Emergency managers asking Utahns to prepare 72-hour kits for winter season

Nov 7, 2022, 6:39 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 5:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — As another round of winter weather makes its way to the Beehive State, emergency managers are asking Utahns to be prepared with 72-hour kits.

“The name of the game for disaster preparedness is being prepared,” said Bryan Stinson with the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah. “That means to do it beforehand.”

By Wednesday Wyoming was bracing for an artic storm that could cause temperatures to crash -35.

Meteorologists say these cold winds could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

“It is something that we knew was going to be outside of the norm and we’ve been kind of taking steps going through our plans that we have,” Michael Whisenant said. He is Uinta County’s Public Health Response Coordinator.

Uinta County emergency managers said they were prepared with shelters for anybody who might need to get out of the cold.

They also put a cellphone texting system in place for any emergency public messages they want to get out and have developed a Wyoming Ready app to keep people updated.

A 72-hour kit is recommended for each member of your family, and those kits should be personalized to each member’s needs. For those starting from scratch, kits don’t need to be complicated; start with the basics you can gather around your home — food, water, and warm clothing.

“In cold temperatures, you want to make sure you’re staying away from cotton clothing because cotton clothing holds moisture next to your skin, and when it evaporates, it makes you more cold,” Stinson said.

Grab a phone charger, flashlight and batteries, as well as a first aid kit. Stinson also recommended a candle and matches.

“Believe it or not, a single candle can raise the inside of the car 10 to 15 degrees, and that could be enough to be a lifesaver,” Stinson said.

Stinson suggests writing down important phone numbers and insurance information and grabbing an extra family photo, if available, and then putting that in your kit with some extra cash – he suggests small bills. Also, if you’ve got a whistle, put that in, too.

“As long as I can breathe, I can always blow a whistle,” Stinson said. “Three blasts on a whistle, that’s the international sign of distress.”

For those building a kit for their car, now is a good time to put in a sleeping bag or extra blankets. Stinson also recommends adding rock salt or kitty litter to your 72-hour kit. And if you have a small shovel, add that in, too.

“You want to have some rock salt or kitty litter, so if you’re stuck in an icy situation, you’ll be able to put that under your tire, which can help you get out of being stuck.”

There are dozens of things you can put in your 72-hour kit, and Be Ready Utah has many of them listed on its website.

Stinson said to start small and work your way up to building a bigger kit.

“Don’t worry about having the perfect kit yet; just start with putting those things together, and over time, you can incrementally upgrade that and get a better kit,” he said.

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Emergency managers asking Utahns to prepare 72-hour kits for winter season