I am prepared for many things, but not for some of the most important things. I haven't made copies of important documents and stored them in a safe place or three. I haven't made my 72-hour bug-out bag. I haven't stored enough water. I still need to find out . . . blah, blah, blah.
I thought maybe it would help me get on the ball if I share with you some of the essential steps in disaster preparedness. Just this morning I was thinking, "What if everyone who was evacuated to wherever it was they put people in New Orleans - the football stadium? I don't remember now, but what if every person had a backpack to grab and it had two bottles of water and food for 3 days and all the other things that should be in a 72-hour bag? Can you imagine how different an experience that would have been for people?
There are hurricanes, hopefully NOT like Katrina, tornadoes (Birmingham, Chattanooga, Joplin, MO, 2011), fires (SoCal), floods (Mississippi River!) and all kinds of other natural disasters, where we may have only a short prep time, and then it's too late to think about all the things you need to take, because it's a maximum stress time! So, today's topic is 72-hour bug-out bags. This is Step One.
So, here's a list from the LDS church about some basics to put in your kit, for EACH person. Read the footnotes!
- Food and Water
(A three day supply of food and water, per person, when no refrigeration or cooking is available)
Trail Mix/Dried Fruit
Crackers/Cereals (for munching)
Canned Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, Vienna Sausages, etc. *
Canned Juice (Juice boxes will work if they don't get smashed.)
Candy/Gum ** and ***
Water (1 Gallon/4 Liters Per Person)
You may substitute light-weight freeze-dried foods, such as GO foods for the cans. Of course, you will need more water if you do that! Maybe a combination would be best. Peanut butter is a good thing to have along, too. Don't forget some eating utensils! I saved some from take out food when I was eating it at home.
- Bedding and Clothing
Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, etc.)
Blankets and Emergency "space" blankets
- Fuel and Light
Battery Lighting (Flashlights, Lamps, etc.) Don't forget batteries!****
Radio (with batteries!)
Pen and Paper
Pocket Knife (A Winchester multi-purpose one is great!)
Rope (small and flexible, such as parachute cord)
Maps & compass
Pepper spray (protection)
A plan, emergency phone numbers, etc.
- Personal Supplies and Medication
First Aid Kit and Supplies
Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, feminine hygiene, folding brush, etc.)
Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, unscented soap, shampoo, dish soap, etc.
Immunizations Up-to Date
Medication (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, children's medication etc.)
Prescription Medication (for 7 days)
- Personal Documents and Money (Have a lot of SMALL bills and coins! People won't have change or give it.)
(Place these items in a water-proof container!)
Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, etc)
Pre-Paid Phone Cards
Bag(s) to put 72 Hour Kit items in (such as duffel bags or back packs, which work great) Make sure you can lift/carry it!
Infant Needs, elderly needs, disabled needs (as applicable)
Some families keep them in the garage, near the door, so they can just grab and go. My advice is to practice the evacuation procedure often with your family, just like you do fire drills, so that each person knows what their responsibility is, and can carry it out easily.
If you have siblings, each of you should copy all important papers and photographs and exchange them, so someone would have copies of those precious moments such as first birthday parties. With digital cameras these days, a life-time of pictures can go on just a few CDs for safe keeping. Maybe you'll want a copy in a safe-deposit box, too. If you have no siblings, then exchange with a good friend.
Now, if you think that is all overwhelming, imagine how you will feel if you have to evacuate and you've not prepared anything!
You can compare this list to the Homeland Security backpacks and see which you'd rather have if you have to leave your home in a hurry.
Or watch this video of a man who puts his in a medium pilot suitcase. list and video
*Pop-top cans are not as strong as regular cans and may explode in heat. Just be sure you have a small can opener - the kind my dad used to carry in his pocket always worked, was about an inch square, and weighs nothing. Finding one at a store may be tricky, but have a small one of some kind.
**Be sure your candy is in a snack baggie of its own. Jolly Rancher and some others may melt and you don't want a sticky mess.
***Mint flavored gum can, with time, make everything taste like mint, so wrap it in extra foil and then in a baggie to minimize the effect, or have a gum with little or no flavor.
****I like the crank one better, BUT it is limited lighting.