I just wanted to follow up on the previous article about Realistic Survival Movies with a few words about gear. Now I’m going to say right from the start that I will not address zombies, aliens or the “hoard coming over the fence” theories that so many preppers and survivalists subscribe to. I just want to look at a few bits of gear that would be a good thing to keep at home in case you do lose power for an extended period of time. Here is a short list and then I will go into why I feel that these items are a good choice to keep on hand.
- A portable water purifier
- Something to cook on
- A sturdy fixed blade knife
- A machete
- Lighting (flashlight, headlamp, etc.)
- Portable weather radio
- Walkie talkies
Now I realize that there are about one hundred things that should also be on the list but these are items that most people do not already have. These are items that would probably have to be purchased just for emergency situations. Other things like containers for water storage or backup cell phone battery chargers are already common household items. Walkie Talkies or a machete are not.
- Let’s face it, water is the key to daily survival, besides drinking it, how much water do you use for cooking, washing or any of a hundred other things? Now, hopefully you already keep some water
on hand like most of us do and you probably pick up a case with your regular shopping, which is good. But if for some reason you couldn’t get any more, the store was out and nothing came out of the tap, what would you do? This is where a water purifier comes in. Water purifiers come in a variety of models that range from gravity fed system like the Saywer Mini to the Katadyn Hiker model which requires you to pump the water through it. The big name brand purifiers all remove particles and bacteria that can make you sick including giardia, salmonella,
and cryptosporidium. I personally have a Katadyn that I have used for years in ponds as alligators five feet away watched me suspiciously and I have never gotten sick. The purifiers physically are not very big and range from $30 to $100 for the basic models. They will also happily sit on a shelf for years until needed. It’s also a good idea to take a minute and think about where you would actually find water near your home if you had to go out and collect some.
2. Now that you have the water problem solved the next is food. Luckily there are endless solutions for food for every taste. The thing is that almost all of them require boiling water to prepare so you need some sort of stove. Yes, I know that a lot of us have a barbeque, but if I had to fire up my BBQ every time I wanted to boil water the propane wouldn’t last very long. Not to mention I would rather cook inside and be out of the weather. There are plenty of small, lightweight camp stoves but since I’m not going to be carrying it, I’m not worried about size or weight. I just want something I can pull out when I need it and throw a pot on. Coleman makes a two burner camp stove that can live in a closet until needed and runs on the small propane tanks which can be stored for years. Another good option is the small, one burner butane stoves that are made by Coleman and various other companies. They use butane canisters that you can find in Walmart or any Asian food store. I find that this type of stove easier to use than the Coleman camp stove and have had on the patio keeping soup warm during parties. There is one drawback to any butane stove and that is that butane doesn’t work in cold weather, it won’t turn into a vapor to burn if it’s below 31 degrees Fahrenheit. I just want to add a note about food, if you are serious about being prepared a good way to go is the Mountain House freeze dried food kits.
3. A good, sturdy knife is always a good thing to have around the house but in this case it can be used for anything from cutting rope to splitting small pieces of wood for kindling. There are hundreds of knives you can choose from but decent ones are not that expensive. I like the Gerber Warrant knife because the tang runs all the way through the handle and it’s a pretty sturdy knife. Another good choice is a Camillus Titanium Drop Point that can be had for under ten bucks.
4. Speaking of Camillus products I really like their Carnivore Machete. It comes in a good sheath, has saw teeth along the back for cutting wood and includes a small trimming knife. There are countless versions of machetes floating around the market so really it is a “pick what you like” sort of choice but I have used a machete from everything to clearing brush, trimming trees and pounding in tent stakes. If you have a yard, a machete is a very handy tool to have. On another note, I don’t know sane person that try to attack a person was holding a machete, so there is the defensive weapon side of it.
5. When talking about lighting I think the most useful lamp you could have is a headlamp. They leave your hands free, are always pointing in the right direction and area adjustable in brightness. I’m not going to go into any particular model
because there are so many to choose from but I would definitely choose one that has adjustable brightness and possible a choice of red light which seems easier on the eyes at night. As for a flashlight to keep by the front door I would suggest the larger Maglites because they can also be a club if need be. A couple of lanterns are also a good choice to have around to light larger areas but candles will perform the same function and most people I know already have several candles around the house.
6. These days it’s uncommon for someone to be listening to the radio at home. With all the streaming services available most people don’t even have a radio in their house. If the power goes out most cell towers have backup generators but your call usually goes from the cell tower to a switching station over T1 internet cable. If it’s a national blackout the switching station will also lose power and you can’t make calls and you will probably lose the internet as well. So, with that in mind a small, rechargeable radio that also get weather alerts would seem to be a great thing to have. There are a lot of choices around but some key features to look for are; solar charging, crank charging, weather alerts, a flashlight and the ability to insert batteries as a backup option. A company named Runningsnail has some good choices and they are under fifty dollars.
7. Walkie talkies or personal radios. This is really an optional choice but I have found that they are an inexpensive way to communicate locally when there is no cell service. I have a couple of Midland radios and have used them traveling, camping and between boats while fishing. Most current models have a decent range but you will never get the range that they advertise. If the power has been out for a few days and you want to scout around a little, take a radio with you. Give one to your neighbors on the other street so you can keep in contact. You can easily pick up a set of two or four on Amazon for under $50. Not something you’ll use every day but when you need it you’ll be glad you have it.
I didn’t really touch on food that much because it seems to be more personal preference than anything else. You can store canned foods, top ramen or buy the premade meals like the Mountain House meals I mentioned before, there are endless choices. The most important point about food always comes back to one thing, water. People have gone weeks without food but you just can’t make it that long without water, which is why I suggest get your water situation figured out first.
This article is obviously not a survival guide for a life without electricity but is just meant to give you a few tips about things to keep in the garage that would make any extended time without electricity a bit more livable. If you are more serious about prepping there are endless videos and opinions on YouTube you can explore.