It has been an unreasonably pleasant winter here in our corner of the world. But it seems we’ll be paying the piper over the next few days, as we are in for a massive winter storm.(hee hee!) News reports are urging folks to stock up on groceries, keep flashlights handy and stay home to wait it out. I can’t wait! I hope we get snowed in! I hope the power goes out so I’ll have a chance to test my 72 hour kit.
A 72 hour kit is intended to provide whatever you might need to Shelter-In-Place for three days. There are a ton of lists out there as to what you should include in your kit, but they all need to be tweaked to meet your individual needs. I am NOT any kind of expert on this stuff, but I thought I’d share a little about what we have done.
My husband and I have seen ready made kits handily packaged in 5 gallon buckets at Costco and Walmart, but we never bought one because we already had all the stuff that came in them…somewhere. A few weeks ago I put my mind to gathering all the supplies that were spread throughout backpacks, cars, junk drawers (yes, we have more than one junk drawer) lost in the laundry room of doom, or buried in the basement, into one easy to find kit. I also made a smaller version to keep in the trunk of my car, although I don’t plan to do any traveling in remote areas.
First, our 72 Hour Shelter-In-Place Kit, is also part of a larger evacuation kit which I’ll post about later, so it includes some items which you won’t need if you stay home. A traditional 72 hour kit is mostly about hunkering down to ride out a storm or disruption in normal services. This list is what our family uses, and intended to get you thinking. Your kit will look a little different according to your situation.
- Water: The recommended amount is minimal and includes one gallon per day, per person. For our family of four that would be 24 gallons. I store more because I just like to have a bigger cushion plus we have pets to think of. Our power HAS gone out for more than three days before, and being on a well, when we don’t have power we don’t have water. I store it in seven-gallon jugs designed specifically for water storage, and in sanitized two-liter soda bottles. I treat my water with plain household bleach, diluted at 1/8 tsp per gallon. I store it in the basement away from light and rotate it every six months. Water stored this way gets flat tasting, so I plan to run it through a filter pitcher to remove the bleach taste and aerate it.
- Food: Aside from our normal pantry, which includes lots of non-perishable items, much more than three days worth, I’ve packed 3 days food into our 72 Hour Kit. I’ve included a box of cereal, dry milk, vanilla flavor to make the dry milk palatable, 3 cans of chili, 4 packages of ramen noodles, several instant rice packages, three backpacking dinners, a small jar of peanut butter, instant coffee, cream and sugar packets, tea, spiced cider, hot cocoa, fruit juice, canned tuna, trail mix, granola bars and an assortment of condiment packets. The spiced cider, cocoa and “treat” type foods are mainly for comfort and morale which is especially important when you have little people to think of.
- Light: I have an LED lantern and two extra sets of batteries, 3 glow sticks, a few candles, plus two lighters and a box of strike-anywhere matches in the kit. Also each member of the family keeps a headlamp in reach of their bed. I let the little ones use their headlamps to look at books when they have trouble sleeping, this way they know how to use them, however I do have to be more vigilant about keeping good batteries in them.
- Sanitation: I keep a pack of baby wipes, feminine items, a roll of paper towels, toilet paper, disinfecting surface wipes, and hand sanitizer. Some of these won’t be necessary if you stay home, but again, our 72 Hour kit is part of our evacuation kit. We are on gravity septic, so we can use the toilet during an outage, but we would have to haul water from the river, or melt snow to flush it, so we’d be on the “yellow is mellow” plan. Not fun, but better than pooping in a bucket.
- Cooking: When power is out, we can use our wood stove to heat water and canned foods such as we keep in our kit. We also keep a non-electric can opener in the kit and a couple in the kitchen. Actually I’ve never been able to get the hang of the electric can openers so we don’t even have one. If, for some reason, the wood stove wasn’t a good option, we have a camp stove and propane barbecue which can be used outdoors, as well as plenty of fuel. It’s also a good idea to include some disposable dishes and utensils as you won’t want to use your stored water to wash dishes.
- Heat: The wood stove can provide enough heat to keep us operational during an outage, but it doesn’t travel well, so we actually need to address space heat for the evacuation portion of the plan. We keep plenty of wood on hand as well as hand and foot warmers for personal use. Also we have blankets pretty much everywhere.
- Communication: We have a hand cranked, NOAA weather band radio, but reception is really crummy where we live, so we’d probably only tune in once or twice a day for weather updates through the static. It’s also a good idea to keep an old fashioned phone that plugs directly into the phone jack, and doesn’t require an electrical outlet. Cordless phones will not work during an outage. Phone lines will be pretty clogged up during any major event, but if you keep your cell phone charged in advance, you can probably send and receive text messages as they don’t require quite as strong a signal. Actually, where we live, our signal is only good enough for texting anyway, so nothing new there.
- Entertainment: Books, magazines and board games are handy when you can’t catch the latest episode of Real American Desperate Simpsons of The Alaskan Shore. We also always have plenty of crayons, paper, glue and scissors around for the kiddos and some packed to-go in case of an evacuation. Again, these are mostly for morale. You might want to go ahead and turn off the tube a few hours each week, so that your family can get used to alternative forms of entertainment. If your family doesn’t already gather ’round to listen to Mom read aloud, they won’t likely find it a suitable substitute for video games or television. My husband, for one, just might die without his X-Box, and I have been known to suffer internet withdrawals. It’s a symptom of the times, but one worth addressing.
Some other things you may want to consider keeping on hand are extra medications, a well stocked first aid kit, extra contact lenses or glasses, a way to filter or treat water in case you need to use surface water, extra pet food, and extra ammo for any firearms you have and are properly trained to use. Also keep up on laundry and dishes, you don’t want to lose power in the middle of the night and wake, wearing your last underwear, to a sink full of pots and pans which you’ll have to use stored water to wash before you can heat water for oatmeal. Mostly preaching to myself on that one.