Thursday, February 15, 2018

CERT deployment and 72 hour kit load out revisited PART 2

CERT deployment and 72 hour kit load out revisited PART 2


  • Special considerations:72 Hour and CERT bag planning 
    • Feedback from other responders
  • Food in a disaster environment
    • 72 hour kit food considerations
    • Food and Water weight and transportation considerations 
  • Work and transportation
    • Hand and foot care
    • What to pack your supplies in

Special considerations when planning your 72 hour kit and CERT bag

I recently attended an after-action presentation from a Salvation Army responder who participated in the recent Puerto Rico hurricane disaster response effort.  Some of the major items she noted was not being able to rely on local resources for food, water and power.  She also noted that street signs and maps are also not trustworthy after a disaster as the terrain and roads may have been shifted or redirected.  The Salvation Army has notes on what they expect volunteers to bring.  For Puerto Rico they noted for people to "Pack light."

Puerto Rico deployment notes from Salvation Army volunteer experiences:

  • Hydrate early and Hydrate often.
  • Bring lots of bug spray
  • Bring a radios in pairs.  (FRS/GMRS and Ham radios)
  • Bring plenty of AA and AAA batteries as well as Ham radio and Cell recharge AA/AAA battery modules as power may not be reliable. (alternatively bring rechargeable batteries and solar cells)
  • Bring multiple flashlights
  • Hair care and hygiene products and tools needs to be simplified down to bare essentials. ex.  no corded hair dryers, electric shavers or curling irons.
  • Bring cash in small bills (~ >= 200$) (chances are there will be no credit cards accepted)
  • Water bottle with filter
  • Bring a GPS or GPS Phone app, pre-loaded with current maps for that area.  
  • Get GPS coordinates of key locations as roads may have been diverted and road signs destroyed.
  • Local food and water supplies will be limited

Food in a disaster environment

72 hour kit food considerations

Directly after a disaster, food will likely need to be transported in.   So when packing your CERT bag and 72 hour kit keep that in mind.  If you are being deployed to a remote location then you may need to create a supplemental bag to extend your 72 hour supplies to be extended to a week or longer.  Disaster supplies are not something you think of or use on a regular basis so extra care needs to be taken when selecting food stuffs for their weight and shelf life.  More over because nothing lasts forever, you need to check your supplies every year to ensure your supplies have not expired.

Types of Rations:

Ready to eat:
  • MRE - US military spec "Meals Ready to Eat":  Light weight, requires little to no preparation. MRE's have about a five year shelf life depending on conditions and does not need a stove or fire to cook it.  Usually each MRE contains around 1200 calories and it is assumed you eat 3 MREs Per day.
  • Emergency food bar: Five year shelf life and provides 3600 calories per bar which is enough for one normal day or 3 days basic subsistence. Food bars are not intended for long term use and are preferably used along with other food sources. 
  • Off the shelf meal bars and snacks : 1 year shelf life or less and little or no preparation.
Dry Rations:
  • Freeze dried meals : Light weight, just add boiling water and it has five or more years shelf life.
  • DIY dried meals: Instant rice, couscous, oatmeal, potato flakes, rice noodles, freeze dried fruits, veggies and seasonings.  Much more preparation than freeze dried meals or MREs but lower overall cost, easier to control nutrition needs and all this with a 2 to 5 year shelf life.
Preserved foods:
  • Canned food: Extremely heavy and bulky, requires preparation and cooking but has a shelf life of about 1 year.
Important food notes:
  • You will need extra water when preparing dried or dehydrated foods as well as a reliable stove and fuel supply.
  • MREs contain a lot of redundant items that you may not need or want to carry around.  You may want to break open the MRE packets and remove the redundant items ahead of time.
  • Food preparation requires extra water and soap for cleaning.
  • It's tempting to pack only packaged processed foods like candy and beef jerky but be mindful of the sugars, sodium and marginal nutritional value.
  • Go light on protein: you don't need protein every day and canned meats are heavy and dried meats tend to have a lot of sodium.
  • During deployments consider packing lots of complex carbohydrates (rice, pasta ...etc)
Food strategy:
A 72 hour kit is meant to be used in an emergency or to sustain you during a deployment. But this can mean anything from sheltering in place, working in conditions that don't allow you to prepare food or a forced exodus.  So packing a combination of food types would be a good overall plan.

Food and Water weight and transportation considerations

Water is heavy and difficult to move, you may need to pack empty containers and fill it right before you enter the impacted area and/or carry reliable purification supplies to utilize a questionable water supply.  

Work and transportation

Hand and Foot care considerations:

If you don't work with your hands or walk more than a few miles a day you will encounter blistering on your hands and feet.  To combat this you should pack "mole skin" which is an adhesive that sticks to the afflicted area and shields it from further friction.  Be very careful when removing mole skin or any tape from your skin.  Also be careful of tight fitting gloves, if your hands swell you may need to cut the gloves off and even then you might risk striping off a layer of skin.

Moisture also compounds the problem and can cause problems like trench foot or frost bite.  For this reason it is crucial that quality foot-ware is used as well as using fresh clean dry socks and changing them regularly.  Using a spray antiperspirant or standard foot powder recommended.  Standard cotton socks are not recommended.  Visit a camping store and find the kind of sock that works for you.

Waterproof foot-ware often will cause your feet to sweat so be sure to use good quality fresh socks and plenty of powder or other foot drying agent.  Boots need an opportunity to dry so bring backup foot-ware to use while your boots are drying.

What to pack your supplies in

You may be working and living in an area with lots of mud so a backpack or lug-able container may be preferable to wheeled luggage.  If you are part of a large group of people, consider removing duplicate supplies and share supplies with each other to decrease overall weight.

If you are being flown or bused to your destination be mindful of transportation storage requirements such as airport or bus baggage size guidelines.  For instance airlines recommend that your luggage not exceed sixty two linear inches (for example: 20 n x 20in x 22in or 24in x 24in x 14in).  Moreover airlines may charge a fee if your luggage exceeds 50 lbs.  You may need to pack multiple bags to keep the weight down.  For Puerto Rico hurricane responders, they were advised to "pack light" as aircraft storage was being used to bring disaster supplies in addition to responder cargo.

  • Durable
  • Water resistant
  • Hand carried or back pack
  • Large storage capacity
  • Modular straps for adding additional supplies.
Remote location deployment needs:
  • Airline friendly
  • Water proof identification tags or marking

Automotive supplies

If you are taking your car to an event or you are using your vehicle in a disaster impacted area there are some extra items you need to pack.
  • Emergency fuel canister (Fuel may not be available or reliable in the impacted area)
  • Spare tire (Full size preferred)
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Tire air pump and Tire patch kit or aerosol tire sealer/inflator
  • Tire changing tools
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow rope
  • Tire chains (in winter climate)
  • Emergency shovel
  • Flashlight
  • Paper maps
  • flares or strobes
  • duct tape and wd40
  • Extra space blankets
  • first aid kit.
  • Ice scraper (in winter climate)
  • Basic automotive tool kit

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