With all the calamities in the world being able to care for our own needs in an emergency is becoming more and more necessary and important. To be self reliant includes an emergency kit with enough supplies to sustain us until help arrives, but portable to take with us if evacuation is necessary. This is usually called a 3 Day or 72 Hour Kit (Ideal is a five to seven day kit). We need to realize that in case of a major disaster, such as an earthquake, the Fire Department, Police and Public Services CAN NOT immediately help everyone. Their first priorities must be to government, public utilities, transportation, hospitals, schools, etc. The healthy individual is their last priority! From past experience it usually takes about 72 hours after a disaster for organizations such as the Red Cross 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 disaster kit to help us survive those first few hours and days.
Remember a 72 Hour kit is for the purpose of surviving. It can not have all the luxuries we would sometimes like, but it needs to have the necessities. Therefore a backpack is ideal. It will not allow you to pack more than you can carry. If you plan well, there is enough room to hold necessary survival items.
Each person needs to have their own survival kit in the case family members get separated. If walking, a child would not be able to carry very much for a very long period of time, but they do need to have some survival items. A larger, more extensive family kit may be added to your preparations, but should be kept separate from the easily portable 72 Hour individual kit.
In making your emergency preparations there are ten areas to consider, which are listed below with explanations. It is important to have multiple sources for each area. For example: food should not be all canned, or frozen or dried. A variety of methods gives you a more versatile means of coping in any type of disaster. Be careful to not plan too heavily in some areas while ignoring others. All areas are necessary for survival.
There are many alternatives when considering food. A variety of food preparations are important. It is important food can be kept for long periods of time without refrigeration. Dehydrated food is compact and light, but water is needed to reconstitute it. Canned food is convenient although bulky and heavy; and don’t forget the can opener. Choose foods needing minimal preparation or cooking. Some foods can be eaten cold and or out of the can if necessary. Some good choices are bouillon cubes, powdered drinks (hot chocolate, cider), dried fruits and nuts, jerky, and candy to suck on. These foods give energy, nutrition, and help to boost the morale.
An adult needs 2-3 quarts of water a day. This would be too much to carry in most instances, so it is important to include means of collecting and purifying water. Water can be stored in the home in various sizes of containers, but small 1 or 2 liter size for carrying are very important. 2 liter pop bottles are ideal. Collapsible containers are handy for storing in a pack for water collecting later. 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 and 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. It can also be used 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 light weight and take up little space in a kit. A small travel size blanket and pillow allows you to “stake out your space” in a shelter and gives much comfort.
Fuel is probably the hardest thing to store safely, but if done properly, it is achievable. Charcoal is definitely the safest source of fuel, but maybe not the easiest to use. Charcoal must be used outside where there is good ventilation. But with a bag of charcoal and a Dutch oven, you can have warmth and cook just about anything. However they are bulky and heavy. 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. Cooking utensils can be very bulky and heavy also. You want to plan to cook, drink, and eat from the same item. Waterproof matches, fire starters, disposable lighters, compressed fuel tablets, and even candles are very helpful when considering cooking.
There are many kinds and sizes of oil lamps 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 hand powered flashlights that need no batteries. Flashlight radios can run off multiple sources for power including solar and hand cranking. Light sticks are excellent for light and signaling for help. A battery powered power failure lantern can give approximately six hours of light, but when used sparingly a can last the three days needed for your kit.
This is often one area we forget to include in our planning. There are a few simple, but very helpful items. 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. It lets you know what is happening, where authorities are asking people to go or do. If you have a cell phone, make sure it is charged regularly. The cellphone is a great idea as long as the towers and communication is up and running in your area, but just know your cell phone may or may not work.
HYGIENE and 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. Bathroom needs and laundry needs are very essential to keep the spread of germs and disease at a minimum. A portable “john” is a must. A container of wet wipes would be a great idea.
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 and 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/Sneakers would also be very helpful. Comfortable clothing such as a sweat shirt/T-shirts and sweat pants are very useful since you will probably be up and down from the ground or low cots in a shelter.
Other personal items such as feminine items, baby diapers, depends if needed, medications, extra glasses or sun glasses, “comfort toys”, book, writing material, and card games are very needed and helpful.
IMPORTANT PAPERS and 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, mortgages, car registrations, church documents, genealogy, list of friends and family addresses and phone numbers, and recent family photos. 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. In a stressful situation it is easy to forget or mix up addresses or phone numbers you would normally know. Be sure to include some money in your kit, both small change and larger amounts.
There are many other items that could be added to an emergency kit. You may want a more extensive kit available at home, plus each person’s individual 72 Hour kit that can be carried.
3-Day Food Basic Kit should include: Personal, and First Aid, along with a one Gallon Water pouch, packed in a back pack is designed for you to survive with for three days. You may wish to include a Sanitation kit, Multiple Source Flashlight Radio, Water Purification Kit, Dutch Oven and charcoal, Long Term Food Storage, and personal needs such as medications, diapers, feminine needs, extra glasses, clothing, etc. to supplement your preparations.
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.