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72 hours

If you think that the government is going to come to your aid during a disaster, then maybe you should learn about 72.

The rule of 72 is well known to government officials and rescue organizations. It stands for 72 hours, the time when citizens will be left on their own to survive, however they can. After 72 hours, or three full days, some help may be mobilized, based on the situation, the location and the priority of whomever needs assistance. There is no guarantee that help will arrive, but no emergency assistance should ever be expected before then, by most citizens.

Ever wonder why the basic emergency guides put out by the government recommends a three-day food and water supply? Now you know. This is not just in case you become isolated and hard to reach before three days. It is because no one will be reached. Our recent history is proof.

I enjoy the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SF72), because they just put it out there, although they try to make it sound like a catastrophic emergency would be the vacation you have long been looking forward to having, “In a serious emergency, city services will be impacted, so a basic rule of thumb is for people to be able to take care of each other for 72 hours before help arrives. That’s just three days—think of it as a long weekend—or nine meals.”

They advise San Franciscans to be prepared to help each other. In other words, don’t expect any help from your government, because it just won’t happen. “Actual emergencies look more like people coming together than cities falling apart.” Maybe. America does have a long tradition of pulling together after the fact. But, first there is the cities falling apart, part, and then the people dying, part. As I said, we have seen it before.

Ironically, the most critical need for help is during the first 72 hours. In a major disaster, there will be many people who will die or reach the point of no return. Officials will need to make some quick decisions on priorities, and may concentrate efforts on those who have the best chance of surviving. Make sure you are one of them.

Now that you know about 72, I hope that you will make every effort to be prepared with at least a three-day supply of food, water and essentials for yourself, your family members and any close neighbors or friends you may need to support. Of course, this is not enough. A three-month supply in the home plus a two-week bug out bag, should be considered a minimum emergency preparation. Quick-fix emergency food it best, because it is packaged well and takes minimal preparation. Food is insurance for survival.

Because you may be cut off from the rest of the world while you wait a minimum of 72 hours, make sure that your emergency preparations include other important items, such as fuel and heat sources, entertainment and comfort items (this is especially important for children; learn why)  extra bedding and clothing, plastic sheeting, a first-aid kit, and a means to protect yourself and your family.



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