Being Prepared: Bug Out Bags or 72 Hr Kits
What will you do when you get a knock on your door and there are emergency officials saying you have one hour to evacuate your house as there is a large fire burning and your home is in imminent danger of damage, or a tornado has ripped through your neighborhood leaving your house uninhabitable, or a hurricane is coming and is turning out to be more intense than thought, so you only have a small window to evacuate your area or the river that usually runs so mild is about to flood your town.
These are just a few of the scenarios of why you should have a 72 hour kit (or bug out bag) ready at all times. In our area, the hurricane isn’t an issue – we actually welcome them when they come over our area because they bring rain (which we’re desperate for now), and are rarely ever any worse than a typical spring thunderstorm. Fires, generally are house specific, or large grass fires along the road where someone’s flicked cigarette, or large open grasslands. We’re just far enough East that the huge, sweeping fires aren’t typically a threat to us (like what’s going on in Palo Pinto County right now). Tornadoes, on the other hand, are big threats. Tornadoes require drills and lots of time spent in bathtubs and closets at our house.
When I first began researching being prepared, I went on so many rabbit-trails, just looking for some good basic answers. I was mostly interested in a well stocked pantry to make sure we had food that we’d need at all times. As I began reading more and more, I realized being prepared was more than just about food, but about medicine and household items and flashlights and batteries, etc. So I’m going to list a few of those great finds of websites where I got a ton of GOOD information from, nothing too ‘tin-foil-hattish’, where you can get great information on any level of preparing for emergencies that you’d like to read. Today we’ll start with Bug Out Bags or 72 Hr kits.
For most of us, we’re either going to encounter a personal disaster such as a loss of a job, or a natural disaster such as a tornado, hurricane or snowstorm. In the event of a natural disaster, the general knowledge is that you need to be prepared to be able to live on your own for 72 hours before help can arrive and be fully established. A 72 hour kit is basically a kit put together for each member of your family (or a box for the house) so that, in the even of a disaster, you had to leave your house for 72 hours, you could survive on what you carry. It might be a 72 hr kit for your house so that you can live in your house for 3 days before help arrives. The idea is to make sure you have enough food, water, clothing, money, documents, medicines and the like to be able to survive until you can get reliable help.
You might also want to consider having a 72 hour kit in your car, at your office, at school, or any other place where you spend a significant amount of time. They can be backpacks or totes or duffle bags. You want to use something that’s easy to carry (rolling suitcases isn’t the best choice), and store it in an easy to access location for each of your family members.
Personal 72 Hour Kits – this will vary greatly on your needs and whom you are caring for – take this as just the beginning, and build from there
- Water (generally thought 2 gallons per person per day. That’s a lot to try to carry, but having a few water bottles, a way to disinfect water (tablets or bleach)
- Food – protein sources + carbs This is where trail mix, granola bars, peanut butter, protein bars, ready to eat meals, tuna in a pouch, jerky, freeze-dried foods, and yes, even MRE”s if you choose that come in handy. They are small, usually lightweight, easy to store, etc.
- Shelter – you’ll want something to be able to camp in if you aren’t able to get to shelter provided by emergency officials or friends and family. A large poncho is good for cover up as well as a makeshift shelter, trash bags can cover the ground, space blankets + a lightweight blanket make good shelter from winter,
- Fire – waterproof matches, flints, lighters. You’ll want heat, you’ll want light
- Light – Small maglights and chemical lights (glow sticks) are perfect – they’re portable and lightweight (and are also great for toys in the dark!)
- Documents - you’ll want a copy of all of your important documents – house deed, birth certificates, social security, bank and financial, etc.
- Personal- a change of clothes suitable for all-weather, extra socks and underwear, hats, gloves, handkerchiefs (come in handy for all sorts of things), dust mask, wipes (both personal and cleaning), shower kit, dental kit, and any medicines that you need.
- Equipment – Whistle, emergency medical supplies (bandages, antibiotic cream, alcohol wipes), this is getting to the more equipped bag, but a small hatchet and shovel might be handy to have for being able to set up camp, rescue
- Entertainment – small decks of cards, comics, a toy, coloring books, crayons, small book – something to help keep your children entertained as the stress really can get to them, and having something familiar can help in the mood of your whole family.
Please visit these sites. Each will give great lists of what you should include in your 72 hour kits – and other ways to help your family – communication plans, etc.
Food Storage Made Easy - Emergency Preparations – from Bug Out Bags (72 hr kits), to family plans, to baby steps of storage – this site has a ton of real-life, everyday family kind of information.
72 Hour Kit.org – put together by the City and County of San Francisco for Quake preparedness, this now goes so much further into other areas of disaster/emergency prep.
Ready.gov - FEMA’s site that even has a kid section to help teach and prepare them.
My goal this week is to create an emergency kit for our house. Currently, we have things in too many different places in the house in the case of an emergency – whether the electric company loses power in our area for a few hours in the evening, or we have a tornado threat, and we need something that is easily accessible that has extra flashlights, batteries, candles and matches, etc. Probably nothing more than a small plastic tote – but stored right where we can get to it anytime we need it and grab it quickly. (in all honesty, right now, if we were to need extra light, a ton of birthday candles, cooking equipment and other stuff would rain down on us from that cabinet because it tends to be the catch-all cabinet..it needs to be better).
Kitchen Stewardship – 20 items in 20 weeks (while a good very basic bag should be built from things in your house already, here’s a 20 week check list to build a good bug out bag for each person in your family)
What can you do in your home to make ‘bugging out’ just a little easier and safer for you and your family?
Also in this series:
You can check out other blogs in the Homestead Revival Preparedness Challenge