By: Dude McLean and Alan Halcon
Refugee: one who flees in search of refuge, as in times of environmental destruction, war, political oppression, or religious persecution
We've all witnessed the devastation Katrina has left behind. We've seen the thousands of refugees fleeing to what they pray is a safe haven. Unbeknownst to these people, their actions and lack of action made a bad situation worse.
Becoming a refugee is something you always want to avoid. This is an untenable situation you never want to experience. Just watching the refugees, on television, is as close as you ever want to get.
With a little forethought and planning you should be able to dodge the refugee bullet. At the very least you should be able to take care of yourself and your family.
The FEMA website states:
“You may need to survive on your own after a disaster. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days.
Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. Or, you may have to evacuate at a moment's notice and take essentials with you. You probably will not have the opportunity to shop or search for the supplies you need.”
You never want to rely on anyone rescuing you. Or subjecting yourself to any government or privately run shelter.
Don't count on having the time to pack and get together what you need at the last minute. The reality is you will forget some important things and you may not have the time to pack.
The breakdown is that you need to prepare a bug-out-bag/ survival kit based on the conditions of where you live. The BOB, what we call an Evacpack should have enough food water and supplies to last you at least seventy-two hours, one Evacpack per person.
Conventional wisdom dictates that you have a minimum of one gallon of water per day per person. This covers water for drinking, cooking and bathing. However your environment such as the desert may demand you use one gallon of water a day for drinking purposes only. It is also true in places of high humidity. Keep in mind a gallon of water weighs about eight pounds. Lugging an extra twenty-four pounds of water around may not be possible. So we compromise and carry one gallon (eight pounds) and supplement with water filters and purifiers.
Two ways to purify and filter water. In the case of Hurricane Katrina water contamination was extreme, to the point where water filters and purifiers would not be effective because of instant clogging of the filter. in addition the water was filled with unknown toxins and chemicals including gasoline, oil and carcasses to name a few.
Where do you go to get your water? You go to the rooftops above the waterline to collect the rainwater where it has pooled. Now you can more effectively use your filter and purifier.
Food, while not necessarily immediate on the list of priorities is certainly a necessity. Good-ole MRE's are one way to go and come in a variety of meals. The advantages of MRE's is they can be eaten cold, you don't need to add water to reconstitute the meal and they can be heated in their own pouch. Another alternative is backpackers meals, they also come in pouches and share the same attributes as MREs. You can also make your own survival foods to put into your Evacpack.
Contractors grade plastic trash bags are in our opinion one of the most useful, yet often overlooked items every Evacpack should have. Carry a minimum of four. They have myriad uses. They make excellent shelters. They will keep you warm. They can be used as a rain jacket. You can use them as gaitors. They can be used as a container for bedding i.e stuffed with leaves, crumbled up newspaper, pine needles, etc. they also work as a makeshift water container. As a bonus they come in a variety of colors, your choice, black and green for tactical or orange for high visibility. Keep in mind you may not want high visibility.
You should have at least three ways to make a fire. Waterproof strike anywhere matches (you can make them yourself), Magnesium fire-starting tool (magnesium burns in the rain), and a bic lighter. Zippo style lighters should not be used because the fuel evaporates. The ability to make fire using primitive methods does not mean you should not carry the above items.
Your Evacpack should have a change of clothing. It is imperative that you change into dry clothes if you get wet, especially if it is cold out. It is important to keep your core body temperature in check. Although it may not seem like you need one at the time, temperatures can quickly drop, we feel a jacket is a very important item.
Knives are essential. A multi-tool is perfect along with two fixed blade knives. And a small hatchet will round out your sharp edge needs. Make sure you have a sharpening stone or system and know how to use it.
Self-defense may be necessary as was seen in the aftermath of “Katrina”. A handgun along with spare ammo would be a prudent move in a SHTF situation. This account should tell you why you should have a fireman… read between the lines.
“We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.”
Money, CASH, coin of the realm. Cash money talks. Credit cards checks etc. will be useless. During Katrina ATM's were not working credit cards and checks were not being accepted. Cash in small bills meaning ones fives and tens should be part of your Evacpack. If at all possible you should have between five hundred and a thousand dollars minimum. Don't count on the bartering scenarios that you have read about in survival books. What we are talking about is a three to five days… Cash is what works!
Duct tape is a no brainer. It can be used for patching and tying your world together. has many uses. It can be used for everything from temporarily patching a hole in a radiator hose to mending a tear in your clothing.
Rope, paracord, etc. whatever you choose, you should have at the minimum 50 feet.
A small portable radio with an extra set of batteries will help keep you informed with what's going on and what areas to avoid.
These are just a few of the basic items we feel you should include in your Evacpack. There are of course other items you will want to add. As an example, Many people will have the need for medications.
Another area we haven't addressed is your cache at home. Its easy to store water. There are thirty gallon and fifty-five gallon barrels readily available. You can put them in your garage, shed, yard etc. you can store water in old three liter soda bottles and stash them around your house... You can never have enough water stored!
Food is another item that should be stashed in your house. Canned food more MREs dried foods and a way to cook it all. It's a relatively easy task to buy a few extra food items every time you go to the grocery store and put it away for emergencies. In a short period of time you can have enough supplies that would last you sixty days.
It is not within the scope of this article to cover each and every item you may require. What we hope to give you is a foundation that you can build off of.
Many of the victims of “Katrina” could have avoided being a refugee if they would have been prepared properly. Just heeding the warning and leaving before the SHTF is part of being prepared!
[For putting together your Evacpack, in depth information can be found in the book “Build the Perfect Survival Kit” by John D. McCann as reviewed in Volume 11 issue 2. We also recommend the Hoods Woods volume 3 “Making and Using your Outdoor Survival Kit!” and can be found at Survival.com.]