Wednesday, September 17, 2008

72 hour emergency kits

You often hear about having a 72 hour kit, three day kit, bug out bag, get out of dodge bag, etc.

Basically, the idea is to have a three day supply of stuff packed and ready to go should need to move quick.

First, I think a 72 hour emergency kits for the home are nice, but really a waste of time. Unless you are expecting an alien invasion a la "War of the Worlds" or a "Red Dawn" scenario, grabbing a bag and running out the door is a "most likely not going to happen scenario" in my survival book.

Too many writers and experts make a big deal about having the right bag and correct contents to survive for 72 hours.

However, for the car, office, school and other off site locations, a 72 hour emergency kit is mandatory. You never know where you will be when the SHTF and when it does happen, you can bet you will not have everything you need. But try anyway.

First, you need a bag. Some experts describe the contents of their 72 hour bag and when combined, lead me to believe that they will be carrying a sack like Santa Clause as they claw their way away from Armageddon.

Consider instead a bag you have already and are familiar with. Be it a backpack, duffel or suitcase. I would recommend that you have one which can go over one shoulder, on back is better, which allows hand free access when moving.

Make sure the bag is water proof and can close completely.

Outside pockets are nice for objects needed quickly.

Contents of the 72 hour emergency kit should include the following:

Water - a quart a day is minimum so plan on 3 quarts basic and extra. Use a Camelback hydration system, carry an extra water bladder type container in the bag and have at least two belt type canteens as well.

I keep water (12 pack .5 liter) in my office desk and another 12 pack in my car. If there is time and I am at the office, I will fill up with cold water from the break room at work.

Water purification tablets. A small bottle of bleach is helpful too, but make sure it is in a tightly close container!

Potable Aqua® with P.A. Plus Emergency Drinking Water Tablets

When your water supply runs low, have your purification tablets and a high quality water filter system.

Potable Aqua® Traveller Water Purification System

Food - Sure, you can go for days without food, but I would rather have it than not. If you are not a hiker or camper, than you really have no idea how much food your body will need. Believe me, you will need more than less, especially if you are on foot.

(Which brings up another thing to consider for your 72 hour kit, will you be on foot or driving (or boat, plane, etc)? I pack for foot travel which means I have to plan accordingly weight wise. Do the same and you will not find yourself standing next to a dead vehicle trying to tote out 200 lbs. of stuff).

The gurus tell you to pack three days worth of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), military grade food packages. If you have never humped and dumped this type of grub, I suggest you try some before you put them in your 72 hour bag.

In the meantime, pack some foods you may have eaten already but which are low in weight:
- Ramen Noodles - Calories, fat and lots of sodium. Weigh nothing and cost even less which means you won't mind throwing them away or eating them once every six months when cleaning out your 72 hour bag).
- Tuna and Spam in a packet. Both of these products come in heavy cans, but also come in single serving, long lasting foil packets.
- Protein bars.
- Instant oatmeal, grits and soup in packets.
- Instant coffee, tea, coco packets.
- Hormel single serve non-refrigerated meals.

Each of these items weighs very little and takes up small amounts of space. I would repackage all of them in one or two gallon ziplock bags to keep things dry.

For a back up you can consider MRE as mentioned above or other similar food products like these.

Plan on bringing along some plastic wear (fork, spoons, etc) in a small ziplock bag as well as some sort of metal cup to heat water inside of.

Shelter - It would be great to bring along a travel trailer, but reality dictates if traveling on foot, you only have what is in your 72 hour bag. Get the lightest tent possible which will fit in your bag.

Coleman® 7' x 7' Sundome® Tent

Two things to remember: Any shelter is better than none and weight counts for everything.

I would also bring along a light weight tarp available from most big box retailers. It can be used as a temporary shelter, ground cloth or for water collection.

Lighting - Have multiple options. LED flashlight in pocket or on key chain. Head lamp in bag. Flashlight in outside pocket of bag. Lightweight lantern for camp. I prefer battery power for all lighting and avoid camp fuels when possible.

Coleman® WideBeam™ LED 2AA Headlamp

Coleman® Pack-Away® Personal-Size Lantern

Heating, warmth - for warmth, pack an extra pair of clothes, a lightweight jacket, gloves, knit cap, long underwear and something to cover your face from the wind. You can build a fire so bring matches or better, a number of butane lighters (at least three). As I mentioned, I am not a proponent of hauling camp stoves. Bring along on can or two of Sterno (sealed) instead.

Pack an extra pair of shoes and socks in your 72 hour emergency bag. I stick an older pair of sneakers in my car bag, but also have a pair of good quality walking shoes in my main bag. If I am at work, I am going to want to take off loafers or other dress shoe and replace immediately.

First aid - I cannot stress enough how important it is to have first aid supplies in your bag. The most common ailments are going to be internal (headache, diarrhea, upset stomach, etc) so pack accordingly. External problems will be cuts, bites (bugs) and bruises. Bring along band aids, but also a topical antiseptic as well for disinfecting wounds.

Head covering - winter or summer, keep you head covering. Also bring along sunglasses.

Protection - let's start with the easy and work our way up.
- N95 masks - as many as you can comfortably carry.
- Goggles of some sort.
- Nitrile gloves.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Knife, folding.
- Firearm/ammo - optional if you are afraid of them or local laws prohibit their ownership, carry or operation in nearly every situation. If you do wish to have a firearm, * go light *. Get a .22 pistol or collapsible AR-7 type rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition. The shotgun and 50 shells weighs 10-15 lbs. than the former.

Where are you going? Maps, local and topical. Compass.

Communications - Cell phone no doubt. Shortwave portable radio. FRS radio. CB radio is useful too.

Cobra® Mini Hand Held CB Radio with Weather Stations

Remember, the purpose of the 72 hour kit is not to replicate your home and survival retreat in a single bag. That is impossible and the downfall of many a survivalist.

Rather, pack enough for a three day walking trip out of a bad location.

One more note, have an idea where you might be heading.

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