By Angie Sullivan Are you worried about your family during an emergency evacuation? Take the weight off your shoulders by putting on a backpack of supplies! It’s true, having a backpack or other easily toted supply pack ready for you and each of your family members will help you move forward on your journey to preparedness with confidence and less anxiety. Are you not quite sure what an emergency kit is, or are you worried about whether the ones you have include what you really need? Come on travelers, our journey has brought us to a very important crossroad, so we’re using our 72 hour checklist as a compass to point us in the right direction! In creating this compass, I began researching what should be included in an emergency kit by reviewing Emergency Essentials list of Insight Articles at BePrepared.com. There are several very informative articles and even a checklist you can print off to help you put together your kits. Let’s review a few of the basics: Backpack or Bag- First, a kit needs to be portable. You need a good backpack or duffle bag. Consider who will be carrying the pack and make sure they can carry it when everything is packed inside. Also, make sure you store these kits close to an exit. No one wants to be digging through the basement when they need to get out the door quickly! Backpacks work great since they keep both hands free. Food and Water- You can use water bottles, water pouches, or water boxes. Water purification tablets would also be a wonderful addition to your kit. After you have your water, you are ready to store some food! You can begin simply by rummaging through your own pantry! Do you have granola bars, beef jerky, soup, cans of tuna, or fruit snacks? Any items that store for a long time are perfect. MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) are a great choice! They come in many different flavors and can be eaten straight from the pouch! High calorie food bars are lightweight and provide the calories needed to sustain life. Hot chocolate and drink mix packets will help make the water, which might be a little stale, much more palatable. Hard candy is a great addition. It keeps for years and in a pickle, who wouldn’t want a little candy for comfort? Store as much food and water as space and ability to carry allow. Make sure you check your food and water at least once a year and rotate as needed. If you have cans that need to be opened, make sure you have a can opener. First Aid and Sanitation- Purchase or put together a basic first aid kit. This kit might include bandages, antibiotic ointment, cleansing wipes, pain medications, and a small first aid pamphlet. Consider adding tweezers, safety pins, and any medication family members require on a daily basis. Now, let’s add some sanitation supplies to our kit! I don’t know about you, but having toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, comb/brush, lip balm, and deodorant are must haves on my list! Assess the hygienic needs of each family member. What would each need? I have three girls, so some hair bands to keep their hair out of their face are a must. Just take note of what you need to get ready in the morning (bare minimum of course) and pack those items. Dollar stores are great places to pick up these items! Clothing & Warmth- I would be miserable without a change or two of clothing should an emergency strike, so having a few changes are necessary for my family. Extra underwear, clothing that can be layered and large zip top bags to store them in should the weather be inclement. If you have small children, you will need to adjust their packs seasonally to make sure the clothing will fit them. You also need to pack a few items should the weather be cold! Ponchos will keep off the rain, emergency bags and blankets will reflect that body heat, and hand warmers will keep those fingers toasty! Fuel and Mess Kit - If you have stored food that needs to be heated, you will want to store a mess kit, stove and fuel. If you don’t plan on heating food, choose items that don’t need to be heated to be eaten like the food calorie bars. MRE’s can be purchased with “heaters”, little pouches that use a chemical reaction to heat the food up. Tools - Think about what you might need should you be on your own! Consider a multifunction tool that has scissors, can opener, and other tools that may come in handy. Pack flashlights (preferably LED, and include extra batteries) ,add candles, matches, duct tape, whistles, compass, garbage bags, zip top baggies, tarps, (and a tent if possible), battery or hand crank radio, and rope. Don’t forget some pencils and paper, cash and coins. (Not all members of the family need to pack all these items, but someone needs to!) Sleeping arrangements- Make sure you have sleeping arrangements for each person. If you’ve got a tent, great, but if not, get a tarp and some rope to fasten a makeshift one and put a sleeping bag or bedroll in for each member of the family. Again, emergency bags or blankets though not comfortable in the traditional sense, will hold in lots of body heat and take up little space and are extremely lightweight! Remember: Keep this kit as lightweight as possible. Just remember, this is for “mobile” needs. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or occupy a lot of space. Try to keep them close to an exit in your home and make sure each member of the family knows where it is stored! If you need more detailed lists to help you put together your Emergency Kit, just click on the Insight Articles link on the Emergency Essentials website and begin taking the weight of worry off your back and into a pack!