Monday, September 29, 2014

Emergency Backpacks

Here is a check list of items you may want in your 
emergency backpack / 72 hr kit
plus helpful tips I have learned over the years

Inexpensive backpack or order military bags online - they have lots of great outer pockets, and you can find some pretty cheap ones on ebay or army surplus
4-8 water bottles (about 1 gal per adult per day)
FOOD OPTIONS: (there are a lot of options out there, so pack what you will actually eat)
Granola bars, protein bars
Bag of trail mix / nuts, dried fruit 
Cans or packages of tuna
Chicken salad w/ crackers
Bouillon (cubes or powder) - easy to add flavor to meals
Cans of prepared soup - saves having to add water to your meal, --less water you have to pack
Bags of prepared food / meals ready to eat (meals packaged in bags, rather than cans - there is quite the variety these days, from Progresso Soups to Mountain Man Meals) 
bags or cans of meat - chicken, beef, tuna, spam, or even shrimp
Packages instant oatmeal
Packages hot cocoa
Chia seeds - adds protein and nutrition to anything- drinks to meals
Small candies, mints, or gum
Powdered drink mixes - drink extra calories
Dried potato flakes
Dried bean flakes
freeze dried fruits and veggies
boxed milk
Honey sticks, honey stinger waffles
pudding - cups or packages 
individual packaged fig bars
fruit cups or fruit snacks
applesauce - cups or packages
pop tarts
ramen noodles / cup of soup / mac and cheese cups
individual cracker packs or cookies
ready to eat meals, like bowls of beef and potatoes, pasta dishes, chicken and potatoes, or asian noodle bowls, etc. just need warmed - brands like Dinty Moore, Barilla, Velveeta, Hormel, or Simply Asia
bags of dried prepared foods, like pastas, noodles, rice dishes, soup mixes , yaki soba
any packaged sauces you may want, from Asian to Italian to Mexican - there are small serving packages available in most grocery stores
jar of peanut butter - who doesn't like to eat right out of the jar?
large pretzels

Here is a list of ideas on making your own Ready to Eat Meals and organizing them for each day- you can pack each meal in a gallon size ziplock bag for "ration sizes" so your food lasts long enough. Some people also vacuum pack them, so they are more compact - although that makes it a little harder to go through and replace items that have a shorter shelf life. You should prepare enough meals for 3 days - 72 hours. 
Flashlight w/ batteries
Matches / lighter / flint
Small Can opener
Plastic utensils
Radio w/ extra batteries
Pen / paper
Pocket knife
Duct tape - wrap a generous amount around an old gift card or popsicle stick
Thick rubberbands
Work gloves
Kleenex / toilet paper / handkerchief
Comb / brush / hair ties
Shampoo/Conditioner or Dry Shampoo
Soap / cleansing towelettes
Lotion  / chap-stick
Toothbrush / Toothpaste / Floss
Feminine hygiene products
Wet wipes
Wash cloths
Hand Sanitizer
Sun screen
First aid supplies - pain relief, bandages, medication, etc.
Fingernail clippers
Dryer Lint – in bag, very flammable, easy to start fires with – very light
Fire starter sticks, or newspaper
Rope / Paracord
Emergency bracelets
Small shovel
Nylon pantyhose, clean cotton rag or coffee filters - to filter water
Water filter or purifiers, or bleach (not scented, etc.) 16 drops/gal
Hats, beanies, socks, underwear
Wide mouth water bottle or bladder 
Instant heat packets / hand warmers
Carabineers / nylon straps
Packable down blanket/ sleeping bag / coat
Emergency blankets
Cloth diapers and formula (if you have a baby in your family)
Playing cards - something lightweight and small for children to do
Plastic bags / garbage bags
If possible - pack one pair clothes and shoes
Copies of ID's, other important documents, laminate or put in plastic sleeve

Helpful hints:
You may or may not want everything from this list in your pack. It is up to you. You may not fit everything into your bag, so decide what items are best for you. Use carabineers, rope, or nylon straps to attach extra items to the outside of your pack if you need to.  

Write expiration on food before packing it. It will make it easier to replace these items. Pick a day each year to go through your pack and replace perishable items. It could be Superbowl or Conference weekend. Use the items at home when they are about to expire. It is good to know if your family will eat the food you have packed.

I usually go through our packs twice a year, once in April, then again in October. I like to have winter gear in there during the winter months, and hats and sunscreen during the hotter months. 

Another good idea is to test your kits. Take your packs and try to survive 24-72 hours with them. You usually only need 24 hours before you realize what you are missing. 72 hours will determine if you have enough food and water. Pack travel size toiletries as well to save space and weight. The more you test your kit, the quicker you will realize what is necessary and what is not. Try to be prepared for hot and cold weather. These packs should sustain you in times of evacuation and disaster. 

These items should be packed per person, however, with small children, try packing the toiletries and other light items in their packs, so if they are old enough, they can carry their own pack. 

Learn how to make easy water filter anywhere - with empty plastic water bottle, cut off bottom of the bottle. Use a rubber band to secure a coffee filter, T-shirt, or nylon to top, so it's tight. Turn it upside down and layer in bag or can - ashes/charcoal, dirt, small pebbles, dirt, rocks a few times. Then pour the water in the top, and drain the clean water out bottom into a cup or other container. 

I like packing a little bit of bleach as an easy way to purify water. It's a lot easier than making a homemade purifier/filter, although knowing multiple ways of filtering is always better. I would filter out any debris with a cotton rag or a coffee filter in a similar way, but then I would purify it with bleach. Just empty out a little bottle of eye drops, and replace it with bleach so you can measure drop by drop how much you are putting into your water. Just be sure to relabel the bottle so you don't accidentally use bleach in your eyes! 

Things that may be harmful around your house in event of disaster: broken glass, debris, damaged gas or electrical lines, fires, objects/structures that may fall. Don't light matches - use a flashlight.

There are lots of different fire starters you could pack. Homemade fire starter idea– fill empty egg carton with either lint, newspaper, cotton balls, or sawdust and then pour over some wax. Let cool, cut into individual fire starters. Store in baggies. I just pack dryer lint in a baggie, but these little starters probably burn a little longer.  

Cut up T-shirt and Vaseline – another homemade fire starter - form into balls, store in ziplock bag. 

Dryer lint and petroleum jelly balls – another DIY fire starter.

Store some fishing line, few hooks and weights in an Altoid tin for light weight means of catching food. 

Reuse canned goods: use empty can for boiling water or as a fire pit. 

Pack clothes, coat, or blanket in your Nalgene bottle – keeps them dry. 

Small pencil sharpener – easy way to make fire tinder from sticks or pencil

I get most of my hygiene items - like shampoo, soap and toothpaste - from hotels - they have it, just ask for it. I also get many small packaged condiments the same way. Mayo, ketchup, salt, etc- all from fast food joints. Good to have a few things like that to season with if something doesn't taste right.

Water-proof your matches by dipping the heads in turpentine, clear nail polish, or wax. Let them dry before storing. 

Cans of magic flame – instant heat (used for fondue) – as extra fire fuel. Just use a stick to rub some of the product on wood, tinder, etc. and light. Can also put in empty can for instant mini fire pit. You can also just pop the lid and light the gel - it burns for about an hour - or replace the lid to smother the flames and save remainder fuel. 

Reuse food bags for water – poke holes and hang as shower, dip in river to carry water, use as filter for water, etc.

Use duct tape to cover hot spots before (or after) getting a blister, use strips to close wounds, mend torn tarps, packs, or clothing, or use to extract ticks.

Eliminate the need for can opener with easy open canned goods – the pull and peel kind.

Learn how to make hammock with paracord, here or here

Learn how to make shelters, here or here

Learn to make homemade dry shampoo here

Lastly - but, oh so very important - be sure to store your packs somewhere where it is super accessible and make sure everyone knows where they are! You don't want to be digging around in the garage in your moment of crisis, trying to determine where they are and trying to move things around to get to them. They should be grab and go. 

I used this game during a workshop to help people have fun while learning about preparedness - 72 Hour kit Cranium. I just printed it out, cut each item out and folded them and then put them in four separate jars, with labels. Feel free to download my labels and word strips. 

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