I was looking through my files regarding the basics of emergency preparedness yesterday, researching 72 hour kits one can purchase, when I realized how perfectly this fits in with the "Celebrating a Year of Abundance" theme at A Gracious Home.
Every family needs to have at least a 72 hour kit put together and you will find plenty of websites on the Internet who are willing to put one together for you...at a high cost. I have found most "kits" put together by other people usually have items I will not use and they are missing those things I must have. Even if you have the money, it is better to put a 72 hour kit together yourself. So many of the items suggested are probably in your home right now only not together in one place. By taking the time to put together a list and shopping in your own home, you will save a lot of money.
So, what is a 72 hour kit? It is nothing more than the most important items you need all put together in one place in case an emergency situation hits your neighborhood (or just your home!). The idea being that you are on your own without government assistance for at least 72 hours after an emergency would hit your area. (Most people in the preparedness field today believe it would take more than 72 hours for government to respond but it is a good starting point.) Remember Katrina...
I look at the basic 72 hour kit a little differently than most articles I've read. I look at it from a Mom's perspective. So here are some basic ideas and I'll be writing more about in depth preparedness. The first two things to do cost you nothing but have far reaching rewards. First...pray! God does give us wisdom (read the first chapter of the book of James). Second...get to know your neighbors and be involved in a fellowship of like minded people (in my case, a church)...build community! No one can make it on their own, whether the crisis affects the entire community or just your family (as in a health related or financial crisis).
Then look around your house to see if you can find a large Rubbermaid type container you aren't using. (One big enough to hold groceries to last a few days.) Also, look for an unused adult size backpack or large duffel bag. These are often at Goodwill for a few dollars.
In the Rubbermaid type container, place food items your family likes that require no cooking, enough for three days. For instance, boxes of cereal that are easy to eat by hand (the obvious is Cheerios, the favorite of every toddler), granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, trail mix (homemade or purchased), crackers, nut butters, jelly (jelly made with real sugar does not need refrigeration when opened), instant drinks to be used if hot water is available (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Tang), etc. Look around, see what you have in the house you can set aside today.
Foods made for camping are excellent choices if you are used to them and have them on hand, anyway. The container can be kept in a safe place where it doesn't get too hot or damp (and away from family members looking for a midnight snack). If you have a lot of cabinet space, you could put all of these items in a kitchen cabinet as long as everyone knows these for for an emergency. I have found the Rubbermaid type container works best for me.
Also, if you have canned fruits, vegetables and meats already in your cupboard, these will be useful (as well as a really good manual can opener). For a 72 hour kit, a gallon of water per person per day for drinking. I know emergency preparedness sites talk about more but they include personal hygiene needs. When you see an emergency may be on the way, fill up your bathtub, your sink, and every clean container with water!
You have GOT to replace those water containers you purchase at the grocery store after about six months...otherwise they are manufactured to disintegrate back into a landfill. Ask me how I know...water everywhere.
Added Note: I have decided to add a link about water storage. There are so many ways to store water and it is a necessity. Click here for a good water storage information article. Remember...a little bit put back is better than nothing.
Make a list of items you know you need in an emergency. Either store them in the duffel bag or keep the bag near where you store the supplies, ready to be put in the bag if necessary to leave the house. Here are some ideas that are pretty much universal and very basic:
Matches and/or butane lighters
Battery operated radio
First aid supplies
Basic first aid manual
Whistle (in case you need to signal)
Cash (small bills...$5, $10, $20...what you can afford)
Swiss Army Knife (I bought one at Lowe's...very inexpensive)
Large, heavy garbage bags (a multitude of uses)
Cotton work gloves
Personal hygiene supplies
Baby formula if necessary
Disposable diapers if necessary
Books to pass the time (honest...I have paperback fiction books purchased for this use)
* There should be at least one flashlight in each bedroom and a heavy duty flashlight for the house, along with extra batteries.
**Be careful about candles, especially if you have small children and/or pets. I have a collection of heavy candle holders because I have cats. They have a handle on them so I can carry them from room to room. (All purchased at Goodwill or garage sales.) I have found during power outages that tea lights work great to supply a little bit of needed light. They are cheap and can fit into various containers, tucked away in safe places. Large, three wick candles work great and are not easily turned over. Never leave any candle unattended.
Obviously the sky is the limit when thinking of preparations. These are the very basics but those things people would probably have in their houses, anyway. It is all about...planning. Thinking through and making lists (it's that Living Life On Purpose things again). Make a list of food items you have put back for an emergency and the date you placed them there. Rotate in fresh ingredients every six months (and eat the oldest food). This way you are not only keeping your supplies fresh but also your foods are familiar to the family. A good idea is to replace a few items each month, that way you are not having to replace all of them at one time. Make a note on your list the date you "refresh" each item. (Ahhh come on, you wanted to get organized, anyway...right?)
You can find a lot of information online (I am putting together links now). At your next library book sale, look for books about preparing for Y2K. Skim the books and see if they are the type that give good advice for preparing for emergencies. If you must, place tape over Y2k and write in...preparing for any emergency.
Do what you can...with what you have. Don't get overwhelmed by long lists. Any preparation for an emergency is better than nothing.