Thursday, June 3, 2010

Emergency Kits

Although, technically, this is a little beyond the scope of a "basic food storage" blog, I thought I would post the notes from the class I taught this week about Emergency kits, also known as 72-hour kits. The food in a 72-hour kit certainly qualifies as a 3-day, basic, food storage.
Emergency Kits

1. Consider: What type of emergencies should I prepare for? (In the Midwest: tornado, winter ice storm, fire, earthquake).
2. Consider: What are the basic needs I would have in an emergency? (Food, water, shelter, heat, first-aid, communication).
3. Be practical!

Why 72 hours?
During the 2009 CERT training, emergency response officials said that it can take up to three days (72 hours) to restore power, clear roads and reach every affected neighborhood in a widespread emergency (such as a severe winter ice storm with power outages and disrupted roads).

What does the LDS church say about emergency preparedness?
From the LDS Church provident living website: “What about 72-hour kits?”
“Church members are encouraged to prepare for adversity by building a basic supply of food, water, money, and, over time, longer-term supply items. Beyond this, Church members may choose to store additional items that could be of use during times of distress.” 
Click here for the link to this quote.
Click here for a link to the "Family Emergency Planning" page.

What counsel is found in the scriptures?
“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” –Doctrine and Covenants 38:30
Click here for a link to this scripture online.

What is a good, basic supply list for an Emergency Kit?
This list is recommended by the sources noted at the end of this post.

• 3 day supply of non-perishable food, and eating utensils
• 3 day supply of water (about a gallon per day per person)
• Portable battery-powered, solar-powered, or manually cranked radio
• Flashlight and batteries or manually cranked flashlight
• First-aid kit (and manual) (basic first-aid supplies: bandaids, sterile wipes, Tylenol, Benadryl)
• Sanitation and hygiene items (hand sanitizer, feminine products, wet wipes, diapers)
• Whistle
• Candle, and matches, in waterproof container
• Clothing (t-shirt, sweatpants, sweatshirt, underwear, socks, hat)
• Copies of bank account numbers, birth certificates, credit card numbers, etc.
• Cash, including coins and small bills
• Any required medicines or medical supplies
• Special needs for infants or pets

Are there additional items that would be helpful?
 • Toothbrush, small toothpaste, comb
• Poncho
• Blanket (rolled up in a bedroll, tied with a jump rope) (Clothes could be rolled inside)
• Small notebook, pencil, phone number of out-of-state relative
• Map of Kansas city area, including Olathe
• Small (military size) scriptures
• Activities (inflatable beach ball, small card game such as UNO, etc.)
• House keys, car keys
• Prescription glasses (an old pair for each family member who wears them)
• A list of things to get from elsewhere (such as medication from a fridge)

From left to right, this photo shows some options for an emergency kit: a programmable weather radio (for hazardous weather alerts, it can be purchased at-cost from Price-Chopper stores in the Kansas City metro area), a radio/flashlight that is powered with a hand crank, a solar-powered flashlight/radio, a battery-operated flashlight (don't forget to store and rotate batteries), a 100-hour candle, a wax candle, a plastic bag of small candles (don't forget matches, kept in a plastic bag or waterproof container).

This photo shows some more items: a small compass/whistle with a compartment for storing matches, a whistle, a tall paper with basic first-aid instructions, and some basic first-aid options (all three contain band-aids, gauze, towlettes, and Tylenol (for fevers) and Benadryl (for allergic reactions): an old medicine container, a commercially-purchased first-aid kit, and, items stored in a plastic bag.

This photo shows clothing for two people (specific items are listed above). Sweat pants and sweat shirts are good options because: they can be worn over other clothes for an additional layer in cold weather, they are comfortable for sleeping in, and they can be worn too large or too small (so we only need to update the clothing in our children's emergency kits every few years).

This photo shows a poncho, obviously. They can be purchased very inexpensively. Plastic garbage sacks can also be used by cutting an opening for at the top for your head and on the side for your arms. They wouldn't keep your head dry however. Especially in cold weather, staying dry is very important. I don't think we'd need a poncho unless we evacuated, but we each have one in our emergency kits and we keep a few in the glove box of our car, too.

What are food options in an Emergency Kit?
1. MREs
2. Shelf-stable foods that are high in protein and carbohydrates and equal about 2000 calories per day. 

Sample Menu 
Breakfast: 2 packets instant oatmeal, 1 applesauce cup, 1 fruit/grain bar, 1 water bottle
Lunch: 1 cup of soup or 1 package of Ramen, 2 packages cheese crackers and 4 sticks beef jerky or 1 package of graham crackers and 1/3 carton of peanut butter, 1 fruit cup, 1 package dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.), 1 gatorade
Dinner: 1 can pork and beans or tuna fish, 1 box wheat thins, 1 package dried fruit (or yogurt-covered dried fruit), 1 package of pudding or 1 fruit cup, 1 water bottle
Other: 1 water bottle, 1 package of gum

This photo shows some of the food from the sample menu listed above. Many "convenience" foods are high in calories and so, even with a small amount of food, the calorie content is about 2000 per day. We rotate our food once a year. (We usually eat them at home while watching General Conference.) We also include a few paper towels and plastic silverware in each kit. Don't forget to include hand sanitizer for handwashing and/or a small package of wet wipes.

We keep all of the food in a ziploc bag. This keeps everything together, and dry, and free from insects.

Is there anything else I should consider?
A small kit for a car with a jacket or poncho, water, a map or atlas, a small amount of cash ($5 or or $10), jumper cables.

Where can I purchase items for an Emergency Kit?
Local grocery stores and supermarkets, sporting goods stores (Bass Pro Shops, Dicks, etc.) and online preparedness retailers (Emergency Essentials, etc.).

Are there any other helpful hints?
Yes. Here are some ideas that I have come across:

For our "family" emergency kit, we use a hiker's backpack. This is something we already had on hand, for hiking/backpacking. (I always recommend using something you have on hand, if possible). (When we go backpacking, we empty out the emergency kit items, then put them back when we come home.) This backpack contains all the items listed on this post, and food for two people. The red bedroll in the picture is a fleece blanket with clothes for two people rolled inside. It is tied with a rope and has a loop (which you can't see in this picture) so it can be carried like a purse. If we needed to evacuate, one parent could carry this backpack and the bedroll and still carry a child and a water jug. If the other parent was home, that parent could also carry a small child, and a water jug.

Each child also has their own small bag and bedroll. (We use the diaper bags we were given at the hospital when they were born). In each child's bag is food for one day (from the sample menu above) plus two MRE's, three water bottles, and a poncho. Each child also has a bedroll (a fleece blanket with a change of clothes rolled inside, tied with a jumprope). The bags are a little heavy with the food/water inside, but if we were evacuating, each child could carry his/her own bag from the house to our car.

We use these juice containers for water storage for our emergency kits. The handles make them very easy to carry. An adult or older child could carry one in each hand.

Store your emergency kit in a place that will be easily accessible in an emergency. We built an extra shelf above the coat rack in the coat closet near our front door. The lower shelf has the family emergency kit and blanket/bedroll. The upper shelf has the smaller kits, one for each child. If we needed to evacuate quickly, we could grab these kits on our way out the door. Except for infants and toddlers, most children would be able to carry their own bag out to the car. If we were stranded at home (natural disaster, ice storm, etc.) we would know right where our emergency kits were kept.

One last item. In a true emergency, it is hard to think clearly, so if there is something you need to have in an emergency, which is not stored in your emergency kits, put a note to yourself on the outside of the kit where it is easily visible. We have this note pinned to one emergency kit to remind us to get this person's medication from the fridge, as well as an ice pack from the freezer to keep the medication cold (we keep a medicine dropper in the emergency kit).

What are some good online resources where I can find out more information?


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