Ladies, let’s face it. All of us, aware of it or not, have been packing survival kits from the day we received our first Hello Kitty purses. Sure, our five-year-old selves may not have lasted long in a disaster with stashes of glitter glue and lip gloss, but we have spent our lives prepping. Shifting to survival stashes is not a big stretch.
In fact, you can start a survival kit  or stash by simply gathering common items in your home. Get started right now, and have several kits assembled within two hours. Put them in your car, office, home and other frequently visited places.
Let’s start with the check-off list, then go through three simple steps to prepare for disaster.
- Canned vegetables
- Changes of clothes
- Charcoal pills
- Cotton shirts
- Dental floss
- Garbage bags
- Laundry lint
- Party balloons
- Plastic grocery bags
- Purses, bags, or reusable shopping bags
- Stick matches
- Vitamin C
- Ziploc baggies
Step 1: Prepare for shelter, food and water
This is where the off-grid fun begins. Gather plastic grocery sacks, garbage bags, and Ziploc baggies. You now have gear to battle the elements, gather water, make a bed and pillow, and carry items. (See how far you’ve come in the first two minutes? Imagine how prepared you’ll be by the end of this exercise!)
If you get stuck in rain, a garbage sack can be turned into a poncho, while the grocery sacks can be tied around your head and feet. Grocery sacks can also be worn over socks to conserve heat.
Plastic bags are useful for gathering water. The larger bags can be spread on the ground to catch morning dew, and any size can be placed partially in a hole to catch rainwater. In a pinch, place a clump of green leaves into a closed Ziploc baggie for a few hours; the water in the leaves will be drawn out through condensation.
Should you find yourself hunkering down in the outdoors, the bags can be sliced open to make a tent, or filled with dried leaves to make bedding.
Next, gather canned goods. I keep cans of corn in my kits, because of the nutritional value, sugar boost, and extra water in the can. Corn also makes great fish bait in any freshwater source. Remember that you may have to actually carry your kits, so don’t pack too many cans. Although unpleasant, you can live a long time without food, and even longer on just a little food.
An item that most women don’t have, but should, is the P-51. This is a collapsible multi-tool invented by the United States military. Only a few millimeters thick and two inches long, it serves as a can opener, cutter, trail marker, and scraper. It’s also a disaster-ready mani-pedi tool.
Knock-offs of the P-51 are worthless, but the genuine version will last a lifetime. Many websites offer P-51s in bulk lots, at a cost of $50 each. Get a few girlfriends to chip in on a lot of 100, and you’ll all have plenty.
Step 2: Hygiene and general health
In the first step, you assembled enough items to be able to eat, drink and protect yourself from the elements. The next step is preparing for hygiene and general health. A bathroom is a treasure trove of disaster-related supplies.
Dental floss has so many uses that it, like the P-51, will be a form of currency in the event of a government shut-down. Not only does it keep your mouth healthy, but it can be used as rope and fishing line.
Story continues below video
Tampons also have multiple uses. They can be teased apart to provide first aid, and, if you’re creative, can filter dirt out of river water.
Look for makeup that you’re no longer using; it can be repurposed for the survival kits . The mirrors in compacts can be used to signal for help. Lipstick can be used to write messages, rub on kindling to help start fires, and keep your lips from getting sunburned or cracked. You can also rub it beneath your eyes to reduce sun glare.
Next, pack Betadine. It works on bug bites, wounds and sunburn. Four drops in one liter of water provides a safe drinking source, after letting the mix sit for an hour. Adding a crushed-up vitamin C tablet improves flavor.
Charcoal pills cleanse the body of toxins, eliminate commons illnesses like urinary infections and colds, and even combat snake bites when applied topically. Be certain to read up on the use of charcoal pills if you rely on medication or suffer constipation.
Step 3: Prepare for the long term
Instead of throwing out your old clothes and shoes, rotate them into your stashes. Assemble changes of clothes that include durable pants, warm shirts, sensible shoes, and extra socks. Pantyhose are a smart addition because they provide warmth underneath pants, can be used as rope, and can even be tied around a forked branch to make a sling-shot.
Repurpose old cotton shirts into handkerchiefs, tourniquets and ties. A dampened handkerchief placed over your mouth and nose will help you breathe while escaping fire or explosion. Cut out the seams to be used as ties and tourniquets.
Stuff laundry lint into spare party balloons or Ziploc bags. It is a great resource for kindling and can be used in place of cotton balls. Long party balloons can also be used to waterproof other important items, such as stick matches.
Now that you’ve gathered all your items, pack them into old purses, shaving kits, or reusable shopping bags. It’s a good idea to practice carrying them, to make certain they are not awkward or heavy.
What would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.