If a life-threatening event forces you to leave your home, your preparations can help you endure with a minimum of discomfort and a maximum of confidence.
- What’s the difference between a 72-hour kit and being prepared in my home?
- Why 72 hours? Why not 54 hours or 95 hours or something else?
- The government or The Red Cross will step in and help me. Why should I have a 72-hour emergency evacuation readiness kit?
What’s the difference between a 72-hour kit and being prepared in my home?
Being prepared for a disaster and having a 72-hour kit is not the same. You need to know the difference.
There is a lot of confusion nowadays about what it means to be prepared. Being prepared at home does not begin and end with a preparedness kit (or a 72-hour evacuation kit, as it can also be called), though having a preparedness kit is an important part of being prepared. To be prepared for a disaster you need to be ready to take care of yourself in your home and also away from your home, in case of an evacuation.
The purpose of a 72-hour evacuation kit is to provide all the supplies you may need to care for yourself completely for three days in case you are forced out of your home on the spur of the moment. For example, a chemical spill on some nearby train tracks could force the evacuation of several square miles of homes for several days until it is contained.
There’s so much you ought to know about survival packages! A bomb threat could evacuate a neighborhood with only a few minutes notice and there are instances that you might want to have Iodine tablets at your disposal. Check also this post: Be Prepared In The New Year.
Earthquakes, floods, fires, and many other things can also cause evacuations. If you are evacuated from your home, you need to have a kit prepared that you can grab as you go out the door. It will become your home away from home. While it is likely that an evacuation shelter will be set up for you to stay in, it may be a while before it is up and running with all the food and supplies you’ll need. That is why you have a 72-hour kit: To take care of yourself and your kids until help is available.
Even after assistance is organized many of the items that would help you at a shelter during an evacuation are there on a donation basis. There may or may not be enough for everyone. So while your basic needs will be usually be met (food, water, shelter, basic first aid, etc.) there’s no guarantee more than that will be available. And if you don’t know where to start, check out this post. It’s up to you to be ready to care for yourself.
Being forced out of your home is not the only problem you may face. Some disasters may occur that leave you within the safety of your home, only without power, or utilities or any means of obtaining supplies for days or even weeks. In this case, a 72-hour evacuation kit is not what you need to get through the crisis. Preparedness for this type of disaster includes having on hand sufficient food and non-food supplies like antibiotics to last until the stores open again or until you are able to get to the store.
This food should require little or no preparation or refrigeration. Think through the ramifications of being without power for any length of time and make plans to deal with that situation. Camping stoves and fuel would allow you to heat the food you have or prepare simple meals. Fuel lanterns, fuel stabilizers, flashlights, a source for heat, extra blankets and water are some of the things to have on hand when you’re faced with a crisis. It’s also good to know how to purify water, even it’s your own body’s fluids.
Since we don’t know what upsets the future hold, it’s wise to prepare for both contingencies: a 72-hour kit and a first aid kit in case you are evacuated, and preparedness supplies in case you are roughing it at home.
Why 72 hours? Why not 54 hours or 95 hours or…?
The “villain” of disasters that are severe enough to cause evacuation is lag-time. This is the period between the actual occurrence of the emergency and when organized help arrives. Most people evacuated from their homes do not expect to be away for more than one day. This is a serious misconception.
Many evacuation periods last several days or more. For the first hours or even days of an emergency, you may be on your own to provide food, clothing and other supplies for yourself until help arrives. Research has shown that in very serious situations, lag-time is at least seventy- two hours. During those three days, evacuees could be faced with living in fairly primitive conditions. They may have no clean water, heat, lights, toilet facilities, or shelter. The longer the lag time, the more the problems.
The government or the Red Cross will step in and help me. Why should I have a 72-hour kit?
State and city governments have people whose job it is to take care of emergencies and they are trained to deal with large numbers of people. Of necessity, they must meet the immediate needs of multitudes, not the individual. And if you think that Emergency Services, the Red Cross or Salvation Army will immediately come running to your individual rescue, think again. Such agencies do help, but they have to rely heavily on volunteer labor and donated commodities. Just have your emergency kit ready, and don’t forget to stock it up with the right antibiotics! Read here more about how to create your own emergency preparedness plan.
In a crisis, their immediate efforts must be concentrated on coordinating the greatest amount of relief to the most people as quickly as possible. In a disaster, that may mean bringing in people from outside the disaster area. And that takes time. This does not demean the marvelous service that these organizations perform. It focuses on how immense their responsibilities are, and to what degree the public has come to rely solely upon them. It is virtually impossible for such organizations to provide for everyone’s specific individual needs. You need to have your home secured and to be able to care for yourself.