Tuesday, September 25, 2012

72 Hour Kits

Twice a year, during General Conference weekend, we update our 72 hour kits. Since it's on my brain this week, I'm going to do a series of posts on what we include in each of our bags.

Today I'll talk about what's in the hubby's and my bags. This is a long post. But I wanted to give you more than just another packing list for your 72 hour kits. I've spent a ton of time researching things to put in our kits, and I wanted to share the info I've found as well as why I chose the items I did. Bear with me!!

Also, I just wanted to add... planning and preparing beforehand with tools and essentials that would be useful in an emergency can be expensive. Chances are, you already have many things around your house, but other things need to be budgeted for and purchased little by little. I'll leave it up to you to decide which things are the most important, and which things can wait until you have a chance to buy them. (And my kits aren't finished yet... I still have a list of things that I would like to include when possible!) That's why I use General Conference (or every 6 months) as a time to reevaluate the things we have and the things we might need. Our family changes. Our needs change. The kits need to reflect that. I feel like our kits are a continual work in progress because of this.

I'll be the first to admit: our kits are probably bloated. But I definitely want to fall under the category of "better to be too prepared, then not prepared enough." I can always give away or leave behind items that I have packed. Okay... let's get started!

Containers
I change what container I put my kit in periodically. Every time I update our kits I evaluate the most likely scenarios and decide. This go around, I decided to put it in a carry-on sized roller suitcase because most likely I'll be home with the kids while my hubby is at work. That means I'll have to carry the baby, her kit, my kit, and help Harvey with his. I thought it would be easier with the wheels; plus I could strap a backpack on top of the suitcase, strap the baby to me and wear Harvey's kit if it got too heavy for him. Justin's is in the large backpack, and the kids each have a small red one.


Food & Water:
I have gone back and forth on the food situation. During times of stress, we actually need to consume more calories then usual. I bought all "normal" stuff I thought my family would eat, and added up calories to make sure we would all be getting adequate nutrition. (I used this site and this site). But then I put all of that stuff in gallon sized ziptop bags (one for each day per person), and realized that not only was this option really expensive, but it was bulky and HEAVY. Plus, I would have to keep rotating all of that expensive food every 6 months to a year to keep it fresh (more $$).

Then I went over to Emergency Essentials, and actually tasted their Emergency Food Bars... and they actually taste really good. Pretty much like a shortbread Girl Scout Cookie. Plus they are super high in nutrition/calories, lightweight, inexpensive, and they store well at a wide range of temperatures for 5 years. I bought one for each of us (enough for 9 meals each), as well as some other flavored ones.


Even though I didn't pack canned goods or much we would eat with utensils, I still put a set in each pack, along with a manual can opener. I've read that many charities and shelters will hand out canned food in times of disaster, so can openers - and means to eat the food - are in high demand.
  • Utensils
  • Mess Kit (foldable bowl and cup)
  • Manual can opener (pictured below with the tools/supplies)
Now, I realize that eating a tiny block of food for a meal, no matter how many calories it contains, would be hard for every meal for three days, so I added snack/comfort foods as well. I packed 12-14 for each adult, so we could eat 4-5 snacks each day.


To keep the snacks rotated, I'll let my family eat their snacks during General Conference every six months and I'll buy whatever is on sale to replace it. (Hopefully allowing the kids to start this "tradition" they will remind me to rotate the kits!) My favorite options for snack/comfort foods are:
  • tuna pouches (not cans because of weight) & ritz crackers snack packs (I tasted the ready-to-eat boxed versions and I didn't like the taste, so I assembled my own)
  • raisins (plain or yogurt covered)
  • beef jerky
  • dry fruit
  • boxed (shelf stable) milk
  • sunflower seeds
  • nuts
  • granola bars
  • trail mix
  • fruit snacks
  • fruit pouches (in the baby aisle - just buy applesauce)
  • gum (put in it's own ziplock before adding it with the other food, or all of your food will taste minty!)
  • hard candy
  • multi-vitamins
As far as water goes, I'm going with the some-is-better-than-nothing approach. It is just too heavy to evacuate on foot with the recommended 3 gallons per person, especially when most likely, Justin will be at work and I will have to manage three packs and two kids. Seriously, can you imagine me carrying 9 gallons of water, my baby, and all of our other supplies?! As my children get older and their ability to help carry supplies increases, I'll add more water. For now, I'm going to bank on finding water, so I'll have to be able to clean it. **However, see my last category: Grab List, for a scenario when we could evacuate by car.**

  • 8-10 water bottles in the adult's packs
  • water filter (ours allows us to drink directly out of the water source, or siphon it into a container)
  • dropper with bleach
  • ready-to-mix Crystal Lite packets so we can stand the taste of the water (pictured with the snacks)
Other things on my wish list:
Clothing & Shelter:


  • sweatshirt & sweatpants (comfortable, can cut off the arms and legs if it is too hot)
  • thermal underwear (can layer, use for pjs, or use as a separate change of clothing if needed)
  • 1 change of underwear and 2 pairs of socks (cold, wet feet can cause lots of problems)
  • hat, gloves, and sunglasses
I chose sweats for lots of reasons: They are comfortable and warm. You can easily cut the arms and legs off if your emergency chances upon hot weather. They are roomy - and will accommodate for fluctuation in weight gain (aka pregnancies.. although consider putting in a larger size if needed). And they are cheap; I can buy a whole set for about 6 bucks when they are on sale at Walmart - but look early, because they go fast.

I live in Utah, and it gets cold here during the winter. If you live in a warmer climate, you might not need thermals and sweats... do what you need to do for your family. I store all of these items in ziplock bags; they take up less room when you suck the air out, they won't get wet if your bag does, and the bags can be used for other things (garbage, water collection, etc.).

  • rain poncho
  • thermal sleeping bag 
  • hotties (hand warmers)
  • tube tent
On the wish list:
  • Heat Cell (can heat food, or warm a tent for 8-9 hours!)
First Aid:

I bought a pretty good first aid kit from REI. It's a women's outdoor kit, so it also included a few luxuries (tampons, wash cloths, chapstick). I have added some things: Vick's VapoRub, an extra container of Tylenol, Children's Tylenol, teething tablets, a forehead thermometer, and extra bandaids with Spiderman on them (hey.. they make "owies" better now.. why not add that extra comfort when we will be in a scary situation?) I grab this out of my kit when we go camping, so we use and rotate the supplies that way. Justin's bag has a similar first aid kit, so I figure my family is pretty covered, at least in the small-medium category. I'm still trying to figure out what I would do for the more serious injuries.

It is almost always cheaper to buy first aid supplies in a premade kit. You can find them everywhere; just compare the contents to a recommended list and choose the one you think covers that list the best. You can always add small things to your first aid kit.

Some other things I've considered:
  • scissors (my kit didn't include them, but I have a pocket knife, so that would work)
  • Burn Jel
  • QuikClot
  • some instant ice packs
  • a snake bite kit
  • maybe a pen light (for checking pupils, but I probably wouldn't know what I was looking for)
  • saline solution (good for cleaning out wounds when you can't wash them out or stuffy baby noses)
Personal Care Kit:
I found these little bags at IKEA and filled them with everything we might need for our personal care. To keep them rotated, I pack them when we go camping. We evaluate what needs to be replaced/refilled after each trip.

  • Washcloth
  • Wet Ones 
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Chapstick
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Comb/Brush
  • Kleenex
  • Finger Nail Clippers
  • Compact Mirror
  • Sunscreen
  • Contact Lens supplies (in Justin's kit, along with an old pair of eye glasses)
  • Feminine Products (I included liners, and my DivaCup is on my "grab list")
Tools & Supplies:

  • Clothesline and pins
  • Toilet paper
  • Handy Saks (plastic bags)
  • Flint & Steel
  • Lighter
  • Whistle
  • Wind/Waterproof Matches
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Extra Batteries (wrap them with tape so the ends don't touch and deplete the charge)
  • Lightsticks
  • Permanent marker (not pictured - to write name on kids' chests in case of separation)
Some other things on my wishlist:
  • NOAA weather/AM/FM radio - crank powered, and will also charge cell phones! (I've read that during lots of emergencies, you can send and receive texts even when you can't make a call because they are on a different bandwidth)
  • Headlight
  • Tide laundry detergent packs
  • Small bars of soap (often a tradable commodity)
Important Family Documents/Cash:  
This deserves it's own post... and I'll post about it later this week!

Entertainment/Comfort Items:

  • Book of Mormon
  • Sudoku / Crossword puzzles
  • Yahtzee - I bought a Johnson/Johnson travel first aid kit for the container, then I cut down 4 Yahtzee score sheets (I cut games 3-6 off) and folded them in half so they would fit. I need to laminate them and add a dry erase marker, so we could reuse them. Then I bought extra dice at the dollar store. 
  • chalk (for games like hopscotch, or just drawing pictures)
  • pen and notebook
  • The Ultimate Indoor Games Book - full of tons of game ideas where nothing is needed... great for keeping anyone occupied, indoors or out!
Grab List:
Obviously, there are things that you would want to take with you in an evacuation, but can't store permanently in your kits. I have made up a list for each family member (well for now, it's just Justin and I but as the kids get older I'll give them each a list as well) of things to "grab and go" according to how much time we have. Here are some things I've included:
  • coats & sturdy walking shoes (we keep our kits in the hall closet where both of these are stored)
  • sleeping bags (zero rated)
  • Luggable Loo
  • throw perishable food into our cooler
  • cell phones/charger
  • external hard drive
  • laptop computer
  • large tent (if we can evacuate by car)
  • 2-4 flats of water bottles (if we can evacuate by car)
  • filled camelbaks (or other hydration backpacks)
  • extra gas can (if we can evacuate by car)
Whew! Are you still with me?? Is there anything I missed?? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come back tomorrow for a peek at the contents of Harvey's (age 4) kit...

28 comments:

  1. this has been on my to-do list for the past 3 years. thanks for sharing and INSPIRING me to get busy. loved all your info and pictures. :)

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    1. It has definitely been a work in progress for a long time. I'm so glad it inspired you! Thanks for commenting. :)

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  2. We are getting ready to update our kits and I happened across your site. Love how organized and well-though out everything is. Where do you keep your grab lists? Are they in a pocket of your backpacks or somewhere else?

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    1. I keep all of our kits in the hall closet right by the front door... and the grab lists are taped on the inside of the closet door, so we can literally "grab and go"! :)

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  3. Tiffany, this is so helpful for me. We don't have any emergency kits and I was just called as our ward emergency specialist so this has helped provide a basis for making a plan for our ward and our family. I think we're going to focus on building 72 hour kits slowly over the course of a year with a monthly "suggestion". Your tips are so well thought out and organized. Epic post, so useful. :)

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    1. Awesome Anna! I'm glad I could help. I think that is a great plan - just combining all of this stuff can be overwhelming, especially if you need to purchase a lot. Another site I have found that has awesome info has divided it into weeks as well. You might find it helpful: http://www.yourownhomestore.com/survival-kit-ideas-week-by-week/

      Good luck!

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  4. Great and concise ideas Tiff! So, we just made our very first (incomplete) kits. But....I have a few questions. Where did you get your MRE's in the "plastic bowl" photo. Also, the silverware kit? I saw these silverware/pocket knife in one kits at Honeyville store but it would be hard for children to figure out. Also, I've started collecting shampoos/lotions/soaps from hotel visits. I have enough for each of us. Perfect size for 72-HR if we have access to enough water to use.

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    1. Emergency essentials.....so they are bars but not complete meals? But like you said....enough caloric intake combined with snack items?

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    2. Thanks Hannah! Yes, I got them at Emergency Essentials. They are called Food Bars, and they are enough calories to sustain an average sized male for 3 days (400 calories per meal, 3600 total). I just added the snacks for morale. The white pack contains 9 separately wrapped blocks that taste like shortbread cookies. It cost about 5-6 dollars. The other individually wrapped ones are called Millennium Bars and they are single servings (400 calories each), and they have different flavors. They were about a dollar each. So actually, we have enough to last us 4+ days total. I have the same items in Harvey's kit, and he really doesn't need that much in terms of calories, but they last for 5 years so I bought for the future.

      The silverware kit I purchased from the Army Navy Supply store on Redwood Road (and 33rd-ish?) I bought them probably 8 years ago, so I can't remember how much they were. I also found the mini Light My Fire fork/spoon combo in a package of 3 at Smith's Marketplace - which I included in the kids' kits. The package was like 6 dollars for 3.

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  5. I just came across your blog. I love your blog. I have literally spent all night on it. Your so inspiring!! I was wondering if you had your 72 hour kit lists in a way that you could email them to me to print out and check off. I am so grateful for your detailed posts. I'm going to get working on ours. Thanks again!

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    1. Thanks so much! I would be happy to send my list to you - just leave your e-mail address in the comments, or e-mail me at dayinmylifeblog@gmail.com and I'll reply. :)

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  6. Thanks for this post! Its inspired me to create our kits...we have some food kits in a tub but they would NOT be able to be carried, its sooo heavy with cans, etc. I love your ideas, especially the roller suitcase...our family is the exact same as yours right now...mom, dad, kid (two year old) and baby so this has been extra helpful!! Need to get cracking, I think my word for the new year is going to be "prepare". :) Thanks again!

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    1. Glad to help! It's much better to have anything than nothing at all, but I find that I rethink our possible scenarios and add or change items as our needs change (or as I read about better ideas online..) It's a constant project.

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  7. Do you remember where you found the foldable bowl and cup?

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    1. I got them at REI, but I went back this summer to buy more for my baby and they have discontinued them. Orikaso is the brand of the items I bought, and you could buy them separately; a cup, a bowl, and a plate. (I just found the cup on Amazon here.)

      The closest thing I have found is made by a company "Fozzils" (although they don't fold, they snap) and can be purchased in a kit containing all three items. Here is the link to Amazon.

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  8. Dust masks. I didn't read through the comments so perhaps it was already suggested? Great post - thanks for the outline!

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  9. awesome list. I might add hair bands/ties. I could go without but what a difference it could make, especially if you can't bathe.

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    1. Umm, YES! I will definitely be adding those to my kit!

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  10. I just happened upon your list and i'm making my own right now so that I can make sure we have these things!! I was wondering if you have a toiletries, first aid and tools lists in you and your husbands pack or if you split up those items between the two, and then in your own you have the water/food/snacks/clothing etc. along with whatever else.

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    1. I do have separate toiletry bags and first aid kits and tools in both my hubby's and my packs. My thought is that they don't take up a ton of space, they will probably come in handy for helping others besides our family, and most likely we will be separated when the emergency occurs - him at work and me at home - so we will need our own supplies until we *hopefully* find each other again. :)

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  11. I think 72-hour kits are such an important thing to have ready in your home. You need to be prepared for any situation that may arise, especially if you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters. I would like to keep ours in backpacks since it would be easier to carry. http://www.outtagear.com/product/4-0-bug-out-bag/

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  12. Also, do you think it would be feasible to use a baby carrier(front-facing) and a backpack at the same time? I managed to fit all of my son's 72-hour kit items(he's 2) into a bag that he can carry for himself, save for the water which would be divided between my pack and my husband's. We also have an emergency supply of 2 24-pack cases of water in our car, as well as a few gallons of water. Once we upgrade to an SUV(hopefully, this time next year we will have it!), we plan on putting a full emergency kit in there with plenty of water, too. How often do you have to switch out water(e.g., how long does an unopened gallon or unopened bottle keep?)?

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    1. I put "also" because I had left a comment before, but it didn't go through... So, I'll add it right here. My original question was, "What would you do differently for a pregnant or EBF mother?" I know EBF requires extra calories and LOTS of water intake and I EBF my 4 month old, so we have another 8 months of breast feeding to worry about, especially since she currently shows little interest in food(as did her brother; he didn't become interested in eating until around 8 months).

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    2. When I put these kits together, I was a EBF mother. I packed enough calories for a grown man for 4 days, plus snacks, so I feel like I have calories covered until hopefully we would be able to dig out our food storage from a collapsed basement (most likely) or make our way to a shelter. The water is definitely an issue. But carrying a small child, a baby and supplies for all three of us, there is only so much I could take. Notice I did pack a water filter, and the collapsible jug to hold the water I could find. It is definitely something to assess, and reassess.

      We have since moved our kits into the trunk of my car, where I have 2 cases of water bottles as well. (I figure, my car is usually wherever I am.) We are campers, so I rotate the water as we take it on trips throughout the summer, but I bet you would be fine using store processed water even a couple of years after purchasing. It doesn't "expire".. you only have to worry about bacteria growing in the container. You might need to aerate it a little for taste.

      I think with a 4 month old (or 6 months now, sorry about the late reply), you would be able to manage gear on your back and a baby on your front, albeit slowly. I mean, it's an emergency - you'll do what you have to, right? :)

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  13. I saved this link a couple years ago and now am re-doing my 72 hour kits, but I'm noticing a lot of these links are no longer working. Could you update the links?

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    1. Thanks for letting me know about the broken links! I've updated them now...

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  14. out of all the posts, info, etc i've seen on 72 hour kits...yours in my fav. we're finishing up ours but yours def gave me some ideas (yahtzee! i only packed sudoku ;) ) totally putting this and the baby/kids kits in the folders we give to ward members about emergency preparedness!

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I've been getting so many spam comments lately, I've decided to disable "anonymous commenting" for a while. Sorry for any difficulty!

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