Your first question may be what is a 120-hour kit. It is the new and improved 72-hour kit. Experience with disasters the last decade has shown planning to care for your own needs for just 72 hours is just not realistic, it is not enough. Government and relief agencies are all now recommending a switch from a three-day kit to at least a five-day kit. When there are people fighting for their lives due to injuries or being trapped and unable to get out of a life-threatening situation, first responders of every kind need to prioritize and that means those who are “just” homeless or temporarily displaced but safe and healthy will have to wait for assistance.
Your 120-hour kit can be a literal life saver, but it can also provide aid when disasters are more frustrating than life threatening. Consider our present challenge, COVID 19. What is in a good 120-hour kit–and hopefully you have a good one–that can help?
Just as food storage is not just for a huge disaster, neither are your 120-hour kits. What is in our kits to help now?
First aid kit and book–Doctors, dentists and hospitals are now limiting patient contact. A good first aid book can help you understand the solutions to many non-life-threatening medical concerns and how to treat them. A good first aid kit can be a resource for supplies that in many cases are now unavailable as you scan pharmacy and grocery store shelves.
N 95 masks— There is no reason to explain why these were a help during quarantine. I had a call from a friend who reminded me I had once told her to choose a day each year to reexamine their 120-hour kits. She broke out her kits General Conference weekend and was surprised and thrilled to discover her N95 masks.
Bandanas– In 2018 when we were compiling our 120-hour kits on the Totally Ready Facebook page, we discussed the many uses for bandanas. I recently stitched up a few masculine ones for my husband who now goes to town looking like he is off to rob a bank, but he is protecting himself and others with a simple bandana.
Disinfectant wipes– Again, an item that has vanished the past few months and will be among the first items to vanish following any medical emergency or natural disaster.
Cash– I had been shopping at our local grocery store every two weeks or so and then my world changed, and the fruit stand opened! It was heavenly to be able to buy fresh strawberries and fresh picked peas, zucchini and onions. The problem, they only take cash and the grocery store would not allow cash back because they just didn’t have it. Thank you, 120-hour kit.
Over-the-counter medications– I decided since understanding how much of our medical supplies come from China, I better stock up on the medications and vitamins we use often. Well, there was no vitamin C anywhere and no zinc. I guess others had heard we don’t make vitamin C in this country. There were huge gaps in all the other medications and as of two days ago still no isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide or other disinfectants.
Prescriptions– Ask your doctor or pharmacist about getting a little extra stash. I was grateful I had some in my kit, I rotate when I get a refill. Keep these in an outside pocket so they are easy to swap. Yes, keeping them in your kit is a good idea, better than in the medicine cabinet. While interviewing a wildfire survivor she told me the sad story of having to replace her medications because she forgot them when evacuating. She ended up in the hospital due to a fall and had to buy them there and then had to buy more after being released, $900 later she had what she needed for a few weeks while waiting to return home.
Medical gloves– By now we all know the value of these. When they are available again stock up and add them to your kits.
Thermometer– These were in very short supply due to the government and medical community asking us to take our temperature before going to a doctor’s office, hospital, in to work, or going to the store if we felt ill. So many places that have opened are now required to take the temperature of everyone entering, from salons to dentists to restaurants and offices, everyone seems to be taking your temperature.
Toilet paper– Need I say more? When the hoards descended on stores, shelves were empty of TP for weeks. Your kits should all have a roll. If you have been following here or on Totally Ready on Facebook you know I always advise to store lots of toilet paper, it is great for barter and now we know the first thing people buy.
Hand sanitizer– Again, this should be in all your kits, 120-hour, auto and workplace.
Finally, this is not one I used during the pandemic but now that summer is here, it is in California, I am raiding kits and using, mylar blankets. I have cut one into 1 ½ inch strips and tied then to my fruit trees and berry bushes. Last year I lost all my blueberries to the birds, but I made it to the peaches and apricots in time and didn’t lose any fruit. Mylar strips work and the blanket costs a little more than a dollar. I have also placed these blankets in my east and west facing windows , the ones that get a lot of direct sun. It really cuts down on the heat coming in and still allows you to see out.
As we move forward commit to not only rethinking your preparations but also to acting upon the promptings you have received. Several people have told me they were prompted to purchase toilet paper and a few other things weeks before we were advised to stay home. Others have told me they did not act on prompting and suffered because of it. Don’t be caught unprepared next time, there will be a next time.