Another Piece of Gear for Your Disaster Preparedness Kit
Aside from the canned vegetable and fruit additions mentioned in our previous blog, there was only one other piece of gear that we thought we should add to our Disaster Preparedness gear to assist in a situation that lasted longer than 2 weeks; an Emergency Dental Kit (EDK).
According to the American Dental Association, there are more than 2.1 million visits to the emergency room for dental related cases each year. Of these 80% (1.65 million) don’t actually require emergency treatment and could probably be diverted to the dental office on a semi-urgent basis (“Majority of Dental-Related Emergency Department Visits Lack Urgency and Can Be Diverted to Dental Offices”).
But accidents do happen and dental issues need to be taken care of expeditiously to prevent problems like:
Because of this you need to include dental health in your emergency preparedness plans. Especially since, in a disaster you may not be able to get to a dentist, or a dentist may not be available – and no one wants to be like Tom Hanks in the movie “Castaway”. So, for emergencies involving your teeth, you should have the essentials for treating minor dental pain and injuries in your Disaster Preparedness kit.
When looking for, or making, an EDK you should look for a kit that includes the following items:
Rather than build a kit on our own we searched the internet and found Dr. Stahl's Emergency Dental Kit. It contains the almost all of the items we were looking for to include:
In our opinion the Dr. Stahl Dental Kit has all the essentials for temporarily treating minor dental pain and injuries. Adding this EDK to the rest of our First Aid Supplies ensures that we’re prepared for any small dental issues during a short duration disaster. The kit even comes with an order form that you can use to purchase refills if you use an item or just want additional supplies.
It's imperative to take care of your teeth – even in a disaster. Since you never know when a dental emergency will come up and you won't be able to get to a dentist quickly, you should have an EDK on hand. You can buy the Dr. Stahl EDK at CampingSurvival.com.
If you want more details on EDKs, here are a couple of good articles to read:
How to Build a Dental Emergency Kit
How to Make a First Aid Kit for Dental Emergencies
What Do You Need if a Disaster Lasts More Than 2 Weeks
If you look through our previous blog posts discussing Disaster Preparedness, or review the gear that we list on our Disaster Preparedness page, you’ll notice that we advocate planning for a 3 day to 2 week period where you need to be self-sufficient.
Obviously this overarching timeline drives what you need to plan for and what kind of gear you need to have stored away to support your plans. However, because of the recent COVID-19 impacts on “non-essential businesses”, we relooked our gear list to see if there were any other items that you might want to purchase ahead of time to allow for events lasting last longer than 2 weeks.
If you already have all of the gear on our Disaster Preparedness list, then what you need most to be self-sufficient for more than 2 weeks is more food. However, this is a slippery slope since you then have to decide how much more food and what kinds of food to add to your 2-week supply. Short of becoming a full-blown “prepper” the best answer is to probably purchase more freeze dried meals (we like the Mountain House Classic bucket and Breakfast bucket), purchase more of the same non-perishable food items that we already recommend, and augment this supply with some canned vegetables and canned fruits.
You might ask why we didn’t originally advocate storing canned vegetables or fruits for a disaster. Well, we didn’t put them on our 3 day to 2 week list because their dietary necessity is low in a short duration emergency (when compared to your body’s need or protein), because most people already have either enough fresh vegetables/fruits in their refrigerator, frozen items in their freezer, or canned items in their pantry to last for a few days, and because the stable shelf life of canned vegetables/fruits is shorter than other foods. But, if you need to plan to be self-sufficient for longer than 2 weeks you’re going to need vegetables and fruits – both for a healthy diet and for taste variety.
Consequently, to prepare for a disaster that lasts more than two weeks, we would add some of the following foods – in quantities that support whatever duration we thought was prudent – to our Disaster Preparedness supplies:
Canned Vegetables (generally have a shelf life of 3 to 5 years)
- Artichoke Hearts
- Carrots (dehydrated)
- Diced Tomatoes (shelf life of ~2 years due to its acidic nature)
- Green Beans
- Green and Chili Peppers
- Sweet Potatoes
- Vegetable Medley
Canned Fruits (generally have a shelf life of ~18 months)
- Applesauce (like Go-Go Squeez)
- Fruit Cocktail
- Fruit Slices (dehydrated)
- Mandarin Oranges
- Pie Filling
Here’s a good article from Happy Preppers on “37 Foods to Hoard: Survival food storage you can get from the grocery store”:
And, if you want to find out how long food will last, here’s a great website for that: Still Tasty – Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide:
Aside from these food additions there was only one other piece of gear that we identified which would be useful in a disaster situation that lasted longer than 2 weeks; a Dental First Aid kit. So we’ll talk about that in our next blog.
The Hierarchy of Survival Actions
Since everyone is currently focused on surviving the COVID-19 (e.g. coronavirus) pandemic we thought that this would be a good time to discuss the hierarchy of survival actions – as dictated by the “Rule of Three”.
For those of you not familiar with the “Rule of Three” it states that you can survive for 3 minutes without air/oxygen or in icy water. You can survive for 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment. You can survive for 3 days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment). You can survive for 3 weeks without food (if you have water and shelter).
So what does the “Rule of Three” really mean? Well it’s pretty straightforward in directing what you need to focus on and how quickly you need to focus on it. After all, if you can’t breathe - you don’t need shelter. If you get hypothermia from the rain, heatstroke from the sun, or freeze from the cold - you don’t need water. If you are incapacitated or die from dehydration – you don’t need food. And, if you have a shelter and water, then knowing that you have 3 weeks to either improve your wilderness living situation, find a way to trek back to civilization, or help rescuers locate you, should greatly improve your mental condition – while you hunt and gather food.
As a specific example of this survival hierarchy, if you watch the TV “survival” shows (e.g. Naked and Afraid, Alone, Man vs. Wild, Dual Survival, etc.,) you can see that there is often a great difference between the initial actions that the experts and the novices take when dropped into the wilderness. Many of the novices start by trying to build a fire – something that may be important – but can take a significant amount of time and effort – and can prove to be very frustrating; a bad emotion to encounter on your first day in a survival situation. In contrast, you’ll notice that the experts normally try to find a good site for their shelter (near water if possible, sheltered from the wind, away from any flood plain and safe from any “widow maker” trees). Once they have located a good site they immediately try to build the best shelter that they can in the available time that they have before nightfall; knowing that they can always improve their shelter on Day #2 if they survive Day #1. As they collect materials for their shelter they might simultaneously gather materials to make a fire, but the fire is of secondary importance (especially since having a shelter will allow them to more easily build, light and protect a fire and any firewood they gather). Only once they have a shelter do they begin to focus in earnest on their needs for fire, a longer term water supply and how to acquire food.
Rather than write a very long blog that still only superficially covers the vast amount of detail required to really prepare you for a survival situation, here’s a listing of six books that you might want to own so that you have access to the knowledge that the survival experts have honed over the years:
For more information on survival, especially what you might want to do to prepare for a potential short term disaster, you should check out our website’s “Camping/Maps and Books” and “Disaster Preparedness” pages. But, whatever else you do, please remember the “Rule of Three” - since it could save your life.
Including What You Need to Have On Hand to Bake
Lately there’s been a lot of discussion about the Coronavirus (e.g. COVID-19) and what precautions people should take to protect themselves from catching the virus. As with most other potential disasters we believe that everyone needs to be prepared for at least a week – and preferably two weeks – of social/economic breakdown due to events like tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, floods, power grid outages, etc., The Coronavirus situation is no different.
As the first step in protecting yourself you need to have all the essential gear purchased and stored in your house ahead of any disaster striking since supplies can quickly disappear from local stores. To make matters worse, during a disaster supply chains can break down prohibiting the delivery of new critical food, medical and repair items to your area. Our list of essential supplies that we think you need to have on hand to prepare for any disaster (augmented by other gear that you probably already have for Camping or Hiking), fall into 9 main categories:
You can see all the items that we put into each of these nine categories on our Disaster Preparedness page. You can even download a PDF file with that has a complete listing of all the gear to help you with your shopping.
So that’s the essentials that you should have on hand to prepare for any short term disaster. Now here’s an “advanced” tip. In many disaster situations your house will still have power and you will be able to cook using your normal stove top burners and oven. In other cases you may lose power completely causing any items in your refrigerator/freezer to spoil and forcing you to cook on a camp stove. In both of these cases you may find that you don’t have perishables like milk or eggs on hand to bake or make other recipes. Luckily, there’s an easy fix to this problem – adding powered milk and either freeze-dried eggs or a powdered egg substitute to your Disaster Preparedness stores. Having these two simple items on hand can greatly increase your cooking options.
In our case, for powdered milk, we keep Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk in our supplies. The powdered milk is fortified with vitamins A and D and a 9.63 ounce canister makes 3 quarts of milk when you add water. You should be able to buy Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk at your local grocery store or at Amazon.
For eggs we use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer. This egg powder is made from potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda and psyllium husk fiber. There’s very little flavor in the mix so it doesn’t interfere with any recipes that we’ve tried. It’s also gluten free in case that matters to you. As an alternative you can always use freeze-dried eggs from companies like OVA Easy or Mountain House – just make sure that they don’t have bacon bits, ham or peppers in the mix if you’re using them to bake – since that can make for a very unpalatable muffin (we have both of these in our supplies too - just not primarily for baking). We can purchase Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer at our local grocery store, so you may be able to find it in your local area – if not you can buy it at Amazon. You can probably find freeze dried eggs like OVA Easy Dehydrated Egg Crystals at your local outdoor store or you can buy them at Amazon.
Whatever you do, plan ahead and if you can’t afford to purchase all your Disaster Preparedness supplies at one time then make a prioritized list and purchase them a little at a time. You’ll sleep a little better, even if you never need to use them – and you’ll be really glad if you do ever need them.
What Gear Do You Need Make it Through a Disaster?
Every year there are tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, snow storms, earthquakes and other unanticipated disasters that cause people to live without power, water and heating/air conditioning for extended periods of time, or cause people to have to evacuate their homes.
Although Disaster Preparedness is not Hiking, Camping or Shooting – there’s a great deal of overlap regarding the gear; especially if the disaster lasts more than a couple of days – so we’ve added a new section to our website that details what gear we think you need in the following areas to be ready for a disaster:
You can read all the information about the gear that we have on the Camping/Disaster Preparedness page.
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