This month, I resolved to pull my kits out and update them. I went shopping yesterday and purchased several foods for the kits including tuna/cracker kits, pull-tab fruits, and some new "compleats" which are entrees that don't require refrigeration and only need to be warmed to be eaten (and could probably be eaten cold).
This morning I pulled out the kits. What a disaster! This is what I found:
1) Difficult accessibility - I had to move too many things in order to get to the box that contained the kits in my garage. I need to relocate the kits, perhaps to pegs hung on the interior wall of my garage. There is no way that these would have been a quick "grab" in an emergency.
2) Clothing no longer in the right sizes - I have one complete set of clothing for each member of our family including underwear and socks. I need to buy sweat pants in at least a size too big for each of my kids. The size 14 jeans in my oldest child's kit would not have been an option for him or any other child. I think sweats would offer more flexibility - literally.
3) Pillaged kits - I think my sons raided the 72-hour kits while looking for first aid supplies for their scouting merit badges. All of the first aid kits had been removed and were missing supplies. The tent was also missing. I can't imagine where this has gone. Several kits had contents spilled throughout the box.
4) Spoiled contents! - The mandarin orange cup contents were black; several canned fruits had bulged/burst and covered the rest of the stuff in the packs with a black sludge; and many of the pull-tab cans had leaked. In many cases, the cans were double packed inside of gallon-sized storage bags. The kits with food packed this way were salvageable. My kit, however, didn't have cans that were double bagged. I literally had to throw the backpack along with the bottom 6 inches of it's contents into the trash. Several flashlight batteries had leaked. Thankfully, they were packed separately into sandwich-sized plastic bags. So, I just threw those bags out.
Obviously, I learned some lessons. I'm not sure that I will pack pull-tab canned goods into my 72-hour kits anymore. It might be worth including a can-opener instead. In the future, I will always put food items into sealable plastic bags. I've already done this with most of the other contents to prevent them from getting wet. I will also check the kits more frequently. I think that I will pack the actual kits with less perishable foods and then include a separate bag (maybe stored in the house) with more extensive food supplies. I think I would be better about rotating the contents of a more accessible bag.
What have you learned about 72-hour kits?