, if they have one, or for travel home if they don’t. In addition, they need a car emergency kit with jumper cables, a flare, and other basic items that they may not have yet, especially if they have never driven far from home before. If they travel home another way (train, airplane, carpool), modify this list of supplies to suit those needs and be sure to consider TSA requirements.

For a college student, I strongly recommend matches over a lighter because it is very obvious when you are almost out of matches but they might not notice that a lighter is damaged or low on fluid.

Quik Clot is not a “basic” item to most people, but the reality is that a car accident is the most likely emergency a car-driving young person will face and having a pack or two could quite literally save a life. Having had a friend die from bleeding out in an accident, this is a bit of a personal quirk, but I strongly encourage you to include it, and possibly even a tourniquet. These have come back into favor in a severe injury case, where the choice is either to save a limb or save a life. More information about tourniquet use is here.

It is a rare place, in this day and age, that emergency vehicles can’t reach in 10-30 minutes, but having those two items to reduce massive blood loss in that time could make a critical difference.

I also keep EMT shears in my car, and I love them. Your college student probably will as well because they are GREAT for cutting off the wristbands that you can get at special events. If you can find a stuffable sleeping bag or down jacket to include, that would be great because even big kids (young adults) tend to go out without a warm coat. Additional optional items include:

Include in the kit better food than standard emergency rations because they are less likely to turn up their noses and go hungry if they like the food. (Yes, in a real emergency they’ll eat anything – but it’s your child. Do you really want them going hungry because you gave them a beef stroganoff and they hate mushrooms?)

If your student is leery of GMO ingredients and perfers more natural meals, check out these.

Dorm Room emergency bag

The suggested items in this bag are in addition to the car bag. This kit should include a safe way to heat food, a mess kit they aren’t likely to pull out to use in their room (an empty plastic container with disposable utensils is good), and a face mask to help reduce viral infections.

Medical supplies

College kids may be far from home, but they’ll still get sick and injured. Travel size bottles of ibuprofen, aspirin, Benadryl, etc. only contain a few pills and a big wad of cotton, but small bottles are better suited for small spaces. You can fill them from larger bottles.

Think about what medicines your child routinely needs at home.

  • cough and cold
  • fever reducing
  • headache medicine such as Tylenol
  • ibuprofen
  • Gas X
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Benadryl
  • thermometer

This may seem like overkill, but you won’t be there if, and when, they get sick. Include Benadryl even if your child doesn’t have any known allergies because they will be encountering new food and new airborne allergens.

In college, I remember going to work at a temp job with a fever that was easily 103 because the office had air conditioning, my apartment didn’t, and it never even occurred to me or my roommates that I could get medicine to reduce my fever. (I also lacked a thermometer.) If I had had medicine in my room, I would have taken it and stayed home.

They will need bandages of all sizes including knuckle and large sizes, and at least one Ace-style bandage, preferably two. A topical antibacterial for cuts should also be included. Neosporin is popular, but raw honey is increasingly popular and at least as effective.

Food and water

Best of luck keeping emergency food and water in a college student’s room, especially food. The reality is that they will end up eating it as a snack or because they either don’t want to go to the dining hall or are rushing to meet a forgotten deadline.  That doesn’t mean impossible, just challenging. On the other hand, if you restock them every time you visit, at least you know they have something other than (or in addition to) Ramen for those meals.

If they are like most kids, especially freshman, they will be on a meal plan and it will not allow them to take food back to their room from any all-you-can-eat buffets. (Again, good luck with that.) However, most will have other options that allow them to take their food with them, possibly including pre-packed options. If there is a true emergency and they need to evacuate, using their meal plan to get as much food as they can carry (and their plan allows) from one of those locations right before they leave is a smart plan.

A turkey sandwich won’t last long on a hot day, but it will last a lot longer when it’s cool outside or an insulated bag is used to carry it. If they have a supply of food, then they can share with friends going in the same direction. Easy to carry fruit, especially apples, is readily available in meal lines, as are oatmeal, breakfast cereal, and assorted meal replacement bars.

A stash of canned food under the bed isn’t a bad idea, either.

New areas, new natural disasters

Many young people go to college hours from home. Living in a different time zone isn’t unusual, and some students spend time abroad. All of this means they’re vulnerable to new types of threats. The new location may bring new natural disasters as well, and even the ones they grew up with may require a different response, especially if the new area is lot more urban or rural. Making sure they know the basics of how to handle these disasters should be your first step, and you should start working on it with them as soon as they graduate from high school, if not sooner.

The big headline-inducing disasters are the ones that come to mind first. If your child is moving to the Gulf Coast, hurricanes pop to mind. If they are going to California, then earthquakes bcome a new concern. Did you ever consider what they will do if there is a mudslide near their new home? Or a wildfire or flooding shuts down the highway? You may live in an area with four seasons, but if they go several hours farther north, are they really equipped (in gear and mindset) for how much colder the winter can be?

It is well beyond the scope of a single post to cover every possible natural disaster, but spend a little time searching for information about the area where they will be living. A chart of average monthly temps will give some good information, but a search on “school closings” for the local school district will tell you much more of what you need to know than simply looking at a map. Schools, especially elementary schools, close whenever the weather is considered too dangerous to drive or be out in. If the only closure was for weather at -15 degrees, that is a very different situation than a school district that closed for “poor air quality” due to wildfires or one that closed for excessive cold at 5 degrees (above zero) and heavy snow (4″).


College students need an evacuation plan beyond a mere dorm evacuation in the case of a fire. If your child had been in New Orleans when Katrina aproached or in Northridge when the quake hit, would they have known where to go and how to get there? Probably not. This book is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know when planning for an evacuation.

Work with your student to create a plan for them to get home if they have to evacuate ahead of an impending disaster and alternate routes to use if one is no longer safe. Laminate the evacuation routes and put it in their emergency (car) bag, along with physical maps (not electronic ones) for their entire route. They will undoubtedly think they don’t need paper maps because they have an app on their phone and GPS, but those can go down, or run out of batteries, in an emergency.

AAA provides free state, area, and city maps to their members. These are great for planning evacuation routes, as is a printed version of a MapQuest or other online set of directions. A topographic map is an outstanding resource for this because it shows terrain features as well as parks, campgrounds, and more. If there are places for them to stop en route, friends and family, campgrounds, public parks, etc., be sure to mark them on the map and talk about them in advance with your child. They may not remember, but at least you’ve tried. These NatGeo topographic maps are free and can easily be printed.

Before you laminate the map, write down how they should communicate with you, as described in this article about establishing a Disaster Communications Hub. Cell lines are usually clogged in an emergency. Text messages are far easier to get through, but I know I wouldn’t want to be checking every cell phone in the house for possible text messages from an out of state child. Telling them a specific phone to text, and an alternate if no one replies within a set time (ten minutes, an  hour, six hours – whatever you agree is reasonable) should make it easier to get in contact.

Just because our kids go off to college or move out on their own, doesn’t mean we ever stop worrying about them. If they’re prepped for a variety of emergencies, mom and dad will be able to rest just a little easier.

Prepper College Student


Seven Things I Wish I Had Known When I Began Prepping

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smart preppingHave you gotten bit by the prepper bug? Millions all over the world now consider themselves to be preppers.

I bet you’ve spent hours on the internet searching for the ultimate solar radio, the most comprehensive food storage inventory list or maybe which water filtration system to use. We have all been there, usually late at night by the warm glow of the computer screen.  I get it. I was and still am the same way. As with all new endeavors, we learn as we go and gain knowledge from our experience. There were some things I do wish I had known when I started.

  1. Rotation, rotation, rotation

I do not want to think about all of the food I have thrown away. Is life really that busy that I forget to rotate? I do not remember even buying minestrone soup 6 years ago! Rotating food is one thing I really struggled with. After time I have found what works for our home.

  • Store 3 months of food that you normally eat in easily accessible places. Kitchen cupboards, the pantry and extra shelves if you have the space for them. This way, you don’t forget what you have, as in “out of sight, out of mind.”
  • Move large items (crockpots, holiday kitchen items, etc.) to a different part of the house to make more room for food in your kitchen. If you see it, you will cook with it.
  • Plan meals from what you have in your cupboard. It will remind you of what you have and need to use.
  • If you have an additional freezer, organize it by food type. Chicken on one shelf, pork on another, fruits and vegetables in the bins. This method will let you know what you eat more of and allows you to adjust your shopping and menus accordingly, and yes, I do keep some ‘food storage’ food in my freezer.
  • Rotate the items in your car kits, bug out bags and work bag. Extreme hot and cold can make some items go bad, taste odd or expire earlier than thought.
  1. Smart prepping is trying it out first

Speaking from experience I can tell you that putting a new camp stove together in the dark with hungry kids around is not fun. How hard could it be to put a new stove together, right? After a few frustrating experiences with new things, I have learned to try things our first. Some things we have learned to try out:

  • Food that looked good on the label were not always as tasty. Certain brands we no longer buy. Store what you like to eat, but be sure to try it out first.
  • Try new foods out at home, not over the camp fire or in an emergency. If it works, you know right then and there! If it does not, you can prepare something else for dinner or enjoy take out.
  • Directions on the box are not always as clear when assembling anything the first time. We have made purchases where there were no directions included or they were in a language none of us spoke. That is when the internet came in handy. You can download and print out instruction manuals but this would be difficult, if not impossible, under duress, such as a power outage.
  • Sometimes parts are missing. It is better to take something back to the store sooner than later.
  • The first few times you practice an evacuation drill, it will be a disorderly mess. It is during those drills that you learn what you are forgetting and gives you the chance to practice. This drill is what now reminds us to store our computer files and pictures on an external hard drive.
  • Eat a meal or two from your bug out bag. It can be life changing. Eat a meal or two without your kitchen appliances. Use your grill, solar oven, etc.…
  • Wash your clothes by hand. Learn how to dry and hang clothes on a clothes line properly. Here are tips for taking care of laundry during a power outage.
  • Camping/survival gear should be used first in a non-emergency situation. The four room tent that we purchased was easier to set up in the back yard in the middle of the day than it would have been if we were in a stressful situation. I keep at least one tent on hand for possible using indoors during a winter power outage. Here’s more info about that.
  1. Store more water than you think

Water has been stored in every room in my home. Under sinks and in closets are the usual hiding places, but I’ve been pretty creative in finding other spaces. What is surprising is how often they have been used.

Water to our house has been turned off for repairs, more times than I want to remember. During these time we have always been shocked at the amount of water we used. Thankfully it was not in a time of emergency. Nevertheless, we opened more bottles than we thought we would. It was a real eye-opener at the amount of water needed to support a household. Even if there is an emergency and you conserve the amount of water used, you will need more than you realize. We found that during our non-emergency times, water was used for:

  • Washing hands after bathroom use
  • Flushing toilet (only #2)
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Wiping down counters, stove, table, sink
  • Washing hands during meal prep, especially after touching meat
  • Drinking, making drinks
  • Water needed for making food and rehydrating freeze-dried and dehydrated food
  • Washing hands that just got dirty

Lesson learned. You use more water for more things than you probably realize.

  1. Remembering to pack and update bug out bags

I remember being so excited to have our bug out bags organized, labeled and perfectly packed. I was beaming with pride as I put them in the closet. And that is where they stayed for a very long time. Cleaning them out years later was a bit discouraging. So we came up with a plan!

The first weekend of April and October we update our bags. In April, we replace anything that is close to its expiration date. This is usually food and medical items. In April the warmer winter clothes are replaced with summer clothes. In October we go through again and put back our winter wear. During this time we go through the home and check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and stock up on batteries for our radios and flashlights.

Print out this list of things to consider packing in your bags/kits.

  1. Set money aside each month

It is easy to let your enthusiasm for prepping take over your bank account. Looking back, I would have set a specific amount of money aside each month. It gives you the opportunity to save for larger items if needed. Having money for this purpose allows you to take advantage of clearance items or great sales you may run across. Once we practiced this in our home, my husband and I felt we were more in sync with each other on preparing our family.

Buying that four room tent, on clearance, was much more thrilling because we knew the money was already there for the purchase. It does not matter how much you can afford to save. Every bit counts and it adds up. Find time to go over your budget and decide how much of your funds you can put in an envelope towards your prepping.

  1. Store books

I have realized that the more I learn, the more I forget. The internet is so dependable when I need answers, so why try to remember everything? But what happens when there is not electricity or access to the internet?

Over the last 15 years I have been collecting books that I can lean on when an emergency happens. The books vary in topic, preserving food, medical manuals, old cookbooks, knot tying, animal trapping, psychological health and physical fitness, and making shelters. Included are books that can help me mentally and emotionally get through difficult times. Some of these are self-help and motivational books, a journal, a Bible and other religions materials. Many of these books are inexpensive and can be found at thrift stores and online. The Red Cross has a lot of their manuals on their web site that you can download and print out. Some cities also offer free materials to the community.

Dr. Joe Alton’s book, The Survival Medicine Handbook is a must-have, as is this complete family survival guide.

  1. Teach/train family

Having five kids, it did not take long to figure out that I can do things faster without help. Not only faster, but the right way with less mess. Much of the preparedness took place after they were in bed and I could get something done, uninterrupted. Looking back I wish I would have involved my children even more in preparing. Around the age of 8, they were helping with bug out bags and little ones were helping in the garden. But I did not include them in other areas of preparedness. If I could go back I would include them more in:

The kids have turned out fine, considering their lack of involvement in the beginning. Though difficult and time consuming, it is better to include them in as much of the preparation as possible. Habits are created and lessons are learned during those moments that cannot be re-created at other times.

Check out this list of 32 practical skills for kids and urban survival skills.

As the children became teens, they lost the child-like enthusiasm to help. Not surprising. Involving the family in outside activities that teach your kids preparedness skills can help to. Thankfully, the Scouting program was there for my sons to reinforce the “Be Prepared” things we were doing at home. Classes and service projects in your community can provide an occasion to learn new skills and put into practice the ones you have. Remember to include your children when doing:

  • Home repairs
  • Car maintenance and repairs
  • Gardening/food preservation
  • Laundry and sewing
  • Menu planning and shopping
  • Budgeting and some financial matters

smart prepping



How to Prep Your Kids For Emergencies: Supplies

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Prepping Your Kids for emergenciesBeing a parent means that your kids are the very first things you worry about. Doubly so when it comes to prepping your kids for emergency situations. Our first thoughts in any emergency are for our children; we want them to be healthy, safe, and not scared. That seems like it could be a tall order in the face of a scary emergency.

READ MORE: “Are Your Kids Equipped to Handle These 7 Scary Scenarios?

The truth is, having a child can seriously complicate one’s plans for emergency preparedness. Everything is always a lot simpler when you only have to worry about yourself and your spouse, without short people getting under foot. Sometimes, even a trip to the grocery store with kids is a major event. I am sure anyone who has ever had children knows what I’m talking about: “I want that! But WHY can’t we get cookies? Can we get this? I want a treat! But I WANT it! I have to go potty!” And then the four-year-old wanders off and the baby’s diaper leaks.

Well, if you have to evacuate or bug out with a young family, multiply that by about thirty times – not because the children are more high-strung, but because YOU, the parent, are so focused on trying to navigate the freeway in traffic that if the kids don’t shut up RIGHT NOW, you’re in danger of running the minivan off the road.

This is why it’s so important to make sure everyone in your family is prepared, not just the parents. Involving your children in your plans will make your evacuation a calm (or, at least calmer) and orderly affair. There’s no yelling or screaming, everyone knows what they have to do, the kids have all their stuff (including blankies), and they know how to use everything in their 72 hour kits. In this scenario, children become active participants in the evacuation instead of additional objects to be buckled into the car.

In order to accomplish this, children need three things:

1. Supplies
2. Information
3. Practice

First let’s talk about the supplies. What does a kid need? What should you pack? What kind of container/backpack should you use?

Prepping Your Kids: Finding the Right Bag

The choices for a bug-out-bag are many and varied. For most people, the backpack is the container of choice, although it may also be good to consider other, non-traditional options. When it comes to prepping your kids, however, I would definitely stick with a backpack. The premise here is that everyone must be able to handle their own bag, and a backpack fits the bill: The weight is carried on the child’s back instead of his or her arms, leaving arms free for balance or for carrying a comfort item.

The ideal backpack will be roomy enough to hold a lot of necessary items, but not so big as to be unwieldy. Many backpacks for children are designed to also be clipped around the waist; this is perfect because it transfers some of the weight onto the child’s hips. If you have the right backpack, even a 2-year-old can be responsible for his or her own kit.

Emergency Evacuations book

Click to Buy Now!

What to Put In It

When it comes time to pack your child’s 72-hour kit, DO make your child help you. The goal here is for your child to know exactly what is in his bag, what everything is for, and how to use it. Most lists of stuff to pack includes both heavy and light things. If your child is particularly young, pack their bag with only light things, and put the heavy things in a parent’s bag. For example, a little kid could carry a large amount of ramen noodles, but pack the cooking gear in with Mom’s or Dad’s stuff.

A list of some basic 72-hour kit items can be found here. To customize your child’s kit to be more kid-friendly, consider adding the following:

For Recreation

This category is especially important for children. Having ways to occupy themselves can help reduce stress and create a sense of normalcy. Happy, non-stressed children means less stress for Mom and Dad.

  • A small coloring book. Dover has an extensive line of small activity and coloring books. These measure about 3″ x 4″, perfect for stowing in a bag.
  • Crayons
  • A small notebook for free drawing or playing games like tic-tac-toe or Pictionary
  • A balloon (not blown up, of course), for when you arrive at your destination and have some down time. I have yet to meet a child under the age of nine who has failed to be entertained by a simple balloon. Blow it up, let it loose, watch it race around the room, repeat.
  • A small story book. If you have an electronic e-reader, load it with books for your child. Project Gutenburg has a huge collection of children’s classics for free download.
  • One pair of dice, for playing a number of dice games
  • Lovies/comfort objects/blankies. These often can’t be put in 72-hour kits because they are necessary for every day use. I include them because at my house, they are more precious than gold. If your kid has an emotional attachment to a stuffed animal or blanket, leave it behind at your own peril.

For Safety

  • A family photo, with your contact information (mom’s cellphone number, etc) written on the back. If you become separated from your child, the photo will serve as identification, showing that your child belongs with you.

For Hygiene

  • Diapers/pull-ups. Even if your child is potty trained, very young children can regress during times of upheaval. This is a case where it is better to be safe than sorry. If you think a child may be offended by the tacit accusation this represents, pack them anyway. Put them in your own bag if you have to.
  • Extra(!) wipes.

Involving Your Child

As you put together your child’s bug out bag, make it a priority to involve your child in the process. Tell him or her, “This is for your bag and you’re going to be in charge of it.” Give the child some ownership by allowing input when choices must be made, e.g. in the color of the backpack or the flavor of granola bars.

When the time comes to rotate and update items in the kits, make it a family activity. Go over each item and make sure your child knows what it is for and where it is stored in the backpack. “Granola bars are in this pocket, crackers are in this one. This is your flashlight and this is how you turn it on.” Have your child wear the backpack to check for the fit on their shoulders, and adjust the straps as needed – much better to do this at your leisure now instead of when you have fifteen minutes to leave your home.

Resist the temptation to over-pack a backpack intended for a child. A child younger than 6 can’t be expected to carry very much, probably just a change of clothes, some crayons, and a few snacks.

Hopefully this will give you a starting point for putting together a child-specific 72-hour kit. Part Two of this series will focus on empowering children with necessary information.

More Resources

For more on prepping your kids, check out these printable lists of kits your kids can use:

Survival Kid’s Kit

Wilderness Survival Kit for Every Kid

Prepping Your Kids for emergencies

It’s a Matter of Shelf Stable Meals….What are they really like?

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Okay, I was curious.  I have seen these shelf stable entrees that supposedly have “everything” inside.  I was particularly curious about the “Self Heating” part.  I have wondered how they would work, taste, etc.  So, I purchased several different types of these shelf-stable meals.  I thought I would review this one for you today.  Please know that I do not receive any remuneration for this review.  
I have wondered if these are good options for 72 hour kits, the office, or your vehicle.

What are Shelf-Stable Meals really like?

I was intrigued with the idea that this meal was ‘self heating’, aren’t you?  Here is how it went……
When you remove the contents, there is a tray, a packet of water and the entree. The instructions stated that you pour the water on to the Styrofoam tray.
You are then instructed to turn the entree upside-down on to the tray.
It doesn’t take long for the Styrofoam try to steam and heat the entree.
After steaming for the suggested amount of time, you are instructed to turn the entree over.
You are instructed to carefully peel the top covering off as the entree is now heated.
I wanted to see how hot it really was after heating.  It was over 100 degrees.
The container also has salt, pepper, a “Spork”, and a napkin.
So, you may wonder how it tasted…..
  • Temperature:  not too hot
  • Texture:  it was very mushy. Although you can see the noodles etc, once it was in my mouth it felt like refried beans.
  • Taste:  It needed some spices from my cupboard.
  • Convenience:  No doubt, it is a self-contained meal with everything you need.  In a pinch, it would be easy to make.
  • Kid Preference:  Some of you may know that I specialize in feeding and swallowing disorders in children. This is a large portion of my caseload at the hospital where I work.  I have a some concerns for a child.
    • If the child were not used to this type of food or even this flavor, they most likely will refuse.  Children do not eat even if they are hungry if the food is unfamiliar or concerning to them at all.
    • The color and texture may be difficult for them to tolerate if they are used to more dense solids in their diets.
    • And finally, the research demonstrates that children will choose to starve rather than eat something that is not familiar or preferred. So the logic that they will eat if they are hungry enough just isn’t valid.
I am going to keep a few of these in my 72 kit, and my offices.  They could work for me as an adult.

Introduction to Emergency Kits (like BOBs, INCH, GHB, IFAK, EDC, and GOOD bags)

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From my experience working in disaster response, I know the work and thought that goes into running a shelter during a disaster.  Emergency management workers try very hard to make shelters safe and comfortable.  However, the lack of privacy, resources, and independence makes me pretty hesitant to choose to go to a shelter as long as I have other options. Personally, it would take a very severe reason for me to evacuate or “bug out” from my home in the first place.  Leaving the house would entail me having to leave many of my in-place systems and make me more

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Incremental Disaster Kit Week 1

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I have decided to post a small list every week that will allow you to put aside a decent emergency preperation kit in about 5 months. The goal is to be as easy on you and your wallet as possible while helping you create a workable kit. Once you have a cushion, you will find that it takes more and more mistakes and events to constitute an “emergency”…. So the ultimate goal is to build piece of mind.

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 20)

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We are almost done with the incremental disaster kit – by now you should see a lot of life saving food and equipment piled up in a corner of your home.  You should also be feeling more prepared as you have taken a lot of positive steps to ensure you have skills and abilities that […]

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 10)

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To Buy: ____Waterproof portable plastic container (with lid) for important papers ____Battery-powered radio ____Wrench(es) needed to turn off utilities To Do: ____Take your network on a field trip to the gas meter and water meter shutoffs. Discuss when it is appropriate to turn off utilities. ____Attach a wrench next to the cutoff valve of each […]

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Small Space Prepper Must Haves

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Small Space prepperMany of us either live in a small space, or have run out of room in a larger space. These small space prepper must haves each help you fit more into the space you have and improve your preparedness. While none of these will break the bank, they were chosen for quality, not based on which one was cheapest. Cost was, of course, considered, but it was tertiary after quality and size. Any of these should last, and last, and last.

Of course these also make great gifts for any occasion from birthday to graduation, wedding, and more. (But you should probably ask before giving one as an anniversary gift.)

Small Antenna for HAM Radio – Getting reception can be tricky. If you need better reception for your HAM Radio hobby but don’t have a lot of space, this may be just the ticket for you.

Gossamar Gear Backpack – These ultra-light backpacking backpacks are in the same price range as regular backpacks, but take far – FAR – less space to store, and they weigh less. Double win!

Multiport USB Charger – Technically, this may not be a prepper item, but the reality is that most of us have a lot of items that can be charged via a USB port that we won’t want to be without. This reduces the number of charging cubes needed for that.

Chemex Coffee Maker and bleached filters – Chemex coffee makers don’t use any electricity and make really good coffee, once you know how to use it. They are particularly good for cold-brew coffee. (The bleached filters are better than the brown ones in this particular case because the brown ones can leave behind a bit of a brown-paper-bag taste, or so I’m told.) The Chemex actually takes a bit less space than most coffee makers because it is really just the specially designed borosilicate pot.

Compass – Different compasses are useful in different areas. This style is really good to use with paper maps and in areas without a lot of long-distance visibility to keep track of a single landmark, like the woods or a city.

SWLing Blog or Baofeng HAM Radio – This is not a hobby that needs to take a lot of space, and the uses of HAM for preppers are many, varied, and impossible to deny. Either of these is a great choice.

External Hard Drive – This is a great way to save all your favorite movies and music in a small space. Copy them all onto here, then store, sell, or otherwise dispose of your collection, which is now easy to pick up and carry with you.

Kindle Paperwhite – I own and use a standard Kindle. My husband has a paperwhite. Only one is easily usable when there is no light, and it’s not mine. Kindles are, hands-down, the best way to store large amounts of reading and visual reference materials in one place. (In case you wondered, I am recommending the regular Kindle over the Fire simply because the battery life is so very long on a Kindle.)

Tesla Coil Lighter – This is a windproof, USB rechargeable, arc lighter. No need to keep extra lighter fluid on hand or as many methods for lighting a fire if you have this lighter.

Mixing tools: Pastry Blender, Whisk, and (possibly) Dutch-Style Dough Mixer – Stand mixers are great, but they can take up a lot of space. I have found that a pastry blender and whisk can do almost everything most people use a stand mixer for in a fraction of the space – and with no electricity required. For anyone who makes a lot of bread or other very heavy doughs, a Dutch-style dough mixer is another hand-powered device that would be a great addition.

Stovehinge: The Collapsible Rocket Stove – This small stove is extremely small, and very heavy. It is most decidedly not a backpacking stove! If you remove it from the case it ships in, you may be able to store it in an even smaller space.

Small Drawer Safe – This model is designed for hand guns but can, of course, be used for any valuables. Because of its small size and weight, it’s easy to bolt into a piece of furniture, such as a dresser drawer, or even into a closet shelf or other part of your home.

Collapsible Solar Oven – The solar oven I have is great, but it definitely takes a lot of space to store. This version is completely collapsible and can store easily behind a piece of furniture.

Sweeper – Instead of a large vacuum cleaner, many small spaces (especially those without plush carpet) can get by with a small sweeper similar to the ones used in restaurants.

Thumb Drive – Everyone should have a reliable thumb drive with copies of their important documents. This particular model includes security, password protection, and a back-up to the Cloud.

Vertical Wall Garden – It is really just like it sounds. This is a way to plant a garden so it will grow along a wall (vertically) instead of on the ground, making it much easier to grow some of your own food even in a small space, like a balcony.

Clothes Washer – This reminds me a lot of a toilet plunger, but it is specifically designed for washing clothing. This is far smaller than most other off-grid options and has great reviews

Sawyer Mini Personal Water Filter – If you only need a water filter for one person, this is a solid choice and takes very little space. (The LifeStraw is another great choice.)

LifeStraw Mission Water Purifier – This is a great choice for small spaces because most of it is flexible. There is a section about the size of a foot long hot dog made of hard plastic, tubing, and a bag to hold the water being purified. All of this fits inside a storage bag and takes about the space of Sunday paper. While this is much larger than some other purifiers, it can provide an average family of five with clean water for up to three years of daily use!

Small Space prepper

Preparedness Items To Bring When Traveling In Your Car Or Truck

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Recently having traveled several hundred miles to visit some friends and family for a number of overnight’s, I thought that I would reflect back upon the preparedness ‘prep’ items that I took along in the truck. While I did not take ‘the kitchen sink’, I did bring along a few extra things for ‘just in […]

Start prepping… I have no idea what to do???

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how to start preppingSo you want to delve into the world of preparedness? Welcome… and prepare to be overwhelmed. It is not your fault. We have all been there. With good intentions, you will plan and plot to prepare yourself for any disaster your imagination can contrive. Like you, we had no clue what to do.

Do not distress! Below are four easy steps to get you started.

1. Do a personal risk assessment

Domestic risks: Look at your home and home life. What are the possible events that could occur? Some examples may be a health crisis of elderly or disabled family members, a medical emergency, or unemployment. Consider safety in your home. Carbon monoxide, fire, property damage from fire, burst pipes, etc.
Geographical risks: Where do you live? Tornado alley, hurricane territory, fire or earthquake areas, maybe areas of extreme heat or cold? Check to see if you are at risk of mudslides, overflowing rivers and dams.
Local risks: Observe what is outside of your home. What disasters could happen in your area? Consider civil unrest, chemical plants, refineries, hazardous materials transported by rail or road.

2. Food and water

Even if it is enough to get you through 72 hours of any emergency, go get it. Water is an inexpensive, yet life essential. Use your risk assessment as your guide. Purchase food that you will be able to prepare and eat according to your possible risks. Don’t forget food for any pets you may have. They will be hungry too.

3. Medical and personal items

• Start with those in your home with medical or health issues. Take into consideration, medicine and medical supplies. In addition to specialty drinks/food and equipment, this may include incontinence supplies and other daily disposable items.
• A good quality first aid kit also needs to be on hand. It should cover the basic OTC medicine, along with bandages, gauze and medical tape.
• If you have a baby in the home, remember to have extra diapers and wipes. Also stock up on additional menstrual supplies.

4. Basic survival

• Basic items would be toilet paper, batteries, flashlights, a radio, matches, and cash. Again, go over your risk assessment and decide what you will need.
• Have fuel on hand. Make a habit or filling your gas tank when it gets to half empty. Have fuel on hand to cook with, heat your home and any light source.
• Make copies of important papers. Prescriptions, family contacts, insurance information, doctors’ numbers, etc.

These four steps can get you off to a good start into a prepper’s world. You will have some peace knowing that you can get through a small emergency. All of these steps can be looked into at a more expansive and deeper level. As you continue to work on being prepared, you will develop skills and confidence you did not know you had.
how to start prepping

Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 3)

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When I was in the Marines, a good friend of mine and I were walking and he casually asked me, what was the most important thing in my life. It stumped me for a minute, and I began to wax eloquent on all the important things in my life, Sgt. B. Then grabbed me by the throat and began choking me while screaming “No, ITS AIR, PUNK!” – Lesson learned…. You will see that as the list progresses, we will get more items for comfort and repair. But in the beginning its about Water, Food, and shelter.

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Incremental Disaster Kit (Week 14)

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To Buy: ____1 can fruit (for each person) ____1 can meat (for each person) ____1 can vegetables (for each person) ____1 package eating utensils ____1 package paper ____Cups To Do: ____Make sure your network and neighbors know what help you may need in an emergency and how best to assist. ____Practice using alternate methods of […]

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36 Lessons Learned From Testing a 72-Hour Kit

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I recently found an article on The Survival Mom that makes a really good point: There’s a lot of talk about developing preparedness plans, but there’s not much talk about testing preparedness plans. Have you ever grabbed your bug out bag and headed into the wilderness, just to see how […]

The post 36 Lessons Learned From Testing a 72-Hour Kit appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

72 Hour Emergency Kit Series Week 9: Documents

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Build your 72 hour emergency kit one week at a time! Week 9: Emergency Kit DocumentsIn case of an emergency, and especially one requiring an evacuation, you’ll want to be able to easily prove you are who you say you are and you own what you say you own.  You may need to be cleared by authorities to regain access to your home, prove your identity to travel, or claim losses with your insurance agent.  Having proper documentation in your emergency kit will help you do all these, plus it will help you access important information even when there is not an emergency.  So what documents do you need?  And where do you keep them?  Let’s start with a list of suggested documents you’ll want to have easy access to.  Keep in mind that you may not personally even have all of these, so just gather what you do have.

GET THIS LIST as a printable PDF checklist here!

72 Hour Emergency Kit Documents

Proof of Identification (because Aunt Mildred vouching for your identity just won’t cut it)

  • Driver’s License
  • Concealed weapons permit/s
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • Passports
  • Marriage License

Property Records (because you own this stuff and you want to prove it)

  • Mortgage/Deed for all property owned
  • Rental agreement
  • Video, photos, and/or lists of home and property inventory (best if you are in the photos or video).  Next time you clean your house, just take pictures in each room.  You don’t even really need to clean your house–nobody is going to see these unless you actually experience an emergency that creates loss of your home or property.
  • Receipts for major purchases
  • Payment record for major repairs
  • Appraisals of jewelry, other valuables
  • Titles to vehicles
  • Cemetery lot information
  • Firearm inventory/Serial Numbers

Insurance Policies

If you don’t want to copy the entire policy (some of these are thick!), at least have the contact information for your agent and your policy numbers handy.

  • Homeowners
  • Health
  • Life
  • Disability
  • Automobile

Medical Information (so you can get medical help if you need to)

  • Immunizations, other records
  • Prescription information (drug, dosage)
  • Health Insurance ID Cards
  • Physicians names and phone numbers
  • Living will
  • History of illnesses, accidents, surgeries
  • Power of Attorney for health care
  • Dental records

Estate Planning

  • Wills, trusts
  • Power of attorney
  • Funeral instructions
  • Attorney’s name and phone number

Financial Records

  • Tax returns (2 years)
  • Credit cards front and back
  • Stocks, bonds, CD’s, money market
  • Recent bank statement


  • Personal address book
  • Backup of important computer files
  • Usernames and passwords for online accounts
  • Key to safety deposit box
  • Recent photograph
  • List of where original documents are kept
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Contact numbers of utility companies (gas, electric, water)
  • Emergency numbers
  • Map of area and phone numbers of places you could go in case of evacuation

Where to Store Your Documents

Your original documents are SO important to keep safe if at all possible.  Some things, like a driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport must be presented as originals, not photocopies, to be considered valid.  For most documents, a copy will suffice.  Here are some ideas on where to keep them.  I recommend choosing one place for originals and at least two others for copies.

  1. Originals in a safety deposit box at a bank.  These are secure, but consider if you really want to be going to the bank in the event of a regional or wide spread disaster.
  2. Originals gathered together at home in a place where you can grab them all and go quickly, but they are not easily accessible or located by those who might have an interest in stealing your identity.  A fire-proof safe or fire resistant document bag in a discreet location is perfect.
  3. Copies of all your original documents in a discreet notebook.
  4. Scanned copies saved on a thumb drive.
  5. Scanned copies uploaded to an online data storage service like Amazon cloud (free unlimited photo storage for Amazon prime members), or Dropbox.
  6. Scanned or photocopies at a location other than your home, like a trusted friend or family member’s house.

The only drawback to storing files digitally would be if the disaster was so widespread that there was no access to computers or internet networks anywhere.  While possible, the most common emergencies will be local or personal and your scanned files will be accessible from a computer away from your home.

Want to chat with me about 72 hour kit documents? Here’s the video:

What about you?  What documents do you have in your emergency kit?  Leave me a comment below with any ideas or suggestions.

Keep preparing!


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Please be sure to follow Food Storage and Survival on Facebook which is updated every time there is a new article. You can also find me on Pinterest, and purchase my book, Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival on Amazon.


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72 Hour Emergency Kit Series Week 8: Light

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Build your 72 hour kit! This week we cover light sources for your kit--what's your favorite?We’re back for another installment of building your 72 hour emergency kit!  Remember what we’ve discussed before about personalizing your kit and then let’s get some light in your kit!

Nobody wants to be left in the dark.  Either about your family reunion plans or in an emergency situation!  An emergency light source helps you see where you otherwise couldn’t, and extends the day past sundown when the electricity is out.  For packing in an emergency kit, you’ll want your light source to be light weight and still provide adequate light for working or seeing into the dark.  Consider adding more than one if space and weight restrictions permit.  Backups are always good.  Here are some of my favorites for emergency kit lighting:

1.  Headlamp.  I extol all the glories of headlamps in this post, but for the sake of keeping this list short-ish, let’s just say that headlamps are an invention I wish I had thought of.  They are small, light weight, and strap to your HEAD.  That means the light is always shining where you are looking (unlike when you have your child hold the light for you) and they leave your hands free.

2.  Flashlights.  There are so many varieties of flashlights it can be hard to pick just one!  I love Streamlight for their light output.  LED flashlights are good because they use less battery power to run and the bulbs can’t break.  Not too long ago I found some fantastic little LED lights in the camping section of WalMart for $1.00 each.  Keychain lights are great for emergency kits as they are very small and can be clipped to a zipper on the outside of your bag for easy access.  Some flashlights are even designed to be usable as a lantern to provide area light rather than directed light.  Make sure you check the batteries in your lights when you rotate your emergency kits.

3.  Glow Sticks.  Glow sticks are cheap, bright, safe, and don’t require batteries.  Particularly plentiful in stores around holidays like Independence Day and Halloween.  Most glow sticks put out a good deal of light for 6-8 hours.  A couple of cautions with these–the thinner varieties (marketed as bracelets and necklaces) can spring leaks if handled too roughly, and once the inner core is broken and the chemicals are mixed, they only have one life, so if your glow stick gets activated in your pack on accident it may not work when you need it.  These also tend to lose glow power and reliability as they age, so plan on rotating them regularly.

4.  Reusable Glow Sticks.  My favorites are manufactured by UVPaqlite.  These glow after being exposed to a light source, so you’ll need some way to get them charged (sunlight or another flashlight work great).  They do not put out as much light as a single use light stick, but they can provide enough to see by are reusable forever.  Kind of like a glow in the dark sticker on steroids.  I review UVPaqlite products here and here.  I love these in my kids’ kits and have used them camping with the kids frequently.  They can have light at night that isn’t obnoxious to the rest of the tent dwellers AND doesn’t use up batteries!

5.  Candle LanternUCO makes a great little candle lantern perfect for packing.  We have the micro version that uses tea lights.  Small and lightweight, it can provide ambient light rather than direct light like a flashlight.  If you’re going to use a candle lantern, be sure your candles (which could mean your entire kit) are not kept where they will melt all over the place and that you have matches or a lighter to get them lit.

6.  Cell Phone.  I’m listing this one last even though it is usually my go-to when I need a flashlight.  Your cell phone probably has a light on it that can be used for a flashlight.  The drawback to using it is that it siphons battery power from your phone at an amazing fast rate and you will probably want to keep your cell phone usable for purposes other than light in an emergency.

And here’s a video showing some of these lights:

With the options available, you should be able to get more than one light source in your kit without making it too heavy.  What do you have for light in your emergency kit?

Keep preparing!


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Please be sure to follow Food Storage and Survival on Facebook which is updated every time there is a new article. You can also find me on Pinterest, and purchase my book, Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival on Amazon.


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72 Hour Emergency Kit Series Week 7: Clothes

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72 hour kit emergency series week 7: ClothesClothes.  Who needs em?  Totally kidding!!  Contrary to what you may have seen on shows like “Naked and Afraid,” clothes are not optional.  This week in our 72 hour emergency kit series we’re covering the topic of clothes.  As I have in the past, I’m going to cover different options and ideas for you to consider, then it’s up to you to make the best choice for your personal situation.  You might think this would be a simple topic, but there are lots of options and it all really depends on what your plans are.  Answering the following questions will help you figure out what types of clothing you’ll need to pack in your emergency kit.

1.  Are you staying or going?  If you’re staying in your home, you’re set as long as you’ve done laundry recently!  If you’re going, read on!

2.  If you’re evacuating, where are you going?  Grandma’s house?  A hotel or shelter?  Out to the woods?  Dressing for a night at grandma’s or a night alone in the woods are probably not the same.

3.  Do you want to blend in or stand out?  If your plan is to hide in the woods, you’ll want to blend in to the woods.  If your plan is to evacuate through a city, you’ll want to blend in with the other people walking the street.  If you’re going to a shelter and you want to be able to quickly count all the kids to make sure they haven’t wandered too far, consider matching shirts for each family member of a bright color.  I’ve seen this suggested, but I would NOT go so far as putting names in a visible location on your shirts.  You don’t want some stranger acting like they are someone your child should know because they are able to call him or her by their name.

4.  What’s the weather like?  Are you going to be out in the heat and humidity?  Rain?  Cold and snow?  Pack accordingly.  Layers are great as they allow for warmth when needed and can be removed if the weather warms up or you are working.  I include thermals as they can be used for pajamas as well as a base layer during a cold day.  Hats can provide warmth and/or sun protection.

5.  Do you have shoes?  You do NOT want to be barefoot in an emergency!  Check out these 9 tips for keeping shoes on your feet no matter what.

6.  If you packed clothes six months or a year or two years ago, do they still fit?  Have you gained or lost weight?  Gotten pregnant?  Did your kids grow?  It is best to check and rotate the clothing in your kit every six to twelve months.

In my family’s kits I have stocked the kids with red shirts to help me keep track of them, and layers in the event we need to use our kits in cold weather.  I usually get the clothes for their kits from thrift stores or yard sales for cheap.  My kit has clothes I could wear outdoors or in.  I have a pair of my favorite retired hiking boots tied to the kit.

To help the clothes fit better in my kit and keep them dry, protected, and organized, I vacuum seal them with my FoodSaver vacuum sealer and label the package with what’s inside (because vacuum sealed clothes all kind of look the same).  For the kids I’ll draw a picture on the package if they are too small to read.

What clothes are in your kit?  Do you have any suggestions for someone just starting out?

And for those of you who like to listen to me talk, here is where I explain clothing for your emergency kit without you having to read about it 🙂

Keep preparing!


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Please be sure to follow Food Storage and Survival on Facebook which is updated every time there is a new article. You can also find me on Pinterest, and purchase my book, Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival on Amazon.


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Creating Emergency Preparedness Kits

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Several of the most frequently asked questions in emergency preparedness have to do with kits: “Check out my kit–What am I missing?” for example, or “Help! My bugout bag is too heavy!” When I put together emergency preparedness kits, I go through three mental checklists. These checklists are flexible enough that they are useful whether I am building an EDC, an Altoids tin kit, a Nalgene bottle kit, a get-home bag, a bugout bag, or a 72-hour kit. All I need to do is adapt the requirements for the space and weight constraints I’m facing.

pskThe Rule of Threes

One can survive for:

For air, I might consider such items as a gas mask, an N95-rated particulate respirator mask, and first-aid treatments for bleeding. For shelter, I think in terms of starting a fire, keeping warm, keeping dry, and replacing electrolytes. For water I consider what containers I might want and how to disinfect and filter water for drinking. Because food is something I can go without for weeks, I not only pack food as space permits, but I also think about getting food–purchasing (so cash), fishing, or hunting, etc.–and also I think about what happens when eliminating bodily waste at this point.

Second, I run through David Canterbury’s 10 C’s of Survival.

David Canterbury’s 10 C’s of Survival

The 5 “must have’s:”

  1. Cutting tool (knives, saws, razors, etc.)
  2. Combustion (ignition, tinder, fuel)
  3. Cover (tents, raincoats, ponchos, blankets, garbage bags, survival blankets)
  4. Container (canisters, bladders, pouches, etc. for water and cooking)
  5. Cordage (rope, 550 paracord, thread)

The 5 “should have’s:”

  1. Candle (illumination)
  2. Cotton
  3. Compass (compass, maps, GPS)
  4. Cargo tape (duct tape)
  5. Canvass Needle (AKA sail needle)

I like to add another 5 “nice to have’s:”

  1. Conflict (firearms, pepper spray, batons, etc.)
  2. Communication (radio, whistle, marking tape, Sharpie pen, paper, signal mirror, etc.)
  3. Constitution (first aid, medicine, wellness)
  4. Connectors (sewing kit, superglue, safety pins)
  5. Cells (batteries, solar power)

Third, I make sure I can document what Shane Steinkamp calls my IESSEP. This can be documented on paper or some sort of flash memory.


  • Identity
  • Education
  • Skill Set
  • Earning Potential

I travel quite a bit, and having an electronic copy of my passport, drivers license, birth certificate, etc. could come in handy if the original documents are stolen or not available. In the case that I can’t go home again, it makes great economic sense to be able to document my degrees, certifications, skills, etc. and to be able to produce a résumé. I generally include a collection of precious family photos on any flash drive as well.

In terms of quality, I find myself going two ways. On the one hand, many of my kits are only meant to get me through a few days or so. Combine that with the fact that like many preppers I have many kits (OK, maybe I have too many kits), and it’s no wonder the gear in my kits is not necessarily top quality; it doesn’t have to last me for the rest of my life, just for those few days. On the other hand, if I am going to be trusting my life to the gear in my kits, I want the quality to be high enough that I can rely on it if needed.

What am I missing?

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National Preparedness Month is September!

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National Preparedness Month is Here.

National Preparedness MonthIf you haven’t recently, now might be a good time to access your overall preparedness during National Preparedness Month.  With so many reasons to have some of the essentials you’ll need on a daily basis at your disposal, it makes sense to take some time to do a needs assessment.  Unfortunately, this is something we should all be doing on a regular basis and not just in September.  But for those who are fairly new to self reliance and preparedness it’s a start.

Most of the time “Preppers” are not thought of as anything more than crazy people preparing for the end of the world by the media as we have seen on television.  However, being prepared or prepping is not defined by “Doomsayers” but actually includes over 3 million Americans from all walks of life and from every corner of the country.  Why is this you might ask?  There are a few good reasons that prepping is growing and it has mostly to do with living a more sustainable lifestyle and getting back to basics while realizing the government isn’t going to be there to help  when a major disaster strikes.

Amazingly, according to a new survey conducted by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, 55 percent of Americans believe that the authorities will come to their rescue when disaster strikes. We have news for you,  FEMA is not going to come to anyones rescue anytime soon if disaster strikes.  If we think back to Hurricane Katrina of any other natural disaster in recent memory, or consider some of the potential scenarios including a major financial collapse, It’s time to get prepared so you can take care of your own family if need be.

So what are just few of the things you and your family can start to do today?  We compiled a short basic list to help you to start to get your “Preparedness”  house in order.

Air> Air is the most important thing we need to survive.  It is said that you can live “four minutes without air, four days without water, and forty days without food.”  So, are you CPR certified?  Can you help someone if they stopped breathing? If not get certified.  Here is how to get certified 

Water > Water is an essential to have on hand.  30 gallons per person (2 gallons per person per day for 1 week). This might sound excessive, but look at your water bill this month! This figure assumes that when at home, you will occasionally want a sponge bath, or to cook something like pasta or rice. You might even wash your hair or clothes, and will eventually flush a toilet. Large food grade 55 gallon plastic drums are ideal for bulk water storage. A good location is in your detached garage. Remember that your water heater in the house is typically 50 gallons, and may be used if your dwelling survives. Additional water may be purchased in single use plastic bottles, and should be stored away from the house or garage. Remember that these water bottles will need to be rotated out since they have a limited shelf life unless water treatment is used.  A portable water filtration system is a must.  These systems can provide a very high quality of clean fresh water.  A good water test kit is also recommended so you can evaluate your stored water on an on-going basis.

Shelter > Where would you go if a disaster struck and left you without your home?    FEMA recommends that you know that information now as well as some other important evacuation routes in your area. Do you have a temporary shelter at home that you could use if needed?  If not get one and keep it dry and easy to get too.

Fire > We have all seen survival television shows and each and every time lighting a fire is paramount to survival over the long haul.  We may need it to keep warm, to cook, to disinfect water, for light and protection.  Can you light a fire if needs be?  How to build a fire so it will light – survival 101

Food > If you’re considering a food storage system at your home, than a food storage calculator is going to be required so you have the right amount to meet your families needs. The type of food you store can vary but it might include canned foods long term food storage systems to MRE’s, grains, legumes and alike canned fruits and veggies from your own garden.  Cooking and heating tools for survival incase of a disaster or emergency are easy to use and not very expensive to get.  Wondering how much grain to store? You might be surprised.  Read more at

First Aid Kit > A good first aid kit could save a life during a disaster  Make sure you have a good one.   Off Grid Survival recommends “30 Things you Should Have in Your Medical First Aid Kits

Survival Kit > A survival kit is a short term kit of essentials to last you approx three days.  It can be kept in your car incase you get stranded in an emergency. > Learn more

BOB or Bug Out Bag > A Bug Out Bag is more of a long term survival kit designed to help you get out of town or “bug out”.  It would include all of the above mentioned items to a greater or lesser degree plus much more.  Some examples of items included might be weapons, shelter and bedding, clothing, a heat source and tools to name a few.  A good example can be found right here.


There is so much more that you can do to get your self prepared both in the short and long term but this will be a good start.  Remember the Internet is a great source of information on all things “Preparedness”.

If you start today you will be better off than most Americans are in case of a natural disaster or National emergency.

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Jeff “The Berkey Guy”



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