Wednesday, September 29, 2010

72-hour kits: Making priorities

My sister-in-law texted me earlier this week, asking if she really needed everything on our 72-hour kit list.

It's up to you, I texted back.  Obviously you don't want to skip over the essentials like food, water, and a small first aid kit.  But is everything on our list really necessary?  Where should you spend your money first, and what things can you skip over to save money?  I personally think everything is needed, but it all depends on your budget and preferences. Let's break it all down and see what we can go without:

1 sturdy backpack (or rolling suitcase) per person: well, this isn't really up for debate, you obviously need something to put everything in.

1 change of clothes per person: well, I can see going without this, but I certainly wouldn't want to.  I mean, it's certainly not a matter of life or death, but if I somehow got soaking wet and didn't have a change of clothes, I wouldn't be too happy (and it probably wouldn't be too healthy either, if it was cold outside!).  I'm going to say that yes, this is a necessity!

1 set of scriptures per family: not life or death, certainly.  But these would provide a sense of comfort.  You could even get a very small copy to save space/weight. Personal choice, here.

1 flashlight per person: it's non-negotiable that you need *a* flashlight.  One per person is ideal, but 1 or 2 per family (or more, depending on family size) would probably be okay.

Small first aid kit: definitely a requirement!

Personal documents: Since almost everything is digital nowadays, this is mostly for convenience, especially if you have already sent these documents to a close family member or friend (always recommended, just in case something happened to your docs at home!).  But, it would be a good idea to have some form of i.d. on you if you had to leave your home quickly.

Water and food: Necessity, obviously.

$100 cash per family: This is important because in times of emergency, local banks and atm's are often not available.  You will need cash to buy anything.  You should keep some cash at home for emergencies anyway, so keep $100 in your kits.  It's not going to cost you anything extra, so I say just do it.

Ax & shovel, bucket, utility knife: Hmm... well this can be a toughie because these are heavier items and if you were going somewhere on foot, these wouldn't be very fun to drag along.  However, I can see them coming in very handy... what if you had to chop some firewood?  Dig a hole for something?  I always err on the side of caution so I've added these to my kits.  It's always good to have a knife.  And the bucket can be used for transporting water from a stream/lake or moving other things around.

Battery-powered radio and light: I can see going without these.  Obviously it would be ideal to have them (and everything else on this list!) but they probably wouldn't be a matter of life and death.  We personally own a solar/battery powered radio/flashlight/cell phone charger all in one.  It's great.

Small sewing kit: Probably not a life-or-death need, but certainly nice to have.

Toothpaste/soap/toothbrushes/shampoo: As gross as it would be to not brush your teeth for 3 days, it wouldn't kill you.  As long as you have something to sanitize your hands with, you could probably go without these. (But really... who wants to??)  But again, these items are so small and light that it's almost insignificant the amount of space and weight they take up.  So, just add them. Seriously.  Think of how much better you will feel after brushing your teeth, even if your whole body is dirty.  So much better.

Blankets/sleeping bags: If you live in a hot climate and the temperatures never fall below the 50s, it's probably pretty safe to say that you could go without these items.  Personal preference, people.

Camp stove/heat: Well, if you don't mind eating canned food cold (or whatever else you have packed), you don't really need this item.  It's certainly ideal since a hot meal can do wonders for your attitude in an emergency, but if you can't afford this item right away, don't worry.  Start a change jar and buy it someday.

Work gloves: Ideal, but not absolutely necessary.

Matches/candles: The matches are definitely a necessity, but candles probably are not.

Mess kits/disposable plates/utensils/cups: Pretty necessary, wouldn't you agree?

Aluminum foil, can opener, disinfectant, mosquito repellent, entertainment items: Again, most of these things probably aren't life-or-death needs, so buy what you can afford and save up for the rest (if you think it's necessary).

Pet supplies: If you have a pet, this is certainly something to consider.

One thing about emergency preparedness is that it's so personal, and every family will vary when it comes to needs and wants.  Decide what is right for your family, and make your list from that.  Buy what you need first, and then when/if you have some extra cash, get some of the non-essentials.

Anyone agree or disagree with my assessments of certain things?  Do you have any "luxury" items in your kits?  Share a comment and let us know!!


Anonymous said...

I would actually add at least one more item. You have personal documents listed but I would add a hand written copy of important personal contact names, addresses and phone numbers. How many of us could remember all our numbers that are stored on our cell phone if it was damaged or was without power?

novidiac said...

With the recent fire in SLC, one thing that wasn't grabbed and was needed was medications... I have a little tag on the outside of my 72 hour kit with the grab list written on it. Things like medications, the pets, a spare house key, kids retainers and the camera (can definitely come in handy) that need to be current and might not be thought of in an emergency.

Another thing inside my 72 hour kit is a current photo of each of my children. I think a photo would be better than a description should I need to have help searching for my children. (again... not essential, but I also like to err on the side of caution and be prepared)

kdonat said...

RE: matches/candles A small box of birthday candles (the kind that can't be blown out) would help you start a fire in a windy situation. A small emergency candle, placed in an empty metal can, would give off heat to keep you warm if you were wet/cold.

Susan said...

We have small children. If we had to leave on foot we would want our children close by. In our 72 hour kits we have safety harnesses so that in an emergency we can put a harness on each child and keep them close to us.

Anonymous said...

After my water heater went out...it was 72 hours before the house water could be turned back on...a good test of my 72 hour kit...

Will be beefing that baby up! Thanks for the list!

KT said...

Total luxury items...
*a camera, often digital cameras are small and light. Take photos to document your life, even in crisis, until the battery runs out and then you'll have a record of what your family survived.

*my treasured recipes I've worked years to collect...can be saved on digital files and taken with you on a memory stick.

Have a "not necessary but grab if time list" and keep those items handy, preferably together, like the camera on an entryway table by the door. I would also keep little one's loveys handy to grab on a moment's notice...that would seem like a necessity to them.

You can also vacuum seal clothing in larger vacuum sealing bags to compress them and save much needed space.

Ray in Dallas said...

toilet paper - push the tube out & squeeze the paper into a baggie. Picture of your family, dated - if you are separated, will provide proof you are who you say & they are connected to you. We carried photo of parents+kids+cousins & their parents so there was ID confirmation for 2 sides of family.

Unknown said...

I think we should decide that why we want to have a 72 Hours Kit. Whether we are going for an adventure or we have some risk of disaster. It will make easy for us to prepare a list of necessary things. It's always better to be prepared, especially if you live in "hot" zones where things like flash floods, fires, or earthquakes are more prevalent.

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