If you're a regular Gearflogger you know we're based in Anchorage, Alaska, where two years ago on Friday, November 30, 2018 we were hit by a 7.0 earthquake. It caused major property damage but remarkably no loss of life, probably due in no small part to lessons learned – and applied – from the 9.2 Good Friday quake of 1964 that killed 131.
This reminded all of us how important it is to be prepared. Know how to turn off your gas and water, have a communications plan in place and alternate rally points designated. Practice once a year what you'll do, or better yet take a class, and have the gear to do it. Checklists are available at Ready.gov, FEMA and Red Cross to get you started. Here are what we consider the big five basics, in order of priority (most immediate needs to stuff you can deal with later):
1. Medical Trauma kit. Not a first aid kit with a bunch of BS designed for a child's scrapes and bruises, but a real honest-to-Uncle Sam trauma kit that has at a minimum nitrile gloves, tourniquet, chest seals, clotting bandages, shears, surgical tape, sterile gauze, and maybe even a nasal airway. You do know how to use these basic items, right? Think about having one of these in your car as well as your go-bag, and take one with you into the backcountry where you'll be your own EMT.
2. Survival. This should be easy for you backcountry people. Have the right gear and keep it easily accessible. Shell and insulation layers, good boots, gloves, hats, sunglasses; you know the drill. Have the means to build a shelter and start a fire, all in a decent pack that you can throw and go. Think about including some trekking poles, both for walking wounded and supporting those mylar tarps to make a shelter. You'll probably want some 550 cord or equivalent. We're also big fans of a fixed blade knife, multitool and even pepper spray for critters four-legged and two. Oh yeah, light: Black Diamond Spot or Petzl e-Lite for the win. Oh and some N95 filter masks just for fun.
3. Water. After the bleeding stops and you've set up camp you'll be thirsty. Have some Datrex water pouches on hand for immediate needs. Back them up with a Lifestraw or similar – not the UV purifiers which only work on perfectly clear water – and some Potable Aqua tablets just to be safe. If you have a large group to care for, get a bigger Lifestraw or equivalent gravity filter. If all else fails and you have the means, boil your water. If you can shelter in place, maybe get a Water BOB for your bathtub, and fill it at the first sign of trouble.
4. Food. Finally, you're hungry if you've managed to make it this far. This should be really easy: Clif bars for immediate energy, Mountain House for the long haul. We always keep a spare 5lb tub of protein powder at hand, handy if you can shelter in place and have access to water.
5. Communication. Along with your cell phone, FRS radios from Motorola or Midland, or even better GMRS radios – make sure you get the license. Have a crank radio, preferably with a charging function. Maybe a solar panel just for giggles, and a power pack for the first 24 hours.