'Secrets' To Becoming More Independent

Disasters - Buying Time..

Buying Time

Buying time is a big component of emergency preparation. When things go wrong, you need time to respond to the immediate need created by the circumstances you find yourself in and time to think about what you need to do next. Then you can make plans and then execute those plans.

The more time you have to respond, the better. Even if all you can do is wait for a rescue by others due to injury or being stranded somewhere, you need food, shelter, and some way to stay warm and dry. If you have the basics covered then you need a way to communicate. You need an emergency radio that will allow you to receive information about the scope of the disaster and get important information about what is a recommended course of action given the circumstances. A 2-way radio will allow you to talk to others some distance away.

Thinking ahead is key. Imagine what you would do BEFORE you need to do it. Think about what resources you will need and try to have them available or figure out how you would get around the problem. Ingenuity is much easier to plan before ingenuity is required.

Buying 72 hours

72 Hour kits are commonly available in stores and online and while they vary widely in quality, they can give you a good place to start. I would advise you to get as complete a kit for each family member as you can afford and then add to the kit to fit the needs you specifically have. By giving yourself three days, you are going to be much better off and this increases your likelihood to make it through any disaster.

Once you have a good 72 hour kit, you need to make sure you have it available in the home, the car, or anywhere you're likely to be. A car kit should include blankets, a home kit might need to be where you can grab in your way out the door and include a sleeping bag.

On the left you'll see some products that are out there that are targeted at this need. I have them there as a starting point so you can see what's available. More searching is highly advised, but this gives you a starting point of reference. The fact is you might have everything you need to roll your own kit without buying anything!

Rotate food in your kits! Make sure that any food in your kit is rotated and safely within expiration dates.

A 72Hr Kit Checklist

  • Critical prescriptions for three days (rotate)
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen (children’s or liquid if needed)
  • Antibacterial soap, liquid or bar
  • Flashlight and batteries. A flashlight that does not require batteries is highly recommended and they are readily available.
  • FRS 2-way radios with spare batteries (rotate)
  • Portable battery powered radio with spare batteries (rotate). Hand Crank radios are highly recommended
  • Matches that are water proof, candles, kerosene lamps. Properly stored kerosene for fuel.
  • Fire extinguisher, ABC or dry-chemical type for all classes of fires. (Home kit)
  • Spare fuses for your home, if you need them .
  • Escape rope for upper stories of your home. You need to plan how you might need to escape in an emergency from various locations in your home.
  • First Aid kit and a set of instructions. A Boy Scout manual has a variety of useful survival information.
  • Blankets, and cotton sheets that can be used to improvise bandages, splints, etc.
  • Sunscreen, SPF-30 or greater
  • Sunscreen lip balm, SPF-30 or greater
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Water purification tablets and/or portable water purifier (some really small ones are available for hikers)
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Zip lock storage bags, smaller size
  • Toilet paper in a sealed plastic bag
  • Time stable foods like MRE meals, or other foods with a long shelf life. Be careful about dehydrated foods, since they require water to be reconstituted. Ok for home, but might not be the best in your backpack or in your car kit.
  • Water for 3 three days drinking
  • Books, games, things to keep a sense of normalcy if you are forced to sit and wait
  • A collapsible shovel
  • A multi use knife
  • Eating utensils
  • Heavy aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Weather or location specific items that apply specifically to your area and climate conditions
  • A waterproof, durable container protected from the access of small children. Backpacks are often a good thing to use here

Family Preparation

It's important that you develop a disaster plan for the family on what to do under various emergency conditions. This reduces the 'deer in the headlights' syndrome that often kicks in when confronted with a major disaster. Fear is greatly reduced when you have a plan and are prepared to execute that plan.

Make sure that family members have emergency phone numbers, especially out of state, so if your local phone system is overloaded you can get word out of the area on what is going on. The family member can also help coordinate needed information to other family members by acting as a coordinator.

Pick a meeting point. Practice escape systems if you are reliant on one. Discuss safety using kerosene lamps. Practice putting up your tent if you have one. The more you go over these things with your family, the better.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency website ( has some great material targeted for young people to assist them in learning more about disaster preparedness.


FRS 2-way radios (Family Radio Service) can inexpensively allow you to communicate with family members or neighbors. Be sure you have batteries and that they are rotated every 6 months. Dead batteries will foil your preparations.

Inexpensive portable AM/FM radios are excellent. Shortwave radios can also be an advantage and weather radio access can be reassuring and downright critical in the case of a weather emergency.

I prefer wind up radios since it is hard to guarantee batteries are up to the task. However, there is a very wide range of quality between these radios so expect to pay more for a wind up radio that really works well. 5 minutes of cranking for a minute of radio is not worth it! Bayless generator based radios are best. 30 seconds of winding can give you nearly 30 minutes of reception.

If your radio uses batteries, make sure you have spares to last for a while. If you can find a 12 volt radio, you can tap the power in a car battery and have a radio running for a very long time. Prepare ahead, so that you have any needed tools and cables ready if that's going to be your plan.

Food for your kit

There are a lot of choices available from hiker supply stores and if you search for emergency foods on the web, you'll find many good ideas. The food should be light and easy to carry, if need be. Under stress you burn more calories so be sure that there are extra calories in the food you put in your kit. You might be required to extend yourself physically and your body will need the extra strength to deal with it.

Take into consideration any special dietary needs you might have. Also, make sure that the food is something that is enjoyable to eat. A good meal can make life under stress a lot more bearable. Buy and taste foods you put in your kit to make sure you can eat it! You may be very glad you did.

In short, plan and prepare.

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