Posted by: jamesotis | February 3, 2009

Emergency Preparedness

  Most who know me know my passion for emergency preparedness and dreadful habit of having nearly anything that I need. And frequently what someone else needs, apart from more space in my backpack or trunk.

 This year one of my personal initiatives is actually completing the 72-hour emergency kit that FEMA recommends. This is more of an undertaking than it may sound, especially since the 72-hour rule is being expanded to 7 days. A comprehensive kit for one person runs between $250 and $350. And that doesn’t include the durable water storage (1 gallon/day/person minimum). It’s also very overwhelming to think of these many details. Keep in mind that this is all dedicated, grab-and-go gear. You won’t be able to search for it when it’s time to go.

 So I’m taking it one need at a time. This week it’s all things pertaining to water. Easy, right?

For anyone who hasn’t, I heartily recommend watching the original season of Connections, a BBC series by James Burke. Episode one explores the extreme interdependence of modern life and the vulnerabilities thus created. Such things as having clean water in a well, but no way to get it out, since the electricity is out and there’s not even a provision to use a rope and bucket.

So, you store your needed water for the day to come. Will the container work? When will you need to refresh the supply? What will you need/want to do with it?


  • Will the container be sturdy enough? Can you get water in and out of it easily? Think of how easy it will aquire holes and how long it take you 5 minutes to refil a liter/quart bottle.
  • Will the container give your water a funny taste or leech in toxic chemicals? Check that. If your container-to-be smells or has the same number as a pre-2009 nalgene, don’t use it. Even then, test it.
  • Did you factor in shaving and brushing your teeth? Where and how will you bathe? Can you safely use it in your car’s radiator if you need to? How much water per task and how frequently? Do you even need to bathe or water wash dishes, given those new multi-purpose wipes?

 Yes, I have entirely too much time and my brain cells are spending too much time at the water cooler. My point remains: What good is a kit if you have to read the instruction manual? If I’m bleeding and you open a first aid manual you’re really too late.                                                   Like when I tried to use Fix-A-Flat for the first and last time. Can #1 didn’t say, “the tire has to be completely flat or this will just blow out the nail and leave a big hole.” Can #2’s connecting tube exploded. Can #3 just leaked out of the hole and made a mess. So Homer taught me how to plug and patch my own tires, saving towing fees, garage fees and getting a few more miles out of that tired tire. And I now know that plugs and glue won’t hold in old, dry tires, but that one can improvise.

So if you want to survive, start thinking. If you want to make survival as pleasant as possible, practice and refine your equipment and skills. And if you want to help others, share your experiences with them.


“You thought?! Thought is past tense. That means you stopped actively thinking. Thinking will save lives, thought will destroy them.”                                                                                                          

-Firing line supervisor to a careless employee, Cherry Creek Firing Range, June 1998


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