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Friday, March 5, 2010

The 15-Minute Emergency Kit

With four major earthquakes occurring around the world in the last two months (three of them just in the last 2 weeks, and one of those just yesterday), emergency preparation has probably been on quite a few minds recently. I even heard a spot from our state's governor on the radio yesterday letting everyone know of our state's preparedness web site and other resources.

One of the main things that is suggested on most of the government and community preparation web sites is to have an emergency "kit" (sometimes called a 72-hour kit or a bug-out bag) for each member of the family, that contains items that would be useful in possible emergency situations.

There are many options for kits out there - you can purchase pre-assembled kits, you can make your own, or you can do a combination of both. As an aspiring "frugalista", I really wanted to make my own because I was pretty sure I could do it for pretty cheap, and doing my own meant I could customize it for my family's needs.

As I've done research on this, I've found so many lists of suggested items, and so many ideas. But I also found that it's easy to get bogged down in trying to plan for every possible scenario. It can become overwhelming, and it's hard to not get stalled in our efforts or abandon our plans all together because of the perceived complexity of the whole endeavor.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that ANY preparation is better than no preparation at all. So I wanted to find a way to put together a bare-bones, bare-basics kit that wouldn't cost much money and could be thrown together in a matter of a few minutes so that it would be done and ready should the need ever arise.

In an emergency situation, the top priorities are water, wound care and sanitation/hygiene. You can go a few days without food. You can go for weeks without a shower or brushing your teeth or shampooing your hair if you had to (no, it wouldn't be pretty, and it might be downright miserable, but you'd at least survive).

But you CAN'T go for very long without water. And if you happen to get a wound (which is quite likely in an emergency) and it gets infected and is untreated, you just plain WON'T be able to go for very long - period.

With that in mind, I rummaged through my house to come up with the items that I felt were a bare-minimum for an emergency kit. These are kind of the essentials for sustaining or preserving life. Here's what I came up with:

small backpack
bottled water [it's not the recommended 3 gallons, but it's certainly better than nothing, and you can add more if space and weight allow]
assorted adhesive bandages
antiseptic wash (or alcohol wipes or iodine)
antibiotic ointment
otc pain relievers
any prescription meds you take on a daily basis
food for 1 day [I just grabbed 6 granola/nut bars - convenient, no cooking required, and could be easily rationed if needed]
bar of soap
roll of toilet paper
(for the gals) feminine hygiene products

[If you have a young child, you might want to include a baby blanket, cloth or disposable diaper(s) and possibly a bottle and formula]

It took me about 15 minutes to gather all these items. There was still about 6 inches of room at the top of the backpack, and even with the water bottle included, the entire pack only weighed 5lb 10oz. It was fast, cheap (all items came from around my house already) and lightweight.

Remember, this is not a deluxe version. This is just a quick put-together kit that you can do on the cheap that will get you started. But even this bare-basics kit will still get you a lot farther in an emergency situation than having no kit at all.

Of course, the idea is that you can then add to and customize your kit as time and finances and circumstances allow. There are many more things you might want to add if space and weight will allow. But even if you don't add anything else, at least you'll have something put together should the need ever arise (but hopefully it won't).

Here's a quick list of other things you might want to add on (and this is by no means an exhaustive list):

trash bag/rain poncho
copies of important documents (birth certificates, IDs, contact information, etc.)
additional first aid supplies
change of clothes and additional cold weather items (hat, gloves, etc.)
additional personal hygiene items (shampoo, toothpaste, wet wipes, razor, etc.)
knife or survival tool
additional food
solar blanket
water purification tablets or water filtering device
hand sanitizer

I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions on emergency kits or other things you've done to "get prepared".

[For additional resources, check out or]


Student Entrepreneur said...

Thanks!! I have been needing to do this - but kept thinking I didn't want to spend the money for all the stuff!!! But you are so right!! I have everything here! And I have LOTS of extra backpacks ready for the DI, I will use them for this!! Thanks!!

Storys said...

I've also heard to put several small bills (money) in there as well, so you can buy things if you need to.


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