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How to build a 72 hour emergency bag or Bug Out Bag
It’s nice to be here and writing another article. Stacy asked me to write up a little something about being prepared in an emergency so I thought I’d cover some basics. At the end there will be some websites you can go to for more information.
Everyone knows Murphy’s Law: What can go wrong will go wrong and it will do so at the worst possible time. I’m of the opinion that Murphy was an optimist.
The first 72 hours of any disaster, be it earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flooding, fire, etc. are the most critical. It’s this time period that determines how much you can salvage, how much damage is done, and how comfortable you will be during the event. Some might affect you only your household (fire) while some will be a bit more widespread (tornado, earthquake). Some will completely disrupt everything (blizzard, hurricane, flooding, and forest fires).
So the first thing you need is a plan. What will my family do if the smoke alarm goes off at 2am? If the water goes out because the main froze up and broke the pipe how will we deal with it? What disasters can I expect in my area? Take a good hard look at this stuff and figure out where everyone will meet, how you will contact everyone, and so on.
Next up is having a 72-Hour kit or bug out bag. Keep it in a duffle bag or backpack in a place where you can grab it and go. Picture having to get out of the house in the middle of the night if it catches fire and you’ll have an excellent idea of how easy you want to be able to grab it and get out.
What to put in the bag?
There are a lot of things I consider essential but some won’t. Think hard before you take something off this list but if it just doesn’t fit with your specific needs then take it off:
- AM/Weather Radio (preferably hand-crank in case of power outage)
- Flashlight (preferably hand crank)
- Batteries for both of the above if you went that route, including extras for both.
- Small Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool
- Cash. At least $100 (hotel, food, etc.)
- Some clothing appropriate to season, 2 days worth
- More clothing: an extra pair of socks and unmentionables
- Walking shoes that have been broken in. (Stacy edit: You don’t want a brand new pair of shoes. They will blister and hurt your feet.)
- Water – the single-serve water bottles work really great for this and make sure you have at least 1 day’s worth per person at least. 2 each is better and 3 is much better.
- Some food – Mountain House makes some tasty freeze-dried and is available at Wal-Mart or for longer term storage, check out Thrive by emailing my good friend Jen and be sure to tell her that Stacy sent you!)
- A little more food – ready to eat snack-type foods are great for helping settle a child down (you know, the “I’m hungry” thing)
- Disposable poncho. Nothing is as bad as dealing with a disaster when you are cold, wet, and miserable. (Stacy edit: a 30 gallon trash bag with head and arm holes cut would also work in a pinch.)
- Lighter and/or matches – waterproof if you do the matches
- Emergency blanket – the silver disposable kind of thing. (Stacy edit: also known as a Fire blanket)
- Don’t forget any prescription medications your household needs to have. Your kit isn’t going to be much help if you have diabetes and forgot to pack the insulin (for example)
- First Aid Kit – I’m not talking self-adhesive bandages and ointment here. Get something more complete with wraps, gauze, painkillers, a tourniquet, etc.
- Most important – get knowledge on how to use the stuff in your first aid kit. Get some CPR training while you’re at it.
- Finally, duct tape. There is very little it can’t do.
While 72 hours is the standard, I’ve never had a disaster last me 72 hours. When I got flooded out a couple years back the city was without water for a week. This is where a stockpile can be helpful if you are staying put and where the cash in the bag will be helpful if you need to get out of dodge.
Now I’ve only hit the highlights. For more information, check out some of the following websites:
Wikipedia 72 Hour Kit (Bug Out Bag, Good, PERK or Go Bag)
US Government Website on Emergency Preparedness (Ready.gov)
American Red Cross (First Aid and CPR lessons)
Emergency Preparedness for your pets
New York Office of Emergency Management
Basic First Aid Techniques
More First Aid Techniques
Basic First Aid Handbook (pdf file)
Paul Stephens is a middle aged guy, just over the hill and having a blast. He was a Member of Boy Scouts of America as a child and young adult and has taken the motto, “Be Prepared,” to heart. Having survived floods, near misses from tornadoes, and unemployment, Paul has a small store of goods set away and does it on the cheap using methods explained for the readers of Adventures in Coupons.
Want to see more of Paul’s writing here on AIC? Check out his Stockpiling Series: