Beginner’s Guide to a Basic 72-Hour Preparedness Plan

In this issue, we’re going to start with the basics of emergency preparedness.

A 72-hour emergency kit is the absolute minimum every household should have. Most people believe the government and first responders will be there to help them in a disaster, but that is not true. First responders cannot be everywhere in a community at once, and it generally takes a minimum of 72 hours for authorities to respond in a widespread emergency. Even then, they will send aid to the worst-case scenarios first. Be prepared to be on your own for a while.

Granted, having enough supplies for 72 hours is NOT enough to sustain you and your family all the way through a major disaster. However, it will greatly increase your chances of surviving and thriving in an emergency. Remember: utilities tend to go down during disasters, and grocery stores quickly run out of supplies—think “stampede.” Also, if the disaster has taken out roads or bridges, deliveries cannot take place.

Providing safety and provision for your household in an emergency is going to be your responsibility. Here’s what you need to provide the basics:

Set aside at least one gallon of water per person, per day. This is the minimum amount of water needed for drinking, cooking, and basic hygiene. Even if your plumbing is working after a disaster, it doesn’t mean it will be safe to drink the tap water. Also, identify an alternative water source if there is one nearby (e.g., lake, river, stream, pond), and be prepared to purify its water. Link to:
Emergency Toilet
Most toilets work on a gravity system. Even if you don’t have running water, you can still do a manual flush by dumping water into the bowl. This is a good reason to have extra water. It takes about one gallon of water to flush the toilet manually, so stockpile an extra few gallons of water per person, per day, or include an emergency toilet in your 72-hour emergency preparedness plan.
Easy-to-prepare canned foods are the most obvious choice for a short-term emergency plan because they have a long shelf life and are easy to store. If they need to be heated, you will need an alternative cooking method. (Barbecue? Propane camp stove? Woodstove? Sterno?) For anything longer than 72 hours, or if you want lightweight foods for an evacuation kit (see below), you will want freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, MREs (Meals: Ready-to-Eat), and granola or protein bars. Don’t forget the pet food!
Emergency Warmth
What if a disaster occurs in the middle of winter and the power is out; how will you stay warm? Be prepared by having an emergency heat source and fuel such as propane, gas for a generator, batteries, etc. Store some wool blankets as well; they retain heat even when wet.
Energy and Emergency Lighting
A generator can be an invaluable tool; just make sure it’s in working order and that you have the required fuel on hand. Portable solar-powered generators can also be a great boon as a short-term source of electricity. For lighting, stock up on multiple options, such as flashlights, camping lanterns, headlamps, and candles. Don’t forget extra batteries!
Sanitation, Hygiene, First Aid, and Medication
Make sure you store enough toilet paper and other hygiene items like baby wipes, anti-bacterial gel and other sanitizers, soap, feminine products, diapers, and trash bags (which can also serve as a toilet when used to line a five-gallon bucket). If you take medication regularly, keep a supply on hand, plus any first-aid and over-the-counter medications you might need.
Emergency Radio
If cell towers, the power grid, and the internet go down, you’ll need a way to find out about critical news, more looming disasters, evacuation orders, or other important information. An emergency radio should be waterproof and have a reliable power source. A battery-operated or hand crank radio is a great option.
Evacuation Kit
It may be necessary to leave your home or even the area in a disaster. Prepare a ready-to-go-bag that includes all the essential gear, food, and water you will need if you have to flee your home. These items should always be in one place, ready to go, not scattered around your house. Backpacks are great for these, one for each family member, making them easy to “grab and go.”

Don’t be overwhelmed. You don’t have to do this all at once! Put it in your budget to get a few extra supplies every time you go to the store (or order online). Instead of tossing plastic jugs, clean them and fill them with water and a bit of bleach (up to 1 tbsp. per gallon of water), and mark them with the date (they’re good for at least a year). Those two steps right there will get you off to a good start!

And remember that God is your Provider, your Protector, and your Strength. You can trust Him to lead and guide you and your family in any emergency: “But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name” (Psalm 33:18-21, NLT).

Next Week’s Topic: Fuel and Energy Sources for Your Preparedness Plan


HF Preparedness Leadership Team
Taking Action
  • I am connected to my local church body, an essential part of emergency preparedness. There is strength in community! ,
  • I have stored water for a minimum of 72 hours—one gallon per person, per day, for my household (with extra for toilet use).
  • I have non-perishable food stored for my household for a minimum of 72 hours, and an alternative cooking method if needed.
  • I have alternative energy, heat, and lighting sources.
  • I have sanitation, hygiene, and first aid items on hand, and medications.
  • I have an emergency radio (and batteries, if needed).
  • Everyone in our family has a “Go-Bag” (evacuation kit) prepared and stored in an easy-to-remember place .

In the News

Water Rationing in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ian
Winter Storm Causes Run on Grocery Stores in Texas

10 Steps Anyone Can take to Prepare - Epoch Times
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