72 Hour Kit

Water Storage Made Safe

As discussed in previous posts, there are levels of preparedness and you get to decide what level works best for you: Survival (72 hours), Emergency (2 weeks up to six months) and Long-Term (6 months and beyond). Our suggestion is for you to make sure you have enough food, water, money, clothes, and medical supplies to provide for you and your family in an emergency for two weeks or more.

Our last article discussed our first priority, water storage, and walked you through three simple steps on how to get started: determine and purchase/collect containers for water storage, figure out where you are going to store the water, and lastly, fill your containers.  Now I want to talk about the water you are putting in the containers.

As long as the containers are clean, there is no need to add anything, such as chlorine or bleach. If the container was used prior to you filling it, consider using a mild bleach rinse (an ounce or so of bleach and a dozen or so ounces of water, shake for a minute or so, and rinse with water). It is not a bad idea to do a quick rinse before adding the water.

When filling, remember to leave a little “head-room” for freezing if you are storing the water outside in a climate where freezing is inevitable. It is a good idea to replace the water about every year or so (packaged water will last for five years or more). Water can taste “funny” after storing it for a long time. One thing you can do is to pour the water back and forth between containers. This will aerate the water and make it taste better.  Some suggest storing water on pallets and away from any chemicals. Not everyone has this luxury. Using common sense is always a best practice.

Practicing emergency preparedness is easy. Start by making your list and do a little each day or week. Sooner than you think you will be done and with that comes a peace of mind that is priceless.

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Water Storage for an Emergency: Easy as 1, 2, 3

There are numerous opportunities in and around your house to find water in an emergency situation. Pipes, water heater, toilets, ice cube trays, just to name a few.  So who of you is ready and equipped to take apart water pipes for water?

Obviously these choices are for desperate situations if you don’t have any options. Truth is you can stop by your local grocery store or wholesale warehouse and pick up a case of water. You can drop by Mark’s Barrel Company, or any outlet that sells water jugs or water barrels and pick up what you need. It is easy.

The pamphlet “All is Safely Gathered In” says, “Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply my be polluted or disrupted. If water comes directly from a good, pretreated source, then no additional purification is needed; otherwise, pre-treat water before use. Store water in sturdy, leak-proof, breakage-resistant containers. Consider using plastic bottles commonly used for juices or soda. Keep water away from heat sources and direct sunlight.”

Water storage is as simple as one – two – three! 1. Determine just how much water you need. 2. Pick/collect/buy the containers you need. 3. Fill the containers you need with water and store them in a cool and dark location that is easily accessible.  Water storage is easy. Simply start with these three manageable steps.

A word about step three. Just owning an empty container for water will not help should you need water immediately. I know some who have purchased a couple water barrels and set them in their garage, empty. Take the few minutes required and fill up the containers and then store them away from direct sunlight or chemicals.  I have a friend in Houston who was able to fill additional water bottles and jugs as hurricane Ike was heading his way. He was glad he did as his area was one of the hardest hit and they were without potable water for nearly two weeks. Not everyone gets the opportunity to fill containers as the storm is preparing to hit so it is best to be prepared. Having water already stored is a sure bet.

Water storage is an on-going process. Many people continue to collect 2 liter plastic pop containers, rinse them and fill them with water. If your tap water is chlorinated or if it is filtered, nothing else is required. Water stored over a long period can get stale and taste “funny.” Simply pour the water between two containers and this will aerate the water and improve the taste. If you have the means, it is not a bad idea to switch out your water every year or so.  Simple put it on your calendar once a year or so to change out the water. Use the “old” water to take care of plants, water the grass, vegetables, etc. It is easy to get prepared and stay prepared.

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The 4 Step LDS Guide to Preparedness

A few years ago the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints introduced a new program for home storage. As with any plan, they encouraged their faithful to start “modestly.” In olden times, what seemed expected was out of reach for most. The new approach is within everyone’s grasp. Survivalists agree and encourage us to build a 72 hour kit to be prepared, and then build from there to a month, three months and so on.

The pamphlet, “All is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage,” published by the LDS Church, takes a simplified, four step approach to building home storage. This article is designed to take you through the highlights of those steps.

We begin with step one – to gradually build a small supply of food that is part of your normal daily diet until it is sufficient for three months. It may be obvious to some, but I want to mention the food we are being encouraged to set aside food that will store well; Canned fruit, protein, vegetable, cereal, and dried goods that will not need to be rotated every few weeks. Make a list of what you have and when it expires. Rotate your stock.

Step two – Store drinking water. We can live without a lot of things; water is NOT one of them. It is a high priority. I encourage people to have a month’s supply of water per person. That is a gallon of water per day for 30 days and I know what you are thinking, “That is a lot of water!” It can be and it can take up a lot of room if you are stacking cases of bottled water. Consider using water jugs or better yet, a plastic 55 gallon water barrel, where water can be easily transferred into smaller containers.

Step three – Establish a financial reserve by setting aside a little money each week, and gradually increase it to a reasonable amount. It doesn’t talk about “small bills” but according to friends who have been caught in emergency situations, smaller bills sometimes work best as not everyone has access to change.

Step four – Once families have achieved the first three objectives, they are counseled to expand their efforts, as circumstances allow, into a supply of long-term basic foods such as grains, legumes, and other staples. This objective speaks for itself.

I want to honor the local Church for their continued commitment to supporting their flock in terms of preparedness and in creating a guide each of their members can follow. It just makes sense. Fill in as you deem necessary with flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, medicine, extra clothes and blankets. Getting prepared and staying prepared is easy. You just have to get started.

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Getting Safe Drinking Water in an Emergency: The Facts

NEXT TO AIR, WATER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT REQUIREMENT FOR LIFE. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS HAVE ENOUGH ON HAND.

The new millennium has come with a fierceness we have not seen, perhaps ever.  The last decade of disasters, including a tsunami, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and floods, have woke many of us up to this simple fact: WATER is a critical component of preparedness for any emergency situation.  Clean water is essential for emergency medical treatments, drinking, food preparation, and sanitation.  Government agencies (FEMAUSGS, OES, etc.) and relief agencies such as the Red Cross, have elevated recommendations for preparedness from the traditional “three days of self-sufficiency” to “five to seven days minimum and seven to fourteen days recommended” in recently published planning scenarios.

Why is water a key in these recommendations?  Experts indicate that some aqueducts and reservoirs may be inoperative for up to 3-6 months, and the piping systems required to distribute the water to homes and businesses could also be severely disrupted for long periods of time.  An all too painful reminder: The fall 2009 Reusable Industrial Packaging Association (RIPA) meeting was held in New Orleans.  I toured the NOLA community to discover it is still reeling five years after hurricane Katrina brought it to its knees.

Definitive care specialists have shown the importance of water on our wellbeing.  A loss of only 5-10% of a person’s body fluids can result in moderate shock that may become life threatening if left untreated.  The simple fact is that human body can not survive even one week without water.  In general terms, the body requires four times as much water as food.  For persons trying to respond to or recover from an emergency, body fluid loss can occur rather quickly depending on temperature, activity level, emotional state, and/or possible injuries.  A basic treatment for shock is to maintain body temperature and to give fluids, especially water.

It is important that an adequate supply of water be properly stored BEFORE an emergency so it is readily available without the need for filtration, boiling, or treatment.  Keep water stored for emergencies free from bacterial growth and other contaminants.  A recent Utah State University study showed much of the water they tested that was stored contained bacteria, 11% contained E-Coli.  They make two key recommendations: store the water below 21 degrees C and that all stored water have chlorine bleach added (16 drops per gallon – 3 tablespoons per 55 gallon drum) to ensure safety for emergency use.  In short, treat water with a preserver prior to storage or empty and replace regularly with fresh, clean water.  Store in a cool, dry area, away from direct sunlight.

Ideally, water should be stored in three forms: 1) In portable containers, suitable for dispensing, for personal drinking, food preparation and sanitation.  2) In large volume drums or containers with a dispensing pump for all uses.  3) In small portable containers or medical or first-aid use as needed.  The best material for 2.5 to 55 gallon water storage containers is food grade polyethylene that meet the US Department of Transportation (DOT) specifications.  While the containers may have components made from other materials, only polyethylene touches the water.  On smaller, pre-filled, packages, look for products with “sterile” packaging and a minimum 5 year shelf life.

The easiest way to store the bulk of your water is in 55 gallon polyethylene (plastic) water drums (Food and Drug Administration, FDA, approved for storing drinking water).  The drums available at MBC are the best industry has to offer and are designed to have weight stacked on them when filled with water.  This allows one to stack your food on them, thus saving space while keeping your food and water together.  Some survival experts recommend two 55 gallon drums of water per person.  This, along with collecting “rain water”, should be suitable.  When you consider most households use in excess of 100 gallons of water per day for drinking, bathing, laundry, dishes, sanitation, etc., this isn’t a lot of water.

Water that we take for granted when things are normal, become absolutely essential for life and a vital resource in any disaster.  The lessons we have learned this past decade have taught us if we take our water supply for granted, we will regret it.

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Emergency Preparedness: Who Need’s It?

Yet another flash flood hits a local community. The effects are horrific. More than two dozen have perished. Some of the locals are searching for water that has not been compromised by the flood. The residents are being told to boil their water just to be safe. Not all of the residents have power.

It is easy to say, “It won’t happen to me” or “If it does, I will run down to the local grocery store or warehouse and pick up what I need.” Truth is, we may not have that kind of time. Hurricanes Ike and Katrina devastated the gulf coast and all the way up to Houston. Recently areas of Arkansas, Nashville, Tennessee, and Murray, Utah experienced floods that impacted their local communities, some for a couple of weeks.  Earthquakes have devastated Haiti. What are we learning?

First and foremost: No one is immune, challenges happen. It could happen anywhere to anyone.  Next, in all cases, water was the first priority. Instead of waiting in long lines every day for bottled water, consider the peace of mind that comes with being prepared.

I encourage you to pay attention to what is happening on our planet and in our communities. I encourage you to pay attention to what is happening in your chest when the subject of preparedness comes up. Are you prepared? Have you taken the time to put together a kit, made a plan, and scheduled opportune times for you to stay informed?

Set aside 10-15 minutes a day for a couple of weeks to read everything you can and watch some of the excellent videos that are available on-line or in your local library or safety council. Then, with that knowledge, make a plan. Prepare a survival kit, also known as a 72 hour kit. The sense of calm that comes from knowing you are ready, that you have done your best to prepare those you love for an emergency situation is something you deserve to feel.

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Food and Water Storage – Think in 3’s

Prepare for adversity by storing an emergency supply of food and water.
Earthquakes, fires, severe storms, and power outages are just some of the potential emergencies we may encounter. Imagine that you have no electricity, no gas, no water and no telephone service. What would happen if you are told to evacuate your home in the next ten minutes? Imagine that all the businesses are closed and you are without any kind of emergency services. What will you do until help arrives?

The 3 day emergency food and water supply is meant to be a quickly accessed, portable source of food and water that can sustain you and your family for several days. It should be stored in one or two containers for quick portability.  The foods chosen should be ready-to-eat without the need for cooking.

The 3 week3 month emergency food and water supply are meant for a disaster where food and water delivery may be interrupted. Hurricane Katrina was a perfect example where the normal delivery of food was interrupted. Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet by purchasing a few extra items each week. Expand on this until you reach your goal.  Not all of these foods will be ready-to-eat and plans must be made to store the necessary means to prepare them.

Long term food supply is stored for one to many years. This type of food storage emphasizes a mixture of canned goods that can be safely stored for several years and low moisture foods that can be safely stored for long periods (10-30 years). These foods must be stored along with equipment to prepare them. A typical long term food supply for a family of four could weigh as much as 1500-2000 lbs. That’s almost a “ton” of food!

Courtesy of Utah State – Thanks Aggies!

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72 Hour Kits for Dummies

Making an Emergency Preparedness kit just makes sense. It is the right thing to do. It is also easy to do. So lets get started. Here is a checklist of items to store in your 72 hour kit so you can be prepared in case of an emergency. Consider making one kit per family member.

Food and Water
(A three day supply of food and water, per person, when no refrigeration or cooking is available)
• Water (1 Gallon/4 Liters Per Person)
• Protein/Granola Bars
• Trail Mix/Dried Fruit/Plenty of nuts
• Crackers (Multi-Grain are great as a bread substitue)/Cereals
• Canned Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, etc. Canned Juice

Bedding and Clothing
• Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, etc.) Think layers
• Undergarments
• Rain Coat and/or Poncho
• Blankets and Emergency Heat Blanks (that keep in warmth)
• Cloth Sheet
• Plastic Sheet

Fuel and Light
• Battery Lighting (Flashlights, Lamps, etc., consider the crank type which recharge by turninging a handle)
• Extra Batteries (pay attention to expiration dates)
• Flares
• Candles
• Lighter
• Water-Proof Matches

Equipment
• Can Opener (manual)
• Dishes/Utensils
• Shovel
• Radio (with batteries!)
• Pen and Paper
• Axe
• Pocket Knife
• Rope
• Duct Tape

Personal Supplies and Medication
• Prescription Medication (for 3 days)
• Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, feminine hygiene, folding brush, etc.)
• Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, dish soap, etc. Warning: Scented soap might “flavor” food items.)
• Immunizations Up-to Date
• Medication (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, children’s medication etc.)
• First Aid Kit (some stores, walk-in or on-line, have ready to use kits)

Personal Documents and Money
(Place these items in a waterproof container)
• Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, etc)
• Insurance Policies
• Cash
• Credit Card
• Pre-Paid Phone Cards

Miscellaneous
• Bag(s) to put 72 Hour Kit items in (such as duffel bags or back packs, which work great) Make sure you can lift/carry it!
• Infant Needs (if applicable)

Notes:
1. Update your 72 Hour Kit every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to make sure that: all food, water, and medication is fresh and has not expired; clothing fits; personal documents and credit cards are up to date; and batteries are charged.
2. Small toys/games may be important too as they will provide some comfort and entertainment during a stressful time. Playing cards, something to draw on and with, puzzles, etc.
3. Older children can be responsible for their own pack of items/clothes too.
4. You can include any other items in your 72 Hour Kit that you feel are necessary for your family’s survival.

Some items and/or flavors might leak, melt, “flavor” other items, or break open. Dividing groups of items into individual Ziploc bags might help prevent this.

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