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Tom Bown Jr's Emergency Preparedness Checklist

Dear Friends,

All of you who have been through my classes know that I am not an alarmist. Instead, I am just the opposite. To me, blizzards, floods and all the rest are not disasters but adventures. I always ask, "What are you going to tell your grandchildren 25 years from now?" Are you going to tell them about the traffic jam that you got caught in on the commute home, or are you going to tell them of the great blizzard or flood that you lived through".

People seem to worship safety, security and comfort as a god, but what we remember the most in life are the intense times that we were not safe, secure and comfortable. These are the times we become the most alive, and these times are not just remembered, but relived. When it comes to emergencies, there is one saying that comes to mind. Be prepared. But be prepared sensibly.

What follows are some suggestions of what you can do to be sensibly prepared for emergencies. Remember, though, that your supplies need to be close at hand when an emergency occurs. This means remembering to have such items in your car, your backpack and your home. They do you no good if you take a hike away from camp and your backpack and an emergency occurs far from your supplies.


First, put away a supply of nonperishable food that would last you two weeks or more. This way if there is a disruption in the food service deliveries to markets, you will not be affected. Buy things you use anyway, just a little extra. Rotate your stock to maintain freshness.


So, too, should you stock up on bottled water. Make sure you have your own supply to fall back upon.

Important Documents and Financial Records

Now is a good time to make sure you have all your important documents ready for any possible emergencies.

Emergency Money

Many times a little extra cash can be a big help when something breaks down - whether its the ATM or your car. That extra cash can really come in handy if it is stashed away and only used in an emergency.

Sufficient Medications

It is best to make sure that if you are taking any medication on a regular basis, that you have enough on hand, not only for yourself, but for all members of your family.

First Aid Kit

Another suggestion is that you have your first aid kit well stocked, along with many over the counter medications, vitamins and supplements that you may need.

Gasoline for Automobiles

I would also advise that you fill your automobile's gas tank when you have sufficient warning of a hurricane, snowstorm etc. Always keep it as full as possible when potential threats appear.

Heat Source

It is also important to consider the possibility of heat and electricity being disrupted. If you have a standard outside grill, make sure that you have enough charcoal or propane to allow you to cook. Remember; NEVER bring the grill inside the house, basement or garage. There is an extreme danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, make sure that it is clean and in working order. Also, make sure that you have enough firewood on hand to out-last any outage. If you don't have a fireplace or wood stove, you may want to invest in an alternative and safe heating source such as a kerosene or propane stove designed for safe use indoors.

Extra Ice

I would also suggest that you get a large ice chest or cooler and fill it with ice as a possible storm or emergency approaches, just in case the refrigerator loses power. If you store your ice in sealed freezer bags, your ice can be an emergency source of water, too.

Some people have also invested in a small generator, but remember these are for outdoor use and are not to be brought indoors.

Light Sources

Remember to have candles, flashlights and kerosene lamps on hand.  As always, exercise extra care with candles and lamps indoors.  Carefully think through and consider fire safety and ventilation issues.

Extra Batteries

Have plenty of extra batteries on hand.

Battery-Powered Radio

Have a good battery operated radio with you.


I also suggest that you have board games, playing cards, books, puzzles and other reading material available. Who knows, a power outtage may reinvent real family conversations.

Pet Supplies

Don't forget those other important members of your family, your pets.  Consider their food and water needs, too. If any of your pets are taking medications, be sure you have enough on hand for them.

Family Emergency Planning

It is important that each member of your family knows where all of the emergency gear is stored and how it works. This is especially important for very young children who may be upset with any disruption in normal life. My wife Debbie suggests that you make a game of teaching them how to deal with any disaster. For instance, play a game of turn out the lights one evening, gather the family together in the living room and talk or read by candle light or flash light. This way they get used to the strange surroundings and conditions and will not easily be frightened during the time of a real disaster situation. Remember; be prepared means for your children too.

Finally, not to push my own publications and books, but I would like to suggest that you read, my book on City and Suburban Survival. By just reading this survival guide you will gain so much confidence and positive mental attitude, even if you never use the things you learn. You can find it at many libraries and order it through most book stores.

Most of all, treat any real or imagined threat as an adventure, not something to agonize over. Remember when you were a child and couldn't wait for a blizzard to give you a day off from school? Well, recapture that feeling and an emergency might become an adventure.

For more material by and about Tom Brown Jr. and the Tracker School visit the Tracker Trail website.