The recent earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster that Japan is still dealing with has been in the forefront of world news for weeks now. What a tragedy! Much human suffering could have been avoided with the availability of a prepared survival kit ready to go for any emergency.
Could a disaster of this magnitude have been avoided? Not really, considering Japan’s lack of usable land and their population. Of course, without all the people they would have little use for the energy provided by the nuclear/electric facilities.
Could the nuclear facilities have been made safer? Probably. Is this a dire warning about nuclear safety in general? Not really. It is a warning about being prepared for just such an emergency.
Being in a historically earthquake prone area of the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” would not be my first choice for a nuclear-electric generating facility. A constant possibility of some sort of natural event like earthquakes, tsunami’s, volcanic activity, typhoons/hurricanes or even just a rapid rise in sea level would make any area of Japan’s coastal plain unusable for a nuclear facility, I would think.
Having said that, let’s go on to the choices I would make for a survival kit for use in case of an earthquake with the added hazard of a local nuclear plant whose operational safety has been compromised.
Since this will be a grab-and-go survival kit versus a stay-at-home preparation, we will concentrate on portability and efficiency when selecting our survival items. There are many more items that could be included, but remember that this is for a quick evacuation event with relief/aid/rescue expected in the next few days.
Water. Water that is drinkable is the most important survival item in any disaster. A hydration pack is an excellent choice if you need to evacuate fast. A canteen or two is fine but remember that the human body needs a minimum of a liter of water a day for bare survival and two liters is what you should aim for.
Since water is heavy and bulky I would suggest carrying two to three liters in a hydration pack. An easy and cheaper alternative would be plastic beverage bottles. Plastic soft drink bottles are very handy and come in two liter sizes. Plastic bottles can be rigged up in a bag or sling for over-the-shoulder carrying.
For the remainder of your water requirements I suggest a water-filter bottle that will allow you to use water in the field . I have a one-liter filter bottle that will filter out most microbes and water-born parasites as well as clean up the chemical taste from treated water.
First Aid. Because buildings and other structures are collapsing and fires starting, the amount of injuries sustained by the population is enormous. You must have enough first aid supplies and a first aid manual to benefit you and your family at the very least.
These supplies must include; Bandages and tape, topical anti-biotic cream, aloe vera or other burn lotion, disposable gloves, alcohol wipes, scissors, scalpel, tweezers, safety pins, needles and thread(suture packs), a tube of super glue, gauze rolls, large sterile pads for dressings, sanitary napkins for blood absorption, tincture of iodine, ammonia inhalants, aspirin, salt tablets, potassium iodide pills, dosimeter, a candle or heat tabs, emergency blanket(space blanket), aluminum foil, fire-starter(matches, lighter, flint and steel) and maybe some tea bags, bouillon cubes or instant coffee.
Any medications you or your family must use should be included as well as some cash money, silver if possible.
A knife is also a must have item for survival in any disaster or emergency situation. I would suggest a solid, full-tang hunting knife with a fixed blade about five or six inches long. It is a good idea to choose your knife carefully as it could be a life or death decision.
A well balanced, brand name knife that sharpens and holds an edge is your number one tool in an emergency situation. Don’t fall for the “Rambo” knives with the compass in the handle. These “survival knives” are more-often-than-not made with inferior materials and are easily broken, bent, and sometimes won’t even hold an edge when cutting a steak!
Besides, the compass in the handle is about worthless.The first time using the knife butt to pound on something ruins the compass. The hollow handle would seem to be a good idea for storing other survival items, but it’s not. The hollow handle makes the knife unbalanced and means that the tang, or blade metal doesn’t extend to the butt. Your knife can easily break right there at the handle.
I would suggest a multiple function Leatherman-like tool or a Swiss-type army knife as a backup to your main knife. Just remember what it will be primarily used for and stick to the simpler, more basic models. Many of these tools are guaranteed for life against breakage!
Emergency food. The human body can go quite awhile without solid food if water is available. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pack a lunch, you should have something to sustain energy, replenish lost nutrients, and don’t forget the calming effect that a meal can provide.
In my go-bag survival kit I have an outside pocket just for on-the-go eating. In it are several high protein energy bars, dried fruit, beef jerky, crackers, honey, and peanut butter. I’ve also got some tea bags, cocoa mix, and electrolyte replacing fruit drink powder.
Figure on just two meals a day so include some basic dehydrated or freeze dried foods that are light-weight but filling. I dehydrate my own vegetables and jerky then prepackage them with barley, rice, noodles or lentils for dinners. For breakfast there’s oatmeal, cornbread or grits with dried fruit and tea or milk.
Of course, this menu can be supplemented .with packaged tuna, sardines, canned meat, dehydrated eggs, or really whatever you desire, just remember that canned goods are heavy and dried beans take a long time to soften up. Stay away from sugar, soft drinks and alcohol as they make you thirstier.
Eating/drinking utensils. A stainless-steel mess-kit like the Boy Scouts use is a very good choice. Don’t get plastic or porcelain as they are not for cooking in, or even aluminum as it will leech heavy metals into your body rapidly when cooked with or eaten off of. It also is very easy to bend, smash, flatten or otherwise ruin.
Titanium is best for durability and weight, then stainless-steel. Remember spoons and forks, spoons are a must-have, forks are extra.
Sleeping, bivouac. Depending on the nature of the disaster you might need to spend several nights sleeping out-of-doors. Remember that foul weather and fluctuating temperatures often accompany natural disasters and who knows when relief crews will have shelters set up for the newly homeless.
Emergency space blankets/bags weigh very little and take up very little space compared to a bedroll or sleeping bag. A plastic tarp or over sized poncho can make all the difference between sleeping dry and warm versus trying to sleep cold, wet and shivering.
Other necessities for your light-weight, grab-and-go survival kit might include an emergency AM/FM /shortwave radio, a wind-up flashlight, signaling devices of some kind(highway flares are great, they also make fire starting very easy), para-cord, extra pair(s) of socks, light jacket, hat, work gloves, underwear, and a towel(s). Hopefully you are wearing sturdy shoes or hiking boots, shirt, and pants.
Important papers, licenses, passports and ID cards should be included or at least copies thereof. A map(s) and compass might be a good idea depending on where you live. Put everything in a re-sealable plastic baggie.
Extra plastic bags of all sizes are a good idea to have. For keeping your gear dry and for trash are the uses you might think of first. Quart-size bags are also good for storing water if you get the heavy-duty zip-seal types. In the event of possible fallout a plastic trash bag can double as a makeshift, disposable poncho if need be.
Make sure to put your toilet paper in a plastic re-sealable bag, don’t add wet toilet paper to your list of disaster problems.
Last, but maybe it should have been first, is a pack, shoulder-bag or duffel to carry your goodies in. A medium-sized military-type soft pack is what I use. There are plenty of outside pockets that are weather proof for items you might need in a hurry like toilet paper, water or first-aid and the inside is split into two waterproof compartments for dry goods.
A backpack, day pack, fanny pack or duffel bag is preferable to a suitcase or hand-bag because they keep your hands free for other things like wiping your nose.
You don’t want to have to set everything down to pull out a handkerchief to blow your nose or wipe your brow. You need to be moving to get away from the danger. You might be rescuing trapped victims or any number of other things that require your hands. You might need a weapon or a flashlight that would be awkward to use with your hands full.
In an emergency survival situation a person who is prepared ahead of time and has an idea of what to do or where to go is the person with the best chances of survival.
A light-weight, easy to carry survival kit/pack will enhance any one’s ability to survive the worst of disasters or emergency evacuation events. Build yours today and set it somewhere for easy access, your life might depend on it!