Something was taking place last night with me, I’m not exactly sure what it was. It is still with me this morning. Actually, something has been changing in me since mid-August when I left to go fight wildfires in Washington State. Maybe not “changing” so much, more like clarifying or defining.
A couple of months ago I was listening to Glenn Beck. He was really excited about a few things, but mostly he was saying, “Now is the time to take action!”
What he was getting at, as I understood it, is there is a lot going on in the world that is “bad.” Many would say the majority of current events we hear about are outright evil. I would agree. But Glenn’s point was, as people, as individuals, it is time for us to take action. It is time that we start doing those things that we need to be doing.
Those “things” are both as individuals for ourselves/family, and as part of our congregations and communities. That got to me, it really meant something to me. So this article is just one of the results of that experience…
And, why am I even asking that question?
Remember the reason that I wrote my books and why I am doing this site?
It is because I care. I care about your safety and your ability to take care of your family and your community during times of crisis.
That being the case, I asked the question, “Are 72/96-Hour Kits just a myth that will get you killed?” for a specific reason.
But let’s step back a minute and review a couple foundation blocks of emergency preparedness. I am speaking of catastrophe categories. Namely; Emergencies, Disasters, and Grid-Down. Can we agree that for “preppers” those categories of catastrophic events pretty much work for all of us? < click here to read more about catastrophe categories >
I will assume you generally agreed with the categorizations. Next thing we need to fundamentally agree on are the threats that are associated with those catastrophes. As I have written before “threats” pose risk, but risk can be mitigated. However, before we can identify and mitigate those risks we must find the common threats to the catastrophe categories that I mentioned above. I believe those common threats are:
- Lack of, or poor, communications
- Lack of, or poor, organization
- Exposure (need for shelter)
Yes, I put them in priority order; the priority order in my opinion. And, the priorities are set based on the risk of fatality. In other words, those things that are the most likely to kill you the quickest are given the highest priority. They relate back to the “severity” and “probability” matrix principle. < click here to read more on threat matrix >
Yes, I am going to get to the 72/96-Hour Kit thing in a minute, please be patient with me.
So, if we can agree on the types of threats and their prioritization then we can also agree on how to mitigate the risks associated with those threats. We don’t have to possess identical mitigation steps, but they will generally be the same, yes?
One last item to touch on, “mission.” Can we agree that each piece of gear or equipment has to have a specific mission to be included on any list? Otherwise, that item would be a waste of weight and space.
When was the last time you actually read a list of items for a 72-hour or 96-hour kit?
When was the last time you ever carried your 72-hour or 96-hour kit for even 30 minutes?
Do you even know why each item is on your kit’s list and actually in the kit?
During my career in emergency services I have seen lots of folks evacuate, everything from hurricanes to wildfires. And I don’t ever remember a single person having a 72-hour kit ready to go. What they did take was what they felt were “irreplaceable items” such as family photo albums, family bibles, pets, etc. It is easy to understand their last minute actions.
Now let me pick on a couple items that usually appear in most 72-hour kits and let us compare the true usefulness of that item to the threats/risks and the mitigation needed.
Food – Really? People can go 21-days without food before they starve to death. A relatively healthy person can go 48 – 72 hours before there are even any negative affects other than feeling hungry. So why have any food in a 72-hour kit, an emergency kit?
Water – Seriously? A normal healthy person can go 3 days without water before dying. A normal, relatively healthy person can go 12 – 24 hours before suffering any real side-affects from dehydration other than chapped lips. So why have all that water in your 72-hour kit?
Clothes – Now there is a peach! I’ve gone 12 days wearing the exact same clothes, and without a shower, while fighting wildfires. So what is the purpose of having any clothing item in a 72-hour kit?
You are either thinking outside the box right now, or you are coming up with a thousand reasons to criticize everything I just said about food, water, and clothing in 72-hour kits. Which are you…a thinking person or an argument preparation person?
All that being said, what is the purpose of YOUR 72-hour kit? I am asking you, what exactly have you written down that this “kit” is supposed to do for you and your family. I mean the exact details of the kit’s mission, and did you write it down?
If you are like most people you probably have not thought through exactly what the kit is supposed to do for your family…what its mission is. And almost assuredly you’ve not written that mission down on paper.
If you are like most people you have seen items on some list somewhere and said to yourself, “Oh, that sounds good, I’ll put that in my 72-hour kit.”
Now, you may think I am being critical of you and your prepping. Well, in a way I am being critical. But not in such a way that I intend to hurt your feelings or insult you. Although I am sure you could read it that way. What I am trying to do is challenge you and your thinking about how you prepare your family for emergencies, disasters and grid-down.
If you have read my “GOOD BOB” article < click here to read more about GOOD BOB > you see that the mission for my Get Out Of Dodge – Bug Out Bag/Box is very specific. And any item that doesn’t directly contribute to that mission is not included. Every item is justified by challenging mission accomplishment vs. that item’s weight & space.
Why so finicky? If you have read my article on 72/96-Hour Kits < click here to read about 72/96-Hour Kits > you know I am concerned about their weight and space issues. If you can’t carry your kit for a decent amount of time or distance, then your kit is impractical. And my GOOD BOB is designed to be carried in a vehicle first, but reduced to backpack size if needed. < read more about that here >
But what about you? What about your kit? Is it really practical? Is each item truly necessary? Does each item have a specific purpose compared to the kit’s overall mission?
Couple challenges to get you thinking…
Food – I have heard about people putting cans of food into their kits. Think of the weight and space taken up with cans of food. Even packets of freeze-dried food can be bulky. If you are in a situation where the emergency demands that you flee with only a 72-hour kit, are you really worried about canned Spaghetti O’s or Mountain House Lasagna? I’ve lived off Quaker Oat “Dips” for two days while fighting a wildfire and did just fine. Rethink what kind and how much food you need to have in your kit.
Water – I have heard that people have a 5-gallon container of water that they include in their 72-hour kit. That container would weigh in at over 40lbs. Who is going to carry that much weight? You? Really? When was the last time you carried a plastic container with a tiny handle and it weighed over 40lbs? How far do you think you are going to carry it? Why not consider a personal water filtering “straw” that each person can carry? < read more about NDuR > Or carry a single MSR Sweetwater filter that weighs less than 1lb? < read more about the MSR Sweetwater filter system >
There will be some kind of water around, just filter it and you are good to go. But don’t even worry about it the first 24 hours if you don’t need to. If there is absolutely no water of any kind…well, show me that situation please.
Clothes – I think you can wear the same clothes for 72 hours, yes? You may smell, they may get a little dirty, maybe even crusty. But are you going to die over it? No, you won’t. Are clothes really that important? If so, what kind and how much?
But what can you die over? What can kill you or a family member?
Absence of, or inadequate, first aid kit can surely do it! And I am talking about having a real first aid kit with you, not a box of band aids. < click here to read about an Individual First Aid Kit >
How about some means of defense? I would be happy if you are even taking along a good survival knife for each person over the age of 5. Like and ESEE-6 or an ESEE-3, etc. But why not your EDC pistol?
Oh, the disaster shelter won’t let you in with it? Why the heck would you tell them you have it? Or, better yet, find somewhere else to shelter!
So you have a change of clothes…but do you have a handheld radio for each family member and do they know how to use it? Do you have charged replacement batteries for each radio? Do you have a way to recharge the batteries?
So a clean pair of underwear is more important than maintaining communications with family members? Especially so if family members get separated!
So what the heck is my point here?
- Decide on what exactly the mission is of your kit. Then write it down on paper.
- Take all your stuff out of your kits. Look at each item and compare it against the threat/risk list above (or a list you have compiled).
- Only put those items in your kit which directly mitigate each threat/risk in the proper priority order.
- Then ask yourself, “Will my new kit protect and sustain the lives of my family as long as possible?”
Yes, I am asking you challenge yourself in relation to your prepping. I want you to consider having a major paradigm shift. I want you to look at your 72/96-hour kit in a whole new light.
I want you to ask yourself, to challenge yourself…
This website is my “calling” that I am supposed to be doing at this point in my life. I am to do everything I can to help you and your family be prepared for what is coming.
Failure is not an option…not for me, not for you, not for your family.
Related Articles –
- Proper Preparedness Principles
- Threats, Risk, Matrix, Mitigation : Part 1
- TRAP: If there isn’t a specific, common, mission for a piece of gear…don’t pack it.
- GOOD BOB (Get Out Of Doge Bug Out Bag/Box)
- 72-Hour Kits
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