Day 10 – National Preparedness Challenge – Starting Your 72-Hour kits
The 72-hour kit, 96-hour kit, or my favorite “the bug out bag” is the first BIG thing on the preparedness to do list. Think of it as the “clean out the garage” on your honey do list – it feels huge and time-consuming and screams at you every time you look at that list – but when it finally gets done you don’t really have to think about it for a while. You will even get a greater sense of satisfaction than getting your dishes done!
Just like cleaning out the garage, starting your 72-hour kit gets put off the longest, too. Today is the day we tackle the garage, but we’ll take baby steps. Every Monday and Friday for the next 2 weeks will focus on adding a little more to your kits.
Step 1: The List
Print out your packing list, one for each kit. Download the list at Ready.gov to use as a beginning and then personalize it to fit your needs. Basic items include:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- Clothing for 3 days
Step 2: Packaging
Getting your kids out the door on time is a challenge on the best of days. In an emergency is not going to be pretty. Let’s look at survival in a disaster from the same standpoint of taking a car trip. Loading the car is a pain! Getting everyone and their stuff in the car and on the road is stressful! Now imagine having to do this in 15 minutes or less with only the essentials. You need to be able to get everyone and thing into the car in as few trips as possible.
One regular backpack for each child really means that you’ll be hauling 5+ backpacks out to the car. I can guarantee, it’s not going to go smoothly, especially if you have infants or young children. So now you need to decide which “packaging” is the best fit for your space and family. You have a few options:
The Tub – a rolling tub that holds the families backpacks (individually or collectively). Individual packs are good if you have older kids who may stay home by themselves and will need to get out alone, but couldn’t drag the tub out on their own. Collectively, the tub is good for young families, where mom and dad will be the ones doing the collecting.
Suitcase – Once again this is a collective kit and is a smaller variety of the tub. This option is portable and my own children are able to pull a heavy suitcase out of the house.
This also would work well for couples, or for individuals who decide you want to be super prepared, you can get a lot into a suitcase 72-hour kit! It will hold much more than a backpack.
Use the ones with rollers like this Rolling Duffel Bag from Amazon that has plenty of pockets to compartmentalize things. I like this because you don’t have to open the whole suitcase to get at your important items like flashlights and money.
Fisherman’s vest kit – Instead of a backpack, have a vest for each family member. Just plan to meet at the closet, slip on the kits and file out the door. Each person would have to be assigned to carry their own water in a separate bottle, it does not have a place for it.
Look for vests with 26 pockets and carrying loops like this one for youth at Amazon. Fishing vests can be found at most sporting goods stores, but so far I’ve only found one company online that carries actual children’s sizes. JM Cremps is the only place I was able to find online with children’s fishing vest. The others all say youth which may not be small enough for your needs.
The most popular option is the backpack. Remember that it needs to be a good quality and ergonomic pack, I highly recommend looking at a military surplus store or for a hiking pack. This will help prevent back injuries and increased durability. If your child can carry a backpack with most of what they need in it, this is the best option.
It gives a sense of security when they know where their things are and that they have everything. The above options are mainly for those with younger children.
Follow the body weight/pack weight ratio guidelines below so there are no injuries. Once you’ve got it all together, weigh everyone’s pack, and take into consideration their fitness level.
If they’re not able to carry the pack comfortably – get your kids stronger, or look for other options.
|Children||10-25% of body weight (depends on fitness levels)|
|Youth and adults||20-25% of body weight|
|Very fit/male||25-33% of body weight|
Also, the individual pack will be something you’ll want if your child has sensory needs as that weight and pressure will actually help them cope with the serious stimuli they will have encountered and help to level out their already heighten awareness. This includes children with ADHD/ADD and Autism.
Step 3: Gather Supplies
Dig up or purchase the items on your list. You will be surprised how much is already have around the house. In addition to the basic list, at least one family member should have a big First Aid Kit (see First Aid Kit Ideas on Amazon), and everyone else should have a small kit – even if you make a simple one from the dollar store. Plus you’ll need some basic sanitation items like toilet paper.
Also, consider adding the items listed below to your kits:
- Extra pair of glasses (even if you wear contacts)
- Duct tape
- Headlamps (you’ll need hands-free for dealing with kids)
- Work gloves for ALL family members
- Written copy of address book (only important ones)
- 15 Emergency Phone numbers list for your cell
- Sewing kit
- Candles (tea lights)
- Wet wipes
- Extra batteries (for each piece of equipment in your kit that requires them)
- Zip lock baggies (gallon size)
- Information – a full copy of your family plan and vital information should be included. You can check this off if you completed your emergency binder in the day 4 challenge. If you didn’t – then get it done!
If you’re nearing your budget then make a note of what you feel are the vital items and get those first. Then budget to continue adding the rest in the next few months. Your kit can make a disaster run more smoothly and be less traumatic.
You may find these other 72-Hour Kit posts helpful: 72-Hour Kits – Food and Water, 72-Hour Kits – Clothing & Shelter, 72-Hour Kits – Comfort & Entertainment, 72-Hour Kits for Infants, 7 Must Have Herbal Remedies to Have in your 72-hour kit, Emergency Food for your Kits.
Today’s Challenge: Begin to Put Your 72-Hour Kit Together
Good: You have your printed list and at least half of each list assigned purchased and packed.
Better: You have almost all of the assignments for today purchased and packed, and a purchasing schedule for the next month to finish things off.
Best: The most important part of making your 72-hour kits is not that you (the parent) hurry and put them together. It is very important for your children and spouse to help with this process. Include them in purchasing items, planning food, and packing their kits. Complete as much as you can and schedule out the rest along with making a “due date” and family reward for when they’re finished.
What other items do you consider essential for your 72-hour kit? Leave us your ideas in the comments below.