24 March 2013

1 day = 24 hours x 3 days = 72 hour kit

     Let's say you have a basement full of food and supplies. Now let's say your basement gets flooded...
(Not actually my toilet)
...or your house burns down.
(Not actually my house...or fire)
Well,...oops, I guess you lost everything. Might as well not prepare at all, right? Nope. In fact, it's the opposite of right, it's wrong. There is a risk of loss with everything, but that's exactly why we prepare.
     So what are some other risks we take? The power flickered the other day. It was just for a second, but it was enough to clear the time on the microwave and reset our internet router. I thought to myself, "O Captain! My Captain! (that's what I call myself), what do I do if the power goes out for a longer time, maybe in the middle of the night?" I thought quickly and ran through my resources(or lack thereof) in my mind. I don't have a generator. We don't have natural gas. We don't have a fireplace. I do have some tea light candles. I'm pretty good at making forts out of couch cushions and bedsheets(I practice that one pretty regularly). I've got a wife who freezes in July with the heater on, and a sleeping baby. If the power goes out, we lose heat. If we lose heat, I'll have to build a fort out of couch cushions and bedsheets, light a couple candles and camp out in the living room... you know, I might just turn the power off myself just so I have an excuse. It doesn't sound so bad. Anyway, am I risking my family's safety by not being at least a little prepared for this or any other emergency?

     Okay, so I'm not independent. I rely on the power company...and the grocery store...and the gas station. We're all dependent on someone or something else to some extent. The good thing, though, is that many disasters don't last very long. I think that if something lasts longer than three days, then it's going to last longer than a week, and it's not common for things to last that long. If they do, don't stick around. So what do we do? Well, the end goal is to be independent and self-reliant, but for today, we prepare for at least three days. This is what we call a 72-hour kit. You can even make a 73-hour kit, you know, just in case.

     What do we really need to have in a kit? Well I'm not going to tell you... ...today.  I think we'll just cover the basics of what your kit should be like, then I think we can cover the contents in later posts. If you make your own kit, you'll know exactly what is in it, but you can also buy a kit. There are some key features every kit needs, regardless of what is in it.

Accessible: You need to be able to get to it. You can keep a kit in your car, in your coat closet, in the pantry. I keep a plastic storage box in the back of my car. My brother and his family keep this bucket in their pantry:
      (This bucket has a twist top, so you don't have to spend all that time trying to pry it open[You know who you are]) It has a list of contents on the side of it, which we'll cover in another post. They know right where it is. It's easy to get to, not hidden or covered, and pretty close to the exit.

Portable: Your kit needs to be easy to carry. The bucket above is a good example. I have a hiking bag I use. Whatever you use, make sure you can take it with you if you have to leave for a couple days. A wheeled suitcase, backpack, bucket, or something like those will work great.

Up-to-date: Be sure to check your kit regularly. Switch out old food, matches, batteries, or anything that is best when new. Make sure anything you'll wear, like shoes or clothes, still fits, and that things like diapers are the right size.

Weather-resistant: Put everything in bags. You can line the whole kit with a garbage bag, put all the small stuff in zipper seal bags, or even vacuum pack your stuff. Basically, you want to keep your gear from getting wet.

Complete: When you check it(regularly), make sure it has everything you need. Try to substitute what you would use on a normal day and either put it in or find a suitable substitute. Remember to think about everything and that there aren't really substitutes for some things.

Usable: Make sure you know what to do with everything. This is especially applicable when you buy a pre-made kit. Open it up and mess with stuff. When you put it back together, put everything where you want it. Don't put junk in your kit. If it's going to break, you don't know how to use it, or you won't ever use it, don't bother packing it.

Personalized: You will probably never find one list that covers your needs exactly. Make it your own. Decide what you want and need. If you need medications or wear glasses, then put extras in your kit, and keep them up to date. If you like Sudoku or crosswords, put some in your kit. Do what you want; it's your kit. You have different needs than your kids or parents or spouse, or whoever.
My wife bought one that looks something like this:
 ...and mine looks a little more like this:

Versatile: Be sure you can take your kit if you need to, but that it is still good for staying at home. When you have a plan, make sure your kit fits well with it. Make your kit good for a variety of potential emergencies.

     While this is just an overview of a 72-hour kit, I think it helps us stay within bounds. You can have other preparations that you don't have to fit in a small space, but when it's got to meet these criteria, you starts deciding what you need and what you can live without.

     Some of our next steps will cover subjects like food, shelter, safety, first aid, communication, tools and what you need to have prepared to meet these needs. I'll try to figure things out as I review my kit and eventually assemble the best kit for me and my family that I can think of. I don't have all the answers, so if you've got any ideas or are wondering about something, let me know, that way we can benefit as many people as possible.

p.s. This is the new look for the blog. I had my wife take over and she did a pretty good job.    

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