I feel really strongly about having 72 Hour Kits in our home and I pray we never have to use them! This week I'd just like to share some tips and hints for your kits!
Now that you know what goes into a 72 kit, let's talk about the perfect container. Rolling backpacks are absolutely the best thing you can use, especially for kids' kits. We use old school backpacks for the kids and larger thrift store found backpacks for the adult and car kits. The smaller the kid, the smaller the backpack. The reason I use rolling backpacks is so they can be thrown on the back if walking over rough terrain, but they can also be rolled for long distances. Bottles full of water get heavy after a short while! My car kit is extremely heavy and I know I wouldn't be able to carry it very far at all. I know of people that keep their 72 hr kits in a 5 gallon bucket. How far could you carry a 5 gallon bucket full of food and water? How far could your kids carry it? Make sure whatever you use for your kit can be easily carried by the person it's intended for.
Some people put off having 72 hr kits because they don't know where to store them. Whether I've been in a big house or a small house I've been able to find a closet bottom to keep the kits in. The backpacks actually stack up pretty nicely.
They take up very little space at all and the bottom of a coat closet is a perfect home for them! Wherever you keep them, just make sure they are easily accessible and that everyone in the house knows where they are.
Every year when I rotate our kits I include the kids in the putting back together part. That way they know what everything is and what it's used for. We discuss why we need the kits and under what circumstances they might need them. It makes for a good family home evening on preparedness and the kids are less fearful of natural disasters if they know they are prepared.
This is all the food that had to be replaced in our kits this year. It costs me about $80 to replace our 72 hr kit food each year. That's for one adult kit, three kids' kits and a car kit. Really $80 a year isn't a bad investment for the peace of mind having these kits gives my family. And not all of it goes into the garbage. Much of the food and water is not expired and only close-dated, which means we use the fruit cups in lunches, munch the jerky, eat tuna casserole, etc. The food and water in my car kit does go in the garbage each year though, just because of the extreme temperatures we have here in Utah. We have everything from blizzards to 100 degree weather and sometimes that's in the same month... I figure better safe than sorry and all food and water from my car kit is thrown away.
This is what my living room looks like during the couple of days we work on our kits. I usually take one day to open all the kits, sort the food and make lists of foods and medicines that need to be replaced. And then a day or two later after I've purchased all the provisions the kids and I put them back together.
Something to entertain yourselves is often overlooked while putting together kits. I don't know about you, but the idea of being stuck with my kids for days in a make-shift shelter or my car doesn't sound very appalling. A deck of cards, a notebook w/pen, comfort-type foods, etc. are all a good idea.
Money is also a good idea. Each of our kids' kits have $5 and mine has $15. This isn't a large enough amount that I have to worry about having cash in the backpacks, but it's enough to get me a bit of gas or other necessities if needed. I keep my cash in a mini mint tin. It tucks right into a pocket and is pretty protected. I have 2 $5 bills and 5 ones. Smaller change could come in handy, you never know.
Another thing I've mentioned in past postings, but want to mention again is copies of your important documents such as birth certificates, shot records, drivers licenses, military ID cards, etc. Also when you update your kit each year, update your emergency phone list. Include your own home address and phone numbers on the list. I also keep a list of social security numbers and the phone number for our bank. Copies of insurance cards are also fabulous to have. Security-wise, I don't keep these things in my car kit other than my drivers license copies and phone numbers, but we do have them in each kit in our house. This information could be extremely useful to you if you had to evacuate and in a situation like that, you wouldn't usually think to or want to take the time to grab your important documents like birth certificates.
I hope you've learned something about emergency preparedness during these last few weeks. I know that "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D & C 38:30). 72 hr kits are just one aspect of being prepared for emergencies and disasters, but it's a great place to start!