The 72-hour kit or 3-day survival pack is based in military preparedness – soldiers carried survival supplies when involved in military operations to allow them to protect themselves, to provide the necessities to take care of their personal needs, and to complete their assigned mission. For the average citizen, it's a ready-to-use package containing food and water rations, supplies, and such other vital equipment for maintaining personal well-being or, at least, staying alive when forced into extremely dangerous or uncontrollable circumstances.
The idea of individuals and families having survival kits is based on the firm — and confirmed — belief that natural disasters and personal emergencies is not a matter of whether they will happen, but when. Having a few basic categories of supplies and provisions on hand can mitigate that help-less feeling caused by emergencies. Being prepared reduces the panic associated with the occurrence of seemingly uncontrollable events.
Note the wide margins – make notes and use the space for your questions, ideas, and plans to make certain your future is as secure as possible.
In a complete readiness plan, one would have survival kits available for all possible situations:
- at home
- at play
- traveling by boat/bus/train/plane
- when on vacation/hotel/overnight
- at work
- in the car/truck
- at school/college
"History is a better guide than good intentions."
to the UN
When designing or purchasing a survival kit, consider the level of preparedness you wish to achieve for yourself or your family. A most important aspect of a survival kit is that it be able to keep you alive and well when you are confronted with an emergency or survival situation. Use the information in this chapter to organize your own Emergency Preparedness Action Kit (E/PAK), as we have nicknamed it – our version of the 72-hour kit. Or, you can purchase one that meets your needs. The listings at the end of this article identify some providers of ready-made kits you can buy off the shelf.
Preparedness is the state of being prepared or in put in proper condition of readiness before an approaching event–something expected, even thought possible, or unexpected; to put things or oneself in readiness.
- Webster's Dictionary
MY MOTHERS WISDOM
I learned about preparedness and survival kits from my mother. She was wisdom personified and always seemed to know what to do, no matter what the occasion! I truly regret it took me so long to realize it. As a fledgling Boy Scout – less than a Tenderfoot, actually–the troop was going on a long-awaited and unprecedented early spring camping trip. At last, I was going to be with the older boys whom I not only admired, but secretly revered. The last thing I wanted was to be embarrassed by being unprepared – heaven forbid, imagine not being prepared at 12 years of age!
When I asked Mother what to take on this extended outing, she replied in her soft-spoken manner, practically without a moment's hesitation, "You need to wonder what could happen and be willing to pay the wages of wandering in the wilderness. Take some water, Wranglers, weenies, wipes, warm clothing, weather protection, a weapon, a wayfinder, and whatever, and keep a watchful eye..." I knew this was going to be "W" formula, no doubt! Let me elaborate on her method of guidance. She had taught me everything in the world operated on a formula. The only other "W" formula she had told me was, "Working will win when wishing won't!" Evaluate these "W" formula preparedness pointers in relationship to your own emergency and disaster preparedness efforts.
Wonder: determine, by some serious thinking, what problems might occur in the field (or in my life), such as:
–To which wonders of Nature I'd be vulnerable,
–What some other creature–man or beast – might cause me harm, or
–Which personal problems I might suffer.
I think she wanted me to ponder what experiences I might not be able to control. She wanted me to plan for the worst, hope for the best, and be able to deal eventually with whatever happened.
Watchcare: meant caring about the others on the camping trip. This was a quality my mother had in bountiful supply – she really cared about others, constantly on the lookout for someone who needed a lift. Her "good neighbor" policy was in full force at all times. She practiced the true spirit of caring about those in her community.
So, my mother's instructions sent me scurrying enthusiastically throughout all three floors of the house, looking for the equipment I needed to impress the older Scouts in the troop. As the seemingly essential items were located, I placed all the pieces of equipment and little piles on my upper bunk, then called her for approval. At this point I learned how to choose what is essential, and how to focus on economy, efficiency, and personal well-being.
Mother regarded all the gear and paraphernalia I had assembled. I remember her saying quietly, "Pep without purpose is piffle!" She gently (well, not so gently that I soon forgot!) instructed me to sort all of my stuff into three piles. I was to place in the first pile the items I couldn't do without, a second pile for "stuff" I thought I might need, and a third pile for the things I'd like to take with me.
After I had ordered my piles as instructed, mother looked at the three piles carefully and made a couple of corrections to my piles. She then told me to return the stuff heaped in the second and third piles to the drawers and closets – and to place in the camp bag only the items in the first pile. You know, even years later, mother's words were my guidance when I traveled more than a million miles as an international business traveler. What I eventually learned is that the quality of any trip is being able to travel without a great deal of non-elemental "stuff."
SURVIVAL OR PREPAREDNESS KITS?
Responsibility for your family begins in your own home. You are ultimately responsible for protecting yourself, your family, and your property to the best of your capability. This entails planning and preparing your own resources to mitigate the effects of by preparing for, responding to, and eventually, recovering from natural and people-caused disasters that often become our personal disasters. Being prepared requires learning about potential disasters and emergencies, knowing first aid, CPR, and other life-saving skills.
Adaptability is critical to preparedness and self-reliance. A sense of independence is necessary, too. Unfortunately, self-reliance skills are not taught in the schools – they are learned at the hand of a tough and uncaring taskmaster! How well you respond to these disasters is determined by your level of preparation.
There are five basics you should stock in your home: (1) water, (2) food, (3) first aid supplies, including medication(s), (4) clothing and bedding, and (5) tools, emergency supplies, and special needs items. Keep the items you will most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container such as a large, covered trash container, camping bag, backpack, or duffel bag. Keep a mini-version of the disaster supplies kit in the trunk of your car — and one for each vehicle your family utilizes.
Utilize all the knowledge you can gain to prepare for the disasters which could cause you and your family more than loss of your car, your property, or your crops. To become truly prepared, you must re-forge yourself, break out of the mold, study, learn, practice, and increasingly improve your self-reliance skills until you are comfortable with your new self. There is no easy way to become self-reliant - it requires work! To become self-reliant requires also meaningful efforts in self-education and often, some large measures of self-denial.
IT'S YOUR CHOICE –MINIMAL... OR MORE?
There are different levels or factors of risk associated with the many different types of disasters. There are varying levels of preparation. So this is the best rule for becoming prepared:
Your preparation level should always exceed the risk level!
Go back to Chart 1 – Potential Weather-Related Disasters by Listed to see the listing of the expected weather-related disasters that could affect your particular geographic location.
There are three (3) types of actions from which you can choose to help you deal with these potentially disastrous weather-related conditions should you be victimized by them.
You alone make the choice from among these options:
1. Survival – requiring minimal investment or effort; survival mode places you in the control of happenstance and volunteers – or not!
2. Preparedness (at some level) – all levels of preparedness require serious effort and substantial investment of your time, personal energy, and money; and,
3. Self-Reliance – preparing at the highest level of your family's capability, learning, doing, and adapting your lifestyle; sharing and being a resource to your community.
Choose and act accordingly! Carpe diem because tempus fugit!
STATE NATURAL DISASTERS VULNERABILITY CHART
Check your Sate listing in the chart below to ascertain the Natural Disasters types to which you might be vulnerable.
For additional local information, contact Homeland Security/FEMA, State Emergency, or County Disasters Management offices.
Potential Weather-Related Disasters by State (Courtesy: FEMA)
DESIGNING YOUR EMERGENCY/PREPAREDNESS ACTION KIT
On the following pages are detailed listings to help you personalize your own 72-hour kit — the Emergency/Preparedness Action Kit (E/PAK).
Use the charts to determine what you have in inventory already for your family E/PAK and to define the needs for each member of the family – items, quantities, and selections of foods, foods-stuffs, and equipment. Keep items for a family evacuation in easy-to-carry containers. You decide whether a large, covered trash container, camping backpack, footlocker, plastic chest, or duffel bag suits your needs best.
If you have the resources, keep an E/PAK in the trunk of your car. You may want one at your place of business, also. It's cheap insurance for saving your life – or the life of a family member, a friend, or a co-worker! Hopefully, most of us won't need the E/PAK, but being prepared for the eventuality is good to ease the mind. I hope the worst case for our individual E/PAK is to have in a central location all the things we'd need for "hunkering down" when a natural disaster, such as a wind, ice, or snowstorm, or a people-caused disaster causes a power outage.
"BUG-OUT" OR NOT?
Personally, I don't plan to "bug-out!" I don't have any other place I want to go, unless it's to an expensive hotel that has complete and luxurious facilities. With my 3-day kit in hand, I could even endure a public shelter! I just don't intend to leave my home and all the equipment unless a life-threatening disaster requires it. Having reviewed the potential natural, people-caused, and personal disasters that could possibly happen to me, the alternatives are clear to me as to what I would do in each case.
I've spent the weekend in a church recreation hall with several other families, during and in the aftermath of an ice storm. It wasn't too bad – the worst part was the lack of privacy and no heat. I've also spent a few days at my parents' house – kids and all – when the side of town where we lived had a power failure – and we had an all-electric home! I certainly don't intend to head for the unfamiliar hills, living in the wilderness fraught with unknown dangers, chasing wild animals with switches, fending off others in a similar plight, and trying to maintain an urban lifestyle.
However, the very thought of driving on the freeway or city streets during a disaster situation, competing for space with all those folks carrying handguns (even the ones with permits) and other weapons is just a little frightening to me. Whereas I can't defend the entire city, I could maintain my independence in my own home with adequate provisions.
My plans are to enjoy the disaster and appreciate the intervention in my normally extra-long work-day to spend it with my wife, my dogs, and the peace and quiet the lack of electricity would bring. Perhaps it would be a moment to pretend it's another vacation in the back hills of the Appalachians…
The rules of rotation are not suspended for your E/PAK!Every 90 to 180 days the E/PAK should be inventoried. Exchange water, food, and clothing for current supplies. Consume the goods to assure yourself of your choices. Check to assure the E/PAK is re-provisioned with your new inventory, and reset in its storage location.
Enjoy this requirement for rotation. Buy some really good gourmet-type foods for your E/PAK (you'd certainly eat the gourmet and picnic - quality foodstuffs you'd find at a high-class business party, classy brunch, or invitation-only social event) and have an "emergency picnic" with your rotated foods. These emergency preparedness "trial runs" will provide occasional practice for the time(s) when disasters for which you've prepared actually occur. It'll further prepare you mentally for the eventuality of a disaster, and make the event's foreboding nature a little more bearable.
Supply categories are as follows, with the correlation of E/PAK categories to my Mother's list:
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ACTION KIT (E/PAK) CHECKLIST
There are a lot of selections from which to choose. You, too, might elect to sort your "stuff" into three piles, as my Mother suggested to me! Details of the E/PAK categories are listed in the following chart. Items in boldface type are considered essential. There are many blanks for you to add the things that are important to you and your family.
There are hundreds of versions of 72-hour kits. Indeed, they should all be customized to the user. The following chart will help you create your own customized and specialized 72-hour E/PAK.
Chart 2 - Personal E/PAK Selections
WHY ONLY 72-HOUR EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS?
There is no intent in this document to discuss all the causes and solutions for emergencies and disasters. There are, however, numerous resources which can help you prepare for natural or people-caused disasters, or for any resultant personal disasters that might occur to you and your family. There is an additional listing of resources on the back page.
For all the minute details of 72-hour (or longer) emergency preparedness issues, there are a few books I suggest you read and utilize. One of the best overall books is Barbara Salisbury's, "PLAN ...NOT PANIC, 72-Hour Survival/Emergency Evacuation." 1 She also has a newer book, Preparedness Principles, with some additional excellent ideas. Preparedness Principles is a big, comprehensive volume of work about preparedness.
Barbara – whom I've known since 1972 and respected some time before then – defines an evacuation as a localized occurrence which forces residents from their homes on a moment's notice. It only takes being forced from your home one time to convince the wise person of the need for an emergency kit that is prepared in advance and available for use when needed.
In her book, originally published in May 1994, she provides step-by-step instructions – missing from most other emergency/disasters publications – for the preparation of a personalized 72-hour kit. As I read her book cover to cover, I'll remark on some things she points out that are critical for each of us to know:
It's a fact of life that sooner or later you may have to be evacuated from your home!
Panic takes over if practical preparation has been ignored.
Lag-Time – not the disaster – is the reason for a 72-hour kit! This is probably the least understood point in this facet of emergency preparedness.
Lag-Time is the villain of most evacuations. It is imperative to understand its impact on all facets of preparation for an evacuation.
The more severe the disaster, the greater the corresponding impact of Lag-Time.
Lag-Time is why you can't rely on the government or emergency disaster organizations to come to your aid immediately.
When individuals are prepared to take care of themselves, they have greater security.
Properly prepared persons are a tremendous help for those who eventually arrive to assist and support in disaster situations.
According to Barbara, the critical parameters of a well-planned and well thought-out 72-hour evacuation and survival plan are:
Understanding the two categories of emergency preparedness and how it affects not only your preparation, but also your ultimate survival.
Using a Neighborhood Evaluation Form to determine if there is a potential evacuation lurking in your future.
Creating a 72-hour kit economically to meet your personal needs.
Including more than three "energy bars" and a flashlight in your 72-hour kit!
Knowing why the right kinds of foods are vital in an emergency situation –and are very different from those typically kept on the emergency shelf.
Having an emergency water supply is essential.
Designing your own "'security blanket".
Establishing a "Care-In-A-Crisis" plan is critical to all of your family members.
Knowing what you must do about shelter, heat, and warmth.
Don't ignore the need for personal sanitation!
Preparing properly with the exclusive Personal Planning Pages can make the difference between panic and the ability to cope with an emergency situation.
1 Barbara Salsbury is a nationally recognized consumer specialist, author, and lecturer. Among the many credits of this author is her book Plan...Not Panic––The 72 Hour Survival/Emergency Evacuation Manual. The information in her latest book has been the basis for workshops and seminars presented throughout the nation to groups including The American Red Cross, University Special Courses, corporate "Brown Bag" lunch workshops, Adult Continuing Education Programs, civic groups, clubs, churches, service, and professional groups. As a frequent guest on the radio and television talk show circuit, she has appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, Gary Collins' Hour Magazine, Sally Jesse Raphael's Talk Show, as a regular with Vicki Lawrence, and as Consumer Specialist on the Great American Homemaker. Go to Barbara's website:
http://solutionsforpreparedness.com/preprinc for more information about all her books and resources.
Often in the aftermath of natural or people-caused disasters, everyone taught that as much as 3 days (72 hours) lapses between the actual occurrence of the emergency and the arrival or availability of competent help. After the experiences of Hurricane Katrina and other cataclysms such as the Indonesian tsunami, we no longer adhere to that expectation. Depending on the gross amount of damages, the extent of the disaster's footprint, and it geographic location, the response time for relief care of is extended to as much as 7-10 days before aid is organized and operating effectively.
There are two other friends who are authors and specialist with solid information and expertise on the subject of preparedness. One of them is Rita Bingham, a preparedness issues author and natural meals specialist. Preview her preparedness book, The New Passport To Survival––12 Steps to Self-Sufficient Living. Rita is also a long-time acquaintance, and her specialty lies in her know-ledge of nutrition and natural foods. Her books are available on her website:
Another friend and expert is LeArta Moulton, author, and food storage specialist. LeArta has 30 years of extensive research on using whole foods, herbs, home remedies, and survival techniques. Go to her website to download natural and herbal information:
You alone may be responsible for the provision of adequate food, water, shelter, etc., for your very survival during the period of time it takes for the arrival of the emergency and disaster relief organizations!
E/PAK – SOME ESSENTIAL GUIDELINES
To provide you and your family maximum protection in case of an emergency, your E/PAK – whether for 72 hours or for several weeks – should meet these minimum requirements:
Accessibility – Keep your kit in sight near a strong exit doorway, where you can grab it on the way out. Don't hide your kit or place it where it might get covered.
Completeness – Check your kit regularly to assure yourself everything your family needs for three days' survival – or longer – is in the kit and ready for use.
Individuality – Everyone in the family must have a backpack or portable system! You may not be together from the outset, or you could become separated by events.
Personalization – Use the lists in this book to check and re-check what you may need. Commercial and generic kits – even long supply lists – can't presume to provide completely for the unique needs of you and your family. Any kit you fail to design for your personal needs will just be someone else's opinion of your needs. With experience, you will learn to make content adjustments to meet your changing needs.
Portability – Keep all kits light enough it can be carried without undue strain on your body – it may be useless if it can't be carried by it intended user. Keep all kits tightly packed and as light as possible.
Rotation – Rotate food, water, batteries, and medications frequently, at least every 3 to 6 months, to keep all use by dates current. More frequent rotation for items stored in temperatures exceeding 70°F would be prudent. Check all clothing articles frequently to assure continuing fit.
Utilization – Make sure you can operate or effectively use all items in your E/PAK. Always buy the best quality you can afford – your life could depend on what you have in your kit! Don't weigh down your kit with stuff!
Versatility – Assure your kit contains supplies for an emergency staycation as well as for evacuation. You might not be able to evacuate.
Waterproof – Place all items inside individual freezer-quality Ziploc® or similar water-proof plastic bags. Protect all contents from water – whether humidity or floodwaters!
TO LEAVE?… OR NOT TO LEAVE?… THAT IS THE QUESTION!
Hopefully, most of you won't ever need your E/PAK. However, being prepared for such an eventuality is good to ease the mind. My personal desire is that I'll never need my E/PAK for any emergency. Yet, it will always be in a special location in my home near a protected exit, filled with all the things I'd need for "hunkering down" when a natural disaster, such as a wind, ice, or snowstorm, or a people-caused disaster causes a power outage.
Lots of people tell me they plan to "bug out". Personally, I plan to stay at home unless a life-threatening disaster requires my departure. There is no place I want to go – except maybe to an expensive hotel. However, with my personal 72-hour kit, I could even endure a public shelter, if necessary. I've spent a weekend in a church recreation hall during an ice storm with several other families – it wasn't too bad, except for the lack of privacy. I've also spent a few days at my parents' home during several power outages – with all the kids, grandkids, and their collective dogs.
But heading for the unfamiliar hills, living in the wilderness fraught with unknown dangers, chasing wild animals with switches, fending off others in a similar plight to mine – all the while trying to maintain an urban lifestyle does not seem a good option to me. The very thought of getting on the freeway or city streets during or following a disaster, competing for space with all those folks carrying handguns (even if they do have permits) and other nefarious weapons, is just a little frightening. On the streets I know I cannot defend myself adequately. At home, I can maintain my independence as long as I have my personal provisions to sustain me until the crisis period is past.
My personal plans in the case of a local disaster – such as an electrical failure – are to make the best of a bad situation, enjoy the intervention in my normally extra-long, tiring workday, and spend it with my wife (and the dog) in the ensuing peace and quiet – hoping the electricity will return – but not too soon!. It would be a moment to take a long nap, pull out the IPod, pop the top of a can of sardines, get out the comfort foods and enjoy a belated vacation – savoring the quiet, and listening to all those short-wave radio programs I've been wanting to listen to for ages…
BUT, IF YOU MUST LEAVE...
However, if you must leave home unexpectedly (perhaps like those in California who had to evacuate due to wildfires), be sure to have the following information ready to go with you:
daily contact details for family members
local reunion points
out of area contacts
pertinent family operating data
Chart 3 (following section) is a series of charts for accumulating critical post-emergency and disaster information. Completing the charts provides you the opportunity to record what everyone in the family – and perhaps, emergency personnel – would need concerning the daily whereabouts of each family member and how they can be contacted.
It might be appropriate to keep the less confidential information on the family bulletin board (in our house it's the refrigerator door!), a copy in each E/PAK, and a copy in your wallet. It would be wise to send a copy to a trusted friend or relative, your attorney, CPA, or parents. Remember to update this information with all members of the family or group as contact numbers and locations change.
Keep in mind that during times of natural or people-caused disasters, local telephone service is often disrupted. Therefore, each member of the household should have a cell phone, with the name, phone number, and address of a person designated as an out-of-area contact. (Note: long distance lines and cell phones may remain active during emergencies. These services will normally be restored before residential lines. If separated, each family member should call the designated out-of-area contact and communicate his particular situation within a certain period of time, reporting his physical condition, his location, and other information as previously agreed upon. Keep adequate change in your E/PAK for making pay phone calls – if you can still find one! Small change will buy small items – if they are available.
Never show large bills!
Chart 3 - Emergency Contact Information
Additionally, determine two alternate locations for family members to reunite if it is unsafe to return home or to the neighborhood. One location should be just outside your home and the other away from the neighborhood. Use Chart 3 to put this information in writing for all family members.
Chart 4 - Emergency Contact Information
Chart 5 – Out of Area Contacts
Chart 6 – Emergency Reunion Information
Also, consider keeping a summary of pertinent family operating information available in your E/PAK and wallet. What identification numbers etc., would be helpful should you have to leave home without notice? Use Chart 4 to record the information significant to your family.
Chart 7 – Confidential Family Information
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS BEGINS AT HOME
Summarizing all that is written in this advisory, there are some thoughts every head of household should remember:
Responsibility begins in your own home. Each parent is responsible for protecting himself, his family, and his property to the best of his ability and capability.
Preparedness demands detail planning and preparing personal and family resources to be able to:
(1) Respond to emergencies or disasters,
(2) Mitigate the effects of emergencies an disasters, and
(3) Recover from natural and people-caused emergencies and disasters that often become our personal disasters.
Your preparedness level should exceed your risk level of the expected and unexpected emergencies or disasters in your particular geographic location.
Being prepared requires learning about potential disasters and emergencies, knowing first aid, CPR, and other life-saving skills.
Adaptability and independence are critical qualities to develop in one's preparedness efforts.
Unfortunately, self-reliance skills are not taught in public schools. Home-schooled children have the advantage in this category. Usually self-reliance skills are learned at the hands of a tough taskmaster – bad experience!
There is no easy, quick-and-dirty, low or no-cost way to become self-reliant. It requires work – truly meaningful effort in self-education, and often a demands a large measure of self-denial.
Utilize all the knowledge you can gain to prepare for the disasters which could cause you and your family more than loss of your car, your property, or your crops.
When designing your personal or family's E/PAK, remember this essential preparedness pointer:
There are no emergencies for those who are truly prepared!