About 10 years ago the government began advising people to have a 72-hour kit for emergencies and disasters. For over 60 years members of the LDS church have been counseled to be prepared for a time of need or emergency.
It has been my experience that most government sponsored (i.e. FEMA) responses take about 96-hours to really get flowing. So a good place to start is with a 72/96-Hour Kit. The LDS church has been recommending these kits for decades now. They simply make sense.
But before I go on let me give my opinion on a few differences that are important:
72/96-Hour Kit – This is a kit that is what I consider “milk toast” in nature. It is for the normal family to use in the case where they need to leave their home for a limited period of time. However, they will be able to return to their home once the emergency or disaster is over. This kit doesn’t address the issue of violence being the primary threat. Hence, there are no weapons mentioned. This kit only addresses needs such as food, water, and clothing.
Get Home Bag – This is a kit designed to get a person from their current location (i.e. work) to their home. It addresses violence as the #1 threat in the situation. It is designed to assist a person to move undetected and survive out in the elements as opposed to in a shelter. <read more about Get Home Bag click here>
Get Out Of Dodge or Bug Out Bag – This is the “dooms day” option. This kit is designed for the situation where you must leave your home and there is little, if any, hope that you will ever return. Contents are geared more towards “survival” and combined with a person tactical vest and weapons, addresses the #1 threat of violence. <read more about GOOD BOBs click here>
Now that the differences have been identified let’s return to the 72/96-Hour Kit…
It generally takes government disaster relief agencies 3 – 4 days to move in and set up before offering assistance. Being able to take care of your family till then is vitally important and the goal of this kit. A 72/96-Hour Kit is a good minimum to start with but additional items maybe important if you can travel via vehicle. But keep the contents separate. Anything other than the 72/96-Hour Kit contents should be kept in another bag, back or box. Mixing the different kits’ contents reduces the ability to grab the more portable 72/96-Hour Kit and move quickly if needed.
- The objective of the 72/96-Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit is to have, previously assembled and placed in one location, all of those essential items you and your family will need during a 72 – 96 hour time period following an emergency away from your home. When an emergency occurs you will probably not have the luxury of going around the house gathering up needed items, especially if you have to evacuate your home on short notice.
- Take time now to gather whatever your family needs to survive for 4 days based upon the assumption that those items are the only possessions you will have. Your kit should be in a portable container located near the primary exit of your house. This is so you can grab it quickly on your way out of the house in a serious emergency.
- Each family member should have their own kit with water, food, and clothing. Distribute heavy items between kits that the adults and teenagers will carry.
- Keep a light source in the top or on the outside of your kit, so you can find it quickly in the dark.
- Personalize each family member kit. Make sure you fill the needs of each family member. Make a list of each item that will go into the kit. Write their name at the top.
- Select a backpack or bag that will only be used for this purpose. Check each item off the list as you put it in the bag. Place a copy of the list in the bag for future reference.
- Enclose the extra clothing, personal documents, and other items that can be damaged by smoke or water in Ziplock bags to protect them. If it’s raining when you have to evacuate, you will appreciate the dry clothes.
- Inspect your kit at least twice a year. Rotate food as needed. Check children’s clothing for proper fit. Adjust clothing for winter or summer needs. Check expiration dates on food, batteries, etc.
- Consider the needs of elderly people as well as those with handicaps or other special needs. For example: for babies, store diapers, washcloth, hand wipes, ointment, bottles and pacifiers, and other special supplies.
- Water – It is virtually impossible for the average person to carry enough water for 3 – 4 days; that would be upwards of 32lbs of water alone. But I would suggest you still have 3 – 4 gallons of water stored beside your Kit in case you can utilize a vehicle. However, each Kit should have at least 2 liters of water in one liter stainless steel water bottles.
- Aqua Tabs – One set of water purification tablets.
- First Aid – A basic first aid kit is absolutely mandatory for each person (IFAK). I would also highly recommend a family first kit as well (TBAK).
- Freeze Dried Food – Three meals (minimum) of freeze dried food.
- Flashlight & batteries
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Change of clothes
- Map & compass
- Food & Treats as appropriate
- Handheld radio(s)
- Survival radio
I have given you a start of your Kit content list. I have intentionally not provided a comprehensive list of contents other than the “mandatory” items that I listed. I think a 72/96-Hour Kit is a recipe for disaster. I think it is woefully short of addressing the #1 threat in any disaster, emergency and especially “grid-down” and that is violence. However, a 72/96-Hour Kit gets you started and may be your only option based on your circumstances.
Now, take the information provided here and build a kit list for each person in your family. Follow the Tips & Traps information as well. At the end of this article I list some additional links, specifically for the Get Home Bag and GOOD BOB bag. Look at the lists that i have for each of those situations and see if it can help you with the 72/96-Hour Kit you want to build.
- Don’t overload your kit! You may have to carry it a long way.
- Consider using a piece of luggage (or pack) with wheels on it.
- Everyone should have their own flashlight.
- All flashlights should use the same size of batteries.
- You probably don’t need all the clothes you packed.
- Canned food is VERY heavy, freeze dried pouches aren’t.
- When you need it most, it will break. Have some redundancy.
Additional valuable information:
- Get Home Bag
- GOOD – BOB (Get Out Of Dodge – Bug Out Bag)
- Spending for Surviving: The 70/20/10 Rule Part 3 – Immediate Needs
- SURVIVING ANY DISASTER: Part 2 – L.I.P.S. (Priority Setting)
- Threats, Risk, Matrix, Mitigation : Part 1
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