As I mention in my post What Would You Do in an Emergeny Situation? Are Your Prepared? back in January, rain can be just deadly in Southern California as fire and earthquakes. As it turns out after years of drought, we are on the verge of getting more rain from one storm than we have had in over two years. And given our recent fires in our foothills, mudslides are a major risk and can cause damage to homes and lives. How fitting that I am now doing a series on emergency preparedness and especially a post on the 72 Hour Emergency Kit.
These three day kits are not designed for long term emergencies but are great to have to be prepared for when you have to bug out quickly or you find yourself dug in during outages, snowstorms, etc. These kits contain everything you would need for you and your family, including pets, for three days and is not just limited to food.
That said, please don’t feel like you have to get every item right away. Being prepared should not mean going into debt. Start first by looking around your home for extra items that you have that can go into your kit. After that, prioritize what you feel is the most important to get first and then work down the list according to what your budget allows. I personally suggest making this a line item in your budget each month. Give it an assigned amount and once the kit is finished, keep the line item in as an impound for replacing expired items or items that kids have outgrown. Consider shopping for items at thrift stores, Wal-Mart, Dollartree, and 99 cent stores or their equivalent in your area in order to buy supplies and save money. Think more bang for your buck. You can also add these emergency preparedness items to your birthday and Christmas wish lists in order to build your kits. They do make great gifts.
As you buy items, I suggest keeping perishable items separate from nonperishable items. Food generally goes bad as do batteries, medical supplies, medications, and hygienic items. If these items are stored in one bin and nonperishable items in another, then you do not need to fully disassemble your kit as you change out items that have expired.
And speaking of expiring, you will want to rotate out items as they are about to expire. You can use them before they do for camping, kids snacks, etc. but, have a schedule for rotating items out. Use your impound to cover the costs of replacing these items. I would suggest once every 6 months to a year. As you buy food items, pay close attention to how it is packaged. Certain packaging promotes bugs and one contaminated package can run your whole supply. Think canned foods or vacuumed sealed foods.
Storage of your kit is equally as important as owning a kit. You will want to make sure you have your kit stored where you can easily grab it and go in a moment’s notice. I am planning on storing ours in our front hall closet. It is right near the front door as well as the garage door and is also easily accessible to our kitchen back door. All of which allows us to grab it quickly and leave. Make sure you are storing your kit in easy grab and go containers such as bins with handles.
The 72 Hour Kit
When you are putting together your kits, make sure to remember to make accommodations for family members special needs such as those that are gluten free, diabetic, etc. and don’t for get your pets. They need to have their needs covered in the kit too. You can purchase pre-made kits but most will need to be supplemented. It’s just as easy to assemble your own and sometimes more cost effective. Here is what you will want to include in your kits:
- Supply of water (equivalent of four 16oz bottles per person per day)
- Food (see below for more details)
- Can opener
- Cups Plates and utensils
- Pet supplies
- Baby supplies (instant formula, diapers, wipes, wraps, baby food, travel sized baby powder, travel diaper rash cream, clothing, and comfort items)
- Games and books for kids
- First Aid Kit (see post Emergency Preparedness: First Aid Kits)
- Spare glasses or contacts and solution
- Travel sized personal hygiene items (get free ones from your hotel stays)
- Sanitation disposal supplies
- Toilet paper
- Tampons or pads
- Change of clothing
- Cold weather clothing supplements
- Sewing kit
- Sturdy/strong second pair of shoes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Body warmer packets
- Rain Ponchos
- Battery powered radio with extra batteries
- Glow stick
- Swiss Army knife or multi tool knife
- Wind and waterproof matches
- Candles with holder (pillars make great options since you can use an empty cleaned out can to catch the wax)
- Trash bags
- Whistle (one per person)
- Multipurpose tool and/or Crowbar
- N95 dusk mask
- Work gloves
- Tarps or tent
As you are preparing your kits, consider the following when it comes to food. A great option is MREs or meals ready to eat. These, along with emergency food bars (which are full of calories and are good sources of energy), last a really long time so rotation is minimal. In fact true MREs can last up to 25 years. Additionally, these don’t require a whole lot of storage area. These are full meals that can be cooked over or in boiling water in their packets. As a kid, these were what we used for camping and they were pretty tasty and came in a wide variety of foods. You can get these at place like Bass Pro Shop and even Wal-Mart. However well stocked army surplus stores do carry these and I find that these can be less expensive and sometimes a better option as their packaging is waterproof and less destructible. After all our military have to MREs that survive some pretty harsh situations.
However, MREs and other food options need a heat or cooking source so depending upon what you stock your kit with, you will want to make sure that you have a cooking stove with backup fuel, fire starter packets as well. For some no cook food options considered canned veggies, canned beans, canned cooked chicken or other meat, and canned fruit. Others included anything vacuum sealed that does not require it to be kept cold. These are usually more cost effective than MREs and emergency food bars but they have to be rotated out more often. Whatever you choose to stock, make sure you choose options that you and your family will enjoy eating. And don’t forget your pets. They have special needs that you will want to consider. Below are items for dogs and cats but they can be modified for any pet.
- Water (amount depending on size of pet)
- Dry and wet food (enough for your pet to eat for three days)
- For cat a small litter box, scoop and litter
- For dog, dog poop bags
- Blankets and comfort items like toys
- Pet medications
- Copy of vaccination and vet records
- Pet first aid kit
- Extra collar and tags
- Spare leash and harness
- You may also want to consider a travel kennel
I hope you are enjoying the series and I will see you next post.