The 72 Hour Kit

  • Mar. 16, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Pipestone Flyer

Vol 15, Issue 11, Leduc – Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer

Earthquakes, tsunami, volcano, and now nuclear power plant damage—as we watch one of the worst disasters of all time unfolding in this week, our hearts go out to the people of Japan.  It is mind-boggling to think about surviving such devastation-homeless, displaced, and wondering how to find the basic necessities. 

 

It is hard to imagine that something could rock our little corner of the world. Yet, under the right conditions—tornado, sour gas blowout, prairie grassfire, or winter snow/ice storm—we here in the heart of central Alberta also could find ourselves facing destruction and evacuation.

 

When an emergency strikes

 

So there you are, snug in your home during a raging winter ice storm when suddenly the power goes out. Lines are down over a wide area and it will take days to complete repairs.  With no heat source, you must seek shelter in the local high school gymnasium. What do you take?  

Or…

You decide to stay put because you have a fireplace (or a generator) for a heat source. What should you have on hand?

 

The 72 Hour Kit

Every family should have a 72 Hour Kit and an emergency plan.  This simple plan of action may make you more comfortable in an emergency situation or it may save a life.

You can put together your own 72 Hour Kit for a fraction of the cost of a pre-assembled kit.  You can choose from three levels—basic, intermediate, and luxury. Perishables in the “go bag”—snacks and batteries, etc.—will need to be rotated. Check the expiry dates.

The Essentials Basic Kit  (cost—approx $100)

  • Water—the most essential item in any kit, plan on 2 to 3 litres per person per day. If staying in the home, allow one large water-cooler bottle per person.  Use litre bottles for a “go bag.”
  • Radio—useful for listening to emergency messages, instructions, and to hear critical weather reports. With a hand crank radio, you won’t need to worry about the batteries going dead or leaking in your bag. 
  • $50 in small bills—Start with a minimum of $50 in small bills as most bank machines and credit cards don’t work when the power is out. Some people earmark $20 per paycheque to put into the kit and gradually build enough for any major long-term emergency.
  • Candle and matches—when the flashlight batteries are gone, this will be a good light source and can also be used to make a fire.
  • Toilet paper—if you’ve ever been caught without toilet paper, you know what a simple luxury this is.
  • Toiletries—small toothbrush and toothpaste, bar of soap, mouthwash or gum, shampoo. Stash them in a clear plastic, zip bag.

The Intermediate Kit (cost—approximately $20 plus the cost of a first aid kit)

You will want to add the following to the Essentials Basic Kit above. The checklist doesn’t cost anything, but will be useful in identifying things (such as a computer or camera) that you wouldn’t want or couldn’t have sitting in the emergency bag all year.  All of these are small, affordable, and easy-to-carry.

  • Garbage bags—can be used for garbage, as rain gear, and other useful things.
  • First Aid Kit—unless you have first aid training, a basic kit will do.
  • Photocopy of prescriptions and vital documents—such as insurance, driver’s license, passport, marriage certificate, will—stored tight in a plastic bag.
  • An out-of-town contact name, number, and email to reunite dispersed family members. Make sure everyone knows who the contact person is.
  • Emergency blanket and hand warmer/heat pack—cheap, small, and wonderful.
  • Small, easy-to-eat food—candies, nuts, granola bars. Small, can be easily carried, inexpensive and better than nothing.  Be sure to rotate as per expiration date. An emergency is no place to worry about diets!A checklist—Every family has items that are expensive, “one of a kinds,” or heirlooms that you wouldn’t want to lose.  This checklist will help you identify what is critical to gather on very short notice: 

o   A cell phone charger   

o   Computer, camera

o   Photo albums, photographs

o   Purse/wallet

o   Heirlooms, antiques, valuables

o   Jewellery

o   Medications, medical supplies, oxygen

o   Pet supplies, especially cage, leash, blanket, food and water.

o   Infant supplies

o   Glasses, false teeth

o   Clothing for current weather

 

The Luxury Kit

These things are bulky, expensive, almost never used in most emergencies, and are difficult to lug around due to their weight. You can’t flee with these to an emergency reception centre.  These are good for when you have days to prepare in advance for an emergency—like some floods. While considered non-essential, these items will make your life much more comfortable in the event of an emergency.

  • Monthly or weekly computer backup
  • Work gloves
  • Tools – Minor repairs, shut off the gas when instructed, debris cleanup.
  • Pet records; vaccinations
  • Medical records
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Canned food and manual can opener/ready to eat meals
  • Camp stove
  • Extra clothes – take some of those old comfy clothes
  • Extra car keys and house keys—easy things to lose in the confusion
  • Whistle
  • Duct tape
  • Tarp—can make tent, rain cover
  • Small pocket knife
  • Camera—to record damage, situation or for presentations and debriefings (if video capable).
  •  Good book or cards
  • Sun Block, sun glasses, sun hat—OR—
  • Winter mitts (not gloves), balaclava, ski goggles—in case of extreme cold.

The Emergency Plan

An emergency plan isn’t much good if no one knows about it.  The following questions need to be discussed as a family.  If a child is old enough to know their own home phone number, they are old enough to memorize an out-of-area emergency number of a friend or relative to reunite families. 

  • Where would you go if the family were to become separated?
  • Who would you call to find out or let others know who is okay?
  • What escape routes are there from you home?  
  • Have you discussed these with every family member?

For more information, check out the Government of Canada 72 Hour Kit website at http://www.aema.alberta.ca/documents/72hrEMPreparedness.pdf or search online: “72 Hour Kit”.

 

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