Building the Ultimate Survival Kit
Every time a disaster strikes, you see pictures of people walking down the road. Usually they are thirsty and hungry. Often they are cold, wet, injured, and sick. Before a disaster struck close to home, every one of these people thought that disasters were something that happened to other people in other places. When the scope of a disaster is huge, most of the doctors, nurses, firemen, and policemen are either injured themselves, busy caring for family members, or evacuated from the area, and those civil servants that remain will be seriously overworked and under-supplied. In times like these, the majority of survivors are left to fend for themselves for several days, and sometimes for weeks or months. This is called “YOYO Time”, and YOYO stands for You are On Your Own! Mother Nature built into each and every one of us a desire to provide food, shelter, water, and protection for ourselves and loved ones. This article will help you put together a supply set to do just that!
We will start out with more basic items that every family should have on hand, followed by several highly recommended optional items, ending with a few additional items that will be extremely helpful in the event of a long term catastrophe or collapse-type scenario. Using the article links to purchase recommended products will help support this web site through modest associates commissions paid by the linked vendors. I have spent years collecting information, speaking to the public, and writing my books. Some may think I am getting rich off these efforts, but I still have a ways to go before I break even, much less actually make a dime of profit. Your use of the following article links to recommended products will help support this web site and these efforts, won’t cost you an extra penny, and will help us to expand our efforts to provide useful information that could save your life someday, or that of a loved one.
72-Hour “Grab-and-Run” Survival Kits
Rule of Threes
- Three seconds without a blood supply to your brain, and you lose consciousness.
- Three minutes without breathing, or an adequate air supply, and you lose consciousness.
- Three hours without proper protective clothing or shelter in extreme weather and you may become hypothermic (freezing to death) or hyperthermic (heat stroke, heat exhaustion), either of which is lethal if uncorrected.
- Three days without water in hot weather, if physically active, and people start to die (can be less than a single day in extreme conditions).
- Most people in the US could last at least three weeks without food. You may not feel good, and you certainly won’t like it, but you could survive.
Consider placing all of the following items in your 72-hour survival kit:
- Extra clothing, such as long underwear, hat, jacket, waterproof mittens, leather work gloves, rain coat or poncho, sturdy boots, and so on. Remember that cotton is very cold when wet, but wool and specialty outdoor clothing (usually polyester) wick moisture and are warm when wet.
- Entertainment for kids and other special needs (prescription medicines, diapers, extra glasses, etc.).
- 25 kitchen-size garbage bags and lime or sewage treatment chemicals (powdered type preferred) for garbage and toilet sewage. A few large heavy-duty garbage bags can double for raincoats, ground cloths, and shelter.
- 50 feet of heavy-duty nylon string or light rope.
- Record of bank numbers and important telephone numbers.
- Spare checks and cash. Many Katrina victims were caught without any cash. TIP: Use a bank that has widespread branch locations so their records won’t disappear in a severe local disaster, leaving you with no bank account access.
- Waterproof and windproof matches in a waterproof container, and a utility-type butane lighter (large size with extended tip).
- Wool or pile blankets (avoid cotton) because they are warm when wet, and/or a sleeping bag. Also, a heat-reflective, waterproof “space blanket.” Fiber-pile, mountaineering-quality sleeping bags are great, if you have the space (avoid down sleeping bags, except for extremely cold climates, because they are worthless when wet).
- First-aid kit including tea tree oil, moleskin, 1 ½” cloth medical tape, and one or more stretch “Ace” bandages. In a major disaster, what do you see? People walking, not driving! Apply tape or Moleskin to those hot spots before they blister and turn into raw oozing sores, or you will be going nowhere fast!
- A small squeeze bottle of grapefruit seed extract, which is a broad-band anti bacterial and antifungal compound. Also called GSE, you can buy it at most health food stores.
- Flashlight with spare batteries, or a solar recharge flashlight. I highly recommend that you purchase a headlamp with LED bulbs. Headlamps leave your hands free to carry things, or work on things. LED bulbs use a fraction of the power, are far more shock resistant, and last far longer than traditional light bulbs, so your batteries last many times longer.
Adventure Medical Pocket Survival Pak
Compact First Aid Kit
- Here is a more extensive first aid kit to go into your blue tub for “survival in place” or evacuation by car:
Comprehensive First Aid Kit
First-aid and survival handbooks (When Technology Fails and When Disaster Strikes cover both topics in-depth).
Colloidal Silver Generator
- A colloidal silver generator for making a broad-band antibiotic solution that can kill all known pathogenic bacteria (if you are without access to pharmaceuticals, this could save your life someday). Can also be used to preserve drinking water so it won’t grow bacteria, and will slowly purify water by killing pathogenic bacteria, but it takes a long time (typically several hours). In both of my books, When Technology Fails, and When Disaster Strikes, I provide a diagram and instructions for making your own low-cost colloidal silver generator for about $30. If you wish to purchase a factory made colloidal silver generator, SOTA Instruments makes a quality unit that has a current limiting circuit to help you make your own superior smaller particle “ionic silver” solution. This unit also has a wrist band and electrodes for performing “blood electrification” per the “Beck Protocol” (see http://www.bobbeck.com/). Since hospitals and doctors are relying increasingly on products containing nano-particle silver to help with the battle against antibiotic resistant superbugs, don’t you think you should have your own silver generator too? (see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/business/23stream.html)
SOTA Instruments “Silver Pulser”
If you use the following link to go to the SOTA web site, you will receive a one-time 10% discount and we will receive an affiliate credit for the sale:
Alternately, you may place an order and give them our “Retail ID” #CA58858 in order to receive your 10% discount. If/when you place an order with SOTA, please provide them with our Retail ID #CA58858, so they will know you were referred by our web site.
- Water, water-purification chemicals, and/or purifying filter. Enough to provide 1 gallon per person per day. Retort (foil) pouches can handle freezing in a car trunk, but most other water containers can’t handle freezing without the potential for bursting. Three gallons per person is heavy (24 lbs.), so I strongly suggest that you include a water filter and water treatment chemicals. Water is extremely important, so I will provide a number of options here and suggest you cover yourself with at least two or three alternatives. I suggest field serviceable pump-type backcountry filters, such as those made by Katadyn or MSR, that are rated to filter out all bacteria, have a carbon core to remove toxic chemicals and offer a prefilter for “dirty” water.
MSR Miniworks Water Filter
- I have used an MSR Miniworks filter for many years. The Katadyne Pocket Filter was and still is the industry standard and has been around for decades, its metal housing is reputed to be more reliable and damage resistant than the plastic filters, it can also filter 13,000 gallons per filter vs 2000 liters per the MSR and the price reflects that.
Katadyne Pocket Filter
- Also, when dealing with a suspicious water source, I suggest supplementing your filter(s) with treatment by a purifying iodine solution (or other chemicals), such as a Polar Pure water purification kit, MSR Sweetwater purifying solution, or Aqua Mira, to kill all viruses that may have passed through your micro filter. Pump filters that are rated for virus removal have tiny pore sizes and tend to clog quickly (a clogged filter is worthless). Sports bottle–type purifying water filters are simple, reliable, compact, and inexpensive, but clog easier and won’t purify nearly as many gallons of water as the pump-type filters.
MSR SweetWater Purifying Solution
Polar Pure Iodine Purification Kit
- Aquamira makes a two part water treatment solution that kills bacteria, viruses, and even Cryptosporidium, while leaving no aftertaste. Cryptosporidium is a tough-to-kill nasty bug that is common in agricultural areas, can make you very sick for a long period of time (and can kill older folks and young kids), and can survive treatment with traditional chlorine and iodine solutions, though it is easily killed with a UV blast from a SteriPen, filtered out with a good micro filter, or killed by boiling.
Aquamira Purifying Kit
- I also carry a small compact SteriPen ™ in my grab-and-go kit, which is a terrific new gadget that flashes high intensity UV light to kill bacteria and viruses in a water of bottle in a matter of seconds. The downside to a SteriPen is it requires clear water to reliably eliminate all the nasty organisms in your water, so all bets are off using a SteriPen on dirty water unless it is filtered first to remove sediment and debris.
- Use this SteriPen filter to remove silt and other debris from your drinking water while you fill your water bottle, and prior to treating it with a SteriPen. If the water is really scummy, all bets are off using a SteriPen unless you first clarify the water using a microfilter.
Ultimate Survival Technologies StrikeForce Fire Starter
Coghlan’s Emergency Tinder
Austrian Windproof Lighter
Stoves And Cooksets
- A compact field-serviceable stove with fuel, like one of the MSR multi-fuel stoves, along with a cook set. Good for boiling water, warming hands and feet, as well as for cooking.
MSR Multi-Fuel Stove
Primus EtaExpress Stove
- Although this is not a Multi Fuel Stove it works well as an all-in-one-kit and is more “user friendly” than the Multi Fuel Stoves types. It has Iso Butane Canisters that can be quickly attached and removed instead of adding liquid fuel and pumping to pressurize. Although Multi Fuel stoves are worth the so called “hassles” being they can use gasoline, diesel and kerosene, these stoves still serve a useful purpose in a grab and run kit for those that may not be comfortable carrying, using and transferring liquid fuels.
MSR Flex-4 Cookset
A pricey but super non-stick lightweight cookset.
A lightweight, lower cost titanium cookset, but has no non-stick coating!
- Tent and/or 50-foot roll of plastic sheeting for shelter. In many parts of the world, a good backcountry 3 person tent will suffice.
Marmot Limelight 3-Person Tent
Eureka Alpenlite 2XT Tent: 2-Person 4-Season
The North Face Mountain 25 Tent
An expedition quality tent. Expensive, but stands up to hurricane force winds, and heavy snows. Field tested on expeditions around the world.
Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy Sack
A bivy is an ultralight personal shelter that can be used in close quarters or where the space is not available for a tent footprint (such as the bed of a truck or underneath it) as far as setup speed, portabilty and versatility, a bivy is second to none, the unit listed above is the best available today.
- A good sleeping bag will keep you warm, even in severely cold temperatures. Down has long been known for providing the greatest warmth with the least weight, but it is totally worthless when wet. When used over long periods of time in subfreezing temperatures, down collects frozen condensation from body moisture and gradually loses its insulating value. The new fiber piles, such as Dupont Hollofill, are not as light or resilient as down, but remain warm when wet. You can dunk one of these fiber-filled sleeping bags in an ice-cold river, wring it out with your hands, then climb right inside to get warm. Caution: Check the temperature ratings on the bag that you are buying and add a 10°F to 20°F safety margin. The ratings are notoriously optimistic, better to have a hot bag than a cold one (you can allways unzip to cool off)
Fiberfill Sub Zero Rated Sleeping Bag
The North Face Dark Star Sleeping Bag: -40 Degree
Self-Inflating Insulated Sleeping Pad
- A good insulating pad is important for both comfort and warmth. Without extra insulation under your body, most of your body heat will be lost into the ground, especially if you are camping on snow. Stiff, closed-cell foam pads are lightweight and excellent for insulation, but are not the best for comfort. Traditional air mattresses are cheap, but not as warm as closed-cell foam and are often unreliable. A great modern invention, developed by Thermarest, is the nylon-covered, self-inflating camping pad with an inner foam layer. The foam gives shape to the air mattress and prevents internal convection air currents from robbing heat from your sleeping body. These mats are comfortable and lightweight, providing excellent insulation. They are usually available at discount stores and price clubs, but you will find a better selection in specialty backcountry stores. When snow camping, I like to combine a short closed-cell foam pad (can’t puncture or deflate, and won’t compress under your hips and shoulders to make a cold spot), placed under my midsection, along with a full-length self-inflating pad, for outstanding thermal insulation combined with good comfort
Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Sleeping Pad
Ultra Bright LED Headlamp
Princeton Tec Apex LED
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
Note: I would recommend the Black Diamond Storm -only- if you can’t handle the weight of the Princeton Tec Apex, the reason being the Princeton Tec Apex runs on 4 AA batteries and the Steri Pen dose as well allowing you to carry the same type of rechargeable (listed below) for both units.
Batteries for Headlamps and Steripens
Sanyo XX Battery Powered by eneloop, 2500mAh High Capacity, 4 Pack AA Ni-MH Pre-Charged With MQRO6 quick charger
Note: The Steri Pen Requires 4 AA Batteries as well as the Princeton Tec Apex for a total of 8 AA so you would need one of the packs above as well as this one below.
- Candles (useful for lighting fires with damp wood) and light sticks (emergency light when nothing else works or explosive gases are present).
- Toiletries, including toilet paper, toothbrush, soap, razor, shampoo, sanitary napkins (also good for severe bleeding wounds), a pack of dental floss (for sewing and tying things), sunscreen, extra eyeglasses, diapers, and so on.
- Food for 3 days per person, minimum. Use foods you will eat and that store well, such as nuts, sport bars, canned vegetables, fruits, meats, dry cereals, and military-type preserved meals (available at surplus and survival stores), or freeze dried food (available at most backcountry stores, like EMS, BackCountry.com, or REI).
A Survival Knife/Tool for pounding, chopping, prying, cutting, digging and self defense
One of the most important tools in a survival kit is a stout knife and/or Multi Tool, the items that follow are the some of the best currently produced.
Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool Fixed Blade Knife
Victorinox SwissTool Spirit Multi-Tool
Leatherman 830685 Charge TTi
Sewing kit with extra heavy-duty thread. Should be strong enough to stitch a torn strap onto your backpack (I never travel in the backcountry without a compact sewing kit, and have had to use it several times).
Compact Sewing Kit
- Map, compass, and whistle. When you are in a weakened state, or have a parched throat, a whistle may draw someone’s attention and save your life. In smoke or fog, a compass may be the only thing pointing you in the right direction. The dial on the compass should glow in the dark, and should have a rotating dial and a built in arrow for sighting along an adjustable compass reading. Buy one with a built in lanyard, or put a string on your compass so you can hang it around your neck for quick referral.
Compass with Built-In Lanyard
- Portable radio, preferably one that works with no batteries, such as by a hand crank or combination powered with solar cells (available through survival and surplus outlets). Your radio should receive at least AM, FM, and shortwave bands. NOAA weather and other emergency alerts are a plus. Beware of super-cheap cheap made-in-China “do everything” emergency radios that have hand crank dynamos that break after using only a few times. I recommend the Freeplay Lifeline radio.
Freeplay “Lifeline” Radio with AM/FM/SW
Quality Mountaineering Style Pack with Internal Conformable Frame
- A large-capacity pack (at least 4,000 cubic inches, and preferably over 5,000 cubic inches) can help you transport your gear, food, and water on foot. The traditional frame pack, with a rigid welded frame of tubular aluminum, is best for carrying maximum loads. Personally, I prefer the mountaineering-style soft packs, with internal molded or bendable frames, because they allow more freedom of movement for traveling over rough terrain, plus they stuff better into car trunks or other tight places. Whether you choose an internal or external frame model, a good, comfortable, padded hip belt is essential to take some of the load off your shoulders. Proper fit is also important. If the pack is too long or short for your torso, you will have a hard time adjusting the hip belt and shoulder straps to distribute the load properly.
Osprey Packs Aether 70 Backpack 4089-4638cu in
Osprey Packs Argon 85 Backpack 5187-5553cu in
Note:I have used Osprey gear for decades, and it has never let me down!
Backpack Rain Cover And Dry Packs
Outdoor Research Lightweight Pack Cover
Note: Wet gear is cold and heavy keep everything as dry as possible with a rain cover, it’s allways better to have a bigger pack cover than you need so items attached to the outside of your pack are able to fit under it.
- If you live in Hurricane country, or an area prone to flooding, I strongly recommend you purchase a “dry pack” for each of your grab-and-run kits. A “dry pack” is a special combination backpack and waterproof bag used by river guides. They have removable padded shoulder straps, are made of extremely tough water proof material, and are 100% sealed against water intrusion so in addition to keeping your stuff dry in a deluge, they can also double as floatation devices to help keep you afloat in flood waters. A “dry pack” stocked and ready to go for every member of your family is cheap insurance if you live in an area prone to hurricanes and/or floods!
Dry Packs by Sea Line
- If you load up one of the above packs with all the gear listed here it can become fairly heavy (up to 90 pounds at times) these Trekking Poles can allow you to shift that weight forward to give your back a break and keep you stable on slippery ground or while crossing rivers and streams, the last thing you want is to take a fall on your face with 90 pounds on your back, if that where to happen these poles help tremendously in getting back up.
Black Diamond Trail Compact Trekking Pole
Note: A trekking staff like this one above will also work as a makeshift crutch in a pinch.
Important Items for a Long-Term Disaster or Collapse
- A “Rocket Stove” provides a highly efficient stove that can burn twigs, grass, buffalo chips, etc. In a long term situation, where there is no access to gasoline or kerosene, this stove will boil water, cook food, or warm you up using minimal inputs, and create almost no smoke once started. My book, When Disaster Strikes, provides basic instructions for fabricating your own Rocket Stove from easily obtained low-cost materials, but a homemade stove will not match the efficiency, or durability, of a factory made model with welded and enameled iron.
Rocket Stove by StoveTec
NOTE: When purchasing a Rocket Stove from StoveTec, please enter coupon ID “Disaster Strikes”. You will save $2.50 off the purchase price, plus you will get free shipping, and StoveTec will known that you were referred to them by our web site.
- The WaterWise non-electric stove top distiller will provide pure water from contaminated sources long after your water filter has stopped working. This stovetop distiller can purify water contaminated by nasty chemicals and nuclear fallout, as well as being able to distill sea water. Requiring a heat source, the ideal combination of a Rocket Stove and a WaterWise model 1600 stove top distiller will keep working year after year without access to fossil fuels or the grid, though it will eventually need cleaning with vinegar or de-scaling solution! This all-stainless-steel distiller has no moving parts, delivers up to 16 gallons a day of pure, safe water—almost silently—with or without electricity.
Stove Top Water Distiller by WaterWise
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- Store at least one 72-hour emergency “Grab-and-Go” survival kit in or near your home, and condensed versions in your cars.
- Determine a local meeting place with a large open area, such as a park or school, where your household can gather if you are separated and do not have access to your home during emergencies.
- Make sure that all capable members of your family know how and where to shut off the water, gas, and electricity for your home in the event of an emergency.
- Stash spare keys to your vehicles somewhere on the vehicle and an additional supply of keys somewhere outside of your home (securely hidden).
- Store at least a two-week supply of food for your household.
- Store a combination of water, water-treatment chemicals, and water-purifying filters to provide for your household for at least a week.
- Keep a survival manual in each car with a first-aid kit, spare clothing, and a water filter, if not a full 72-hour kit.
- Get proper first-aid and CPR training for all capable members of your family. See the American Red Cross for first-aid training and assistance with local emergency planning.
- Arrange for an out-of-state emergency contact to reach for coordination and communication. After an emergency, it may be easier to call long distance than locally, or your family may be separated and need an outside contact to communicate through.
- Locate your nearest emergency shelter (call your local Red Cross for this information). Practice the route to the shelter, if it’s not conveniently located.
- Make sure that you have smoke detectors in your home. Change their batteries at least once each year.
- Store your important papers in one easily accessible location, preferably in a waterproof and flameproof box. Include copies of bank account info, insurance documents, alien cards, birth certificates, stock certificate copies, etc. Your “Life in a Box” should include whatever critical items will need to help put your life back together in the event that all the rest of your “stuff” were to disappear.
- Store off-site flash drive, DVD, or CDs with important digital information, such as family photos, critical computer files, etc.
- Discuss your emergency preparedness plans with all members of your household. Keep the discussion light and positive.
Staying Healthy in a Crisis or Pandemic
The following “Top Ten List” will give you an excellent starting point. These herbs and alternative treatments could be the key elements that you and your family will need to stay healthy in times of disaster or pandemic, or perhaps they may be useful in helping someone you know to heal from the increasingly common misfortune of infection by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I am not a doctor, and I am not telling anyone how to cure any illness, but simply sharing information on my own and others’ experiences. When you are sick, you should always seek qualified medical attention.
For inclusion in your pandemic survival kit, here are my top ten recommended items:
- MMS (miracle mineral solution). I suggest you stock up on a hefty supply of sodium chlorite and citric acid, the two simple raw ingredients (plus water) for making MMS (or buy ready mixed on the Internet). Make sure you have glass bottles for storing the MMS, and droppers or plastic dropper bottles for dosage and application.
- A colloidal silver generator for making homemade colloidal silver solutions. It is a good idea to keep a nebulizer on hand for inhaling a colloidal silver mist when dealing with lung infections.
- Several small squeeze bottles of grapefruit seed extract (available at most health food stores).
- A blood electrification device for the Beck Protocol. NOTE: The Sota Instruments model “Silver Pulser” does both colloidal silver generation and blood electrification. You may also wish to add a magnetic pulser and a drinking water ozonator so you will be equipped for all four elements of the full Beck Protocol.
- Elderberry extract (available at most health food stores).
- Spilanthes Usnea extract (available at most health food stores).
- A multi-remedy homeopathic medicine kit.
- One or two gallons of 10 ppm “ASAP” nano-particle silver solution (also sold under the trade name “Silver Biotics”), plus at least two tubes of ASAP gel ointment, made by American Biotech Labs.
- Several courses of Cipro (or similar) pharmaceutical antibiotics, if you can get a prescription or otherwise have access to antibiotics.
- At least 20 surgical masks plus a pack of surgical throw away gloves. The masks will not protect you from infection, but will help one to reduce the risk of spreading infection to others through coughing or sneezing.