For this segment of emergency preparedness, I will be focusing on the personal 72 hour kits, which we keep in backpacks. We each have a backpack with everything we need to be okay for 72 hours. If a tornado destroys our home, a wildlife destroys the property, or a snowstorm/ice storm knocks out the power, we are good to go for 72 hours.
I realize that 72 hours doesn’t seem like a very long time, but we have a storm kit, plenty of food in the pantry, which can be cooked on the grill, camp stove, or using the double burner hotplate, plugged into the generator. This kit is specifically for that first 72 hours before you are able to get yourself and your family situated a bit more permanently.
We have used our kits on multiple occasions for ice and snow storms. Three winters ago, we were without power for two weeks. This is a long time to be without central heating, a working stove, microwave, and oven. That first ice storm, we were not really prepared for so, having those 72 hour kits helped immensely. The kids had hot meals until we figured out how to set up the generator to keep a single room in our home warm and livable. This room just happened to be the master bedroom. We took the kids queen size mattresses and put them on our floor. We had an electric space heater, the dish receiver, and our television hooked up to the generator. Everyone was warm, comfortable, and not bored to tears. We have since purchased a kerosene heater, which has the ability to heat the entire downstairs of our house, which frees up a spot on the generator for the internet.
We have also been looking into whole house generators, which hook into the breaker boxes somehow, I am not completely certain how this works and an electrician will be the one doing that aspect. We have experienced two weeks without power so, we have been able to plan for this situation far better than before and we have experienced it twice since that first storm.
So, without boring you further these are the items in my personal 72 hour kit. (These items are not an end all list. They are a good starting point for creating your own 72 hour kit.)
I have 4 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, also known as military rations.) I purchased these in cases at the commissary on the base near us, but these can be purchased here or at military surplus stores. You can also make your own and purchase the heaters separately. You can also substitute backpacking meals, which can be found at Walmart (Mountain House is a major brand of these type of meals)
I have an entire box of granola bars and another box of single serving trail mix pouches. I tend to snack when stressed.
Chocolate (I have a bag of fun size mix chocolates)
A change of clothing (jeans, thin long sleeved shirt, 3 tank tops, hoodie, 3 pairs undies, 3 pairs socks, tennis shoes, beanie hat, gloves.)
I have some bottles of water, but I also have a filter bottle and a life straw. I wouldn’t be able to physically carry 72 hours worth of water. We have a ton of bottled water in the house, a few gallons I each vehicle, and we fill empty plastic kitty litter buckets with water for flushing toilets (we have a well, which needs electrical to run)
I have a small hygiene kit, which includes bath wipes (these are intended for invalids and are much larger than a baby wipe) baby wipes, a small kit for my contacts, 3 days worth of all of my medications (I asked my doctor for this and I swap out the medication each month) a folding brush, a toothbrush, flosspicks, toothpaste, chapstick, dry shampoo, a travel size roll of toilet paper, and a travel size deodorant. (I also have a small feminine hygiene pouch with supplies)
I have 4 garbage bags and one heavy duty contractor bag. The garbage bags can be used to keep the contents of my backpack dry and to keep soiled items away from clean items. The contractor bag can be used as a makeshift shelter, a poncho, etc. I also have ziplocks for holding water, holding garbage, holding small items, etc.
I have a small first aid kit, we have larger ones in the house, in every vehicle, and in the storm kit.
A cell phone charger, earbuds, and a power brick
Flashlight and headlamp
Hand warmers (these are single use items, which warm up when opened and exposed to air.)
I have a thumb drive with important documents and another with photos.
Cash. I keep $100.00 in small bills because power outages and emergencies affect businesses as well as homes.
A Gerber multi-tool (I have several of these and it is my favorite tool because it has almost everything I usually need all in a single tool.)
My knife, which clips to my belt and I usually have it on my belt because I use it constantly for opening boxes, cutting things outside, etc. This does not stay in my bag.
A spare set of everyone’s keys. House keys, car keys, safe keys, tool box keys, trailer hitch keys, trailer keys, etc.
550 cord (parachute cord) I have this woven around the straps and handle so, it doesn’t take up any room.
Duct tape. I have approximately 10 feet wrapped around the 3 Bic lighters, which are in different pockets.
Waterproof matches and a magnesium fire starter. (I have multiple ways to start fires simply because heat is essential and being able to boil water or heat food is really nice.)
Sterno. Sterno is heat in a can/ cube. I have both forms. (I do not recommend using the cubes indoors. They smell awful.) These are great for Heating water for tea or heating soup because they are easy to light and heat quickly.
An aluminum cup (I can boil water or cook in this.) A set of camp utensils (it’s a fork and spoon, which fold up and fit inside a small zippered pouch. I found these here. (I bought these for backcountry camping trips years ago and found a small zippered pouch for them to fit in perfectly. These are NOT necessary, but some form of eating utensils are needed if you don’t use MREs with the accessory kits.)
Sunblock and Bugables Mosquito Bands
Finally, I have my backpacking tent, and sleeping bag tied to my backpack. These are very lightweight items and rather costly if you are on a budget. If you have a tent great, if it’s huge, keep it near an exit so you can grab it and go. Keeping blankets in your trunk omits the need for sleeping bags (unless its below zero, then have them close to an exit or easily accessible.) Hubby keeps pillows and blankets in his truck so he can nap during his lunch hour. My youngest enjoys fishing and camping so these things usually go with him, when he leaves the house for a fishing trip so they are easily accessible for him if needed. I am the only one in the house who has a tent and sleeping bag because mine are lightweight enough for me to be able to easily carry them. Each of these items weighs less than 2 lbs.
I have another bag, which is for the whole family, which I grab along with my backpack if anything happens. This bag contains comfort items, more food, medications for every situation (basically a sampling of the household medicine cabinet.) A larger first aid kit, and extras of some of the items listed above.
This is my personal 72 hour kit. I have a few other items, which I am not listing because they are personal items. I have comfort items, which I strongly recommend for anyone. For little ones, pack a diaper bag with 3 days worth of supplies and keep an extra can of formula on hand if possible (even if you breastfeed, having formula may be a good idea in case you get separated for any reason. In natural disaster situations, it is possible that you may be separated.)
I also recommend writing your cell number, name and address on your child’s arm and then, paint over it with liquid bandage to make it waterproof. You can also have custom made temporary tattoos made or wristbands (the kind made from a waterproof material, which stick to themselves.) This company makes both wristbands and temporary tattoos. These are also great for trips to theme parks, the zoo, or anywhere your little one may wander off. It can get them back to you safely much faster.
Pack what works for you and your family. The main things are food, water, first aid, heat, and shelter. Until next time…