THE HOUSEHOLD SURVIVAL KIT:
ESSENTIAL SURVIVAL TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
It is easy to put the news of natural disasters out of mind when they happen in far-off countries, but earthquakes, storms and floods can happen almost anywhere - and eventually, happen almost everywhere.
Although your risk of being caught in a major natural disaster is very low, it happens to many thousands of people around the world every year. In many cases, their survival problems go far beyond the initial shock of the disaster itself. Even small-scale disasters can cause power blackouts and water shortages for days or weeks. The consequences of a large-scale disaster can last much longer.
All this is no cause for panic, doom or gloom. But consider what might happen to your family during a natural disaster, and make plans accordingly. And if you live in an area that is especially prone to certain types of disasters - such as the US tornado belt - it is even more vital that you are prepared for emergencies, and protected if they happen.
Building a household survival kit does not have to be expensive, and many of the survival tools listed below have uses beyond surviving a disaster. It is important to keep your survival tools and equipment together as much as possible, so everyone in your household knows where they are in an emergency. But checking, using and maintaining the tools frequently is an excellent way to ensure they will function - and that you know how to use them - if a disaster does strike.
1. Clean water
Water supplies are easily disrupted or contaminated during natural disasters, and the problems may continue for weeks or even months. You should have enough clean water stored to last everyone for at least 72 hours. Each person will need at least 3 liters per day just for drinking. That's a lot of water, and if you store it all in plastic bottles you should try to refresh your stock every few months or so, to prevent chemicals in the plastic tainting the water. A high-quality portable water filter can ensure you have drinkable water in almost any circumstances. Most are pumped by hand, and use a ceramic filter that is fine enough to keep out bacteria and other parasites.
2. Safe Food
You should have storable food to last everyone for 72 hours. Most food bars and freeze-dried foods can last for many months. Several survival kit suppliers have a range of specialist food packs, similar to military rations that can be safely stored for a number of years.
3. Warmth and Shelter
Store some emergency blankets and spare warm clothes - including gloves, socks and hats. They do not need to be fashionable, but woolen clothes are warmer and more water-resistant than cotton and jeans. Have at least one extra poncho or raincoat, and consider getting a sheet of plastic, tent-fly or tent as some form of emergency shelter against the elements.
4. Sources Of Light
As well keeping the night at bay, light sources can serve as an important communication tool with the outside world - flash-lights, light-sticks and even flares can be used to signal emergency crews when it is dark. Plan to provide enough light for three days. Unless you have a hand-powered flash-light, you will require batteries, so make sure you have enough of the right kind.
5. First Aid Kit
A standard first-aid kit available in most drug-stores is enough to begin with, but you may want to include other items - such as hand-wipes, face-masks, surgical alcohol and iodine for disinfecting cuts. Even minor wound can become major problems if they are not kept clean. You should consult your doctor about any essential prescription medicines you may need for your household survival kit.
6. A Radio
Many natural disasters can cause power outages, which may shut-down local cell and telephone networks. When this happens, radios become a vital channel of public communication, allowing emergency services to broadcast instruction and advice. The best choice for a household survival kit is a hand-powered radio - which can be used as much as it is required, and doesn't need batteries. But even a small battery-powered radio can help keep you informed of the progress of rescue efforts.
7. Other Tools
Depending on what and who you are preparing for - and how much you want to spend - your household survival kit might include: specialist survival knives and cutting tools, portable stoves or fire-making equipment, and portable power supplies that can be used to power equipment directly and charge batteries. You may also want to include pet supplies - and putting in a deck of cards is something of a lucky tradition. And by all means, don't forget that Bible!