The urge to flee from an unpleasant situation is instinctive; to stay put in a place that’s dangerous to you isn’t comfortable for most folks. For that reason, most of the what-if survival advice you read about is centered on what has become popularly known as a “bug-out bag.” The idea is that when a natural or human-caused disaster strikes, you can pack up your family and gear and flee to safer ground.
That strategy might seem sound on the face of it, but maybe it just is not practical for most citizens in some of the most likely scenarios. When that super volcano just east of the Rockies finally blows, or a terrorist detonates a dirty bomb in Los Angeles—or any of a dozen similar catastrophes strike—the best bet for most citizens will be to stay put until an all-clear or order to evacuate is given. Case histories show that might take a while, so it behooves every household and place of business to follow the advice of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and be prepared to shelter-in-place for at least several days.
ICE PACK Modular System
The ICE (In Case of Emergency) Pack division of Ashbury International addresses the needs of disaster victims whose best strategy is to stay put during or after a widespread emergency that denies them the amenities of modern civilization. American Frontiersman recently evaluated the ICE PACK 1-person Shelter-In-Place System. As the folks at Ashbury point out, this five-module outfit is engineered to be much more than a survival kit, so we put it through the paces.
When the ICE PACK Shelter-In-Place System arrived in three boxes, the first impression was that it’s neat and compact. Its five stackable, 6-gallon polyethylene buckets are colored bright yellow and have heavy wire handles that make them easy to move. Each bucket module is clearly marked to show its purpose, and sealed with an innovative, watertight, twist-on Gamma Seal lid.
Shelter-In-Place And Shelter Repair (Module #14)
This is the module that you’ll probably want first in a shelter-in-place emergency. Our sample was crammed with a variety of tools that have the multi-functional flavor every survival professional strives for in his gear. The flat-bar (with gas shut-off wrenches) and rescue tool are imperatives if you need to force your way to someone trapped in rubble. There’s plenty of duct tape and polyethylene sheeting for sealing windows and doors, and a large tarpaulin for creating a windproof/rainproof shelter on the spot.
Because there are unseen dangers and/ or harmful gases inherent to any shelter- in-place scenario, this module includes a carbon monoxide/smoke detector with batteries and 12 extra AA batteries if you should need them for radios or flashlights. It even includes a pair of leather-palm work gloves, a necessity that’s often overlooked.
Other items in Module #14 include:
• Eight 3-foot, color-coded bungee straps
• 25 2-foot tielock straps
• Six 12-inch-by-18-inch PVC tie-shut orange bags
• One 10-feet-by-25-feet roll of 4-mil polypropylene clear plastic sheeting
• One 14-inch flat-bar with gas shut-off wrenches
• Channel Lock Rescue Tool • Combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarm with batteries
• Three 4-packs E2 lithium AA batteries
• Eight 3-piece tarp clips
• One 12-feet-by-16-feet PVC tarpaulin
• Two rolls of 2-inch-thick duct tape (60 yards)
• Pair of leather-palm work gloves
• 100 feet of 0.25-inch braided nylon rope
Drinking Water (Module #4)
Case histories have proved that drinking water is the most needed commodity after every disaster. It’s the first supply item to be trucked in to survivors, even when an abundance of water isn’t the problem. No one survives more than a few increasingly miserable days without water.
ICE PACK addresses that requirement with six 1-liter-size cartons of water, enough to hydrate one person for a week. Should you require more, 24 chorine-dioxide tab- lets destroy all viruses, bacteria, giardia and even tough cryptosporidium cysts that are not killed by iodine or chlorine, potentially extending your potable water supply another month. Remember: Tablets cannot neutralize harmful chemical contaminants. A dozen packets of Crystal Light flavoring help to make foul-tasting water palatable.
Other items in Module #4 include:
• Two 4-ounce Coghlan’s collapsible polystyrene tumblers
• 5-gallon Reliance Fold-A-Carrier collapsible water container with spout
• 24-pack of Aquamira chlorine dioxide water purifier tablets
• Six 1-liter Aqua Literz drinking water in cartons
• Twelve 20-fluid-ounce-size envelopes of Crystal Light drink mix
Emergency Meals (Module #3)
Conventional wisdom has downplayed the importance of food because, theoretically, it’ll take several months to die of starvation. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a probability under conditions of high stress, with symptoms ranging from diminished mental clarity to loss of consciousness. I’ve seen enough survival clients go to their knees from hypoglycemia on the trail to conclude that hunger’s indirect symptoms can cause a fatal misstep.
Compared to typical survival fare, this ICE PACK module provided a gourmet menu. Twelve freeze-dried meals in resealable foil envelopes that can be their own serving bowls have 7-year storage lives. Heavy paper plates, plastic cutlery individually wrapped with napkin, salt and pepper and a variety of spices might make you forget that you’re in survival mode. Two flameless chemical stoves enable making at least 10 hot meals to stave off hypothermia, and they work well as emergency heating units when you can’t build a fire. There are even toothbrushes with their own supplies of toothpaste and flossing picks to ensure dental health.
Other items in Module #3 include:
• Nine heavy duty paper plates
• Eight individually sealed plastic cutlery sets with salt, pepper, napkin
• Two DenTek Easy Angle floss picks
• Eight Purell sanitizing hand wipes
• Three Perfit White PopBrushNtoothbrush/toothpaste units
• 24 Mainstay 4.225-fluid-ounce foil packets for food preparation
• Two 1-liter Aqua Literz cartons drinking water
• Twelve assorted freeze-dried meals for flameless ovens
• Coghlan’s Multi-Spice Shaker
• Two Mountain House Flameless Heating Kits
• Meal preparation instruction sheet
Personal Hygiene (Module #7)
When civilized amenities become unavailable in the aftermath of a disaster, hygiene quickly becomes one of the most important aspects of survival. Few things are more dan- gerous to health than human waste, and a lot of it can build up in a short time. Proper processing and disposal is as imperative as any aspect of shelter-in-place survival.
ICE PACK makes this most repulsive facet of a shelter-in-place system as pleasant as it can be. The bucket converts to a toilet with a snap-down rubber seat that holds a biodegradable WAG Bag in place. Each multi-use WAG Bag includes a small package of tissue, a sanitizing towelette and is pre-loaded with NASA-developed Poo Powder that turns liquid into gel. Used bags are sealed into their own zip-lock disposal bags. Also includes: two rolls of toilet tissue, sanitizing wipes, field towels, and winged maxi-pad feminine napkins that can be valu- able for first-aid applications, too.
Other items in Module #7 include:
• Rubber toilet seat (snaps down onto bucket opening)
• Six WAG Bags with toilet paper, hand-sanitizing wet towel and zip-lock disposal bag
• Pack (18) Always menstrual pads • Two rolls Cottonelle toilet tissue
• Six Hoo-Ahhs 7-inch-by-10-inch hand towels, individually wrapped
• Six Germ-X sanitizing wet wipes, individually wrapped
• Two large drawstring trash bags
• Three heavy-mil tall trash bags
Emergency Support Equipment
Perhaps the most difficult thing about building a disaster survival kit is determining what to include and what to leave out. A down parka is a good hedge against cold, but it probably won’t be needed after a hurricane in South Carolina. Likewise, a working flashlight is one of the most absent necessities in disaster survival kits everywhere.
The ICE PACK’s Emergency Support Equipment Module relieves you of this multi-layered decision-making process with a smart assortment of miscellaneous necessi- ties. Included is a complete survival course in the form of survival playing cards, a Pocket Disaster Survival Guide, a weatherproof Home Emergency Pocket Guide and ICE PACK’s handy weatherproof first-aid flipper. An ultra-light and watertight Adventure first-aid kit covers probably most common medical needs, but our paramedic thinks that quantities of medicine and dressings should be increased, and maybe add an N95 respirator mask or two in case you’re downwind of the ash when that super volcano under Yellowstone blows. A Midland, dynamo-charged AM/FM/WB radio keeps you abreast of developing news and weather.
The Emergency Support Equipment Module includes:
• Midland AM/FM/WB dynamo radio receiver with onboard LED flashlight
• Three 4-packs of Energizer Advanced AA-size lithium batteries
• Three Cyalume SnapLight light sticks (1 red, 2 green)
• Storm super-loud safety whistle
• Don’t Die Out There deck of playing cards
• Pocket Disaster Survival Guide
• All-weather Home Emergency Pocket Guide
• All-weather ICE PACK first-aid flipper reference in plastic sleeve
• Adventure Medical Kits ultra-light/ watertight first-aid kit
• Two tamper-resistant bucket seals
No ready-made disaster survival outfit can be perfect for every scenario in every environment, but having written on this subject for decades, and having evaluated numerous offerings from different companies, the ICE PACK system comes as close to being all-around ideal as this writer has seen. The buck- ets alone can be invaluable tools, and there’s a clear intent to make every item as multifunctional as possible. If you want to instantly turn your home into a shelter-in-place survival refuge, just stack these five buckets into an out-of-the-way corner or closet.
If the ICE PACK system sounds like something you should have at your home or place of business—and with FEMA warning that every one of us is likely to face a prolonged disruption of civilized amenities in our lifetimes, it is—visit ice-pack.com or call 434-244-7140. Different modules and sys- tems are available to address the needs of up to 16 persons. A basic, 1-person, hot-meals, shelter-in-place system with a five year shelf life retails for $1,176.