What to Put in Your Personal 72 Hour Kit
Updated: Oct 5
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In this crazy world, we are living in, we should all try to be as prepared as we can for emergencies. Whether that be an earthquake, flood, wildfire, or zombie apocalypse - hello it's 2020 - who knows what could happen next! One thing that we have done to try to be a little more prepared is to put together 72-hour kits. Let me preface this post by saying that I am in no way an emergency preparedness expert. If you need to put together your own 72-hour kit, or even update the one you already have, I would encourage you to do what I did and that is to do your research. I researched online to see what others had done and pulled from their ideas to see what would work best for me and Ron. I don't think I ever found one single source that was the perfect fit for us, but through researching several different articles and blogs I believe I have been able to put together kits that will fit our needs. So take a look at what I'm suggesting and then also look at other ideas then make it fit your family's needs.
Be sure to download my free 72 Hour Kit Essentials Checklist which is a helpful guide for getting your 72-hour kit started.
So let's get started!
First of all, you will need a backpack. I wanted something pretty large and easy to carry when loaded up with all my emergency supplies. In all honesty, I hope and pray that I don't ever have to lug this thing around; my goal is that I put it in the car and head out in a vehicle and not on foot. I bought three Everest Hiking Packs (#ad) on Amazon. Why three you may ask? Well one for myself, one for Ron, and one for our cats. I do think that you need a 72-hour kit for each member of your family, and if you can evacuate with your pets in tow, you will also need some supplies for them. I'll get into what I packed in their kit in another post. As I go through the list of items in the 72-hour kit, keep in mind that this is what is in MY kit. Ron's kit has pretty much the same items with a few minor tweaks for his specific needs. So you will want to purchase the appropriate amount of supplies for your family. There is always a chance that Ron and I will get separated during an emergency; I don't want to be dependent on anything he has in his pack and vice versa. Be sure that each 72-hour kit is sufficient and independent.
Let's talk about the cool emergency gear I've included in our packs.
Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System: (#ad) claims to remove 99.999% of bacteria and protozoa from water so that if you're stuck without any clean water, you can drink from a river, lake, etc. through this filtration system. Pretty cool!
Ultimate Survival Technologies Emergency Rain Poncho: (#ad) these come in a two-pack so I divided up the pack so we each had one
Lighter or Matches: Preferably a lighter because if your matches get wet - you're out of luck. Just pick up a couple of Bic lighters next time you're in the check out aisle at the grocery store.
Rechargeable Flashlight with Solar Power & Hand Crank: (#ad) You don't want to be left in the dark if your flashlight batteries run out.
Can Opener: Pick up a basic one at the dollar store or the thrift store. You don't need anything fancy here.
Utensils: If you don't grab that 7-in-1 tool, make sure to pack a set of utensils. Plastic ones are probably fine, but it's best to have some real ones as plastic is liable to break on you. Grab some cheap ones from a thrift store or you can buy individual utensils at Walmart and Target. No need to buy an entire set if you don't need one.
FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio: (#ad) I do not have this radio, but it's on my list to add to our kits. It has really great reviews on Amazon and is pretty reasonably priced. Having a radio during an emergency is a really good plan. You never know what services might be out of commission - TV, cellular, internet, etc.
Unless you run out of your house naked, you will have the clothes on your back, so consider that as one set of clothing. If you're relying on your 72-hour kit, this is no time to worry about being fashionable. The items you need for your 72-hour kit are essentials only!
Long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt
Underwear/Bra (2 pairs is adequate)
Socks (2 pairs)
Sneakers or boots: you want to make sure you have a decent pair of shoes. If you run out of the house in flip-flops or high-heels, you will want a sturdy pair of shoes to get around in for the next several days.
These are really just the essentials. If you have more room you may want to throw a couple more items in there. For example, I also have a t-shirt and a pair of sweats in my pack. When it came to packing our clothing items, I packed old clothes that I don't care about (think about clothes you would go camping in or paint your house in). Let's face it, these are going to be packed away and hopefully not looked at for a long time. Next time you're cleaning out your closet maybe set some of those items aside for your 72-hour kit.
Food items will really be up to your personal preferences and tastes. What you will want are things that are easy to carry, easy to prepare, or require no preparation, and that have a long shelf life. These are some of my suggestions:
Fruit Snacks or Dried Fruit
Bottled Water: water will be heavy to carry but be sure to pack as much as you think you can manage. Having some kind of water filtration system will help you be able to cut down on the amount of water you need to bring with you. I always think back to that movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon when she was packing up her backpack to hike the Pacific Coast Trail and it was so heavy, in part, because of her huge water pack that she could barely even carry it. Don't get yourself in that situation!
There are all kinds of emergency meal kits out on the market, but due to my dietary restrictions (my Celiac Disease requires me to follow a strict gluten-free diet), I cannot eat most of them. So I tend to stick to everyday items I would have in my pantry anyway.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is not the time to worry about fashion or how you look. Just pack a few essentials to get you through the storm. Most of these items you probably already have around your house. If not, stop by the travel section of your local grocery store and pick them up.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Feminine Hygiene Items
Contact Lens Supplies/Extra Glasses
If you have room in your pack, these additional items could be useful as well.
Pen or Marker and Paper
Rope or Zip ties
This may seem like a lot of stuff, but almost everything is quite small and lightweight. The food and water are what will take up the most room and add the most weight - but it is also what you need the most, so don't try to skimp out on it. Also, most of these items you likely already have around your house or can easily purchase for not much money. Even the emergency gear is pretty inexpensive.
Once you've assembled your 72-hour kit, most likely you're going to store it away in a closet or the garage. That's fine, but please don't forget about it forever. You need to go through your kit AT LEAST once a year. Most people recommend reviewing your kit every six months. You need to check your food to make sure it has not expired, or possibly sprung a leak. Check your clothing items - do they still fit you? If you are anything like me and your weight goes up and down quite a bit, you may not fit into those pants anymore after 6 months or a year. Especially if you're packing kits for children - you will definitely need to keep up on swapping out their clothing to make sure it still fits them. One great suggestion I saw was that if you review your kit every six months, you can change things out for the season. If it is winter time you can pack winter clothing items vs. if it is summertime you can pack lighter weight clothing. Genius!
Check the batteries in your flashlights or any other items and make sure they're still working. Test out any other items to make sure they are functioning. Also as you continually go through your 72-hour kits you are likely to find items you may have missed. As I was putting together photos for this blog post I realized that I didn't have any toothpaste in my kit. I had a toothbrush, but no toothpaste. I guessed I must have missed putting toothpaste in Ron's kit as well, but no - he had some. It was just me. I also realized that Ron's kit didn't have a flashlight. So a thorough review of your kits at regular intervals will help you ensure that they are complete.
That about covers it for your personal 72-hour kit. Remember, I am not a survival or emergency expert. What I have learned, I have learned from researching what others have done, which I encourage you to do as well. Take a look at what I have here and then look at other's emergency kits and then tailor yours to what works for you and your family. Also, look for a follow-up post coming soon where I will discuss putting together a 72-hour kit to put into your car where you can pack some additional items.