72-hour kit failure!

Though 72 hour kits are not a specific part of the home storage program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are a good part of preparedness generally. I created 72 hour kits for my family many years ago and had been pretty good about rotating and updating them. I confess that I have not been as good about doing so lately.

This month, I resolved to pull my kits out and update them. I went shopping yesterday and purchased several foods for the kits including tuna/cracker kits, pull-tab fruits, and some new "compleats" which are entrees that don't require refrigeration and only need to be warmed to be eaten (and could probably be eaten cold).

This morning I pulled out the kits. What a disaster! This is what I found:

1) Difficult accessibility - I had to move too many things in order to get to the box that contained the kits in my garage. I need to relocate the kits, perhaps to pegs hung on the interior wall of my garage. There is no way that these would have been a quick "grab" in an emergency.

2) Clothing no longer in the right sizes - I have one complete set of clothing for each member of our family including underwear and socks. I need to buy sweat pants in at least a size too big for each of my kids. The size 14 jeans in my oldest child's kit would not have been an option for him or any other child. I think sweats would offer more flexibility - literally.

3) Pillaged kits - I think my sons raided the 72-hour kits while looking for first aid supplies for their scouting merit badges. All of the first aid kits had been removed and were missing supplies. The tent was also missing. I can't imagine where this has gone. Several kits had contents spilled throughout the box.

4) Spoiled contents! - The mandarin orange cup contents were black; several canned fruits had bulged/burst and covered the rest of the stuff in the packs with a black sludge; and many of the pull-tab cans had leaked. In many cases, the cans were double packed inside of gallon-sized storage bags. The kits with food packed this way were salvageable. My kit, however, didn't have cans that were double bagged. I literally had to throw the backpack along with the bottom 6 inches of it's contents into the trash. Several flashlight batteries had leaked. Thankfully, they were packed separately into sandwich-sized plastic bags. So, I just threw those bags out.

Obviously, I learned some lessons. I'm not sure that I will pack pull-tab canned goods into my 72-hour kits anymore. It might be worth including a can-opener instead. In the future, I will always put food items into sealable plastic bags. I've already done this with most of the other contents to prevent them from getting wet. I will also check the kits more frequently. I think that I will pack the actual kits with less perishable foods and then include a separate bag (maybe stored in the house) with more extensive food supplies. I think I would be better about rotating the contents of a more accessible bag.

What have you learned about 72-hour kits?


Christy said...

I need to check mine again. It is time to rotate the water. I have energy bars mostly in mine for food. I figure if we are really on the move we won't want to stop and prepare food.

Vickie said...

Before we moved to WA I discovered my water had leaked in my bucket with my 72 hour kit and had destroyed a lot of my stuff so I had to replace a bunch.
One thing that has worked is to pull out the food and eat it while watching General Conference. Then I purchase new food items to replace the old. This helps me rotate what's in the bucket. This is also when I empty and refill my water storage.

azurevirus said...

wow..I have some of those Dole peaches & parfait and other flavor fruit cups (u can see thru)..not to mention some cans of Vienna sausage ,ravioli, chicken sand spread etc pb and hard candy..I tried to get food I could eat cold and while Im walking..I never see any of the energy bars Christy mentioned...how long were your BOB's put up?..months?

azurevirus said...

guess my 1st comment didnt take...just wondering how long u had your BOB's put up..apparently at least for a few months?..were they subject to drastic temp changes?..just asking cuz I got those Dole fruitcups.vienna sausage..sand spread, deviled ham with the pop top lids in my BOB ..but I keep it inside the house at more or less a steady temp..will check it out tomm night..Christi has an idea of the energy bars..I just cant find them locally

Wendy said...

Azurevirus -

I keep my kits in the garage, which has pretty extreme temperatures. Unfortunately, we don't have a closet near a door - so I felt like my garage was the best storage place. I keep foods like these in my three-month supply and they are just fine for a year or more. So, it has to be the extreme temperatures that caused the problems. I really think your kits that are stored inside the house would be just fine with those products.

I used to rotate my kits regularly - but it has been a couple of years since I changed out stuff. So, extreme temperature plus not rotating equals 72-hour kit failure!

Off Grid Survival said...

The biggest problem with 72 hour kits is that it gives a lot of people a false sense of security.

I think it's a very common thing for a lot of people to make these kits and then forget about them, only to find themselves in a real emergency situation with no clue where the bag is or a bag full of old useless stuff.

Anonymous said...

I have almost completed a BOB for my cat, but have yet to begine mine. This just reinforces to me that I MUST take care of it know, as well as inventory my other supplies.

Anonymous said...

Rotation during General Conference (ie every six months) is always a great idea and seems pretty standard among Mormon preppers (easy to remember hehe). It also helps to signify a switch between colder weather supplies and warmer weather ones.

The one thing I see missing from 72-hour kits and lists about kits is a plan. Where are you going with your kits? Will the supplies last until you get there? Upon arrival to your destination what if your unable to return home for days or even weeks?

Everybody's situation is unique. We should all take time to think over these and many other things when building our 72-hour kits. Step one should always be a plan!

thegirlwiththeplan said...

I enjoyed this post... perhaps because it was a little familiar. What I have learned is that i am too prepared and have everything i could possibly want in my 72 hour kit making it, to heavy to carry. I inytend to downsize soon.