Disaster strikes and you need to be ready!

By Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason Philippine Daily Inquirer January 15,2020

In 2015, I wrote in this column how to pack a Disaster Survival Kit (DSK) right after a series of earthquakes and Typhoon Yolanda made life miserable for people living in various parts of the Philippines.

Now we are going through another natural disaster with the eruption of Taal Volcano. The demand for face masks has just gone crazy to a point that it has become a national issue to stop the shameless opportunists who have jacked up the price to as high as 100 percent. We have some friends who got stranded for hours on the road because of the ash fall and zero visibility.

So I am updating the previous DSK for your car. A survival kit is a bag of supplies with basic necessities that will help you get through 72 hours after a disaster where all resources are not available. You should make one for each family member, so each bag will have different content. Let me share with you some information about making a survival kit.

DSK for the car

A waterproof bag with lots of pockets. Something that will be easy to carry is ideal; just in case you have to abandon your car, you can still bring all your supplies.

Basic necessities

A change of clothes for three days including:

Disposable underwear

Long sleeves and long pants (I suggest you pack long running pants and dry fit long sleeves shirt which are both light and easy to wash. It will also help you to be more mobile and protected from insect bites)



Waterproof Poncho

First Aid kit

First Aid materials (gauze, roll of tape, band aids, antiseptic cleaner)

Burn medicine and lubricant

Blood coagulant (some suggest cayenne pepper)

Sanitation kit

Latex gloves

Face Mask (this will help you fight the virus/ sickness floating around) or in this situation ash fall.

Soap (powder or bar)


Manual can opener

Swiss army knife and extra knife


Fire starting kit (seal in two ziploc bags each closure on opposite directions)

Flashlight with two sets of battery (batteries separately packed) or a self powered one.

Personal Supplies (tissue paper, sanitary napkin, wipes etc)

Working mobile phone with charger

Battery operated radio or crank radio

Metal cup, plate and utensils (double use for cooking)

Comfortable pair of shoes or waterproof boots (mobility is most important during a disaster, if you have wounds on your feet that will greatly lessen your chances of survival)

Cash and copies of personal documents (IDs, passport etc)

Warm blanket and heating packs

Baby items if you have kids (diapers, infant formula etc.)

Ziplock and garbage bags (doubles as shelter if needed)

Car items

Jumper cables

Tire jack

Night flare


Sturdy gloves

Rope (should your car get stuck and needs to anchor it)

Duct tape

Items that need replenishing (check the expiration dates of the following supplies every six months to keep your pack up to date).


If you have maintenance medicine, pack a weeks supply.

Bring several for fever, headache, colds, anti-diarrhea and antibiotic cream, as well as vitamins.

Drinking water (one gallon per person per day is recommended by different disaster preparedness sites which is enough for drinking and sanitation). Bring also a 500-liter bottle where you can transfer your drinking ration for the day.

Food (Meals, Ready to Eat (or MREs) which are issued to the military are good but it is hard to find in the PH. Canned goods are OK because you can heat the food in the can. Cup noodles is also OK because you just need to add water. Bring protein rich food such as nuts and energy bars, which are also easy to eat. Make sure that your family eats the food that you will bring.


Your car would also need to be in tiptop shape every time. Remember to do these things:

Never have an empty tank when you go home to sleep.

Check your battery terminal regularly.

Have your brakes checked for wear and tear, fluids and oil level every month.

Always keep you windshield wiper in tiptop shape. Whenever it rains it would be your best friend.

Always have a ready spare tire.

Check your tires regularly; replace immediately when tire thread indicator says so.

Nice to have

Any thing (toys) to entertain the kids. The human spirit, as long as it stays strong, will determine someone’s survival. For kids, toys or something that will keep their minds busy or distracted can help the group a lot.

Compact camping stove

Small tent, lightweight thermal blanket or small sleeping bag

Powdered Gatorade

Prepare a different one for the house.

You car kit includes provision of shelter and tools to keep your car running. The home kit should be more extensive since its goal is to be able to sustain you while at home waiting for everything to get better.


Parents, don’t over think this because it’s better to have something than nothing. The list above is just a guide. As mentioned, your DSK is like an insurance policy—you make one and hope never to use it. It’s also important that you have your kids onboard in this effort so they will know what to do if something happens and you are not there. Have a family SOP on where you are going to meet if something happens and how to use the kits. Truly, a family that prepares together, stays safe together.

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