The $21.35 Emergency Kit and the Scavenger Hunt Bug Out Bag

(TFC) – One of the major objections to beginning the process of preparing for an emergency is cost. We had several readers build an emergency kit using a scavenger hunt list we provided and we sent a team to a dollar store to purchase twenty items, in hopes of providing a base for about $20 bucks. The results proved that it doesn’t take a lot of money to be prepared. It can be done for almost nothing.

To prepare inexpensively, it becomes important to see not what things are, but what they could be if you needed them to be. Knowledge costs nothing. The more you know, the more you can improvise, the less it costs to prepare.

The Dollar Store Kit: The ubiquitous dollar store, you can start your kit for just a few dollars. In 30 minutes, TFC bought twenty items that provide more than you might imagine. Here’s what we bought and why.

Knife: You’re going to cut things. Preparing food, shelter, fishing poles, snares, and almost everything else requires a knife. It’s a must-have item that can’t be easily improvised.

LED Flashlight: You’re going to need to see. This particular one has a hat clip for hands-free use.

Pack of lighters: 3-pack. You need fire. You’ll die without it. You need to cook, boil water, sterilize items, see at night, ward off animals, etc.

Plastic Tablecover: 54-inch x 108-inch or 4.5 feet x 9 feet. Combined with some sticks and some rope or string you’ve got a tent. Additionally, the plastic can be used to treat sucking chest wounds.

Waterproof medical adhesive tape: 5 yards. The obvious medical reasons aside, it’s waterproof tape.

Gauze: 3 inches x 4.5 yards. You can skip the band-aids, if you’re able to fix it with a band-aid, it’ll heal on its own. Save the gauze for real injuries.

Manicure Set: Scissors, nail clippers, cuticle pusher, nail file. The scissors should be obvious. Nail clippers can be used to clip string and, yes, nails. The cuticle pusher and the nail file can be placed on a stick and used as a gig.

Mesh laundry bag: Smoke meat, catch fish or small game, store kit.

Sewing Kit: 5 spools of thread, a collection of needles and safety pins, some buttons, a pair of scissors, and a measuring tape. The thread has 100s of uses. The needles can be heated and bent to make fishing hooks, as can the safety pins.

Polypropylene Twine: 3 pack with 148 feet. Combine with the plastic sheeting for a tent. Can be used to hang meat during smoking, lash items, make snares, etc.

Emergency Candles: A 6-pack of emergency candles provides about a day’s worth of lighting and minimal heat.

Needle Nose pliers/wire cutters: Removing fishing hooks, holding hot items, cutting, crimping, etc.

3-quart plastic jug: You need a canteen. Water is always your most pressing concern.

Brownie pan: It can be heated over a fire to cook meat, boil water, warm canned food, and so on.

Dental Floss: While oral hygiene is important, dental floss can be used as fishing line. Wrap waxed floss around a stick for a candle. Tourniquette. It can even be used as a weapon. Along with hundreds of other uses like snares or maybe even combine it with toothpaste (an abrasive) to create a hand saw, prisoners have created entire cottage industries using dental floss as an industrial material.

Duct Tape: Come on, it’s duct tape.

Can Opener: Can goods stay good for a long time. You can add cans to a kit for literal pennies whenever you can.

Coffee Filters: Coffee filters are one of those things that are seemingly bizarre, but have multiple uses if you think of what they could be. Filters can be used to filter muddy water (you still need to boil it at the very least). They can be used as funnels, toilet paper, rags, diapers, feminine hygiene pads, and scores of other things.

Toothbrush and toothpaste travel kit: You shouldn’t neglect your teeth.

Soap: 3-pack. You don’t want to be dirty. Seriously, a small wound can become a life-threatening infection without cleanliness.

Scavenger Hunt Kit: We sent a short list of must-have items to a few of our readers, they engaged in a scavenger hunt in their home for items that weren’t in use. Most were able to complete the entire list and even add a few items.

So what was the list?

Knife: As stated above, you will need to cut things. This is one of the few things you can’t easily improvise. Even if it’s just an old kitchen knife, you’re going to need something. If you have extra scissors, shears, hatchet and so on; now is the time to throw it in.
First Aid/Medicine: Maybe you have an extra first aid kit or maybe you can split one you have in your home. Extra painkillers, antibiotics, etc. Band-aids, gauze, bandanas.
Canteen: Could be an actual canteen, Camelbak, flask, or even a Tupperware container. You need something to hold water.
Shelter: Tent, tarp, plastic sheeting.
Alcohol: You probably have a bottle of liquor in the house. If it’s over 80 proof, you have something that can start fires, help sterilize items and wounds, or be traded.
Canned Food and Opener: Canned food is cheap and has a relatively long-term shelf life. Canned food will be easy to scavenge after a natural disaster, and it isn’t easily damaged. You’ll definitely need a can opener.
Water Purification: This is one of those items some people have, but most don’t. Whether it’s a survival straw or a bottle of purification tablets, you need something. At the very least, you need a pot to boil it.
Fire: Lighters, matches, fire starters. Fire is easily one of the most underestimated necessities of survival.
Extra Hygiene Items: There’s probably a closet in your house that has some extra soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc in it.
Multi-tool: having a compact set of tools at your disposal is wonderful. Especially the pliers. It beats finding a bunch of hand tools.
Rope: Rope, twine, fishing line, dental floss, and of course the ubiquitous paracord. You will need it.
Bag: Obviously, you’ll need a way to bag this up and transport it.

There’s no reason to be caught completely unprepared by a natural or man-made disaster. Scavenge away, and you’ll probably get some other ideas by reading our complete bug out bag article.