[2/20/17] Editor’s note: This is the second story in a two-part series about what the federal government says should be stockpiled. Read part 1 here.
Perhaps surprisingly, the federal government has been part of what has driven the prepping movement.
FEMA’s “ready.gov” website was developed with the idea of helping people to prepare for a natural disaster so that they would have a better chance of surviving it. While FEMA isn’t the definitive source for survival information, a number of things that are widely accepted in the prepping community trace their roots right back to Ready.gov.
The most glaring example of this is the three-day food rule, which defines that bugout bags, otherwise known as 72-hour bags, have three days of food in them. Just about everyone talks about having three days of food in their bug-out bag, without anyone taking about the “why” behind that figure. But here’s the why: because the government said so.
Personally, I carry five days of food in my bug-out bag, and have another couple of weeks worth in a secondary bag, with even more food in other portable containers. The idea is to take as much food with me as I can, and use the food from the other containers first, leaving what’s in my bug-out bag for last. That way, if I have to abandon my vehicle and the other food, I’ll at least have that five days’ worth.
So, where did FEMA’s idea of three days’ worth of food originate? It came from their master plan, which states that they will have relief services in place in three days. Forget that they haven’t been overly successful in accomplishing that in the past, but it’s still their plan.
We can extrapolate a very important point from this. That is: everything that the government says about disaster preparedness is based upon the assumption that the Nanny State government will be there to help you. If you trust the government, that’s fine; but if you don’t, then it’s not a good idea to put too much stock in what they offer as survival advice.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at FEMA’s list of “Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit.” This printable list is what FEMA recommends having on hand, mostly with the idea of surviving a natural disaster.
In addition to food and water, the list includes:
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- First-aid kit.
- Whistle to signal for help.
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place (better to use a medical grade mask to keep out pathogens, too).
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
- Local maps.
- Prescription medications and glasses.