What Should I Do?

Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Checklist

Thinking through the essentials for times of need
Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 6:38 PM

For most people, planning for emergencies is similar to planning for a camping trip or any other outdoor adventure where the normal conveniences of home are not available. The biggest difference is determining whether to plan for being away from home or staying in your own residence – or perhaps both. The equipment to include in your emergency kit or camping supplies list will be very comparable. Differences and variations will generally depend upon the severity and length of time you anticipate for your emergency scenario. Long-term emergencies and outdoor explorations will require, in addition to this list, more extensive planning and provisioning. Your skill level and knowledge set for survival techniques and resourcefulness will also play a big role in determining your needs. 

Important questions to answer as you do your planning:

  • Are the equipment and supplies necessary to fulfill your needs going to be based on how cheap they are, or on the quality, value, and reliability of the product?  What is your budget for purchases in this category?
  • What are the repercussions or benefits from the choices that are made? 
  • Who is affected? 
  • What chances are you willing to take with inferior and inadequate provisions? 
  • What will the climate be during the emergency or adventure? 
  • What is the probable availability of essential goods and services where you are going for your adventure or during your anticipated emergency?

Although this list is an authoritative and comprehensive compilation of crucial supplies for emergency preparedness and outdoor adventure, these suggestions focus on basic necessities and are not intended to be an exhaustive and detailed list of all choices, as each person or group has their own special requirements and needs. While there are numerous options to choose from in each category, use this guideline of essentials to ensure you have evaluated all the possibilities given the scenarios and circumstances for which you are preparing and provisioning, whether for preparedness planning or outdoor adventuring.  Your life may depend upon it!

Be clear about the time factors, persons involved, and situations that you anticipate will occur in an emergency or an outdoor experience. Knowing this information is crucial to stocking the appropriate items in the appropriate quantities. Many of these items will be essential for bartering if supplies are exhausted and the emergency you are preparing for is long term.

Proper provisioning is about safety, health, protection, comfort, and peace of mind – for not only yourself but also your family and friends.

Items with an asterisk * are recommended for a “ready-to-go bag” or “bug-out bag.”  This is an easily accessible bag you keep nearby to grab when you only have a moment's notice to evacuate.  Items with a double asterisk ** indicate items for your bag where the quantity will depend on the length of your anticipated emergency scenario.  You may require more than one quick-grab-bag depending on your specific needs.

The List

1. Carrier for Provisions

If you anticipate having to relocate, have your transportable supplies in one or two easily accessible carriers, especially if you must leave in a hurry.

__ Backpack
__ *Large duffel/canvas bag with dual shoulder straps in case it has to be carried for some distance
__ Lightweight suitcase
__ Wheeled device

2. Water

An obvious necessity for everyone. Know what water sources are available to you during an emergency or in the outdoors. Plan accordingly and don’t hold back preparing for this essential category.  Don’t go cheap!

__ *Gravity/hand pump water purifier/filter/extra cartridges
__ *Bottle purifier/filter
__ *Purification tablets – Chlorine Dioxide/iodine
__ *Separate containers for dirty and treated water
__ Multiple containers depending upon situation
__ Specially packaged water (5+ years storage life)
__ **Bottled water (2 years storage life) – can be filtered or treated if older
__ Solar or stovetop distillers
__ Desalinators for salt water
__ Reverse osmosis purifiers
__ UV purifiers
__ Additives – colloidal silver/bio-active silver hydrosol/stabilized oxygen
__ Chlorine (5.25% sodium hypochlorite, non-scented only with no additives – 6 drops per gallon)
__ Manual pump if near a well
__ Water gathering supplies – plastic tarps/containers/instructions

3. Food

Numerous options are available. This category must be accessed carefully depending upon the length of time of the emergency or outing and severity of circumstances you anticipate might occur.  Remember, certain foods will require more water and fuel to prepare – is this appropriate to your anticipated situation?

__ **Bars/trail mix
__ Other eat-as-is simple and compact foods
__ **Freeze-dried/dehydrated
__ Canned
__ **Retort wet-pack pouches/trays/self-heating meals
__ **MRE’s (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) These military designed rations were developed for troops to be eaten for no longer than one month – they are not appropriate for exclusive long-term consumption.
__ Boxed
__ Non-perishable basics
__ Powdered milk
__ Wild foods/foraging – get a good illustrated guide
__ Bulk
__ Commodities – Rice (brown rice has a short shelf life), grains, beans (smaller grains and beans cook quicker with less water), honey
__ **Ready-to-eat comfort and nutritional foods
__ Garden seeds if appropriate – longer-term scenarios

You will find many who promote storing garden seeds.  You must research the shelf life and germination viability of the different varieties you are storing – many variations exist.  Garden seeds alone are inadequate without tools, gardening knowledge, the ability to remain in place, and of course, water.  In a long-term emergency situation where survival depends on growing your own food, significant planning is vital.

__ Supplements – vitamins/minerals/powdered green drinks
__ **Concentrated energy powders/bars/tablets
__ Condiments/seasoning blends
__ Gravy – dry mix or canned (can be added to bland foods for flavor)
__ Cooking oil (olive oil in a steel container – if you can find it – has a decent shelf life – avoid hydrogenated oils with trans-fats)
__ **Special needs foods – Those with food intolerance’s/nursing mothers/children/medical conditions
__ Baby foods

4. Food preparation

If you must relocate and plan on cooking or heating water, consider lighter weight and efficient equipment.

__ **Stove – camping/alternative/very portable
__ **Pots and pans – stainless steel/cast iron/non-stick
__ **Utensils
__ Pressure cooker
__ **Cookware kit
__ Grills
__ **Fuel – propane canisters/butane canisters/white gas/alcohol/solid fuel cubes/charcoal/wood/kerosene/lighter fluid
__ *Water/food bottle
__ *Hand operated can opener/opener on knife or multi-tool/P38 (for all us military folks)
__ 5 or 6 gallon plastic buckets
__ Cleaning supplies
__ Chlorine bleach – non-scented
__ *Plastic bags/containers
__ Thermos for “prepare in container” whole and cracked cereals. Add about a 1:1 ratio of boiling water and cereal – close container – let sit a few hours or overnight.
__ Knife sharpener
__ “Package-your-own” equipment and supplies
__ Solar oven and cookware
__ Manual grain mills/grinders/juicers/mixers/beaters
__ Sprouting equipment – portable and/or stationary/sprouting jars
__ Canning equipment if appropriate
__ Twist-ties
__ Corkscrew
__ Paper plates/bowls/cups/towels
__ Aluminum foil

5. Fire Starter – Matches

Be prepared for any situation and the possible need to start a fire, especially if weather conditions are severe.

__ *Flint/magnesium starters
__ **Waterproof tinder/very fine steel wool
__ **Windproof high quality lighters
__ **Matches in a waterproof container

6. Medical

When your health and survival during a medical emergency is at stake, you don’t want to rely on cheap or inadequate medical supplies. This is an important category to thoughtfully evaluate. Don’t forget medications or products needed for those with special medical conditions.  Professional level supplies can be essential.  Know how to use them.

__ *Quality kit with adequate components for a multitude of emergencies
__ *Accessories – dental emergencies/suture kit/snake-bite kit
__ Syrup of ipecac (to induce vomiting if poisoned)
__ *Essential prescription medications/allergy medications
__ *First Aid manual
__ *Insect repellent
__ *Sunscreen
__ *Eyeglasses/contacts
__ *Copies of prescriptions
__ *Moleskin/blister pads
__ *Aspirin/Tylenol/ibuprofen/other over-the-counter drugs for minor issues
__ Homeopathic remedies
__ Herbal kits
__ Dust masks/gas masks
__ Potassium Iodate (Iodate is recommended over Iodide)
__ Isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol
__ Anti-itch salve

7. Personal Hygiene – Sanitary Supplies

Depending on individual circumstances and your location, it is vital to prevent any problems that might arise from unsanitary conditions. Take precautions to ensure a disease-free environment. The length of an emergency and living/camping conditions require different approaches to personal hygiene.

__ **Personal hygiene items – soap/toothbrush/toothpaste/shampoo
__ **Feminine hygiene
__ **Treated towelettes/waterless wipes
__ **Sanitary toilet provisions – portable toilet/powered chlorinates or lime/disposable urinals – solid waste bags
__ *Plastic bags
__ Latex gloves
__ **Toilet Paper
__ Towels
__ Solar shower
__ *Anti-bacterial sanitizer
__ All purpose soap
__ *Anti-bacterial sanitizer
__ Kleenex
__ Nail clippers
__ Lime/disinfectant

8. Clothing

For warmth, comfort, and protection from insects and the elements.

__ *Proper and adequate clothing for the appropriate season and location
__ *Appropriate shoes/industrial quality boots/snow shoes
__ *Rain gear
__ *Cold weather gear – layered clothing/thermal underwear
__ *Hat/gloves/bandana
__ Extra stuff sacks
__ Insect head net
__ Belts – regular/military type with small pouches

9. Shelter – Warmth

For protection from insects and the elements, warmth, sleeping, comfort, privacy.

__ *Tarps
__ Plastic sheeting/large plastic trash bags
__ *Tent – *tube/*lightweight/regular
__ Nylon patch repair kit/seam sealer
__ *Sleeping bag – *emergency/*lightweight/*bivy bag (small individual size tent/bag)/compact lightweight/regular down bag
__ Hand/body warmers
__ Sleeping pad/cot/air mattress
__ Hammock
__ *Emergency/regular blankets
__ Sheets
__ Insect netting
__ Extra stakes/rope/bungee cords

10. Communication

It is essential to be kept informed during an emergency with friends, family, and appropriate governmental agencies and emergency organizations. When in an outdoor environment, unsettled weather considerations necessitate weather alert radios. Avoid a sense of isolation during serious emergencies.

__ *Radios – hand cranked/solar/batteries
__ Two-way radios
__ Short wave/CB (citizens band)/GMRS (general mobile radio service)/FRS (family radio service) radios
__ Ham radio for radio amateurs – need license
__ Radios with NOAA (government agency) weather channels (7) and weather alerts if necessary in your area
__ *Cell phones/smart phones/chargers
__ Satellite phones
__ *Whistle
__ Signaling devices/flares/mirror
__ *Notebook/pen/markers
__ PLB (personal locator beacon)
__ Small TV – battery/solar operated
__ Telephone not requiring external power
__ Morse code chart

11. Lighting

This is an essential category to address when anticipating any situation where you may be in darkness. Not only for a sense of security and comfort, but to be able to see clearly and act accordingly if emergencies happen in the dark.

__ *Flashlight – hand cranked/solar/batteries/LED and regular bulbs
__ *Lantern (*small or large size) – hand cranked/solar/batteries/propane/mantel/ candle/LED and regular bulbs
__ Oil lamps – kerosene/clear lamp oil/wicks
__ Strobe light
__ Head lamp
__ **Extra batteries/power source
__ **Candles
__ Extra mantels/extra propane canisters
__ Light sticks

12. Tools – Instruments – Accessories

Numerous unforeseen situations or just routine conditions occur during an emergency or during an outdoor adventure. Be prepared and secure with the proper quality tool.

__ *Knife/knives
__ *Multi-tool
__ Repair tools – hammer/screwdrivers/pliers/wire cutters/nails/screws/nuts & bolts/crowbar/spikes/pulley
__ *Axe (*small or large)/saw (*hand controlled chain or special outdoor)/hacksaw/wood splitting/wedges
__ *Rope/wire/bungee cords/straps
__ *JB Weld/super adhesive/superglue/epoxy
__ Lubricating oil/WD-40
__ Chain
__ Padlocks
__ *Work gloves
__ Shovel
__ Garden tools if appropriate
__ Fishing/hunting/trapping gear/Ronco Pocket Fisherman/snare wire
__ *Duct tape/Hurricane tape/nylon repair tape/patches
__ *Plastic bags/trash bags/plastic sheeting
__ *Aluminum foil
__ *Sewing and repair supplies
__ Velcro
__ Safety goggles
__ Weather condition instruments
__ Watch – regular/multi-featured
__ Binoculars
__ Stuff bags for organizing
__ Scissors
__ Small broom/rake
__ Buckets
__ Files
__ Clothes pins
__ Dust/gas masks
__ *Siphoning tube/hose
__ Hand pump
__ *Auto/bicycle/boat emergency items (keep in vehicle)
__ Can of red spray paint to indicate emergency information
__ Shut-off tool for gas/water supply
__ Tool for braking auto glass and cutting belts/webbing
__ Radiation detector

13. Emergency Instructions – Guidance – Support – Back up – Personal Documents

Important and accurate information can not only be helpful it can be life saving. Researching reliable and trustworthy information sources is a vital component to preparedness and outdoor survival planning. Establishing family communication and reunion plans is also essential for security and peace of mind.  Certain documents should always be available.

__ Books/*Bible/Novels
__ Morale builders – personal items that help children and adults cope in stressful situations
__ *Medical information
__ *Emergency/survival information
__ *Maps
__ *Pen/magic marker/paper
__ *Compass
__ Edible wild foods publications/field guides
__ *Essential personal documents – photo ID/will/insurance/stocks/bonds/birth certificates/DD214/bank account & credit card numbers/family records/personal property inventory for insurance/deeds/pink slips/passports/ Social Security cards/check books/credit and debit cards/irreplaceable photographs and certificates – IN WATERPROOF CONTAINER
__ *Phone numbers and addresses of friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
__ *Spare keys
__ *Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
__ Duel language dictionary if appropriate
__ Back-up computer discs/flash drives
__ Laptop/iPad/tablets/PDA’s
__ Entertainment – music/instruments/cards/games

14. Power – Energy

A reliable power supply can be crucial in an emergency or for various outdoor recreational activities. Many valuable communication, radio, entertainment and lighting devices require power. Currently there are a number of dependable portable solar (large and small), storage, and handoperated units available to power your electronic devices.

__ *For power – a small portable solar charger for electronics and rechargeable batteries
__ For lighting
__ For radios
__ For electronic devices
__ For communication
__ *Hand cranked radios and lanterns with USB power cords
__ Solar/storage/hand cranked power devices – fuel free portable power
__ Solar panels
__ Generator – gas/propane
__ Appropriate linking cables
__ *Batteries of all sizes – alkaline/rechargeable
__ *Battery charger – wall/car/solar
__ Deep cycle battery
__ Inverter

15. Cash

It is impossible to know for certain what circumstances might exist during a serious emergency and for what duration normal financial activities will be disrupted. Access to electronic funds or use of credit cards may not be possible. Cash or barter may be the only means of paying for goods or services.

__ *Cash in smaller denomination bills
__ Gold/silver coins
__ Smaller items for barter

16. Personal Security

Each individual must decide the extent to which they will provide protection for themselves and their families from physical harm by others or wild animals.  Don’t forget fire safety.

__ Weapons/ammunition/gun cleaning supplies/bow-hunting supplies – If you have firearms, make sure all those who might use them are properly trained
__ Tazer
__ Mace
__ Pepper Spray
__ Bear repellant
__ Sling shot
__ Clubs/bats
__ Large dog
__ Fire extinguisher

17. Special Needs

This category must not be overlooked if you, other family members, or friends have specials needs and require individual attention.

__ **Personal items specifically required by special-needs individuals
__ **Medical items and prescriptions – consider having an adequate supply on hand in the event of a unforeseen and prolonged emergency – don’t let doctors or pharmacists restrict an adequate supply of vital and life-sustaining medications for long-duration emergencies when supplies will be unavailable!
__ **Special foods or other items for children/elderly/disabled/nursing mothers
__ *Children’s items for comfort and a sense of security – blankets/dolls/toys/diapers/pacifiers
__ **Pet needs

18. Transportation Support

An often overlooked category, specific transportation support must be assessed especially for longer duration emergencies or for outdoor activities where the transportation devices are critical. Evaluate these options, determine which ones you will utilize, determine what you will need to ensure safety, comfort, repair potential, and adequacy to handle the transportation of your provisions.

__ Motor vehicle – car/truck/van/RV/motorcycle/extra gas/repair and emergency equipment/trailer
__ Boat – motorized/sail/canoe/kayak/paddle/inflatable/folding
__ Scooter
__ Bicycle – regular/folding – repair parts/tire pump – special towing cart
__ Horse – cart
__ By foot
__ Wagon/garden cart – for manual needs

Use this comprehensive list as a guide to assess and organize what you already have.  Then make a plan to prioritize and purchase or acquire what you need to fill the gaps.  Finally, don't forget to discuss this topic with family, neighbors, and friends to ensure that the people around you are as self-reliant as possible.

~ Denis Korn

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