You’ve got this covered!
It’s National Preparedness Month and this week we’re focusing on emergency kits. You might call it a bug-out-bag or a 72-hour kit. Either way this kit is going to keep you safe and (somewhat) happy if you have to evacuate your home.
Did you know that after a major emergency it probably will take at least 72 hours (and maybe even longer) before officials come to help you? The Department of Homeland Security says that although local officials and relief workers will be around after a disaster, they cannot reach everyone immediately. Your help may arrive in hours or it might take days.
Electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
No one wakes up and says “today there is going to be a disaster.” In fact, disasters are unexpected. They overwhelm first responders; and lives, health and the environment are often endangered. At a very minimum, emergencies and disasters are disruptive and often occur at the most inopportune times. Creating an emergency kit will help you foster an attitude of personal preparedness that will see you through this trying time.
What would you do if this happened to you? Would you be prepared? WILLARD, OH (Toledo News Now) –
The residents of 370 homes in Willard, Ohio are being allowed to head home this Thanksgiving after an evacuation order which lasted more than 36 hours.
Hundreds of families were evacuated from their homes Tuesday night after a train derailment and subsequent chemical spill. Ohio Governor John Kasich visited the evacuated families Thursday afternoon.
A train derailed around midnight Tuesday, which caused a 4-inch puncture in a DOT-111 tanker carrying styrene monomer, a chemical used in plastic. Styrene monomer is highly flammable and could cause respiratory damage. The car spilled nearly all of its 30,000 gallon load, but CSX says it has not contaminated the water supply. They also say all tankers are inspected before and after departure
I hope this post helps you sort out the things you really need, the things that would be good to have and the things that are just not necessary. There really is a lot of leeway when you are creating your emergency kits. Let’s get started.
The Basic Packing List – Do I really need all that stuff?
Well yes, eventually. Print out a packing list, one for each family member kit. Download the list at Ready.gov to use as a starting point and then personalize it to fit your needs. Basic items should 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 – you can make a dollar store first aid kit for under $10
- // 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 (if needed)
- // Local maps
- // Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- // Clothing for 3 days (clothes, socks, underwear)
- // A full copy of your family plan*
This doesn’t have to be an expensive project. If you will do a mini scavenger hunt around the house today, you’ll find that you have almost all of these items already. Maybe not the battery radio, but everything else is within easy reach. Go ahead and budget for the radio and purchase it as soon as you can.
Pack all of these items in a backpack. If you don’t have a backpack, use a plastic tote with a lid. Put it someplace close to an exit, so you can grab it at a moment’s notice. We have ours in the front hall closet, but a garage would work well too. The purpose is easy accessibility– you want to know exactly where it is and not have to hunt for it in the upstairs closet or basement laundry room.
*NOTE – a full copy of your family plan and vital information should be included. Here are some family plan ideas to download:
Think about the kids too
Now you have a basic kit. Strive to have one of these for every member of your family. Very small children should have a kit that fits inside of yours. Here are a few posts to help you understand and gather supplies for infants and kids
What is the next step for emergency kit items?
You’ve got you basic kits, the kids are taken care of. You’re ready to move to the next step. These are the 15 things I would include next. See PreparednessMama Start Your 72-hour Kit for more information and take a look at this post from my friend Heather over at Homesteading Hippy with her top 10 items to have in a Bug Out Bag.
- // $20 in small bills
- // Sleeping bag or bed roll
- // Extra pair of glasses (even if you wear contacts)
- // Scriptures, reading material, kids entertainment supplies
- // Medications
- // Water filter bottle, LifeStraw, or purification tablets
- // Boy Scout Handbook
- // Headlamps (you’ll need hands free for dealing with kids)
- // Work gloves for ALL family members
- // Written copy of address book (with important contact information)
- // Sewing kit
- // Zip lock baggies (gallon size)
- // Rope
- // Matches & lighter
- // Pocket Knife
You might want to take a look at a few posts from some of my preparedness friends and see how they build their kits. Check out:
- Nicole at Little Blog on the Homestead and see what a full kit with many personalized extras would look like. .
- Graywolf Survival’s post with ideas to create the ultimate 25 pound bag.
- Jane at Mom With A PREP is building her 72-hour kit too.
- Shelle at PreparednessMama’s post on Starting Your 72-hour Kit
Remember these are just a few interpretations and your kit will be different depending on what items are important to you and where you plan to use it.
What if you could simplify the time, cost and effort required to pack 72 Hour Kits for your Family? Would You Do It?
Where will you take your kit?
There are many, many other items that you may want to have in your kit. It’s all going to depend on where you think you’ll be using it. Will you bug out to your backyard? Then you’re going to want some basic camping supplies, tarps and materials for making a fire. Gear your kit towards surviving in the outdoors.
Maybe you have a friend or relative that will let you stay with them. Lucky you! Just don’t show up on their door without your kit. Why impose on them if you can bring your own supplies and help ease the strain of added mouths to feed.
An emergency shelter is also a possibility (although it would be my personal last resort) if there is a big disruptive emergency like an earthquake or hurricane. It may be impossible to stay in your yard or get to a friend’s house. If you need to stay in a shelter it will be much more “enjoyable” if you have your own water, food and personalized supplies.
Ideas for Emergency Food
Years ago in at my church we put together 72-hour food kits. These are inexpensive kits packed in half gallon milk cartons and they can be put together for around $10. I would rotate them twice a year – every April and October- and then create a new kit. In the last few years I’ve had cause to rethink this meal plan. While it may be inexpensive, we eat differently now and living off the items in this kit would probably give me an upset stomach. Not a good thing when you’re already under stress.
I encourage you to download this file to attach to your kit and modify it to create something that your family will enjoy eating.
Now that you have your kit items what will you put it in?
That’s the big question in the room, isn’t it…How are you going to carry all that stuff? Notice that I had you gather your supplies before deciding what to put it in. There’s no point in purchasing a fancy backpack if you have so many supplies they won’t fit in the pack.
Most people go straight for the backpack. It’s easy to carry and there are about a bazillion different styles of packs– from simple school book packs to mountain climbing ready – the choice is completely based upon what each family member can carry. Backpacks at Amazon Here’s a simple guideline for weight distribution based on body weight.
There are other options to consider is you are not up to carrying a backpack.
- You can get a surprising amount of supplies in a rolling suitcase. This may be the best option for your family if you have small children that will need to be carried. It allows you to bring more supplies than you can carry.
- You can pack your items in a rolling garbage can. If you know you will be staying in your neighborhood, this might be the simplest option. It’s fairly big and would be easy to transport for a short distance. It could even serve as a makeshift shelter in a pinch. The drawback: make sure you can really pull the full weight of what you’ve packed.
- The fishing vest is one of my favorite alternative pack choices. They make them in adult and kid sizes. Get the 26 pocket kind – one for each kid – and let them carry a good portion of their own supplies. The vest allows a different distribution of weight than a backpack and can be a better alternative.
- A duffle bag is another alternative. It’s easy to sling over a shoulder and comes in many sizes – from gym bag to military bug out.
- You might want to consider a combination strategy. Have the essentials in backpacks that are the appropriate size for each family member, and pack the additional items in a plastic tote with a tight locking lid. If you are planning on evacuating by vehicle, this tote would be easy to grab and load into the car as you are leaving.
See what Karen at Blue Yonder Urban Farm has to say about which backpack she chose for her 72-hour kit.
Need a bit more help?
You may find these other 72-Hour Kit posts at PreparednessMama helpful: 72-Hour Kits – Food and Water , 72-Hour Kits – Clothing & Shelter, 72-Hour Kits – Comfort & Entertainment, , 7 Must Have Herbal Remedies to Have in your 72-hour kit, Emergency Food for your Kits, The Prepared Purse, Winter Travel Kit, Pet Survival Kit, Emergency Entertainment Kit, Office Emergency Kit, Emergency Car Kit.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Chance favors the well prepared has a cool free tool (the cost is your email address) to help you plan your emergency kit and Your Own Home Store has an excellent 72-hour kit guide that will take you through every step.
Above all don’t get overwhelmed. Use this ultimate guide to 72-hour kits and get prepared one step at a time. You’ve got this!
Start at the beginning with a simple kit. Pack it some place easy to get to and then make a plan to get the rest. While we may not know when the next emergency will arise, this basic 72-hour kit will keep you safe until you can get a full pack together.
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