Known as a bug-out bag, 72 hour kit, or go bag, preppers assemble life sustaining kits that they can grab in an emergency. Our family has assembled our own 72 hour kits. Four years ago the Waldo Canyon Fire forced us to evacuate from our home. Although our house was not really in danger of burning, as the smoke enveloped our neighborhood, the smell of smoke hung so thick in the air that it caught in our throats and burned our eyes. My husband was out of town, and I had to get my 3 year old and baby into our car with our precious belongings in about 20 minutes. I remember the adrenaline coursing through my body. I was shaking and had trouble thinking clearly. It was terrifying!
I grabbed our photo albums and family treasures, a few clothes and some diapers. Funny thing…even though we had our 72 hour kits, I didn’t even think to grab them. We were fortunate enough to have family within 2 hours of driving distance who welcomed us. We stayed there for 3 days. Others were not so lucky. Some had to stay in gymnasiums and churches set up as emergency shelters. If we had to stay in a shelter, our 72 hour kits would have been invaluable.
I used to think that in an emergency my family and I would be out in the wilderness. However, since the Waldo Canyon Fire I have changed my thinking. More than likely a disaster might displace us, but we would probably find shelter somewhere in the city. My snake bite kit has been replaced with more useful things-activities for the kids, an extra pair of eye glasses, and extra cash.
What should go into a 72-hour kit? Food, water, clothes, basic toiletries, medication, personal documents, and cash. Each person needs 1 gallon of water per day, so that is a total of 3 gallons for each 72 hour kit. I don’t know about you, but there is no way I will be able to haul my 3 gallons of water along with 9 gallons of water for my children. I think that is a bit unrealistic. I have stored enough water in my home to last 72 hours, but in my go bag I have at least 3 liters of liquid and a Sawyer water filter.
Now, what about food? You can find MREs or other ready to eat packaged meals, but I don’t want to eat processed junk. Granted, in an emergency, I will just be grateful to have something to eat, but I regularly rotate my food supply in my go bag, and I don’t want to waste money on food that I never end up eating or feel like I have to choke down “cheese” cracker packets with fully hydrogentated oils or MSG laced MREs.
What’s a girl to do? I’ve come up with a list of acceptable foods that are portable and nutritious, easy to find in stores, and fairly economical.
You should aim for 2000-2500 calories per person per day, so a total of 6000-7500 for 3 days. Remember that in an emergency, your metabolism will speed up, and you will likely be more hungry, so err on the side of more calories. If you have small children, I would pack the same amount of calories as an adult. They will be hungrier than usual as well. If you end up with any extra food, you can share with others in need.
Because the food is not chock full of chemicals and artificial preservatives, it has a shorter shelf life. You will need to rotate the food once a year. That really isn’t such a big deal if you enjoy eating the food you have stored, and it is easily replaceable. The most important thing is that you do have a go-bag. You never know when a disaster will strike.