We Californians are becoming acclimated to disaster planning. We have to. We live under the threat of an earthquake 24 hours a day. A major disaster can strike anywhere, however, so it pays to be prepared – With so much to consider and so many possible scenarios, where do you begin?
It’s actually a lot simpler than you think if you use what I call the layering method. Each “layer” represents something that can hold survival tools, equipment, and supplies. The nature of the layer determines what you are able to access in an emergency.
First, let’s review the basic 10 survival items.
- Matches/fire starter
- First Aid Kit
- Extra Food
- Extra Clothing
- Toilet Paper( maybe the 11th essential!)
These basic items come from some general categories. So when presented with the opportunity to go beyond the basics, use these categories to help you think about your emergency tools and supply needs.
- Waste disposal
Now you can begin the layering process. In each case you’ll want to include as many of the basic survival items as you can. Space permitting, you may heavy up in certain items.
The outermost layer is your location during the day and at night. Chances are you are at work, in a school, or at home. Consider which of the basic survival items you can reasonably obtain and have available. This layer offers the most amount of room, so feel free to load up in each category, such as food/water, clothing, and shelter (such as a tent and sleeping bags). You should also consider purchasing a chain saw, generator, and, if you don’t have one already, a portable stove or other cooking utensil.
The next layer is your primary vehicle, which should carry you for three to five days. You have a fair amount of room for extra clothing, water and food, as well items for shelter. A compact tent and sleeping bag are ideal. You also have room for extra important electronics, such as communications equipment (CB radio, amateur radio gear, satellite phone), a GPS receiver, and extra battery packs if possible. (Check them periodically to make sure they’re charged.). Electronic gadgets are fine as long as you account for the batteries. I also like to include some books, magazines, and other reading material to help get through extended lulls. Once you have attended to any injuries, you mental status will be the most important factor in your survival.
If you need to abandon your vehicle, you’ll reach for your next layer, a go bag. Often just a gym bag or backpack, the go bag can’t carry as much, so you need to be smart about packing. Try to account for most of the categories, but adapt for the smaller space. For example, your shelter may be an Xscape Safe™ Blanket. Food may consist of energy bars and a few other dried items. Avoid salty food if you can, as that will only make you thirsty. If you can’t pack a water bottle, consider a baggie to carry food or water you may find.
Think of your laptop case, briefcase, or purse as a mini Go bag. Make sure to stock it with the basic ten items. You are likely to have one of these wherever you go.
The next layer is your outerwear. If you lose your go bag, you’ll need some basic supplies to get you through the day. Whether you typically wear a business overcoat or a leisure jacket, you’ll have a number of pockets at your disposal. Put them to good use.
Matches (either the waterproof kind or a book inside a waterproof container) are a must. Other important items include a penlight, compass, whistle, bandages, and candy bars. You probably carry your cell phone anyway, but if not, be prepared to grab that.
Your clothing represents the final—that is, innermost—layer. At a minimum, make sure you carry what I consider the top three items: matches, flashlight, and a knife. How much you carry, of course, depends on what type of clothing you typically wear. Cargo pants offer lots of pockets that can be packed with important items.
Review the categories above, and be creative. Signaling, for example, can be done with a small mirror, a money clip, or even a belt buckle. You’ll also have room for some bandages and handi-wipes; keep some with you at all times.
No one likes to think about disasters, but unfortunately they are a part of our lives. This layering process will help you and your family to prepare should a major incident occur. Use the layering process whenever you enjoy the outdoors as well!