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Evaluation of WWW.READY.GOV
Equipment and Preparedness Lists

February 26, 2003
Chandler, Arizona

Homeland Security READY.GOV site logo I have received numerous emails requesting my thoughts on the supply and equipment lists and checklists developed by the Department of Homeland Security and posted on Homeland Security's READY.GOV terrorism preparedness Web site.

Without getting into a huge political discussion, let me say I was not surprised by some of the important items not included on the government's checklists. Disappointed, but not surprised. While Homeland Security's lists on READY.GOV form the basis for a reasonable terrorism preparedness kit, there are a few notable problems, from my perspective.

No knife or saw is included, both highly desirable for any such preparedness or survival kit. A knife is your the number two survival tool in any environment (your brain being number one). These lists were developed in large part with the assistance of the American Red Cross who have stated publicly they do not recommend any cutting tools in such kits since they might injure someone, particularly a child. Such idiotic reasoning is almost beyond comprehension. That is like refusing to put your child in a car safety seat because in a very, very small minority of situations it might actually do more harm than good. The good news is that most homes are well equipped with knives, if only those already in the kitchen, perfectly capable of use in an emergency, if not ideal. Still, in my opinion it is irresponsible to not include such vital tools on their preparedness list.

No defensive firearm, or any other means of defense, is included, not even as a option for those who receive appropriate training and for whom it is legal. It should be noted that a firearm should be included not necessarily for defense against terrorists, but rather for defense against citizens who either did not prepare and decided your survival supplies should be "shared," or if lawlessness should develop. I think the defense of their properties during the Los Angeles riots (1992) by storekeepers who were armed provides a classic example. As is always the case with defensive use of firearms, they represent a significant responsibility, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. Such a decision is highly personal and also subject to a variety of legal constraints. But, for a defensive firearm to be left out of these lists for obviously political reasons is also, in my opinion, irresponsible.

The list includes a signal flare, without any caution statement. There are any number of plausible situations where use of a pyrotechnic by an untrained or stupid person could be catastrophic. The practical uses of pyrotechnics in an urban or suburban environment during such an emergency are just about nil with the exception of use as a fire starter, and then only if it is a handheld flare. Including this in the list without caution was not a bright idea and my own lists do not include pyrotechnics at all.

These are the most notable deficiencies. There are many other important, if not critical items not included. For example, apparently Homeland Security doesn't consider your pet(s) very important, but they are to most pet owners. You can find plenty of suggestions, a much more complete listing, for items to include in your survival or preparedness kit on Equipped To Survive starting with our Disaster Preparedness page.

Equipped To Survive is the most comprehensive online resource for independent reviews of survival and preparedness equipment and supplies, as well as survival and Search and Rescue information. Equipped To Survive does NOT sell equipment. The Equipped To Survive Web site is a non-profit educational endeavor edited by noted survival authority, Douglas S. Ritter and supported by the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Equipped To Survive Foundation.

For more information, contact Doug Ritter.

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First Published: February 26, 2003
Revision: 02 June 8, 2004
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