Introduction to the Practical List of 10 Things You Should Never Leave Home Without

Top 10 lists are an expected and wholly unoriginal way to organize a lot of practical information. But they serve a purpose. I am not committed to maintaining a list of exactly ten – but I think there is great value to setting limits and it is as good a place to start as any. Certainly I allow that through the deliberative process that this list may be whittled down or, alternative, be expanded through demonstrated utility of an 11th or 12th item.

Setting limits on such exercises also helps ensure that ones go-bag does not become 100 lbs, keeps a focus on the truly essential, and generates some hard comparative thinking and debate, which tends to result in the best final product. For example, if the last decision to make is whether I take with me a bottle opener or a corkscrew, it may depend on whether I am a beer or wine drinker to see how it comes out. (Personally, I think a corkscrew is the first thing that should make this list – and one does make its way onto my personal list, as you’ll see. How can one call oneself prepared if unable to open a nice bottle of wine? In Central Africa in the early 90s, a French UNHCR field officer once showed me how to open a bottle of wine after removing the foil cap by gently tapping the bottom repeatedly against a tree; if you get the right rhythm going, the sloshing of the wine back and forth against the cork (assuming it is not dried out) eventually pushes the cork out just enough to pull it out with your fingers (just 1/8 of an inch will do if you have some decent fingernails). Although demonstrated to me successfully at the time, I have been unable to replicate the process ever since on the few occasions I have been totally caught out, perhaps due to my habitual nail biting or fear of breaking the bottle against the tree. Hacking off the top of the bottle with a decent kitchen or hunting knife and straining the wine through a cloth to filter out any glass shards serves the same purpose and has been replicated).

So with that introduction, let us examine the key assumptions of this exercise. The purpose of this list is to provide you with a list of items you should never leave home without, (excluding clothing, which is obvious and will be dealt with in a separate discussion). The items or things must be easily carried on your person, and not weigh you down. They have to serve a practical purpose to you on a daily basis, as well as an invaluable one during an emergency or disaster. This ensures that you will carry them with you every day and it will become habit to have them with you. If they are too heavy, or if you have to bring along a backpack with you wherever you go to carry them, you will not carry them with you every day. And if you don’t have them with you when disaster strikes, unscheduled and unpredictable, as always, you won’t be Living Prepared™.

Personally, I suffer from chronic lower back pain and can’t carry a lot of weight around with me on a daily basis, beyond my own, so that has helped me to refine this list somewhat over the past few months.

Over the next two weeks, I will introduce each item with a description of its utility and practicality on a daily basis, and essentiality to making you prepared for an emergency. I will also report on my own experiences in making this item a part of my daily wardrobe.

About half of this list probably falls in the obvious category and are things that you already carry with you already, but these all form the basis of Living Prepared™.

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