Recently I have been bombarded with a question I did not expect. What is the difference between a Five Day (120-Hour) Kit (formerly known as a 72-hour kit), and a Grab and Go Kit? I did some sleuthing on the internet and immediately discovered why so many are confused. Many things have changed in the past few years. Kit names used to be easily definable. You knew what a Grab and Go Kit, a Bug Out Bag, and a 72-hour kit were. Now the terms have become interchangeable which is a huge disservice as each kit is meant to meet different needs. Let’s clarify.
Five Day Kit
You will still see a reference to this kit as a 72-hour kit. I spend hours speaking with first responders and survivors of disasters. I have learned thru this research that preparing to care for your own needs for 72 hours is just not long enough. In the first hours and days following a disaster first responders are working to meet the needs of those injured and doing all they can to make the area safer. In the case of a large disaster, food and water needs may be minimally met but hygiene needs, laundry, entertainment, and other needs may not. Power may also be interrupted making lighting and even communications difficult when you are unprepared to supply your own.
A five-day kit is designed as a personal survival kit. Whether evacuating during a disaster that may keep you from ever returning home or a disaster requiring a short-term stay in a shelter your kit is designed to keep you safe, provide necessities, and equip you to apply for help. This kit should not include those items when only one per family is needed.
Every person and thus every kit should include food, water, a water purification bottle, hygiene items, clothing, first aid, emergency contact information, light source, family photos,
cash and when appropriate prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Bug Out Bag or Grab and Go Kit
These terms are interchangeable. Most people would prefer to hunker down at home but in some cases escaping may be safer for your family. When told to evacuate always leave. You will always regret staying home if you find yourself trapped and dealing with the horror of trying to save your family as the water rises from flooding or civil unrest gets out of hand. Whether you plan to evacuate to a cabin in the woods, to a friend’s home, or to a campsite your Grab and Go Kit will provide you with the items needed to care for more than personal needs.
A Bug Out Bag or Grab and Go Kit includes “one per family” items. For example, you do not need more than one camp stove or more than one family-size tent. These bags may include a fishing kit, hatchet, camp shovel, sleeping bag/pad, communication such as a HAM radio, solar/battery radio, solar charger, utensils, pots and camp stove, and lantern. Kits should be designed to meet your needs at your bug-out location. Remember even if you are bugging out to the home of a friend or family member, they may not be equipped to house everyone, they may also experience a power outage and others may also be using that as a refuge.
Following Hurricane Katrina, I interviewed a man who lived 70 miles away from New Orleans. He had agreed to have a friend evacuate to his home. The friend and his family arrived with another family. The friend assured the other family the host wouldn’t mind. Now this generous man had two families to house, feed, entertain, and provide supplies for. That is just part of the story as the host’s home and community lost power. Now there were three families who needed to eat and needed supplies and no power. No power also meant no ATM or credit cards and the visitors had little cash. Once again, the host was tasked with providing. When I spoke with him, he was upset that he was forced to use all the cash he had on hand as well as using and deplete his own supplies. Imagine how much better the situation could have been if those evacuating had come with a way to cook, sleep, provide light and communications, and had cash to pay for supplies needed as they used up the items in their Five Day Kits.