I hope to share a few tips to help you in your own 72 Hour Kit quest. (Keep in mind this is only my opinion, so you may actually have to think for yourself. Bummer, I know.)
I. An emergency evacuation plan:
Why are you creating a 72-Hour Kit? For what purpose? How will you transport it? I plan for the worst possible situation because I'm a pessimist. In attempts to lighten up my attitude I have added expecting the best to my repertoire. I’ve learned that planning for the worst and expecting the best is often the most practical scenario.
Planning for the worst would entail me carrying my 72-Hour Kit somewhere. Therefore, it must be easily transportable. I chose backpacks because my husband is a backpacking fanatic and we had two extras lying around. If I had to carry one of them I could. I'm hoping for the best, which would mean I could use the car. Well, the best would be not to have to use it at all right? But, if I needed to Mountain Man could carry one backpack (the heavy one, ba ha) and I could carry the other.
If I needed to evacuate my area and there was a car available, I could throw my kits in the back of my car and go. But where would I go? Does it matter, you ask? Yes. You should look at a map and find out how far you can go on your tank of gas. Research evacuation stops in each of the four directions. You never know what will come at you (hurricane, earthquake, a nuclear something etc.) so you should know escape routes in all directions. When you make your perimeter, look for areas where you could stay. Mountain Man and I would head for a state park as far as we could get on our tank of gas. A state park would have water available that we could filter and use and it would be a place to pitch our tent and stay a while. Make a note of where you would go and keep it in your car with your atlas. You should have an atlas in your car (my opinion).
2. Meal Plan:
Most of the items on the list are self-explanatory but the food is left open to interpretation. I made a plan for our family based on what we could fit in our kits and what we like to eat. Also, I have a couple of backpacking stoves that I can rely on to cook. Make sure you have fuel for the stoves.
I made a menu plan, planning for 3 meals a day with two snacks (worst case scenario remember).
Breakfast: Instant Oatmeal
Snack: Goldfish crackers
Lunch: PB&J and crackers
Snack: Granola bars
Dinner: Ramen (high in calories and very light. Plus, I like it!)
Breakfast: Pop Tarts and fruit (in the little plastic cups--applesauce/cut fruit)
Snack: Fruit snacks
Lunch: Tuna fish and crackers (Spam for Mountain Man, he hates tuna.)
Snack: Trail mix/dried fruit
Dinner: Dry soup packets and crackers (most likely goldfish)
Breakfast: Instant Cream of Wheat packets
Snack: Goldfish (we have a ton of goldfish, can you tell?)
Lunch: PB&J and crackers
Snack: Beef Jerky
Dinner: More Ramen!
Wow, no veggies...oh well. I'm not really worried about having nutritiously balanced meals. I'm worried about surviving (remember this is my opinion.) But I do have a bunch of dehydrated veggies in Mountain Man's backpacking cupboard I could throw in.
Do you see how this is going? I'm planning my menu based on what WE eat and on what's available to me. We don't have a lot of money so I'm not going to go out and buy special emergency food. What I am going to do is pick foods that are easily transported, high in calories, easy to prepare, don't require refrigeration, and yummy.
3. Put your kit together:
Oh, brother. This is where it gets tough for me. I'm really good at making lists, not so good at following through. What I did was go through my house and gather everything on the list (72-Hour Kit and my menu plan) that I already had in my house. I dumped it all on my guest bed two weeks before my in-laws were coming, thus giving myself a deadline. I measured out the necessary water and then packed everything I had into my backpacks.
I didn't/don't have everything on my list. I printed out my list (from the printables on the sidebar) and crossed off things as they went into the backpacks. I wrote my menu plan on the back of the paper so I wouldn't lose it.
Here it is, and you can see I've highlighted the things I don't have in yet. But I put it together anyway, because some food is better than no food! You ought to put a copy of this in your kit so you know what food you have without having to dig through your backpack or Tupperware.
I'm going to have to finish gathering items and do a repacking job, or enlist Mountain Man to help, because, quite frankly I'm not so swell at packing. But I loaded it all up anyway. Why? Because it's better to have something than nothing.
Obviously not everything fits in our backpacks. So I made a little list to tell me where everything is. If I got a call that I had to be out of my house in ten minutes or less I would probably be freaking out, understandably. So I am posting this note in my kitchen, on the pantry door, where I am most of the time (kind of sounds like I like to eat, eh?) and also by my 72-Hour Kits in the guest room closet. I guarantee that I won't be thinking clearly during an emergency, so I want to make it as easy for me as possible.
I had a Relief Society President who once handed out an emergency sheet she used. It had a list of items she would grab from her house depending on the time she had. I wish I could find it to scan it in. But basically she had a list of things she would grab if she had ten minutes (72-Hour Kits, etc). If she had 20 minutes she would grab more things, and so on. I think this would be a great FHE activity. Determine what is vital for survival, then what would be helpful, and finally, maybe some things that are important to each family member IF they had the time to grab it. Knowing the location of these items would also be helpful.
After sticking everything in you have, make a wish list of the things you need still. Start with the cheaper items at the top and chip away at it when you can. Ask for the larger things for Christmas gifts if you want. I think I'm turning into a food storage nerd.
To reiterate: Make an emergency evacuation plan, make your meal plan, and put it all together. Don't wait until you have everything!
P.S. Don't forget to rotate your food, clothing, and batteries...