So Engineering for Change did a shelter in place kit list in response to Hurricane Sandy(ten_things_to_put_in_your_emergency_kit.html). But it bothered me because of the prices of some of the items. The home solar kit or Biolite stove will run you a couple hundred bucks and they aren’t that appropriate for the developed world. I love my Biolite stove but I’m not going to use it in my apartment if the waters have risen. It got me thinking: what could I get for a couple hundred bucks to shelter in place from Walmart? The answer is a lot!
Here is my $200 shelter in place kit (mostly from Walmart excepting one cheat from Amazon that was cheaper). All of these items would be appropriate to surviving a week in an apartment or house without grid services. Most of these items have other uses, such as camping, going to a festival, or tailgating. All of the items are under $40, most under $10, meaning you can pick them up a bit at a time.
The $200 at Walmart (and one cheat at amazon) Shelter in Place Kit:
Water and Hygiene $33.45:
3X 5 gallon foldable water carrier $5.98ea
These are my mainstay at Burning Man. They scrunch up great in a closet or under a bed when it isn’t a disaster. They carry 5 gallons of water. This is meant for your drinking and teeth brushing water, fill them up BEFORE the disaster strikes. You should also fill your bathtub, if you have one, before the disaster strikes. Your bathtub is for your cleaning water, toilet flushing water. You want a gallon a day per person. 3 carriers gives you 15 gallons. This item is a great place to splurge if you have extra cash and space.
Iodine Tablets $4.56
Iodine is for water treatment should you be going to non-potable water sources such as your water heater or that water that’s been sitting in your tub for a week. Also iodine is good if you have a boil order but don’t have the fuel to spend boiling water. Iodine tabs are more portable than chlorine bleach and are a great item to take with you if you have to move or to gift to others if they are stuck with no purification.
Clorox UNSCENTED Bleach $1.98 No Online link
Chlorine is the mainstay of water treatment. Use 3 drops (5 if very cold water) per quart. 1/8 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon if very cold) per 1 gallon. 1/2 teaspoon (1 teaspoon if very cold) per 5 gallons. That will give you a 5-6 percent chlorine solution.
For water to sanitize dishes after cleaning use 1/4 cup per 5 gallons of water and dip after rinsing for 1 minute.
I cannot stress enough ONLY GET PLAIN UNSCENTED BLEACH. The other types of bleach are not suitable for water treatment.
Though I am sure in a disaster you’ve been doing bucket baths with hand towels or sponges, after a week you’ve probably gone through the tub water and are wanting to take a shower (or maybe you are lucky and have a shower separate from your tub). Either way the solar shower will feel like civilization in a bag. Here’s a hint, don’t fill it all the way. Partially full you might get away with hanging it from your existing showerhead.
Light, Power and Communications $131.71:
Eton Solar Crank Weather Radio $35.99
This little radio has weather, FM and AM. So you can keep up to date with important information. It stays charged between emergencies if you leave it in the sun due to a solar panel on top. It has a crank for charging in emergencies, and it can be used to charge you dumbphone (see below). It has a light for when your other lighting sources die out (in the unlikely event you are stuck for a few weeks).
Energizer LED headlamp $16.28
If you are walking around or doing task lighting activities nothing beats a headlamp. The Energizer one is nice because it has different light settings. Also it has a red light mode so you can walk around without blinding the people you are talking to.
3XTent Light $4.00 ea
I like light in emergencies. Lots of light. Unfortunately this is kinda blue light. But it is bright and cheap. This is a lot of light for very little cash. Put these around your home and it will feel like a much more welcoming place. (a more sustainable cheat to this is a Bogo light which is solar powered but not available at Walmart: http://www.bogolight.com/ . I recommend Bogo over Nokero and D-light due to quality reasons. Others have died on me over the years, but Bogo keeps going strong and is easy to open and fix.)
USB Battery Backup $36.72 Note only 3000MAH
This will keep your smartphone charged for an extra day or two. For a week if you use it sparingly and turn it off to conserve power. I have an 8600 MAH version of this and spent more elsewhere, but the basic premise still holds. Our devices are part of what makes us feel like we’re not living in the Stone Ages. Being online is important. I remember in Haiti handcloth washing from the rain barrel, but still feeling modern because afterwards I’d be online. This device will keep your smartphone going at least as long as the cell towers will have diesel for their generators.
Should your smart phone die this is a back up phone that can be charged from your Eton hand crank radio. Just text and calls, but it could be a life saver. Battery life on dumb phones is much better than smart phones and you should go a few days on one charge. Tracfones usually come with airtime. I list the TracFone, but the ideal would be to buy an unlocked dumb phone and switch your SIM in emergency so you have the same number. Note you need an adapter to do this if you are using an Iphone 4 and up with microsim.
36 pack AA batteries $12.77
Batteries for tent lights. These should last you 360 hours (assuming you don’t use all 3 tent lights simultaneously)
20 pack AAA batteries $7.97
Batteries for headlamp. These should last you 450 hours with the headlamp.
Gasone Portable Butane Stove: $12.95
This is my cheat from Amazon because the walmart butane stove was cheaper quality and higher price. This is a stove that you can use indoors without killing yourself with carbon monoxide or tipping it over and starting a fire. It is a simple to operate single burner stove. Cheaper and much less complex than many camping stoves.
12 Butane Canisters for the Stove: $17.88
This will last you way more than a week’s worth of cooking. 1 canister should give you 3 squares for 2 days.
A Real Can Opener $6.47
This is just because I have heard stories of people buying canned food and getting home and realizing the can opener is busted. If you are buying canned goods you want to have a good working can opener, not just a Swiss army knife, on hand.
I did not cover food in this post but it shall suffice to say I am a big fan of dried goods, especially Japanese food in a disaster or while camping. Nothing like having veggie sushi and miso soup to feel like you are living large in a disaster.
I also did not cover heating, but if you have ever been without heat in the winter there is nothing like pitching a tent indoors and covering it with blankets to shrink that heat envelope (you still need to use blankets or a sleeping bag and an insulating pad or mattress inside the tent as well).
Hope this post is useful to some people to help them prepare for the next disaster.