Recently I was caught in the mother of all rainstorms just outside Houston. In just a few moments my purse and I were drenched, and I realized just how quickly the contents of my purse or an emergency bag could be ruined by moisture.
It’s pretty easy to protect each individual item from humidity and/or water by encasing them in a vacuum packed bag. The ones used for storing food are sturdier than zip-loc bags, and if you buy the roll of bags, you can easily trim them to the size you need.
If you don’t own a vacuum packing appliance, either Food Saver or another brand, I just took a quick look on Craigslist for my city and there are easily 4 dozen various machines available for sale. Stores like Walmart and even Cabela’s carry them as well.
I recommend vacuum packing items individually, since once the bag is open there’s no way to close it again — although I have a work-around for that I’ll share at the end of this article.
Here’s how you can protect your emergency supplies:
1. Along with your vacuum sealer and a roll of plastic food storage bag, assemble together the supplies you want to vacuum pack. Especially:
- Anything made of metal that could rust
- Fire starters and tinder
- Some other items:
- A few doses of OTC medications — Capsules may crack in the vacuum sealing process, so I recommend tablets.
- Cash in small bills
- A tube of Chap Stick wrapped in duct tape
- Extra rounds for your firearm
2. Take a length of the plastic bag and lay your first item, on top. You’ll be sealing the bottom of the bag, so make sure there’s an inch or so of bag below the item and the same amount of on either side of your item. Trim the plastic to fit.
3. First, seal the bottom of the bag. Both sides should be sealed as well.
4. Insert your item in the bag, making sure it will fit, and then vacuum seal the top. You want to leave just enough plastic at the top of the bag so it seals nicely, but not so much that you leave a long flap.
5. Once all four sides are sealed, check them carefully to make sure there are no gaps. At this point you can trim off any excess sealed plastic around the edges.
6. Repeat this process with each item you want to protect from moisture.
What I like about this system of sealing individual items, is that you will rarely need to use everything in your emergency bag. What you don’t need will remain protected.
If you want to protect a handgun from moisture using this method, there’s been quite a bit of discussion online about this, and the consensus is that the gun needs to be well oiled and that both an oxygen absorber and a desiccant packet should both be included in the bag before sealing. If you want to keep a spare handgun in an obscure location, hidden from burglars, for example, this would be one way of protecting it for a lengthy period of time.
I mentioned earlier that the one disadvantage of these vacuum packed bags is that they can’t be resealed. A good way to have a re-sealable bag and get the vacuum pack effect, is to first place your items in a zip-loc bag, leave the bag open, and then put the whole thing in the Food Saver bag to seal.
Finally, one bonus tip. Seal your Everyday Carry items using this method, and then use a hole punch to punch a single hole in the sealed corner of the plastic bag. You can then string your EDC items onto a length of paracord, a metal ring, or anything else that is handy. Just be sure to include a small pocket knife or collapsible scissors so you’ll have a tool for cutting open one of these sealed bags when you need to.
(This would be great for kids’ backpacks!)
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