- Medical supplies such as bandages, antibiotics, pain relievers, disinfectants, antibacterials, splints, and tourniquets. Whatever devastation has occurred, there is a very good chance it has left many sick and injured people in its wake. There will also be a good number of dead bodies decaying all around you. Disease will spread like wildfire. You had better be prepared for it. What if a few of these people are members of your own household or neighbors? Splints, tourniquets, and first aid supplies will have immediate uses and may even save someone's life.
- Weapons, such as a good hand gun, ammunition, some bigger guns such as shotguns and rifles, and a good hunting knife. If you do have some food and medical supplies, people who do not will be trying to take yours. You will need to defend it - from those who otherwise intend to take it by force. Your life and your family’s life may depend on it. Also you will need these for hunting food. Hopefully there will be some animals that survived whatever disaster has struck and you can eat them -- including that loose pit bull or rottweiler that are now dangerous dogs -- some traveling in packs with other loose, dangerous dogs -- who, after a few days of not having any dog food are now very, very hungry and willing to go after the first piece of flesh they can sink their teeth into. Hopefully that's not you. Aim your handgun or rifle at this pack of wild dogs and start shooting, before they take you down. Then don't be stingy with your sudden wealth of fresh meat -- invite the neighbors to a friendly BBQ!
- Bags of sand, pebbles, rocks and charcoal. These are available at any garden center and could save your life. These items can be used to filter dirty water and make it much cleaner. Though it may not be completely safe yet, depending on the level of contamination. So, you will also need whatever you can use to start a fire so you can boil the water to kill whatever bacteria remains after the straining process. This is essential.
- Toilet paper. That’s self explanatory. Also if things are really this bad, TP could be used for money. If someone has some extra batteries or perhaps a good weapon and has no toilet paper, he might be willing to trade.
- Batteries. All sizes and shapes. Batteries could be your best friend. You may have an MP3 player or portable CD player you can listen to music on to help keep you somewhat sane. One of those hand-crank radios may be an even better pick, because at some point your batteries are going to stop working.
- Things you can burn. Remember, no power means no heat. You will also need something to start a fire. Try going to your local outdoor store and asking them about this. Stashing some disposable lighters where you can find them would be a good idea.
- Gasoline. Of you have a gas powered generator, you will be king. But only as long as you have gasoline.
- Canned goods and of course a can opener. Canned food will last you the longest, but will only do you good if you can get them open.
- Seeds. Being able to grow your own food will be a matter of life and death. So you better get some fertilizer too. You will also need some tools. A shovel, rake, hoe and a watering can will come in really handy here.
- Knowledge and training. Very un-educated people have lived, survived, and thrived in harsh environments, from nomads and early hunter gatherers, to the handful of "primitive" tribal people still around today, who can be found in different pockets of the world. They have the know-how to survive, and have had hands-on training and survival methods passed down from generation to generation. Some of it includes knowing which plants are safe to eat and which ones will kill you. Or simply what are the easiest hunting methods to use and for what kind of animal. The fact is, this isn't rocket science. So, if you want to add something really important to your survival checklist, consider it knowledge. Learn about plants, animals, hunting, gathering, and other things about survival that you won't know you can count on until you get out and start using what you've been reading. Don't just go camping this summer with your family -- on this camping trip practice shooting a rifle and / or that compound bow and arrow set, practice setting snares and identifying safe, edible plants, as well as which ones are dangerous. And finally, have faith -- figure out what that means. When you have faith, you can be a leader, and you can be strong and courageous in a disaster situation, when others have lost their head to fear, and panic, and despair, and are just going to make it worse for themselves.
Disaster survival - think out of the box
The ten recommendations above go beyond the standard emergency survival list that organizations such as FEMA publish. Many suggest having three days worth of food, candles, flashlight, and enough drinking water for a few days for each member of your family. Unfortunately, in a serious disaster that effects more people than relief efforts can handle, recommendations from FEMA may simply not be enough.
Here are two additional suggestions to our list above, that are easy steps to take, and could make survival in the aftermath of disaster that much easier on you and your family.
Let's go beyond the canned foods and a shotgun that we talk about in our list above for example ... in a survival situation thinking "out of the box" needs to be something you learn to do on a regular basis.
1. Rather than just having candles and a flashlight around, consider solar lighting kits that may sell for about $70 at places like Home Depot. or Lowes People typically use these to light outside patios... why not use one of these kits to bring lighting (even if it's not that bright) into your home during an extended power outage?
2. Decide in advance whether or not it's safe to stay in a particular area that you live, or if you should come to the quick conclusion to evacuate and head to a safer (much less populated area for example), like a distant suburb or small town? Even take a look at your current food stores -- what's currently in your freezer and what you can do with it if the power goes out and food begins to thaw. Rather than canned food, this is the first food you should start eating. Save the canned stuff for when the frozen food is all gone. You can even freeze ice -- and that frozen ice may give you a few more days to keep temperatures low in your freezer.
3. Let's talk about the kind of meat you have frozen. Consider what types of meat you should freeze, and which "cuts"? Ground beef spoils faster than steak cuts, for example. So, go with the steak cuts. Also, find out which cuts are the easiest to "smoke" for the purpose of preserving meat that can last weeks without spoiling. What if electrical power will be out for weeks at a time -- say after a WMD attack on america or massive attack on our nation's infrastructure that knocks out power to millions of people for good. What will you do then with the meat in your freezer? Pull the meat from their freezer as it thaws and throw it in a smoker (these are easy to build from scratch as well, with the right materials on hand), etc.
4. Finally, what about safe drinking water? Having a water cache that will last a family a few weeks is a good idea.
5. What if an earthquake demolishes a house? Having a shed away from the house where extra goods are stored could mean that all the items you set aside in advance will actually be kept safe, rather than destroyed or burned. Your food, weapons, and medical supplies are useless if you have no way to get to them.
Use your head, look closely at the things around you and consider how they might be used to help survive, and take a few notes. Be safe, don't just survive, but learn to thrive in a disaster situation. Your family, friends and neighbors may be counting on you, even if they don't know it now.