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Getting started with prepping can be overwhelming. Once the need to prep took root within my mind, I started to realize just how poorly prepared I was. Questions popped up like mad:

  • What kind of calamity am I prepping for?
  • What do I need?
  • How much do I need?
  • What do I need to buy first?

It’s enough to drive you (and everyone around you) totally nuts. So let’s keep calm, take a deep breath, and take a couple of baby steps toward preparedness.

Laying the Foundation

Some people try to prep themselves to survive global thermonuclear war before they’re even ready to make it through something as simple as a short-term power outage. The most common emergency situations are relatively minor ones, so we’re going to start small.

One of the most typical household emergencies is a power outage. Your electricity could go off for a couple of days because of a storm or a transformer malfunctioning or any of a number of reasons. A short-term power outage isn’t really a big deal, but if you’re not prepared for it, it can cause a significant disruption in your life.

I can deal with sitting in the dark with no TV, but when the electricity is off, my furnace doesn’t work. Until I save five grand to buy that wood-burning stove I’ve got my eye on, I’m going to need to resort to more basic means of staying warm. Got an electric stove? You’re screwed there, too. Electric stoves and microwave ovens are no good in a power outage, so you’ll need a way of heating water and cooking food. And because people are much more likely to hurt themselves in the dark, you’ll need some first aid supplies, too. You get the idea.

The 72-Hour Emergency Kit

Sandy recently wrote about the need for a variety of “Grab-and-Go” bags to help you bug-out in a jiffy with the assurance that you have everything that you’ll need. One such grab-and-go bag is the 72-hour emergency kit. This is an essential, whether you are bugging-out or staying put. You should have a 72-hour emergency kit for every person in your household. They should be stored in a safe and accessible location (like all of your grab-and-go bags), and you should know how to use every item in the kit — before you need to use it. Having all of these products together in one place in kit form prevents you from scrambling all over the house in the dark, assembling bits and pieces after the emergency has already occurred.

Click here to go see an assortment of kits sold by Emergency Essentials (one of my favorite prepper resource vendors).

At the time of this writing, Emergency Essentials sells four different grades of 72-hour emergency kits. The most basic is just called an emergency kit, but the better-equipped models have brand names like Trekker™, ReadyWise™, and Comp™. The one that I think gives the most bang for the buck is the ReadyWise™. Let’s take a look at some of the things the ReadyWise comes with.

First, you’ll find food in the form of a few MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and a high-calorie food bar. You can eat MREs as-is, but keeping up your morale is important in an emergency, so they also provide MRE heaters and some hard candy. (Apparently, eating cold MREs makes some people cranky.) Next comes water. Besides providing packages of water, Emergency Essentials includes a water bottle and some water purification tablets. Getting cold? To help you stay warm, the kit comes with a wool blanket, hand and body warmers, a poncho, an emergency sleeping bag, and a tube tent. For lighting, they give you a hand-crank powered flashlight that can also recharge your cell phone, a light stick, and a 100-hour candle. To let you know what’s going on in the world, they include a battery-operated radio (and yes, batteries ARE included, but you need to make sure to keep fresh ones in stock just in case). There’s also an assortment of first aid and personal hygiene supplies. All of this comes bundled in a lightweight backpack for easy portability in case you have to bug out and drag it all with you.

Can You Top This?

I think that’s a pretty darned good 72-hour emergency kit at a very reasonable price. Could you do better buying separate components on your own? That depends on what you mean by “better.”

I’m sure that you could find a better radio (maybe one that is powered from both a hand crank and a solar cell, instead of batteries). And a “real” sleeping bag would be better than the emergency one that they put in this kit — but that one item could be as big and heavy as this entire kit, so there are trade-offs to trading up. I’m dead certain that the multifunction tool included in the kit isn’t the best one on the market, but buying a high-end multifunction tool will cost you more than this entire kit. Do you really need a really good multifunction tool? Yes, in the long run I believe that you do. But do you really need a really good multifunction tool for a 72-hour emergency kit? Nope. That’s overkill. Sometimes “good enough” is good enough.

Looking at ways to improve upon Emergency Essentials’ ReadyWise emergency kit is a good lesson in prepper priorities. You could buy this affordable, quick-and-dirty kit that is very appropriate for the purpose it was created for. Or you could assemble your own kit of higher quality components. Or you could buy this kit as a starting point and supplement it with a couple of better-quality pieces here and there. The choice is yours. But I urge you to do something. Don’t be caught walking around with a head full of stuff that you know that you need to do, but none of it actually accomplished. A 72-hour emergency kit is one of the basic Grab-and-Go bags that every household needs, and it’s a quick and easy baby step toward greater preparedness for any situation.

Yes, it’s possible to put together a better emergency kit than this one, but you’ll be doing a lot of shopping and you’ll spend more money. If you’re the kind of person who likes one-stop shopping, this is kit from Emergency Essentials is a good solution for you, and a good starting point for your preps.

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