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Saturday, March 20, 2010

72-hour kits

“Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong, these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”-Churchill, Winston
I’ve come to the conclusion that 72-hour kits are a bad idea. There are many reasons for this.
1. It promotes the idea that safety can be easily purchased. “I’ve bought (or made) a kit so now I’m prepared.” Real preparedness requires skills, planning and practice drills.
2. Kits are easily set aside and forgotten. “I’ve have six 72-hour kits somewhere in the basement for my family”
3. They are left behind when needed. “Honey, grab the kids”. Whoever says, “Honey, the grab the 72-hours kits”, as they flee a burning house”
4. You won’t have them when you need them – stranded in your car or at the office.
5. They are typically inadequate. No water, no cash, no toilet paper, no ID/financial records/insurance/etc to aid recovery.
6. Kits don’t get used and the contents (food, batteries) expire.
7. They don’t last 72-hours. “You mean this is all the food I get for 3 days? I could eat this in one sitting!”
8. Your kit needs to last for more than 72-hours. Since Katrina, FEMA and the American Red Cross now recommend a week of supplies.
So what should you do instead?
1. Maintain a well stocked home with a week of canned food that won’t require electricity to cook. Keep a week’s worth of water in storage for the entire family. Use and rotate these supplies.
2. Create useful first aid kits for your home, each car and office.
3. Make copies of important documents and store these outside the home.
4. Hide some cash outside the home for emergencies. Not your life savings but say $100 to tide things over until you have access to a bank again. Suppose you flee your burning house in your underwear – you’ll have no ID or ATM card to acquire cash! And you'll have no car keys.
5. Stock your cars with supplies suitable to the season – lots of water in summer, gloves & blankets in the winter.
6. Have comfort supplies at your office should you have to sleep there. Include a pair of old walking shoes if you evacuate and the roads/trains are shut down.

Bottom Line
Yes my six steps take more work and effort. But they will be more effective than a “kit” in a bag or can that is lost in the back of a closet somewhere.