Recently, I have been bombarded with a question I did not expect. What is the difference between a Five Day (120-Hour) Kit formerly known as a 72-hour kit, and a Grab and Go Kit? I did some sleuthing on the internet and immediately discovered why so many are confused. Many things have changed the past few years. Kit names used to be easily definable. You knew what a Grab and Go Kit, a Bug Out Bag, and 72-hour kit was. Now the terms have become interchangeable which is a huge disservice as each kit is meant to meet different needs. Let’s clarify.
Five Day Kit
You will still see reference to this kit as a 72-hour kit. I spend hours speaking with first responders and survivors of disasters. I have learned thru this research that preparing to care for your own needs for 72 hours is just not long enough. In the first hours and days following a disaster first responders are working to meet the needs of those injured and doing all they can to make the area safer. In the case of a large disaster food and water needs may be minimally met but hygiene needs, laundry, entertainment, and other needs may not. Power may also be interrupted making lighting and even communications difficult when you are unprepared to supply your own.
A five-day kit is designed as a personal survival kit. Whether evacuating during a disaster that may keep you from ever returning home or a disaster requiring a short term stay in a shelter your kit is designed to keep you safe, provide necessities, and equip you to apply for help. This kit should not include items when only one per family is needed.
Every person and thus every kit should include food, water and water purification bottle, hygiene items, clothing, first aid, emergency contact information, light source, family photos,
cash and when age-appropriate prescription and over the counter medications.
This kit will come in worth its weight in gold when you find yourself away from home and disaster strikes. Since many hours are spent at work a disaster during working hours is not only possible but probable. Some disasters come with a warning ahead of time giving you time to get back home, many do not.
If a disaster is catastrophic you may need to stay put for a day or more. For a less disastrous challenge you may find yourself walking home or to a shelter or safer location.
Your kit should be designed to help you reach home or a shelter. It should include food, water, sunscreen, sunglasses, good shoes, headlamp, and anything else to make a long hike bearable and safe. If you live in a rainy area or may need to walk a dark path, be sure to include a bright colored rain poncho making you more visible.
This seems self-explanatory, a kit in the car. Every vehicle should have a kit. We have seen instances of people stuck in their car for hours due to a major pile up, avalanche, sink hole or a broken-down car on a little traveled stretch of roadway.
Do you remember the story of the people stranded last winter when an icy roadway was closed for over 20-hour stranding dozens of vehicles. After spending the night in freezing vehicles, a couple noticed a bread truck up ahead and asked if the driver could hand out bread. The driver called the company and they immediately agreed, and 300 bags of bread and rolls were distributed to people who hadn’t eaten in more than a day. Imagine how much easier that situation would have been if people had a car kit with a way to keep warm, food, water, and TP.
This nightmare was caused by a jack-knifed trailer, ice and snow.
Just this past week skiers and employees were stranded for almost five days on an interlodge order at two Utah ski resorts. An interlodge order required residents, employees, and lodge guests to shelter in place while avalanche professionals from Alta, Snowbird and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) performed avalanche mitigation. Everyone was required to stay in the lodge, no sitting in cars or going for walks. Imagine how a car kit could have helped as supplies and food ran low and tempers needed to be kept in check. The travel game or crossword puzzle in your car kit would have been such a blessing.
Bug Out Bag or Grab and Go Kit
These terms are interchangeable. Most people would prefer to hunker down at home but is some cases escaping may be safer for your family. When told to evacuate always leave. You will always regret staying home if you find yourself trapped and dealing with the horror of trying to save your family as water rise from flooding or civil unrest gets out of hand. Whether you plan to evacuate to a cabin in the woods, to a friend’s home, or to a campsite your Grab and Go Kit will provide you with the items needed to care for more than personal needs.
A Bug Out Bag or Grab and Go Kit includes “one per family” items. For example, you do not need more than one camp stove or more than one family size tent. These bags may include a fishing kit, hatchet, camp shovel, sleeping bag/pad, communication such as a HAM radio, solar/battery radio, solar charger, utensils, pots and camp stove, and lantern. Kits should be designed to meet your needs at your bug out location. Remember even if you are bugging out to the home of a friend or family member, they may not be equipped to house everyone, they may also experience a power outage and others may also be using that as a refuge.
Following hurricane Katrina, I interviewed a man who lived 70 miles aways from New Orleans. He had agreed to have a friend evacuate to his home. The friend and his family arrived with another family. The friend assured the other family the host wouldn’t mind. Now this generous man had two families to house, feed, entertain, and provide supplies for. That is just part of the story as the host’s home and community lost power. Now there were three families who needed to eat and needed supplies and no power. No power also meant no ATM or credit card and the visitors had little cash. Once again, the host was tasked with providing. When I spoke with him, he was upset that he was forced to use all the cash he had on hand as well as using and depleting his own supplies. Imagine how much better the situation could have been if those evacuating had come with a way to cook, sleep, provide light and communications and had cash to pay for supplies needed as they used up the items in their Five Day Kits.
This week examine your kit preparedness and consider what may need attention and improving. Then, as the sign on President Spencer W. Kimball’s desk read, Do It.
For more information on kits and other emergency preparedness topics visit Totallyready.com or Totally Ready on Facebook.
Carol AnnApril 13, 2023
Thanks for the very timely advice, Carolyn. It's time to update all our emergency supplies. Food becomes rancid over time in our kits and needs to be replaced. Water as well. Our Grab 'n Go binder/bag also needs refreshing with passwords, and up-to-date information and documents.