Monday, April 6, 2015

Teaching a 72-Hour Kit Class At A Relief Society Meeting

A reader sent me a question about planning a 72-hour kit activity for a Relief Society meeting. Many of you lovely Relief Society sisters with big hearts probably feel you can help your ward by doing gathering items for kits for your ladies. Take a look at her letter and my honest response. It may help you see things differently.

Dear Valerie: "I'm the Relief Society activity leader in our ward, and we're supposed to be having an activity next month doing 72 hour kits. The thing is...I'm overwhelmed!
I don't have any idea how to pull this off. Everyone has different needs, tastes in foods, etc. Some already have supplies, others don't. Do you have a suggestion on how to go about organizing, determining needs, purchasing (so one person doesn't have to spend a ton of money and then get reimbursed)? Our president also wants the sisters to assemble a few extra that night to donate to the women's shelter. Is it reasonable for me to organize the purchase of backpacks, food, tools, etc. or should we focus on a partial 72 hour kit? I'm dying here! :) No clue how to make this work and hoping for some suggestions. Doing kits for your own family is challenging enough, but trying to do this for all the sisters at an activity night seems really hard. Any ideas and suggestions you can offer would be very appreciated. Thank you!"

Overwhelmed Relief Society Leader

Dear Reader: "First of all let me say I did this years ago in a ward, and it was a HUGE undertaking and was highly stressful for me. Second of all, It is better to teach a woman how to fish, than to fish for her. I don't think it is part of your calling to do the shopping for everyone. It takes months of planning to pull it off. You are right that every family is unique. Diets, finances and children's ages are unique. Some elderly women cannot carry a backpack. My items are in a carry-on suitcase with wheels. Love it! So here are my suggestions for you:

  1. Make your own kit.
  2. Have everything laid out on a table not in the kit.
  3. Pack your kit in front of them and discuss the items you are putting in it.
  4. Realize that everything cannot fit in a backpack. For instance a 3-day supply of water is 3 gallons, so put some bottles of water in your backpack and some on the table. Also a sleeping bag may not fit in the pack. Sure they could buy those super expensive compact ones, but most family budgets can't afford that. I keep our kits, sleeping bags and a few cases of bottled water in the front all emergency closet.
  5. Teach by showing and motivating. Be SUPER excited to tell them what you have learned. Be honest and tell them what you would have done differently.
  6. Print a list of items to go in a 72-Hour kit.
  7. Send around a list for them to sign up for a reminder call one month from today.

As far as a few kits for the women's shelter, if your ward can afford that (plan on $75 - $100 depending on what is put in the kits) that is up to your bishop. How about have the sisters donate toiletries, lotion, journal and pen, etc. or some items to add to a kit for the shelter."

Best wishes, Valerie


  1. I had our group make kits for our Missionaries- they stay with the Branch, they dont travel with the missionaries. All items were donated.

  2. Get with your emergency preparedness coordinator & let them advise on the many different ways and types (child, infant, adult, pet, and vehicle) 72 hr. kits. Advise that visiting/home teachers can help families to prepare kits. Scout troops working on their EP merit badge can assist in process also.
    If you do not want to drag all this stuff around, take color pictures of everything all laid out along with itemized list;
    Carry a water filtration device, (PUR, 1st need etc.) there are water straw available at Walmart that work well as opposed to gallons of water.
    Military surplus sleeping bags are an excellent option, gortex bivy with lightweight & ECW bag available from EBay or most surplus stores.
    Do a show & tell, have members bring in their 72hr kits, have your EP person come in and demo, choices are endless!

  3. I have been trying to get my Empty-Nesters FHE group prepared. I have made medical kits, firestarter kits, sewing kits, foot kits, information kits for them. I've given them tools, lights, blankets, sterilizers, water bottles, stoves, grills, many other things. But 10-16 people are a lot easier than 50-100. However, it can get expensive quickly. I hand out things twice a month, usually. I have made many of my items and have demonstrated them at the meetings so they can make their own. My kits are always "starter kits". They are given written and video and web reference material to help them go further on their own. We have given first-hand experiences of the need. We have done demos on how to put together the kits and packs. Still there are those in the group who feel they are too "something" (old, poor, sick, not in real danger, capable). It's an uphill battle. But worth it in the end. We've done what we can, they have to run with it after that (or fall without it!).


Thanks for your comments and suggestions!