Category: emergency kits

Wed. June 28, 2023 – ‘life of a repo man’s always intense…’

Oh my, hot hot and more hot. Yesterday started at 78F with a breeze off the lake that felt nice in the shade. Eventually it got to 100F in the shade, and humidity in the high 80s. It was 84F at 11pm, so I skipped radio and dock time.

I did get a lot of progress made. The decision to start backfilling the patio area was a good one. It’s filling in, and the mounds of dirt in the yard are going away which is win-win. My productivity was dropping, so it was a good time to change things up a bit. The heat is draining, and climbing in and out of the machines is taking a toll.

I even stopped at 8pm so I could use the remaining light to figure out what broke and how to fix the washing machine drain line. I ripped it up good getting that root ball out… I’m going to call the septic guy and see if he wants to take a look. Where the pipe enters the tank is loose, and I think it should be tight. Otherwise, I’d just replace the elbows and repair the pipe myself. I’m going to have to start stocking 2″ pvc if I keep digging. What a maroon. Eh Doc?


Water. Water and prepping. You can’t have too much. Our new septic system is sized for 750 gallons A DAY. Obviously during a disaster or grid down, you won’t be using that much, but it takes far more than people think. Standard prepper lore is 1 gallon per person per day, and half for each pet. That is SURVIVAL. NOT living. Figure more like 5 gallons each to maintain some little bit of normality. You need drinking water, hygiene water, cooking water, washing up water, and if the event lasts long enough, clothes washing water…

Store lots. As much as you have room for, in different containers. Have multiple ways to treat and make water potable. Your plan should include stored drinking water, stored clean water that can be used for washing, food prep, and made into drinking water.

You should have a filter that will supply your whole family’s needs every day. You should have the means to capture and store water in a long term event. I’ve got a kiddie pool to capture rain water. But I have stored water in case the rainwater or surface water is contaminated. My rainwater capture for the garden doubles as stored “can be made drinkable” water. Counting the rain barrels I’ve got over 500 gallons stored. Over 100 gallons are supposedly ‘ready to drink’ but I usually run it through a Britta filter just for taste. If there was any issue visible or smellable, I’d filter or treat with bleach.

Water treatment plans should include everything from liquid bleach (unsented, plain bleach), Porta-aqua tablets, iodine, the ability to filter and to boil, UV sterilization (there were some neat pen style sterilizers but I never bought one) but systems designed for drinking water aren’t uncommon, and even distillers or reverse osmosis systems (like on a boat) are available.

Know the theory of building a solar still as bushcraft, survival lore, or camping, just in case. Better to practice it but I’m somewhat realistic… at least stack a roll of clear plastic, and a roll of black- they have MANY other uses too.

Water is your first need, and should be treated accordingly. Have choices, fallbacks, alternatives, and ‘just in case’.

So much to stack. So little time. If I only had one choice to make, I’d probably get two Sawyer Mini filters. Because two is one, and one is none. And five new food safe 5 gallon buckets with lids. Put paper cups and the filters in two of the buckets, keep the others to fill as needed.

Stack it up.

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Thur. Oct. 14, 2021 – falling behind, ever farther behind….

Hot and humid, but maybe a bit less so today than last week. Or even yesterday. I would like the rain to hold off though so I can use my pickup truck to move some things.

Did my errands yesterday. Flipped one auction item to the auctioneer for cash while doing the pickup… didn’t make what I hoped to make but did keep the auctioneer thinking favorably of me. And I’ll eventually get more stuff in his auctions. Meatspace baby. Relationships. Trust. Mutual self interest. These things need building up as much as your stacks of buckets and cans do.

Daughter had a little mishap after dinner that I’ve described in yesterday’s comments. It brings up some interesting discussion points regarding medical preps. Do you keep stuff that you don’t actually know how to use? Or do you fear ‘getting yourself into trouble’ with it? I’m firmly on the side that stacks material that is far outside your competence to use, especially with medical preps. Having a Doctor in your group, or just access to a doctor, maybe by radio or cell phone will do you no good if you don’t also have the stuff that he can direct you to use. Worst case is me using the stuff to ‘wing it’ if it all goes pear shaped. Slightly less worst case is me learning from the reference material how to do better than just winging it. Having the stuff and learning how to use it, or being advised on its use, or even trading it later to someone else is all better than not having it when it is needed.

Don’t be afraid to stack something you aren’t able to use. You might learn, someone else might use it on your behalf, or you might just exchange it for something you need more later on.

Stack ALL the things*


*start with the basics, then get more advanced in every area. Don’t skip something that becomes available out of order though. You might not get a second time.

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Wed. May 5, 2021 – Culturally appropriate, or appropriate? Cinco de drunko…

Cooler and drier than yesterday, maybe. Yesterday started humid and overcast but ended breezy and clear and very nice. I’m hoping the ‘very nice’ continues today.

Spent the morning getting my truck from the dealer. Spent the early afternoon asleep. Spent the rest of the day poking at the new machine. Given that it has a computer, touch screen, and several different interface devices, and lots of settings, I’ll be reading the manual. I hate reading the manual, and if it was a rental, I’d just be cool with whatever I could figure out in 10 minutes. Since I own it, I should probably know what all that stuff does.

Ford uses a “Sync” branded system for the info and entertainment system. It does one thing I like so far, you can sync the clock to the clock on the GPS. You still have to set the hour to match your time zone, but it’s a nice feature and speaks to the integration. It has a category for apple phone integration and android. I will probably be watching some youtube vids soon. I’ve got other stuff on the agenda for today though.

Youngest child stayed home from school yesterday with coughing that improved about the same time she was sure she wouldn’t be going in. What she won’t like is getting a ‘rona test today before class. I was sympathetic, and she was coughing and miserable, but that 10% of doubt should have been more. Little faker. Or at least little exaggerator.

Today should be eaten up with errands (pickups of household stuff) and truck stuff. I’ve got to get the truck stuff done, it’s eating time I need for other things. I really want to be all back together and ready to work when my part time business partner gets the drawings done for my client’s rip and replace. That will also mean proceeding with the auctioneer that will take pallets of stuff.

It’s a whole lot easier to sit at my desk and mess around online.

Must resist… urge… must…resist…..

So time to get going. Clear the decks so I can get to stacking…


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Sun. Jan. 17, 2021 – working the plan

Cold and clear today, same as yesterday.

34F when I went to bed, supposed to be LOW of 36F according to the weather liars.

Did my stuff yesterday, got most of it done.  The big disappointment was the sump pump battery backup.  No battery.  Still, I’ve got batteries and the rest is ok.

Today the family is driving 3 hours north to look at some property on a lake.  I really like the looks of the property, wooded, two lots totaling 11 acres (one on the lake, one behind that lot) right up close to a national forest.  The house is really odd, and the lake has some restrictions that my wife doesn’t love.  The question is, bug out location or vacation lake house?  Which is primary?  We’ll see.  Events elsewhere may push my wife more toward BOL.

I don’t know what’s happening in DC but it’s got the whole country nervous as hell.  At least the half that pays attention.  LOTS of people are paying a whole lot more attention now.  Several people on my rounds today were watching carefully and there is a lot of head shaking once you engage with them.

And that’s just one reason why KNOWING where you can go if you have to go is essential.  Currently, I don’t plan to leave, and that’s mostly because I don’t have anywhere to go.  It’s also because no matter what happens, Texas is probably a good place to be.  I’m thinking Chicago, Baltimore, Philly, DC, all the usual suspects are NOT going to be good places to be.  If you live in a sh!thole city, you might want to consider a plan that is just “that Bayfront motel at the intersection of x and y” in a small town 3 hours away, with a storage unit and some minimal sustainment supplies.  That would be a huge step in the right direction.  It might not hurt to have that storage unit in a company name, prepaid for a while, either.

In fact, maybe working out a list of what I’d stash in the smallest available storage unit would be a good idea.  You can fit a lot in 4 or 8 black tubs.

Get to thinkin’.   Get to stackin’.


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Saturday, 13 August 2016 Home made first aid kits

Based on comments from a previous post, here is some discussion of basic first aid kits.

FWIW, I like to build my basic kits and my much more capable ‘car kits’ around a makeup organizer or a toiletries organizer. I find them often in thrift stores and yard sales for only a buck or two.

New comments, or additions are in [square brackets]


Dave says:
22 August 2015 at 15:18 (Edit)

Here are the contents of my under $10 first aid kit:

30 clear adhesive bandages
0.33 oz triple antibiotic ointment
50 extra strength acetaminophen tablets
50 alcohol prep pads
5 2×2 gauze pads
5 3×3 gauze pads
5 yards of 1/2″ adhesive tape

Everything listed above fits in a one quart zip top bag.

[I think you are a bit heavy on bandaids, and could use more styles. I like the fabric ones as they stick well. Consider having a couple of sizes of traditional shapes, plus finger tip and knuckle, and at least one big one for a skinned knee.]

nick says:
22 August 2015 at 20:15 (Edit)

Hey Dave, some things to think about adding,

tube of crazy glue (to glue skin, stings like fire but works)
wet naps (get some at chick fil a)
packets of sunscreen (like a condiment pack at fast food, might be in the sample size section of your store)
sunblock chapstick
fewer tablets,
gloves- vinyl if you are worried about latex allergies.

[trauma shears are great, but a good sharp ‘kitchen’ style scissor works well. Any scissor is better than none, as long as it is sharp. For a knife, even a ‘wallpaper’ style disposable box cutter works- the kind with snap off blades. It’s cheap, sharp, and small.]

OR just buy one of these kits. I have several versions and like the quality and what’s included.

The 1.0 kit is a good balance of price and performance.

In general, you are right that you can put together a better kit for the money, but the Adventure Medical kits do a good job of proving that wrong (or LESS right.)


BTW- great job taking that step! Keep adding to your preps!

[I still like the AdvMed kit as a starting point.]

Dave says:
23 August 2015 at 14:06 (Edit)


The first aid kit is intended to go in a vehicle emergency kit, which will be a little stripped down to start with. I’m betting that I’ll be there with a knife and a flash light that I’ll remember to grab the flash light out of the car. The other suggestions look like things I will want to add when I expand the kit.

The things I think are missing:

1. Oral rehydration salts.
2. A splint and a more effective pain reliever than acetaminophen.
3. A weeks supply of my prescription meds.
4. Some loratadine tablets.

The last item is for my wife, and the other things are things I actually could have used at one point or another. On our last vacation, my wife and I both could have used the oral rehydration salts. Would have made the vacation a little less memorable.

[the anti-diarrhea meds are a staple of my kit, and in my briefcase, and my boo boo kit. I don’t think you need anything stronger than Tylenol but you might want to consider fewer Tylenol tabs, and adding a few anti-inflammatory tabs, like Motrin, and a few anti-histamines, like Benadryl. I carry electrolyte salt tablets, for dehydration and hangover relief. Splints are likely overkill, and are pretty easy to improvise. ]

[I also think, due to the changing nature of the threat, that you need to consider gunshot or other trauma, even in a basic kit.   I’d add 2 rolls of Kerlix and a couple of 4×4 gauze pads.

A penlight, a Sharpie marker, and a large safety pin would be good adds too.  An instant cold pack is nice if you have the space.

You can still fit this into a pretty compact package, and it adds a great deal of capability.]

[Medical prep in general is a big topic and deserves more in depth coverage, but I’m gonna limit this post to the basic first aid kit.]




ADDED_____________ 2pm


Finally found a couple of the others, so I’ll make this even more of a mega post!


  • nicksays:

    Ok, I’ll bite, since I’m in serious work avoidance mode.

    And I’ve got my ‘blowout kit’ right here in my range bag.

    Small samsonite toiletries bag, about 2.5x4x7 inches, that unzips in a clamshell and lays flat.

    Loose in the middle,
    israeli bandage
    trauma shears
    medical tape
    maglite (if you use led, it must have good color rendering)
    3 pr gloves

    in the loops on one side
    4x sterile pad, 3×3 folded in half
    1x roll kerlix
    1x roll gauze
    4x sterile pad, 3×3 folded in half
    extra shears

    in the zippered mesh pouch on the other side
    8x assorted size and shape fabric bandaids
    4x alcohol prep pads
    2x single use Povidone-iodine ointment
    4x kleenhanz antimicrobial moist towelettes
    1x envelope of wound closure strips (steri-strips) 8 @3 inches
    2x maxi-pads, full size, generic, no fragrance
    1x package, 2 @4×4 topper dressing sponges
    1x 4×4 Exuderm OdorShield (what I had handy as a chest seal)
    1x black sharpie marker
    1x sheet of paper, folded for notes

    So there is some stuff in there that is not strictly gun shot treatment, but then I don’t have to carry another ‘boo boo’ kit (although I carry my altoids tin one whenever I’m with the kids.)

    The bags in my vehicles are scaled up versions of the blowout kit, and include gorilla tape, more of everything, ice packs, etc. I’d have to get one out to go thru and list it all.


    [OFD asked if that all fit in the Samsonite toiletries bag]

    yep all that fits in the little Samsonite bag. The bag goes into my range bag most of the time. Since I don’t travel with the range bag, the blowout kit goes into my carryon. I checked the TSA rules, and trauma shears meet the rules for allowed scissors, and they didn’t steal them on my last trip.

  • nick says:

    Ok, ‘boo boo kit’ in an altoids tin, goes in pocket whenever I go anywhere with the kids.

    Loose, or in top half

    6x assorted shapes and sizes fabric bandaids, incl one big enough for a scraped knee
    3x sheets of rite-n-rain notepad paper.
    3x imodium anti-diarrhea med

    tucked firmly and completely into the bottom half
    6x alcohol wipes
    1x single use triple antibiotic cream
    1x small tube crazy glue
    4x fabric knuckle bandaids
    1x One third of a paper book of matches
    1x wooden golf pencil
    1x prethreaded sewing needle, 18 inch black thread, wrapped around pencil
    1x lens cleaner wipe
    2x stick of caffinated chewing gum (BlackBlack, from asia)
    1x safety pin

    It is a little puffy, and won’t quite stay closed by itself, so I have a rubber bracelet around the outside (like the ‘live strong’ bracelets)

    I also wrote “med only” on it to remind myself not to put anything with a blade in it so I can take it on the plane.

    If I had a small tweezer, I’d include that too. and since I carry a credit card sized magnifier in my wallet, I don’t need one in my kit.




I like toiletries organizers or cosmetics organizers for medical bags. They fold open flat, sometimes with a pouch that folds out again for a tri fold, they have zippered mesh pouches and elastic loops. They are super cheap at yard sales and thrift stores, and some of them are better quality than the chinese import tactical bags. No external molle, but that’s not a problem. I like them about 8 x 9 x 3 inches for truck bags. Big enough to hold a lot of supplies, small enough to fit under a seat. I wouldn’t recommend the classic ‘dopp’ bag, or any other that just zips open on the top (shaving bag). You want it to fold open and lay flat so you can see everything.



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Thursday, 25 September 2014

08:31 – Barbara is due back late today, and I still have cleaning up to do.

The morning paper reports a train derailment in Rural Hall, a few miles from here. Three tanker cars derailed, but spilled only 50 to 100 gallons (200 to 400 liters) of diesel emission fluid, which apparently is used to clean diesel engines. Fortunately, the liquid is pretty benign. It’s a 32% aqueous solution of urea. Think very concentrated urine.

Autumn weather has definitely arrived. It’s been drizzling steadily for the last 24 hours. Our highs for the next week are to be in the mid- to upper-70’s (~25C) and our lows in the high 50’s (15C). With winter fast approaching, I did freeze tests overnight on the canned food that goes in our vehicle emergency kits. The Costco canned chicken, Spam, Chef Boyardee beef ravioli, Bush’s baked beans, and Pet condensed milk all froze solid without damaging the containers. So did the 3.4 liters of water in the gallon (3.8 L) Tropicana orange juice jug.

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

08:47 – Barbara left at 0400. Colin was outraged. I just went back to sleep.

Something odd is going on with the fire hydrants on our street. Ever since we moved into this house in 1987, the hydrant in the front corner of our yard and the two at the ends of the block have had green tops and caps, which indicates a flow rate of 1,000 to 1,500 GPM. NFPA considers that excellent for a residential neighborhood. Then, a week or so ago, I noticed that the hydrant in the corner of our front yard and the one on one corner had had their tops and caps painted blue, which indicates a flow rate of 1,500+ GPM. This morning, I noticed that the hydrant in front of our house is back to having green top and caps. Very strange. I conclude that the flow rate of our hydrant must be very close to 1,500 GPM.

I’m building science kits today. While Barbara is gone, I intend to get some work done on the new science kits we plan to introduce Real Soon Now. That and watch Heartland re-runs.

11:47 – One of the things on my to-do list while Barbara’s gone is to do some freezing tests for canned foods that I intend to include in our car emergency kits. Water isn’t an issue. Water expands by 9.0% (or a bit less, depending on the initial temperature at which the volume is measured) when it freezes, so for example 2.00 liters of water forms about 2.18 liters of ice. Allowing for a bit of safety margin, that means I can store 900 mL of water in a 1 L bottle or 1.8 L of water in a 2 L bottle, knowing that if it freezes it won’t burst the container.

But I have no idea what the freezing points of, for example, Bush’s baked beans or Chef Boyardee ravioli or canned chicken or evaporated milk are, nor how compressible the non-water contents are. So I’ll check that experimentally by freezing a can of each of them and seeing if the cans rupture. Anything that doesn’t survive the freezer test won’t be in our emergency kits.

I’ve also been thinking about containers. A good 3-day car kit is bulky and heavy. As of now, I’m using one opaque 20 gallon (~ 80 L) storage bin per vehicle, which is large enough to contain a pretty comprehensive 2-person/1-dog 3-day emergency kit, other than a full complement of water. For water, I’ll probably use clean 1-gallon heavy plastic orange juice jugs. Six of those should suffice, even in hot weather.

For organization within the bins, I’m using quart and gallon ziplock bags to group subassemblies like fire making, water treatment, medical, personal sanitation, etc. Those are further grouped into one backpack and one duffel bag per kit, on the basis that although it’s almost always best to remain with the vehicle, there may be times when it’s necessary to walk out.

I suspect that Barbara may not be delighted about hauling this much stuff in the back of her car at all times, but I think I can bring her around. As they say, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Anyone who remembers the mess in Atlanta in January of 2014 should make it a high priority to have a car emergency kit. Tens of thousands of people stranded, thousands of them for two or three days, when Atlanta roads became parking lots, all because the Atlanta area had a minor snowstorm, with accumulations of only 1″ to 3″ (2.5 to 7.5 cm). Imagine what might have happened if there had been a serious widespread emergency. Thousands, even tens of thousands, of people might have died because they were unprepared for an emergency.

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Friday, 19 September 2014

09:38 – With Barbara leaving at 0400 Sunday morning, I’m trying to keep her from exhausting herself before she leaves. These tours are often physically demanding, with lots of walking. Barbara said she’d stop at the supermarket on the way home from work, then make dinner, then go out and cut the grass. Tomorrow, she’s planning to clean house in addition to all the preparations for the trip. I’m trying to convince her to take it easy.

The second bottle of Polar Pure showed up in yesterday’s mail. The confusion could have been avoided if the vendor had simply stated that the two items would ship separately. Instead, it said they’d ship together in one package and they provided only one tracking number.

Incidentally, I was wrong about using strong Lugol’s solution for water disinfection. As it turns out, the triiodide ion is much less effective than free iodine. I should have remembered that, because I read Iodine Disinfection in the Use of Individual Water Purification Devices several years ago. That PDF is well worth reading if you have any interest in the topic.

The Polar Pure bottles are each supposed to contain 8 grams of crystal iodine. Polar Pure considers this amount adequate to disinfect 2,000 quarts/liters, which means an iodine concentration of 4 mg/L. I’m more comfortable at 8 mg/L or even 16 mg/L, so I think I’ll modify these Polar Pure bottles by adding more crystal iodine to each bottle and updating the instructions to achieve a final concentration in the 16 mg/L range. Alternatively, you can use an unmodified Polar Pure bottle simply by doubling or quadrupling the recommended amounts, which of course cuts the capacity down to 1,000 or 500 liters. Even at 500 liters, that’s still a 250 person-day supply at 2 L/day, which isn’t bad for that small bottle.

Even at the higher concentrations, Cryptosporidium remains a problem. Three interrelated factors affect disinfection effectiveness: iodine concentration, temperature, and contact time. Achieving even a 2-log reduction in Cryptosporidium requires by one source a CT of 1,015 mg-min/L, presumably at 20C. In other words, to kill 99% of the Cryptosporidium oocysts at 16 mg/L, the contact time required would be 1015/16 = ~ 64 minutes. At Polar Pure’s recommended 4 mg/L, a 2-log reduction takes more than four hours. Much better just to boil the water if at all possible.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

07:41 – I need to pay the estimated taxes today. I really hate writing big checks to the government for money we’ll never see again.

Barbara and I made up a bunch of chemical bags yesterday for chemistry kits. Today, I’ll get started on building another batch of two or three dozen chemistry kits, of which we currently have only three in stock. As expected, kit sales have started to slow down. We have only five kits queued up to ship this morning, plus whatever orders come in today before the mail arrives.

The news reports about Anna Marie Smith, the girl who was found dead at Appalachian State University, aren’t providing much information about what actually happened. Reading between the lines, it sounds like after only a couple of weeks as a college freshman the girl was desperately unhappy. One unconfirmed report from an unidentified source says that she asphyxiated herself, although nothing was said about whether that was an accident or suicide. If true, that won’t be any consolation to her family, of course, but it will ease the concerns of other parents.

12:52 – I get frequent emails asking advice about what to include in emergency kits. Obviously, there are many different types of emergency kits, ranging from ones that weigh a few hundred grams and fit in a belt pouch to vehicle kits that may weigh 20 to 50 kilos or more, not counting water, to fixed-base emergency kits that may weigh several hundred kilos or more.

I concluded a long time ago that no one sells emergency kits worth having. The problem is that they are building these kits to a price point, and that price is absurdly low. No one is willing to pay what a real emergency kit would actually cost. One of those $79 car emergency kits is better than nothing, but not much better. What you’re really buying is false peace of mind. Unfortunately, if you ever really need the kit, that peace of mind will disappear fast. The contents are invariably shoddy, from the backpack that holds the kit to the individual items themselves. And the contents are almost invariably poorly thought-out. So, if you want a real emergency kit, the only option is to build it yourself.

I’ve been building car emergency kits for Barbara’s and my vehicles. I’m doing so modularly and iteratively, modularly because otherwise it’s too hard to keep track of what should be in there and what can be eliminated, and iteratively because I keep modifying and improving as I go along. Here’s what’s currently in the fire-making kits. This is the half-page label that’s on the outer bag.

Fire Making Kit

Zippo lighter: Not fueled. Fuel evaporates within a week or so after filling. Use Zippo fuel in this kit. In an emergency, gasoline, charcoal lighting fluid, Coleman fuel, VM&P naphtha, or a similar flammable liquid may be used. Slide lighter body out of shell, lift the end of the pad on the bottom of the lighter body, and add a teaspoon (5 mL) or so of fuel (sufficient to saturate cotton under pad). If you replace the flint, be careful when removing/replacing the screw that restrains the spring-loaded flint follower. Package also contains: Spare flints, spare wick, and four 15 mL bottles of Zippo fuel.

Magnesium fire starter: Use a knife or the included tool to shave off a small pile of thin magnesium shavings (the light metal that makes up the body of the starter). Strike the tool or knife blade against the flint striker on the edge of the tool, directing the sparks into the pile of magnesium shavings. Caution: magnesium burns extremely hot and with a brilliant white flame.

Stove, Coghlan folding: nominally uses canned fuel, but works fine with twigs, paper/cardboard, and/or sawdust/paraffin fire starters.

Fire-starting bricks (nine 8 oz.): Compressed sawdust/paraffin. Use small chunks as tinder or kindling. If no other fuel is available, may be used as main stove fuel for heating or cooking. One ounce will boil a quart/liter of water in Coglan stove.

Tinder: Vaseline-soaked cotton balls in film cans. These ignite easily and one burns long enough to ignite a pile of kindling of dry, pencil-size sticks.

All of these items are available locally and from and other on-line vendors. The total cost is $40 per kit, give or take. I always have at least two or three lighters in my possession, but for Barbara’s kit I’ll also toss in a three-pack of fueled Ronson Comet refillable butane lighters. The Comets are not particularly reliable, but I’ve determined experimentally that they retain their butane charge for at least months even in a hot vehicle.

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