So we’ve all seen the news lately. It seems like you can’t turn the television on without hearing about floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters hitting places all over the world. If you’re anything like me, the first questions you ask when hearing this news is: “Could this happen to me? Could this happen in my town?”

The answer to both of these questions is not necessarily if it could happen, but if we have prepared ourselves for it. Preparation can mean many things for many different people, so today I just wanted to talk about creating a basic plan of preparation in case of an emergency situation.  Today we’re going to take a basic look at a 72-hour kit, or as some people have come to call it, a “bug out” kit. We will discuss why you need it, what you need to put in it, and what additional plans you need to make after preparing one.

Why do I need it?

To start off, let’s get past the name itself. I know when some people hear 72-hour kit or “bug out” kit, they immediately break out in a cold sweat! Don’t worry, this is not something to be afraid of. In fact, it should be something that brings a bit of comfort knowing that you are prepared for whatever might come. A 72-hour kit is simply a bag or case that is easy to transport or grab in a quick emergency that has enough food, clothing, and supplies to last one person 3 days. Not only should it be easy to transport, but also easy to access, so that means keeping it in a place where you can get to it quick instead of behind boxes in a basement or at the bottom of a pile in the closet. Remember, you’re trying to grab it and go! As well, each member of your family should have their own kit. Because of this, each kit should be designed specifically for each person’s needs.

What do I need in it?

I’ve found the best approach in life is most often the simplest one, and with a 72-hour kit, this is no exception. A simple way to look at it is to ask yourself: “What do I absolutely need to survive for three days?” A great way to figure this out is to create a checklist of what you use each day. What on that list is an absolute and what isn’t? How about your family? What are their needs, compared to their wants? Your kit must be specific to your needs, but here are a few ideas to keep in mind when creating it:

Food & Water – Protein/Granola Bars, Trail Mix, Freeze Dried Fruits, and canned meats that do not require refrigeration (Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, etc). Believe it or not, candy is also a good thing to include, since sugar helps give needed energy. This also includes 1 gallon of water, per day, per person. This is needed for drinking, cleaning, and even cooking.

Bedding & Clothing – A change of clothing, including socks and undergarments, and a rain coat or poncho. If you live in a colder area make sure you include a coat that can keep you warm. Also, remember to include blankets that are easy to transport but that can also keep you warm. A wool blanket may be the best choice, but make sure to keep it dry.

Fuel & Light– Just like with our Food Storage Friday posts, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity. You can decide what type of power they’ll run on. I’d suggest a simple battery-operated one, just make sure you pack extra batteries. You should also include waterproof matches, a flare, and even emergency candles.

Equipment – This should include a plate, cup and utensils. A can opener of some sort, and a pen or paper would also be wise. A pocket knife, small axe, and  fold-up shovel are great tools that are easy to pack. A radio and cell phone are also important items to have in this category.

Personal Supplies & Medication – First Aid kit, medication (both regular and prescription), and cleaning supplies such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and brush, and toilet paper.

Money & Personal Documents – Extra cash is huge! Maybe even a prepaid credit card might be a good idea, as well as necessary legal documents like birth and marriage certificates, passports, drivers license, etc.

Storage – A large backpack or duffel bag should be able to fit all these needs and keep them in one place. Try to itemize things and keep them in separate containers or bags within the duffel bag, especially since many items, like the food and water supply, will need to be rotated out every 6 months or so.

What else should I plan?

In addition to building up a 72-hour kit, you should also sit down with your family and create a family plan. If there is any emergency, what’s the role of each family member in that plan? Who is responsible for collecting the 72 hour kits? If kids are at school, dad is at work, and mom is at home, where is a safe meet up spot for everyone? Once at that spot, how long is the appropriate wait time before the family starts searching for a family member not there? When you are able to sit down and create a plan with your family, you can have that piece of mind knowing that if something happens, you and your family know exactly what role each of you need to take. Safety is the key, and planning ahead is always the right way to go.

What are some suggestions you have for 72-hour kits or emergency planning?