Tips on Preparing a 72 hour kit

The following list is credited to  CEO at UNITED SPIRIT OF AMERICA from a LinkedIn posting entitled “Experts defined the 12 Biggest Mistakes when preparing for a disaster… I like your comments, additions and objections to them.” As this LinkedIn group is a members only site, we have edited and posted the information to this blog.

Tip 01

Buy products that do not require clean water to work.
One of the most common effects of a disaster zone is the inability to get clean water.

Tip 02

Buy products that are light and easy to carry.
Assume that you may be injured and/or may not have the strength to carry heavy objects after a disaster occur.

Tip 03

Buy products that are not scented or do not have strong odors.
Wildlife is attracted to scent. From mosquitoes to large predators their sense of smell is one of their most effective sources for finding food.

Tip 04

Buy products that do not depend on electrical power.
One of the first things that fail when a disaster of any kind strikes is electrical power, buying products that require electrical power may be just a waste of money.

Tip 05

Buy products with long shelf life.
Products with less than 3 years of shelf life may be expired and unusable when you really need them.

Tip 06

Buy first aid products and hygiene products that are needed on a daily basis.
People will use hygiene products regardless if they are injured or not, but most people buy first aid products and forget what they use on a daily basis.

Tip 07

Buy based on how good it works not how cheap it is.
Everybody wants to save money but when a disaster call you need to have the best most reliable products… your life my depend on them

Tip 08

Buy products that can perform for a least 72 hours.
The first 72 hours after a disaster are key, most emergency and survival support agencies and institutions can’t reach you. If you don’t have enough to survive those 72 hours a simple thing such as antibacterial protection could become a serious health issue.

Tip 09

Do not take wind, sunshine, protection from bugs and water for granted.
When disaster strikes your “normal” environment disappears and too much wind, sunshine and/or bugs can make your survival very challenging.

Tip 10

After food and shelter is secured the most important issue is your hygiene.
In a disaster the possibility of getting sick by contagious diseases grow exponentially with time, hygiene products are just as essential as shelter and food, make sure you have enough.

Tip 11

Whenever possible, include extra supplies rather than the minimum.
When people buy their products they should take into account that some people close to them (neighbors for example) may not have theirs or could have lost them in the disaster and then everyone would have to share…

Tip 12

Buy products that were designed for an emergency.
People sometimes buy products based on price rather than effectiveness and at the time of a disaster they wonder why their products don’t perform to the task ahead.

Tip 13 (Credited to a comment by Jennifer Robitaille )

Do not forget about your pets.
Pets are like a member of your family and will need access to clean water, shelter and food.

Tip 14 (Credited to a comment by Guy Cullum)

Include simple entertainment like books or cards.  Most survival is waiting and dealing with the waiting. Having things to keep the mind active and people not focused on what has happened is vital for mental health for adults and children.

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Are medium and small businesses more vulnerable to disasters than other organizations?

First: governments do not go out of business following a disaster. Certainly there have been changes to how a government entity is structured and managed following the post disaster analysis.

Second: I have not personally witnessed nor can I validate through research, any large cap company that did not survive following a disaster. The great ice storm of 1998 devastated businesses in upstate New York, Québec and Ontario but there is not a single piece of evidence of a large company ceasing operations in the short or long term following that disaster. The same applies to investigations of large companies following 9-11, Katrina and the Oklahoma City – Alfred Murrah building bombing. The only case that might have a remote connection is the devastating May 1988 fire at the First Interstate Bank in Los Angeles. The bank declared bankruptcy in June of 1998 and a part of the cause may have been debt accumulated following the fire but that remains speculation.

Third: Small and medium businesses are the most vulnerable to disasters because they often do not have the cash reserves or borrowing capacity to re-establish operations following a disaster.

How many companies go out of business following a disaster?

There are various numbers used by different public and private sector prognosticators but the source of the information is suspect. In other words; is the number of business failures presented used as a means of accomplishing the organizations objectives of obtaining attention to the issue or gaining a business advantage?

I believe that it is safe to assume that some small to medium businesses will not survive a large scale disaster such as Katrina or 9-11. However, will those same business owners and managers start another similar business? Will someone else create a new business to fill the void created by the failure of another? Does overall business activity suffer in the long term following a disaster? Many would speculate that, in the short term, business activity increases based on the need to rebuild and re-establish operations.

Small and medium businesses could, if motivated, go a long way to preparing for a disaster by examining four key aspects of survival:
1. People: who will do the work following a disaster?
2. Information: How many hours or days of data and associated changes can the entity afford to lose permanently and be unable to recreate? How quickly must the data be available for use?
3. Technology: What equipment, tools and supplies will be required following the disaster in order to conduct business.
4. Workplace or facility: Where will the business and it employees work from if the primary premises are destroyed or inaccessible for more than a few days?

There is, of course, much more to business continuity preparation than these four questions. Each business is unique and the details will be different. My advice to any small business is to have a good understanding and plan for the People and Information aspects as soon as possible and then work away at the Technology and Workplace issues over time.

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