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Hospital Emergencies: Surviving a Medical Crisis Made Easier with a Tailor-Made Kit
You're going about your daily routine, working, driving, getting dinner ready, when an emergency strikes like lightning. But this is not a pandemic, flood, or tornado, nor is it a lost-in-the-woods scenario for which you have anticipated and prepared. A medical emergency is more common than people want to think about. And when it does happen, you will have to drop everything without hesitation and run--just as if your house were on fire.
This article is not about instructions for providing medical help to a sick or injured person; it's assumed that you have access to emergency medical care. The point that I would like to get across, having been there myself, is to get yourself ready for that phone call that someone dear to you has suffered an accident, heart attack, or frightening diagnosis. Everyone wishes to believe it won't happen to them, but it DOES happen every single day to someone, and tomorrow that someone could be YOU.
Chances are much higher that you will be dealing with the aftermath of a car accident or fall on the ice rather than an earthquake or terrorist attack. Who do you call? What is your child's pediatrician's number? What are your spouse's allergies and/or medications? Where do you need to go? What items will you need for an overnight stay, or several nights away from home?
Call on the knowledge and preparedness strategies you already have. After all, any crisis forces you to adapt what you have to the situation at hand to survive. Try the S.T.O.P. technique (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan). You don't have to be lost in the wilderness--it's just as useful in any situation you find yourself panicking. Stop whatever daily task you had been doing--this might be harder than you think because you might not want to face the frightening situation, or try to downplay what's happening. (I work with a man who was at work all day trying to crank out the numbers; his wife called him throughout the day saying she didn't feel well or felt funny. That night she died. He had been unable to stop and get out of the rut of his daily routine to address a brewing emergency). Or you might start to panic--either way, stop and get ahold of yourself.
Think: where are you now, where is your loved one, and how do you get from point A to point B safely (without forgetting to turn off the stove)?
Observe: write down the medical issue, the name of the doctor or hospital, address, phone number and directions. (You can prepare a card with these questions ahead of time so you won't forget an important piece of information.) Find out which family members still need to be notified.
Plan: if you have friends or other family members present, delegate important tasks like looking up directions, packing, or calling other relatives. Do you have children or an elder, pets, or a work task that you will need to make arrangements for? At some point you may need to discuss medical decisions or looking after your family member's home for a time.
When you head out your front door for a late-night drive to the emergency room, you will want to have your necessities with you. You will want to prepare a bag geared for this specific situation ahead of time so that you don't waste time and don't forget something important, like your cell phone charger.
No, you usually don't have to worry about freezing or starving while you're stuck in a hospital waiting room, but there are a lot of other basic needs you don't want to overlook. So leave your fire starters and snares at home and get planning and preparing for a different kind of survival now. Every survival situation comes down to the same thing, getting through a long, scary wait full of unknowns--and hopefully back home again to a normal routine. Being prepared mentally will help you get through if something bad happens. Having your own basic requirements prepared ahead of time and ready to go will at least allow you to take care of yourself during a crisis and help make you more effective at dealing with it.
Using a small or medium bag like the Alpha Response Kit bag, pack a change of comfortable clothes (you may end up sleeping in your clothes). Aim for lightweight so you can layer without getting too hot. The facility should be able to provide you with a blanket if needed. For organizing smaller items such as toiletries, money, etc., try the Survival Basics accessory pouch or Ready Five compact kit bag. Another option for fast easy retrieval is the clear LOKSAK bags. You don't want to have to rummage through your stuff for a quarter for the pay phone when the doctor walks in with news.
You will need cash on hand for parking and vending machines at least. Other expenses for which you will need cash or a credit/debit card are cafeteria or restaurant meals, possibly a hotel stay, over-the-counter medications, and cards or gifts, balloons or flowers. If you prefer pre-paid cards, stash one in your hospital kit.
Bring several days' worth of our own medications (such as prescription, allergy, headache) for your own use. If you are responsible for the patient, bring a current list of their medications and dosages, allergies, doctor's name, health condition (such as diabetes), and procedures (such as previous surgery). Notify any relatives, neighbors, teachers, minister, and workplace as needed, or ask for help from a hospital social worker or volunteer. If you are considering applying for FMLA for the patient or yourself as caretaker, find out the rules and time limitations; it's possible you may have to initiate the claim before even getting out of the hospital. (I worked with a man who had a planned surgery and was off work for one week; he applied for FMLA when he got back, however it was denied because he had to apply within 48 hours of the start of the event). You may need to call your medical insurance, supervisor, or HR department to get information.
Now you will be sitting and waiting. You may be waiting for more relatives to arrive or for news from the doctor. Your hospital kit should contain some food. The same emergency prep items you use in the outdoors work well in this scenario too. Pack some food ration bars like the Mainstay 1200 (also available in larger sizes); this will provide some nutrition without melting like a candy bar will if stored in your car. These bars are scored so you can share sections around, and the pouch is resealable. A couple of MREs per person are very useful to have on hand, that way you don't have to trek to the cafeteria and still be able to eat normally. Consider including a pack of Stay Alert caffeine gum in your kit.
You may be waiting all night in a dark corner of the waiting room or the patient's room while others are trying to sleep. Be sure to have a small flashlight handy such as an eGear Pico LED or Zipper Lite. Keep a small notebook and two pens with you so that you can take notes and jot down your questions. Pack a book or deck of cards to occupy yourself, and puzzle or coloring books for younger ones. You might not think you need an emergency radio, but consider the Eton FRX2, small and powered by crank or DC (also solar), it will provide you with news, weather, and music; it features a flashlight and glows in the dark, and it can charge your smart phone.
You already have an EDC and/or BOB, mapped an escape route, and stocked up on food and water. But you might not have realized you're still missing an important component to survival in everyday, and far more likely, situations. Your EDC is not, repeat NOT, what you want to grab on your way to the hospital, because it contains extra stuff you don't need and is missing stuff you DO need when facing a medical crisis. Don't waste time tossing out matches, wire, fishing lures, and water purification tablets. Stop and take a little time from your busy schedule and create a customized kit. Sit down with your family and list everyone's allergies, medications, and health conditions. Do you have up-to-date phone numbers for your neighbors and doctors? Just a few items as noted above are needed for this kit, and it's worth it to purchase a duplicate item so that you have a complete stand-alone kit for each type of situation--don't try to figure out which kit has the radio in it when you just need to grab and GO. Your escape plan may include taking your pets but your hospital plan won't; set up the necessary caretaking with a friend or neighbor in advance.
Think about where you will store your hospital kit. Your vehicle may be a good choice in case you have to leave from home, work, or wherever you happen to be, and you choose emergency foods that can withstand car temperatures. Be aware of the storage conditions required for any medications; a temperature-controlled environment or on your person may be a better choice. Ensure no one else can get into your meds wherever you have them stored. Separate your car kit from your hospital kit so that you are not lugging extra items through the parking lot and along endless corridors. Leave the emergency blanket, first-aid kit, tools, etc. in the car. Follow the law and hospital rules regarding weapons/sharps; don't expect these items to be allowed anywhere on the premises. Keep the whistle in for security. Substitute a compact umbrella for your poncho.
A little time and effort and minimal monetary outlay should see your hospital kit in good order. This is a good kit to get started with since it is not complicated and if you've been trying to get other family members on board with preparations this kit may seem like a practical place to start. It's also handy for a planned hospital stay for example planned surgery or the birth of a baby. Schedule a time to review, update, and rotate kit items and information. During your planning, information gathering, and updating activities, you may find gaps in a loved one's medical needs that can be addressed by seeing the doctor and dentist on a regular basis or refilling a needed prescription. Your hospital kit could possibly be the one kit that can help prevent an emergency from occurring in the first place.
Submitted by: Jen Morgan
Thank you for the requests to update the blog. The adventure we call "life" has yielded its usual twists, turns, and surprises in the last few months - stories for another time perhaps.
Here, we are presenting verbatim from the author, a story of survival that may not seem extreme enough for a major motion picture, but to the writer and his spouse, it was full of danger, determination, and self-awareness as they discovered (as many others have) how quickly things can change in just a relatively few minutes.
Personal names and identifiers have been changed, but we have not embellished or detracted from the story in any way. Read and learn from someone who has been there... not just because he used our Survival products, but because he had the foresight to prepare for an emergency.
"Dear Best Glide,
I wanted to email you today to tell you what great survival kits you have! They are truly superb. I've had a lot of different kits in the past, and I really favor yours.
In fact, one of your kits saved my life and I would like to share the story with you. It's a bit long, so I hope you have the time to read it. I would love to hear back from you, so please read on!
Okay, here goes... where to start...
In April 2013, me and my wife set out on what was supposed to be a pleasant weekend stay in a remote cabin, about 20 miles outside the city of Juneau, Alaska. The cabin itself was a good 8 miles from the nearest road, which was seldom driven down at that time of year.
At that point, we had only lived in Southern Alaska for about a year, and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
Each with about 60 - 70 pounds of gear on our backs, we started the hike through the woods which took us down a winding path up around a mountainside. Although seasoned hikers and both physically fit, we knew almost immediately that we had made the mistake of overpacking for our trip, myself especially, and the extra weight on our backs was feeling heavy and cumbersome.
Half way through the hike we had worked our way around the side of the wooded mountain. The opposite side was still thick with snowfall from earlier in the month, something we had not anticipated, and as we continued the snow-laden ground seemed to get deeper and deeper. Soon enough, it was almost impossible to make out where the trail was and we were using our map, compass and intuition to guide us to this fabled cabin – a place reportedly far from the trappings of civilization and a great place for a romantic getaway.
We were wading knee deep in snow with heavy gear. Every other "wade" seemed to land me in a spot off the hidden track and my leg would plummet down into the hardened snow right up to my waist. It was painful. Trying to pull ourselves out of these pits was sapping every ounce of energy from our bodies, and with me being about 80% heavier than my girl, weighting in at a muscular 195 lbs, I was falling deeper, harder and with more regularity into these waist-high ice pits.
2 hours in to the hike and the going was intensely slow. We had stopped to drink, eat a little, and replenish our energies, but the clouds overhead had darkened considerably and a blizzard was upon us. As the hail and wind thrashed across our already tired faces, the succession of minor leg and knee injuries from my falls was enough to make me want to call the whole thing off.
It was at that time that I'd remembered the quality of "mental toughness" that the Army had helped instill in me all those years ago, and so, hoping that the worst was soon to be over, we pushed on.
D, my partner, was looking exhausted but slightly better for wear than I, and surprisingly it was I who found myself relying more on her to pull me through the difficult hike than the other way round.
Fall after fall, and cut knee after cut knee, we found ourselves questioning our navigation skills. "Surely this has been more than 8 miles?" " This has been the longest 8 miles of my life." "Did we go the wrong way?" "Can you even read a map?" "I'm trusting you." "Maybe I was wrong, maybe my map-reading isn't up to par" "What if we took a wrong turn?" "How far is the cabin from here?" "Didn't we already pass this tree stump a mile back?" "Should we call for a helicopter evacuation?"
All these questions ran through our minds, some of those thoughts even came out of our mouths as the minus 20 degree wind tightened its grip on our chilled bodies.
I fell once more into a pit, this particular one was so deep, worse than any trench you can imagine, more of a big hole really. My knee was in a bad way. The only way I could haul myself out was by ditching half the stuff in my pack.
It was seven hours before we reached the cabin.
A tiny little hut perched on the edge of a frozen lake, in an open clearing of the colossal Tongass National Forest. The lake was ice, over that, we guessed, perhaps 4 feet of fresh powder snow. Lucky the cabin looked out on the lake and we didn't have to cross the lake to get there.
By the time we had reached the cabin, it was dusk and all our water supplies had been exhausted. We literally fell in through the front door and collapsed. I awoke an hour later to the sound of my partner trying to get a fire going. Nothing in the cabin seemed to work. There was barely anything substantial inside with which to survive, other than a few small pieces of wood. A log book lay in the corner, with a story from each person who had visited. Mainly nice stories of people who had come in the Summer and had fun. I could tell that this trip wasn't going to be among those pleasant entries.
I used the survival matches in my Military Scout Survival Tin to ignite some tinder and get the kindling going. We threw on whatever logs we had to get some warmth into the place. We now had shelter, we had fire (for the time being), our next priority was water.
My partner decided it might be wise to search for water before we went to sleep. We needed to find a water source. My leg had been injured during the trip there, and I could barely walk. I gave her the whistle from my survival kit, along with a battery-powered flashlight and told her not to go too far. I wish I could have gone with her, and staying in the cabin while she ventured out seemed to drain all the manhood and morale from me. But I couldn't risk further injury.
While she was gone, I checked our phones – of course, needless to say there was no signal all the way out here, and despite one friend back in town who knew where we were heading, we had no way to contact the outside world.
She came back half an hour later looking pale and weak – no water.
Our water supplies were out but luckily our food wasn't. We had packed enough for 3 days – all "boil-in-the-bag" type food in those sachets similar to Army rations.
The next day, my leg felt slightly better after the night's rest. We awoke and made the decision to cut wood from surrounding trees and boil snow for water. It may take three times more energy to break snow down to into water, and then boil it, but we had no choice.
The blizzard was largely over, but it was still cold. The surrounding snow was muddy, filthy and covered in debris from the trees. The cleanest snow looked to be over the top of the frozen lake, but standing on the iced-over lake would have been a foolhardy idea. So that morning, I edged myself across the lakes' surface, laying flat on my belly, crawling and scooping.
We had snow, clean snow. Now all we needed was wood.
I used the wire saw in my Best Glide survival kit to saw low lying branches from nearby evergreens and haul them back to the cabin, where we sawed them into smaller pieces. By lunchtime, my work was done, and we were able to start fire, boil water and eat our food, thanks to a little ingenuity and my survival kit.
That night the weather calmed to an almost serene stillness. Frozen breath lingered in the air as you spoke like it would stay there for an eternity, and the moon shone down its approval on us. Across the lake, the howling of a small pack of wolves was audible.
On Sunday, after having taken the time to repair and replenish our bodies, we did a stock take of our equipment and decided that the time was now. The weather was good, and had been so for 12 hours. But it could turn bad again at a moment's notice, so if we wanted to get out of here and back to civilization then we must make haste while we are in good spirits and sound health.
We knew the trek back would be blisteringly painstaking. But after the challenges we had endured over the previous 48 hours, it did not seem as bad. No blizzard. No wind. Just cold and waist-deep snow, which thinned out to bare soil the closer we were to getting home. The sun was out and shining, telling everyone what a joyous day it was to be alive. Half way down the trail, the snowy section ended and the trail was visible once more.
It took us 4 hours on the way back, not 7, and as we reached the final mile, 3 ladies hiked towards us, chatting, one of them casually holding a cup of Starbucks and preparing to do a morning hike to a cabin they'd heard about by word of mouth.
But, little did they know what they were getting themselves into. Would the weather change on them?Just like us 3 days ago... would this hike, for them, be an utterly life-changing experience?
So, I guess that is the end of story. I really owe it to your kit. I do not know what we would have done without your kit on me – buying and bringing the military scout pocket survival tin on that trip was probably the best decision I ever made.
As you can imagine, because of this, I am a huge fan of your products and now, one year on, I try to make a habit of learning and practicing general survival skills whenever I have the time, because it's true when they say "you just never know..."
The only minor grievance I had of my kit was when we traveled south through the U.S. in early 2014, the weather was naturally warmer, and the beeswax candles melted in the tin all over the other equipment and spoiled some of them. Unfortunately I had to eventually ditch the kit.
Perhaps, as some constructive advice, you might be able to start packaging the candles in a small plastic baggie or ziploc to prevent this?
Earlier this year, we relocated from Alaska to the beach town of B Y here in Virginia. Quite a change from the wilds of Alaska, you might say. It's not as beautiful here, much more urban and a bit more polluted than I'd hoped for, but we do still enjoy camping and trekking during our weekends off.
In fact, I'm planning us a week long trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in about a month or so. And I would love to be able to take something from Best Glide along with me. I would be a great pleasure to receive something from you, just for kicks.
I want to wish the Best Glide team all the very best. Keep up the great work, and know that your kits are saving lives out there in some form or another.
P. B. (Former Soldier and Survivalist)"
We received this letter with a great deal of enthusiasm, for many reasons. For one - the writer and his wife are alive. We have always been of the mindset that as much as we would like everyone to buy their Survival equipment from Best Glide A.S.E. Inc., we simply want people to obtain and know how to use the equipment they have acquired - no matter where they obtained it. We salute P. and D.'s determination and attention to their preparations.
P.B. took the time to examine his plans, and in the process decided that he needed a Survival kit. He took the actions needed to secure the kit, and his preparations were rewarded when equipment he needed was available.
As a side note, we took P.B.'s suggestion to heart, and now ALL Best Glide A.S.E. Inc. Survival Kits / Tins that have beeswax candles as part of the kit are now shipped within zip-close type plastic baggies.
We encourage anyone who has used our equipment in a time of emergency to let us know about so we all may learn from each other.
This letter, as well as thousands of other stories, proves again my little sign-off slogan "Fortune Favors The Prepared".
Yes - it has been a while since my last blog entry.
When I look back on the events of the last four weeks, I am amazed by the twists and turns our lives can make in a relatively short span of time.
A little over three weeks ago, I was in a local hospital undergoing treatment for an infection on my leg that turned bad. I won't go into the boring details, but I will advise you to listen to someone when they say "That looks infected - you should go to the doctor."
The next evening (April 17) I was minding my own business and enjoying the sound of the IV pump that was shoving eleventy-billion units of antibiotics into my arm when I heard a commotion in the hallway of the hospital wing I was resting in. I caught a nurse's attention and asked her what was going on, and she told me of an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West - a few miles up the road from Waco on IH 35.
A few minutes later, my son called me to tell me of the explosion that happened at the fertilizer plant in West - the same plant that was only a few yards away from the home of his good friend Brandon's parents.
As it turns out, Brandon and his mother were at the house that evening, and after someone told them the fertilizer plant was on fire, Brandon grabbed a video camera and walked outside to video the fire. A few minutes later - Boom.
The blast blew Brandon across the street and gave him some survivable injuries, and I am very pleased to say he is doing well. His mother was thrown into the flower bed of the residence and hit by debris. She has undergone several surgeries and our hopes and prayers are with her.
Their house was destroyed.
A week or so after my hospital stay, I was strong and well enough to take a much-anticipated motorcycle ride with some family members to Southwest Texas to ride the Ranch Roads that are known (in the motorcycling world) as The Three Twisted Sisters. These roads travel more than a hundred miles through some of the most beautiful countryside in the Great State of Texas.
The roads are very challenging and not for the novice or faint of heart. There are more than a few white crosses along the hills, curves and canyons reminding bikers and others that these roads are mighty unforgiving. Each of the roads (Texas Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337) have a sign at one on of each stating how many bikers have died in the previous years.
What does all this have to do with Survival you (and my boss) may ask?
Simple – the infection in my leg and the accompanying complications that could have resulted in the loss of my leg or worse, the explosion at West, and our visit to a beautiful yet unforgiving part of my home state are excellent examples of where some preparations were in store, or in the case of West, how preparations would have benefited the survivors if help was further away than it was.
I’ve stated before that I carry a Survival kit and extra water in our motorcycle’s Saddle Bags. If we had become separated and lost on the remote roads where we were riding, and we ran out of gas (although I did have an extra gallon of gas in a Reda-brand Gas Can stored in my saddle bag ...don’t worry – it is leak and vapor proof) and we were stranded – we had signaling and fire starting supplies, water, a compass, and other equipment that would have been vital if we were stranded for a night or two before help arrived.
One point I have been meaning to make in these blogs is that you should NEVER rely on your mobile phone as your primary Survival tool. You may find yourself in the mountains and canyons such as we were riding through and discover you do not have a signal. There are many places in the USA where there is no signal due to the terrain and lack of cell towers. Mobile phones are nice to have with you, but they should never take the place of a well-stocked Survival kit and extra water. And, have you checked into a solar charger for your phone in case you are stranded and there is a possibility of at least a weak signal?
As far as the West explosion and how preparedness would have helped the survivors – instead of being located on the busiest highway in Texas, what if the same thing had happened to a small town that was several hours away from the closest towns that could send aid? Would Survival, water and first aid supplies come in handy?
Finally, what could I have done differently that could have enabled me to avoid a hospital stay and a brush with Cellulites and the next step in the infection process, flesh eating bacteria?
Simple – better wound care. When I burned my leg (2nd degree) on the super-hot exhaust of our motorcycle, I should have sought medical attention at the start. Even though I preach preparedness and common sense thinking in Survival situations, I let my leg get infected to the point that I ended up in the Emergency Room and almost ended up in a bad way. What I thought was adequate wound care was not. It looks like it’s back to the Survival Medicine books for me.
Whether we are at home, work, play, or travelling we must take better care of ourselves. We all have an obligation to our families, neighbors, and others to take good care of ourselves so that we can help and care for the others in our lives that depend on us for so many things.
Prepare for the worst case scenarios. Do not live in a state of fear, but one of quiet yet determined readiness. Know what the dangers are in your neighborhood and your immediate geographic area. Don’t live your life in fear, but be determined to outlast the disaster that may be coming to your town by way of weather, earthquake, man-made or freak occurrence.
Next time – we are going to switch gears and talk about some gear that you need, equipment you can buy from us or someone else, or modify for yourself from items you already have.
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"
I am re-reading one of my favorite books - "The Adventures of Bigfoot Wallace". This book, originally published in 1871 tells some of the life stories and adventures of William "Bigfoot" Wallace, who came to Texas from Virginia in 1836. Bigfoot came to Texas to avenge the death of his brother and a cousin, both of whom were killed in the Texas War of Independence from Mexico.
Bigfoot Wallace was an occasional Texas Ranger, surveyor, and scout. He took part in the failed Mier Expedition and came close to drawing a "black bean" during one episode. He survived captivity in Mexico City and returned to Texas where he lived, hunted, and scouted until he died at the age of 77 and was interred in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. If you want some very informative and entertaining reading – find a copy of this book!
Of the adventures related in this book, and in many more books and stories of this type based on frontier life, I am always struck by the simplicity of their tools and supplies. A musket, a pouch with bullets, lead and a bullet mold, a powder horn, a fighting knife, a skinning knife, a flint and steel striker, and maybe a few plugs of tobacco in a “possibles” bag and maybe a rolled-up blanket.
As I peruse the many Survival items we distribute to agencies, organizations, departments, and people all over this planet, I meditate on the simplicity of what our fore-fathers took into the wilderness on a regular basis, and not only survived with, but actually thrived. This makes me really re-evaluate my personal stock of Survival equipment and my personal level of the ability to survive with the most basic of tools.
One of the things that made wilderness living easier on those folks of yesteryear was an intimate knowledge of the flora and fauna of the wilderness they we living and travelling in. Just as important as knowing what animals were good for eating (most of them, it turns out) was knowing what plants were edible. The Internet, your local library, or your local book store should have this information for you and if you want to take it a step or two further you could always contact a local hunting or fishing guide and see what sort of help they could offer or refer you to. Many Survival bulletin boards on the Internet could help steer you into the right direction.
The most basic Survival kits are going to have several things in common, but it all boils down to the essentials – fire, shelter, signaling, and food gathering.
With the knives and perhaps a hatchet or axe, using available materials to construct a lean-to or tipi-type shelter was possible. With the flint and steel, you had both your heat and cooking medium ready, and with your snares and/or musket you had the means for meat. Knowledge of the local plant life resulted in some sort of vegetable supplement to your diet. A length of line and a hook would likely provide fish as well if near a body of water large enough to support a fish population.
The fire could be used for signaling if you were in distress because both the frontiersmen and Native populations were both curious as to the presence of smoke in their vicinity. We will not address the issue of attracting the unwanted sort of attention a line of smoke would sometimes attract in the all but late 1800’s in Texas for both the travelers and Native Americans of the time.
Now I look at my personal Survival and Bug-Out kits. I always have been an “over-packer” and in all my portable prep items this is apparent.
But, in my and the Survival products industry defense, I have to say that if Bigfoot Wallace would have had access to US MilSpec ParaCord, Fresnel Lenses, button compasses, prepared tinder, Cylalume Light Sticks and other staples of well-stocked Survival kits – he would have carried some!
So, it is seems like some of the things we carry are luxuries, that we have gotten too used to having “everything” at our fingertips. It may seem that way, but for certain it is better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it.
And, it is not always what you have with you, but what you are willing to do to ensure your Survival. This was brought to my attention as a mid-teenager. I learned at a younger age that the meat we bought from the market did not grow there, but was formerly attached to live animals. And, although I never had to hunt and fish for the family’s sole source of sustenance, I knew how to do both.
As a kid, I went to a Survival campout as a representative of my church’s Royal Ranger outpost. (Royal Rangers... basically a Boy Scout-type organization with the emphasis on the Assembly of God church’s doctrine and influence) Part of this week-long Training session was a Basic Survival over-nighter where we were allowed to take a knife, a fire-starter, and a sleeping bag (this was winter in Northeast Texas and it was actually snowing) and nothing else.
To make the food-gathering a little more interesting, the staff had gone and procured several large domestic rabbits and released them in our area and it was up to us to do what would come natural to a hungry frontiersman or Survivor. Although the bunnies were big and fat and friendly, these fine traits for a bunny rabbit were overruled by the fact that when properly prepared, they were also nutritious and very tasty. This was 1977 – you could not get away with this slaughter... I mean teaching method nowadays.
I am proud to report that out of the 12 or so in my group, only one other fellow and I knew what to do both with a live rabbit and a dead one – as always, some sensitive folk could not “stomach” how me and the other guy dispatched the bunny and proceeded to skin and eviscerate the potential meal. I rolled the skin up with the intention of tanning it later, but I left it a short distance from my hut and a fox swiped it.
So, there was plenty to eat for both of us. I constructed my shelter using the fallen cedar tree method using a recently felled tree to hollow-out an area and using the displaced brush for ground cover inside the shelter and additional roofing / insulating material. While enjoying the roast rabbit we cooked on a spit over a campfire it began to snow and me and the other young Frontiersman sat back full, warm, and comfortable while we listened to the continued retching of those who got sick at the sight of the blood of our noble entree’.
If I had the Survival equipment I both own and help market and sell on that and other occasions where I got the opportunity to prove my mettle in the outdoors, I do not believe I would have learned to be as self-sufficient as I turned out and try to be.
As I stated in an earlier blog, no one should miss the opportunity to try out and become familiar with their Survival gear BEFORE they need it. A clear understanding of the absolute basics of Survival should be had by anyone who may have to put their equipment and themselves to the test.
You do not have to take yourself out to a wilderness area with only a knife, match, stone axe and loin cloth and live for months at a time (although it would be interesting) to test your abilities with the basics. Simply learn how to start a fire without a match. Learn how to use native materials to construct a Survival shelter. Learn how to use Snare wire to set snares for small woodland animals and then study on how to prepare them for consumption. Learn what edible plants grow wild in your area, then go find some.
There is a curious satisfaction that comes over us while we are sitting by a campfire near a shelter we built, with water we found (and purified), and watching what we hunted or trapped cooking over the fire. It is the knowledge that for now, for this moment and regardless what may come tomorrow... for this moment we have what we need to Survive and if we did it today – we can do it tomorrow.
I do not believe I have ever read of someone who spent most of their life in the wilderness dying of a heart attack brought on by years of bad nutrition and poor exercise habits. It is too apparent that their way of life – though much simpler – was simply healthier for body, mind, and spirit.
To say we can be content with just these basic needs met is not an understatement.
The question is can with live with just the basics. It would be best to find out before that trial presents itself.
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"
Last time I discussed washing our hands at every opportunity and in the right way.
This time, I want to touch on the subject of watching where we put our hands.
Having spent the majority of my life in the outdoor areas of North and Central Texas, I can attest that there is always ample supply of plants and critters who's only purpose for their existence (or so it seems) is to either poison you and or give you a rash such as poison ivy, poison oak, etc. And, waiting in the wings, there is always a bountiful assortment of snakes, spiders, cactus, briars, scorpions, fire ants, bees, wasps, hornets, etc. who are more than ready and willing to sting you, stab you, and stick you.
Having been exposed to all of the afore-named organisms (except spiders - a bite from a Brown Recluse or Black Widow certainly awaits me if I ain't careful) I can readily assure you that any of these exposures can ruin your day, and if you are in a Survival situation far from help and home, exposure to and your reaction to these things can be lethal to you and anyone with you.
A proper Survival mindset demands that we all take time to study the areas we will be traveling through to be aware of what sort of Creepy-Crawlies we are likely to encounter, not only at our destination, but anywhere in between where we may be stranded for an indeterminate period of time.
But no matter where you are and why you are there, it goes without saying that even if you are in your own back yard, you should always watch where you put your hands, and for that matter, where you put your feet.
When my wife and I were first married, we lived out in the mesquite and cedar breaks of Central Texas, not too far from Waco. We discovered, shortly after moving into what was basically a bedroom built into the side of an Airstream travel-trailer, that the place was already occupied by a large family of scorpions.
We learned quickly to shake-out our shoes before we put them on, to turn on a light before we walked across the floor at night, and most importantly, to check our water glass before we went to rinse our mouths out after brushing... yes, I almost drank one of the little monsters.
Despite all of our precautions, I still managed to get stung from time to time. I stepped on one in my bare feet... I rolled-over on them, I had one crawl in bed and sting me on the tip of my thumb. I can think of much worse places to get stung while in bed asleep.
Now, I know how my body will react to stings because of all the other things that have stung me. My last exposure was about 15 - 20 Yellow Jacket stings. Yes, I went into a mild anaphalactyc shock that did require a trip to the Emergency Room. Now, I set traps each spring for the little terrorists.
But, had I been in a remote area when I was stung multiple times, I may not have died, but I would have certainly been in danger, especially if I was already sick or injured.
Looking under rocks and tree limbs before we move them, shaking out our bedding before we get into it, shaking out our shoes and boots before we put them on, rolling-up our bedding tight after we get out of it for the day, looking for signs of bees and hornets.. these steps and many more can help lessen the chance that we will get stung or bit by something that could make us very sick.
I'm a big advocate of wearing gloves whenever working outside, and I also keep a pair of good gloves in my Survival / Bug-Out kits. They are too inexpensive not to keep some. A good thin but tough set of leather work gloves run about $5 and are an incredibly good investment for your Survival kit.
But if you do get stung by a poisonous insect, or bit by a venomous snake, getting out some if not most of the venom will help you heal faster and feel better quicker. An item I certainly recommend and carry in my own kit is the Sawyer Extractor Pump.http://www.adventuresurvivalequipment.com/the-extractor-pump-sawyer.html
And it works, if you follow the directions. And it is infinitely better to use this than to do the old "cut two lines in each big fang hole and suck it out with your mouth" movie-hero thing. What the movies never considered was that the "hero" was sucking out rattlesnake poison with a mouth that was full of gum disease, bleeding gums, gingivitis, trench mouth and rotten molars... in other words, he was just transferring some of the deadly poison from the victim's bloodstream to his. Now the hero and the victim can now share the same hospital room once they are rescued... if the hero lives, that is.
Seriously... learn about the poisonous wildlife of all types before you go into their habitat. Knowing how to avoid them is one more tool in your Survival kit.
BTW... Not all "Home Remedies" are useless... Chlorine bleach did dull the pain of scorpion stings and urinating on my foot after I brushed a jellyfish at Port Aransas did work on me, although I can certainly understand how the way I was staggering around while favoring my inflamed foot and then trying this remedy did look a lot different to a sober Police officer.
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"
Wow - what an appealing lead-in!
As I write this, I am in the slippery, yet determined fingers of whatever plague, blight, or other malady is trying to invade my person. It seems like everyone I know has someone at home sick with the latest influenza-related sickness that is out there. Will it settle in my lungs, my bones, my throat, or all places at once? Stay tuned for the outcome. But for now, please bear with the rambling and chaotic segue into today’s blog entry.
I would love to go back to the good old days where people wrote and mailed letters to each other, birthday cards were something you could keep forever in a drawer, and cell phones were called “mobile radio-telephones” and no one I knew had one, and I had no desire to carry one in my truck, car, and especially on my person.
So now, I carry a fairly state-of-the-art “Smart phone” and honestly, the only real reasons I have one is I can charge it from my emergency crank radio if I need to in an Survival situation and it can also store and access Survival-related documents for reference in an emergency.
But, with all the techno-wizardry available to us, my worse failing is that I have allowed myself to become immersed in the world of Facebook. I have about 100 people in my “Friends” list, but I have over 400 “Likes” and it is from these businesses and individuals that I get 250 or more updates every day.
Due to my fondness of the United States of America, The Great State of Texas, the US Constitution, and particularly the Bill Of Rights, I receive many updates each day of the week warning me of the erosion of our 2nd Amendment rights and all the dire consequences inherent in the eventuality of any contravention of said rights. I read a great many good and informative posts and I also disregard the more “out there” opinions and pseudo "newsworthy" items.
Every hour of every day I am bombarded by people suggesting I sell everything I own and buy guns and ammo by the bushel. I am overwhelmed with suggestions that I buy 20 different types of Survival food so when the SHTF (do I really need to spell it out?) I will be able to provided sustenance for my family.
BTW – Best Glide A.S.E. Inc, distributes the two best types of prepared Survival Food – Wise Foods and Mainstay. I am very happy with both and recommend them as well as an Emergency Sprout kit (available from some retailers online) for my after SHTF scenarios as well as short-term needs.
But all the preparation for disaster, both from a camping or hiking trip gone wrong or an actual disaster up to and including, and surpassing a SHTF scenario… all your plans of Survival can be shot to hell if you don’t practice some basic hygiene rules. All it takes is one tiny Giardia lamblia parasite in your gut and your subsequent immediate future will involve a great deal of misery that will render you helpless at a time when you need to be at your best.
So right now, I am going to focus on a few Personal Hygiene when out in the wilderness (close or far). We will review some more long-term issues with hygiene in a later blog entry.
I carry at least 6 small bottles of hand sanitizer in my Patrol car and use them frequently whenever I make contact with anyone. I use it no matter if I touch anyone or just their Drivers License or even if they just breathed in my direction.
It brings to mind what sort of health-related measures (aren’t ALL measures health-related in a Survival situation?) we take when we go camping, or are involved in a Survival incident. If you don’t already have a sanitation plan, consider this one:
WASH AND DISINFECT EVERYTHING!
How can we do this when we may not have the usual water and soap? Well, there are several things we can do to lessen the chance of ingesting (swallowing, inhaling, or otherwise introducing a bug to our insides) something that can and will make us sick – too sick to work at Surviving, and very possibly too sick to live.
First – wash your hands with soap and water if you have them. Wash and rub your hands together for at least 2 minutes – just count to one hundred and twenty. Rinse your hands thoroughly and then let them air dry. Believe me - your Survival is worth at least 2 minutes of your time - especially in a Survival situation.
Second – Do not put anything into your mouth except purified water and cooked / steamed food. Wild fruits, veggies, and other natural foods you scavenge that can be eaten raw really need to be washed off first. One of the best sanitizers is UV light – Sunlight. If you can keep the flies and other bugs off of it, let your freshly harvested food item sit in the sunlight after you have washed it off.
Third – When nature calls: Do you remember that 50 foot tube that our Health teachers in High School said we all have inside us? Just remember that the last 5 feet or so of that tube is packed with diseased human waste, as well as a gazillion little bacteria that would like nothing more than going back into your mouth for another adventure-filled sojourn though your intestines. Avoid contact with poop at all costs. Do your business well away from where you are sheltering and especially well-away from your water supply. If you brought a handy travel-sized bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, use it after Number 2-ing and then let your hands air dry (in the sunshine, if possible).
I know it sounds gross, but keep your feet (Shoes too!) away from poop and any entrails of animals you kill for food. You really don't want to track that disease-ridden crap back into your Survival campsite area.
Fourth – If you have the incredible blessing of setting up your Survival campsite near a source of running water, then do yourself the incredibly easy favor of performing all of your “eliminations” and animal-enviscerations away and downstream of your location. Basically, make sure if the area of ground you use for thes afore-mentioned germ-ridden activities are downstream from where you are obtaining your water. This includes any location from where you are getting your water. This way you can help avoid infecting yourself with the former tenants of your intestines.
Speaking of Hand Sanitizer – if you are Prepping for the SHTF scenarios, invest in a few large bottles of Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer for every multi-pack of Toilet Paper you obtain. If you are putting together or maintaining BugOut Bags and Survival Kits – get a few travel-sized bottles and put them away. And if you are going to buy a few small bottles – go ahead and buy a dozen or so.
These little wonderful bottles of sanitized sunshine are worth their weight in gold when you need them.
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"
The Snake You Do Not See Is The One That Bites You
Once again, I interrupt a blog series to comment on a current event.
If you read the Internet news with any regularity this week, you almost certainly will have seen the story of the Military Veteran who, with two of his young children, went for a short hike and ended up dying from exposure on a southeast Missouri Ozark trail.
According to reports, this man was an experienced hiker and outdoors enthusiast. The man and two of his sons, aged 8 and 10, were on a short hike in the Missouri Ozarks when falling temperatures and heavy rains caught them unaware.
Their bodies were found on the trail, cold and wet. The man was dead at the scene, and the two boys were transported to a local hospital where efforts to revive them failed.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of these people and we mean no disrespect to them or anyone when we discuss what goes wrong when we step into the wilderness.
I wish there was one catch-all formula for when we should pack or carry at least a simple Survival kit. We can set a standard for ourselves, but we have also got to have the determination and self-discipline to see it through.
I have spoken and written of preparedness many times to many people, and one of the things I stress is the need to prepare for all conceivable eventualities in a manner consistent with the activity.
In other words, if you are going to take a long drive through the desert - take extra water/antifreeze coolant, take extra water for each person, and a way to signal for help if your cell phone is out of range. An extra coat and blanket plus a way to start a fire easily is also recommended.
Or, say you were going to take your kids on a day hike - why not have each child carry part of a kit that includes a way to signal for help, a fire starter, perhaps a small tarp or poncho for each person…
It is always easy to sit and pontificate on what we should have or could have done in a situation that is now passed. It is especially easy to second guess the actions one person took or didn’t take when we are convinced in our own mind that the action we think we would have taken would have been the “correct” choice for that situation.
I entitled this entry “The Snake You Do Not See Is the One That Bites You” because it applies here. It is always when you are not thinking of Survival that Mr. Murphy (“Anything that can go wrong … will”) comes to visit and leaves chaos and confusion as his parting gifts.
It is hard to be hyper-vigilant on a regular 24/7/365 basis. But one of the ways we are able to relax in some moments is because we prepared for those moments in advance.
When it comes to snakes, I am not overly concerned because I have handled them occasionally for most of my life from age 11. I carry a Snake Hook and a Snake Grabber in my Patrol car for those times when one of our citizens gets an unwelcome visitor in his home.
As long as I can see the snake, I am not too worried about getting bit because I can see and anticipate his movements and actions. But, it is always in the back of my mind when dealing with the snakes of the world (not just the reptiles) that when there is one – there may very well be another one just out of sight. The _____ (fill in the blank with snake, bad guy, scorpion, tornado, flash flood, electrical line, winter storm, etc.) that you do not see or anticipate is the one that bites you when your back is turned or your attention is elsewhere.
I am not suggesting that we should all live in a state of constant fear where we stay locked up in our bunkers (I don’t have one, by the way) and wait for the bad things to come our way. I am suggesting that we take simple steps to prepare have for the eventuality that while we are enjoying the outdoors in any way, we have taken some simple pre-planning steps to ensure that we have the best chance possible if our “best laid plans of mice and men” goes wrong.
I end with this: As far as what I do in my main occupation, I want to do a good job for my department, my city, my God and myself, and I want to do my job in such a way that I am never featured as the subject of a training video that ends where my name is shown carved on the Texas Peace Officers Memorial in Austin. But, if this does happen, then may my experience benefit others so that they avoid the same fate as I.
Learn from the mistakes and fates of others to avoid the same happening to you and your loved ones.
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"
Survival Accessories - Part 1
There are obvious items that should be a part of every Survival kit - items that help with the very basics- fire starters, a compass, a loud whistle, etc.
But what of other items that can be very useful in making your situation a little easier to bear?
I'm thinking of two specific items that should be an integral part of every Survival / Preparedness kit.
Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord and quality Duct Tape.
Now, everyone (it seems) is selling Paracord on The Internet. The problem is that not all Paracord is the same, and therefore, it should not be assumed that it has the same strength characteristics.
Real Paracord has a "breaking strength" of 550 pounds - this is why the most commonly used Paracord is often referred to as "550 Paracord".
Here is the first of the two simple ways to determine Real US MilSpec Paracord.
Open one end by unraveling an inch or so of the cord and pulling back the outer sheath (the colored nylon covering) of the paracord to reveal the inner strands.
Genuine MilSpec Paracord has no less and no more than seven yarns, each made up of 3 separate strands. One of the yarns will be of a contrasting color to the other white yarns. There will be no other filler or inner core other than these seven three-ply yarns. Inferior "Commercial" grade cord has 7 or less yarns made up of two strands and no contrasting yarns.
That is one simple way to discern if you have Genuine MilSpec.
Another way is to ask your Paracord supplier if what they are selling you is Genuine MilSpec 550 Paracord, then ask for the "Certificate of Compliance". If they are selling you the real Paracord, they will know exactly what you are asking for, and should have no problem complying with your request.
Each Certificate of Compliance will have on the certificate the manufacturer's name, the type of Paracord they are certifying, a statement that certifies that the Paracord was manufactured according to specifications, the date of manufacture of that particular lot, etc..
Commercial Paracord may be a useful item for non-critical uses and projects, but if you need your paracord to perform in an important or critical way, then you need Genuine MilSpec Paracord. Do not settle for less when your safety depends on it.
I once inquired a well-known internet supplier as to the availability of a Certificate of Compliance for their advertised cord. I was told that such a document was "not available".
Any "Paracord" supplier who refuses to provide the certificate is not selling true MilSpec Paracord. They are too easily obtainable from the supplier's manufacturer.
Best Glide A.S.E. Inc. will always be happy to provide you with a current Certificate. All you have to do is ask.
There are many brands of Duct Tape available. Any Commercial Grade Duct Tape will be an important and highly-recommended part of your Survival kit. I can certify that we use only Commercial Grade Duct Tape in our assembled kits that feature it, and as a separate component you can purchase from us in pre-measured rolls.
One word of advice:
Don't go cheap on Duct Tape, because there is too much cheap tape out there. I would not advice depending on any tape which features either the depiction of a duck, a specific pattern (flowers, flames, etc. - what could be referred to as "novelty") or the likeness of Justin Beiber.
Seriously - there is a "Duct Tape" out there at your local mega-mart-type store that features the image and name of that particular teeny-bopper heart throb. I have photographic proof, although I must confess that when I saw it, I was convinced that the 2012 Mayan prophecies were now confirmed in my mind, and the collapse of civilization was imminent.
There is also the tape known as "100 MPH Tape". Although I have no personal experience with it, my learned sources tell me it is an exceptional tape and well worth the money.
These are just two items that should be a part of your even your basic Survival kit and Prep supplies.
Next blog entry - Survival Accessories - Part 2
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"
Just a few hours ago, the news of the massacre of the innocents in Connecticut flashed across the Internet
and it seemed the whole world stopped to watch and wonder at the depravity of such an event. The human
toll can never measured correctly in terms of the lives the animal responsible for this took and the ones he
As a parent, grandparent, and Police Officer I was, and still am physically sickened at the reports of the
children and adults who were murdered and injured. As a parent and grandparent I am deeply grieved
by the loss of so many children and the adults who were massacred. As a Police Officer trained in Active
Shooter scenarios, I have a feeling similar to the utter helplessness I felt as I sat with my son one morning
in 2001 and watched the 9/11 events unfold on television.
Can we prepare for such an emergency? The answer is subjective, as there are different levels of
preparation. We can prepare for handling the situation while it is occuring, and we can prepare for the
aftermath, which is sometimes deadlier than the actual event... remember Hurricane Katrina?
One of the reasons I am drawn to the Survival Equipment and Prepping Supplies field is a very
simple one: When you prepare to survive an emergency, you are taking a pro-active stance to increasing
your chances of survival. When you know a hurricane is coming - you prepare. When a Tornado watch is
announced, you prepare. When a Winter Storm Advisory is announced, you prepare.
You prepare because you want to survive, and you want your loved ones to survive.
Don't let the "People who Prepare to Survive" nay-sayers get to you. Do what you need to do to prepare
for a trip gone wrong, a vacation gone wrong, a mission gone wrong, or a world gone wrong.
Purchase, maintain, practice and train with your Survival equipment so you will know how to use it
when the time comes. There are different catagories of Survival equipment such as fire and warmth,
shelter, cooking, food gathering, etc. Take a few minutes on your day-off to practice one of these skills
each week, and include your family.
We can't solve the problem in society and in the minds of the filth that carry out such heinous crimes
against humanity like what occured today in Connecticut. But we can do all we can to protect ourselves
and families by preparing for other emergncies, both natural and man made.
How can a man made emergency like this one call for Survival skills? Perhaps something similar
could happen to an entire town that was more isolated, and for whatever reason the town was locked down and access to basic services denied. Wouldn't your skills come in handy for fire starting, water purification, cooking,
In 2005, I worked in a small Texas town as a Police Officer when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita came barreling up
the Gulf Coast. Our little town was one of many with not only one, but two major escape routes for the
hundreds of thousands of people who were fleeing both the destruction and aftermath of Katrina, but the
imminent threat of Rita.
Our little town is about 235 highway miles to the nearest portion of the Texas Gulf Coast. When I make
my Saltwater Fishing trips, it takes me about 5 hours to get to Surfside Beach.
I spoke with people who, taking the same route, took them 24 - 36 hours to get that far. Could their Survival
and prepping skills come in handy while they were en route?
Many of the people were ragged and dirty, tired, hungry, and almost dehydrated. Could their Survival
supplies have come in handy while they were crawling along the road slow enough to get out and walk?
People died on this trek from the coast. People died of health problems caused by dehydration, stress,
anger and fear. Could some of these issues have been alleviated by some Survival prepping. I believe so.
We manufacture, market, and create items used for our physical Survival. We help others prepare for trouble
while we do the same. The focus on Survival items has shifted in the last few years to include Prepping for
whatever scenario one wants to imagine could happen, and scenarios we pray don't happen.
Whoever you buy your supplies from, please make sure you are getting the best you can afford and use them as
a starting point. Many of the best Survival items are already in your home. Buy a Survival kit then obtain a container
that can hold the kit you bought and the items you can add to the kit. Throw in some bottled water, a few MREs,
and other items you already have around the house.
Carpe' Diem - Seize the Day. Prepare now while you can for that trip, that vacation, that hurricane, that tornado,
that emergency that will turn your world upside down.
R.I.P. Newtown, Ct. Massacre victims. Peace to their family, friends, and those tasked with dealing with the aftermath.
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"
I wonder if anyone else is as sick of hearing about Zombies and the end of the Mayan Calendar on 21 December 2012 as I am. The term "overkill" may not be appropriate, but even many mainstream and respected companies have given in to the idea of using the term "Zombies" to push and sell various items, and it looks like the zombies are not killing us but only causing harm to our credit cards and bank accounts.
As far as the end of the Mayan Calendar is concerned.. well, I survived Y2K so I am betting I will wake up on the morning of 22 December and wonder what kind of deals I can get on buying up the preparations of people who are now disappointed that the poles didn't shift and society is still, marginally speaking, intact. (Although I was looking forward to seeing long lines of confused penguins migrating north.)
The term "Zombies" has a much more serious side to it. It is actually considered by many - myself included - to be the latest euphemism for any scenario where society has collapsed and we find ourselves in a fight for our very existence.
But that is not what we focus on here. I do make many mentions of Prepping, because Survival is Prepping, and Prepping is Survival. The root word of prepping is "Preparing or Preparations" and if you are reading this, then you are wanting to or actually preparing to survive should something go wrong. That "something" could be a wilderness trek, a cross-country hike, a campout, a missionary trip over the jungles of South America... I can go on and on.
So, with that said - have you inventoried your Survival Equipment lately?
One of the reasons you need to do a regular check of your Survival equipment / supplies is because some of your items may have an expiration date. This is mostly true for food and water products. Water will keep almost indefinitely, but after a few years may take on the taste of the container and environment it is stored in. Many water products that are made for the Survival industry come in containers (usually Mylar-lined) that are rated for a Five year storage life. Can this be extended? I am sure that it can be, but only under specific circumstances.
Now, this is just my personal opinion, but I would have no qualms about taking a sealed Survival water container that was stored in another sealed container and that was stored in a cool and dark location. If I was in a Survival situation and ran across some commercially prepared water that was sealed and stored in some heavy plastic bags and that was placed in a tight plastic bucket and stored fifteen years previously - I would more than likely use the water and be thankful for it.
As far as food is concerned, there are too many varied opinions on how far a food item can be out of date before it cannot be used. I suggest that anyone who is interested in this topic should do a thorough Internet search to see what the "experts" have to say. I have my own learned opinion, but I learned what I believe and know from my own research into this topic.
BUT - what I do suggest comes from a whole lifetime of being a pack-rat and what I suggest is this:
As far as Survival-type packaged food and water items is concerned, follow the manufacturer's "Good Until" date, but if you have the room to spare, keep the out-dated items only if you have done the research and are sure the items will still be good past their expiration date.
Be aware that commercially canned and packaged foods of the type found in any supermarket have specific dates of expiration that should not be ignored. Any item with a dairy product, or meat product as an ingredient is subject to spoilage and breakdown of its ingredients over time and the expiration date should be followed closely.
There are many canned foods found in your local supermarket that have long shelf life, and you should research both the Internet (from reliable sources only) and do what I do - Whenever I go to the local Wally World or a closer hometown supermarket, I spend a few minutes checking the expiration dates on mostly canned food. I have found several types that have relatively very long shelf lives, and some of these are high in protein and calories that would come in handy in an emergency. So far, the longest shelf life I have found on a commercially-canned item is a shelf life of eight (8) years on a can of Octopus. I will only assume that it is pre-cooked or smoked or something.
Some canned meats and fish products have a longer shelf life than other foods due to a certain type of glass that is applied to the interior of the can prior to packaging the product. Research the Internet to see if you would want to include those items in your Survival Kits and Prepping supplies.
A Very Important WARNING on this subject: If you do have canned (metal) food items in your Survival kit or supplies, keep a close eye on the cans themselves. A bulging can is a sign that something is not right with that particular can. DO NOT OPEN IT. Discard it - preferably in a way that some other person might find it and open it, and then die from botulism or and spread it or some other type of poisoning by contact with the contents to other people.
Two more items that have expiration dates, or need to be inspected / replaced on a regular basis are batteries and medication - either over the counter or prescription. Batteries need frequent attention because you never know when you will need that item and it probably does not serve an alternate purpose if the batteries do not work. At least one major battery manufacturer now states that their batteries have an expected shelf life of 10 years. That would be great if it is correct. I would still rotate your batteries on n at-least semi-annual basis. It is often reccommended that people should change the batteries in their home's Smoke Detectors when the time change occurs in the Fall and Spring. Why not use that as the time to rotate or change the batteries in your Survival Flashlights?
Medications, both OTC and prescription, have an expiration date that should not be ignored. Many of the compounds found in medication will break-down over time, and the last thing you need is experience the emergency you were preparing for but now your medicines are expired and taking them for an unexpected malady may do more harm than good. Check with a Pharmacist to see how long after an expiration date a medicine can be depended on to help the condition it was intended to treat.
"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"