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08/16/2005 Archived Entry: "72 hr kits"

Wabbit season...Duck season....Hurricane Season

Raving Reporter Thunder here. It's that time of the year again. Yep, it's time when the seasonal winds for those of us on the coasts blow a lot harder than usual and we get a lot of rain in a short amount of time. Hurricanes suck. I've grown up dealing with them all of my life. Usually, where I live, its just a lot of rain and and lot of wind and its generally no big deal. Electricity might go out for a couple hours, but that's usually the worst it gets.

Notice I said usually.

A couple years back, I made it through Hurricane Isabel. Isabel was a Category 3 storm when it hit us. We've been hit with numerous Cat 3 storms in my life, but never did one of them (in my memory) cause as much damage as Isabel did. Why did Isabel wreak so much havoc? In a word: rain. We had had an unusually high amount of rainfall that summer and by the time Isabel hit, the ground was nice and wet and soft. Tree root systems no longer had anything substantial to hold on to and fell when blown by the high winds.

Electricity, a luxury too many people have become reliant upon, was non-existent for those without a generator. After Isabel, I was without electricity for 10 days. I had some supplies, but not enough to get by comfortably. We were lucky. We made it through, losing only a few things in the thawed freezer that had gone bad, but the lesson learned was to be as prepared as possible. We all have our own types of disasters in each of our necks of the woods, so no one is immune from something bad happening. A tiny community in the midwest could have a train carrying hazardous chemicals derail and require that town to evacuate. A snowstorm could have you holed up for days or even weeks. Are you prepared? A 72 hr kit is a good starting point.

So, what do we put in a 72 hr kit? Well, that depends on you and your situation. As usual, Your Mileage May Vary. For instance, you or a family member may have special dietary needs or medication or both. Be sure to factor that in when you make your checklist for items to put in the kit. The upcoming blogs by me will be just a guideline and are by no means definitive, but should give you a good starting point to go from.

First up: Food

There are several options available to us, each with their own advantages and disadvanteages. Which one you choose, all depends on you, your personal preferences and situation. Personally, I like to plan for these situations with a layered type of defense, so to speak.

Home. Always have a stocked pantry as much as you possibly can. Include all of the staples: flour, dried beans, sugar, salt, canned goods, etc. In case something happens that keeps you there for an extended amont of time, you've got something to eat. Items that are preserved by canning or drying or otherwise have a long shelf-life, are always plusses. If you don't know how to can and preserve food, learn how to.

On the Go. There are several options available to you for food to put in your 72 hr kit that are adapted to mobility. The most famous of these are the MRE's or Meal, Ready to Eat. These were developed for the military in the early 1980's and replace the Vietnam era C rations. They consist of a plastic bag which contains even more plastic bags, which actually contain the food. They do not require the addition of water to make them ready to eat and can be either eaten cold or heated up by placing the food pouches in boiling water or using the MRE heater (sold separately).

There are also freeze dried meals. Because these meals are freeze dried, they are very lightweight and do require you to add water to them in order to reconstitute them into something you recognize as food. The menu items available as freeze dried are numerous and contain many familiar dishes.

Also available are emergency food ration tablets. These usually take the form of some kind of high tech granola bar. They are lightweight and do not take up much space. You will usually find these in the bar form, but some are available as tablet or pill form as well.

Canned food could be used in a pinch, but I wouldn't recommend it due to its weight and bulkiness. If you've got nothing else and you've got to leave now, by all means, toss it in the kit!

Which one to use? Well, that's all up to you. Personally, I prefer the MRE's. They are tasty and require little to no preparation. However, due to their containing water, they can be rather bulky and heavy when compared to freeze-dried food or ration bars. The freeze dried meal I tested was a bit bland and took half a gallon of water to rehydrate. Using that much water and the energy required to heat that water to boiling could be problematic if your water supply is tainted/limited or your energy sources are limited. The blandness could easily be overcome with the judicious application of some herbs and spices, but who's going to have a spice rack with them if the SHTF?

Each MRE provides approximately 1300 calories, mostly from carbohydrates. Depending on your activity level (Are you driving or hiking?) I would recommend that you plan for 2 MRE's a day per adult. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking with your pack, freeze-dried meals are probably your better choice, but you'll have to be sure you'll have water available to rehydrate them once you set up camp.

Next installment: Water

Posted by Thunder @ 10:16 PM CST

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