Emergency Preparedness- Updating 72 hour kits

Hey all! I know we just talked recently about assembling our 72 hour kits, and so if you were just starting your kits at that time, you probably aren’t needing to go through and update yet. However, for me, I try to do my updating at General Conference time (it makes it easier for me to remember when I need to update), and seeing as we just had Conference… it was time for me to update. Okay. The point of all this rambling is that as I was updating my kits this past week, I thought of a couple things… some tips or things to consider… that I wanted to share with you.

Most of these tips are related to keeping a kit in your car (which I do), but some are just all around suggestions. So here we go:

  • Personal Documents: Under the ‘personal documents’ section of the 72 Hour Kit Checklist, there are certain items you do NOT want to keep in your car kit, such as the car title, account numbers, or other sensitive personal information. The reason for this is that if your car (or the kit) were to be stolen, that important information would be in the hands of a thief. So choose wisely which ones you put in here and only keep copies of documents in there that cannot be used against you if put in the hands of the wrong person. (And never keep the originals in your kits.) I also like to write “copy” on my copied documents so that no one would mistake it as an original.
  • Food: If you live in a place where it gets really hot, certain foods will not keep well in your car kit (since the car can be like an oven in the heat!). All of my dried apricots turned black (I didn’t even bother opening that up to smell them… it was just disgusting), the dried apples didn’t look much better (so we’ll keep dried fruits limited to our ‘home’ kit which is kept in the house), the beef jerky sticks were hard as rocks (we’re trying beef jerky strips this time), and the canned juice now gives me a stomach ache (I’m trying capri-suns this time around). Hubby has banned me from putting graham crackers in his kit now since his end up in tiny crumbs each time. (This, however, is because he smashes his kit all over the place under his car seats.) My graham crackers survived just fine and are making a reappearance this time around. Granola bars also faired well. Werther’s candies are one of the few candies that have survived the heat without much problem (anything chocolate is obviously a no-go, and even some hard candies like Jolly Ranchers melted a bit and got ultra sticky. Gummy bears are just fun. If you want an experiment in what melted candy looks like, stick gummy bears in your car kit. 🙂 They are surprisingly still edible, albeit melted together into one large mass. :)). Our canned goods all held up just fine and were non-toxic when we ate them. 🙂 Our freeze-dried meals were also perfectly fine. And I think that about does it for the food.
  • Personal Supplies & Medicines: Again related to if you live in a place where it gets really hot, deodorant will kind of start to dissolve (which makes a mess) in the heat, so I just keep that in our ‘home’ kit now. And if you keep a first aid kit in your car, don’t worry about putting medicines in your 72-hour car kits. There’s no point in doubling up (especially since those are ‘in case of emergency’ anyway). Just stick any medicines you would traditionally keep in your 72-hour kit into your first aid kit instead.
  • General Tips: Make Ziploc baggies your friend. Anything that has the potential to leak, spill, or ooze… stick it in a baggie. If you want to keep certain things grouped together, stick them in a baggie. Anything you want to keep protected (i.e. your documents), stick them in a baggie. Remember: Baggies are our friends. 🙂

Well, I think that was about all of it. The only other frustration I had was that as I was trying to gather all of the documents I needed to make copies of (insurance policies that have changed, personal documents that were out of date, etc), I was getting really tired of trying to hunt down all that information. Then I came across this idea for a Vital Records Binder and loved it. So guess what we’re going to start building?! 🙂 Every now and then (maybe once a month or so) starting tomorrow, I’ll do a Feature Friday that will start building our very own Important Papers Binder (you can call it Vital Records if you want… but that just reminded me too much of a hospital). 🙂 So I’ll see you tomorrow for a fun new project! Yeehaw!

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Emergency Preparedness: 72-Hour Kits Finale

Alright… just one last push for 72-Hour Kits. Here’s a complete checklist for you to download (see link at the end) that includes all the recommended contents from the post two weeks ago. Use it as is to help in putting together your own kits, or use it as a guide in making your own. Either way, I recommend putting a checklist in every kit so that you know what is included in each one (without having to go digging through the entire kit to see if you do or do not have a certain item). And remember that you don’t have to include everything that’s on the list. Just make sure you’ve got the essentials and then choose what is best and appropriate for you and your family.


Again, remember to check and rotate your perishable items (food, batteries, medicines…) every 6 months (mark it on your calendar, or tie it in to semi-annual events… like General Conference! :)). I recommend putting the expiration dates of perishable products next to their spot on the checklist so that it’s easy to see which ones will be expiring before the next update. Then you can just quickly replace those items and not have to worry about checking your whole kit. Print out a new checklist each time you update and add the new expiration dates. Always keep your kits up to date so that they will be ready to just grab and go any time you need them!

Download your checklist and save it to your computer here: 72 Hour Kit Checklist

Emergency Preparedness: Using Your 72-Hour Kits

Just as with our evacuation plans, it is important to make sure that you not only have a 72-hour kit, but that you know how you would use it in the event of an emergency.
So now that we have our kits and have filled them up, let’s discuss what to do with them.

♦ The first key point in being able to use your kit is being able to access your kit. This means that your kit(s) need to be stored in an easy to access location. Whatever you do, do NOT hide your kit away up in the attic or in some obscure location that you will never remember. This completely defeats the purpose and all your hard work will be for naught.

♦ The second key point is to know how to transport your kit. If you are able to use your car in the event of an emergency, then great. Into the car they go. However, if you are not able to use a car, you will want to make sure your kit can still go wherever you go. This is one reason backpacks work great for your 72-hour kits (keeping in mind that the pack size needs to be appropriate to the person who will be carrying it). Other options include:

  • bicycles (particularly if you have one of those cargo trailers/carriers that can attach to the back of the bike)
  • a wagon
  • a stroller (a double stroller would work great if you have it!)

These last three options would be of particular benefit if you also happen to have small children who would need a break from walking (or can’t walk). But whatever you use, just make sure your kit is able to be mobile.

♦ And finally, the last key point is to know how to use the items in your kit. Don’t just put items in your kit because someone says you should. If you don’t know what it’s for, it’s not going to be of any help to you when you are in an emergency (not to mention it would just be extra weight you’re carrying around). Of course, ignorance as to the importance of an item does not make that item less important. The point is to know what each item does and why you need it. That’s one of the main reasons I suggest putting a Boy Scout Manual in your kit… so that even if you don’t completely know what you’re doing in an emergency/survival situation, you have something to refer to to help you out. 🙂

So just remember, aside from packing your kit with the proper, essential items, you need to be able to:

  1. access your kit,
  2. transport your kit, and
  3. know how to use your kit

in order for it to be effective in preserving your life! Best wishes!

Additional Helpful Tips For Your Kits:

  • Create a ‘meal plan’ for each person/kit that lays out which foods should be eaten when. This will help ensure that 1) you’ve packed enough food to cover 3 days, and 2) that your packed food will not all get eaten up on the first day.
  • Include a checklist with each 72-Hour Kit so that you know exactly what is in each kit. If your kit has multiple compartments (like a backpack does), it may also help to put a small list in each compartment so you know what is where and you don’t have to shuffle through your whole kit to find something.
  • Use free samples of items to stock your 72-Hour Kit. Walmart has a ‘free samples’ section on their website. It’s constantly changing with whatever new samples they have available and it’s all free! So check it out regularly to see if any of them are things you could use. Click HERE for the free sample site.

Emergency Preparedness: 72-Hour Kit Contents

Alright! It’s time to fill up those 72-Hour Kits! More or less, each family’s kit will be personalized to their own needs and wants. However, there are some items that should be in every family’s kit. I will give you a fairly exhaustive (as in ‘complete’… not tiring :)) list of all the recommended items to put in your kit, and I’ll put an asterisk (*) next to the items you really should have. So here we go.

*Food & *Water
You need a 3-day supply of food and water per person. Use items that require no refrigeration and no/minimal amounts of cooking. Keep ‘energy’ and ‘nutrition’ in mind since you’re going to need BOTH. Try to use foods that will give you the most benefit for the smallest amount of food (i.e. the most bang for your buck).
Here are some ideas of foods to include:

  • Protein/Granola Bars
  • Dried Fruit/Trail Mix
  • Crackers/Dry Cereal
  • Beef Jerky
  • Ready-To-Eat Canned Foods: ready soups; chili; beans; meats (tuna, vienna sausage, chicken, etc.); spaghetti-o’s (or the like); etc.
  • Freeze-Dried Meals (i.e. the kind backpacker’s use to go camping… you just add hot water and can make them right in the pouch they’re stored in)
  • Canned Juice
  • Candy/Gum (steer clear of candy that can melt easily or mint flavored items that will ‘flavor’ other foods)
  • Baby Foods (formula, jarred baby food, snacks, extra water, etc), if applicable
  • Water (1 gallon per person)
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Note: When you’re done packing your kit, fill any extra space you have with extra food. You can never have too much food in your kit!!

Bedding & Clothing

  • *At least one change of clothing (preferably pack something to keep you cool and something to keep you warm)
  • *Undergarments
  • Hat/Visor (one with a wide brim works well, or a baseball cap would also do)
  • *Sturdy Walking Shoes (do NOT put brand new shoes in your kit! Your feet will end up in painful blisters if you have to walk a long distance in new shoes.)
  • *Several Pairs of Socks
  • Flip-Flops (for when you don’t want your other shoes to get wet)
  • Rain Coat/Poncho
  • *Blankets and/or Emergency Heat Blankets
  • Cloth Sheet
  • *Plastic Sheet (can make a makeshift tent to stay dry in addition to other useful purposes)
  • Consider items for babies or other special needs (i.e. diapers, wipes, baby hat, bibs, etc.)

Fuel & Light

  • *Flashlight
  • *Extra Batteries
  • *Water-Proof Matches (might as well pack a bunch since they’re tiny and you can never have too many!)
  • *Candles (they’re good for a constant light so you don’t have to waste your batteries by keeping your flashlight on all the time)
  • Lighter
  • Flint & Steel
  • Flares
  • Light Sticks (the kind you ‘crack’ and then they glow)
  • Propane Fuel Can (if you have equipment that uses Propane gas)
  • Butane Fuel Can (if you have equipment that uses Butane gas)
  • Starter Log (you can get the mini ones that will fit well into your kit and be a great help in getting a fire started)

Equipment

  • *Can Opener
  • *Dishes and Utensils (keep the babies in mind… bottles, sippy cups, etc.)
  • *Utility Knife (i.e. Leatherman)
  • *Rope
  • *Duct Tape
  • *Radio (with extra batteries)
  • Small Shovel (like a camping shovel)
  • Axe
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Small Stove (a camping stove is nice if you don’t mind hauling it around or can pack it in a car, but there are also single type stoves that attach right to propane or butane tanks and take very little room in a pack)
  • Solar Shower
  • Compass
  • *Whistle (use a whistle when you are in danger, lost, etc instead of yelling. It preserves your voice, energy, and can be heard further away. Three whistle blows in rapid succession (at approximately one minute intervals) signals that you are in distress.)
  • *Trash Bags (can serve many purposes in addition to holding trash… like keeping things dry in the rain)
  • Sewing Kit
  • Heavy Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • *Waste Disposal Equipment (not pleasant to really think about, but essential for sanitation and hygiene; look for things like enzymes that can break down the waste, or bags designed to contain the waste and help break it down)

Personal Supplies & Medication

  • *First Aid Supplies/Kit
  • *Toilet Paper (remove the cardboard tube so it will easily lay flat and store in a plastic zippy bag)
  • *Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, brush, deodorant, etc.) (Tip: Check the travel section of your local store for convenient sized items)
  • *Cleanliness Supplies (soap, shampoo, hand sanitizer, dish soap, laundry soap, etc. (Tip: Check the travel section of your local store for convenient sized items)
  • *Feminine Hygiene (if applicable)
  • *Medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, children’s/infant’s medicines, antacids, diarrhea medication, anti-itch cream, etc.)
  • *Prescription Medications (enough for 3 days) (if applicable)
  • An extra set of prescription glasses, hearing aid, or other vital items (if applicable)
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunblock
  • Chapstick
  • Latex Gloves
  • Instant Ice Packs (great idea for when it’s HOT outside)
  • Baby Items (diaper rash cream, teething gel, baby powder, etc.), if applicable

Personal Documents & Money
Keep these items in a waterproof baggie or container!

  • *Cash (I recommend having at least $100, if possible. Use small denominations… nothing bigger than a $20)
  • An emergency credit card (if possible), or a photocopy of your current credit cards (so you at least have your card numbers)
  • *Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates; Wills; Passports, etc.)
  • *A copy of your identification and proof of residency (you may have to show this in order to re-enter an evacuated area to return to your home)
  • *A list of important phone numbers
  • *A copy of your evacuation plan
  • A local map
  • *A copy of important accounts, account numbers, etc.
  • *Insurance Policies
  • *Scriptures
  • Patriarchal Blessing
  • Genealogy Records
  • Vaccination Records

Miscellaneous

  • A Boy Scout Manual (good for first aid information, survival skill information, etc.)
  • Disposable Camera (for documenting damage for insurance purposes, etc.)
  • Games/Activities to entertain yourself and/or your children
  • Books to read
  • Extra keys to your house and car
  • *Paper and Pen
  • Scissors and Tape
  • Additional baby items (i.e. pacifiers, toys, etc.), if applicable

Tips to Remember:
-When you start assembling your kits, before you head off to the store to purchase a bunch of items, look around your house. You likely have most of these items already available to you.
-Keep rotating any items that can expire or deteriorate in quality every 6 months.
-Do this for a family night activity with all the family together and discuss emergency preparedness and/or review your evacuation plan while you’re at it. 😉

Alright! Exhausted yet?! 🙂 Well, that should do it. Again, all of these items are recommended, but depending on the size of your kits and/or the number of people in your family (so you can distribute the contents between several kits to be carried), these may not all be practical. So don’t feel like you have to have everything on the list. Some of the items would just make surviving a disaster a little more manageable, or even ‘pleasant’ or ‘comfortable’ (if there is such a thing in an emergency/disaster situation). So pick what fits your needs. Good luck and let’s get to it!

Source: http://lds.about.com/od/preparednessfoodstorage/a/72hour_kit.htm

Emergency Preparedness: 72-Hour Kits Introduction

Alright! I think it’s time to get going on some emergency preparedness again! We’ve already covered the number one priority– getting out (out of your home, or town) safely in an emergency. So now let’s look at the next most important aspect: having life sustaining means with you when you have to get out– a.k.a. 72 hour kits.

What is a 72-Hour Kit? Quite simply, it’s a kit designed to sustain life for 72 hours if you are forced to leave your home.
Keeping that in mind, there are lots of ways to put together a 72-hour kit. It really is just going to be whatever fits and suits your needs and style. Some people use the ‘garbage can’ method, which is where they get a large (new) garbage can and use it to hold their family’s 72-hour supplies. This is not my method of choice because it seems a large garbage can would be rather difficult to pack up into your car (unless you have a truck), if you needed to take your 72-hour kit on the road. And since that is one of the main purposes of a 72-hour kit (being able to just grab it and go), I try to steer clear of the garbage can concept. But to each their own. I know my parents have a garbage can full of supplies as well as one of my sisters (and they make sure the garbage can has wheels to help with mobility), so there you go. You could also use suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, backpacks on wheels (double bonus!), small buckets, or HERE is a fun and frugal idea for making a pack using an old sweatshirt. And you can mix and match as well. Again, it’s just whatever is going to fit your needs and style.
My personal favorite option is to use backpacks. They’re portable and easy to carry, each family member can have their own (which helps to distribute the weight of the supplies), you can customize the size of it to fit the family member (so your little child isn’t trying to carry a huge weight around), and their shape and flexibility is conducive to being stored in small spaces. The only downside I see is that most are not waterproof. So you may want to have a large garbage bag available to cover it if you’re forced to use it out in the rain.

You’ll want to store your 72-hour kit in a place that is very easily accessible so that you can just grab it and go (you may need to keep that in mind when you choose your 72-hour kit container): a coat closet near the front door; a hall closet; next to (or under) each family member’s bed; in the garage near the car; in the car… these are all good options.

So to give you an example (and maybe get some ideas going) here’s how we do our kits in our family: Hubby and I both have our own backpack and then our two little girls currently share one additional backpack, with each pack containing essentials like food & drinks, protective covering items (i.e. poncho, etc), small personal equipment items (i.e. can opener, eating utensils, flashlight, sippy cups for the kiddos, etc.), personal supplies (toothbrush/paste, soap, diapers, etc.) and medications, and then personal documents. We keep these kits in our respective vehicles, and I keep the girls’ pack in my car as well. We keep these in our cars (along with some blankets) because they contain the very basic elements of survival, and we want those with us wherever we are. If we’re at home, the car is at home too (and hence our kits are there with us as well). If we’re out traveling, the kits are in the car with us. So we’ve always got some basic survival essentials with us no matter where we are.
Then, in addition to these, we have a big family backpack for keeping our main equipment (i.e. butane stove and fuel, solar shower, camp shovel and mallet, etc.), along with extra food & drinks, personal supplies, and documents. (We got a big, sturdy, hiker-type backpack for that one.) We also have a 72-hour clothing kit (3 days worth of clothing for each person) that we keep in a duffel bag. These two kits we keep in our home in the front coat closet where it’s easy to grab on our way out the door. We also have our sleeping bags and other useful camping items in that closet as well, so we can grab any of them that we may want/need as we exit the house. And that’s it!

That’s our system in a nutshell. 🙂 If you don’t already have a system down for your family, hopefully this will help to get some ideas flowing for what will work for you. Next week we’ll talk about what should actually go IN your 72-hour kits and work on getting that started.

So your challenge this week is to think about what style will best suit your family’s needs and then go out and get those containers (backpacks, trash cans, whatever) so you’ll be ready to get going!