Crisis Kits and Preparedness Packs

Preparedness Packs, Chrisis Kits, Survival Bags, a rose…

Basic Crisis Pack

©2009 E. M. Smith


Packing it:

  • Large hip bag or fanny pack


  • Survival Flash Cards or small booklet (purchased from local bookstore)
  • (Tom Brown’s books of Survival are good, though too big for this smallest of the kits.)

Environmental Protection

  • Space blanket
  • Hand warmer packs


  • Stored
    • 1 or 2 Qt. canteen or water bottles. (I like the canteen, since it lets me use the water as needed for non emergencies, and that trains me to keep it in the car.)
    • You can buy retorts of water (like juice boxes) if desired.
  • Carried/found – baggies 1Qt. size
  • Purified – iodide tablets


  • Stored
    • Soup packets or bullion cubes (Herb Ox brand is best!)
    • Coffee packets with sugar packets.
    • A salt and pepper packet is nice too.
  • Gathered
    • Folding can opener
    • Small fish kit (Handline, 2 swivels, 2 sinkers, 2 hooks)
    • Snare wire
  • Preparing
    • Sierra Club stainless steel cup, fork, spoon

Fire Making

  • Bic lighter
  • Fresnell lens
  • Waterproof matches
  • Hexamine tablets and maybe a stove


  • AA flashlight w/ spare bulb (maglight) or candle

Health and First Aid

  • Minor Kit (purchase) Band-Aids, aspirin, smelling salts
  • Bug repellent
  • Lip balm – find some that doesn’t melt
  • Sunscreen


  • Mirror
  • Whistle
  • (see also: Fire making and Light)


  • Compass – small keyring type
  • Local map

Social Survival

  • Coins and Bills ($1 coins, quarters / $20 bills)
  • Pen and paper, waterproof
  • Swiss Army Knife { for scissors and corkscrew}

Cleaning Up and Sanitation

  • Toothbrush
  • Small hotel type soap
  • Personal Care Items


  • Miniature Bible or cards

General Tools

  • Swiss army knife (Captains)
  • Cordage
    • Dental floss
    • String – Use fish line
    • Cord – 20 ft. 1/8″ nylon
    • Wire – small spool
    • Sewing kit – hotel type
  • Screwdriver disk type
  • Aluminum foil 1ft/sq
  • Hacksaw blade – short
  • Bobby Pins
  • Safety pins
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Red hanky
  • Rubber bands
  • Nails
  • Cup hooks
  • Small file
  • Super glue +/or epoxy, small
  • Tape

Carry Also

  • Clothes, lots of them
  • Money
  • Water
  • Food
  • Cell phone, CB radio and/or Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
  • Duct tape
  • Flares and/or strobe
  • Larger flashlight
  • Any personal medications & glasses

Auxillary Crisis Pack

© 2009 E. M. Smith

Packing it:

  • Daypack or small duffel with small stuff bags inside.


  • Air Force Survival Manual or Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen


  • Stored
    • 1 or 2 quart jug or canteen
  • Purified
    • Filter straw or small camp filter / pump
    • Coffee filters
    • Iodine tablets
    • Baggies


  • Stored
    • 4 MRE’s, 4 LRP’s – or camping freeze dried meals
    • Soup & Cocoa Packets, Quaker Oats oatmeal packets
    • Coffee Packets
    • Food bars / snack bars
    • Vitamin pills
    • Salt & pepper
  • Gathered
    • Medium fish kit
    • Snare/trap wire and twine
  • Preparing
    • Sierra cup
    • Tea ball
    • Small camp stove, Pot lifter

Environmental Protection

  • Space blanket type survival suit or space blanket bag or second space blanket.
  • Poncho
  • Medium and large garbage bags
  • Hammock – small portable net
  • Tube tent or lean-to tarp


  • Orange cloth (or tube tent)
  • Smoke bombs
  • Flares – highway and signal


  • A real good compass
  • GPS or Altimeter
  • Star chart and contour map

Fire Making

  • Fire sticks (Swedish match)
  • Bic lighter
  • Sterno stove
  • Metal match (magnesium)
  • Hexamine tablets
  • Magnifying glass – min. 3 in.


  • Spare flashlight batteries
  • Second flashlight
  • Candle lamp and/or candles
  • Calume stick

Health and First Aid

  • Sport Kit (purchase)
  • Triangle bandage
  • Snake bite kit (purchase)
  • Jungle juice
  • Allerest, Bufferin, Senocot, Dramamine, Kaopectate, personal meds

General Tools

  • Hunting knife / Camp hand axe
  • Sharpening stone
  • String – 100′ 150lb break twine or kevlar fish line
  • Cord – 100′ 1/8″ parachute cord.
  • Wire
  • Fish netting
  • Mosquito netting
  • small pulleys
  • Screwdriver, multi bit
  • Aluminum foil 10 ft/sq
  • Combo saw – wood, metal
  • Nails
  • Crow bar
  • File +/or rasp
  • Leather work gloves
  • Super glue, epoxy, silicone, +/or wood glue
  • Duct tape
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Adjustable or “Cresent” wrenchs
  • Watch
  • Thermometer
  • Monocular
  • Vice grip pliers
  • Vaseline
  • Wire ties
  • Clothes pins

Social Survival

  • Folding scissors
  • Cork screw
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Disposable razor
  • Door lock
  • Sunglasses


  • AM/FM radio
  • Playing cards

Carry Also / Extra

  • Clothes, lots of them
  • Money
  • Water
  • Food
  • CB radio +/or ELT
  • Flares +/or strobe
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag and pad
  • Vehicle tool kit
  • Small firearm and ammunition or Bear Spray (optional)

Once you have all the above items, packed and at the ready, consider adding some or all of the added / optional items below:

Advanced Crisis Pack

© 2009 E. M. Smith

Packing it

  • Standard backpack


  • Tom Brown Guide to Urban and Wilderness Survival


  • Stored – Gallon jug
  • Carried/found – Canteen
  • Purified – Pump filter.  Good bigger one with silver purification ceramic
  • Solar Still


  • Stored
    • Soup Packets
    • Coffee Packets
    • Food bars
    • Vitamin pills
    • Salt & pepper
    • Freeze dried meals & oatmeal packets
    • Cans of Ravioli, chili, soup, stew, or other ‘meals’
  • Gathered
    • Small firearm and ammunition
    • Large fish kit and gill net
  • Preparation
    • Serving spoon and fork
    • Small frying pan, Teflon coated
    • Mess kit
    • Nut cracker
    • Steamer basket
    • Thermos cup
    • Wire rack grill

Environmental Protection

  • Poncho
  • Tent – family sized
  • Sleeping bag for each person
  • Ground cloths
  • Heavy duty space blankets
  • Towel
  • Boot grease


  • CB, aviation radio, or ELT
  • Signal strobe
  • Flare gun and extra flares
  • (see also fire making and light, below)


  • Sextant ( I lived on a boat, you may want a GPS…)
  • Star chart

Fire Making

  • Camp stove w/ fuel bottle and fuel
  • Spark lighter


  • Large flashlight w/ spare bulb preferably LED light
  • Spare flashlight batteries
  • Solar battery charger and nicads
  • Gas light

Health and First Aid

  • Major kit
  • Triangle bandage
  • Splint kit
  • Toilet paper and paper towels
  • Personal medical supplies
  • Personal hygiene items: birth control, etc.

General Tools

  • Machete
  • Camp shovel and ax
  • Rock hammer
  • Sharpening stone
  • Rope
  • Medium pulleys
  • Carabiners
  • bucket
  • Sven saw
  • Vehicle tool kit
  • Aluminum foil roll
  • Tire patch kit
  • Rubber/nylon/canvass patch kit
  • Water proofing spray and grease
  • Binoculars
  • 2-4 ft. of ‘coat hanger’
  • 2 yds sq. cheese cloth
  • strapping tape, duct tape
  • Calculator

Social Survival

  • Money ($500), 12 oz. silver, 1 oz gold, credit card


  • Chess or backgammon game
  • AM/FM/SW radio with antenna

Carry Also

  • Clothes, lots of them
  • Water
  • Food
  • Major Vehicle tool kit
  • Second Firearm and ammunition
  • Propane torch kit

Some Closing Notes

This is a ‘thumbnail sketch” of 40 years worth of pondering and trying things. The general motives and insights behind the selected list of “stuff” in the kits above. I made some choices of what to put in a kit based on my selecting which things to emphasize, if you know what I was pondering, you might make a different choice.

First off, you need to breath more than anything else. I have a gas mask and 2 canisters. Useful in fires as well, since smoke kills most folks long before anything else. It is on an easy to reach shelf in the closet right next to a heavy coat and hat. Most folks can go weeks without food, days without water, hours without warmth, but only minutes without air. There are small portable versions that look like a giant baggy with an activated carbon patch in them that you can fold up and take on an airplane with you (looks like a folded up disposable raincoat or space blanket). You might get questions about why you want a gas mask on a plane – point out fire and smoke kill more people than anything else in a plane crash.

I can find my gas mask in the dark by braille. But on my hip lives a Maglight 2 x AAA cell flashlight in a holster at all times. In each room is a larger flashlight (Maglight is best and I’ve started converting them to LED bulbs, one a year…). I have a family, so this may be overkill for you. As long as you know where a larger light is, your OK. But during the Loma Prieta quake we had a data center in pitch black (no windows) and ended up using laptop screens for flashlights!

So now I have a light in each room. Between quakes, storms, and stupid California power policies, these get used about a half dozen times a year… If you can’t see, it’s hard to do much else at 2 am with the neighborhood in a panic. A 2 or 4 D cell Maglight with LED bulb will last for days to months depending on how much you use it. In casual uses (i.e. not a disaster) you will replace the batteries from age before they are used up. I have cruddier flashlights in places like the garage, kitchen, etc. where I just want a panicky kid able to find the good one in the living room (or get outside NOW.) With the advent of LED bulbs, I’ve started moving to the “C” cell flashlights as a smaller lighter alternative that still lasts darned near forever. Why Maglight? They are darned near indestructible. Waterproof. Fume proof (i.e. they will not spark an explosion in a gasoline vapor atmosphere). And can double as a club, being solidly built of metal. They carry a spare bulb in the tail cap (not so important with LEDs that don’t burn out, but still a valuable feature in an Aw Shit time…)

The mask, coat, hat, and flashlight takes care of air and simple cold, wet, dark, and embers dropping on you (at least for a while) even in the dark.

I have a plastic garbage can with lid that holds an inflatable sleeping mat (fancy air matress with foam core) and a nice sleeping bag in it’s non-compressed state (keeps it working well, compressed bags lose “loft” and don’t keep you as warm), a 2 person tent in carry bag, and a small pillow. All bought at Costco for about $40. This takes care of longer term cold if the Quake puts me out of the house in December… It also goes into my car trunk on long visits elsewhere or when camping. (With the sleeping bag stuck into it’s stuff sack and minus the can..). This “can” sometimes sits outside for a year at a time and sometimes is just inside the garage near the rollup door in the corner where things don’t get squashed in an earthquake. I also have a can like this for each other family member, but minus the tent. There is a family sized tent stored in a plastic tub on the patio along with family sized camp cooking gear, chemical fold up toilet with ‘baggies’, and a family sized water filter. There is a shovel on the patio as well.

That ought to take care of breathing, warmth, sleeping, shelter, potty, and light.

Next is water. I have an “kitchen bag” that travels with me (I was an “on the road” consultant for a decade or so and needed something if the car broke down in GodOnlyKnows or if the cafeteria was closed at 2am and I didn’t have the problem fixed yet so was pulling an all nighter). In my kitchen bag is a camping quality plastic water filter ($20? at REI Coop) – the family has a deluxe ceramic element treated with silver nearly industrial quality one in the family patio box…) I keep a 1/2 gallon canteen in the car and have between 70 and 140 gallons of water in plastic drums in the back yard. At times I’ve used a wading pool for extra (during droughts). In a condo/ townhome you would use the pool water filtered properly to remove chlorine (neutralize it with bicarbonate of soda – baking soda – to turn the chlorine into salt. That is, add baking soda until a pH strip shows a neutral to light alkaline state about pH 7-7.5 then run it through your filter). In a short crisis, you can get a few gallons out of your toilet tank (that is clean until flushed into the bowl…) or from your hot water drain faucet at the bottom of your water heater.

Last on the list is cooking gear. Most folks have lots already and in an emergency you can make a fire pretty quick, but I’ll get to it anyway. But food is not useless without electricity and gas to cook with, it only slightly changes what you do with it…

If you have an all electric kitchen, then you need an alternative way to cook the food, or you store foods that don’t need cooking. I like ravioli straight from the can. Same thing with canned green beans, peas, and chili. The only one I’d avoid is corn. Corn is peculiar in that it grows botulism really well and it’s hard to detect (due to the low pH of corn and the ideal chemical / food environment…) So you can do a decent job of ‘survival’ with cans of cold ravioli, chili, SPAM, peas, beans, carrots, peaches, pears, etc. And even corn if you really know how to spot a defective can.

(Lack of vacuum when opened, end of can not “sucked in” from the vacuum, any odd smell, any gassing / bubbling, etc. but even then, the early stages of Botulinum growing don’t give much indications: The only approved way to be sure is to boil the food for about 15 to 20 minutes. No fuel, no stove, you can’t do that… But if a can has sat for a few months after purchase and still has a “sucked down end” it is highly unlikely than any botulinum spores are waiting THAT long to start growing. You can tap the end, and if it has a low pitched “thunk” it has low vacuum; but if the pitch is higher, and a tinnier “tink” it has a good vacuum and no gas forming bacteria growing. Tap a can of somthing, then use your can opener to just put a tiny hole in the edge an let the vacuum fail. Tap it again (minus the opener) and you will immediately see what I’m talking about.)

But it’s easier if you can cook the food. So what to do for a stove?

I’ve bought just about every kind there is. In my Armageddon Kit is a nifty job that runs on everything from gasoline to jet fuel to diesel oil. It’s not for everyone (heck, I don’t even use if I have a choice – it’s smelly and noisy and hard to configure). So what IS for everyone?

First off, while a little hard to find, I love the Sterno fold up stoves. Sometimes they have them at sporting goods stores or in camping stores or departments. I’ve found them at WalMart. They cost about $5 and take a can of Sterno. Pop the top on the Sterno, touch a match to it (I store matches in a jar, but also have a couple of butane bbq lighters that work really well at a small distance ;-) and set it in the stove. Cook. Yeah, that simple. Done cooking? Slide the lid on the can to snuff it, when cool, seat the lid all the way down (seal the can). The stove is about 6 inches on a side and a little confusing to re-fold, so look carefully at it when it’s in the 6x6x 1/2 inch folded state and see what goes where… One of these lives in my travel bag.

Why? It is not pressurized and the jellied fuel tends not to dribble out (though it can slowly evaporate over time if the lid is loose.) It is dirt cheap. If, for some reason, some petty bureaucrat insists that I can’t take it (wherever – planes, trains, misc. “facilities”) I’m not out much if it disappears from wherever I stash it (or it even can just be tossed in a “contraband” bin with little stress – not so my $100 burns anything stove…). The fuel is readily available at grocery stores all over the place. And finally, there is often an obscure rule in the facilities guidelines for various places that allows “sterno powered chaffing dishes” while banning all other open flame stoves. Even if such a rule is not on the books, the “guard” is often conditioned to the idea that sterno heated food pots are “OK” from all the meetings that have used them. Basically, it keeps guard hassles to a minimum. In a real disaster, you can put bits of paper, cardboard, twigs, whatever in the empty fuel cup and use it as a primitive tiny camp fire. Was soaked cardboard works rather well, if a bit sooty.

Right behind this is the propane camp stove. There are many variations. I like the Primus ones (that I think I got at Target for $15?) but there is also a slightly larger (Great Outdoors? Century? brand) stove that holds larger pans better for about the same price. These can be set up on top of you dead electric stove and be very safe (double check that the electric stove is turned off – just in case the power returns). Coleman is good too, but pricier and I don’t see why. I’ve used them on a kitchen table too. Add a half dozen propane bottles (16 oz?) at about $3 each and you are set for weeks. Maybe months. The things seem to last forever.

If you are really into it, you can get a matching propane lantern at the same time. Why propane? Clean. Stores safely nearly forever. My family can run it without me (i.e. low tech users). No smell to speak of. Available everywhere. I also have a coleman gasoline stove (2 burner) in the family kit and can run on stored gas for about a year if needed… (draining it from the car gas tank) but that would be overkill for most folks.

If you don’t have any pots or pans, you would want a camping set. If you do have pots and pans, just get the propane stove with the larger burner (so large pans are stable on it…) and forget the fancy dinky camping stuff!

Most of the time you can do fine cooking in a single modest sized pot. Everything from ramen packages, to ravioli, to oatmeal to packaged scalloped potatoes with SPAM bits in them. I spent many nights working late eating split pea soup, crackers and ramen from my travel bag (that looks like a large briefcase so folks never questioned my taking it into computer center back rooms ;-) though the pot had to be dinky to fit… I also have a “hot shot hot pot” in it that heats about 2 cups electrically and can make coffee… Love that gadget. Used it if I had electricity, used the Sterno stove if not. Security weenies are used to the idea of sterno under chaffing dishes so they don’t get excited, even when they would have complained about a camping stove as an ‘open fire’. Go figure… In a home setting you might want to just get a Sterno powered chaffing dish and look high class about it.

That’s really all you need especially in a home setting.


I’ve had some questions about this from time to time. I want to emphasize that this is last on the list of concerns. Only after everything above is done should you spend much time on the topic of “defense”. In all my experience, it has been substantially to completely not needed. But I live in one of the wealthiest and best educated most low crime areas of the country, so your situation may be different. With that preamble, here is my take on things defensive.

Per firearms: I have them (always have, grew up with them). They live in a locked safe. For most folks they are probably not the best idea. You really must put a lot of time and effort into it to get good with them. Far better is just keep a low profile and learn to hide in plain sight.

My experience in natural disasters is that folks generally pull together and you don’t really need any defensive armament. It might be different where you live, but my intent is not to use guns to defend my “stuff”, rather to open “Smith’s Kitchen” and invite my neighbors to bring their (slowly defrosting) freezer contents to the pot luck. You are more likely to be faced with a block party than with Mad Max.

OK, if you don’t believe me on that, or don’t want to take the chance, or just want to be prepared “in case”:

I won’t say much about firearms, since it really is a complicated topic and you are very unlikely to need one, but if you do, you need to spend a lot of time learning about them, getting good at using them, and not just read a paragraph and go buy something.

There is a trade off between weight and effectiveness. There are islands of exceptional performance within that trend. The military optimizes for “good enough in massed fire” while the police optimize for “really going to work for one guy on his own”. You want to think like (and work with!) the police. What do they carry on them? A handgun, typically semiautomatic, with a high performance cartridge. The .40 S&W or the .357 Sig are very good. The 10 mm is used by the FBI. Some police use the 9mm Parabellum so they use what the military has and can interoperate. Rural cops and Fish and Game agents sometimes carry .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum revolvers so they can drop a bear, or a Buick, if attacked. (The .357 Sig duplicates the .357 magnum load in a semi-auto, and you can get a .40 S&W interchangeable barrel too… for a big price.) Also good. Asking the local cop what their department carries while in line at the doughnut shop would let you own something that would work with their supplies (if drafted into the posse ;-) The police also carry a 12 gauge pump shotgun in the car with a supply of “deer slugs”, buckshot, and specialized rounds (like ‘beanbag’ non-lethal rounds).

The major problem with those choices is something called “over pentration”. A 10 mm round will penetrate a hardened car windshield with laminated plastic sheet (close to what is used for bullet proof windows…) at an angle and still take down a bad guy. The “spec” came about after a bunch of FBI agents dumped a bunch of 9 mm at bad guys in an older car with the hard laminated rear windows and most of them bounced off the slanted back window of the car. If you shoot this at someone in your living room and miss, it is likely to exit the wall, enter the next room (your kid’s bedroom?) exit that room, enter your neighbors home (are they in that room?) exit that room, enter the next (their kid’s bedroom? Is your kid visiting?) You see the problem?

And this is where NOT being in the military or police is an advantage.

You can choose to use very frangible or hollow point rounds that will break up rapidly if they hit anything and not over penetrate. The “Glaser Safety Slug” does this. You can put “dove loads” or “target loads” of fine shot in a shotgun. It will put a couple of inch hole in someone but not go through a couple of walls with much energy left. Have a clip of harder stuff handy or have some “deer slugs” in a pocket if desired, but the first panicky shot is not going to kill someone a block away through a wall…

My “go to gun”, to the extent I have one, is a puny little .32 ACP thing. The Walther PPK James Bond carried. Hides easily in a pocket so nobody is scared by my waving something around on my front lawn while looking to see what went bump in the night. And the Winchester Silvertip Hollow Point is a very special round in .32 ACP. (One of those ‘performance islands’) It has the same “one shot stop”, or one shot drops a guy, statistics as the .45 ACP Colt 1911a in “military hard ball” used for 70 years by the U.S. Military. But being a very rapid open hollow point, it does not go through multiple walls so well. If I run into folks in a car, I’m just going to run away. I don’t see any reason to stay, especially when they are stuck in a box.

For “food gathering” the Ruger .22 rifle with a scope will get more “food” via squirrels and pigeons than they guy with a 30-ought-6 trying to get a deer in the city. Matched with a Ruger .22 single action revolver you have a very nice, very light, very ammo efficient package. In a desperation situation, it can also stop people. (The story is that the Israeli secret service uses a silences .22 with multiple shots as their assassination weapon of choice. The “one shot stop” statistic isn’t so good, but the 5 or 10 shot stop statistic is… And a box of 50 rounds is about the size of a match box. A “brick” of 1000 is about the size of 3 lbs of butter and weighs about the same.

If you are in a more stationary location, the shotgun can be used for everything from bear / deer on down to doves. The “pump” shotgun lets you feed in ammo at any time, so you can put a slug in if you want without unloading the whole thing. I like the 20 gauge better than the 12 gauge due to lighter weight of ammo and less kick, but the 12 gauge is the “standard”. Get one with both a “deer slug rifled barrel” and a smooth barrel with changeable chokes for the “ultimate shotgun” kit. Shot, sent down the short rifled barrel will spread out rather rapidly… good for a “blunderbuss” effect. Anything less than a 20 gauge it starts to be hard to hit things with the small shot load. If you think a .410 will do it, go skeet shooting with one… Remington and Winchester are widely available and good. So are many others, but sold in lower volumes.

But, IMHO, there are much better choices for defense than the firearm. Even a bow and arrow. Quiet. Not so attention getting. You can put it in your car and especially if you practice at a nearby range some times have all the “cover” needed to carry it around (unstrung. 20 seconds to restring). The “ammo” is reusable. It is easier to carry in a hallway (being vertical). You can chose the power of the release. There is NO over penetration problem. It and it’s ammo, are relatively cheap. So what else fits this description?

If you do need indoor defense:

All weapons have a range. Rifles are a lousy indoor choice (get a 4 foot long stick and try to navagate a hallway while pointing it forward). You want something short. That is what handguns and the “short sword” are good at.

Throughout history, the short stabbing weapon has been re-created and found to win. Zulu dominated when they took their long hunting spear and shortened it to a stabbing spear. Rome dominated with the Gladius. Japan had the Samuri with the katana long sword and the shorter wakizashi. It is the wakizashi that rests near me.

As an interesting side note, at least in California, the Machete (another sort of “short sword like” object) has been held in case law to be a “lawn or gardening implement”. So you can have one in your car, but a sword will be confiscated. So I have a machete (with lots of green stains on it) with holster that can be tossed in the trunk of the car along with a small shovel should I see the need. (And an explanation about either going to go camping Real Soon Now or preparing for Fire Season depending…)

One final note: Throughout most of the medieval period, the favored weapon was not the long sword. It was the “battle hammer”. A roughly 2 pound hammer of about 2 foot to 2.5 foot long handle. It is far less of an attention getter to have a “tool belt” on with a long handled hammer in it than to be packing a six gun. Especially if there is any broken structure around or you are knocking down a fence for cooking fuel (or rebuilding one from wind damage). And if anyone is a threat in “handgun range” of about 5 feet out to 50 feet, you are better served by just running away. If they get inside 5 feet, well, that’s “battle hammer” range. They were used to open knights armor… think about it…


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to Crisis Kits and Preparedness Packs

  1. Jeff Alberts says:

    Interesting that you don’t include crank-operated equipment, such as flashlights and radios. I would think anything electrical that doesn’t need batteries is a good thing.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    I leave the power source ill defined for radios. Frankly, it is almost impossible to not be near a car radio for most folks. If you want a hand crank, go ahead.

    For flashlights, the hand crank ones have largely been underpowered and overly fragile. Newer ones have LEDs and the brightness is better. My major issue is just durability. Nothing comes close to a Maglight.

    Waterproof. Metal case. Heck, police use them as a club. I’ve seen folks drive over them and they kept working. I’ve dropped my AAA one (lives in a holster on the belt) so many times I couldn’t guess and into all kinds of equipment, puddles, buckets. Spare bulb in the base. Hard to match. Oh, and its rated for use in flammable atmospheres, being sealed.

    With the LED bulb (way too expensive…but I love it!) the C or D cell lights have hundreds of usable hours. Running down just isn’t an issue. Put the bulb in a light with “run down” dim batteries and it was bright again. That was months ago. Someday I ought to put new batteries in. I guess.

    With all that said, I do covet the shaker light. The one with a little magnet inside that oscillates past a coil. Make one of those that you can drive over and go swimming with and will sit on the shelf for 5 years and work first time in a room full of gasoline fumes; I’d love to have it.

    I guess it’s just that having bought just about every flashlight I’ve ever seen and owning upwards of 2 or 3 dozen I keep on depending on my Maglights and alkaline batteries.

    Had a set of batteries leak into one D cell maglight. Didn’t notice for a couple of years. What a mess. Had to pull one out with pliers. The other worked out after a chunk of thumping… Then I washed it out with hot running water and a bit of soap, wash cloth on a stick. Paint inside was missing on part of the tube. Let it sit for a while to dry. Still use it some 5 or 8 years later… THATS what I want when I’m up to my waist in water and need to make something go.

    I have a crank operated LED light. Bright enough. Works OK. A web search said, basically, “don’t crank them too much. The little battery inside fries and then you need to always crank to get any light out” The battery does not look to be replaceable. The whole thing is made of plastic and one small whack it will be plastic chips. It is not water proof and I wouldn’t think of cranking it in a flammable atmosphere! Wouldn’t mind leaving one in the glove box for 10 years, though. Not much worry of the Li wafer battery leaking.

    I do have some rechargeable batteries, a charger, and a micro sized 200w inverter that plugs into the cigar lighter, that is my emergency battery kit. As long as I have a car near or a generator, I’ll have batteries. Any emergency longer than a week and you ought to be adapted to sleeping when it’s dark anyway.

    If it’s the end of the world as we know it Road Warrior time, well, a working flashlight is the least of your worries after the first couple of months…

  3. Lorrie says:

    I like the way you divided everything into categories. It makes it easier to figure out what you need and why. Thanks.

  4. Jeff Alberts says:

    If it’s the end of the world as we know it Road Warrior time, well, a working flashlight is the least of your worries after the first couple of months…

    Lol I guess so. But they’d be useful for wowing the ferals…

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, a bit of excessive compulsive ordering behaviour ;-)
    Comes with being borderline aspergers (but high function!)

    The lists are a bit more than you really need, and sometimes there are a couple of choices, but the whole idea was to let someone look at it and say “Lighting – Flashlight and candle lamp? I think all I need is the candles…” It also lets you look at a choice I made and think “I need the category, but like this other choice better”. So a person who never is ‘on the road’ can skip the car tool kit and if you are in an emergency at home, odds are you already have plenty of cookware.

    My choices mostly reflect a mobil lifestyle. I was “on the road” for a living a lot. The lists could be pruned a fair amount for a non-mobile circumstance. Normally the “Advanced” kit stuff is kicking around the home anyway. The “Auxiliary” was intended to live in the trunk of my car, wherever I was. And the “Basic” is what I would take on the road with me if not in my car. What I wanted to have available at a minimum if the quake hit when I was at work sans car and needed to spend the night in the parking lot, then walk home 20 miles over rubble…

    For a couple of years this was my “I’m stuck here and need to think about something or I’ll go crazy” muse. Checkout lines. Slow plays. etc. The odds are that what is needed is in the list. The odds are also that more than is needed is in the list too…

    If it helps someone, I’m happy.

  6. H.R. says:

    Did I miss it? I didn’t see water purification tablets on the lists. I’ll go look again.

  7. H.R. says:

    Yup. I missed it (#@!&! tri-focals!). They’re in the fanny pack.

    I’m not familiar with the purifying pumps. I wonder how well they hold up over the long haul?

    Do C4 explosives have any place on the big list? Heck! Even if they’re just for entertainment?

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    The durability of the water filtration pumps depends entirely on how much money you spend. You can get anything from a disposable $25 plastic job that, once the filter is full, you toss out; all the way up to a permanent silver impregnated ceramic unit that lasts darned near forever. (Silver kills a lot of bacteria and viruses for reasons that are not clear…). I have one of the “disposable” units in the car kit and the “cleanable reusable” ceramic job in the whole family home kit. The idea being that once home, we’re in for the long haul. With the car, we’re just trying to survive while getting home…

    C4? No idea where to get it or really what you would use it for. I know how to make field expedient explosives if I need to clear a stump or rubble, but realistically, you just hunker down and wait for civilization to restore itself.

    A general good rule is that in survival situations you do not want to be attracting attention and you do not want to be antagonizing whatever governmental authority is desperately trying to restore order. IMHO, C4 would do both of those…

    My experience during the Loma Prieta quake in California was that folks all just pitched in to help each other. Very gratifying. So I don’t see much need for the “end of life as we know it Mad Max” preparations. Better would be to have enough extra stored beans, rice, water, and propane to set up a neighborhood Chili and Rice station…

    If you live on a farm out in Hell and Gone and have something you expect to fall down that might need demolition afterwards, well, explosives might have some merit. (A few farmers I knew as a kid, back when anyone could buy dynamite, regularly used the stuff for clearing stumps, beaver dams, dropping dodgy old grain silos looking to fall. So it is a usable material, but more for construction than for survival).

  9. Lett says:

    Thank you for the list, it’s life saver.

    REPLY: [ You are most welcome. Glad I could help. -E.M.Smith ]

  10. ruhroh says:

    Batteries; I think that the new jelly-roll lithium AA and AAA batteries do not have caustic electrolyte.
    So, for those rarely-used battery-powered devices, they are a way to avoid wrecking an important/valuable by corrosion.
    The rechargeable batteries have ‘up-sizing’ sleeves to get to C and D size cells. The lithiums can handle the high current, so no problem there. Go ahead, what is the tradeoff between battery cost and ruined gear?
    Heck, maybe they are fungible as ~wampum.

    Anyway, the other thing I wanted to say, was that my wife gave me ‘Look Me In The Eye”, a book about some guy’s life as undiagnosed spergie. I’d be reading along, un-huh, un-huh, interesting, blah, blah, and then he would describe something that hit strong resonance with my life experience, like saying something that absolutely flabbergasts the person(s) with whom I was speaking, for which there was no recovery.
    Maybe you know this one…

    Regarding the flurry of temblors, is the earth somehow at a relatively unusual distance to the sun? Ever since they saw those volcanic events on Io due to Jovian ‘tidal heating’, I’ve wondered about the effect on Earth.
    The question is not ‘if’ but ‘how much’?

    Whoops, that last part should be in the earthquake thread…

  11. Jason Calley says:

    Speaking of lighting…

    You may want to consider acquiring at least one headlamp, a light with a strap to go around a head, a cap or a helmet. Unless you have used a headlamp while camping, caving or just trying to fix a car in the dark, you have no idea how useful it is to NOT have to hold a flashlight in one hand. Good cavers will tell you that Petzel makes some of the best for the money. Even their low end models put out a nice light.
    By the way, most cavers do own a few Maglights, and often have one or two MiniMags tie wrapped to their helmet for emergency usage.

    More caver info. Obviously, for someone negotiating a narrow ledge above an underground stream, reliable power is important. What batteries do cavers use? As far as off-the-shelf, easily available throw-aways go, Duracell Alkaline wins hands down. If you check ten cavers to see what batteries they use, chances are that all ten will be Duracells. You MIGHT find one guy with Eveready. Maybe. Chances are, he will be the new guy.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    Not read the book, sounds like a good one.

    I’m not too hung up on OT vs ot ;-) so, well, yeah, quakes are happening and it’s not going to be different physics for each planet… I don’t think we’re at any particularly odd distance from the sun or orbital position. Once a year we make a loop. Every 19 years the moon completes a wander back and forth.

    Per lithiums… I bought a pack of Large Lable LITHIUM RECHARGABLE only to find in small type something to the effect of ‘lithium like power levels’… Rayovac. Now I’m a bit ‘gun shy’ of paying up for the work LITHIUM without some clear way to know it REALLY REALLY IS lithium…

    Ah, here it is. Says: “Lasts up to 4 X Longer” and “ready to use like LITHIUM reusable like RECHARGABLE” But then, on the batteries themselves, but NOT on the packaging anywhere that I could find, it says “rechargeable alkaline”…

    Yes, RAYOVAC is now on my AVOID list. Fraudulent packaging does not make a company my friend…

    @Jason Calley:

    I’ve had a couple of Duracell batteries leak over the years, but not very many (and only after very out of spec storage conditions and times). I’ve got some that are a decade old in some devices and they are still making power. I like ’em.

    Had a batch of Panasonic that substantially all leaked. Hope they fixed whatever was wrong, but someone else can find out. Rayovac, as noted above, is now on my “avoid” list. In addition to the packaging issue, I’d bought some of their recharagable alkaline batteries when they first came out. Many died after just a few recharges, a high percentage eventually leaked (10% ?)

    I am quite good at holding the mini-mag in the mouth (and it’s water proof ;-), so don’t need a ‘headlight’, but would not mind one in the storage box. The mini-mag lives in a belt holster, and that’s more convenient for the ‘always with you’ light. IMHO, best is problably one of them on the hip and a headlight in the bag / box. If you don’t live with the small light ‘on you’ then a headlight in the glove box or bag makes a lot of sense.

  13. Jason Calley says:

    E.M. says: “IMHO, best is problably one of them on the hip and a headlight in the bag / box. If you don’t live with the small light ‘on you’ then a headlight in the glove box or bag makes a lot of sense.”

    Yes, very reasonable. In fact I do keep one in my glove box. By the way, if you do get a headlamp, one minor but appreciated social skill is worth mentioning. Years of aculturation make us look at the face of people with whom we are speaking. Don’t. Everytime you look at someone’s face you are shining a light straight into their eyes. It is a surprisingly hard habit to break.

  14. Jeff Alberts says:

    The quake thread has brought this back to the fore. I need to actually do this.

    Some stuff that I know I have:

    – Coleman propane 2-burner campstove
    – several full propane bottles (camp size)
    – 4 person tent
    – 9×12 (I think) heavy duty tarp
    – 2 7-gallon water jugs
    – 6 1-gallon sealed water jugs
    – Camping cookware
    – 2 inflatable mattresses
    – 2 sleeping bags (nothing special)
    – 10’x10′ folding pavilion

    Most of the above is stored in the pole barn about 150′ away from the house. Not terribly portable without a vehicle. But I guess the idea is we’d stay on the property if at all possible. The pole barn can act as shelter as well, if the house is too damaged (though that would likely mean the pole barn would be too, don’t know).

    I DO need to make an emergency kit for each car, and one to grab if the house has to be evacuated in a hurry.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks to me like you need to add some lighting, food, and maybe some cold weather / rain / mud gear…

    FWIW, storage in a cheap plastic garbage can has worked well for me, even with the gutter broke and one of them was under a steady 2 inch stream of water for who knows how long…

    Then again, I’m, in a low humidity area where the normal cold / warm cycle (that condenses moisture on the “average of cold” stuff in the can) evaporates the moisture during the day. Damp areas collect the moisture more… (I’ve had an ice chest with slightly loose lid collect 4 inches of water in the bottom over a couple of years of ‘sitting’ in a ‘dry spot’ from the condensation cycle…)

    I’d also add one of the “minimal emergency lighting” kits somewhere.

    and a couple of generic “digging out” tools to get to everything else in what’s left of the house. Shovel, pry bar, sven saw, hammer.

    And put a first aid kit in the pole shed. It’s likely to be “home” for a while even if the house is standing-but-wobbly in the aftershocks.

    FWIW, a big car parked outside make s GREAT temporary home. Water proof, built in radio and heat / light. Comfy chair… So many folks could simply park a car out of the garage during “watch times” and have such a big jump on things… (One of my cars has a ‘medium kit’ in the trunk at all times…)

    At any rate, you WILL eat the food, drink the water, and use the fuel and tools, quake or no quake, so it’s not ‘wasted money’ in any case…

  16. Jeff Alberts says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions!

    The garage is only a workshop at this point, so both the car and the truck are always parked outside. The only danger for them might be a falling tree.

  17. Whoa… lotta stuff for a little hip pack or fanny pack! Thus, minimalist! Great work…I sell some “mini” survival packs that i’m sure would be helpful, if not at least give you a few ideas.

  18. Matt Clark says:

    I think in the Advanced survival pack you’d have to have some sort of chainsaw or large hand saw? Imagine the world was completely gutted of human life form and you had to start again? You need a saw to a) clear land and b) cut down trees for fire wood.

    “To go forward we must look to our past….”, no idea who said it, but very true I thought.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Matt Clark:

    I’ve got a chain saw in the garage and a ‘sven saw’ used for pruning and such. Yeah, a storm blew down a tree 2 houses down and we needed them to clear the path to the door…

    @Jeff Alberts:

    Yup. Just put a ‘pack’ in the car and you’re ready…


    I lived on a boat for a while. You get good at packing a lot of stuff in a small space ;-)

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