72 hours after disasters

What Happens 72 Hours After Disasters

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Today I want you to think about what may happen the first 72 hours after a severe storm and other natural disasters or unforeseen emergencies take place where you live. Here’s the deal, I want you to picture life in 24-hour increments initially, then you can deal with long-term issues and can apply the best option for a response. It’s critical you consider these things before any disaster strikes or it could be too late to protect your family.

I have broken down the three 24-hour sections below so you can picture what will most likely happen within 72 hours after any disaster in any city, county, state, or country. It’s plain and simple, let’s get started.

If you can possibly get together with your neighbors to purchase walkie-talkies and set them on the same channel and test them monthly you’ll be way ahead of most families and neighborhoods. The old kind of walkie-talkies we used at Disneyland years ago no longer cut it.

Some walkie-talkies may not be useable because they won’t transmit through blocks of houses or other obstructions. This is the brand an emergency search and rescue guru recommended to a class I taught a few years ago. Walkie Talkies

What Happens 72 Hours After Disasters

72 Hours After Disasters

1. The First 24 Hours

The first sign may be a loud noise, in the case of a hurricane or tornado, or it could be very quiet with an earthquake. The lights may go off, or the furnace or AC goes off abruptly. If it’s during the day when you lose power it may not be as disturbing as it would be at dusk or later. The sun has just gone behind the mountains and it’s getting very dark outside and in your house.

We’ll check with neighbors to see who is okay or hurt and if they need any help. If the disaster is big enough, we’ll have limited county or city officials to help the entire area in the short term. Government agency support probably isn’t going to happen early on since they only have so many resources. This is where prepping comes in, we need to be ready to take care of ourselves in many ways.

I’m talking about water, food, shelter, first aid kit supplies, personal medical supplies, tools, cooking devices with the related pots and pans, etc. The most likely situation is that we’ll lose electricity. If we use gas to heat our homes that will probably not be available and you may have to turn off the gas to your home.

If you think you’ll be able to turn on the water faucet and get clean water like always, think again, the water supply may have been cut off or is now contaminated. You’ll need ways to boil water, treat it with chemicals, or use a filtration system.

The sewer lines most likely won’t work either, in the case of an earthquake or damage to the local sewer pumping facility. If you don’t have a portable toilet you better get one this week. Not next week. 

I don’t plan to share my portable toilet with anyone. I know it sounds selfish, but I want my neighbors to know that that is one prepper item I don’t plan to pass around and I’ll deal only with my own human waste issues. This is one of many disaster scenarios I don’t look forward to at all.

I hope they have a good shovel to dig a hole for their own toilet, just saying. Here is a post I wrote regarding this issue and how to deal with it: Emergency Toilet For After A Disaster by Food Storage Moms. These are cheap and everyone should have their own emergency toilet or some black garbage bags, kitty litter, and duct tape to use inside their home toilets. Having enough toilet paper available is also critical.

2. The Second 24 Hours

Some people have gone through their bottles of water and emptied their food pantry or freezer and eaten whatever they have available. Remember, when it comes to your plan to store water, every family member needs at least one gallon of water per person per day, according to the American Red Cross.

Read More of My Articles  Disaster Plans: They Aren’t All the Same

I disagree, but I’m sure you know by now that I recommend four gallons of water per person per day. One gallon will not be enough for cooking, doing minimal clothes washing, or personal hygiene care. You will want some baby wipes for what I call spit baths. This is the day you hope you were caught up on the laundry.

Having water stored in containers or large tanks is an important part of any disaster plan, no matter what the circumstances.

If not, you will at least want clean underwear. Here is my post about an emergency washing machine: Emergency Washing Machine by Food Storage Moms.

Of course, you can use a sink or washtub as well. You shouldn’t just plan on using the bathtub because first of all the water lines might be cut. Second, the sewer lines might back up into your house if you try to drain the water.

3. The Third 24 Hours Will Not Be Fun

Do you know those BLACK FRIDAY sales that happen after Thanksgiving? Well, after a disaster, if the roads are driveable, the grocery stores will have lines out the door due to the rationing of water and food.

Trust me, I will NOT be in any grocery store after a disaster, I don’t do Black Friday sales either. I don’t like the pushing and shoving at the stores.

Man, just think how the crowds will be looking for water and food. YIKES! Utah, where I live, is ranked #4 for states with personal gun ownership. People get mean when they are really hungry or thirsty and they need to feed their families.

Just something to think about. The grocery store shelves will be empty or a bottle of water could cost more than you can imagine. The stores may not have change for your bills, so exact dollar amounts will be needed. Who knows, their point-of-sale registers might not even work.

One Major Decision You May Face During and After a Disaster

Things may turn pretty ugly for you during the first 72 hours of a disaster. You could very well be faced with the decision of whether to stay in your home and bug in, or you determine it’s best to leave and seek shelter elsewhere for a while and evacuate or bug out. There really isn’t a “rule of thumb” you can follow when making this decision.

In some cases, the decision is made for you when you are directed by local authorities to evacuate. In essence, you are being told that your home or your personal safety is at risk and you’re facing one of those worst-case scenarios where you’re better off leaving. Hopefully, it won’t be for an extended period of time, but you never know. In most cases, unless your home is considered destroyed, full of debris, or beyond repair, it won’t prove to be the long-term solution.

If you have to evacuate with the kids, some of the stay-at-home issues change. That might include leaving your stored food supply, water storage, some survival supplies, and other things that would be available to you at home. You should be able to take some needed items like blankets, firearms, radios, means of communication like cell phones, extra clothing, and more.

If you are directed to leave home you need to either go to a designated location or another family or friend’s home so you have essential services available to you. You want to count you and your family as survivors after it’s all said and done. Sure, you’d like to stay home and enjoy that fireplace or wood stove, home-cooked meals, and your own bed. But if it’s deemed a true survival situation, hit the road and make the most of it.

Be sure to take some things to occupy your free time when you get situated, like board games, some books to read, or coloring books for the little ones.

Before A Disaster Some People May Think:

1. Why do I keep hearing the phrases “get prepared, be prepared, and are you prepared?”

2. Sometimes people may think nothing will happen to me.

3. The government will have to step in and help us.

4. God, or whoever you pray to, will take care of you.

Read More of My Articles  How to Keep Your Food Safe in the Midst of Disasters

5. I can’t afford to buy extra water or food.

6. I can’t afford preparedness items.

7. I don’t have time to learn skills.

8. My neighbor is prepared, I’ll just go over there.

9. My house is too small to store anything extra.

My Favorite Bartering Items For After Disasters:

1. Safety Protection Supplies

2. Drinks

3. Cigars (do not store cigarettes-they go bad)

4. After a disaster coffee drinkers will barter for instant coffee (Starbucks might not be open).

5. The food you grow in your garden (get heirloom seeds you can keep planting year after year if you save the seeds).

6. Basic staples you have stored like flour, sugar, honey, oil, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

7. Skills like bread making, learning to make biscuits and crackers.

8. Skills-handyman stuff.

9. Skills-quilting and sewing will help us mend clothes or even make clothes we may need.

10. First aid supplies.

11. Chickens and eggs (as long as you have the food to feed them).

12. Meat (grass-fed animals will be a premium).

13. The skill of hunting for animals to eat (learn how to preserve them).

14. Trading your canned food items (you need to know how to can and preserve your garden products).

15. Water and food (be sure and have a way to purify your water). Turn off the water to your water heater before the water becomes contaminated if you hear about an anticipated water problem.

16. Fuel for car and cooking.

17. Learn to make your own kitchen soap and laundry detergent.

18. Lemonade mix, hot chocolate mix, or good old sugary Tang, if they still sell it (these will make water taste better).

19. Cooking oil, of any kind, will be sought after.

20. Cooking devices for outside cooking with fuel, like a camp stove using propane or butane.

21. Flashlights, lanterns, and extra batteries.

22. Buckets or all types of uses.

23. Matches and Lighters.

24. Magnifying Glass or

25. Grabber Outdoor Emergency Blanket

26. Katadyne Filter

27. 50 Foot Paracord

28.  Buck Pathfinder 

29. Kershaw Pocket Knife

I’m not saying run out and buy everything on this list. We’ll all need the skills to help each other. We must all be able to bring something to the table in order to help one another. We are responsible for ourselves, no one else is going to take care of us.

If and when our economy crashes, you may not have that Social Security check, retirement check, paycheck, or pension check in the mail or deposited. Who knows what banks or businesses could be affected by the disaster?

People keep telling us to pay off our houses, pay cash for cars, stay out of debt, and be prepared for the unexpected. Have cash, precious metals, and things to barter as your finances allow. It’s human nature to think that disasters only happen to other people living elsewhere.

If that is the approach you’ve taken up to this point in your life when it comes to self-sufficiency, think again. Disasters can come our way in many forms, like getting sick and unable to work, losing your job due to layoffs, or company closures. Accidents happen, whether in your car or at home doing projects.

You may have the best plans to make your home safe and secure, but your neighbor may have a fire disaster just waiting to happen by storing dangerous fuels in the garage or on the side of their house. If their home goes up in smoke yours may be next based on wind and ashes.

I read an article this week about a drunk driver who drove through the front of a home, nearly killing the occupants. They were lucky the car didn’t burst into flames. You may think that disasters only come in the form of floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other causes we call Mother Nature. Disasters and emergencies come in many forms and at any time, so try to be self-reliant and be as prepared as possible.

Final Word

Sure, we need to think of these items and issues so we can be prepared, but more often than not it’s the surprise events outlined above that bring the most heartache and challenges to families. Do your homework and be as prepared as your time and finances can allow. You’ll be glad you did, and so will those living with and nearby. May God bless you and your family to have the means to be prepared for the unexpected one step at a time. May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Flooded Roadway AdobeStock_112079131 By EugeneF

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  1. Hi my friends,
    Just a friendly note here…

    Cigarettes don’t really expire, they go stale. When a cigarette goes stale it has lost its moisture in the tobacco and tastes off. Commercial cigarettes usually don’t go stale unless the pack has been opened and it usually takes about 2 days.

    A lot of smaller retailers will have a pack on the shelf for years before they are sold. Customers don’t even know and the cigarette does not taste stale.

    If your cigarettes do go stale you can “revitalise” them by placing them in a container with a slice of bread. Although if you only have a small amount of cigarettes in the container it could get too moist. If they do get too moist leave them out for a few hours to dry. With enough practice you will figure out if your cigarettes are stale just by feeling the cigarette. And you will be able to feel if it is too moist or just right.

    If tobacco is too moist for too long it can mould. Although if you are smoking commercial cigarettes they tend not to mould because they are already rolled. Mould is usually a problem for people who roll their own cigarettes. And usually only happens when it is very humid and the tobacco is improperly stored. (Not in a sealed container).

    I hope this helps.

    1. David ~
      I have also vacuum sealed cigarettes. That keeps them “fresh” much longer. I don’t really have a problem with my cigarettes but when I go on a long camping trip during the hot summer months, I want “fresh” smokes.

      Linda ~
      As for stale/dry cigarettes/cigars/tobacco of any kind for barter, I believe that if someone smokes/chews, they will not really care if the tobacco is stale. A smoke is a smoke!

      I am trying to quit!!

      1. True..true. Very good point!
        When I go on short outings or vacations, I like to take those little flavoured cigars. Great with a glass of wine 🙂

  2. Linda, I just want to say thank you for print feature you added a few months ago. I’ve printed almost every post and added to a three ring binder stored by your book. I highly doubt I’d be able to think clearly under high duress. Knowing I have all this printed material to lean on means a great deal to me. Keep up the great work! Beth

    1. Hi Beth, oh I’m so glad you like the PRINT button. I have always had it but somehow when I had my new website done, I forgot it and a reader reminded me to put it back. The next day it was ready to print. I’m like you I feel under duress everything we have printed or in print form the better. Great comment, Linda

  3. Great article Linda, and very good advice. In 2017 Hurricane Erma hit Florida, i live in Highlands County, a tornado followed the storm in my area, 95 % of Highlands County residents were out of power, some for weeks. We had a good supply of food, and i had 100 gal of gas for my generator that ran my entire home including the well. I ran the generator only when needed because i was using the gas in my chainsaw also, clearing trees that had blown over.
    We cooked for our neighbors and supplied them with water, after 3 weeks power was restored. All was well. BUT we all know in a total economic/government collapse that i think we are headed for, no matter how much you have stored, it will eventually run out. That is why, like you have said, we need to learn to survive as the pioneers did. I was raised on a farm, we were not wealthy by any means, poor would a better word, but we new how to live, grow food, store food, make clothes, and help others. We are all in this together, survival in numbers.
    I don`t know anyone else that is doing a better job of educating people how to prepare and to survive then you are doing, i hope they learn something for your articles, it`s for their benefit.
    Thanks for all you do….

    1. Hi Hearl, you made tears come to my eyes, you are so kind with your words. I work so hard to get the word out to people. Your comment means so much to me. I grew up poor, so I totally know what you are talking about because you and I and can survive with a garden and even sew my clothes. I just hope we can get the word out to everyone and they will listen. May God bless this world. Linda

    2. Hey Linda and merry Christmas. This might not be for alot of people but years ago I got the chance to meet with this lady that smoked red clover. This was years ago I was only in my 20s and during the depression she grew and smoked red clover. She said it’s not tobacco but when tobacco was not on the table to buy all money went to food it was great to have she even bartered red clover. I have grew some and smoked some myself I will agree I rather have a cigarette but as any smoker knows when you need a cigarette you get pretty desperate. I have a patch on my property where it reseeds its self and have just in case. Just thought I’d let you and anyone else know. it’s always good to know how people got threw the depression

  4. I would also like to thank you for the Print feature. I print a lot of your articles for reference also.
    Next, thank you for the video and recipe for homemade laundry soap. I made a batch and love it! In fact I am sharing it with my emergency prep group, and everyone is making a batch to take home!
    And lastly, I have the” buckets for toilets”, but am considering also getting a chair toilet like they have in hospitals. One reason is they are not so low to the ground (bad knees), they are portable like the buckets, and can be washed out often so the smell might be easier to control. Just a thought.

    1. Hi Cheryl, this is funny that you would mention the chair toilet like the hospitals. I have been thinking the same thing! I applaud you for sharing your tips on making detergent to save money with your emergency prep group! I LOVE that! I’m so glad you like the print button because I want my readers to print out and share all the tips they can use. May God bless you, Linda

  5. Linda ~
    I love your posts! Always see them as a way to keep me informed and I pick up new info regularly.

    It concerns me that so many people believe that the government – local and national – will be there for them and keep them safe, warm, fed and watered! Sounds like they are pets!!

    One thing that I would like people to know is that preparing: food, water, skills; is a form of insurance, just like auto/home/life insurance. There when we need it. It always feels good when I can go shopping in my closet, under my bed rather than running out to the store to overspend!!

    A good example of this happened last night. It was NOT an emergency BUT, I had not received my Social Security check (came today) and money was a bit tight. I needed to take a side dish to my church leadership meeting. The church provides the main dish but we all take sides/desserts. Well, I scanned my preps trying to come up with something that would not “cost” me a trip to the store with little or no cash in the bank account! I have cash at home but I did not consider spending it for this purpose. I had eggs, which are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things so I made deviled eggs to take. No money outlaid! I didn’t have to spend my little bit of money and I didn’t need to use my food storage.

  6. I like that you cover all your bases providing for all possible needs and you relate that to others. My family has been lucky that we’ve experienced some annoyance and frustration in the form of boredom mostly, but we have never been hurt or had our house badly damaged.

    Last time, when Irma hit us, my brother passed the time doing crossword puzzle and word find books while listening to his little emergency radio. Those few things helped us pass the time until power was restored. We had enough water to stay refreshed and we had a wall unit air conditioner and a generator, so we didn’t have to suffer the heat the entire time. Still it was tiresome and I even sat in my car with my brother and our two dogs just to cool off. And we would have benefited from more snacks and cool drinks. Our father cooked and we ran the fridge on and off, but we had to keep it shut to preserve our food as best as we could.

    So despite our managing all these years, I said to myself that not only were we smart to prepare, but we can do more and we can do better. This year has just started, but I will prepare early and emphasize that this should be a priority in our house. What’s the point of being a prepper/survivalist buying gear and learning skills and not being prepared. 🙂

    1. Hi Frank, you always have great comments! As I’m reading your comment, and I can tell you took control of the situation by playing games and sitting in the car to get cooled off. As a country, we take so many things for granted and it’s actually good that we have a few “learning curves” along the way to make us realize we can do better as you mentioned. BUT the good thing is that we are resourceful!! We can make it through anything my friend, Linda

  7. So much information in a short-ish post. Thank you so much. I do have a question though. How do you get a spouse on board for prepping? My husband thinks I’m silly for prepping.

    1. Hi Deborah, that’s a very good question. I must say he is not into prepping like I am. He supports me in all that I do. I have taught classes on food storage and emergency prep all over Utah in subdivisions, government entities, food storage stores, and various churches for over 30 years. I think with Mark, he sees the need but he does more civic work than I do. I support him in that part of his life. It’s a win-win for both of us. It may take a disaster for your husband to “get it”. My husband understands the urgency I feel maybe because back in 1983 our city was flooded and we helped move furniture and stuff out of many many flooded homes from the water coming down the hill. Prepping is not silly. I’m so sorry he sees it that way. I bet there are others that feel that way too, which is really too bad. It’s very frustrating to me in the neighborhood I live in. They think prepping is not necessary. They’ll be in for a rude awakening sooner than later. Do whatever you can to keep the peace in your family but keep prepping however you can. May God bless you Deborah, Linda

      1. I’m planning on it. The main thing he objects to is water storage. LOL I am in the process of storing water. We do have a 7 stage water filter on our kitchen faucet that I’m planning on using for water storage. Hubby drinks 2-liter soft drinks, so, I’m planning on using these for water storage. In a closet that’s rarely opened. The guest room closet.

        1. Hi Deborah, it’s so funny you mentioned water storage. A year and a half ago, I bought a large capacity water tank to store water in my garage. When the company delivered it, it looked so much bigger than it did at the store. I was afraid it wouldn’t go into my garage!! Oh my gosh, I still laugh about that. Yes, it did fit, but just barely. Water is critical! Linda

          1. Oh so true! We need water! For drinking, cooking, batheing and washing clothes. Plus bathrooms sometimes need water. I’m wanting to store about 4 gallons per day times 2 people. For three would better. Or at least 3 days or more.

    1. Hi Cheryl, I kept a landline for years. Then I had to cut expenses and the landline had to go. Sometimes I think I wish I still had it, but….it’s all about the numbers. That’s the phrase I use when I taught people how to budget in my career for 30 years. Now after having used that phrase with my kids, I teach my grandkids, “it’s all about the numbers”. When they talk about schooling, clothing, saving money, renting an apartment, etc. Stay safe, Linda

      1. The reason I mentioned haveing a land line is that recently a friend of mine had a lot of trouble with her cell line and deciden to get her land line back. Good thing she did because a few days later her husband had a medical emergency and it was the only way she could call 911. Sometimes we never know why we decide to dow what we do.

        1. Hi Cheryl, that’s scary! It’s funny a company called “Sure Call” contacted me to see if they could give me a system to boost my cell phone service. I used to have to sit on my coffee table to talk to people on my cell phone. I wrote about the unit they installed in my attic and outside. It’s awesome, but sometimes I still wonder about getting a landline. Luckily two blocks from my home is a fire station. Life is crazy right now, Linda

          1. Good for you to find this. Unfortunately we live in the country . That makes it a good thing to have both. We do, just in case.
            Thank you and have a good day.

  8. Hi Linda! You know if we can our foods, we can add a jar or two of water to our canners to fill the canned up, and can water. I really like this idea. Hat do you think?

    1. I’ll be doing this as well. We have quite a few of empty jars. Some are even new. Yes, I’m a mason jar hoarder. LOL I take after my grandmother and my dear departed MIL.

  9. About land lines– many places, including our small town, have changed the land lines so that you have to have a modem for the phone to work. This means without a battery backup or a generator– you have no phone service!!! I think that was one of the most cruel things they have done. Now you cannot call for help when you need it most. A funny aside, I remember using the phone receiver as a flashlight as a kid when the power was out, but it only reached as far as the curly cord would stretch 😉

    1. Hi Jan, oh my gosh, the curly cord, boy do I remember those gems! Yes, unless it’s hard-wired there is no such thing as a landline at least where I live. Our internet goes out all the time, more than it should but, it is what it is. It’s hard writing a blog with intermittent internet let alone making an emergency phone call! Linda

  10. I’m reading this after our power just came on again after a 3 hour outage due to a crazy snow storm. I got up to feed the wood stove in the dark, flicked the switch, no light. No problem. I keep a headlamp on the bedside table at all times and my offgrid lights are stored in a basket below. First thing to do after feeding the stove was put the kettle and a big canning pot of water on the woodstove to take care of morning beverages and washups. Since you never know how long the power will be out I just assume it’s time to flip into no electricity mode right away. This time it was back on in 3 1/2 hours but the last one was a few days. I have my granddaughter and her friends visiting and they slept right through the whole thing. They had already decided on an “oatmeal bar” for breakfast (like a salad bar with different toppings set out) so that would be easy without even getting out the emergency propane stove. I made a few notes on what would be nice to have for next time but overall it was a simple process to deal with because I not only had the necessary equipment but it was easy to access, not stuffed in a box at the back of the closet or out in a garage. As soon as the power comes on again I recharge everything right away to make sure all lights and power backups are fully charged for next time.

  11. That storm is supposed to start here Thursday straight thru Sunday. The girls are already texting about changing our celebration to Monday or Tuesday if necessary. We have one more curbside pickup tomorrow, then I am set if we have to shelter in place for the next two months. Go ahead Mother Nature…..I’m ready for you!!!!!

    A Blessed Merry Christmas

    1. Hi Chris, I feel exactly the same as you do! Come on Mother Nature, we need the rain or the snow! Let’s all have a wonderful holiday however we celebrate it, it will be wonderful! Linda

  12. Wonderful article, Linda. I’m a certified Hunter Safety Instructor and one of the first things we teach is to stop and assess the situation, especially if you’re lost (happens more than you think). When reading this article, that’s the first thing that came to my mind…stop and assess your person situation. Even better than that is to be prepared in the first place! I know where all my stuff is at, have flashlights in every room, sometimes more than one, and can access almost anything. I wish Santa would bring me a generator but that’s not gonna happen, unfortunately. I watch/read all I can on “survivor” stories and it’s amazing what a person can learn from them. Some stuff scares the heck outta me (because I know it’s true) and other stuff is pure Hollywood. I can only hope and pray that we will be able to bug in; we’re pretty well set for that. It’s having to leave that scares me so much. We’re really lucky we have a woodstove. They’re not allowed in Washoe County unless you have an acre or more or it’s your only heat source. We were grandfathered in when we built out house. We’ve got about 5-7 cords of wood stored but we’ll need a machine gun to protect it from thieves, etc. I’ve rehearsed all sorts of scenarios so I surely hope we’re prepared enough. That being said, there is always room for learning more things from you and the posters…it’s a wonderful wealth of information on this site!

    1. Hi Robbie, we can both wish for a generator for Christmas, yeah it’s not going to happen here at my house either! LOL! You are so lucky to have a wood-burning stove, now that’s a blessing you were grandfathered in! I love it! We have to be grateful for what we do have and you and I are for sure! 5-7 cords of wood stacked is awesome! Yay! Thank you for your kind words, Linda

  13. Linda,

    This is one of your best posts ever and the comments it generated were excellent and informative as well.

    Those Midland walkie talkies you linked to are very good. I’ve had a pair for years. One word of caution though, do not keep them plugged in to their chargers for any longer than to charge them. I ruined a pair of them by doing that–was away for two weeks and forget they were being charged.

    Even those of us who plan to bug in should keep a bug out bag if for no other reason than insurance against a mandatory evacuation order. When we lived in the mountains of Colorado we had to evacuate a couple of times due to wildfires. Those bug out bags were gold. And when we lived there my bug out bag was a fully loaded, full size backpack I’d throw in the trunk whenever we went anywhere. You never knew when a rockslide or avalanche would block a road and mess up your plans.

    Aside from the things you mentioned, I’d add matches and lighters (and a few other ways to start a fire, like a firesteel or magnifying glass, and good quality space blankets. The ones I use are not the flimsy, tissue thin ones–though those are far better than nothing. I always have a pair of Grabber Outdoor Emergency Blankets in my bug out/get home bags. They are like the thin Mylar space blankets you may have heard about but on steroids. They are much thicker and tougher. The reason I carry two is so I can rig one as a tarp/shelter or ground cloth and wrap one around Jane and I to keep us warm. Again they have grommets so I can use some paracord to convert them into everything from an “A” frame tent to a lean-to. (A fifty-foot roll of Paracord has a permanent home in each of my Get Home Bags). And I still carry a couple of the old-style, cheap, lightweight Mylar space blankets. They fold up credit card sized and weigh just a few ounces. That way if I have to use both my Grabber blankets to form a shelter I’ll still have the lightweight Mylar blanket to wrap us in.

    And when it comes to water, please get either a SurvivorFilter, Lifestraw, Sawyer, Katadyne or other good quality portable water filter and keep it in your bug out/get home bag. You can only store so much water in a pack and you can use those filters to make Lake or River water safe to drink without having to boil it.

    Food: I recently added a pair of Heater Meals (self-heating MRE’s) to my bags, but the main food I take with me in them is Gorp and hard candies.

    What the heck is Gorp? Gorp is a shelf-stable, high carb, high calorie food that can be kept in baggies, or jars. It can be vacuum sealed and frozen or left out at room temperature. Once mixed, Gorp requires no preparation, making it the practically perfect survival food. Its only drawback is that it doesn’t last very long, especially around children, (or me) because it’s totally yummy.

    Gorp is a mixture of chocolate, dried fruit and nuts. You mix it up yourself, using whatever types of those things you like most. It is the basis for all modern trail mixes.

    My basic “recipe” called for plain M&M’s, raisins, and peanuts, with roughly half again as much of raisins and peanuts as M&M’s. I would later add hulled sunflower seeds, cashews, pecans, almonds, macadamias, dried pineapple, apple and bananas. (I’m drooling just thinking about it.) I’ve since started substituting M&M Peanuts for the plain M&M’s and Craisins for the raisins. I am soooo bad.

    Personal protection: Firearms are great but carrying one (unless you live in an open carry State like Arizona) can attract the wrong kind of attention. “Look, he’s got a gun! Must have stuff we want.”

    A more subtle option is bear spray or a stun gun, and they are a great backup to a firearm as well. I use Sabre Pepper Gel, which, in my opinion, is better than a spray because you don’t have to worry about being downwind when you trigger it. My wife carries a “runner” style, small container of it in her purse. The “runner” style has a strap that holds the spray in your hand as you walk or run, so it’s instantly available. I heartily recommend you get at least one.

    Now, a word about knives. Do not skimp when purchasing knives for your bug out bag, or your pocket. A good quality sheathe knife is invaluable and will last a lifetime. My Buck Pathfinder is still going strong after 50 years of use. And my spring assisted Kershaw Leek pocket knife often gets used several times a day.

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