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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Family Emergency Prep- 72 hour kits

It's time to rotate the food and update the contents of our 72-hour kits. There were a lot of changes I made this year regarding the bag contents that made it much more organized. For example, think about the food. Last year our packs were well-stocked with adequate food, but it was just packed into all the nooks and crannies of the container without any order. We didn't know what food items were meant for each day. The only way to know what you had to eat that day would be to unload ALL the food, take an inventory, and divide by three. That's simply too much work to do with 5 separate 72-hour kits. I saw an idea of packaging the food items for each day in a labeled gallon ziploc bag. Fantastic! It's so orderly now!

 I had an idea of how to do it in a way to engage the children more than last year. Last year I did all the packing by myself. This year we arranged all the food items on the side table and all the children packed their own bags for each day. Here is the table set up with the snacks and meal choices.

 We'd all start with our 'Day #1' bag, then we'd walk around the table with everyone packing hte same items at the same time. They'd all put in 2 granola bars, 2 oatmeal packets, etc... until the day's-worth of food was all packed. Then I'd ask them to check their bags and raise their hand if they could see 2 granola bars, then 2 oatmeal packets, etc until we covered everything they should have for the day. That ensured a fast quality-check to make sure no one missed an item. This was so fast the the kids loved being able to choose their own items.

 I had a few varieties of flavors for each time, so they could use their own discretion in selecting food. The activity was a hit, and we had everyone's food packed in less that an hour. Here is the finished table with 3 days of food for a family of 5.
I was asked by some friends what exactly we pack into our meals, so I took pictures of the adult meals for each day. The kids meals were identical except they had the smaller bowls of spaghettios and pasta instead of a regular-sized can like we did. There are a few things to note-
1- I added bags of extra plain oats with each day, since A- the little prepared packets don't hold much food, B- there's always too much sugar, so the prepared oatmeal is too sweet, so this will dilute the proportion of sugar, and C- we like having 'real' oats that aren't the instant kind, the instant kind are too powdery and have no texture.
2- The granola bars and fruit snacks had a wide variety of choices, but these pictures show the same thing in all of them, since I let the kids pick theirs all first and I took the left-over choices. There is more variety of flavor in their bags. The same applies to the cans of fruit. I had a few kinds of fruit for them to choose.
3- The same applies to the dinners- they had canned Mac and cheese for one day, spagettios, ravioli, and tuna salad to pick from.
4- I packed the utensils for the day in each bag, and a few napkins as well. Everyone's bag should have everything they need, so they aren't clambering for me to help them find a utensil or something.
5- The only thing I wanted to pack and didn't was Travel size wet wipes for their hands. I couldn't find any in the store. If you were making this, I would put 2-3 in each bag, so they can clean up after the meal.
6- Don't pack nuts or tail mix (goes rancid in a few months), jerky (makes you too thirsty, not fun to eat for kids), chocolate-coated anything (melts).
7- The water bottles aren't packed in the daily bag, they are separate in the family packs. We have several cases of bottled water that get loaded separately in an evacuation. Don't forget that clean water is THE most important commodity in an emergency!

Okay, here's the food pictures-

Day One
Breakfast- oatmeal, fruit, trail mix bar. 
Snack- raisins, gum, fruit snacks
Lunch- Meal replacement bar, fruit. drink power (add to water bottle)
Dinner- Tuna salad, Meal replacement shake, raisins, granola bar

Day Two
Breakfast- oatmeal, fruit
Snack- fruit snacks, gum, granola bar
Lunch- Protein bar, raisins, meal replacement shake
 Dinner- Canned pasta, fruit, drink powder, granola bar
Day Three

Breakfast- oatmeal, fruit, granola bar
Snack- fruit snacks,  raisins, gum
Lunch- meal replacement bar, Ramen (eat dry or cook), drink poweder
Dinner- Canned soup, fruit, granola bar

I had been worried that the food wouldn't pack as tightly into the backpacks if they were compartmentalized like this, but they packed just a well as they did before. Just be sure to squeeze excess air out of the bag.

I also found a great list of what to pack in your personal 72-hour kits. The list is from a fantastic website that I link to on the sidebar of my blog. It's called the 'Prepared LDS Family".  I highly recommend you visit her site for any emergency preparedness, food storage (Why store food? See the answer here), and smart shopping tips. I love her site! It's really changed the way I do food storage and emergency preparedness. It's helped me get much more organized! Here's a copy of her list for PERSONAL supplies:
72-Hour Kit Personal SuppliesBackpack, tote or small suitcase
List of items in kit (put near top)
Important numbers (update every 6 months)
A recent family photo
Map of city and vicinity
Small flashlight like a Maglite
Batteries for flashlight (put in separate baggie with the flashlight near top)
Emergency rain poncho (put near top)
3-N95 Medical mask (put at top) (Can help during a fire)
Mini First Aid Kit (update every 6 months) (put near top)
Light stick on a neck cord
Whistle on a neck cord
Hand warmers
Thermal reflective (space) blanket
3 day supply of food (2000 calories per day per adult)
3 gallons of water (*will be more than you can carry. Only pack what you can carry)
Pencil and small notebook
Cards, crossword puzzles, sudoku, etc.
Paperback book (I put mine in a gallon ziploc bag in case of water leakage)
Scriptures (Military size is good)
Small comb or brush
Small mirror
Antibacterial hand wipes
Pocket tissues
Lip balm
Wash cloth for sponge bath
Travel-sized toothpaste, toothbrush
Travel-sized liquid body soap
Travel-sized shampoo/conditioner
Travel-sized deodorant
Travel-sized lotion
Travel-sized hand sanitizer
Razor (males)
Personal sanitary items
3 large trash bags
Toilet paper roll
Copies of personal papers & documents for this person (put in hidden but accessible location)
Money - $50 per pack, small bills & coins, waterproof bag (put in hidden but accessible location. This is not all the emergency cash you should have. Just an amount that is always stashed away in your 72-hour kit.)
Waterproof matches (not for young children)
Extra Kit Items for KidsGames, cross-word puzzles, coloring book and crayons, stuffed animal, small toys, infant pacifier 
Comfort foods 
Clothing Ideas 
Complete set clothing: pants, 2 socks, underwear, long-sleeved shirt (can roll up if hot), hat, mittens
Sturdy shoes (Not in pack)
Coat (Not in pack) However, if you can squish a windbreaker in, do it.
Sleeping bag or lightweight wool blanket (Not in pack) (in lawn bag or sturdy bag)
Sleeping pad (grab if you have time)

There are different items to store in a communal family bucket, like a large first aid kit, tarp, rope, leather gloves, etc. If anyone wants the info, you can find it on her site, or ask me and I'll send you a copy. 


Kathryn said...


this was exactly what I needed! I just spent most of the afternoon working on our 72-hour kits and I made a list of additional things I still needed to pick up. I checked your blog and you had better food ideas than I did, so I am going to use some of yours. Thanks for posting! And thanks for referring that website, I love it too!

Kathryn said...

P.S. I love how you included your kids in the process...I am sure they will have great memories of this and also realize the importance of being prepared! How cool!