Previous posts have dealt with more straightforward emergency preparedness, such as having a list of important phone numbers handy, keeping emergency cash around, having some emergency water storage, or even making sure your car is fuelled up. But the ’72 hour kit’ requires a bit more planning and preparing.
In more serious emergencies, or disasters, emergency services are always stretched to breaking point. They will be preoccupied with the people at greatest risk and, surprise, whatever we might think that might not be us. Generally speaking it is recommended that households be prepared to fend for themselves for at least the first 3 days (72 hours) of any emergency situation.
In some emergency situations it might simply be a case of sitting tight, and surviving on our own, until normality returns or help arrives. In other situations it might be necessary to evacuate quickly, in which case the portability of our 72 hour kit is essential. If we are able to take our kit with us we can still fend for ourselves wherever we temporarily relocate to, and we reduce how much we are a burden on at emergency services at public evacuation centres, or on friends, or family, who might arrange accomodation for us. Few of us would have time to think properly about what we would need in such a situation, it’s much better to prepare in advance.
Each person’s needs are unique, and you should take time to consider exactly what would be essential if you had to leave your home, or had no access to shops or services, for 3 days.
Your 72 hour kit should be personalised to meet yours, and your family’s, specific needs. The main categories of items to think about are:
- Food and water
- Sanitation and health
- Warm clothing and shelter
- Heat and light
While you think about the specifics you need for you and yours, such as special medication or sanitary items, consider some of these common 72 hour kit items:
- Bottled Water, Water filters and water purification tablets
- Long-life ready-to-eat food, tin opener, paper plates, cups, and plastic cutlery
- Mobile phone with extra battery pack
- £200-£300 in small notes
- Rucksack, suitcase or holdall
- Warm clothing including hats, socks, gloves, coats.
- Rain-proof coats or ponchos
- Pop-up tent
- Sleeping bags and ‘space blankets’
- Portable wind-up radio with batteries
- Wind-up or battery powered torch
- Candles with matches/lighters
- First-aid kit
- Personal medication
- Baby wipes, sanitary items and toilet paper
- Rubbish sacks
- Notepad and pen
- Books and card games
Nobody looks forward to the kind of emergency that requires this preparation, but we know that even in the UK some recent emergencies have required evacuation. Such as the Nuclear Weapons factory in Berkshire a few years ago, the Leicester factory fire last year, or the Fish Processing factory in Peterhead this year. At SurvivalWarehouse.co.uk we recommend preparation, not panic, every time. There’s no doubt that being prepared brings peace of mind, and reduces stress, fear and worry at hopefully rare moments of crisis. One thing is for certain, should your 72 hour kit ever be needed, you will not be sorry you prepared. Why take the chance when the solution is so simple?
Like many drivers perhaps you rely on your local knowledge, your SatNav, or your mobile phone to help you navigate the UK’s highways and byways. On a normal day, with everything working perfectly, this is all fine. But throw in problems with your SatNav signal, mobile phone network and some bad traffic, and it’s time for some stress. Add to that some kind of emergency or disaster and a problem becomes a nightmare. Without your phone or SatNav working, and especially in unfamiliar areas, questions about what alternative routes you could take to avoid major delays are impossible to answer, and you might not feel comfortable or think it wise in all situations and places to ask strangers for directions.
One easy step we can take, to reduce stress and overcome some of the consquences of tech failure, especially in emergencies or disasters, is to keep an up-to-date road map of your area, or road atlas, in your car at all times. If you replace it with a new one every year or two, it will never be too far out of date. Having a map to hand gives you the option of finding alternative routes to avoid delays, or to travel to locations you are unfamiliar with, when you lack your usual electronic helps.
Far less likely, though still possible, will be the need to avoid or escape a major disaster. Last time we looked at some real life examples from the UK, of people being evacuated from their homes because of major fires in their area. Disasters on a larger scale can happen, and it is good to be prepared for these eventualities also. We recommend you have, in advance, somewhere to go in case of this type of emergency. Perhaps you can stay with a family member, a friend, or if you’re lucky a second property, in another area.
Once you know where you can go the challenge becomes getting there. Disasters, depending on what they are, can result in closed roads or major traffic jams as lots of people do what you are doing – leave. Having a map in such a situation is essential, given the possibility that the kind of disaster requiring you to leave might also interfere with mobile networks. You might not be able to rely on SatNav re-routing either. We recommend you plan in advance and mark several alternative routes to your emergency destination so there is no delay to your departure. Expect the unexpected, and be ready to change your plans if you have to – if you have a map you will be able to. Of course, make sure you also have enough fuel, knowing where you’re going and the route to take is no use if you can’t make the journey.
Taking this simple precaution can take a lot of stress out of emergency or pressured situations. Why take the chance when the solution is so simple?
We’re used to being able to drop in to a service station and fuel up our vehicles whenever we’re passing. This sometimes means we habitually run close to empty before filling up. When everything works as we would like this isn’t an issue, but in an emergency suddenly realising your tank is nearly empty can turn a problem into a nightmare.
One really simple thing we can do, to avoid this becoming a major problem, is to keep our cars topped up with fuel more frequently. Decide in advance on a minimum fuel level, in keeping with your car owner’s manual safe operating instructions, and stick to it. The five minutes it takes to fuel up can seem a hassle at the end of a long day at work, but it’s far less hassle than needing to fuel up in an emergency.
Consider a few very possible situations:
- You live in a rural area and it’s several miles to the nearest service station. The weather isn’t great and as you pull in you see the pump you need is locked. The weather has caused a delay to the delivery. As you get back into the car you realise there isn’t enough fuel to make the journey to the next nearest station.
- You’ve an important appointment this morning some distance away, and as you dress you hear on the news that strike action means petrol shortages and long queues of panic buyers at service stations. You realise it’s not going to be a quick job fuelling up, if they even have any fuel left.
- You woke up late, and you’re risking being late for work – again. As you get into your car you realise you need to fuel up or you won’t get there at all. The commuter rush at the service station seals your fate.
- A fire at a local factory, such as the Nuclear Weapons factory in Berkshire a few years ago, the Leicester factory fire last year, or the Fish Processing factory in Peterhead this year, means police are evacuating the local area. You wanted to get ahead of the traffic, but you can’t because you need to fuel up first.
- One you’ll be reminded of for years to come, your wife finally seems to be going into labour, and instead of having a relatively straightforward journey to the maternity ward, she get’s a five minute stop off at the petrol station on the way. You’ll be lucky if she doesn’t give birth in the car on the way there.
We can probably imagine some of these scenarios applying to us, and we haven’t mentioned the most serious either, because we don’t expect them. But maybe we should. If you live in a flood area, can you leave in a hurry? What if you’re hit by some other natural disaster, terrorist attack, shortage, or even if your cash card doesn’t work?
Taking this simple precaution in line with your car users manual, can take a lot of stress out of emergency or pressured situations. Why take the chance when the solution is so simple?
We’re used to being able to flick a switch for everything from lighting to heating. But in a power cut, especially at night, suddenly the most basic of tasks become a real challenge. Couple that with any other emergency and a problem quickly becomes a nightmare.
One really easy way to reduce the stress at such times is to make a power failure kit. Essential for the home, but also useful at the office, a power failure kit contains essential tools and supplies to make getting on without mains electricity that little bit easier.
Have a special place for your kit, that everyone knows about, you won’t have to be hunting around in the dark trying to pull it all together at the last minute – only to find out too late you don’t have what you need.
To keep things tidy select a storage box, tub, cupboard or shelf to keep your kit until you need it.
Items you might need include:
- It’s a good idea to store some emergency food and water, as explained in our previous tip, just in case power loss affects your access to those essentials for life.
- Torches and plenty of spare batteries, or reliable wind-up torches, are obvious essentials in this kit. If you use rechargeable batteries, make sure they are charged in line with manufacturers instructions in advance, and keep the charger in your kit so you can always find it.
- Some people prefer to store lightsticks (available from camping or outdoors shops), or candles and matches. If you do store candles and matches you should take care to avoid fire risks, and keep them away from children and animals. Use candles on stable surfaces where they won’t get knocked off, in good quality candle holders, and away from little fingers and flamable materials. Follow advice from your local emergency fire service where naked flames are concerned. Never use candles or matches where there is a risk of gas leak, or flamable chemical or fuel spillage such as petrol, methylated spirits or even some household or beauty products.
- Including some kind of camping stove in your kit means you can heat or cook food, and have hot drinks, without relying on mains power. Always follow manufacturers instructions about safety and ventilation when using a stove, and storing food.
- Having a working radio can boost morale, and keep you informed of local events through broadcast news bulletins. Include plenty of spare batteries with your radio, or purchase a reliable wind-up kind. Some wind-up radios take batteries too, and that can be useful.
- It’s a good idea to have some warm clothes, sleeping bags, or blankets, in case a power cut also means a big drop in temperature. This is usually quite simple at home and I wouldn’t usually bother having some specially set aside in the kit – just make sure they are available. But at the office, while it might require more advanced preparation, it doesn’t hurt to keep some warm extras in a cupboard, or in the boot of your car.
- Finally, to keep up your spirits and avoid boredom away from our usually connected world, why not chuck in a selection of good books, board games or card games.
These simple steps can take away the stress of a power cut, making the whole experience much more worry free. Why take the chance when the solution is so simple?
In the good times we all expect to turn on the tap and get clean drinking water instantly. But in an emergency any upset with your water supply turns a problem into a nightmare. Whether for drinking, cooking or washing, water is an essential ingredient of life. The bottom line is: we can’t live without it.
Whether it’s roadworks making your tap water dirty, strike action (as recently happened in Northern Ireland), or even the weather, when you’re without water finding a reliable supply suddenly becomes very important. It’s vital for our own needs, but add children, an aged parent and other dependants to our responsiblities, and a ‘without water’ situation gets very stressful. So what do you do when there is a problem with your mains water supply?
You can prepare by keeping a 3 day supply of commercially bottled water in a cool dark place. Typically you should store 4.5 litres per person per day as a minimum. Sick people, children, and nursing mothers may need more. Hotter weather may mean you need more too. Keep water in its original container, and don’t open it until you use it. Always observe expiration or ‘use-by dates’, and replace stored water every 6 months. Choose where you store the water carefully, to avoid heat and light, and so problems are not caused in case of accidental leakage (you can find out more here).
If we haven’t experienced water supply problems we’re very lucky, but it’s fair to say, even in the UK, we are not imune to serious water supply stoppages from time to time:
This week around 1300 Northern Ireland Water customers were completely without a water supply at one point due to strike action, with disruption to 1000s more properties.
Even without strike action other problems with water supply affected another 150 people elsewhere.
And when the weather got really bad, not so long ago, 40,000 homes had their water supply affected, with 4000 homes without water for over a week.
Although we expect water companies to respond with stand pipes, water barrows, and bottled water, we’re not in control of how quickly they respond, and queueing for water in the cold and dark is not exactly convenient.
Back in 2010 the BBC reported one person affected as saying:
“We live in Coleraine and have no water… All local supermarkets and garages have sold out of bottled water and there doesn’t appear to be any supplies available here from NI Water like there is in other towns. Total chaos.”
It’s common sense that you will cope better with emergencies by preparing before disaster strikes.
Why take the chance when the solution is so simple.
In the good times we all expect to be able to access our money on demand. But in an emergency any problems with our banking, or local cash machines, can quickly turn a problem into a nightmare. These days, like most people, you probably rely on using your credit or debit cards to pay your way. But what will you do if you can’t access the money in your bank account?
This is exactly what happened to UK consumers on several occasions over the past few years.
- RBS to compensate customers hit by computer glitch
- Lloyds’ card and ATM problems caused by hardware failure
- Natwest and RBS apologise after customers left unable to withdraw money from cash machines
I remember being let down by Natwest not so long ago, along with loads of their customers, when their system went down and prevented any cash withrawals or card payments. I remember I was in the McDonalds Drive Thru at the time. It was no hardship to skip the fast food and head home, but it could have been a lot more inconvenient.
But, even when it’s not a big system failure, it might be that your local machine has been vandalised, or stolen, or some glitch with payments has simply pushed your account over the limit.
Whatever the cause, keeping some emergency cash in your home, in a safe and secure place, can bring peace of mind, and serve as an emergency back-up when other systems let us down.
Why take the chance when the solution is so simple?
In the good times we all rely on technology working as it should. But in an emergency any tech problems can quickly become a nightmare.
You’d normally keep your contacts on your mobile phone, computer, or online address book. But what will you do if you lose your mobile, or have a power cut?
We recommend you make a hard copy list of all your contacts and keep them in a safe place. Post a few copies of the main ones in easily accessible places in your home, such as on a noticeboard, in your sock draw, in your safe, and on your fridge.
Don’t forget to include essential contacts like your Doctor’s Surgery, the NHS helpline, a local Taxi firm, nearby relatives and close friends, your electricity, gas, phone, internet and water supplier hotlines.
Why take the chance when the solution is so simple?