72 Hour Kits/Bug Out Bags

12:14:00 PM

I have got to admit something - I am most likely the LEAST prepared person on the planet when it comes to emergency evacuation plans. I never really wanted to think about the impossible, especially in terms of my family.  For me, it was more of a doomsday scenario, and not something I was willing to face - not yet anyway.  Despite the constant urging from church leaders I still was not in a place where I felt that would ever apply to me.  I live in a desert, sheltered from earth quakes, floods, ice and snow storms; despite the occasional heat wave, I am in a pretty safe place, right?  Of course I am, however, so were the people in Ireland in the 1860's when famine struck and they had to leave their homes...

Okay, so we aren't exactly in 1860 Ireland.  BUT, studying historical disasters has been to my detriment lately - that and the fact that the Relief Society thought it in their best interest to ask me to prepare and teach a class on 72 hour kits...(I'm the canning and food storage lady, remember?  You want me to teach....well, okay...)

So here I am, preparing a lesson on 72 hour kits, and we don't have a single 72 hour kit in the house. Well, not one that's put together anyway.

At least I didn't.

So why 72 hours?
Should a disaster strike, it could take emergency departments up to 72 hours to get to you and your family.  If you are in your own home, and it isn't compromised by flood or fire, being prepared means accounting for situations such as loss of power (is all your backup food storage in your freezer?), loss of clean water (do you know how to purify and use the water that is in your hot water heater's tank?), and loss of heat. If you cannot stay in your own home, you need to have a means to evacuate and take only what you need with you to survive.

After hours of research on the internet (By the way, blogs written in cold climate states like UTAH aren't the best place to start searching for information on what to put into your kits if you live in say, PHOENIX. Just an observation anyway.) I've come up with what I feel are some pretty darn good kits for my family of 7.

Here's a break down:

In EVERY Kit...
A means to carry the kit.  (I purchased these backpacks at Goodwill for $2.00 each. THREE of them still had the tags on them and had never been used.  I highly recommend looking at local thrift stores before purchasing brand new items.)
3 1 day packages of food amounting to 1000 calories each (yes, I know this isn't enough, keep reading.)
1 gallon of water per person (the recommendation varies, but generally speaking you should have 1 gallon per person, per day. keep reading, more info below.)
1 Personal Hygiene kit.
Rain Poncho
Powdered drink mix with electrolytes - such as Propel Zero
A water-tight bag with clothing in it
1 utensil kit (I bought these at Old Navy, but I'm sure they have them at Amazon.com and also at the Container Store.  They contain a fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks (for that emergency dumpling craving, I guess :) and are fairly inexpensive.  In fact, my kids also carry them in their lunchboxes. Utensils are important to carry for those meals that require them, such as Ramen or pre-packaged dehydrated meals.)
Replacement meal bars (Why?  If you have food?  Read below.)
Glow sticks

Items distributed between kits:

Metal Kettle for boiling water (I found these at Target, and they are amazing. Small and compact, and light weight!)
Camp stove (This is a similar one, found on Amazon.com )
Butane canisters (for the stove)
Coffee Filters (for cleaning water)
Water purification drops
Playing cards
First Aid Kit
Essential Oils (I include 8 essential oils in small 15 dram vials. We use these for everything from bug bites to nausea, and would be included as part of my first aid kit.)
Nail hygiene kit
Copies of important documents such as birth certificates  marriage license  shot records, passports, and recent photos of everyone in the family for identification purposes.  All of mine reside in a Life.doc folder which is easily accessible.
A solar charger for small electronics
A hand cranked flashlight and radio
Boy Scouts of America Handbook (contains a lot of valuable information about would care, first aid, living  in the wilderness, and other survival tips. They are available online, and at your local scout shop.)

How many calories per day?
Now, as far as the meals go, here's the skinny.  Every person should be consuming between 2400 and 3600 calories each day, especially when doing strenuous activity.  Commercially packaged 72 hour kits typically contain around 600 to 1200 calories each, but lay heavy on starch content to give you energy.  The kits I have prepared are meant for "bug out" purposes, should we have to LEAVE our home. That being said, food is heavy, difficult to pack into compact places, and when considering the little ones and what they can carry, all of this had to factor in.  It is for this reason that I purchased, in addition to the food that I'm putting into a menu below, meal replacement bars. They are light weight, contain enough calories per person per day, and can be used to supplement the meals we've placed in the kits, or alone should there not be a water source available for cooking.  They cost about $5.00 per person per 72 hours, and will last up to 7 years packaged away.  I bought mine at a local food storage store, but they are also available on the internet for minimal cost.

There are other options for food on the go such as MRE's (Meals ready to eat) and dehydrated packaged foods such as Mountain House, or even home made dehydrated kits.  These can be cost effective if you have a small family or if it is simply two people.  I've selected items that I can readily find at the grocery store that are inexpensive, and easily replaceable.

Here's our Menu:

Day OneDay TwoDay Three
Individual Serve CerealIndividual Serve CerealMini Muffins
Ramen SoupRamen SoupRamen Soup
Chicken Salad on CrackersTuna Salad on CrackersChicken Soup
Fruit SnacksAlmondsCrackers with Cheese
Crackers with Peanut butterGranola barsFruit Snacks
Assorted hard candyAssorted hard candyAssorted hard candy

One thing to keep in mind with your food supplies in your kits - they do NOT have an infinite shelf life.  Some MRE's can last up to 20 years, when stored properly and with dehydrated kits you should follow the manufacturer's recommendations (for Mountain House Pouches, it's 10 years IF stored properly.  Here in the desert, you can expect to cut that shelf life in half if stored in a garage or outdoor shed.)  Our plan is to cycle the food every six months during General Conference.   Anything that needs to be used or eaten, we will do so that weekend and then purchase new items for the kits.  (This also keeps mom from having to provide snacks every few minutes during conference, I think it's a win-win scenario.)

Our Hygiene kits contain the following:

1 Wash rag
1 Hand towel
1 travel shampoo
1 travel hand sanitizer
1 travel deodorant
1 toothbrush
1 travel toothpaste
1 comb
2 hair ties (obviously not for the boys)
1 bottle travel sunscreen
1 package wet wipes/antibacterial wipes

In the first aid kit:
Band aids of all sizes
Gauze squares (med and large)
1 ace bandage
2 finger splints
1 pair tweezers
10 pairs disposable gloves
10 packages alcohol wipes
5 antibacterial ointment
Antacid tablets
Acetaminophen tablets
Ibuprofen tablets
Safety scissors
Essential Oils (Frankincense, Lavender, Maleleuca, Lemon, Peppermint, OnGuard, DigestZen (fennel), Deep Blue) (I use doTERRA oils)

Nail Hygiene kit
nail file
small scissors

Clothing Kit (ours are packaged in water tight bags.)
1 Pair of pants
2 pairs of socks
2 shirts
1 pair of underwear

A Note on Water:

The typical recommendation is 1 gallon of water, per person, per day.  Unfortunately, 1 gallon of water weighs in at about 8 pounds.  Giving my 5 year old 24 pounds of water (without the other supplies in her backpack!) to carry is not possible. I've included in the older children's pack a bit more water, keeping in mind the weight restriction, but this still will not give us the required 1 gallon per person, per day.  The other issue - we live in a desert, and the likelihood of finding clean water sources is minimal.  This is where we get creative.  We DO have here a series of man-made lakes (you know the ones, they are in the neighborhoods and look pretty when the fountains are on) - but I wouldn't say the water is clean enough to drink.  To overcome this issue, I've included in our packs coffee filters (to filter out sediment and other particulates), a means to boil water (portable camp stove and metal kettles), and water purification drops.  We hope to be able to evacuate by car.  If that is the possibility, then yes, indeed I do have enough water for our family, not a problem.  If we need to evacuate by bike, I can also carry more water by pulling a bike trailer behind me.  If we need to evacuate on foot, however, that's where we'll have to conserve our water, and plan on purifying what we can - even if that means we go to homes and take it out of their hot water tanks.

So, that's it.  Our kits are built and ready to go.  I do honestly hope we never have to use them, but I have to admit, just having them here and ready gives me enormous peace of mind.  We will store them near our back door inside the house in order to keep them from being pelted with heat (our garage reaches up to 130 degrees in the summer time).  These are, of course, a work in progress, and I'm sure there will be adding to them as I learn more.  For now, however, I feel confident that we would be able to exit quickly, safely, and survive until we reached shelter, and that is what is most important.

Additional 72 Hour Kit Resources:

You Might Also Like