What Happens 72 Hours After Disasters

What Happens 72 Hours After Disasters

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Today I want you to think about what may happen the first 72 hours after disasters or unforeseen emergencies happen where you live. Here’s the deal, I want you to picture life in 24-hour increments. I have broken the three 24-hours in sections below so you can picture what will most likely happen within 72 hours after any disaster in any city, county, state or country. It’s plain and simple, let’s get started.

If possible get together with your neighbors to purchase walkie-talkies and set them on the same channel and test them monthly. The old kind we used at Disneyland years ago no longer cut it. They may not be useable because they will not go through blocks of houses. This is the brand an emergency search and rescue guy recommended to a class I taught a few years ago. Motorola MR350R 35-Mile Range 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair)

72 Hours After Disasters

1. The first 24 hours we will check with neighbors to see who is okay or hurt. If the disaster is big enough we will have limited county or city officials to help the entire area in the short term. It’s not going to happen. Period. We need to be ready to take care of ourselves in many areas. I am talking about water, food, shelter, first aid supplies, tools, cooking devices, etc. We most likely situation is that we will lose electricity. If we use gas to heat our homes that will probably not be available. If you think you will be able to turn on the water faucet, think again, the water supply may have been cut off or contaminated.

The sewer lines most likely will not work either. If you don’t have a portable toilet you better get one this week. Not next week. I will not share my portable toilet with anyone. I know it sounds selfish, but I want my neighbors to know that right now. I hope they have a good shovel to dig a hole for their own toilet, just saying. Here is a post I wrote regarding this issue and how to deal with it: Emergency Toilet For After A Disaster by Food Storage Moms. These are cheap and everyone should have their own emergency toilet or some black garbage bags, kitty litter, and duct tape to use inside their home toilets.

2. The second 24 hours, some people have gone through their bottles of water, emptied their food pantry, or freezer to eat whatever they have available. Remember, every family member needs at least one gallon of water per person per day according to the American Red Cross. I disagree, but I’m sure you know by now that I recommend four gallons of water per person per day. One gallon will not be enough for cooking, washing clothes, or bathing. You will want some baby wipes for what I call spit baths. This is the day you hope you were caught up on the laundry. If not, you will at least want clean underwear. Here is my post about an emergency washing machine: Emergency Washing Machine by Food Storage Moms. Of course, you can use a sink or washtub as well. You shouldn’t just plan on using the bathtub because first of all the water lines might be cut. Second, the sewer lines might backup into your house if you try to drain the water.

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3. The third 24 hours will not be fun. You know those BLACK FRIDAY sales that happen after Thanksgiving? Well, after a disaster if the roads are driveable the grocery stores will have lines out the door due to rationing of water and food. Trust me, I will NOT be in any grocery store after a disaster, I do not do Black Friday sales either. I don’t like the pushing and shoving at the stores. Man, just think how the crowds will be looking for water and food. YIKES! Utah, where I live, is ranked #4 for states with personal gun ownership. People get mean when they are really hungry or thirsty and they need to feed their families. Just something to think about. The grocery store shelves will be empty or a bottle of water could cost $20.00 and the store may not have change. Exact dollar amounts will be needed.

Before A Disaster Some People May Think:

1. Why do I keep hearing the phrases get prepared, be prepared and are you prepared?

2. Sometimes people may think nothing will happen to me.

3. The government will have to step in and help us.

4. God or whoever you pray to will take care of me.

5. I can’t afford to buy extra water or food.

6. I can’t afford preparedness items.

7. I don’t have time to learn skills.

8. My neighbor is prepared, I will just go over there.

9. My house is too small to store anything extra.

My Favorite Bartering Items For After Disasters:

1. Ammunition

2. Hard liquor

3. Cigars (do not store cigarettes-they go bad)

4. After a disaster coffee drinkers will barter for instant coffee (Starbuck’s might not be open)

5. Food you grow in your garden (get heirloom seeds you can keep planting year after year if you save the seeds)

6. Basic staples you have stored like flour, sugar, honey, oil, baking powder, baking soda, and spices

7. Skills like bread making, learn to make biscuits and crackers

8. Skills-handyman stuff

9. Skills-quilting and sewing will mend clothes or make clothes for us

10. First aid supplies

11. Chickens and eggs (as long as you have the food to feed them)

12. Meat (grass-fed animals will be a premium)

13. Skill of hunting for animals to eat (learn how to preserve them)

14. Trading your canned food items (you need to know how to can and preserve your garden)

15. Water and food (be sure and have a way to purify your water) Turn off the water to your water heater before the water becomes contaminated if you hear about a water problem.

16. Fuel for car and cooking

17. Learn to make soap and laundry detergent

18. Lemonade mix, hot chocolate mix or good old sugary Tang, if they still sell it (these will make water taste better)

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19. Cooking oil, any kind will be sought after

20. Cooking devices for outside cooking with fuel

I am not saying run out and buy everything on this list. We will all need the skills to help each other. We must all be able to bring something to the table in order to help one another. We are responsible for ourselves, no one else is going to take care of us.

If and when our economy crashes you may not have that Social Security check, retirement check, paycheck or pension check in the mail or deposited, think again. People keep telling us to pay off our houses, pay cash for cars, stay out of debt and be prepared for the unexpected. Have cash, precious metals and things to barter. It’s human nature to think that disasters only happen to other people living elsewhere.  If that is the approach you’ve taken up to this point in your life, think again.  Disasters can come our way in many forms, like getting sick and unable to work, losing your job due to layoffs or company closures, accidents happen, whether in your car or at home doing projects.

You may have the best plans to make your home safe and secure, but your neighbor may have a fire disaster just waiting to happen by storing dangerous fuels in the garage or on the side of the house. If their home goes up in smoke yours may be next based on wind and ashes. I read an article this week about a drunk driver that drove through the front of a home, nearly killing the occupants. They were lucky the car didn’t burst into flame. You may think that disasters only come in the form of flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake and other causes we call Mother Nature. Sure, we need to think of these and be prepared, but more often than not it’s the surprise events outlined above that bring the most heartache and challenges to families. Do your homework and be as prepared as your time and finances can allow.  You’ll be glad you did, and so will those living with and near you.

May God bless you and your family to have the means to be prepared for the unexpected one step at a time.


My favorite things:

My Book (available in every bookstore online or in the world): Prepare Your Family for Survival: How to Be Ready for Any Emergency or Disaster Situation

Berkey GSPRT Generic 22-Ounce Water Filter Sports Bottle, 3-Pack

Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System with 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters

Camp Chef Butane 1 Burner Stove with Camping Case

12 Butane Fuel GasOne Canisters for Portable Camping Stoves

Lodge L12CO3 Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven, 6 quart

Kingsford Products 31212 Natural Organic King Charcoal (2 Pack), 16.7 lb


  1. For the “God will take care of everything people”, God told Noah to build and ark (took 120 years) God told Joseph to store up grain for 7 years. While God does take care of people, he asks that we do our part if possible.

    Common sense is something that we seem to be without. History tells us, there are times of trouble. Start doing something.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  2. I also have a comment for the “I’ll come to your house people”. One friend of mine said that to me, I said, if I had enough food to take care of you, I am sure I don’t have enough to take care of your husband, and children. Are you going to leave them to starve? She started preparing soon after that.

  3. Linda,
    How are you my friend? Another great column for those who are on the fence regarding survival skills and emergencies. Yes, some people watch the news and think it will never happen to them. (((sigh))).

    I get that comment often of (I’m coming to YOUR house if anything happens) and sometimes from my distant relatives who laugh and snort at me for storing food. They honestly believe I have lost my mind as America has this invisible dome and nothing bad will ever, ever happen. Really???? I finally told her NO you cannot come here, unless you learn how to can food yourself, learn about survival skills and be able to protect and survive because people should never, ever go ‘empty handed’ to a safe home. They were shocked. Hey, I’m 70 years young and can actually get away with saying things like that now. I love it. It will eventually get through to them….I hope!

    Also, regarding the chicken food, as I am about to begin my chicken journey soon. Just read an article about growing fodder for chickens and other animal food. Just a thought, but anything that we can grow ourselves will help tremendously.

    And I did not know that cigarettes can go bad. Like how bad? Just stale?? Just a thought, but who really cares if they are stale. If ya’ got the addiction, any smoke is good, especially during hard times. I am so glad I quit 30 years ago.

    Hope all is well with you on the west side of America with you and your lovely family. Here in Cincinnati we are pressing our noses up to our windows and longing for spring, so we can go dig in our gardens and play like farmers.
    Take care.
    Cincinnati Ohio
    PS: I need a good easy banana bread recipe. Got any?(silly question) oh and BTW…just tried your Chicken Noodle Soup recipe and OMG!!! It was soooooo good. Thank you, thank you. Linda, YOU are the wo-MAN!

    • Hi, girlfriend! Yes, I don’t smoke I just read cigarettes go bad as in stale, you are right. If smokers want a smoke maybe stale won’t matter. I’m 67 and yes we can say exactly how we feel, we are prepared chicks and proud of it, right? Others better get their act together, I can’t feed more than Mark and I because I have been telling people for years to be prepared…..less than 10% of the residents in Utah are prepared for the unexpected. They have heard it from their church leaders, the government, the American Red Cross, and many more organizations said that we are expecting a BIG earthquake……May God bless those who heard and did not heed the warnings. I make the banana bread from a really old cookbook Better and Homes and Garden Cookbook but add more bananas. Take care, hugs! Linda

  4. An excellent article Linda. Lots of great information here and I intend to save it, refer to it often and put it to use in my own prepping. I’ve recently started upping my water supplies because all the food in the world won’t matter if we don’t have water!

    Also looking forward to getting the garden started. This will be our third year here in Oregon and the garden gets better and better each year. Still not enough to can food for the winter but it is wonderful to pick your own food for dinner.

    Some day…chickens!

    • Hi Leslie, I’m glad you liked my article today. I’m glad to hear you are upping your water supplies. I told Mark in December all I wanted for Christmas (we don’t usually exchange gifts because we have all the stuff we need) was a 250-gallon water storage tank. I also wanted 12 cases of the water that lasts 50 years (Blue Cans), it’s the best water I have in my storage. I drink a lot of water and if we have a disaster, I’m totally set. Unless an earthquake hits my home. As far as gardens, we learn something new every year. It’s rough growing food in southern Utah because of the rodents and pests from the desert. But I will not give up! LOL! Keep doing what you are doing, life is good if we can sleep at night because we are getting prepared one step at a time. Hugs! Linda

      • Thank you for your reply Linda!

        I recently ordered some Bees Wax, mostly to make lip balm because the weather here seems to irritate my lips several months out of the year, but I’m reading that it has many other uses.

        Do you have an article on the subject? I’m pretty excited to explore the options.

        Thank you again Linda.

  5. RangerRick says:

    Hi Linda,
    This is a good article. After several decades of preparing and several decades of responding to disaster areas I have found, don’t give up alcohol or ammo except to family. Folks get a little off center when their world turns upside down.
    When I worked with relief agencies ,I always wore body armor and carried a weapon. It was against the rules, but I always came back unharmed.
    If you do have extra supplies, never give them out from your home. The word will get out and people will come to your home and take what they want. Emergency Services will be pushed to the limits, so all you have is your core group and hopefully your neighbors.
    Be Prepared – Be Prayerful – Be Thankful – You are an American

  6. Linda,
    Another great post. I had to smile because this last week we have had some severe storms. I have been filling my empty jars and plastic bottles with water. Gallons of water are expensive to purchase up here. I store enough for drinking then extra containers I fill with water for other uses. We live on a strip of gravel next to the sea. I also travel to small villages for work and take a 72 hour kit with me. It was 45 below zero this week with windchill. Preparedness is just a simple way to feel peace. Your posts are helping me and others! Thanks so much! #thirtymilesabovethearcticcircle

    • Hi Carla, thank you so much for your kind words, it keeps me going. I cannot imagine 45 below zero temperatures! Oh my gosh!!! You are so right about being prepared is just a simple way to feel peace. I love that statement, I feel that way for sure! Linda

  7. D from Michigan says:

    Just a quick note on TANG.
    Couldn’t find it for years, but they seem to be making it again, and it’s pretty good when cold.

    Look for those round stubby plastic containers of Country Time Lemonade, and Kool-Aid. Tang is right next to them here in Michigan. The Half/Half Lemonade and Ice Tea is really good too. Leave the Kool-Aid for the kids.

  8. Linda,

    You have another winner here, but I’d like to point out that if roads are passable it’s likely your grocery store shelves will NOT be depleted in the first 72 hours. Only if the roads are not passable is that likely. That said, panic buying or even looting could happen so it’s best to always have an absolute minimum or two weeks worth of food and water on hand. Also, everyone should have a water filtration and purification device. Mine is an AquaRain Model 404 gravity fed purifier that will even convert raw sewage water to safe drinking water. If people don’t have something like that, unscented bleach and/or boiling will work.

    • Hi Raymond, totally true if you have several stores. We have so few grocery stores here and I have seen the water shelves empty. I have seen slightly bare store shelves after some major flooding here. I only went to look at the people who were in need of food and water. I have enough for my needs….Everyone needs a way to purify their water and they also need to store bleach to clean up the sewage if and when the lines break. May God bless those who are not prepared, the government cannot take care of everyone and either can you and I. Linda

  9. Hi Linda,

    I question anyone “baking” anything after SHTF. Why? Most folks have electric ovens in their home, or if gas ovens, the temperature control requires electricity. After SHTF, No electricity; i.e. no baking.

    I tried using a Coleman propane “Camp Oven”, but found that you can’t control the temperature. You can set a temperature on the control wheel, but when you open the oven door for any reason, you’re back to “square one”. BTW, Coleman no longer offers a “Camp Oven” – probably for that very reason.

    You can, sort of, bake soda bisquits in a deep iron skillet with a glass lid – which gives you the ability to peer in at them and estimate when they are “done”, but that’s not nearly the same as setting the heat to “425” and the timer to “35 minutes”.

    Am I doing something wrong?

    • Hi, Doug, you are not doing anything wrong. First, you are thinking about how will I bake anything? I have a Camp Chef stove/oven combination to bake casseroles, bread, cookies or biscuits in the oven part. I can make pancakes, boil water or whatever on the top of the stove as long as I have fuel (propane). You can use a Sun Oven if you live where you have enough sunshine where you live. You can also use a Dutch oven with my Lodge schedule with cooking temperatures you can bake anything if you store charcoal in airtight containers. I can bake food in a Volcano stove if you store fuel. I am totally confident I can bake anything if and when the SHTF! Linda

  10. never trade your ammo, you may get it back a bullet at a time when they find you have extra stuff.

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