Picture this: A local emergency of some sort has the police knocking on your door telling you that you have 5 minutes to evacuate your house (fire, gas leak, railroad collision, earthquake). What will you spend those 5 minutes grabbing? Hopefully you’ll say your children and your 72 hour kit (and then whatever else you think you have time to grab and can carry).
How to Make a 72 Hour Emergency Kit
Just what is a 72 hour kit? It is a kit (sometimes referred to as a Go Bag), in a back pack or tote, that allows you to live away from your house for 3 days in an emergency. It is different than a term you might hear called a Bug Out Bag (B.O.B.) as a B.O.B. is meant for the possibility of permanent living away from home. Your 72 hr. kit is meant to allow you to escape an immediate threat, live for 3 (or 4 days if you stretch it) without having to rely on authorities, and going back home (though sometimes, home won’t be an option if it is bad enough and that BOB will be a blessing).
Here is a list of basic items to include in your 72 hour kit. Be sure to store them in an easily accessible spot (we’ve actually begun to keep ours in the car along with our emergency car kit). Following the list are great Pinterest finds with more information.
10+ Items to Have in Your 72 Hour Kit
1. Water. FEMA recommends 1 gallon of water per person per day, but that is a bare minimum. You might want to store a gallon, and then get a water filtration system [Lifestraw] to allow you to filter water you can find on the road).
2. Food. You need dense nutrient, high calorie food. This isn’t the time you want to stick with granola bars and dried fruit. You’re not just hiking..you’re trying to survive, so make sure you make the most of the food you’re taking with you. You can get freeze dried food in prepacked containers, or dry things yourself, but be sure not to try to eat like a bird if you can pack it.
3. Shelter. A tarp + rope can give you an emergency shelter, or you can tie a small tent to the bottom of your pack, or make a bedroll out of sheets/pillow. But you’ll want to be able to sleep and protect yourself from the elements if you have to sleep outside until your return home.
4. Fire. If you’re having to be outside, fire can be a great way to warm you, to cook your food or even be a signal. Keep a couple of different kinds of firestarters in different areas of your pack, safely wrapped from the elements, so that you can always have fire.
5. Light. Flashlights, glow sticks, etc., help make you able to see in dark spaces and have light to get you around safely.
6. Communications. A pre-paid cellphone (with numbers already programmed into it), walkie talkies, a radio – things to help you be able to stay connected if communications are still available.
7. Cash. ATM’s and banks may not be available during a local emergency. Be sure to have extra cash stashed in small denominations to be able to purchase things if purchasing is an option.
8. Clothing. Have an extra set of clothes and shoes to be able to change into or wrap up in if it’s chilly. If you’re wet, having something dry to change into will be a wonderful thing.
9. First-aid. Have a small, well-packed first aid kit to help out with medical emergencies
10. Documentation. Make sure you have copies of the documentation you may need to rebuild your life after, or identify yourself during an emergency. You can keep the copies in a water proof bag or on a small memory stick.
11. Security. I really feel it is important to have something that you carry at all times for security. Even having a knife in your pack that is handy for utilitarian reasons but can do double-duty as a self-defense weapon is important.
12. Entertainment. You might want to consider adding items for entertainment if you end up spending many hours waiting for things to happen – books, card games, pen/paper, electronic readers (though know that you might not have electricity to recharge).
Emily as an MFA in creative writing and a strong passion for cooking! She started trying out her mother’s recipes from a very young age, turning the time she spent in the kitchen into a career. She will soon publish her very first cookbook, and in her free time, Emily contributes to our blog with resources for all our readers, whether beginners or advanced chefs.