Monday, February 05, 2007

A 72-hour kit CRY FOR HELP!

Last night I updated all of our 72-hour kits including one for the unborn baby. Each member of the family has a backpack with one change of clothes (provided it’s not Winter) and 3 days worth of meals, snacks, water, cups and plastic Pooh-Bear utensils (except mine and Danny’s are plain old boring white utensils). Bun and the unborn baby have diapers and wipes and a receiving blanket. Pookie and G have some pull-ups (just in case they forget their toileting skills in an emergency). The children each have two little board books and G and Pookie also have a travel Etch-a-Sketch. One bag has the can opener, one has a flashlight, one has a crank radio (the kind that doesn’t need batteries or electricity), one has the baby wipes, one bag contains two large boxes of matches, two bags have whistles on bright yellow cord, and one bag has the supply of hand warmers. I was feeling pretty good about being prepared (and even a teensy bit smug since the unborn baby has one) when I realized, there aren’t any medications or first aid supplies in any of the kits.

These kits are SO heavy. How would my 25 pound Bun or 26 pound G carry a 25 pound backpack each? I think maybe Pookie could drag his. Could I count on having a surge of adrenaline in an emergency that I could carry my kit, two of the children’s kits and possibly a child too? I decided I needed to look into this a little more and searched Google for 72-hour kit preparation.

I started reading about packing toilet paper, water purification tablets, sleeping bags or bedrolls, spare batteries, shoes, toys, family records, birth certificates, insurance certificates, improvised toilet and shovel, disinfectant, plastic bags, and MORE!

I even got distracted and started reading a fantastic article about using solar cooking and how it’s been very effective in Kenya and how I could do it too with a cardboard box and aluminum foil. And then I’m thinking, “This reminds me of my Girl Scout years. Ah, the scouting program is a wonderful investment we can make in our children. And so is swimming lessons. But what if we have an emergency now?”

So, I want to be prepared without going so over the top that it would be impossible to move our kits.

I found it was easy to do these kits when I first assigned a backpack to each child and then a set of clothing. And from there I added food. What now? Go for lighter-weight food? Stick a mini first aid kit in each one? Teach my 1, 3, and 5, year olds weight-training and life-skills?

So I’m looking to YOU for suggestions. If you’ve done yours or seen it done somewhere, what can you tell me? I appreciate all suggestions—even novel-long ones.


Kristi said...

Nikki- one of the things I just learned about at a Preparedness Fair- was MRE's.

We made our current kits up about 5 years ago. Prior to that we had several just food/flashlight/change of clothes kits. So over the years we've spent a good chunk of money replacing food amd I haven't even been super dilligent at replacing things every 6-9 months like you are supposed to.

The thing I learned about MRE's is that they are good for at least 20 years. They come in a virtually indestructible pouch. Many of them come with their own heating source. They are flat, they don't weigh much or take up much space.

My goal this year is to replace the food in our 72 hr. kits with MRE's. I just need to do some research and figure out the types my family would eat. I think in the long run it will be more cost efficient as well as make our packs more light weight.

As a family we purchased 72 hr. kits for my inlaws last Christmas. We made sure and bought duffle type bags that could be carried or rolled. My thought about your situation with small kids who might not be able to carry a backpack- what about sticking them all in a suitcase or duffle bag with wheels.

I know it is a big challenge to get these kits in order. And I hope we never actually use them, but I know that blessings will come from preparing and following the advice of the prophets.

Nikki said...


Last night my husband was just suggesting MRE's for the fact that they are high in calories, will constipate you in battle so you don't have to find a place to squat, and last a long time. I didn't know they lasted that long though! So maybe it is a good idea! I also really like the idea of kits that can roll like suitcases.

Thank you for your input!

Leslie said...

like Kristi, I was going to suggest the kiddie backpacks that have wheels. I see kids all the time near Christian's school using them and they still have traditional straps too in case you don't want to roll them.

momof9 said...

We talked on the phone about ideas, but thought I'd post some for your other readers, too. (By the way...why two large boxes of many fires are you planning on building in 72 hours?)
We do have minimal first aid items (including empty film canisters full of aspirin or tylenol), but also have a separate first aid kit in the car and a firstiaid kit tackel box that we would grab. We have a large heavy trash bag and emergency blankets (space-age kind) in each pack, plus grooming items - like soap, comb, anti perspirant, washcloth, toothpaste & brush, etc.
Your little kids don't have to carry the heavy packs if you are able to throw them in a vehicle - a neighbor has a large garden wagon that is loaded with his little children's emergency kits and a five gallon thing of water - and there is probably even room to toss in one of the kids!..great idea if you can't hit the road in a car. We packed very light weight food...(MREs), mini Book of Mormon, small notebook and pencil,candle and sterno heat source too.
Are your kids bags marked with their names and other vital info - like allergies, parents, etc?
I hope I have fifteen minutes to collect the sleeping bags, etc. when disaster hits...

Lei said...

funny - i pulled ours out last week and am replacing items, too!

yeah - the weight thing is a factor to consider, and one i do not have any advice on! sorry! somehow we've managed to fit everything into a packpack and a duffel... one for dh and i to each carry. and we have 4 children. i know i should separate them into individual bags, though.

Nikki said...


I like your idea of fitting them all in the same bags together. Right now I'm thinking of doing that at least with all the food and having the kids carry their clothing, toilet paper, and first aid supplies, and maybe their bottled water too.

Thanks for your comment!

Mrs Morty said...

We did the MRE thing and stuffed it all into one bag along with a few other things that way it takes most of the weight off what needs to be in the kids bags (when we get around to making them). Will they eat it? That remains to be seen. I figure if they are hungry enough they should eat any thing, right?

Nikki said...

Mrs Morty-
Great tip! I am blessed that my children will eat anything. I'm always telling Danny when he's apprehensive about feeding them new food, "Just sell it to them." You know, "Oooh. This looks so yummy. Maybe I can just eat it all by myself." Or "Oh how fun! Chicken and sauce with three different vegetables all in a bag!"

I think we're definitely leaning toward the MRE's. They are expensive though and you'd have to get 9 a person right? 1 a meal times 3 meals a day times 3 days. That's 54 meals if you count the unborn baby. Of course, my kids wouldn't eat equivalent to 3 a day. Maybe I should just get them each 2 a day right now and Danny and me 3 a day, and the unborn baby can get 1 or 2 in his 72-hour kit when he turns six months old.

Milehimama said...

I was part of the Homeland Security emergency preparedness program. They recommend having a "family" duffel bag that contains the food, etc.
We have 8 people in our family, so canned food is really heavy! I actually just have two collapsible crates in the bottom of our pantry that we could load up (I keep our pantry pretty stocked.)
A small container of chlorox will purify water too.
Something else in our kits:
I have a paperback book called "835 ways to amuse a child" full of games and activities. A deck of cards - even my 2 yo likes to try card houses or flip them around.
Basically my 72 hour kit has stuff in it that we would want or need at a shelter or hotel room.
MRE's are... an acquired taste. Your kids may or may not like it at all. Try getting tuna fish in the pouch or other non-canned goods instead. (I save mayo packets and stuff from fast food and put those in there to make tuna salad). And remember that if you don't eat your quota of meat or whatever for 72 hours it won't hurt you! Try to pack comfort foods for the kids. Welch's has a line of dried fruit out (not those sugary artificially colored fruit snacks, actual dried fruit).
I also 'file' our important papers in a ziploc in our duffel bag. I know exactly where they are, and we'll have our SS cards or birth certificates if we need them.
Mama Says

Nikki said...

Thanks for your comment. I hadn't even considered those pouch foods. That sounds much more promising than even the MRE's. And probably more cost-effective. I will have to go slowly down the aisles grocery shopping and just observe all the different options that I may have overlooked before.

Are they copies of your important papers in the ziploc bag in the duffel bag or the originals? And do you always keep them there? Or just grab them in an emergency?

Milehimama said...

Well, they are the originals. I have to keep them somewhere, after all; if someone broke into our home they wouldn't get far with the identity theft. As long as I know where to find them, I don't have a problem with them NOT being in a file cabinet. Plus, theoretically, it would be easy to grab if there was a fire or something too.
I also have a copies of my address book pages in there, as well as a print out of our town's evacuation plan/ planned Red Cross shelter sites (we're on the SC coast with hurricanes). You can print that stuff off tons of websites.
Another tip: we save ahead cash for Christmas - $10 out of the grocery money, $5 I found in the laundry. I keep our "Christmas" fund in the side pocket of the duffel too. (Need to start replenishing it! LOL) If electricity is out, you won't be able to use credit cards and small bills are VERY handy - esp. if you end up eating out of vending machines at rest stops or school gyms. It's too hard on our budget to just take a couple hundred dollars and put it in the closet somewhere, but doing it in dribs and drabs makes it affordable.

Mama Says

Jane said...

Board books are heavy- what aout children's magazines or coloring books? Also the bags will get much lighter as you eat the food and drink the water. I have seen peanut butter in plastic tubes like the ones for "Go-gurt" yougurts. Those would be lightweight.

Nikki said...

Thank you SOOOO much for your suggestion. My kids love to color so coloring books with a few crayons would be great instead of board books. I could also remove the Etch-a-Sketches that are kinda heavy too. I have never heard of peanut butter in plastic tubes so I never thought to look. That sounds awesome! Just yesterday I switched out cans of tuna for pouches of tuna thanks to the wonderful suggestion of Milehimama. The tuna pouches actually had a longer shelf life than the cans.

I really need to go to the store with an hour or two just to look at all the different options that I may have overlooked before.

Thanks for your comment!


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