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 you can possibly 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. Walkie Talkies

72 Hours After Disasters

1. The First 24 Hours

The first sign may be a loud noise or it’s very quiet as in too quiet outside. The lights may go off or the heater or the AC goes off abruptly. If it’s during the day it may not be as disturbing as it would be at 6:00 P.M., for instance. The sun has just gone behind the mountains and it’s getting very dark outside. And in your house.

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. The 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 is now 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.

Read More of My Articles  15 Quick Tips For Any Disaster

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 back up into your house if you try to drain the water.

3. The Third 24 Hours Will Not Be Fun

Do 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. Safety Protection Supplies

2. Drinks

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. The 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, learning 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. The 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.

Read More of My Articles  Natural Disaster Preparedness Tips You Need

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).

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 maybe 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 floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other causes we call Mother Nature. Disasters and emergencies come in many forms and at any time.

Final Word

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

32 thoughts on “What Happens 72 Hours After Disasters

  • February 27, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Hi my friends,
    Just a friendly note here…

    Cigarettes don’t really expire, they go stale. When a cigarette goes stale it has lost its moisture in the tobacco and tastes off. Commercial cigarettes usually don’t go stale unless the pack has been opened and it usually takes about 2 days.

    A lot of smaller retailers will have a pack on the shelf for years before they are sold. Customers don’t even know and the cigarette does not taste stale.

    If your cigarettes do go stale you can “revitalise” them by placing them in a container with a slice of bread. Although if you only have a small amount of cigarettes in the container it could get too moist. If they do get too moist leave them out for a few hours to dry. With enough practice you will figure out if your cigarettes are stale just by feeling the cigarette. And you will be able to feel if it is too moist or just right.

    If tobacco is too moist for too long it can mould. Although if you are smoking commercial cigarettes they tend not to mould because they are already rolled. Mould is usually a problem for people who roll their own cigarettes. And usually only happens when it is very humid and the tobacco is improperly stored. (Not in a sealed container).

    I hope this helps.

    • February 27, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Hi David, great comment, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge on cigarettes! Linda

    • February 27, 2019 at 11:34 am

      David ~
      I have also vacuum sealed cigarettes. That keeps them “fresh” much longer. I don’t really have a problem with my cigarettes but when I go on a long camping trip during the hot summer months, I want “fresh” smokes.

      Linda ~
      As for stale/dry cigarettes/cigars/tobacco of any kind for barter, I believe that if someone smokes/chews, they will not really care if the tobacco is stale. A smoke is a smoke!

      I am trying to quit!!

      • February 28, 2019 at 9:16 am

        True..true. Very good point!
        When I go on short outings or vacations, I like to take those little flavoured cigars. Great with a glass of wine 🙂

  • February 27, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Haha, you are the only person other than my mother who calls those “spit baths” that I’ve come across.

    • February 27, 2019 at 11:36 am

      Linda S ~
      I have always called them “spit baths”!

      When I go camping, I always have soap and water, baby wipes, etc., for spit baths!

  • February 27, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Linda, I just want to say thank you for print feature you added a few months ago. I’ve printed almost every post and added to a three ring binder stored by your book. I highly doubt I’d be able to think clearly under high duress. Knowing I have all this printed material to lean on means a great deal to me. Keep up the great work! Beth

    • February 27, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      Hi Beth, oh I’m so glad you like the PRINT button. I have always had it but somehow when I had my new website done, I forgot it and a reader reminded me to put it back. The next day it was ready to print. I’m like you I feel under duress everything we have printed or in print form the better. Great comment, Linda

  • February 27, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Great article Linda, and very good advice. In 2017 Hurricane Erma hit Florida, i live in Highlands County, a tornado followed the storm in my area, 95 % of Highlands County residents were out of power, some for weeks. We had a good supply of food, and i had 100 gal of gas for my generator that ran my entire home including the well. I ran the generator only when needed because i was using the gas in my chainsaw also, clearing trees that had blown over.
    We cooked for our neighbors and supplied them with water, after 3 weeks power was restored. All was well. BUT we all know in a total economic/government collapse that i think we are headed for, no matter how much you have stored, it will eventually run out. That is why, like you have said, we need to learn to survive as the pioneers did. I was raised on a farm, we were not wealthy by any means, poor would a better word, but we new how to live, grow food, store food, make clothes, and help others. We are all in this together, survival in numbers.
    I don`t know anyone else that is doing a better job of educating people how to prepare and to survive then you are doing, i hope they learn something for your articles, it`s for their benefit.
    Thanks for all you do….

    • February 27, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Hearl, you made tears come to my eyes, you are so kind with your words. I work so hard to get the word out to people. Your comment means so much to me. I grew up poor, so I totally know what you are talking about because you and I and can survive with a garden and even sew my clothes. I just hope we can get the word out to everyone and they will listen. May God bless this world. Linda

  • February 27, 2019 at 11:43 am

    I would also like to thank you for the Print feature. I print a lot of your articles for reference also.
    Next, thank you for the video and recipe for homemade laundry soap. I made a batch and love it! In fact I am sharing it with my emergency prep group, and everyone is making a batch to take home!
    And lastly, I have the” buckets for toilets”, but am considering also getting a chair toilet like they have in hospitals. One reason is they are not so low to the ground (bad knees), they are portable like the buckets, and can be washed out often so the smell might be easier to control. Just a thought.

    • February 27, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Cheryl, this is funny that you would mention the chair toilet like the hospitals. I have been thinking the same thing! I applaud you for sharing your tips on making detergent to save money with your emergency prep group! I LOVE that! I’m so glad you like the print button because I want my readers to print out and share all the tips they can use. May God bless you, Linda

  • February 27, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Linda ~
    I love your posts! Always see them as a way to keep me informed and I pick up new info regularly.

    It concerns me that so many people believe that the government – local and national – will be there for them and keep them safe, warm, fed and watered! Sounds like they are pets!!

    One thing that I would like people to know is that preparing: food, water, skills; is a form of insurance, just like auto/home/life insurance. There when we need it. It always feels good when I can go shopping in my closet, under my bed rather than running out to the store to overspend!!

    A good example of this happened last night. It was NOT an emergency BUT, I had not received my Social Security check (came today) and money was a bit tight. I needed to take a side dish to my church leadership meeting. The church provides the main dish but we all take sides/desserts. Well, I scanned my preps trying to come up with something that would not “cost” me a trip to the store with little or no cash in the bank account! I have cash at home but I did not consider spending it for this purpose. I had eggs, which are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things so I made deviled eggs to take. No money outlaid! I didn’t have to spend my little bit of money and I didn’t need to use my food storage.

    • February 27, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      Oh, Leanne, great ideas to take the deviled eggs! I LOVE it! You and I are so much alike and we have never met in person! Awesome comment girlfriend! Linda

  • February 27, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    what a great list of barter items. I however will not barter ammunition . I feel it would be a risk as someone could use that ammunition against you or your family . Guess I am just a bit paranoid .I have a few items to barter with. And I have printed out the list so I can work on building up those items. Keep posting your wonderful ideas and tips. Love and God Bless.

    • February 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Judy, I think the bartering will be here sooner than we may think. I have no knowledge but I can see things in this world are so out of control, I’m very concerned. Love and God bless you! Linda

  • February 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    I like that you cover all your bases providing for all possible needs and you relate that to others. My family has been lucky that we’ve experienced some annoyance and frustration in the form of boredom mostly, but we have never been hurt or had our house badly damaged.

    Last time, when Irma hit us, my brother passed the time doing crossword puzzle and word find books while listening to his little emergency radio. Those few things helped us pass the time until power was restored. We had enough water to stay refreshed and we had a wall unit air conditioner and a generator, so we didn’t have to suffer the heat the entire time. Still it was tiresome and I even sat in my car with my brother and our two dogs just to cool off. And we would have benefited from more snacks and cool drinks. Our father cooked and we ran the fridge on and off, but we had to keep it shut to preserve our food as best as we could.

    So despite our managing all these years, I said to myself that not only were we smart to prepare, but we can do more and we can do better. This year has just started, but I will prepare early and emphasize that this should be a priority in our house. What’s the point of being a prepper/survivalist buying gear and learning skills and not being prepared. 🙂

    • February 28, 2019 at 9:05 am

      Hi Frank, you always have great comments! As I’m reading your comment, and I can tell you took control of the situation by playing games and sitting in the car to get cooled off. As a country, we take so many things for granted and it’s actually good that we have a few “learning curves” along the way to make us realize we can do better as you mentioned. BUT the good thing is that we are resourceful!! We can make it through anything my friend, Linda

    • February 28, 2019 at 9:05 am

      Frank, P.S. Glad you mentioned more snacks and cool drinks. Linda

    • February 28, 2019 at 4:54 pm

      Good stuff

  • March 3, 2019 at 8:15 am

    So much information in a short-ish post. Thank you so much. I do have a question though. How do you get a spouse on board for prepping? My husband thinks I’m silly for prepping.

    • March 3, 2019 at 10:10 am

      Hi Deborah, that’s a very good question. I must say he is not into prepping like I am. He supports me in all that I do. I have taught classes on food storage and emergency prep all over Utah in subdivisions, government entities, food storage stores, and various churches for over 30 years. I think with Mark, he sees the need but he does more civic work than I do. I support him in that part of his life. It’s a win-win for both of us. It may take a disaster for your husband to “get it”. My husband understands the urgency I feel maybe because back in 1983 our city was flooded and we helped move furniture and stuff out of many many flooded homes from the water coming down the hill. Prepping is not silly. I’m so sorry he sees it that way. I bet there are others that feel that way too, which is really too bad. It’s very frustrating to me in the neighborhood I live in. They think prepping is not necessary. They’ll be in for a rude awakening sooner than later. Do whatever you can to keep the peace in your family but keep prepping however you can. May God bless you Deborah, Linda

      • March 3, 2019 at 12:19 pm

        I’m planning on it. The main thing he objects to is water storage. LOL I am in the process of storing water. We do have a 7 stage water filter on our kitchen faucet that I’m planning on using for water storage. Hubby drinks 2-liter soft drinks, so, I’m planning on using these for water storage. In a closet that’s rarely opened. The guest room closet.

        • March 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm

          Hi Deborah, it’s so funny you mentioned water storage. A year and a half ago, I bought a large capacity water tank to store water in my garage. When the company delivered it, it looked so much bigger than it did at the store. I was afraid it wouldn’t go into my garage!! Oh my gosh, I still laugh about that. Yes, it did fit, but just barely. Water is critical! Linda

          • March 3, 2019 at 3:49 pm

            Oh so true! We need water! For drinking, cooking, batheing and washing clothes. Plus bathrooms sometimes need water. I’m wanting to store about 4 gallons per day times 2 people. For three would better. Or at least 3 days or more.

  • July 19, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you. Another thing you will need is a land-line to use when the cellphones don’t work. We have both just in case be sure.

    • July 19, 2020 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Cheryl, I kept a landline for years. Then I had to cut expenses and the landline had to go. Sometimes I think I wish I still had it, but….it’s all about the numbers. That’s the phrase I use when I taught people how to budget in my career for 30 years. Now after having used that phrase with my kids, I teach my grandkids, “it’s all about the numbers”. When they talk about schooling, clothing, saving money, renting an apartment, etc. Stay safe, Linda

      • July 20, 2020 at 8:31 am

        The reason I mentioned haveing a land line is that recently a friend of mine had a lot of trouble with her cell line and deciden to get her land line back. Good thing she did because a few days later her husband had a medical emergency and it was the only way she could call 911. Sometimes we never know why we decide to dow what we do.

        • July 20, 2020 at 8:41 am

          Hi Cheryl, that’s scary! It’s funny a company called “Sure Call” contacted me to see if they could give me a system to boost my cell phone service. I used to have to sit on my coffee table to talk to people on my cell phone. I wrote about the unit they installed in my attic and outside. It’s awesome, but sometimes I still wonder about getting a landline. Luckily two blocks from my home is a fire station. Life is crazy right now, Linda

          • July 20, 2020 at 9:09 am

            Good for you to find this. Unfortunately we live in the country . That makes it a good thing to have both. We do, just in case.
            Thank you and have a good day.

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