72 Hour Kits Revisited: Part 1 of 2

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Today we’re sharing ideas about making your own 72 hour kits, and then some options for purchasing them at the end of the post. 72 hour kits are useful for the first 72 hours following some type of emergency/natural disaster. Often times they are used in scenarios where you have to evacuate your home. If you could stick around your home, I’d hope you have more then 3 days worth of food- but that’s another story.

72 hour kits typically contain supplies for dealing with disasters along with food and water. Today we’re sharing a list of supplies and some great tips we got from reader submissions. Thursday we will be sharing food ideas, along with a planning guide you can use to customize the food in your kits to your families needs and tastes. Please note, we also recommend having your important documents gathered in either an emergency binder, or safe.

Here is a list of non-food supplies. This list is on our disaster kit’s page. You might want to take a closer look at that, but know that we’ll be updating it along with the food part of it after this week. The items in black are the items we currently have on the page. The items in red are new items we gathered from reader submissions.

□ supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
□ first aid kit and prescription medications
□ extra pair of glasses , or contact solution
□ credit cards and cash
□ change of clothes and sturdy shoes
□ battery powered radio, and extra batteries
□ blankets or sleeping bags, rain poncho, body warmer, glow stick, tarp to make a tent
□ list of emergency plan contact info
□ booster cables for car, car shovel, rope, N95 dust mask, working gloves
□ flashlight with batteries , or hand-crank flashlight
□ wind/waterproof matches, and candle, plastic trash bags
□ personal hygiene products (baby stuff, soap, tooth care, toilet paper, hair ties, wet wipes)
□ games, books, hard candy, toys
□ tire repair kit and pump, duct tape, swiss army knife, and over the counter medications, maps of surrounding areas, sewing kit, blank CD for SOS or signaling for help, whistle, multipurpose tool (screwdriver, knife, saw, pliers, can opener etc), PowerCap (baseball type hat with built in headlights)
*more about pets on Thursday

The following are some tips we thought were worth sharing, but couldn’t really put them in a list since they are more ideas about how to purchase, store, or accumulate your supplies. Read them – and thank you to our readers for sharing them.

PURCHASING: After you’ve come up with everything you still need to buy for your kit, break it up into a purchasing schedule. Purchase just 1 or 2 things each week for however many weeks it takes you. The point is you’ll be making progress, even if you can’t buy it all at once.

GRAB LIST(S): Instead of having just one grab list (things you would grab if you have to evacuate) have multiple lists- one for each family member. Tape those lists up on the inside of your front closet door. When it comes time to evacuate, anyone who is old enough can get their list and hurry. This will save time deciding who is going to grab what.

INDIVIDUAL KITS: For anyone old enough, make them their own kit. Have food, water, and clothes in each kit so in case of separation everyone will have their own stuff. Divvy up the remaining supplies among all the kits. Put the heavier stuff in the stronger member’s kits. Use backpacks, or rolling bags that are easy to transport. Lugging around big rubbermaid bins is HARD.

TRIAL SIZE TOILETRIES: There are sample sizes of shampoos, toothpastes, deodorants etc you can purchase for the kits. They are in the regular personal hygiene aisles at the store. No need to lug around big containers of those things. Another idea is to save the samples you get at hotels and put those in your kits. They always get thrown away anyways if you only use a small portion!

THRIFT STORE CLOTHING: It can be inconvenient and kind of wasteful to store regular usable clothes in your kits that stay stored in a closet while children outgrow them. Consider purchasing outfits at a thrift store for you kits. That way you wont have to feel bad about not using whole outfits while they still fit.

COLD WEATHER BAG: There are a lot of items you might want in your 72 hour kit if it were cold- but you wouldn’t want if it were warmer weather. Store all the stuff you would need in colder weather in a separate bag or container that you would grab and go in case of emergency during the winter. If it happened to be warmer, you could just leave it behind.

PUT FRESH FOOD ON GRAB LIST: If time, circumstance, and space allow – grab any fresh food you may have and throw it in a cooler on your way out (if you are leaving in a car). You may really appreciate fresh produce in the first 24-72 hours of a crisis.

DIAPER BAGS PACKED: This goes for evacuations or everyday emergencies. Do your best to ALWAYS have your diaper bags packed with extra food, clothes, and diapers. If you’re in the habit of doing this all the time it could really save you in a REAL emergency (like those don’t happen daily with babies on the go).

IDEAS FOR ROTATION: Depending on how often your kit needs rotating (the foods you chose will dictate this), make it a habit to change them out at the same time each year. Whether it be Halloween (where you use some of the extra candy as comfort food), Spring cleaning week, April Fools Day (we did that last year so we wouldn’t be fools- we know it was corny) or any other time of year, get in the habit of rotating them.

COMMUNICATION: If in case you are evacuating and you expect your house to be in tact when you return, it’s wise to maybe leave a note about your where-abouts on a door. That way when people come looking to see if you are safe – they will know you are elsewhere.

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  • Hat

    Never let your gas tank go below half full. It would be a shame to be prepared for an evacuation, but not have enough fuel in your vehicle to make it out of the city.

  • Nan Marshall

    Cash- store $1’s and $5’s because if the power is out you can’t get your money out of the Bank

  • Mark Cox1506

    Water purification tablets are very handy to have with you with a 1 quart canteen and a canteen cup to boil water in. It is a lot easier to carry with you than a gallon of water. You can find these things at most Army surplus stores for very little money.

  • Excellent!
    Great article, I already saved it to my favourite,

  • Hi, 

    Its really great information about 72 hour kits.

  • Ray

    Don’t forget fido.  We packed dog food in ziploc bags. We rotate them every six months.  We also rotate our meds every 3 months.

  • gettingthere

    Hi, FYI – Your spreadsheet was not updated with the extra non-food supplies you listed in this entry.

  • tqualls

    I saw a youtube video on making a 72 hour kit in a gallon jug. Was it on you site? I am VERY interested in the small collapsable stove and fuel supplies, but can’t remember where to find these items? Do you know of such an item? Can you point me in the direction of this? Thank you for your help.

  • When I was living in California, we kept a small bag with shoes, a change of clothing, water, and a light under my bed. That way, if something was to happen while I was asleep, I could grab that bag and have the essentials. (Shoes were especially important) I do this in addition to my 72 hour kit with food and supplies in it.

  • KT

    When my husband was preparing to deploy to Haiti, he was told to pack baby wipes because bathing facilities would be very limited, and anything one can do to clean up is better than nothing. Since then, we’ve been sure to include three or four wipes per day per person (we don’t have babies that also require wipes).

    They are pretty light weight and cheap. I figure, if nothing else, they will be useful before meal times.

  • MelissaB

    What a timely post. We are updating our bags now, following the clock change as a reminder to rotate food, clothing and medications. I just added a cheap mp3 player that has a radio built in, takes up about as much space as a pack of gum. We will rotate batteries for it and the flashlights on the same schedule. I didn’t plan ahead to be sure everything takes the same size battery, so we will be slowly switching. I reduced scans of our essential documents to print 4 to a sheet-front and back, so everyone has a copy in case any of them were damaged or lost somehow. We have extra leashes and harnesses for the dogs, plus dog food, treats and those collapsible fabric bowls for water. We are using the fabric grocery bags for now until we can find some inexpensive backpacks. Also just added coffee filters and water purifier tabs, they take up hardly any space and may be useful if we go through all the water we bring. My suggestion would be to keep things modular. Pack your clothing in ziplock or plastic grocery bags, seperate from the food, seperate from the gear, etc. That way you don’t have to unpack everything to change one thing. We keep a first aid kit and tool bag in the van, but keep the other stuff in the house. I love the idea of a plan for who grabs what, we’ll work on that too.

  • Alison

    We go through our 72-hour kits every 6 months over General Conference weekend. We change the clothes out to make sure it’s seasonally appropriate and fits (April and October are perfect weather-changing months). We also rotate the snacks – the kids get to eat the snacks that were in the kits while we watch conference!

    • Ellie

      This is a great idea!! My kids woul love that!

  • Lisa Smallwood

    Don’t forget your pets. In my cat carrier I keep a mini back pack with cat halter, leash, water bowl, ziplock bag of dry food,and a few toys. Need to find a couple of plastic water containers that will fit in the mini back pack.

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