First Aid Kit

I have been involved with the preparedness movement for a long time. I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War during Reagan era. My dad was, and is, a big influence. He always had American Survivalist and Soldier of Fortune magazines around the house. He started getting big into the movement during the Carter administration, when many were convinced the nation would collapse under its own weight (similar to what we are seeing today). The Eighties were really the height of the Cold War tension. I know folks like to point to the Duck and Cover era of the 1960’s and the Cuban Missile Crisis; but by the Eighties, we had become inured to it. There was the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the SDI Initiative, and Chernobyl. It was frightening to anyone paying attention. Somehow, we got through it.

Recognizing the warning signs, I chose to study nursing. Reading preparedness magazines, online articles, and books on the subject, I noticed that the two subjects most lacking from most preparedness individual’s and group knowledge pools are communications and medical knowledge and skills. I sought to rectify that by getting an amateur radio license and taking nursing school prerequisite courses. With that step completed, I applied for admission to a baccalaureate-level nursing program. My thought was that no matter what else happened, I would have the bachelor’s degree; and that I could apply for a clinical graduate program after.

The thing about nursing school is that it changes the way a person thinks, the same way that law school or engineering change the way one thinks. The process is slow; but when you’re done you look back and say, “Wow, that’s what I used to think?” It colors my preparedness and adds depth to my planning.

I also took private classes offered by local trainers outside of the college or university level. One local outfitter offered shooting classes taught by members of the 19th Special Forces Group. I came to know and befriend a few of them. Their influence in my preparations continues years later. One class offered by the now-closed FBMG outfitters was a weeklong class on emergency preparedness. It included rudiments of equipment, preparing for different types of disasters, convoy operations, selecting weapons, packing a three-day bag, and radio communications. I based the first aid kit in this article upon their recommendations and experience in Afghanistan, tempered by my own experience and education as a registered nurse. I recommend anyone carrying such a kit (as simple as it is) attend a quality first aid course; and I make no guarantees, expressly or implied, regarding the contents and present the information for educational experiences only.

First Aid Kit

Here are the contents of my patrol bag (“bug-out bag”, “get-out-of-Dodge bag”, etc.) first aid kit. I built this kit because many so-called “first aid kits” are little more than glorified boxes of Band-Aids, with little in the way of treating the kinds of injuries or ailments one might see seventy-two hours into an emergency situation. I did quite a bit of research, and put together what I consider the bare minimum for a patrol bag first aid kit. When you put together your own kit, consider the types of injuries you expect to treat. Are you preparing for evacuating from a hurricane? Are you hunkering down for a blizzard or ice storm? You have likely only built your kit to last about three days, the same as your bug-out bag. What happens on the seventy-third hour? You had better be where you were going and resupplied, or be limber enough to kiss your own ass goodbye. That’s the way it is in the survival game. The situation is unforgiving; and while willingness is a state of mind readiness is a matter of fact. There are no “do-overs” in a worst-case scenario. This is not a comic book or a video game. If you die you don’t “re-spawn” at the last checkpoint. There are the usual caveats: first, this is only my patrol bag kit. I have a much more extensive kit that at home, and in the car when I travel. Second, this kit is not to be confused with the blowout kit that I carry in a MOLLE pouch on my chest rig (Look for revisions to the blowout kit entry soon). That kit is for me if someone shoots me. It is not for anyone else.

The first aid kit, by contrast, is for treating me or other people. I do not mean it to be a catchall end of the world kit. It’s only to make life easier (or prolong it) until we can get a doc to take over. It’s still mostly a “boo boo kit” or “snivel kit” and not really appropriate for dealing with trauma or serious illness. It’s just to keep one comfortable when moving to a more suitable destination, whether rally point, bug-out location, or retreat. Finally, yes, all of these things do fit in the box, snugly, yes, but without bending or lifting the lid.

First is the box. I found it stuffed with mostly Band-Aids and other near-useless crap and sold as a first aid kit. It’s a sturdy box, with a gasket seal, and says it’s made in the States (always a plus, in my book). I don’t know how waterproof it really is, and I am not that anxious to find out. I’ve seen these advertised online, with the same contents that mine came with, for about twenty Federal Reserve Notes. I found mine for twelve at a gun show. I stripped out the contents, chucked most of it, and kept the box. I really like it. I have picked up a few more; and I will gladly take more if I can find them at that price to make duplicate kits. You don’t have to use a box like this, although I do recommend one with a gasket lid. Any appropriately sized pencil box will likely be sufficient. If the waterproof box seems like overkill it is because I think soggy, ruined first aid kits are no fun.

FAK open
Here are the kit’s contents:

1.) One pair of EMT shears.

2.) Twelve generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine) capsules

3.) Two 4 in. x 41/2 in. Tegaderm occlusive dressings

4.) One bottle Visine (Tetrahydrozoline Ophthalmic) with allergy relief

5.) Twelve Tylenol Cold tablets

6.) One bottle of ibuprofen

7.) Twelve generic bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) tablets

Small Items

8.) Twelve loperamide tablets (Diamode, Diar-Aid, Imodium, Imotil, K-Pek II, Kaopectate II, Imodium A-D, Maalox Anti-Diarrheal, etc.)

9.) Five packets (two tablets each) replacement tablets

10.) One pair stainless steel fine-tipped tweezers

11.) Two pair Nitrile gloves

12.) One tube Krazy Glue

13.) One tube Blistex

14.) One Mylar space blanket

15.) One roll athletic tape*

15.) One small bottle of hand sanitizer

16.) Five butterfly bandages

17.) Assorted adhesive bandages

18.) One 1 ounce tube Neosporin (get the smallest tube you can find- a little goes a long way)

19.) One 4.5 in. x 3 yard gauze roll

FAK Items 2

20.) Two eye pads

21.) Four 4 in. x 4 in. dressings

22.) Two hemostatic dressings

23.) One Swedish military surplus pressure dressing (these are the smallest I have found)

24.) One 8-inch piece of Moleskin

25.) One elastic bandage*

* Be aware of any latex allergies you or your party may have before using these. Latex-free options are an alternative.

FAK large items

There you have it, one seventy-two hour first-aid kit, for bug-out bag or patrol pack, and suitable for treating most minor injuries in the field. About the only thing I would change at this point, I think, would be if I could find a roll of duct tape the same size as the athletic tape. I would want a roll, though, and not tape rewrapped around a pencil, cardboard, etc. I think a roll of tape is easier to use with wet, dirty, or shaky hands.

I also have four medical-related preps to my BOB, but outside the already strained kit: a bar of Phisoderm soap, a four ounce bottle of Betadine, a SAM-type splint, and four more pairs of Nitrile gloves in a Ziploc freezer bag. I am much more concerned lately with taking care not only of myself, but others in a disaster situation.

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Shakeout AAR

Well, as expected, the Utah Shakeout was a farce. The department with whom I was to drill, didn’t. They conducted a first aid in-service, not that the in-service was bad, but there was no drill. I checked in with the county’s EOC fifteen minutes after the “quake” (because it was during a break in the training). Dispatch wondered where we were, that is, why I didn’t check in immediately. I told her we were all dead. That concluded my involvement with the drill.

The real highlight of the day was meeting with the observer from the county. She had a long look at my 2-meter mobile rig, saying that she wanted something like that for all of the county campuses. I have no hope that it will ever happen, mostly because it should.

To summarize, after “drilling” with the county for a day, I reiterate: You’re on your own. No one is coming for you. The system can’t take care of itself. No way is it taking care of John Q. Public.

Utah gov announces earthquake preparedness week

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/article_78ba3218-40bb-11df-865e-001cc4c03286.html?mode=comments

The Associated Press Daily Herald | Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 7:58 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has designated April 4-10 as Earthquake Preparedness Week.

A Web site provides tips on what to do in preparation for an earthquake and its aftermath.

The Utah Seismic Safety Commission says about 700 earthquakes, including aftershocks, occur every year in Utah.

Roughly 80 percent of the state’s population would be affected by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on the Salt Lake City segment of the Wasatch Fault.

___

On the Net:

http://bereadyutah.gov

Know that this is just another effort to assuage the masses’ fears from the .gov. At best it will wake some people up to preparedness. At worst, folks that make “72-hour kits” prolong their lives by three miserable days.

The website above, http://bereadyutah.gov, is mostly garbage. Still, it might have some useful ideas.

Get that “72-hour” crap right out of your head. You’ll need a lot more than three days’ worth of food, water, toiletries, medicine, cash, etc. How much is up to you; but it should be enough to land you on your feet, without winding up at the FEMA/Red Cross camp shelter.

More craptasticness from Yahoo

So, Yahoo is saying to get your “disaster kit” in order. More pablum for the masses: “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of you.”

It doesn’t work that way. What did we learn from Katrina? You take care of yourself or you get an invitation to the Murderdome.

Read their tripe here: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/preparing-a-disaster-kit-2467090/

Preparing a Disaster Kit

The recent earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent fears over nuclear radiation have prompted many to turn to the Web for advice on disaster preparedness. Online lookups for “disaster kits” and “how to make a disaster kit” have both more than tripled during the past week.

In short, folks are wondering, what they should have in their kit? Opinions vary depending on what sort of disaster you happen to be preparing for. However, most experts, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross, agree that the following items are essential.

Water

This is the big one. You must have plenty of water. Just how much? FEMA, the disaster preparedness wing of the US Government, insists that you should have at least a three-day supply. A rule of thumb — have one gallon of water per person per day. If you happen to live in a hot climate, you’ll want to increase that amount. “Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed,” the site writes. Also, keep in mind that children, the elderly, nursing mothers, and people who are ill will need more water. Of course, you’ll want to store the water in non-breakable containers and keep an eye on the expiration date. Water doesn’t spoil in the traditional sense, but it can taste bad after a while.

First aid supplies

There’s no telling what you’ll be faced with in the wake of a disaster, but a few basic first aid supplies will certainly come in handy. Again, according to FEMA, you’ll want several bandages of various sizes, gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic, a thermometer, antiseptic, petroleum jelly, sunscreen, safety pins, and more. You’ll also want a good supply of non-prescription medication, including aspirin, anti-diarrhea medicine, antacid, laxative, and some poison control supplies. For a full list, check here.

Food

Like water, you’re going to want a healthy supply of non-perishable food should the unexpected happen. The American Red Cross writes that you should have a three-day supply ready in case you are forced to leave your home. And you should also have a two-week supply in the event that you stay in your home. Of course, the food should be easy to open and prepare.


Clothing and sanitation supplies

This mostly applies to people in cold-weather areas. Should disaster strike, have some warm clothes at the ready. You’ll want to have at least one complete change of clothes for each person. FEMA suggests a coat, sturdy shoes or boots, long pants, gloves, hat, scarf, thermal underwear, and rain gear. You’ll also want to have plenty of blankets, sunglasses, and various sanitation supplies like soap, toilet paper, detergent, and more.

Tools and special items

Just a few things you’ll want to have on you: battery operated radio and batteries, flashlight, cash, nonelectric can opener, pliers, compass, matches, signal flare, paper and pencil, wrench to shut off household gas and water, whistle, and map of the immediate area. Important documents like IDs, birth certificates, credit card information, prescription numbers, and extra eyeglasses are also good ideas. Again, this is just a partial list. For the full list, please visit FEMA.gov.

Just-in-Time Consumerism?

“From the Wall Street Journal

Julia Robinson for The Wall Street Journal

Rebecca Seabern in her destocked pantry. She is using groceries that she already has before buying more. Executives peddling wares from canned goods to cashmere say the shift in consumption habits is prompting them to change how they produce, package, price and deliver their goods.

When the economy sank two years

ago, Rebecca Seabern realized she could shrink her grocery bill just by eating into her crammed kitchen pantry.

“I had eight boxes of lasagna in there and a year’s worth of paper towels,” says Ms. Seabern, a 31-year-old accountant and married mother of two in San Antonio. Today, Ms. Seabern still has her job, but her antipathy to hoarding hasn’t changed. “I’ve stopped purchasing things just to have them on hand,” she says, preferring to make bigger mortgage payments instead.

The Great Depression replaced a spendthrift culture with a generation of frugal savers. The recent recession, too, has left in its wake a deeply changed shopper: the just-in-time consumer.

For over two decades, Americans bought big, bought more and stocked up, confident that bulk shopping, often on credit, provided the best value for their money. But the long recession—with its high unemployment, plummeting home values and depleted savings accounts—altered the way many people think about the future. Manufacturers and retailers report that people are buying less, more frequently, and are determined to keep cash on hand.

“Consumers are saying, ‘I’m going to buy what I need for a specific period of time,’ rather than loading up and buying two or three extra units just because they can get a good price on it,” says Richard Wolford, CEO of Del Monte Foods Co. He calls the phenomenon “need it now.”

Executives peddling wares from canned goods to cashmere say the shift in consumption habits is prompting them to change how they produce, package, price and deliver their goods.

Food and household-product manufacturers, including Del Monte and Kimberly-Clark
Corp., are rolling out smaller package sizes for consumers who would rather buy a week’s worth of toilet paper or dog food than stock up for a month.

Grocers are trying to accommodate smaller but more frequent shopping trips. Supervalu Inc. is changing displays more often. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. is going after a new clientele of families and individuals by selling eggs and margarine in smaller lots.

Apparel makers and retailers such as Elie Tahari and Net-a-Porter.com are changing their production and selling schedules for shoppers who increasingly want to buy their clothes in season rather than ahead of time.

The new buying behavior is expected to be on full display this holiday season, which kicks into high gear the day after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday.”

Shoppers are further behind in holiday shopping compared with previous years, with just 15.7% of their holiday shopping completed as of the week ended Nov. 14, compared with 20.5% completed during the same period last year and 28.3% in 2008,
according to trade group International Council of Shopping Centers.

“There’s going to be a pause before purchase: Consumers will ask themselves, ‘Do I really need this, can I really afford this?'” says Thom Blischok, president of global innovation and strategy for SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm. He expects a U-shaped purchase cycle, with big sales at the start and the end of this holiday season. “If I shop on Black Friday, I’ll get a helluva deal, and if I wait a couple of weeks, I’m going to get another helluva deal.”

So far, the impact of just-in-time buying on the corporate bottom line is mixed. Smaller unit sizes, for example, generally mean higher prices—and therefore higher profit margins for manufacturers.

Still, the phenomenon is so new it hasn’t shown up broadly in
earnings. A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman notes that potentially higher profits on smaller packages can be offset by higher manufacturing costs.

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And companies are still reeling from lower sales volumes that began in 2008 with what some dub “pantry deloading.” Over the past two years, the number of items kept in American pantries has fallen about 20%, according to a recent SymphonyIRI survey. Consumers are also cutting back on the range of goods they stock.The average household had 369 unique items in its medicine cabinets, pantries and cosmetics bags this year, compared with 404 in 2006, the survey found.

Procter & Gamble
Co. has been tracking consumers’ pantries since mid-2008, believing them to be a reliable gauge of how the recession has changed shoppers’ behavior. About one-third of consumers are changing their pantry levels, P&G’s research indicates, with about 75% of those cutting back on
inventory.

P&G expects consumers’ leaner, pickier shopping habits to last. “There’s almost a confidence and pride in the ability to make tailored choices for themselves,” says Joan Lewis, P&G’s global consumer and market knowledge officer.

The new shopping behavior is having a big effect on club stores, the ultimate pantry-filling destinations, which offer low prices but require bulk purchases. Some, including Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ’s, have reported increased shopping-trip frequency and decreased transaction sizes. To adjust, some discounters are rethinking
their businesses.

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BJ’s, based in Natick, Mass., began courting new customers two years ago to expand its membership, including smaller households and empty-nesters. It began shrinking its package sizes, in part to lure shoppers more interested in weekly purchases than monthly stock-ups. Now, the chain of 191 stores
sells cartons of 18 eggs, instead of only five-dozen egg packages. It offers two containers of margarine of nearly two pounds each instead of only five-pound buckets.

The margarine change alone resulted in 46% more members who bought margarine, the company says. BJ’s credits the shift to smaller package sizes with driving an increase in membership fees of 6% in the quarter ended Oct. 30.

“This concept that club stores are only for the stock-up visit—I don’t think that’s true anymore,” says Bruce Graham, BJ’s senior vice president of food.

BJ’s is trying to make its stores more attractive and change promoted items to encourage more frequent visits. For example, it is including more seasonal products into its wall of featured items at the entrance of the store, including pumpkins, fresh flowers and amaryllis bulbs.

The changes at retail are often prompted by manufacturers. This summer, Del Monte began reducing the number of canned fruits and vegetables in multi-packs sold at club stores—and advising other retailers to reduce the number of cans required to qualify for a discount. The company realized consumers were more worried about overall cost, even if it meant a higher cost per can.

“There is a much lower incidence of pantry stock-up shopping trips and a much increased incidence of quick trips,” says Del Monte’s Mr. Wolford. Del Monte won’t comment on whether smaller package sizes have boosted its bottom line. Analysts say profit margins could rise slightly over time. But the bigger advantage may be capturing a sale from an otherwise-wary consumer.

With the smaller package size, “you don’t lose sales and you stem the profit erosion,” says Bill Chappell, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “But you don’t necessarily recoup” the lost sales and profits.

Just-in-time consumption is also disrupting long-established purchase cycles, including the annual back-to-school shopping ritual. Normally, demand for school supplies begins in early July and runs through mid-August. But this year, the prime season shifted to late July through September, says Mark Ketchum, chief executive of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. He says the company’s Paper Mate and Uni-ball pens and Sharpie markers sold well, albeit three to four weeks later than normal.

Delayed purchases affected the entire pen market. “The total market waited until later in the year and seemed to shift behind a shopper desire not to make a mistake,” Mr. Ketchum says. He adds that the premium-pen category, thanks to new-product introductions, grew in sales at the expense of the low-end market.

As a result of delayed buying, Newell overhauled its manufacturing process and simplified its product portfolio. This will enable it to better handle last-minute surges in demand for popular Christmas gifts like its Irwin pliers and Calphalon cookware. “It’s better for our inventory situation and our manufacturing to be able to produce and ship in a more even pattern, rather than all at once,” Mr. Ketchum says.

Shoppers of high-end discretionary products are shifting to just-in-time buying as well.

Kathi Toll, a 49-year-old business consultant in Chicago, used to enjoy browsing beauty counters and indulging in new products as a pick-me-up. Last year she decided to use up what she already had—piles of La Mer, Clinique and Estée Lauder products—as a way to save cash while she pursues an advanced degree. “I have boatloads of this stuff, and it’s time I used it up,” she says.

Beauty brands are taking note. Before the economic downturn, loyal users of luxury skin-care line La Prairie used to buy multiple bottles of skin creams at a time, even though the products can top $500 apiece. But two years ago, “they started waiting until their jar was empty before they bought another, about every 90 to 120 days,” says Lynne Florio, president at La Prairie, owned by Beiersdorf AG.

Noting that some consumers seemed to want to buy even less at a time, last year La Prairie began selling half-sizes of moisturizers, eye creams and serums. The smaller sizes, which cost about 20% less than full-size counterparts and are only sold for limited periods each year, help draw new and longtime users to the line when they’re not ready to invest $1,000 or more on the complete regimen.

“Did we lose customers during the economic crisis? No,” says Ms. Florio. “They’re just coming more often and buying a little less
replenishment at a time.” La Prairie’s business year-to-date is up
compared with 2009, and the company says it expects to see a gain next year.

Shoppers have long groused that the clothing and shoes in stores are often out of step with the weather outside. Now, they’re protesting with their wallets. “It was around April of this year when we really started to realize that consumers are willing to spend cautiously on things they need to have, but only when they need it,” says Mike Berry, director of industry research for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a unit of MasterCard Inc.

From 2003 to 2008, women’s apparel sales tended to peak in September, Mr. Berry notes. “When the economy is sailing high…people buy new fashions as soon as they’re on the shelf, rather than buying a sweater to stay warm,” Mr. Berry says.

But this fall, that habit changed. In September, when new fall fashions hit stores, sales of women’s apparel fell 0.2% compared with the year before, while footwear was up just 0.7% according to MasterCard. By October, when cooler weather hit, apparel and footwear sales rose 5.3% and 5.9%, respectively. Markdowns didn’t play a role in the uptick, Mr. Berry says.

To better accommodate women who want to buy now, wear now, Net-a-Porter has changed tack: It stopped heavily discounting seasonal items like boots and coats a few months after they shipped—as many other retailers do—to make sure it has goods in stock to match the weather. “There’s the challenge that other retailers are marking those items down, but it’s a risk we’re willing to take,” says Holli Rogers, Net-a-Porter’s buying director.

To maintain a steady supply of new fashions throughout each season, Net-a-Porter has been inking deals with designers for exclusive collections with later delivery dates. This summer, British label Issa will offer a line of bright, summery lace dresses on Net-a-Porter in April or May, instead of the typical delivery in February. “You want to make these purchases when you need it, not way in advance,” Ms. Rogers says.

Write to Ellen Byron at ellen.byron@wsj.com

Copyright 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

There is a lot to consider here. Is this a good or bad thing, from a preparedness perspective? It’s prudent that people are hanging on to more of their money; and buying food on credit is almost never a good idea. Still, has the pendulum swung too far the other way that people are keeping no extra food on hand? Certainly if our economy holds, and barring nationwide disaster, there will be food available. Food is still relatively inexpensive, barring continued inflation. Cash at home and on-hand is a wise decision, assuming that people aren’t spending it on iphones and xBoxes.

My advice is to meet somewhere in the middle. Don’t purchase food on credit; but still have extra food. If your only extra money every month is $1.75, buy an eighty cent can of beans. Put the change in a mason jar. There is room for both saving money and prudently buying extra food.

The madness of wheezing, bloated consumers

This is as important to prepare for as earthquakes, fires, and pandemic. The world is falling apart, and most people are too fat, lazy, and stupid to care (did you see the flab-a-lannche of those consumers? Lay off the gravy, people).

My recommendation is that everyone get their heads and asses wired together for this eventuality.

 

Seventy-two hour kits? Are you sure?

A previous entry mentioned the folly of the “seventy-two hour kit”, and warned regarding relying upon it (https://762rifleman.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/nobody-cares/). A portable go-bag is worthy, in concept. Unfortunately, most people do not spend the time or effort to examine it in context. It should have the food and equipment to last about three days, in case you have to get out of your domicile in a hurry, for instance. It should most emphatically not be what you rely upon in a disaster or its aftermath if you can shelter in place, or evacuate by car. What will happen when three days passes and the cavalry have not arrived? That is an easy answer: Murphy will screw you. You will find yourself standing in line at the FEMA or Red Cross shelter, taking what you can get, when they do finally arrive. You and your family will be completely reliant upon them to meet all of your needs. They will tell you what to eat, where to sleep, and when and where you can relieve yourselves. That is not what preparedness and survival is about. You should work to continue your lifestyle as seamlessly as possible, before, during, and after a calamity, not that it is likely. The point echoes Tom Petty: “You see you don’t have to live like a refugee.”

You have two choices, two possibilities to make in the face of any disaster: stay, or leave. Making the correct choice there is a science unto itself, with enough consideration for its own essay and discussion. What is important to know is how the so-called seventy-two hour kit relates to staying or going. Let us clarify. A seventy-two hour kit is not for staying. It is for going. Consider this piece of Pollyanna hack writing http://www.healthsafe.uab.edu/pages/emergencyinformation/build_a_72_hour_kit.pdf. Here is another: http://lds.about.com/od/preparednessfoodstorage/a/72hour_kit.htm

The first says, “Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days.” Wrong! You should be self-sufficient for as long as possible, period, unless you like the notion of seeing your own likeness in a Sally Struthers commercial. Then, the piece has some recommendations regarding food that it is “ready to eat or requiring minimal water, such as: canned tuna, canned fruit and vegetables, canned beans, raisins, peanut butter, granola bars, canned milk. For children, include comfort food and other items your family will eat.” For every gem here, there is another turd. How many cans of food can you fit into a pack, and carry off? The odds are it is not three days’ worth.

There are two points to consider when packing a three-day bag, nutrition and weight. Unfortunately, weight and nutrition are often in opposition. Empty calories are light. You do not want to eat junk food in a disaster. When your adrenaline is flowing, and your mind is racing, nutrition becomes more important than when the typical American is in his cubical-dwelling, American Idol-watching state. Someone needs to throttle people that with a straight face and clear conscience recommend granola bars, bullion cubes, hard candy, and ramen noodles for emergency food. People that should know better perpetuate this crap at preparedness expos and fairs all of the time. Stop it, please, before you kill someone. People need more calories, and particularly more fat and protein in an emergency than is usual. When people run out of calories in high stress situations, they “bonk”.

There is a whole science devoted to nutrition in stressful situations. There is not the space for it here, but a little investigation of what endurance athletes eat before and during exertion, and what our fighting men and women consume while deployed will help you decide on what to put in your go-bag. Mountain House freeze-dried foods are light, compact, and are of far greater worth than junk food. Similarly, MREs, whether military or civilian versions (often made by the same companies that make the military’s- read the labels carefully) have the calories and balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate to keep the body active and mind alert in an emergency. There is no place for a groggy and disoriented individual in a disaster. It only exacerbates the problems. Get some quality food for your bags, people.

Finally, when your five-year-old looks up at you and says, “I’m hungry, mommy” are you going to hand her a package of ramen noodles and a Jolly Rancher and say, “Here you go, honey. That’s all we have.” Is that how you take care of your family, how you provide for their needs? Having a hungry family in a disaster will surely drive one to begging, the FEMA/Red Cross shelter, or crime. Children have no place in a shelter; and based on what came out of New Orleans, neither do adults. Begging is haphazard and undignified. As for crime, folks have a tendency to shoot looters, and shoot the survivors sometimes twice. It is better to have your own food squared away, both for staying, if possible, and for leaving, if necessary. Have food.

The most galling point of these lists is that they take a one-size fits all approach. As the “seventy-two hour kits” filled with heavy steel cans, while also recommending dishes, axes, shovels, and bedding. Where are they going, and how are they getting there, by Conestoga wagon? First, prepare to shelter in place. For that, you do not need a sleeping bag, a ground cloth, or an ax. You do need, however, a damn sight more food and water than for seventy-two hours. If you are staying at home, you need a pantry full of the food you already like eat. You need extra toilet paper and paper plates. You need extra feminine hygiene products for the women of the house. You need extra medication, if you have regular prescriptions. Think about everything you normally use in your day-to-day living. You need that, and a lot of it. Start with a single month’s worth, and expand when possible.

Now think. Assess the situation. If you had to go, could you go by automobile? Walking sucks. If you have children, or are infirm, walking is not an option, unless it is to a refugee camp (at which point you have almost lost “survival game”). This is where the two articles above start to make sense. Unfortunately, they are devoid of context, and rely heavily upon the notion that it is not necessary to be self-reliant (one of the oldest lies in the world is “I’m from the government. I’m here to help”). The second article makes this point: “This kit should be put together in a practical manner so that you can carry it with you if you ever need to evacuate your home. It is also important to prepare one for each member of your family who is able to carry one.” Then it lists about two-hundred pounds of gear. Which is it, man-portable, or filling a Winnebago? Build everything up in layers. The military refers to this as “lines” of gear. The first line of gear might fit in your pockets, and include a wallet, keys, cell phone, and knife. The second line of gear might be your go-bag (your real seventy-two hour kit). It needs to be light and handy enough to carry (and try doing that with over twenty-five pounds of water, in addition to extra clothes, and the rest of the superfluous crap on those lists). After that, start loading the car.

If you keep your camping gear together, and add extra food to it, you have the makings of your next line of gear (actually line three/four gear, depending on how you count it). Use Contico-type boxes, the heaviest you can find, and preferably the ones with wheels to load the necessities. Forget cutlery and dishes. Forget heavy bedding. Do remember your wedding pictures and other irreplaceable items. Now, here is the trick. How do you fit your so-called and Pollyanna-recommended kits into your car with the husband, kids, dog and cat? Boxes are bulky. Car trunks are small. Kids may need car seats. Staying at home looks better and better, right? Do not let Murphy screw you. Put together a plan now for staying, going by car, and going by foot. There are quite a few testimonials of hurricane survivors on the web. Contrary to media accounts, folks did drive out of New Orleans before Katrina hit. Even more drove out of Houston before Rita (maybe Texans are smarter). Look to them as examples, for good or ill. Learn from their mistakes. Leave about a day before most of them did. Guard your gas cans against thieves and robbers.

Finally, do not rely upon three-day supply of food as Linus holds to his security blanket. To do that is to live in denial. The food will not last; and the FEMA camp is not worth it. It is better to prepare now, than to explain to the people you love why you did not.