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
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
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
- Matches that are water proof, candles, kerosene lamps. Properly stored kerosene
- Fire extinguisher, ABC or dry-chemical type for all classes of fires. (Home
- 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,
- 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
- 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
- A waterproof, durable container protected from the access of small children.
Backpacks are often a good thing to use here
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 (www.fema.gov/kids)
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
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.