Importance of a Disaster Kit
Disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods sometimes strike unexpectedly. They routinely injure and kill many people. However, even more people die as a result of a lack of preparation for such emergencies. Therefore, many experts recommend the preparation of seventy-two hour kits. These kits contain supplies and equipment that save their users from potential death. Vital urban systems, such as water and electricity may incur damage during disasters and often may not function for several days.
In addition, most stores will be closed and likely inaccessible. In times like these, citizens thus do not have access to food, medicine, or portable lighting such as flashlights and candles. By assembling a kit that contains all necessary materials, people can survive while waiting for the restoration of those services. Seventy-two hours (three days) represents a reasonably minimal amount of time for which people should prepare, but sometimes a disaster's aftermath may linger for a week or more.
72 Hour Kit - Basic Components
Man cannot survive without water for extended periods and many list a sufficient water supply as the first priority when preparing a seventy-two hour kit. Through drinking and use for sanitation, people consume one to two gallons of water per day so a seventy-two hour kit should contain at a least three-day supply (three gallons), even more for areas with hot climates. Users may also finish their supplies of water before regular service is restored and need to resort to collecting rainwater. However, you should note that collecting water that way may not be safe, so experts also recommend including some means to purify it.
You should also keep at least a three-day supply of food available, with an emphasis on high-energy food that does not spoil quickly like nuts or crackers, being sure to check the dates periodically. If you include canned items, you must also include a can opener.
Another important item is toilet paper and you should have supplies for all household members for at least three days, however you may consider a larger quantity for extra insurance.
Injuries, such as lacerations, occur frequently when disasters strike as well as in the disaster's aftermath. Therefore, other necessary components include first aid materials such as sterile bandages, anti-septic solutions, and topical antibiotics.
You should also keep an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses.
Any material in the kit that may be damaged or rendered ineffective by water should be wrapped or sealed in plastic.
A supply of money in small denominations and coins or credit cards in your kit helps for situations such as telephone calls (if the lines still operate) or vendors selling various goods, both essential and non-essential.
Copies of important documents such as insurance forms, wills, an important telephone numbers may be necessary during recovery following the disaster.
You may also need to include some form of sheltering to protect yourself against elements of nature such as rain or cold. Some tents are designed for this purpose and fold up neatly into small packages. For cold weather areas, blankets or sleeping bags may be required.
You should also include some form of portable lighting such as a flashlight or candles. You should also be sure to include extra batteries and waterproof matches.
Many experts also recommend a sort of kit-within-a-kit containing articles of personal hygiene and grooming including toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, soap, and comb or brush. In areas of strong sun, survivors of disasters should also include sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat. Insect repellent also helps in warm areas.
You should also realize that over the course of several days you will need to change clothes and you should also include extra underwear, shirts, shorts, pants, socks, and shoes. Although one does not need to wear different shoes each day, you should remember a disaster may strike while you are wearing uncomfortable dress shoes and during an emergency comfortable, yet sturdy shoes are preferable.
Some people may require special materials for their kits. For example people who suffer from epilepsy, diabetes, or other diseases require essential components such as medications as well as the means to administer them. Babies require diapers, pacifiers, sanitary napkins, and nourishment.
Another important addition is a battery-operated, portable radio. You may need to know about important information. Hearing news about the outside world also allows disaster victims to maintain a relation to others and helps people to avoid despair. In addition, programming such as music may provide necessary diversions.
Finally, you should provide other materials for diversionary activity. Whole days and evenings may pass with nothing to occupy one's mind besides the trauma of the disaster. Games, books, magazines, and stationary may give you a necessary distraction. They are especially important for children. Sweets, such as chocolate, may also help to lighten your mood.
Every member of your household including adults, children, babies, elderly, and infirm should have their own kits, personalized to their specific needs. They should be portable and kept near the exit or backyard to a home or exit to an office so that getting the kit does not impede a quick escape. You should distribute heavy items among several kits that are carried by those strong enough to carry the weight. A typical kit may be approximately 1,500 inches cubed or the size of a small backpack used by hikers. Its weight may range from about fifteen to twenty-five pounds.
You should also examine your kits periodically, but regularly to update dated items such as food, medicine, and batteries. You must also avoid taking materials from your kit for other purposes, but the potential for such a random occurrence represents another reason to examine the kit.
A seventy-two hour kit represents a basic requirement for any home or office to help occupants survive after unforeseen disasters strike. Kits should contain a number of items to help individuals survive in a disaster's aftermath. After preparing a kit, be sure to examine it periodically and update it if necessary, replacing outdated materials. A kit may well represent the difference between life and death.