Thursday, 20 March 2014

07:58 – Our recent severe winter weather has gotten me started thinking about upgrading our car emergency kits. I intend to build several of them. First, a smaller duffel bag for Barbara’s car and a larger duffel bag for my 4X4. These will remain in the vehicles by default, removed only when we’re hauling stuff or carrying extra people in the vehicles. I’ll design them as 2-person, 3-day kits. They’ll contain at least 2,500 calories per person per day of food that stores well and requires no preparation, 2 liters of water per person per day, clothing, emergency fire-making gear, space blankets, folding knives, multitools, flashlights and light sticks, plenty of batteries, radios (AM/FM/NOAA and FRS/GMRS transceivers), a basic medical kit, and so on. Those small kits are intended to cope with typical emergencies, such as the winter storm that stranded all those people in Atlanta for days. Second, I’ll design larger kits for each vehicle that will support two to four people for 15 to 30 days. Those are evacuation kits, intended to deal with hurricanes and other large-scale emergencies. Those won’t be in the vehicles routinely, but will be available to grab and go.

So I went over to the Red Cross and FEMA sites and looked at their recommendations for emergency kits. Both were fine as far as they went, but they lacked detail and made assumptions that I don’t necessarily want to make. My next stops were the Costco and Amazon web sites and eventually several other sites, where I searched for emergency kits. What a joke. Even the best of them are pathetic. Most contain only shoddy junk, to keep the price down. The medical/first-aid supplies are typically of the two-aspirins-and-a-small-bandaid variety. You usually get a $0.15 plastic whistle for some reason. One of the kits, alleged to be a 2-person-3-day kit, contained a grand total of 1800 calories in the form of six probably-inedible food bars. Worse still, it included only 125 mL of water per person per day in the form of 12 pouches, which according to the reviews leak.

I’d be interested to learn what specifically, my readers carry in their own kits.

10:42 – I find myself buying more and more of the chemicals we need on eBay. I’m making up solutions and just opened my last 500 g bottle of potassium iodide, so I sat down to order more. My regular vendor was charging about $245/kilo for ACS KI, so I checked eBay and ordered a kilo of ACS KI for $126, about as much as my regular vendor wanted for 500 g.