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72 Hours Checklist - What You Need to Survive For 72 Hours

In the event of an emergency, it is vital to be prepared with what you and your family will need to survive on your own for the first 72 hours. In general, this is the average length of time you can expect to be without electricity or assistance.

Each person will need three gallons of water. This allows for two quarts of water for drinking and two for food preparation per day. You should have enough canned goods on hand for each person, and plenty of ready-to-eat items such as protein bars, trail mix, crackers and peanut butter. You should also include powdered milk, taking the needs of any children into account - they will need more than the adults. It is a good idea to consider packing at least a small number of comfort food items for each person, too, such as tea bags, hot cocoa packets, instant coffee and hard candy.

Since many food items have a limited shelf life, you may want to supplement (or completely stock) your kit with freeze dried food. Mountain House offers a 72-hour freeze dried food kit, which contains everything one person needs; you can purchase one for each family member. There are many advantages to going this route, including better texture and taste than canned or dehydrated foods. Freeze dried foods also have an extremely long shelf life.

It is important to have everything necessary for basic first aid, such as adhesive bandages, antibacterial ointment, gauze pads, tweezers, scissors, pain medications, anti-diarrhea medication, antiseptic wipes and a thermometer. Be sure to rotate medications to allow for expiration dates; you can keep everything together in a small plastic bin or tote with a secure lid. See the EPC list for what should be in a first aid kit for more information.

Additionally, it is a sound idea to have most of the following items in your 72-hour kit: waterproof matches, a flashlight, a tarp, blankets, warm clothing, boots, a battery operated radio, plenty of batteries, a utility knife, a manual can opener and extra cash. Bear in mind that your kit should be portable in the event that you have to evacuate your home; use a backpack for each family member. EPC's Survival Kits come in a variety of sizes and are a good alternative to assembling your own.

Depending on where you live, you may also consider adding some or all of these items: sunscreen, needle and thread, small fire extinguisher, flares, an axe, rain gear, hats and gloves, a compass and a map of the area. Finally, don't forget to pack for the individual needs of your family members: diapers and wipes, formula and bottles, prescription medications, contact lenses and so forth may need to go on your 72-hour checklist as well.

Having a well stocked 72-hour kit at the ready means that no matter what the nature of the emergency, you will be well prepared until electricity is restored or help arrives.

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