Yesterday I said I would post with regards to a 72 hour kit that could be grabbed quickly if one had to evacuate their home in a hurry. Please keep in mind that everyone has their own ideas about this, and each family and each person is different. So no list, no matter where you find it or who publishes it is going to be absolutely right.
First, remember that this pack you're going to put together will be one for each person in your family. Toddlers will need slightly different things than a forty year old. An adult's pack will need to include a first aid kit, radio, and possibly medications. The toddlers kit would not have any of these things, but would have one or two small toys to keep up morale. Family pets will need to be considered as well.
In an adult's pack you'll want photocopies or electronic copies of important documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates if applicable, any health benefit plan documentation, car ownership if applicable, vaccination records, passports, landed immigrant papers if necessary, as well as a small amount of cash. Yes, you need to stash money in your emergency kit and then not touch it. Believe me when I tell you that it might make the difference between sleeping in a motel with a shower or sleeping in your car. Pre-paid phone cards are a good idea also. Consider too a small pocket sized phone book with the numbers of your family and friends that will need to know where you are.
Since no one can know exactly what set of circumstances you'll face, you need to pack with a range of possibilities in mind. You may be lucky enough to stay in a motel. You may have to sleep in your car. You may be forced to camp out for a couple of days. I would include a tarp. Not the ones you get at a dollar store, because I believe you really do get what you pay for. Aim for mid range. Go to a camping supply store and department stores, the super stores and check out what's out there. Make note of the price differences for the same size tarp, really do your homework. This tarp may be your ground-cover, your windbreak or your protection from early morning dew. Also pack a space blanket, this will reflect body heat and make you more comfortable. A rain poncho is also worth considering. This is something that should be in everyone's bag, as well as a change of clothes. Don't forget the socks!
A three day supply of food. Make sure it is something each person will eat. There's no point in packing dried pineapple if your child won't eat it or someone is allergic. If you pack things like canned tuna or ham, remember the can opener. Dried fruit leather, or fruit chips like banana or apples are light and can be compressed into a ziplock bag. Don't forget granola bars, trail mix, ready to eat meals often called MRE's, bottled water, raisins, jerky, and even gum. Put together a basic dish/utensil pack for each bag too. A simple, non breakable plate, cup, spoon, fork and knife would suffice. You can often find these in the camping section of your favorite store, or even in some discount or thrift shops. Again, do your legwork on this. I would also suggest a small folding shovel, a couple of black garbage bags (heavy duty will serve best) and a roll of jute twine. In an emergency camping situation, lengths of jute make great fire starter that can be relied on for flame more than a handful of twigs.
While we're on the topic of fire, let's not forget either wooden matches in a waterproof container, a lighter or possibly even a fire striker kit. Now, each component of this kit so far should be wrapped in either hefty bags or ziplocks. There's not much point in preparing all this without considering the possibility of your bag getting wet. Also worth getting, a small radio that either has fresh batteries or can be wound for power. There's some great ones out there that won't break your budget, but again, it requires some footwork to find them. Some folks have suggested a roll of duct tape, since it has so many uses. I think this is a good idea.
First aid supplies. A basic first aid kit, and each persons toiletries are also important. A roll of toilet paper can be squashed down to make room, and should be packed in a ziplock bag. Ever tried to use damp t.p? Any medications, inhalers, epi-pens or allergy medications should also be included. Non-scented soap, hand sanitizer, a small towel, a brush or comb, toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste. The travel size of these items will work fine, and will save on space in the pack. A bottle of pain reliever will come in handy as well, and don't forget some for the kids if you have children too small for adult dosages.
Last but not least, a book or deck of cards should also find a home in the pack. A big part of staying sane in a crisis is keeping yourself together. I know from experience that kids can ride out an emergency better if the adults are staying calm. It's more important than you think.
Next time, we'll talk about emergency packs for the furry members of your family.