The first 72 hours following any natural or man-made disaster are the most perilous and requires a well thought out emergency preparedness plan. This window of time is usually the amount that it will take for emergency responders to be able to reach you. Creating a kit that will be able to take care of your family for 72 hours will ensure their safety. It is important that each family member has their 72 hour kit that is made up of items that are unique to them. Generally speaking, these 72-hour kits will offer some sustenance, bedding and clothing, fuel, personal medication, and multi-use tools and equipment.
Why is the 72-hour emergency kit so important? The simple truth is that you may be required to survive on your own immediately after an emergency. During most disasters, emergency workers and their services are strained, causing delays on destruction zones. There also may be the chance that you may have to evacuate at a moment's notice and need to take essentials with you. Local relief workers may be on the scene but they may not be able to reach everyone immediately. Depending on the severity, you may have to wait a couple of hours to a couple of days. Even if you aren't in imminent danger, you may not have access to food. Many people have the misconception that these sort of kits are only functional for areas that force people out of their home. Many oversee that a highly volatile situation can impede food and water availability.
What should I include in my 72-hour survival kit?
- Sustenance – food and water. It's important to use food that has a long expiration date or does not require refrigeration and cooking. Trail mix, protein bars, and cereals are fibrous, nutritionally dense, and easily store. Canned tuna, Vienna sausages, and pop top cans offer a bit more satiety. There should, at least, be one gallon of water per person, and an array of canned juices. Also, pack can openers and utensils.
- Fuel. Fuel comes in the form of fire, batteries, and electricity. Stock up on flashlights and lamps as well as their corresponding batteries. Waterproof matches can work in a pinch, as well as lighters and candles. Make sure that these are stored inside of a tight, waterproof container. Moisture can easily render these items useless.
- Clothing and bedding for the elements. Each person should have a change of clothes, as well as undergarments. Multiuse clothing is also preferable as they can help mitigate space. Emergency heat blankets will be able to offer warmth, being especially helpful if you live in temperate zones.
- Equipment to contact the outside world. Stock up on backup batteries to charge cell phones and personal devices. Even if the electric grid is wiped out in your area, there's still a chance you can still have access to certain frequencies of your cellular network. Also, pack a battery-powered radio just to stay informed.
- Money, medication, and personal documents. Make sure that you have a first aid kit for each person that is also stocked with specific medication. There should be a copy of legal documents like birth certificates and passports, as well as immunization records.
- Make sure that the 72-hour survival kit is updated every six months. Make sure to rummage through the contents and throw away any expired food or obsolete medication. Personal documents should also be updated, and items that are fixed with a rechargeable battery should be recharged.