A good disaster kit is portable and lightweight but filled with useful items in the case of sudden upheaval from the home or workplace. With a few necessary creature comforts, the primary safety needs are all you need to create a disaster kit that will ease your mind in times that are defined by terrorist bombings, worldwide pandemic quarantines, and other terrifying events to fray the nerves.
If particulate matter is in the air after any kind of bombing, building collapse, or any other event that turns solid objects into rubble, a mask to guard the respiratory system is a must-have item. An N95 respirator mask will block out particles as small as tuberculosis and effectively prevent harm from airborne irritants or organisms. If this is impossible to obtain, have (at the bare minimum) one or two scarves or headbands that can be worn desperado-style over the face if needed.
A flashlight is essential, as are several ways to start a fire in the wilderness. Always have a sharp, well-made hunting knife for personal protection and practical reasons while living rough or camping. A multi-tool is one thing everyone should carry in survival situations. A reflective mirror to signal overhead planes or cars of your presence is an excellent item to have if lost or in a dangerous situation. Pepper spray, either the standard size or the kind they make for bears, is a useful, non-lethal weapon for the urban jungle or the deep woods. New technology in kevlar body armor is an added layer of protection during scary times and is thinner and less cumbersome, and cooler to wear in hot weather.
Keep any prescription medicines you take in your disaster kit, as well as an insect repellant and high SPF sunscreen. Always make sure to include necessary items that keep you healthy from day to day, down to your toothbrush and toothpaste.
Bring Plenty of Water And Food
Always have some clean water for drinking and cooking. People need about a gallon per day to live. Water filters have gotten more and more effective, including Life-Straw, among others. Iodine Tincture can be used to kill illness-causing organisms in standing water, 2-10 drops per quart, depending on how murky the water is. Chlorine bleach can also be used: the same kind used for laundry (make sure it is unscented and plain) that contains 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite (regular Clorox bleach). If water is murky, run it through a coffee filter or a plain paper towel. After that, add two drops to each quart of water and sit for 30 minutes before use.
Freeze-dried food in MREs are perfect for a disaster kit and include a warming mechanism of some kind. Prepackaged jerky, candy that won’t melt or be affected by heat, nuts, fruit leather, coffee, tea, canned foods, pasta, and powdered drink mixes are good choices for food and snacks. There are lots of nonperishables out there that are great to eat or to barter with. Bring a carton of cigarettes/tobacco pouch even if you don’t smoke. Tobacco products have been a useful bartering item from Sir Walter Raleigh’s days up to the Black Rock Desert of Burning Man, every state prison, and in countless Grateful Dead touring caravans.
Staying Warm and Dry
Pack a warm, dry change of clothing. Insulated long underwear are everybody’s best friend in frigid weather. Thick socks made of wool or Thinsulate, as well as a pair of water-resistant ski gloves, are perfect for cold weather. Depending on the season, hats can range from mosquito nets attached to a wide-brimmed cap to a fur-lined hat with ear flaps that fasten around the chin.
If no tent is in your kit, a good, easy to pack alternative is a couple of waterproof tarps, a few dozen feet of braided nylon rope, plastic sheeting (that doubles as a place to capture rainwater), and a warm, wool blanket or sleeping bag. If you have none of the above, the oldest of shelters were made of pine boughs, woven into a small enclosure at the base of a large, wide pine tree that has a dry base, despite the elements. When carefully layered, they will keep water off of a campsite like shingles, providing a dry spot to sleep.
A solar-powered flashlight radio, which is also crank-operated, is a great item to have in a sudden loss of electricity. Another excellent piece of technology is a solar-powered phone charger.