Emergency Kit

The latest weather around the northeast of the United States got me thinking a bit, especially around emergency gear and what would be best in an urban setting. While I briefly discussed this in what to carry, I haven’t yet written about emergency-focused gear.

Disclaimer and warning: First of all, I have training and I feel comfortable using the gear or things mentioned here. I’m responsible for my own safety and security, I am NOT responsible for yours, and I am not responsible for the things you do with the information here. Use all this with common sense and seek professional training before doing anything.

Over the past several years my focus shifted from going relatively light, but still carrying extras just in case, to going lighter and relying more on common sense, experience, and training. I still carry what I need, but it's a more focused, minimal, and lighter kit. Going this light, focusing on remaining safe and capable, has led to really breaking out my commute gear into everyday kit (which I can discard if needed) and emergency (which I can grab and run in an emergency).

The emergency gear is packed in two pouches, one for medical, and one for everything else. That's it, that's what makes the kit. However, with the latest iteration I'm trying, I'll be consolidating all into one pouch.

The emergency gear I carry helps me address the things I think are the most important in a city. These are:

  • Navigation: how to find a way to get out of the city and send your location to friends and family
  • Communication: how to keep in touch with help and with family and friends
  • Electricity: whether cables to charge your stuff, or a powerbank, you need a way to produce electricity
  • Protection: how to keep yourself and traveling companions safe, and how to procure things (since a weapon can be used both defensive and offensive)
  • Entry: how to get into things to procure emergency stuff like medicine, first aid, and water, and how to get out of things as well
  • Medical: how to treat some life-threatening injuries

If you think about it, it makes sense. You don’t need a big get-home bag to get out of trouble in case of an emergency. You need to be able to know where you are, use that information to find a way out and communicate that information to a trusted party for either rescue or for general situational awareness. You also need a way to protect yourself if needed, and maybe scare someone into giving you something you need, like medical supplies. Speaking of that, getting into and out of things and places is one key skill you need to learn, and having the right tools to do that is a must. This will get you out of trouble, and allow you to acquire more things if needed, helping you keep your kit small and light. And finally, medical. A good trauma kit that can stop bleeding goes a long way into surviving in a city.

So, what do I carry? The current emergency kit is:

  • A phone, Charging cables for the phone, and a Goal Zero powerbank
  • $300 in $50s and $20s bills (in one of the pouches). Cash is the way to quickly get out of trouble
  • E&E / Entry kit: A set of Bogota Picks, a shim, an EZ Decoder, a quick stick, and a set of small combs. You can get these at SEREPick
  • Mini Trauma kit: a QuikClot Combat Gauze LE, an ETQ (Everyday Carry Tourniquet), an Israeli Compression Bandage, and gloves
  • Flashlight and knife (I can't carry a firearm in NYC)

That’s it. I carry my laptop and charger as well, but that's it. This simple kit will help me get out of trouble in a city. You don’t need much in the way of gear to find a way out. You need to apply common sense, train, and practice.

By the way there are awesome people also writing about this approach: Modern Adversary has one called Minimal Emergency Kit where he lays down what he would keep as a go-to minimal kit for emergencies. He also describes the logic behind what would make a good go-to bag in On Emergency Gear. You can agree or disagree with his approach, that’s ok, but he does make some good points. Same with the folks at Real First Aid and their Urban Survival Kits. They talk about the mindset and, similar to my and Modern Adversary’s approach, they divide the kit into activities such as protection, location, navigation, etc.

I hope this was useful. Stay safe out there.