Thursday, May 22, 2014

72 Hour Kits - Emergency Preparedness Part 1

I like to be in control of things.  And the things that I can't control scare the weather.

Years ago we had a mandatory evacuation when Hurricane Floyd was headed our way.  It was the first and only time I remember being forced to evacuate the Savannah area.  I was at work when the orders to evacuate came through.  My manager told me to "Pack up and head home.  They're calling for a mandatory evacuation."  This was before I had kids so all I had to worry about was myself and my pets.  Police officers were actually going to each house knocking on the doors and telling people to leave their homes.  I had no clue what to do.  I was totally unprepared.  I ran around grabbing stuff piling it in a suitcase.  Luckily, my sister had already reserved a hotel room for me in Atlanta.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have known what to do or where to go. Once I got everything packed I headed out.  A trip to Atlanta usually takes me about 4 hours.  However, with this evacuation it took me over 12 hours to get there because of traffic.  It was absolute chaos.

One of my friends, who may or may not be a therapist, said that my fear of bad weather may not be as bad if I am prepared and feel in control of the situation.  That makes sense.  I figured making all of us 72 Hour Emergency Kits was a good start.  Because you really never know what could happen.  This world is some kind of crazy.  And if I had to pack for all 5 of us during an evacuation or an emergency I would completely lose my mind.

FEMA suggests having three days worth of supplies in case of emergencies because with disasters it could take that long for help to come.  Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, phones and sewage treatments may be cut off for days or even longer.  Your kit should contain items that would help you manage without these services.

After a little research I found several pre-made kits online.  The highest rated kit was the Ready America 70280 Grab-'n-Go Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack on Amazon.  It costs $39 with free shipping.  This is a great option if you don't have the time or energy to make your own bag.  But I knew I could make our own kits for cheaper.

I found a rubbermaid tub in the attic and started adding things to it as I came across good deals.  We have a ton of old book bags around the house so I didn't have to go out and buy new ones.

Below is a pic of the type of food items that I've gotten so far to go in our bags.  While making your own bags make sure to look for items with long shelf lives and portability.  Don't stress too much about fat and calories - in a true emergency you'll be needing them both.  Most items you should be able to open and eat.  I did include a few items that you add water to, but nothing more complicated than that.  A lot of these items were found at the Dollar Tree.

Suggested food items:
protein/fruit bars
peanut butter
dry cereal
canned juices
shelf stable pasteurized milk
dried fruits
canned meats and veggies
instant coffee sticks/creamers
baby food/formula
pet food/snacks
instant oatmeal/grits

In addition to food you'll need supplies that will keep you healthy and safe.  I still have quite a bit of stuff to get for this category, but I'm getting there.  Hurricane Season for 2014 starts June 1st so I'm sure we'll be seeing sales in the next few weeks to stock up on these types of items.  I found most of the items I've already gotten at the Dollar Tree as well.

Suggested supplies:
can opener
first aid kit
garbage bags
eating utensils/paper plates/cups
baby wipes/diapers
ziploc bags
medicine (prescription and over the counter pain relievers)
eye glasses/contact supplies
change of clothes
cash in smaller bills
books/activities for kids
dust masks
crank radio


More important than food and supplies is clean water.  You can live days without food, but not without water.  It's crucial that you have enough clean drinking water.  FEMA suggests storing at least one gallon per person per day.  Bottled water is great to store for drinking.  I just ordered two Reliance Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Containers to store more water in for hygiene purposes.  They cost $17.95 each and shipping was free.  This was the best deal I found on these 7 gallon containers.
If you need to treat water in an emergency you can add 16 drops of regular household bleach per each gallon.

It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!

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