Emergency Survival 72 Hour Kits

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I'm sure everyone has heard about the earthquake that hit in Virginia this week.  I always get so nervous when I hear about natural disasters and being prepared in case one hits close to home.  When disaster hits, it can take up to 3 days for relief workers to reach some areas. Having a 72 hour kit will supply you with supplies and food you need to survive for 3 days.  The Red Cross sells 72 hour kits for 79.95 a piece.  These kits are great, but I knew I could come up with something for less with food and supplies that would be more realistic for our family. 

Find bags that can be easily carried by each person in your family.  I found these bags at WalMart for $10 a piece.  The "Back to School" clearance sales are a good time to look for back packs!
It sure looks like a lot of stuff, but better safe than sorry! :)

It seems like a lot of stuff for 72 hours but you never know what kind of emergency could come your way.  Luckily, it all fits in a backpack!
I was able to find most of the non-food items at our local dollar store which saved me a lot of money! There were so many different lists, it was hard to know what should really go in a 72 hour kit.  You can Google "72 Hour Kits" and find lists of recommended supplies if you want to adjust our list.   

Here is a list of all the items in each kit:

4-8 water bottles (it is recommended to have about a gallon in each 72 hour kit- adjust as you want for you and your family)
2 granola bars
2 oatmeal bars
1 bag of trail mix
2 packages of crackers
2 packages of pretzels w/ cheese
1 package of tuna
1 package of chicken salad w/ crackers
1 bag of beef jerky
1 can green beans
1 can chef boyardee meat raviolis
candy (laffy taffy, hard candies, tootsie pops, etc.)
1 bag famous amos cookies
Gum (anything but mint flavored, so everything else doesn't taste like mint)

2 ponchos
Flashlight w/ batteries
Matches
Lighter (just in Dad's bag)
Candle
Can opener (just in Dad's bag)
Plastic utensils (2 of each utensil)
Radio w/ extra batteries
Pen
Paper
Pocket knife
Duct tape
Scissors
Work gloves

Book of Mormon/Bible (or other book)
Playing cards
Crossword puzzle/word search book

Kleenex packet (could also be used as toilet paper?)
Comb
Shampoo/Conditioner
Deodorant
Soap
Lotion
Chapstick
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Floss
Feminine hygiene products (just in Mom's bag)
Razor (I'm sure in an emergency situation I won't be shaving my legs, but who knows! Maybe I'll want to look good!)
Wash cloths (Dollar Tree has the cloths that are in a tiny package and expand in water!)
Hand Sanitizer
Sun screen (just in one bag to share)
Tylenol, Tums, Allergy medicine (just in one bag to share)
Fingernail clippers
First Aid Kit (Dollar Tree had these in a nice plastic container that was filled with different kind of bandages, then I just added some Neosporin, tweezers, wet wipes and disposable gloves to it.)

(I ended up taking the 2 cans of food out of one of them so it would be lighter for a little kid to carry. They probably weigh about ten pounds each, so not too bad if you have to grab them and run!)
We go through our 72 hour kits each year (pick a day that works for you- ours is the first weekend in October- General Conference weekend) and replace perishable items.

Find what works best for you and go for it! Something is better than nothing. :)

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  1. Charlie says:

    This is great, love the things you packed. If you have dogs you can by the doggie vest type backpacks (has a bag on each side) and have them packed with food and water for the dog. That way they can carry their own. Would hate to see a lot of animals forgotten about or abandoned like they had to in Katrina. Kitty ideas? I have been following you guys for awhile, but this is my first comment.

    • Jessica says:

      I would get one of the backpacks for a small dog for a cat and a harness(if not already attached to backpack piece; I would probably get a separate one, anyway, just in case) and get your kitty used to both before hand. Just make sure the harness fits appropriately so there’s no kitty escape-age! Since cats are much smaller, I would pack it lighter, too. Only essential kitty stuff like, like some food in a baggy and a bottle of water and any meds the kitty may need. For dogs, I would pack dog food(canned dog food put in well-sealed baggies; they tend to be more condensed to save space), some gravy mix(for extra calories to make it stretch a bit), bottled water(at least one bottle), a lightweight and cheap bowl(plastic or paper, probably), and any doggy meds, and possibly an extra leash and collar(the reflective ones, should doggy get separated).

  2. Carol says:

    Really love this idea and your suggestions!! I live in Texas and we were most definitely affected by Hurricane Katrina and then by Ike. I’m thinking about writing a blog this afternoon for those people who are staying at home and might lose electricity. Most of your suggestions will be applicable for both! Kudos for a great blog once again!!

  3. GStaples says:

    Great post! Good timing. Everything looks great for your 72 kits. One thing we did, is to put the Children’s song book in, when our kids were little. It helped them to feel safe, with the songs they knew. Just an idea. Love that you sisters are together on such a great blog! Congrats!

  4. Steph says:

    Of course I love every post you do, this one is awesome! I think I need to add a few more things to our 72 hour kit after reading this :) One thing we do have though is a sterno (is that what they’re called?), it’s a little portable fuel source that can heat things like your food or what not. We also have hand warmers and one of those portable blanket things that are super tiny and folded in a little package, I wish I knew the name but I hope you know what I mean? Thanks for all your awesome ideas!

  5. Andrew says:

    Great post. Very informative and innovative. I would like to suggest also adding spare house/car keys, extra change for landline calls, and emergency contact cards for family members and out of area contacts, and copies of ownership & insurance papers. It’s also important to document and photograph before and after pictures for insurance purposes.

    Our family usually gets the prepackaged food (3600 kcal) and water (12x125ml) packs in our bags so we can grab n go. Living on the west coast gets us prepared for any earthquake!

    Check out http://www.72hrs.ca for free emergency preparedness information and guides.

  6. Offthe says:

    Great post. Very informative and innovative. I would like to suggest also adding:

    Portable radio. This ought to be a battery powered radio.
    Spare batteries
    Flashlights.
    Blankets.
    Extra trousers and shirts.
    Extra medication.
    First aid kit.
    Pocket knife.
    Water. One gallon per day is recommended for every member of the household.
    Waterproof matches.
    Sleeping bags.
    Emergency candles.
    Emergency Survival Supplies

  7. The Ellis' says:

    Each bag has 4 water bottles and we have a huge water storage in our basement in case of emergency. We figure some water in the pack is better than not being prepared at all!

  8. Sam says:

    We swap out our 72 hour kits every general conference and eat all the snacks/candy during conference. Otherwise, we forget to swap them out, epecially with kids’ clothes. Don’t forget a change of clothes or diapers if you have little ones.

  9. Bennet says:

    I would strongly recommend packing fire-starting material and first aid supplies in each adult pack. That way if you guys get separated you won’t be in a bind.
    Also, Offthe’s right, you really need more water.

  10. Ramie says:

    Be careful when packing snacks & food. If it’s too salty or spicy it will make you more thirsty causing you to need more water. A five gallon bucket filled with water weighs 40 lbs.. Use a smaller bucket if you need it to be lighter. Water is about 8 lbs a gallon. Use a tight sealing lid and replace the water every 6 months for freshness. It’s bulky but you can take it with you unlike some of the larger water storage containers. You may need to treat the water for safe storage, depending on your water source. And it’s helpful if the bucket has a comfortable handle for you to carry this much weight.(not just a wire handle)There are so many uses for 3-6 gallon buckets! Just make sure to use a lid with an o-ring or a gamma lid! You would be amazed at how much water you will wish that you had if the need arose!

  11. Michelle J. says:

    (Visiting from Tip Junkie) Way to go. I appreciate the lists, tips, and pictures. We will be rotating ours at Conference, and I always like to see what other people do.

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Anonymous says:

    It’s a great list! But yes I too have a few suggestions.

    Canned food should be the pull top kind. If you get separated from your kids or something happened to the adults they need to be able to open and eat what’s in there bag.
    I agree with everyone that suggested more water as it may not be just for drinking you might have to was out a wound.
    The Razor… is for the men and it should be the flat head kind with extra clean wrapped razors to double as a sterile cutting type of tool.
    Also in each bag you should have those small cans of pull top fruit cocktail in it’s own juice as it’s refreshing because it’s liquid and everyone will need the sugar energy if they are walking or hiking. Let’s say have a small can of green beans and one of fruit cocktail.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Also a great idea to have photocopies of birth certificates, health cards, drivers license, SIN card, passports, and photocopies of any prescription meds you take and a list of serious allergies for each member of the family. :) Also good idea to have a phone list of your insurance company contacts, banker, ect ect. If you can’t get back into your home and need those you will be happy to have them :)

    Also have phone numbers of loved ones BOTH in the same town/city as well as ones outside of your area that family members can call if you need help or get kids get separated :) It is good to have a simple plan written out for “What our family does if we get separated” For example does everyone call Grandma? If so what is the phone number/address of Grandma? These are the things that kiddos don’t know and us adults can forget in the panic of crisis.

    One last scary point… have pictures of your family in case you get separated and need to show pictures to ask if anyone has seen them.

  14. Hugh says:

    As a “prepper” this does a good job, however there should be no bags for specific people. Keep all the same. Feminine products (napkins) make excellent bandages. Everyone needs a way to light the candle and start a fire. IMHO, rolling packs are not going to work as most “bug-out” scenarios are going to be cross country and the frame and wheels = weight and loss of room for real supplies.

  15. ramsam says:

    love this. Came over from Pinterest, and I will be back. One of my 2012 goals is to have bags ready to go in the next 3 months- maybe doing one or two things a week. Thanks for the advice!

  16. . says:

    I would think cash on hand would be a big help. If there isn’t any electricity you wont be able to use a debit card or credit card in most cases. Also if your children get separated from you they might need it as well. A blanket would be great as well.

  17. This seems more like a kit for a 42 hours, a bit lite on the food. I have planned for 3 meals a day for 3 days. I would add three of some of the items not 2. I also have more water in my kit. (water in a basement wont help in the event of evacuation)… water is more essential than food.

    Toilet Paper and Wet Wipes are essential for hygiene for 3 days.

    Scratch the razor.. you probably wont have enough water to shave your legs, you will need it for drinking.

    List of Emergency Numbers might be something to consider.

    Light sticks can bring a lot of comfort at night.

    A whistle is advised in case you need to attract attention.

    Love the backpacks.

  18. motherofall6 says:

    question…. i have all of these in my stock piles. is it necessary to have the bags pre packed??? couldnt i just have the bags by my stock piles ready to load just in case???

    • Momma Curls says:

      If the bags are prepacked you can just take them and run – especially when seconds count. Invariably you’ll end up forgetting something in an emergency and wasting time trying to pack backpacks when there will be other very important things to grab in an emergency as well. This is the part of of being prepared – having it all packed and ready to go.

  19. Cass says:

    A lot of people mentioned more water. I would just like to point out that these are backpacks FOR KIDS too. If you put in 23-16.9 oz water bottles or 3-1 gallon container or even 1-3 gallon container, that will take up all the room in a backpack. Not to mention it is a lot of weight for a kid, especially if you are adding other things. It’s just not realistic to expect them to carry that. 8-16.9 oz water bottles is one gallon. That is much more manageable and realistic. Each child could carry that in their bag and then each adult and older child could carry a 3 gallon container in their arms in addition to their backpacks.

  20. Laurel says:

    I think this is a great list and I’m thankful that you shared your packs with us. We’ve got our backpacks ready for us adults, but I need to get on the kids’ ones soon. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  21. Jude says:

    These packs are great, but I have a few things for you to think about. What happens if the kids get separated in a crowd? What happens when you get to a shelter what do you do next? Where are you and the backpacks going to go? How are you going to put a roof over your family’s heads if you are out of your home for more than four weeks? What are you going to need once you are settled? Disasters last longer than three days, and honestly, the recovery is just as difficult; prepare for the long haul. You’ve got a nice start, now go and make some lists, one for the kids, one for the pets, one for the adults, one for items you’d like to save such as family photos.

    Don’t forget IDs, social security cards, marriage licenses, a list of insurance policies, a list of bills, credit cards, prescriptions, addresses and phone numbers for out of town contacts, a letter of instruction for the kids if they get lost, or cash.

    Last but not least don’t forget the pets. Have carriers, leashes, meds, bowls and ziplock bags of food on hand. I have a backpack for the cats and soft sided carriers with long straps for carrying if I have to walk them out. It’s part of our no one left behind policy. ; )

  22. Nick says:

    I love these packs as well as some of the great comments on what else could be added. A great alternative to more water is a filter straw. My kids are little and they can’t carry 3 gallons of water. These are light and easy to use in a pinch. They are $19.99 at this site: http://eartheasy.com/lifestraw#review-list. Just thought I’d throw that out there. Ideally, if you are not separated from your family you might want to boil the water to purify and than filter with a the straw. If you are separated it’s better for you kids to filter water they find rather than drink straight from the source.

  23. Unknown says:

    Found this on pinterest! Great idea. Just wanted to add a few things. I happen to live in a tornado prone part of the world in the spring and fall. There have been several times I’ve had to leave my home quickly to head to a storm shelter, so I’ve tried to pare down as much as I could.

    I think I saw where someone mentioned a radio, that is such a great idea. When the tornado came through Tuscaloosa last year, there was no power, cell service and phone lines were down. The only way we knew what was going on, was through a radio. (It was almost 3 days before cell service was re-established and much longer before power was restored to some areas.) Battery operated are great, but if you can find a crank radio that would be even better. Batteries are great but they can be heavy to carry.

    In addition to cash, a change of clothes, id’s, important documents (such as health insurance cards, ss cards, home insurance info, and birth certificates) and photos of kids (in case you get seperated); I would also say, add a pair of flip flops. Just in case you have to leave in a hurry, sometimes shoes are the last thing you think of.

    I have also scanned or saved all my favorite photos to a jump drive and keep them it in my wallet. That way I don’t have to worry about losing precious pictures.

  24. Unknown says:

    I also suggest if you have a small kid, to pack something like a moby wrap or sling to carry them. When I brought up 72 hour backpacks to my hubby, he said he would carry his and our daughters pack while I would carry my pack and our daughter. I instantly got the visual picture of us walking miles in some muddy area (end of the world scenario) and my arms instantly started to hurt just thinking about it. I am definitely buying a high end stroller as well and keeping it near the kits.
    I was also thinking, along with the keeping pictures for everyone, you should have both a formal and unformal picture of close ups and distance. I look extremely different in “real life” than my primped and maybe Photoshopped family photos. If something happens, I already know my hair will most likely be in a pony tail/ braid, I wont be wearing makeup, and I definitely wont be in a dress. Along with this, maybe when we are rotating clothes/ food for the kits we should have everyone wear the outfit in the kit and take a picture (for the kit). That way our children will know to tell someone “This is my mom, shes wearing either this outfit or this outfit” and know how to easier identify us. I also plan on each family member having one of those “lost kid” kits police officers will usually hand out to children. This includes their fingerprints, photo, distinguishing characteristics, height, allergies, contacts, etc. I am assuming that small children will be too confused or unable to remember everything about their family..
    I know when my brother got lost for 3 hours from home at age 4, he found some kids and they led him to their parents and when they asked him who he was or how to get a hold of his parents he answered “I don’t know” to everything- even though we knew we had taught him our address and phone number. Through his confusion/ fear of never getting home, he didn’t even know how to describe our mom and said he would know her if he saw her. Thankfully, the parents and patrolling police got him home safely.

  25. TC says:

    I like these packs, but noticed you didn’t put all the items in each bag. My concern would be if something happened to 1 of the packs with all items, then you would be without the needed items. I would suggest putting the things you would take out of the kiddos bags in a ziploc bag on top and remove them if a disaster struck and put them in your bag. These items could also be used to barter trades with other families that may need one and have something you could use, or simply donate to another family during the disaster. I also didn’t see water, I suggest tethering it to the bags and remove for the adults to carry. Wate is even more rare than food and personal hygiene items.

  26. Momma Curls says:

    I don’t know someone already mentioned this and I don’t mean to sound like I’m nagging you, but the snack foods are too salty and will make you much more thirsty than you should be with limited water. There are some other ideas out there, just takes a little brainstorming. Good introductory list though!

  27. Lori Orman says:

    This is something my family seems to tease about and think is un necessary. Which is sad. But after reading this and realizing how disastrous it could be I don’t care what they think I’m going to do some prepping. Then in the event of an emergency I will at least be prepared and can help them. I want to add baby wipes and antibacterial wipes, also I have a two year old daughter. I think it’s probably not logical to expect her to carry a heavy bag. Should I just lack her a light one and add her stuff to the other packs? Also is a stroller for her logical? Should I find some other means to carry her? Like a backpack thingy? Sorry don’t know exactly what they are called. Thanks again for the info and also what is a good website or blog with other prepper info?

  28. Anna Braun says:

    Living in Southern California I came up with an idea that really helped my children when they were young, not to be so afraid of impending earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.
    When we did have an earthquake that was large enough to feel, we would have an “Earthquake Party” and eat a couple of the goodies from the emergency kit. It helps rotate the items when you replace them, and it gave them a positive to look forward to in regards to earthquakes.

  29. Unknown says:

    This is a great article although most of the information is on http://www.ready.gov and the Red Cross websites. I like your suggestion that readers should pick and choose from the list so their supplies are familiar and comfortable. The recommended amount of water per person per day is one gallon. So a 72 hour kit would need three gallons per person, which adds a lot more weight to the kit. Consider adding an additional back pack, with wheels, for the extra water. Good job overall. Eep the posts coming.

  30. leah says:

    As someone who’s grown up in tornado alley, we’ve always had a disaster pack ready to go in the hidey hole. Everyone should have a diaper bag packsize of baby wipes, soap takes water to use, wipes do not. Also in any camping store you can find tiny radios and flashlights that are crank operated.
    Another thing we have known since we were wee kids is to grab hard soled shoes. If there is a natural diaster, flip flops are going to be shredded if you have to walk through debris. Hiking boots are best, but thick soled sneakers work as well. Along with the shoes everyone grabs a long sleeved jacket and wears pants, and then puts on their bicycle helmet. Do we look silly? Yes. Are we less likely to get injured? Yes.

  31. JKHMSH says:

    Great ideas!!! I really like the idea of packs for the dogs! I would have never thought about that. I would have put their food in my pack =) Another suggestion is to laminate all documents and pictures and keep in waterproof bag just in case of leaks or weather etc.
    One more suggestion for parents is to have temp tattoos made to put on the kiddos arm/leg that has all their info in case they loose their pack, get separated and/or forget their address. Check it out Tottoos.org (yes that is correct spelling =)

    I hope none of us ever have to use our well prepared packs!!

  32. That is a great idea I have two bags as well here in Florida at the ready. One filled with enough food for two for a good 4 to 5 days and the second an exceptional first aid kit having had worked on an ambulance many years ago I like to keep a great kit on hand. You never know. We also keep 40 gallons of water on hand in 5 gallon bottles. Plus the dogs dry food in quick carry buckets good for a months worth of meals for the little one and 2 1/2 weeks the big guy. I do own a pick up truck that we can fill in a matter of minutes with everything so it makes for a quick escape if the need arises.
    Dawn

  33. Getting ready to put together kits this week. Since tornadoes and ice storms are our most frequent disasters, that’s what I’ll be prepping for. I gleaned a lot of info here, and tried to read through it all. I don’t remember seeing a headlamp listed anywhere. Headlamps are invaluable as they allow you to travel/work/read instructions hands free. I also have seen them wrapped around a gallon jug of water for added illumination and ambiance for children. I suggest one for each pack as they fold and take up very little space. A list of all prescription drugs is also a must.

    • Six Sisters says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! So funny you would say headlamps, that’s what we gave our kids for Christmas. Great reminder on prescriptions! Have a Happy New Year! -The Six Sisters

  34. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for inspiring me to finally do this. As far as the backpacks I would have all the paperwork, photos of each person, and helpful land line phone numbers in ziplock so it doesn’t get wet. A paracord bracelet, watch, compass and map with topographical features of the area would be helpful as well. Clean underwear or change of clothes in ziplock. Also, I would suggest some life jackets for flooding or high water situations. They are lightweight and can be strapped to the backpack.

    I saw waterproof totes on amazon that I would pack some extra food, gatorade, toilet tissue, sleeping bags, towels. I would grab the backpacks with all of the things you listed for sure and the extra waterproof totes (maybe with one of those compact dollies with straps and wheels) ONLY if its possible to bring it as well. **Like if we are able to drive to safety or a shelter.** If seconds count and there is rough terrain or high water I would leave it so as not to slow us down. Also, I live in Texas so I have been raised to never go into an emergency situation without a pistol and extra bullets. Just in case.

  35. Sandi Kiehne says:

    Okay, so I see your kits and they look amazing! They would be perfect for myself and my husband, but what about younger ones? I’m thinking that if we separate or they are with grandparents what do you do? Do you overstock the grownup backpacks or do you give the younger children a smaller version of this ultimate pack?

    • Six Sisters says:

      I have two kids, so in their kits I did put in a lot of the same stuff, but tried to take out some of the canned food or anything heavy. I also added some diapers and wipes to them as well. I would put some formula and a bottle in there if you have an infant who drinks it. I have heard people will use the backpacks with wheels for their kids so they can pull them rather than carry them. Both of our kids are small, so I figure my husband and I will end up carrying theirs if an emergency did arise. Hope this helps!

  36. Wow, this kit sounds fantastic! Although,you might want to think about adding a lugage tag to each pack with name, address, phone number, etc on it. Also, if everyone in your family doesn’t have matching packs, you could put a piece of matching bright colored ribbon on all the packs. That way, if you get seperated you can tell people, “My child looks like this and they are carrying a backpack with a blue luggage tag and a neon pink ribbon on it.”

  37. Fred Karasek says:

    Personally, I don’t care for the incandescent flashlights. The newer Cree LED flashlights are reasonably priced and have terrific battery life as well as high-low settings and S.O.S. modes.
    30 or more hours on a pair of AA batteries with twice the light output is normal for modern LED flashlights. And when the batteries get low, they still produce usable light for 30 more hours. Nice grab and go bags, Thanks!

  38. Merlynne says:

    Hi from Down-Under, lots of good ideas in the post and the comments. One thing I’d like to contribute is that disasters can strike while you are out shopping, at school, at work, or driving anywhere; not just at home. Since our 7.4 earthquake and the too many aftershocks, we have learnt to keep extensive emergency supplies at home BUT we also keep Get Away Bags in each car and each family member has a Get Away Bag at work or school. While we plan on meeting at home and using our stored supplies, we also recognise that home may no longer exist or be accessible and the Get Away Bags are a small way to offset that loss. We ALWAYS keep our cellphone charged and on us. We keep a torch/flashlight in every single room. Going to bed, our clothes and shoes are immediately close to hand (running naked after a large quake is not a good look!)

  39. April says:

    I’ve had this pinned for almost a year now, but just getting started on our storage room and bug out bags. I’m adding baby wipes instead of soap, Life straws to compensate not being able to hand carry enough water ($20 on amazon), hand crank radio, and glow sticks to the bug out bags. Hopefully we never have to use them!

  40. Rochelle says:

    I was told by a first responder a while back, that after an emergency (specifically an earthquake- but it applies to others) that a lot of the injuries are because people didn’t have the right shoes, and clothing- so while they were searching for lost people, (involves digging, pushing, pulling etc- and wood, metal, nails, glass etc) they’d injure themselves in the process and need help themselves. He said to have a small bag (I use one of the NIKE athletic bags) to have at least, good socks, good shoes (mine are pre-tied so i can slip them on, and retie when I have a second), flashlight, thick gloves (to protect hands) AND a map (even if its just hand drawn) of where your home is, homes of others you love etc- since much of the time street signs and landmarks aren’t there anymore- if you know of someone you want them to check up on- its a lot easier for you to show them where they’d be located- the rescuers would be tired, emotionally, mentally and physically- so even if they knew the area well, in an emergency and being high stress could be all it’d take to not think as clearly when it comes to which street was where etc. I have my bag behind my nightstand, so I can grab that easily, head for 72hr kit (if needed) even if the 72hr bags are across the room in the closet, or the room next door- there could already be glass and stuff already on the floor.

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