From past experience it usually takes about 72 hours after a disaster for help organizations to reach the area, set up, and get organized to handle the needs of the emergency. Therefore it is important that we have on hand, and at quick access, a kit that will help us survive those first few hours and days. This is usually called a 3 Day or 72 Hour Emergency Kit.
Remember a 72 Hour kit is for the purpose of surviving. It cannot have all the luxuries that we would sometimes like, but it needs to have the items necessary. Therefore an easy carrying backpack is ideal. It will not allow you to pack more than you can carry, but if you plan well, there is enough room to hold the necessary items to survive.
Each person needs to have his or her own kit. It is possible that family members could get separated, and each member needs to have some supplies with them personally. If walking, a child would not be able to carry very much for a very long period of time, but does need to have some items that would help them survive.
In making your emergency preparations, there are ten areas that need to be considered. Be careful that you don’t plan heavily in some areas and ignore other areas. All are necessary for survival.
There are many alternative choices when we consider food. A variety of food preparations are important. It is important that food can be kept for long periods of time without refrigeration. Choose foods that need minimal cooking. Some good choices are bouillon cubes, powdered drinks (hot chocolate, cider), dried fruits and nuts, jerky, and candy to suck on. These kinds of foods give energy, nutrition, and help to boost the morale.
Water can be stored in the home in various sizes of containers, but small 1 or 2 liter sized containers for carrying are very important. 2 liter pop bottles are ideal. Collapsible containers are handy for storing in a pack since they can be folded when empty. Large clear plastic bags are very useful in collecting water from dew or rain. Water can also be boiled, distilled, or purified with purification tablets or a water purification kit. All of these methods should be included in your kit.
SHELTER & WARMTH
There are many products available in this area. A tube tent is small enough to fit into a pack and very versatile. It is basically a ground cloth with tie ropes that can be easily made into a shelter, used as a ground cloth, or a cover to keep a pack dry. Emergency “space” sleeping bags and blankets and emergency ponchos are also very good to keep body heat in and wet weather out. These are lightweight and take up little space in a kit.
With a bag of charcoal and a Dutch oven, you can have warmth and cook just about anything. However they are bulky and charcoal must be used outside where there is good ventilation. There are several sizes of sterno or instant heat that is available. A rack to sit over a can of sterno takes up very little space and can heat water, soup, and cook simple meals. Waterproof matches, fire starters, disposable lighters, and compressed fuel tablets are only a few items that can be very helpful.
There are many kinds and sizes of oil lamps that are available to have in our homes for when we lose electricity. These are the easiest maintenance and probably the safest. In a pack a flashlight (store the batteries out of the flashlight to last longer) is an essential item. There are also special flashlights that need no batteries or flashlight radios that can run off multiple sources for power including solar and hand cranking.
This is often one area that we forget to include in our planning. There are a few simple items that can be very helpful. A whistle can be blown with less energy and heard farther than your voice. Also a mirror is excellent for signaling for help. A radio with multiple source possibilities for power is very important also, to know what is happening, where authorities are asking people to go or what to do.
HYGIENE & SANITATION
There is nothing better that a few simple hygiene items such as a comb, tooth brush, razor, or shampoo to boost morale. Small versions of these items can fit into a pack easily. Some kind of “porta potty” is a must.
Of course a First Aid Kit is a must for any emergency situation. Basic items and a simple first aid instruction sheet needs to be included in every kit.
CLOTHING & PERSONAL ITEMS
A change of clothing, especially extra socks, underwear, and a jacket need to be added to your kit. A hat, gloves, and hiking shoes would also be very helpful. Other personal items such as feminine items, baby diapers, medications, extra glasses or sunglasses, “comfort toys”, book, writing material, and card games are needed and very helpful.
IMPORTANT PAPERS & MONEY
It is very important to have a packet of copies of all your important papers such as: insurance and other legal papers, wills, birth certificates, marriage certificate, bank account numbers, family photos and other documents. If someone has become separated it is very helpful to be able to give the authorities a recent picture of who you are looking for. Be sure to include some money in your kit, both small change and larger amounts.
Remember some items need to be rotated. It might be a good practice once a year when you change your clocks to daylight savings time, and change the batteries in your smoke alarm, to also rotate and update any items in your 72 Hour kit that need to be changed. That way it will always be updated and ready for an emergency.
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