One of the upsides of the ongoing economic crisis in this country is that more and more Americans are recognizing the importance of being prepared for emergencies. However, most of this preparation seems to be centered on surviving for extended periods of time within the confines of the home. While prolonged home survival is a necessary first step in any emergency preparedness plan, the fact remains that disasters such as earthquakes, floods and fires may require home evacuation at a moment’s notice. And those families that are unprepared will be forced to fend for themselves, leaving bulky supplies of food for long term storage behind. In an effort to keep that scenario from happening, here’s a look at the 5 essentials each family member will need in order to survive outdoors for at least 72 hours. These items should be stored in individual backpacks or “bug out bags” which can be retrieved at a moment’s notice.
1. Water: We all know that water is essential for survival. But making sure you have enough water that is both potable and portable for outdoor survival is not as easy as it sounds. For starters, you’ll need at least 1 gallon of water per person per day—possibly more depending on conditions. Since 1 gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, a 3 day supply for one person will weigh 24 pounds. Since carrying that much weight isn’t practical, you’ll want to have some water purification systems on hand that are light weight and easier to transport than bottles of water. There are water purification drops, filters, and self contained purification bottles that can be easily found at many stores. Ready to drink water is commercially available in easy to carry pouches and you’ll want to have enough on hand to ensure safe travel until you can find a suitable water source for purification.
2. Portable food for emergency preparedness: The key word here is portable. Forget the clumsy containers of bulk foods you’ve been storing in your pantry or garage. For outdoor survival you want self-contained meals in small packages that fit easily into backpacks and are just as easy to prepare. Again, you’ll need at least 3 days worth of meals for each family member. There are a number of online suppliers of food for emergency preparedness who offer a variety of great tasting, prepackaged meals for outdoor survival. You’ll need to do your homework to make sure that the meals you buy meet the specific nutritional needs of each family member. All foods should be sampled in advance to make sure that even the pickiest eaters will find them palatable.
3. Proper clothing: You need to make sure everyone in your family has proper clothing in their backpack for walking, sleeping and combating any type of weather condition that may be encountered. Proper clothing means clothing that is appropriate for the conditions of the season. And since many areas experience a change of seasons, clothing should be rotated accordingly. Shoes and boots should be broken in to avoid foot problems when walking or hiking. Clothing that is loose, comfortable and can be layered to adjust for extreme temperature swings is also recommended. You’ll also want to include sunscreen, hats and other items that offer sun protection regardless of the season.
4. Adequate Shelter: Another essential element for outdoor survival is adequate shelter, especially in areas subject to harsh weather conditions. Compact and light weight tents are always a good choice, along with tarps which pack easily without taking up much room. You will also need lightweight blankets and sleeping bags, both of which are available through suppliers of emergency preparedness goods. As it is with clothing, it’s critical that your shelter is reevaluated throughout the year to make sure it’s always weather appropriate.
5. Proper First Aid: In an emergency situation, proper medical care may not be readily available. And in outdoor situations even minor injuries can become major problems. So your first aid kit is especially important. You’ll want to include first aid supplies to clean cuts and scrapes, bandage and stitch wounds, relieve pain and administer necessary medications. Special considerations for family members with existing medical conditions—that may worsen in an outdoor survival scenario—should also be factored in.