Originally published on 17FEB2011 for Examiner.com
K&B, LLC co-owner and instructor Don Alley is a martial arts, personal protection, and emergency preparedness writer. Many of his articles originally appeared in Examiner.com. As these articles are able to be retrieved from old web caches, they will be posted here.
Emergency preparedness is not something that can be bought. Knowledge, training, and know-how are far more important to make a bad situation more bearable than merely having “stuff”. Adequate knowledge on what to do in a given situation can save a lot of time, which can save lives. Conversely, knowing how to fix a car and not having a wrench to do so is equally ill-minded. So, having the right tools in place can make a difference. The “72 hour bag” is one such item. At first, the concept of a 72 hour bag sounds like the stuff of survivalists and tin foil hat wearers. The people that load up an expedition sized backpack with enough junk to rebuild society have given an unfortunate stigma to the preparedness concept. The 72 hour bag detailed here will be far more tailored to family preparedness. Taking the basic requirements of food, clothing, and shelter as well as extended requirements such as hygiene/medication, protection, and documentation, some basic lists for the contents of the 72 hour kit can be determined.
Each person in the family should have a 72 hour kit.
First, look at food requirements. There should be enough food in the kit to provide 9 decent meals for its owner. This is a total of 9000 calories for an adult (factoring in extra calories in case of exertion). Of course, this is emergency food, so ideally something that supplies required nutrition and has a long shelf life is available. One such suggestion is a high energy food bar, such as Millennium Bars, Power Bars, etc, that are designed to provide high calorie content and energy. These have the added benefit of being a peel-and-eat item rather than something that needs to be prepared. Similarly, drink mixes like single serving Gatorade can add calories as well as provide electrolytes if the situation calls for a lot of exertion. If there are any dietary restrictions, the food selections must be chosen to address these restrictions. If children are also being provided for, having a few treats can go a long way to making a bad situation more bearable.
For clothing, include some items that are versatile. Sturdy work gloves can be included, as well as a wool cap. Include a pair of pants and shorts, as well as a couple extra pairs of undergarments and socks. A fleece jacket should be added, as well as a couple short sleeve shirts. This allows for layering. Ensure seasonal gear like a scarf or mittens is included. In a kid’s bag, ensure the clothing included is updated often enough so the clothes actually fit. Include swim suits in case the “bug out” is to a hotel with a pool.
Shelter options can depend greatly on how a person may bug out of any given situation and what their destination is. If prepping for a power failure and a hotel bug out is anticipated, then there are virtually no shelter requirements. If bugging out to a friend’s house, having a “car camping” type sleeping bag for everyone may be wise, or at least a decent blanket or two. If the bug out involves going to a cottage, cabin, or deer camp somewhere, it may be necessary to have a decent sleeping bag and tent.
Consider at least one protection item for the family. If the state allows it, consider obtaining a concealed pistol permit. Have at least a couple loaded magazines and a firearm available (in a safe), and transition it to a holster (not in the kit itself!) when a bug out occurs. Failing that, a knife, small baton, or other tool that can serve a defensive role should be considered. Emergencies bring out the finest qualities as well as the most despicable in mankind, and protecting one’s family is a priority.
For documentation, have a small binder with hardcopies of important documents as well as printed scans of others, such as insurance policies, birth certificates, house titles, social security and other identification, etc. These can be printed on waterproof paper or put in a protective sleeve (such as a zip-lock bag). Also consider using a USB thumb drive with more documents as necessary. It is advisable to create a self-extracting encryption file from these with a password you will remember.
Borrowing from camping, also consider some of the “Essentials”. Map, compass, sunscreen, flashlight, first aid kit, matches, rope, and knife. Have a spare set of car and house keys for all the vehicles and locks.
The last thing to consider is the bag itself. Depending on the full intent of the bag, it can vary from a reasonably large school-style bag to a mid-size backpacking bag. It should definitely be something that is easily carried, so a shoulder strap is a good minimum, if not a backpack style with a moderate waist belt. The quality of the bag should allow it to be durable to storage and usage elements. Decent commercial-grade bags are sufficient. Dollar store, free promotional items, or thin material and inadequate construction should be avoided. Some go so far as to get military specification gear, but this isn’t necessary. Of course, some military surplus gear, or easily obtained items in this genre should be considered. A good “overnight” backpacking bag is a very good size to go with.
In upcoming articles, this kit will be a basis for many emergency preparations. Doing some research on the 72 hour bag and what should go in it is a great way to start to understand the concept of preparedness and is a relatively easy way to at least ensure some tools are available in a bad situation.