The Basic Survival Kit
Everybody should have a 72-hour survival kit. If you don’t have one, make one. It’s easy and essential. It doesn’t need to cost you a bunch of money. A lot of components can be obtained at the dollar store. The government is incredibly incompetent — don’t count on their ability to help you during an emergency, at least not for the first 72 hours. You’ll have whatever is in your survival kit. If that’s nothing, good luck.
I’m not going to harp on how to build a survival kit. The Government of Canada offers a solid guide (government is great at telling you what to do, just not good at doing it). Think of the basics:
Water and food - water is simple: 2 liters per person per day. Make sure the food in your kit is non-perishable. Canned and freeze-dried meat, beans, vegetables, and fruit are all good ideas. Beef jerky is awesome. Freeze-dried Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) would be nice. Make sure you have a can opener or any other implement required to open or prepare food. MREs often come with utensils; if you’re not using MREs, throw in some plastic utensils (your emergency kit should be mobile!). As a side note related to both food and water: my kit includes evaporated milk. Evaporated milk has lots of protein. You can water it down or drink it straight. It doesn’t last as long as most canned food, but it’s very useful in recipes. We just cycle in fresh cans every few months.
Equipment - tea candles and matches or flashlight and batteries. You should be well-stocked with first aid supplies anyway — make a simple first aid kit and store it in your survival kit.
Necessities for your situation – I have a baby, so we keep 72-hours worth of prepared formula (and actually another 72 hours worth of dry formula) in our survival kit. Often these lists include prescriptions — but you’re not supposed to keep prescription drugs outside of their original packaging, so how do you keep 3 days worth in a survival kit? I’m not sure. I doubt the bureaucrats at the federal government who created the list referenced above could give you a clear answer, either.
Build your survival kit NOW. If there’s an evacuation order, follow it and take the kit with you (also, keep a smaller emergency kit in your trunk at all times). Otherwise stay in your house.
My public service announcement is officially over.
My Dream Survival Kit
At the risk of sounding like an insane doomsday prepper, I’m going to discuss the equipment and supplies I’d like to own as part of a ‘dream’ survival kit. This survival kit would be expensive, but it’s feasible. When I own a large house someday, I think I’ll build this ‘dream’ kit.
Before you label it an insane and spendthrift plan, think about it. Firstly, building this kit over a few years would probably only take 1 or 2% of my gross income. Second, personal finance is, in large part, about ensuring you could deal with negative outcomes (insurance, emergency funds, planned spending accounts, etc.). Is it crazy to divert a couple percent of your salary toward protecting your family against worst case scenarios? You’re welcome to think it’s nutty, but don’t expect to borrow any beef jerky from me.
Here are the contents of my dream survival kit:
- Freeze dried meals, vegetables, and fruit. I’d try to build up at least a year’s supply of each. The Costco offerings that I linked to would make such stockpiling very easy.
- Some other freeze-dried entrees, to add variety to our diets and an extra three months of food for me, my partner, and up to four kids.
- If I had a ‘backup location’ (often, crazy doomsday preppers will build a separate bunker, food caches, or “fox holes”), I’d probably stock it with 3600-calorie food bars. Each bar could feed three people for a day (such a small ration would only give you 1200 calories, so you’d be pretty sickly after a month, but you’d survive and that’s the key).
- Vitamin and mineral supplements would be extremely important if I were living on freeze-dried MREs and food bars. I’d keep a solid year’s supply of multivitamins, fish oil capsules, and vitamin D pills.
- Tons of beef jerky, peanut butter, Frito Lay Munchies, and canned beans, so I could continue to enjoy delicious protein while the world ended.
As for hunting to acquire more food:
- I’d like to own an AR-15, which is the civilian version of the M16. It’s reliable, accurate, and versatile.
- Because Canada is slowly devolving into dictatorship and my innate right to bear arms has been quashed, I’d go for a crossbow. Canada places relatively few restrictions on crossbows that are longer than half a meter. The biggest benefit, in my mind, is that crossbow ammo (bolts) can be reused.
- Cheap night vision goggles (sure, they’re not special ops quality, but even seeing 50-feet in the dark is a huge tactical advantage).
- I currently live on a well. With electricity, this system would continue to operate and provide clean water. But emergency preparedness is all about redundancy.
- To treat water from any source, in case the well system went down, I’d keep a year’s worth of water treatment tablets. Returning to reality, briefly: I keep a 30-pack of these in our survival kit. You should, too.
- To use in concert with water treatment tablets, I’d keep a large filter/storage bag. I’d also carry a smaller storage/filter system for my family’s ‘bug-out’ plan.
- A year’s worth of toilet paper. Enough said.
- Honey buckets and chemical bags. Again, ’nuff said. Let’s cross our fingers that the well pump could hold up. And if it didn’t, let’s hope it’s not a zombie apocalypse so we could still go outside.
- I’d keep lots of vinegar on-hand in the emergency supplies because it can be used for cleaning and laundry (not just pickling, although it’d be useful for that, too).
- A year’s supply of toiletries with a generous amount of items that are suited to emergencies and that afford versatility, like dry shampoo.
- I’d like an extremely comprehensive first aid kit, like the ‘Kilimanjaro’ kit offered by Wilderness Medical. These items could definitely be assembled individually for much less than $1,400. Note that, besides the laxative, I keep all of the drugs in this kit on hand already.
- It’d be nice to have a comprehensive core set of prescription drugs to respond to a variety of ailments (in the same manner as it’d be nice to have a civilization starter kit), but because I’m not a doctor or pharmacist this seems unlikely.
- Potassium Iodide pills are a must if you live near a nuclear reactor. Unless it’s a CANDU reactor — then you’re fine because they’re inherently safe.
If money was no object, what would be in your emergency survival kit?