Be Prepared: Gear Up with a 72-Hour Emergency Kit
Unfortunately, storms and natural disasters don’t wait until we’re ready before they strike—they’re on their own timetable. Earthquakes, windstorms, and floods, if severe enough, can even prevent emergency services from reaching all affected areas for days. Until they arrive, you’ll need to be able to take care of yourself. Don’t delay preparing an emergency preparedness kit for your family.
Picking a Pack
You should be prepared to meet your family’s needs for at least three days. Prepare a 72-hour emergency kit for each member of your family.
If a storm or other disaster is destructive enough, you may have to leave your home. These kits should be packed in something portable, like a suitcase or backpack. Back-to-school sales are a perfect opportunity to buy backpacks for your kits.
Make sure to store your kits somewhere easily accessible in an emergency, like a coat closet near the front door.
Food & Water
The first rule of food in an emergency kit is packing nonperishable items your family will actually eat. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Trail mix
- Granola Bars
- Canned vegetables and fruit
- Canned stews and other meals
- Baby formula (in at least two kits in case your family gets separated) if needed
- Pet food and supplies if needed
Remember—you must be able to open your food. If you pack cans, make sure you have a can opener. Scissors are great for opening plastic packaging. It’s a good idea to bring along a set of dishes as well.
Plan for about a gallon of water per person per day. Water bottles are an easy way to store and carry water. You can also consider buying portable water filtration systems. Filtration systems should not be considered a substitution for bottled water because you can’t depend on water, contaminated or not, being available everywhere.
Take note of expiration dates. As a general rule, check your emergency food storage every six months. A good trick is to check your storage when daylight savings begins and ends. You should check on your water every 6-12 months.
Medicine & Hygiene
All 72-hour kits should include a first aid kit. You can either buy one or put one together yourself. You can start to build a first aid kit with the following items:
- Various sizes of bandages and gauze
- Antibiotic and hydrocortisone ointments
- Antiseptic wipes
- Oral thermometers
- Scissors and tweezers
- Cold compress
- Matches in a waterproof container
Don’t forget to include your personal medication as well along with children’s versions of medication if necessary. If your medication needs to be refrigerated, buy an insulated container to carry in your kit. Make sure you rotate medication according to expiration dates.
You’ll also want to pack hygienic and personal items. This will vary family to family. You can start with items on this list, if applicable:
- Toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss
- Feminine hygiene products
- Glasses, contacts, contact cases and solution
- Baby wipes and diapers
- Soap bars
- Toilet paper
Clothing & Comfort
While it’s possible to wear the same clothes for three days, your family will be a lot more comfortable if they have a fresh pair of clothes to change into each day. If your clothing gets wet, it can even be a safety hazard if it’s cold out.
Along with clothes, bring along a sleeping bag or blanket (foil blankets can easily fit in these packs and sleeping bags can attach to bags with straps).
Tools & Electronics
A small tool kit can be very useful in an emergency. At least in adult kits, include a wrench, screwdriver, and Swiss Army knife.
Make sure every member of the family has a flashlight (with extra batteries), along with a battery or crank-powered radio. Include extra cell phone chargers in your packs as well, in case you end up somewhere with electricity.
Personal Documents & Cash
In an emergency, you may not have the chance to gather your personal items. Keep copies of important documents in your emergency kit. Include items such as:
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Social security cards
- Drivers Licenses or State IDs
- Pictures of your family members
You’ll also want to have cash in each kit because credit/debit cards may not work if electricity is out. It’s important to carry both bills and coins. Add money to your kits weekly to build up your reserve.
Three days is a long time without any kind of entertainment, especially if you are used to using electronics. Pack a few items to help the time pass for both you and any children. Some ideas include:
- Coloring and activity books
- Small puzzles
- Books to read
- Decks of cards
Anything small and easily portable that doesn’t require electricity will do.
If a disaster hits your home, it’s important to be prepared to act quickly. Preparing now can help keep you and your family safe in the future.
If your home sustains damage from a storm or natural disaster, we can help restore it “Like it never even happened.” Call SERVPRO® of South Everett at 425-367-4484 for 24-hour service.