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What constitutes a disaster survival situation?

Disaster is an event resulting in significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or a drastic change in the environment.

Survival is the struggle to remain alive and maintain a degree of security and safety.

Situation is relating to a set of circumstances and events.

Do you have your disaster survival planning and preparations together for your family? Are you ready to survive independently for an unknown time frame? It is easy in a catastrophic situation to become confused or disoriented and therefore not effectively deal with the events taking place around you. Thinking clearly can be hard to do, much less knowing what all you will need to help you to survive. When this occurs unfortunately people will die unnecessary, in part to a lack of disaster survival preparedness and planning.

You hear many references these days about Disaster Survival Kits, Bug Out Bags, or 72 Hour Kit. These kits are meant for exactly that, 72 hours or 3 days. During a disaster you may be forced to leave your home and you will need to be able to quickly grab a well put together 72 hour kit that will sustain you for that time frame. This time is considered to be the most critical time period after a disaster strikes. You may be on your own and will have to rely on yourself and the contents of your disaster survival kit. You will not have the time to gather up what you think you'll need in an emergency situation.

Some of the essential major components that should exist in your 72 hour kit or supplies are listed below. Keep in mind you will want to add some things to your kit that pertain to the special needs of your family.

1. Water : Water is critical, you can die of dehydration in three to six days. The minimum amount of water is three liters per person. Water purification tablets or water filter devices are a must when using questionable water.

2. Food : Freeze dried and dehydrated foods are the best choice for ease of preparation long shelf life, space saving and light weight.

3. Shelter : More people will die of exposure in a survival situation than anything else. Thermal blankets, warm clothing and water resistant outer wear will keep you dry and warm. Extra clothing should be considered in case of wetness or damage. Tents or other forms of weather protection will add to your security from the elements.

4. Heat: Related to shelter this will provide warmth and light. You will also need it to heat water, cook or warm food. Sterno and portable camp stoves are good self contained heat sources. Magnesium or flint fire starters are best for starting a fire without matches or a lighter.

5. Light & Communication : Having a combination, hand-crank AM radio / flashlight is a necessity. Many have adapters to charge your cell phone, laptop and other small devices. Battery powered radios and flashlights are great if you have the batteries to back them up. Light sticks are good alternative light sources and you can also consider a ham radio if there is a generator.

6. First Aid & Personal Hygiene : Include a variety of bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, burn ointment, first aid cream, aspirin or ibuprofen, sting relief, antacid, eye wash, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, elastic bandage, thermometer, latex gloves, sewing kit and first aid manual. Any personal hygiene supplies that essential such as feminine products, soap, sanitation bags, toilet paper or tissues, toothbrush and paste.

7. Tools : A good quality fixed blade hunting knife is a universal tool and necessary for your disaster survival kit. A folding shovel, machete or hatchet are all useful tools and can be used as weapons. A multi-tool, wire saw, rope, can opener and duct tape can also come in handy.

8. Important Papers : Phone numbers, passport, birth certificate, will, ID, banking and insurance, property deeds in a waterproof container. Currency will be important when ATM's and banks are down. Carry $ 200 in smaller denomination bills and quarters for vending machines.

9. Protection : A gun is a wise choice if you know how to handle it and are prepared to use it under the right circumstances. Alternatives include pepper spray, stun guns, any sharp or heavy object. Almost anything can be used as a weapon for protection, just be comfortable using it.

10. Travel : Cars and trucks will be most favorable option if you have the fuel to power them. After that it's bikes, animals or your own feet.

This covers the first three days of a disaster survival situation. It outlines the equipment and supplies you and your family will need in a 72 hour kit if evacuation is necessary. This is considered by most government agencies and non-profit preparedness organizations to be what the minimum requirements are until aid can reach you. Every situation is different as well as every families needs, this is only a guide line. Use and expand on this list to make your own individual kits to fit your specific needs and possible situations for your area. A ready made disaster survival kit is a great way to start. The best thing about these kits is that they contain almost everything you need to start with!

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