By Aton Edwards, I.P.N. Executive Director
There isn’t a day that goes by where someone doesn’t ask me “hey Aton, what’s the most important preparedness stuff that I should own?” Then, what usually follows is, “do you have a list you can give me?’
Well … I actually do.
In this section of our website, I’m going to break down what my actual list is featuring what I believe to be the most important must–have emergency preparedness items. I’d like to stress the word “must” and not “should” because when you don’t have this gear and a disaster or emergency strikes, you will almost certainly find yourself, your family or whomever you co-habit with in an uncomfortable compromising position that depending on the situation or disaster may even be life-threatening.
If you have the means to secure these items, I’d suggest that you do STAT.
Even if you don’t, I’m adding a section to this for many who have no budget, but the will and desire to be ready-for-anything!
So, without further ado, I present to you my Top Ten List Of Must Have Preparedness Items beginning with #1 — the Personal Kit (E-Kit) and its contents.
The core of your life-defense program begins with the what you know! –the most valuable tool you own is your mind. A close second is your personal emergency or E-kit. Disasters tend to strike when we least expect them and, when they do, you must be able to respond properly. The material in an E-kit helps you to do it. A good one typically contains a multi-tool, flashlight, lighter, matches, whistle, cordage, mini-prybar and other items that assist you while responding to an emergency. All of this must be carried al all times in a sturdy pouch small enough to be comfortably worn on your belt, or placed in your handbag, backpack, or briefcase.
This is your pocket toolbox. A must have device in any emergency, or just for your daily use. I carry one with me at all times! The only time I don’t possess one is when I enter a federal building. Use it to loosen bolts, unscrew screws, cut wire, saw wood, pound, etc. Choose the unit for: 1. Durability 2. Functionality. Gimmicky multi-tools look sweet, but usually aren’t for real-world use. You need something you can depend on. There isn’t anything worse than when a tool fails “in the field” so make sure to choose something that you know is trustworthy. The prices of a good multi- tool range from $40 – up to around $140.
If that’s not in your budget, there are a few well constructed models such as the KutMaster pictured below.
What are the best multi-tools?
Generally speaking, you can’t lose if you choose a Leatherman. This company offers a great selection of tools that fit nearly every task. They are extremely durable, highly functional and look great to boot. Prices vary but no matter what you choose, you’ll always be a winner with one. Gerber, Victorinox, SOG and Columbia River Knife and Tool also make great gear.
What is my personal choice?
I alternate between three multi tools. If I had to choose one to be my “Zombie Apocalypse” model, it would be the Leatherman Super Tool 300.
Next up is the …
You’ll need a bright unit for your E-kit. It must have a long “burn time” that is, the amount of time it can operate effectively, and also it should be bright enough to throw a beam at least 30′ or about 8 meters ahead of you in a pitch black environment. Anything over 50 lumens will do it. You should also purchase one that is “non-incendive” – this is a light that can’t spark an explosion if you happen to wander into an area with flammable gas or vapor. Any non-metal light that you can submerge is non-incendive. If you can find a solar or hand crank/shake light bright enough to get the job done well, that would be great too as you’ll never need batteries. Most aren’t as durable as the other lights but the benefits can sometimes outweigh the drawbacks.
My choice you ask? I carry 2 personal lights but my favorite is the Zebralight posted below. It burns a long time, is non-incendive, small, uses regular batteries and is as bright as a mini-sun. You can also wear it as a headlamp. This is another can’t lose item.
If you want a solar/hand crank light, the Goal Zero is my top pick. (pictured below)
For shakelights, there is only one choice – the NIGHTSTAR, by Applied Innovative Technologies.
In this case, if you want to get a good fire going fast, you need a something that can do it with a minimum of trouble. Boy/Girl Scout tricks aside, nothing works better than a good lighter, matches or sparking tool. I recommend carrying all three. Lifeboat NATO matches are great, the Bronton Helios lighter is a wonderful tool that I’ve used in all types of bad weather and it has never failed me. I’ve been in many a compromising situation where I’ve needed a firestarting tool and I’ve never seen anything that works better than the Swedish Fire Steel. It lasts for up to 3000 strikes and can be used during a rainstorm. This is a very important feature.
A small first-aid kit is an essential item in your personal kit. Disasters and injuries often go hand in hand, and you will need the materials to deal with them when emergency room services aren’t available. It must have pain medication and anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprophin, Tylenolâ, and wound dressings band-aids & medical tape.
It should also have specialty items that allow you to treat minor eye injuries (eye wash) allergic reactions to insect stings (Epi-pen), burns, sprains, stomach problems and other relatively minor medical emergencies frequently associated with disasters & emergencies.
Adventure Medical kits make some the best mini -kits specially designed for civilian use. They come with the essentials you need to treat most minor injuries and maladies that you may confront during disasters and emergencies. They also come with really useful booklets that help you to deal with medical emergencies if you have no first-aid training. The prices are also very reasonable.
Cordage is another item that you must have at all times in your E-kit. You never know when you may need to tie something down, or together. Strong weather resistant line is needed and 55olb test Paracord is the best you could have in a crisis. A tightly wound 20′ or 5 meter section won’t take up much space in your personal kit. Carry this and a small trail roll of duct tape and bailing wire. With this combination, you can tie down anything.
A mini prybar is one of the most important items in your E-Kit. It provides you with the ability to pry open doors, windows, break small locks and when needed, function as a chisel or even a self-defense item. They are inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores.
RESPIRATORY PROTECTION/SMOKE ESCAPE HOODS/PARTIAL FACE RESPIRATORS
If you are ever caught in a situation where your respiratory system is compromised by dust, toxic vapor, or smoke from a fire, you need respiratory protection. A good respirator or smoke escape hood may mean the difference between life and death by suffocation. There are a number of different smoke hoods available on the market ranging in price and function. Some are air filters worn over the face and utilize natural breathing that can provide the user with a 20 to 60 minute supply of breathable air in heavy smoke.
Others are powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) that do not require effort on part of the user to purify the air. PAPR units also require batteries and are less compact. For the most part, a regular smoke hood can work quite well, and are much easier to store and less expensive. Small toddlers & children 2-7 and infants require PAPR smoke hoods along with people that have respiratory problems.
Partial face respirators are a must have item. They come in the N-R-or P class. The “N” stands for not resistant to vapors or gases that may contain oil. “R” means partially resistant and “P” means resistant. The numbers you see next to the letters indicate the level of resistance from 95% to 100%. (99.997)
The units shown here are considered to be the most practical, functional and economical.