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Monday, May 6, 2013

Healthier 72 hour kits

Back in January, I realized that we needed to add two 72 hour kits to our food storage.  We were given 4 kits for Christmas, a month before our third child was born.  Now that we've got 4 kids I felt we should probably catch up our emergency supplies!

72 hour kits are just one part of being prepared in case of an emergency.  As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, emergency preparedness is something we're encouraged to keep up on.  They are to be easy to carry, a grab and run sort of thing.  They should contain enough food & water to sustain a person for 3 days, as well as basic supplies needed for survival.

So, back to those (ahem... 5 year old) kits we had.  I pulled them out and started going through them only to discover that just two of them contained food for 72 hours.   They were even missing a few items each.  The other two kits contained a pack of Oreos, vienna sausages, some Jolly Ranchers, and peppermint candies.  Thank goodness we haven't had to use them!  I never realized they were incomplete!  However, the food they did contain were things like instant oatmeal, hot cocoa and tang packets, Cup-o-Soup, canned vienna sausages, sugary granola bars, and those Austin crackers.  There's no way this food would sustain us in an emergency for 3 days, and there's no way we would come away from those 3 days without needing another few to recover (digestive-ly speaking).

Now, please don't mistake my comments for lack of gratitude.  We were very grateful to have these gifts, and at the time we received them we probably would have eaten (some) of this food.  The kits are full of other useful supplies, and the back packs are so nice to have.  But as I showed my kids the food they contained, they scrunched up their noses.  They opened a can of vienna sausages and declared it stunk like cat food.  Even the dog was hesitant.. So here I am, sharing my quest for healthier 72 hour kits.

My thoughts about creating a 72 hour kit:

  • The food should be something we are used to eating, or would be willing to eat.
  • The food should be able to sustain us if we have to expend energy (walking, hiking, working).
  • The food should not need any preparation beyond opening the package (no can opener needed).
  • There should be a variety of food, and not mostly grains or sugar.
  • The kit should be something I could send with a teen, say someone going to scout camp.  (Does anyone else get nervous watching the news in the summer?  It seems there is always a scout getting lost.)

So, I started searching online for ideas of what to include.  Then I made myself a master list and started counting the non-perishable supplies we already had.  I had an extra backpack of supplies to include that I took from my grandpa's house when we were preparing it to sell.  Sidenote - I had no idea this backpack had food left in it, curse the hidden pockets!  Grandpa always made fruit leather in his dehydrator, however it's been a few years since he passed away, and many years before that since he possibly could have made some.  So this was a surprise, and a nice memory.  P.S.  We did not eat it.

I liked the idea here of a master check list, so I recreated one for myself.  Each family member is a different color, and the check box is left white if that person doesn't need this specific item in their kit.  For instance, Daddy's backpack has a wind up flashlight, so he doesn't need batteries.  The one year old has no need for a pocket knife yet.  

The areas outlined in pink are "grab and go".  That means items that are not in the backpacks that we'd like to have.  Such as my essential oils kit, sleeping bags, a tent, copies of important documents and legal certificates.  I also have clothing in this category since we don't have clothes for each person packed in the kits yet.  

The items themselves are either white or highlighted in yellow or green.  Those colors specify if it's something I should check and replace in 6 months or in 1 year.  Because we were using light sticks and hand warmers from previously made packs, I noted their expiration date.  Next year, I'll replace them and change the date.

This was an early copy, it's much more filled in now :)

Then, it was on to the food.  I ordered some of the food through my Frontier Co-op and the rest I bought at grocery stores.  The cost was much higher than typical kits, but I feel it was worth it.  For this reason, we've decided that our yearly re-stock of these kits will be in the spring, when the tax return arrives.  A good time to check the kits is General Conference, the first weekend in April and also October.  Or, check around when DST begins and ends.   

I spent a lot of time researching what to put into our kits.  I wanted healthier choices, nearly no added sugar, and the sugar had to be healthier than white sugar.  I wanted to avoid soy.  I wanted to include fruits and vegetables.  I wanted healthy fats, and I made an attempt at avoiding excessive omega 6.  I wanted liquids so if it became difficult to carry water we wouldn't become dehydrated right away.  So I made a spreadsheet of all the many options I found.  Feel free to refer to it as you plan!  At the end I started adding other items I would like to include in the future, such as water filter bottles, hand crank radio/chargers, USB drives, as well as places to purchase other items I'd need to replace eventually.  This spreadsheet has become a collective for my thoughts, so I do add to it occasionally, and it isn't laid out very fancy.    :)

You'll notice at the beginning there is a average calories used chart.  I did not plan meals according to individual requirements, but you could do so.  The meals I included in our kits total approximately 2000 calories per day.  It is likely that the youngest would not eat all the food, so this could be shared with someone who may feel they need more.  Or the food could be spread out over more days if the individual felt that was possible.  The calorie count does not include the chia seeds, coconut oil, and Yummy Earth drops.

So here we go!  The entire kit.  Supplies are in a one gallon zipper bag, and each day of food is in one as well.  There is a quart zipper bag that contains the extras and the menu.  There are water pouches (not all pictured) and a water bottle in each kit.  One of our Grab & Go items is a case of water bottles.  

The supplies are pictured below.  A few ideas:

  • Watch for the toilet paper roll to be used halfway and put it in a kit.  You can also buy small packages of TP.  Or take the tube out of a new roll and smash it flat.  Though that tube could make a good fire starter..
  • Save empty TP rolls and wrap duct tape around it to create your own smaller roll of duct tape.  Two fit on a TP tube.  You can purchase smaller duct tape rolls, but since we had 2 full rolls already, I used one of them to make 6 small rolls. 
  • Include smaller zipper baggies for stuff you don't want to touch other things, such as a toothbrush or soap.  Our batteries are also in a baggie.  
  • I have two tiny bottles of essential oil included.  I chose Deliverance (antiviral, for brushing teeth, hand sanitizer) and Lemon (antidepressant, insect repellant, antibacterial, heartburn, it will cause sunburn!).  These two are what I felt would be most helpful in an emergency situation.  If we had to evacuate in our vehicle, I would grab our essential oils 72 hour kit at well.  (please contact me if you are interested in ordering some essential oils!)  For using the oils topically, they can be diluted with the coconut oil in the food portion of the kit.
  • To save space, don't put a whole bar of soap in.   Save sample bars, or cut a large bar into smaller pieces.

The food in our previous 72 hour kits all fit in 1 gallon size bag.  But I don't think that food would have sustained us for 3 days.  I know I would have felt horribly sick after just one meal, and my husband would have been starving in 2 hours.  So the trade off here is yes, more food taking up more space, thus making a heavier pack.  

Right now our youngest child's kit is in a duffle bag with a shoulder strap.  If we were walking, Daddy would likely be carrying a few bags, so this would be easier for him.  She'd be in a mei tai on my back.  That reminds me!  I didn't include pictures of baby supplies here, but our youngest needs diapers and mama's milk (already packed!) in addition to food and other basics.  So consider formula if you need.  I did include disposable diapers and wipes in her 72 hour kit.  I can easily store them in one of the trash bags we've included, and they take up much less space than the cloth diapers we use.

I included a menu in each persons kit.  Here are a couple of menus that I came up with.   I also wanted to include some extras that would be helpful.  The little mason jar has coconut oil.  The candy drops are ginger and peppermint from Yummy Earth.  Both of those would be helpful in case of digestive discomfort.  There are freeze dried yogurt drops as an extra treat.  The chia seeds could be mixed into a food pouch, if it were squeeze out into a cup after eating the fruit.  Those little zipper bags were sealed in portions using a Food Saver.  The freeze dried veggies would need to be portioned out, but with the tuna/chicken salad cups this is possible.. just save the lid.  I also need to include one more pouch of freeze dried veggies each.  I wanted to purchase them from Just Tomatoes because of their zipper bags, but I found I could save a little money by purchasing Honeyville Farms #10 cans.

Below are the 3 days of food.  Clockwise, from the top left, breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner.  Of course, the person could swap things for each meal as they like.  I think I'd rather have the Ancient Grains crackers and peanut butter as a snack.. since the dinners already have crackers.  

I'm sad that I couldn't find a supplier of tahini packets when I was creating these.  I'll keep checking with the ones that came up in searches, hopefully I'll be able to swap some peanut butter out for tahini in the future.

I still need to make family pictures to laminate and include in each kit, like this suggestion.   We took a little time going over what the items in the kits were and how to use them.  I think we'll do this periodically as the kids grow.  I would hate for them to be stuck in the mountains and not have any idea what the emergency blanket was for or why there was a mirror in their supplies!  My kids have paracord bracelets but we're planning a family home evening, or  FHE, to make more.  There is some paracord in the two adult kits, but I think these would be handy to have.  

One goal accomplished!  I feel much better knowing these are prepared and available, just in case.

1 comment:

  1. Wow... I'm exhausted after just reading all that. What a huge amount of planning! And... my OCD is screaming at me to point out that "hygiene" is misspelled. :)