I know a lot of people who think of anything preparedness-related as a bit of a slog, this huge burden that they feel like they must do to complete their due diligence. Fun? Nope.
I am here to tell you that 72-hour kits can be fun! The words “fun” and “emergency kits” are probably not heard very often in the same sentence. I'm not just referring to the satisfaction of seeing your emergency plans fall into place. With minimal effort, you can create for yourself and your family members fun emergency kits.
This is more important than you may realize. We put these kits together in the first place hoping to never have to use them. Emergency kits are primarily for evacuations, which means hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, etc. No one wants to experience those. But if you have to, add a few strategic items to your bag ahead of time to lift your morale and alleviate boredom. This is not optional if you have children in your family. When kids get bored, they get a little crazy and get into trouble. In an emergency situation, they will also feel scared. Small activities, toys, or sweets will take their mind off their worries. Happy kids equals happy parents.
Here are some ideas:
- Uninflated Balloons (not blown up)
- A pair of dice, for playing a variety of dice games.
- Mini activity books. Dover has hundreds of small activity books to choose from: coloring, mazes, sticker activities, word searches, and more. Each book measures approximately 5 inches by 4 inches.
- Small puzzles – you could go in several different directions. You could choose a metal disentanglement puzzle, or purchase a small cardboard picture puzzles from the dollar store.
- My kids each have a small blank notebook and some crayons.
Children aren't the only ones who need to have something enjoyable in their kit. What about grown-ups? Pack a favorite book, or splurge on that fancy preparedness gadget you've always wanted. If you have a hobby that takes up very little space, pack a few hobby supplies. I've had emergency lace-making equipment in my go-bag for over a decade, now. (Yes, I have eccentric hobbies.)
Now let's talk about candy. The best way to make yourself update your kit: put CANDY in it! You should be updating your emergency kit every six months, right? That means you will have to rotate out your candy. Translation: every time you rotate your 72-hour kit, you get to eat the candy.
Some kinds of candy are better than others. After all, best case scenario, you're not going to touch it for six months. Not all candy is going to be in very good shape after 6 months. Hard candies can crystalize or even liquefy. Chocolate can bloom. Anything with caramel our nougat in it will harden and cookie centers will go stale. Therefore, Twix or Milky Way bars are not recommended. Gummy candy will harden. I have had the best luck with plain M&Ms, because the hard candy shell keeps the chocolate from blooming. Lifesavers mints or tictacs are also good keepers.
You may worry that you'll pilfer the M&Ms from your kit in a moment of weakness, like when you need a pick-me-up after your washing machine breaks. Well, I would argue that those every-day sorts of emergencies are legitimate reasons to keep M&Ms in your kit in the first place. Just make sure that you, the parents, are the only ones allowed to do the pilfering. Kids don't know when to quit. It's all fun and games until you actually have to grab your kits and evacuate, only to Replace out that the 3-year-old used her so-called emergency rations for a picnic for her stuffed animals.
If you must strike a balance between a kit being fun, and having it be serious enough to keep your kids from getting into it, err on the side of fun, then store it out of their reach. Emergency kits are designed to keep you alive in an emergency by providing food, water, and some minimal shelter, but that doesn't mean you can't add a few treats for your mental health, too.
Attitude is important. My first B.O.B. was a mash-up of dollar-store junk in a school pack, the second, a higher quality nightmare of olive drab. For the third incarnation I’ve made a list, to see if each item can be improved upon—-not just for lighter weight, the main thing, but also asking—-would I want this in my life during a time of havoc and stress? Candy and morale patches aside, just exchanging a black flashlight for one in your favorite color could help—-and go on from there.