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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Pennsylvania, USA

    Default Need help with low-budget commuter survival kit

    I am looking to build a general purpose low-budget commuter survival kit for my Subaru Forester.

    My commute will soon changing from around 20 miles a day to more than 100. I will be traveling from the Philadelphia suburbs to New Jersey and back every day.

    I don't want to depend just on the contents of my shoulder bag for this. Or should I?

    I have a new 2006 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Premium and a hefty monthly car payment to go with it. I just paid off a credit card. Also, our annual per capita and occupational school taxes will be sent out in July. Hence, my available cash is on the low side.

    Any hints, tips, or suggestions in putting together this kit would be appreciated.

    -- Craig

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default What are you looking at?

    I may be being dense, but are we talking emergency gear, rations, entertainment..?

    I travel between 30 to 45 miles a day (nothing compared to your commute). I always have quick snack items in my bag, and when driving my "real" car I have books on tape, cds, etc. Lately I've been driving a 12 year old car with great gas mileage, but only a radio and questionable tape player for entertainment. I've been looking at the portable XM radio to share between the vehicles. BTW - the old car gets about 28 mpg in the city - so, I think I can deal with the boredom.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I'm a bit confused, too.

    When I used to commute 45 minutes each way, my car always had a small cooler in it with healthy snacks and drinks, plus extra water bottles that could be put in the cooler to get cool. This way, if I didn't have time to pack a proper lunch, I could still grab things to eat without too much trouble. (Of course, my desk drawer also had some healthy snacks in it as well.)

    If you're looking at something to make the commute more enjoyable, then I guess CDs/tapes/satellite radio would be your best options. Our library has a wonderful selection of books on tape/CD so I listened to those a lot. And I also bought some Spanish tapes in an attempt to learn it. (I haven't done so well with that, unfortunately.)

    If you're talking emergency gear, the most important things are really shelter and sustenance. You can take any container or bag you already have at home and put some things from the grocery store in it that will keep. Simple stuff like granola bars/protein bars keep for a long time. And water. A gallon of water is cheap. Then throw in an extra blanket and you're already ahead of most people as far as emergency preparedness goes. You could throw in some extra clothing items, especially for winter driving, like boots, gloves, hat, a warm coat, etc. You don't have to buy anything special. And, of course, you should have a flashlight and some extra batteries.

    If you really want to be prepared, you should check out this thread. It will probably tell you more than you really want to know. LOL

  4. Default

    Hmm.. like everyone else .. a couple of questions . Are you looking for an "emergency" kit for the car, in case something dreadful happens (ranging from a flat tire to another 9-11)? Or just what people keep in the car to keep themselves sane on long commutes?

    I think most of the answers are for the latter. When I had a 75 minute each way commute, I was teaching myself Russian using a language course on tape. That, plus a big bottle of water and the radio got me through 75 minutes of traffic every morning and evening. I do have an acquaintance who had a similar, nasty commute and he swore by a cassette recorder -- he was a part-time writer and outlined and basically dictated a book a year on the road.

  5. #5
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Emergency Survival Kit

    Unlike alot of people, I don't consider an emergency kit if it contains more "entertainment" than it does survival gear.

    When setting up a survival kit such as the one I believe you are hinting at, the rule of thumb I have been taught to use is to be self-efficient for 72 hrs. Some sort of aid should be availble by then (I hope).

    To start off with, I recommend making a purchase of one particular kit that is very well set up, and is a good amount of what you'll need.

    The American Red Cross and Target teamed up to create this Emergency Preparedness kit. It rides with me wherever I go. It includes:

    "Equipped for 4 people, the kit includes both first aid and emergency items: 2 pairs of non-latex gloves, 2 flashlights and batteries, 2 pairs of canvas gloves, first aid/emergency preparedness guide, transistor radio and batteries, 4 emergency ponchos, survival blanket, instant cold compress, 4 dust masks, children’s activity booklet and crayons, plastic drop cloth, scissors, breathing barrier, adhesive cloth tape, assorted adhesive bandages, 3" and 4" roll-type bandages, triangular bandages, absorbent compresses, 3x3" and 4x4" sterile gauze pads, hydrocortisone ointment, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, thermometers, aspirin, tweezers, moist towelettes, 4 plastic whistles and 8 snap lights."

    It's a great all-in-one starter kit. For one person, this kit would last quite a long time. It also contains a lot of things people tend to forget about: battery powered radio, dust masks, 'work' gloves, etc. All you need to add is things like waterproof matches in a waterproof container, and some other items that are recommended on a list thats included in the kit. As far as a commuter bag, I would amend this quite a bit.

    After either buying the items alone or as part of the kit, you can choose to either ditch the heavy plastic case (except the detatchable first aid case), or keep it all tightly organized. Personally, I'd consider ditching the case for the car.

    Other add ons I'd recomend are:
    A basic plastic hard-hat
    A 'headlight'
    Sturdy boots. You can't hike through rubble in your casual work shoes.
    A pair of jeans
    Basic clothes: a tshirt or two, a sweatshirt, 2 pairs of socks.
    Food-stuffs: Granola bars, trailmix, MRE's... Spam. Yes, Spam. You can eat it cold, it won't kill you.
    Water pouches. Visit a military surplus store or outdoor outfitter, you can usually find water packets. Although they say you need a gallon/day/person, I'm not going to carry 3 gallons of water. You might get away with doing it in the trunk, but if you have to leave, the water will probably stay. Several water pouches is better than nothing at all.
    Toilet Paper. Self explanitory there.
    A list of important phone numbers. Just incase you forgot to charge your cell phone or it got crushed somehow.
    A Compass.
    A map of the local area.
    A cap and bandana.

    Of course, you should amend for local conditions. In Phoenix, AZ, there's no need for warm winter clothing. But elsewhere there is.

    I actually at one time had most of this fitted into one backpack. My problem is I'm not a small person, so the emergency clothing tends to take up extra space. Of course, the hard hat hung on the outside of the kit and the boots were tied to the outside as well, but it was all there and ready for action.

    I would also consider including Bug Repellent and Sunblock as well.

    There's probably things I'm forgetting, but this would at least get you by on your own for a while.

    Others may have a different idea of a car Survival Kit, but for me, this is what I feel comforable with, especially after the last major disaster. It really proved why you need to make sure you're self sufficient. You never know when help can arrive.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default 72 hours?

    After seeing what happened with Katrina and attending local meetings detailing what might happen if a tsunami hits my area, I have upgraded all emergency kits in our cars and at our home to help us be self-sufficient for at least 7 days. Minimum. (The one at home should work for a month providing I can get to it before the tsunami sweeps it away.)

    72 hours might be OK in a small, localized disaster but if it's a wide-spread, regional one, 72 hours just isn't gonna cut it, imho.

  7. #7
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default theres the minimum...

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy
    After seeing what happened with Katrina ... [I need to] be self-sufficient for at least 7 days. Minimum.

    72 hours might be OK in a small, localized disaster but if it's a wide-spread, regional one, 72 hours just isn't gonna cut it, imho.

    On one hand I agree with you. The more days you can prepare for, the better.

    However, 72 hours is the generally accepted minimum for most disaster kits. I say this because within 72 hours State and Local disaster aid should (and I repeat, should) reach you, or you to reach it (walking, driving, etc.).

    Also, the size of a 1 month survival kit for a family of 4 would take up an entire basement. The idea of a survival kit is something that can, for the most part, can be easily taken with you if you have to move... and most disasters that will be the case.

    My plan has always been not to fall into the trap of milling about, but seeking out assistance and providing assistance.

    Again, bigger is always better, but 72 hours is a safe start.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Well, I don't trust the 72-hour rule. I just don't.

    Of course, if space is an issue, and if you want something you can carry without it getting too heavy, a 74-hour size one would be the size to shoot for.

    My one for a family of 4 for a month isn't all that big. Just the size of a large Rubbermaid container. It could fit in the backseat of my New Beetle so it's not huge. It's not full of enough water but there is a back-packer style water filter in it. Our major problem is going to be a tsunami. There won't be a lack of water, just a lack of clean water.

    Of course, my house may not withstand the tsunami so I realize chances are slim we'll be able to get to that container. That's why we all carry a large fannypack with enough stuff for a week. Again, not enough water but those water-filters that look like a regular water bottle to clean the dirty water that should be readily available and one container of fresh water to start with. The food rations won't be plentiful for a week but would be enough to keep you from getting too-too hungry. Everyone in my family could stand to lose a few anyway. LOL

    BTW, it's a fanny pack so it's still light enough to carry and run with. It's likely there will be no driveable roads. I do have a second small bag with a bit more food in it in case I'm close enough to high ground to get there in time without having to run. In that case, I'd grab both bags and be fairly well set.

    I really think people should plan for a week. I can't emphasize that enough. Unless it's a small, localized disaster, there is no way you can plan on help getting to you in 72 hours. In fact, in my area, we've been told it might be as long as 2-3 weeks before aide would get to us in a tsunami. That is, if it's a tsunami caused by a quake in the Cascadia Fault off the Pacific Coast. The reason for the long timeframe is because the quake that precedes it will devestate all the major population areas near us (Portland, Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, Vancouver, BC, etc.) and those areas will likely get help first becuase there's more people there needing the help. Also, since most help would normally mobilize from those areas, it would be hard to find a mobilization point for rescue teams to get to us in the outlying areas. Considering this event would effect people from Northern CA to Alaska, that's a lot of people who should be prepared. And, of course, we saw what happened with Katrina. It took over a week for many people to get assistance.

    I'm not trying to scare people....really, I'm not. But I just always think being prepared is a far better idea than being unprepared. In fact, being prepared takes a lot of the fear out of a disaster situation, imho. So, I say, plan for a week, or even more if you have room for more stuff.

    Well, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. :-)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default 72 Hours is just wishful thinking

    Quote Originally Posted by Arizona Brad
    However, 72 hours is the generally accepted minimum for most disaster kits. I say this because within 72 hours State and Local disaster aid should (and I repeat, should) reach you, or you to reach it (walking, driving, etc.).
    As a former DAT (Red Cross) coordinator and one who has been in scores of "disaster" events, 72 hours*** is an unrealistic pipe dream for the normal American family. The minimum standard should be one week for self-sufficiency, in my view and it is far more likely to be multiple weeks in the case of a large, national or regional event.

    I should add that it*** isn't because public sector and private individuals won't try their dardnest to provide assistance -- but in true non-typical serious event -- like Judy has said, every public agency will already be taxed to the limit providing basic service to their immediate area.

    There is also the "school's-out-for-summer" syndrome. I have seen it at virtually every "disaster" I worked. Efforts on the part of the affected individuals to get everything back to normal will be delayed for 2-3 days. Partly this is due to shock, partly it is due to desire to "be different" for a while. Which is why I think the 72 hours is way, way too short.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-23-2006 at 09:52 PM. Reason: added a comment

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Katrina and Rita response

    Most people that left south Louisiana in vehicles before the storm or even before the flooding were able to reach shelter, food and clothing within a few hours. It was people without cars or those that decided to stay and protect their property that had to wait so long. The biggest problem was finding gas along the way. You should always have cash handy for emergencies because without electricity that quickly became the only acceptable currency throughout much of the Gulf South.

    My sister has enough food, water etc to last at least a few days in her car if she ever gets trapped in South Louisiana (she goes to college in Lake Charles).

    However, as Judy said the problem is time. Where I live in North Louisiana, the problem is tornadoes. All that I can do in that situation is hide in a closet or the bathtub and pray. I've survived three tornados already. I keep jugs of water, nonperishable foods such as cereal, crackers and canned foods, candles and lighters at handy reach. We are also prone to ice storms, so I will never live in a place that doesn't have a gas stove so that I can at least have some heat.

    I think that everyone's emergency preparedeness is going to depend on where they live. If a tsunami hits Shreveport, then we're all in trouble. However, for many years, we were at the head of the list for a nuclear attack from the USSR due to Barksdale airforce base. We probably are still near the top of the list.

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