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Volume III
November 11, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

72 Hour Emergency Kit

By Patty Liston

?First of all, how are we doing on storing water? Have you started? Do you have enough for three days? A week? Wherever you are on this preparedness journey if you have at least begun, you are closer to being prepared and empowered than you were before. So, give yourself a pat on the back, sing "For He's/She's a Jolly Good Fellow", and keep going. You will NEVER regret being prepared!

For the next 2 weeks we will be discussing putting together a 72 hour emergency kit. Any fireman, policeman, or ambulance driver will tell you that should a natural disaster occur in your neighborhood, it could very easily be 3 days before you and your family receives any help. When I lived in California, our emergency providers told us to count on being on our own for a week! I am not even talking about a major disaster such as an earthquake, flood, or tornado. When the heavy snow recently fell along the Eastern seaboard, trees crashed on to power lines leaving many homes without power for a week or more. How would you have done under the circumstances?

A 72 hour kit is just that: 3 days worth of supplies that you can live off in an emergency. What you put into your kit with regards to food will be determined by family likes, allergies, etc. The list I will give you covers all of the basics - many items which you may already have.

This kit is not meant to sustain you for weeks. We will discuss additional items for long-term sustainability next week. This kit will be something you can use in your home, short term; or take with you in case of an emergency evacuation. When the fires hit California, many people had 5 minutes to pack up and get out. This kit will make such a scenario easier to cope with should it ever happen to you.

This is what you will use to put your emergency items in. I have seen backpacks at second hand stores for as little as $1-$2. Each member of your family should have one that contains their personal belongings plus other items, depending on the age/size of the child. Mom and dad can have larger back-packing type packs which will carry more. These too can be purchased at second hand stores.

I would suggest that once you have everything collected for your family, you distribute the weight and supplies evenly among yourselves. Little children can have light-weight items such as clothes, or small bags of candy in their back-packs, with the weight index going up as the children get older.

These items are suggestions. Don't stuff your child's back-pack with granola bars if they don't like them. When my son was small, his back-pack had pop-tarts. Remember that in a disaster, children want what they are familiar with. It will bring them a sense of security when everything else is uncertain. Here are some suggested food items:

•   Protein/Granola Bars
•   Trail Mix/Dried Fruit
•   Crackers/Dry Cereals (the ones in the small boxes) for munching
•   Packaged Tuna, Chili, Soups that do not need water added, Vienna Sausages, etc
•   Cheese and cracker/peanut-butter and cracker, combo's
•   Juice packets
•   Candy/Gum (buy candy that won't melt in the bag)
•   Water (1 Gallon/4 Liters Per Person)

Bedding and Clothing
When an emergency happens at night, you will want some clothes to put on when you greet your neighbors at a community shelter!
•   Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, etc.)
•   Undergarments
•   Shoes - these should be closed toed/not flip-flops. There are some great little slipper shoes with rubber soles that fold into themselves, and can be easily tucked into your back-pack.
•   Rain Coat/Poncho ($1 ponchos can be purchased at discount stores)
•   Blankets and Emergency Heat Blanks (the Mylar heat sheet can be found at camping outlets. I bought mine for $1.50)
•   Cloth Sheet
•   Large Plastic Sheet - to lie on, or use for make-shift tent shelter

Fuel and Light
•   Battery Lighting such as flash-lights and compact camping lamps. The easiest may be the head-lamps which will keep your hands free for doing other things. One flash light for each back- pack. EXTRA BATTERIES!
•   Candles (emergency 72 hour candles in heavy tins can be purchased at supply and camping stores)
•   Lighter
•   Water-Proof Matches (I still put mine in a zip lock)
•   Glow sticks. I just bought several packages that were 75% off on a Halloween table. These can go around a child's neck. I keep one package in the nightstand by my bed for easy access to a quick light in case of emergency

•   Can Opener
•   Dishes/Utensils (I know people who have paper plates & plastic utensils to conserve on weight. Others have the combination camping plate that can also be a pan and comes with utensils)
•   Shovel (sanitation while traveling. There are compact, collapsible ones that can be purchased at camping supply stores and hung on the adult back pack).
•   Emergency Radio (with batteries and extra batteries)
•   Pen and Paper
•   Axe
•   Swiss Army knife. A pocket knife is good, this is better.
•   Rope
•   Duct Tape
•   Whistle

Personal Supplies and Medication
•   First Aid Kit and Supplies. You may want to invest in a good first aid kit that will cover any kind of emergency. Each child may also carry a small plastic first aid kit that can be purchased for $2 and less at discount and dollar stores.
•   Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, or roll of camping toilet paper which is very compact. Also feminine hygiene, folding brush, tooth brush, wash clothes, etc.)
•   Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer for each person, mini soaps, shampoo, dish soap, etc). Warning: Scented soap might "flavor" food items.)
•   Immunizations Up-to Date
•   Medication (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, children's medication etc.)
•   Prescription Medication (for 3 days - minimum!)

Personal Documents and Money
We learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina. People who lost their homes and personal belongings also lost the paper work that proved they had a home and belongings! It was a nightmare! Get copies of everything that proves you are who you say you are, and that you had/have what you say you do/did. Have these items laminated and then put them in a sturdy zip-lock baggie or water-proof container, before putting in your back-pack. Take pictures for proof of heirlooms, jewelry, classic cars, etc. Have a reliable witness to verify the pictures are yours, and bring along a notary as a second witness.

•   Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, Bank and Savings account numbers, Mortgage record, Car insurance, Life Insurance records, Social Security number, Medicare information, Prescriptions and Doctor's names, etc. After Katrina, people couldn't prove that they owned anything. Also, they could not remember phone numbers much less identification numbers. Just ask yourself this question: "If I lost this paper, phone number, identification, would it be alright?" If the answer is "NO", laminate it and put it in your pack.
•   Important phone numbers. I don't know about you, but if I lose cell coverage I wouldn't even know my daughter's number. Make a phone list of names and numbers you will need to have. Trust me; in a crisis you won't remember your own name, much less the names and numbers of others.
•   Vaccination Papers
•   Insurance Policies
•   Cash -- It is suggested that you have anywhere from $50 to $100 in one dollar bills, along with several dollars in rolled up quarters that you can get from your bank. Chances are no one in a crisis will have change, and ATM's may not work. The more flexible you are with cash, the better.
•   Credit Card
•   Pre-Paid Phone Cards - to make emergency calls if your cell phone is left behind or doesn't work.

Emergency Family Contact
Choose someone in your family who does not live in your area, to be your emergency contact person. Have their name and number in each back-pack, as well as in everyone's wallet. If an emergency occurs during the day, chances are you and your family will be scattered all over town. As in the case of Katrina, it was days and in some cases weeks, before families were reunited. In the mean time, parents and children were frantic not knowing where other family members were and if they were alright. If you become separated, tell your family to contact the emergency contact person and tell them where they are. In this way, when you call the contact person, they can tell you who they have heard from and where that person is staying. While it may be awhile before you are reunited, at least you will know that your family is safe.

•   Do you have a pet that you won't want to leave behind? Be sure to have food for him/her.
•   Update your 72 Hour Kit every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to make sure that: all food, water, and medication is fresh and has not expired; clothing fits; personal documents and credit cards are up to date; and batteries are charged.
•   Small toys/games are important too as they will provide some comfort and entertainment during a stressful time.
•   Older children can be responsible for their own pack of items/clothes.
•   You can include any other items in your 72 Hour Kit that you feel are necessary for your family's survival.
•   Some items and/or flavors might leak, melt, "flavor" other items, or break open. Dividing groups of items into individual Ziploc bags might help prevent this.

This is a basic list of items. I suggest you talk with your family and decide what you want to have in YOUR emergency kits as it pertains to food. If I may be so bold, I believe the other items are not negotiable.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or would like to share how your family has prepared an emergency kit, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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