Rotating Emergency Kits

I always intend to rotate my emergency kits each year, but I don't always get around to it. Obviously that makes my kits less effective. In fact, you can read about my past 72-hour kit failure here. We currently keep the bulk of our emergency-kit food in a separate bag just inside the back door to reduce any spoiled food from the extreme temperature in our garage. Each person also has their own backpack, stored on hooks in the garage, with a little bit of less-perishable food in addition to this main bag.

Determined to create a new habit of rotation this year, I decided to follow some advice given by others and connect it to general conference and make a family tradition out of rotating the contents of our emergency kits. This could also be a fun Family Home Evening activity, especially if it was paired with practicing a preparedness skill such as an earthquake or fire drill.

Early last month I informed my family that we would be serving lunch from the food in our food-emergency-kit. Honestly, there was a lot of moaning and groaning. But I was determined. I let them choose anything from the kit. Well, that's not completely true. My twelve-year-old would have eaten just Tootsie Pops if I had let him.

My husband chose a tri-tip roast Compleat (which is a shelf-stable meal). He warmed it up and lamented that it probably wouldn't taste very good cold. My oldest son chose beef jerky, which was completely predictable. In fact, I had packed it just for him to eat because I didn't think he would eat anything else. My youngest two had a can of vienna sausages each. I had a Sensations tuna kit. We all shared a can of mandarin oranges and one of pineapple.

I know - no veggies. I actually don't store any extra vegetables in my kits. I've thought about this and figure that my kids resist eating veggies normally, so I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't eat them in an emergency (consequently taking valuable storage space). Plus, I figure that they'll be fine without veggies for three days.

I learned some important lessons as we ate our food. First, my tuna was spicy Thai - and boy was it spicy! I really needed some milk to dilute the spiciness, but only had water. So I won't be including spicy foods in the future. Second, the emergency kit was really heavy. I will probably chose fruit cups instead of pop-tab cans in the future - just to lighten the weight. Third, I realized that it would make more sense to include some plates and utensils in the food kit instead of just in the individual kits. Last, I concluded that we really needed more variety in the kit. My kids suggested including small cereal boxes. My husband suggested replacing the Compleat with a flavored tuna fillet which would taste better cold. As I shopped to replace the items we ate, I also added some crackers and a jar of peanut butter/jelly. I would really prefer to store individual restaurant packs of the peanut butter and jelly but I haven't been able to find any.

So - some good lessons learned. And even though they complained, I think it was a fun (or maybe just unusual) way to rotate the contents of our kits. It was an extremely valuable experience for me.

When/How do you rotate your kits?


Julene said...

We rotate on Conference also. Emergency Essentials carries small jelly and peanut butter packets as well as pieces of bread in vacuum packs. They last a long time at the right temp. Hope that helps.

Wendy said...

Thanks for heads up Julene!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm not Mormon, so I am not familiar with your conference, but I do April and November. This is about the time that I can switch out needs for cold weather vs. hot. I also started keeping a food inventory in each bag with the item, nutritional information (calories and protein are important to plan for in an emergency!!), and expiration. I can take a quick look at the inventory and know what I need to buy before I unpack the bag. I have an infant who's needs change on a weekly basis! I also started a spreadsheet for my "ultimate" 72 hour kit wish list. As I find lighter, smaller items, I add them and can get more useful stuff into each pack. Any recommedations for a bowl (stainless?) that could be used over a campfire?

Wendy said...

Good idea for the inventory list. I think you're smart to buy before you take items out. It would certainly be ironic if the time period that I had drawn down our kits was right when we needed them.

As far as a bowl - I don't have any ideas. Does anyone else?