Step Three – Build an emergency kit

FirstAid-Kit (1)

You can’t live on air…

You need an emergency kit!

Actually, you need Four (count ’em, 4!) emergency kits!

Goto: Go Bag / Car Kit / 72 Hour Kit21 Day Kit

Don’t panic! We got your back. This preparedness thing is going to be a piece of cake.

The problem with emergencies is that they don’t have a schedule, and even if you have some advance warning (like with a weather-related event), you still don’t know exactly what you’re going to get when it hits the fan.

Some emergencies last a few hours, or at best a day or two. A big winter storm, a flood, a heatwave or wildfire, if you have enough stuff to last 72 hours you should be good to go. These are far more frequent in the grand scheme of things, so at the very least, get a Go Bag put together for everyone you care about.

Then build on it for a 72 hour kit, and eventually (and Rome does not need to be built in a day), get ready for the Big One with a full-on 21 day survival kit.

The key thing is that you don’t want to have to search for anything in an emergency. It’s important to have what you need, together and portable; you might have to evacuate at a moment’s notice with only what you can carry.

It’s unlikely you’ll have time to search for the stuff you need or run down to Freddy’s and pick up a few things. You might need to survive on your own after an emergency, even a short one. Emergency relief workers will be busy and might not be able to help you out right away.

In a big disaster, it could be days, or weeks before you could get help, and in the case of the Big One, it’s better to assume you’ll need to take care of yourself for a good long while, 21 days… or more.

In any emergency the lights could go out, water get shut off, cell phones cut out, even sewage treatment plants shut off, so it’s critical to focus on the basics – food, WATER (you’ll need a LOT more than you think you will), sanitation (bathing, pooping, etc… hey, we all do it!), and comfort.

A lot of sites that talk preparedness are focused on getting you through an emergency, and that’s great, and important, but we want you to survive and thrive!

Here’s what you need:


A Go Bag – for when you have to get up and go!

This is the baseline for being prepared. The name says it all — a bag with your basic emergency needs that you can grab and go! There are a zillion places online where you can buy a pre-built kit, or, with very little time and effort, you can do-it-yourself to have exactly what you want and need.

If you do nothing else to be prepared, have a communications plan and have a Go Bag for every member of your household (and a Go Kit for your pets).

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A Car Kit – for when you can drive to safety.

If you need to head out of town, or if you’re on vacation, you’ll need more than just a Go Bag. One extra piece of luggage won’t kill you, and might be the difference between not having what you need in an emergency and living large and in charge when a disaster strikes.
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A 72 Hour Kit – for smaller disasters, like storms, fires, or floods.

This is the pre-Big One rule of thumb – have enough food, WATER (we’re gonna press hard on the water thing), and supplies to get you through 72 hours on your own without power, water, heat, bathrooms,  or any outside help.

This is more stuff than you can carry on your back, but should be in some form of a container where everything is kept together (don’t want to have to look for anything in an emergency, it should be ready when you need it and where you want it), and the container should be somewhat portable if possible.

Like Go Bags, there are a number of these type of kits you can buy pre-made online, or you can build your own.
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A Full-On 21 day – You are gonna survive the Big One in style – Emergency Kit

If Hurricane Katrina taught us anything, it’s that when a major mega disaster hits a large area, it can take a long time for even the most capable, prepared, and supplied emergency responders to get help to where it’s needed.

The old 72-hour rule flies out the window when talking about a disaster that stretches over 600 miles and includes the populations of BC, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. Bridges will fail, roads will fail, buildings will collapse, the power will go out, phones will not work, there may be fires and landslides, and all sorts of things we can’t prevent, and we have some of the most prepared, thoughtful, and capable people in the world working hard to try and get the region ready for when the Big One strikes. They can’t do everything and can’t be everywhere at once.

You will need to be prepared to take care of yourself and all of your needs, for up to 21 days, or longer. You need food, WATER (for drinking, cooking, washing, and bathing), sanitation, first aid, medicines, and comfort supplies to take care of everyone in your household, human and animal, off grid and with no way to resupply, for a full 21 days.

The Salem, Or Statesman Journal has a fantastic guide to building your emergency kit slowly over 24 weeks – 1 week at a time.

It’s a great way to get really prepared, while managing your budget in the process. This is a MUST READ!


Why do you need all this?

The old rule of thumb for making a disaster preparedness kit was to be self sufficient for 72 hours. We were told to build preparedness kits and plans to provide for food, shelter, water, communications and first aid to enable a person to survive for 72 hours, until first responders or additional resources could be brought to bear.

A Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake changes all of this.

The Oregon Resilience Plan outlines the unique challenges facing the Pacific Northwest in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake, and recommends “revising individual preparedness communications to specify preparation from the old standard of 72 hours to a minimum of two weeks, and possibly more (Chapters Two and Three).”

In short, people and businesses need to be prepared to survive on their own for 21 days or longer when the “Big One” hits.

Education is not enough. For even the most dedicated, prepared, gung ho preparedness guru, the resources needed to be able to provide food, water, and shelter for 21 days are significant, and unless people prepare a 21 day survival kit there will be mass suffering; the region will not simply have enough supplies for everyone. It will take time, a lot of time, to get emergency services and supplies to the affected area.

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