I want to start this article with a story. A friend of mine was driving to Oregon, and ran into a severe blizzard. Everyone on the freeway had to stop because the snow was falling so quickly. Everyone also had their cars running to keep themselves warm. Unfortunately, once the snow stopped, everyone ran out of gas and were stuck on the freeway. If my friend had not had a small bag of food, water, and blankets, this situation could have been much worse. My friend was able to stay safe and warm until help arrived.
The most practical way to be ready for life is by having a way to leave your house quickly. The most basic way to do this is to store some clothes, food, and water in a small bag near your door. This article is meant to provide people with a comprehensive list of items that will help sustain yourself and family for several days. This article was mostly compiled by my friend who originally helped create the survival guide. A big thanks goes out to her for making this very comprehensive list. Feel free to print any of these pages and use it to write on.
72-Hour Emergency Kit Individual Family Member Supply List
An individual kit is not complete without its food contents and that will be discussed next.
(These items should be adjusted for your area’s climate, and the age & needs of the individual…remember that emergencies can happen anytime, so pack for all seasons.)
- Good Shoes, (tennis shoes, hiking boots) Flip-flops
- Stocking Cap
- Baseball Cap
- Extra Socks
- Heavy Pants or Jeans 1-2 Belts
- 2 T-shirts Underwear/Bra Sweatpants/PJ pants Shorts
- Winter coat
- Thermal gloves Poncho
- Bar of Soap
- Wash Cloth
- Hand or Shammy Towel
- Toothpaste & Dental Floss Feminine Products as needed
- Roll of Toilet Paper (in zip-lock bag) Extra pair of eye glasses
- Extra Contacts
- Contact solution
- Small Hand Mirror
- Extra plastic baggies for garbage
- Roll of Quarters and small bills (at least $50)
- Flashlight with batteries Extra Batteries, AA
- Foil (3-4 ft. min.)
- 2 Snap Light Sticks
- Knife or razor blades (adults only) Waterproof Matches
- Plastic Whistle
- Hand Warmers
- Necessary Rx Medications
- 2 kitchen trash bags
- Pocket-Size Scriptures Emergency Reflective Blanket Emergency Foil Sleeping Bag Small Fleece Blanket
- Mess kit & utensils (you may want this to be disposable if you in a situation where you cannot wash)
First Aid Kit:
- Small sewing kit w/ needle & thread Assorted Band-Aids
- Sterile Gauze Squares
- Adhesive Tape
- Small Scissors Tweezers
- Cotton Balls Safety pins Antiseptic wipes Aspirin/Ibuprofen Benadryl
- Small Container of Bleach
Copies of birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, passport, etc. List of emergency telephone numbers for quick reference
Out-of-State emergency contact name & number, evacuation destination, etc. Small Photo Book with family pictures
Small notebook & pen for journaling or other needs
72-Hour Emergency Kit Individual Family Member Food Checklist
You will want to check on and rotate perishable items in your 72-hour kits every six months for optimum freshness and to avoid infestations or other pest problems.
Do NOT use “pop-top” cans, since heat can make them explode; pack a can opener (a small P-38 emergency can opener is best) in each 72-hour kit and use traditional cans!! They will last much longer and you will avoid food spoilage and messes. However, these can be very heavy.
Each family member’s kit should include enough nutrient-packed food to sustain an individual for 3 days or 9 meals. This includes minimal water requirements of at least 1 gallon per person. Use your imagination and tailor this list to your family’s needs and tastes. For Babies, include necessary items like baby formula, baby food, diapers and wipes. For individuals with food allergies, include appropriate foods or special diet considerations.
Remember that there are many options for your emergency kit. While freeze-dried “backpacker’s meals” or MRE’s, (meals-ready-to-eat) may be the lightest weight, and easiest to store, they tend to be very expensive. It’s not necessary to spend a great deal of money to put a kit together. Start today using what you have in your pantry and around the house. You can add to or upgrade your kits later as you are able.
Sample 72-Hour Kit Food Menu in Days:
- 6 Granola Bars (2 a day)
- 6 Cans of Tuna/Turkey/Chicken/Beef Chunks (2 a day)
- 6 Cans of Beans, (Chili, refried, kidney, black, etc.) (2 a day)
- 3 Cans of Mandarin Oranges or other fruit (1 a day)
- 3 Hot Chocolate Pkgs. (1 a day)
- 3 Drink mix Pkgs. (1 a day)
- Trail Mix/Dried Fruit (enough for 1-2 daily snacks)
- Graham Crackers/Cereal/Crackers
- Canned Juice (V-8, Orange juice)
- Canned or Dry Milk
- Candy/Gum (avoid hard candies which can melt in heat)
- 1 Gallon of Water (wash & fill a clear 2-liter soda bottle with treated tap water or for well water, use a couple drops of chlorine bleach to kill bacteria before storage)
Be sure to mark each item with the month & year in permanent marker as it is purchased and placed in your kit. Check kits every six months for optimal storage conditions. Rotate perishable and canned items as necessary so that your kits are always fresh and ready to go if needed. All boxed, packaged or dry foods should be rotated every six months. Canned foods should be rotated every two years, or sooner as directed by commercial expiration dates. Also rotate and update prescription medication, OTC medication and other first aid items that may expire on a regular basis.
Read more from Utah.gov.
Best 72-Hour Kit and Food Storage Shelf Items
As I have talked to people about what to store for an emergency, there are always items that make more sense than others. Most people jump to dehydrated meals, or MREs when they are thinking about survival food. However, there are way more options that are tastier, potentially lighter, and more practical in a survival situation. You want to find find foods that can be eaten as is (Who wants to haul gallons of water around on their back?).
Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly or Honey – I choose crackers because bread has a short shelf life. Coffee – If you need caffeine daily, you can bet you’ll doubly need it in a crisis. I like the individual packets of instant. Easy to store and you can use just one at a time. Don’t forget powdered creamer and packets of sweetener.
Ready-to-eat Rice – These vacuum packages of rice require neither refrigeration nor water to prepare. You can make a whole meal by opening the package and stirring in some canned chicken, tuna or vegetables.
Couscous – Unlike pasta or rice, this grain only needs one cup of water to prepare. It doesn’t even require a cooking time. Simply pour your cup of water over it, cover and let it sit five minutes. It saves on fuel and water.
Tuna, Chicken, Turkey – Canned meats or meats in a pouch can be eaten with the rice, couscous or on crackers. Now they even sell Tuna in a pouch!
Vegetables/Fruits – Small single-serving containers or cans are great as you won’t have refrigeration for leftovers.
Meal Replacement Bars – While you normally think of these as “diet bars,” these bars are a great product in an emergency kit. They have the nutrition and calories of a full meal but have a long shelf life and take up little space.
Juice Boxes – The kiddies’ staple of lunch boxes is a great way to get individual servings of juice that don’t need refrigeration. Make sure to check your juice content on the side label as you don’t want to end up with sugar water. They even make orange juice boxes now.
Canned Soup – Don’t chose condensed soups, the kind that requires you to add water. Stock some cans of soup that are ready-to-eat. Even if you don’t heat them, they can be open and eaten as is.
Powdered Milk – If milk is important to you, then buy a box of powdered milk. You can mix up just a glass at a time.
Mac and Cheese – For variety, you can add a macaroni and cheese kit to your supplies. Choose the type that comes with a packet of ready-to-use cheese sauce rather than the powdered type that calls for milk and butter.
Instant Dinners – Individual cups or packages of ready-to-eat meals such as spaghetti, ravioli and chicken and dumplings are easy to use.
Granola or Cereal Bars – Traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs or cold milk with cereal won’t be available. Granola or cereal bars and canned fruit can get you through the morning hours.
Nuts – Cans or jars of peanuts, almonds or mixed nuts offer high snacking nutrition without taking up much space.
72 Hour Emergency Kit Supply List for Infants And Toddlers
As a parent, it is your first and foremost obligation to take care of your child. Can you imagine being in a situation where you are not able to do that? Can you imagine how you would feel arriving at that moment and knowing that with a bit of foresight and planning you could have helped your child avoid this situation? Take a few minutes to provide your baby with a bit of insurance against that situation. As you put your kit together, keep in mind that this is a general list- You know your child & their needs. Tailor this list to what you know YOUR baby would need during an emergency situation.
Experts suggest checking and updating your packs every six months. I packed our baby pack for up to one year a head of time. Clothes that are too big can be made to work…clothes that are too small are worthless. I packed 12mo. sizes for our brand new baby. The same goes for diapers. In an emergency, duct tape could work miracles with a diaper that is too big. You don’t want to deal with diapers that are too small. If you breastfeed, realize that your milk may dry up during stressful situations. Keep formula & bottles on hand for this contingency. Include baby foods – even if your baby isn’t eating them yet. Try to include a variety so your baby will have a well-rounded diet in the event of a problem.
Along with our baby’s backpack, I purchased a cloth baby carrier at a garage sale…if we needed to leave our home on foot, our plan is that I will carry the baby in the front pack, with her backpack on my back. My kit is in a rolling bag, so I can pull it. Put some time into thinking about how you would transport your baby & their kit if you are on foot. 72 hour kits MUST BE PORTABLE. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to do this. Check garage sales, thrift stores and resale shops for deals on bags & baby carriers.
- Water, 2-liter bottle
- Drinking Water Pouches, 4oz.
- Powdered Baby Formula (I would pack an entire 20 oz. can)
- Liquid Baby Formula (this is more exensive, so maybe just a 4-6 bottles in case you don’t have water)
- Rice or other Cereal
- Dry Cereal, Snack (cheerios)
- 3-6 packs of fruit/veggie/meat baby food
- Baby Bowl w/lid
- Baby Spoon
- Anti-bac Wipes
- 1-3 8 oz. Bottles
- 8 oz. Bottle Liners (enough for 3 days)
- 3 Bottle Nipples
Note: If you are breast feeding, you will need more water for yourself. Remember that stress can reduce your breast milk supply. You’ll want to have formula no matter what!
- Small Folding Stove Stove Fuel,
- 1 can Waterproof Matches
- Anti-bac Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Bottle Brush
- Dish Soap
- 1 Heavy Warm Blanket
- 2 Dbl Sided Receiving Blankets Snow Suit
- Onesies (T-shirt)
- Sun Hat
- Stocking Cap
- 6 pr. Socks
- 3-4 Cloth Bibs
- Snap-up Pajamas
Note: Remember that if you update your kit every six months, you can change out the clothes seasonally. This will greatly reduce the amount of stuff in your bag.
- 24 Disposable Diapers/5 Cloth Diapers & Rubber Pants
- Baby Wipes
- Baby Shampoo
- Baby Lotion
- Baby Powder
- Comfort Blankie Small Stuffed Toy Pacifier
- Pacifier Clip
- Teething Ring Small Toys
- Sunscreen SPF 30 Insect Repellent Band Aids
- Baby Aspirin
- Baby Motrin Teething Gel
- Baby Benadryl
- Baby Thermometer Safety Pins
- Nose Bulb
- Emergency Blanket, Mylar Hand Warmers
- Small flashlight
- Batteries, AA
- Magnesium bar (to start a fire)
- Copy of Birth Certificate
- Copies of Parent’s ID (driver’s license, etc.)
- Copy of Immunization Record Copy of Insurance Cards Insurance Contact & Policy Info
- Small, portable tent or tarp suitable for shelter if needed
- Tarp for ground cover
- Flashlight w/ Batteries
- Extra Batteries
- Cook Stove (small backpacker’s style) Lantern (small backpacker’s style)
- Propane or fuel for lantern & stove Water Proof Matches
- Flathead/Phillips screwdrivers Hammer
- Quality Hunting Knife Leatherman or All-purpose tool Heavy work/gardening gloves 50 ft. Nylon Rope
- Roll of Duct Tape
*These items will also be found in an adult’s pack. You may choose to leave these items out. The reason these items are mentioned, is that you may want to prepare for a situation where you and your child are separated.
Family Emergency Pack and 1st Aid Kit List of Supplies
These items will be in a centralized bin or bag. Preferably a rolling bag because you’ll have your own pack on. If you want, you can just use the roller as your first aid and save on weight. However, you may want a small first aid kit in each individual bag as well.
First aid for Family 72-hour Bag List:
- Rolled Gauze
- Plain Absorbent Gauze Pads Adhesive Tape
- Small Scissors
- Eye Pads
- Fingernail clippers Thermometer
- Tongue Depressors
- Small Container Vaseline Small package of Needles Box of Vinyl/Latex Gloves Rubbing Alcohol
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Extractor Bite/Sting 1st Aid kit Surgical Sutures
- Sterile Saline Eyewash
- Safety Pins
- Boric Acid
- Antibiotic lotion & soap
- Eye Wash Glass
- Triangular Bandages
- Ace Bandages
Other items for the family 72-hour bag:
- Copies of birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s licenses, passports, etc. Copies of homeowner’s documents (title, deed, homeowner’s insurance)
- Copies of other important financial documents or papers
- Copies of medical insurance info., current prescriptions, other important info. List of emergency telephone numbers for quick reference
- Out-of-State emergency contact name & number
- Small Photo Book with family pictures (incase someone became lost)
- Small notebook & pen for journaling or other needs
- Extra checkbook, bank account #, credit card #’s, and passwords
- Extra Car & House Keys
72-Hour Emergency Kit For Family Pets
In order to be a responsible pet owner, you need to make provisions for your pets in the event of an emergency where you may have to leave your home. Just as your kit should include essential items that would sustain and keep you comfortable for 72 hours, or three days, so too, your pets need this. And they can’t do it for themselves! I prepared emergency kits for both my dogs using guidelines created by the ASPCA after Hurricane Katrina. You may remember after the hurricane hit, many pets were either abandoned or had to be left at animal shelters because most of the time, public shelters will not allow pets. Animal shelters, however, will not take pets that do not have clear record of vaccination and most of us do not have these readily on hand. The following items and information are essential to include in your pet’s emergency kit:
- Animal Transport Crate
- 1-Gallon Drinking Water
- 9 cups dry dog food (1 cup/3x a day) 1 or 2 cans wet dog food
- Small bag of treats
- Extra Collar
- Extra Leash
- Cloth Muzzle
- Tie-out and cable or long chain
- Dish for food/water
- Favorite toy or chew
- Paper towels or Lysol wipes
- 3-4 extra plastic bags for cleaning up Small hand trowel for cleaning up
- Copies of license, shots, vet records
I created the following document which I laminated and included in the dog’s kit. I made one for both my dogs. I also shrank it down and laminated it, and have included zip ties in order to attach it to their crates. Those two copies are in the dog’s kits. I have black & white copies of both in my emergency kit. In the event that we could be separated in an emergency, they are clearly marked as being owned by me, and when I go to pick them up, I have documentation that I own them. Again, this was recommended by the ASPCA. (probably good for your kids too)
Be prepared and proactive when it comes to possible disasters or emergencies in your area. DO NOT EXPECT CITY, COUNTY OR OTHER EMERGENCY SERVICES TO BE AVAILABLE IN THE EVENT OF A MAJOR DISASTER. Have an evacuation route in mind before something happens, and take into account possible congested routes and other back roads that may be more accessible. Keep in mind, however, that you need to listen to all instructions given by local authorities in the event of an impending emergency, such as a hurricane. If you receive the order to evacuate, or are in an area of “voluntary evacuation,” LEAVE. Don’t stick around to be involved in or add to the chaos that could result. Also, before an emergency happens, establish an out-of-state emergency contact and make sure the contact information is in each of your family’s emergency kits. Long-distance phone service is generally back up before local phone service after a disaster, so if your family is separated for any reason, instruct them to call the out-of-state contact to report in. As each family member reports in, your contact can convey that information to you.
While it’s not fun to think about having to leave your home for an extended period of time, it is prudent to have a prearranged destination in mind before you get on the road, (a friend or family member that is far enough away to provide a safe place to stay until things calm down.) Again, set this up now. Have a plan. Shelters and emergency services are instantly overwhelmed in the face of major disasters, so don’t rely on the local shelter if it is at all possible. Remember, there are people who have nowhere else to go. With a little planning, you can be much more comfortable and better taken care of, while leaving those community services available to those who truly have nowhere else, and who truly need them. If you are reading this, you have the opportunity to prepare yourself and your family so that you are not adding to the overwhelming problems that automatically result following major disasters.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME:
Shut main gas line off outside
Shut off all water lines to appliances (water heater, washer, toilets) Shut off all light switches, unplug appliances & lamps
Shut off all power switches in fuse box
If you are able, shut off water main (the city may have to do this)
Items to Grab in Evacuation (as time allows):
Your Family’s 72-Hour kit
Individual 72-Hour kits
Your Pet’s 72-Hour Kits
Camping Gear, Tent & Tarp, Sleeping Bags, Sleeping Pads Blankets/Quilts/Pillows
Laptop Computer, cell phones & chargers, external hard-drive back up
Financial, Medical & Family Historical Records
Photo Albums, small family heirlooms, priceless photographs or other irreplaceable items Photos in frames from around house
Here is the template you can use as a printable evacuation plan.
Our Family’s Evacuation Plan
You may want to keep a copy of this plan in each family member’s 72 hour kit
Our Out-of-State Emergency Contact:
Name: ___________________________ Phone Number:____________________
Our Family’s Pre-Arranged Evacuation Destination:
Name: ___________________________ Phone Number: ____________________
Direct Route Driving Directions to our Evacuation Destination:
Alternate Route Driving Directions to our Evacuation Destination:
Our Family’s Pre-Arranged Alternate Evacuation Destination:
Name: ___________________________ Phone Number: ____________________
Direct Route Driving Directions to our Alternate Evacuation Destination:
Alternate Route Driving Directions to our Alternate Evacuation Destination:
Evacuation Grab List
Sit down for a minute and imagine a horrible scenario. You have 10 minutes to leave your house, and you aren’t sure if it is going to be there when you come back. You can take your kids, your emergency kits and anything else you can fit in your car. What would you grab? What items do you consider absolutely irreplaceable? The Family Bible, Priceless Photographs, your great-grandmother’s lace tablecloth? It’s something that most of us never want to think about, but a few minutes of preparation will help you to avoid possibly losing irreplaceable items that are portable enough to take with you in the event of an evacuation.
As you think about what you would grab, list the items below. While it may be difficult, list them according to priority, so that if time is limited, you can grab the most important first. Keep a copy of this list in your 72-Hour kit where you can easily look at it in the event of an evacuation. In a stressful situation, it may be difficult to think clearly about what priceless essentials.
Location in House
Make sure you try out these plans before an actual disaster strikes. I was able to find a source who has a few suggestions on what to fix…
Creating an Emergency Kit for Your Car
When it comes to commuting or traveling any lengthy distance, a roadside emergency kit can mean the difference between getting back on the road or being stuck for a long period of time. A roadside emergency kit is the one item that every vehicle should have. As with all of your emergency kits, as you gather your supplies, think of worst-case scenarios. If you’re prepared for worst-case, most of the circumstances you’ll actually encounter will be no big deal.
Also assume that you will have your entire family in the car. Keeping one emergency calorie bar in your car doesn’t make much sense if you’ve got three kids. You could keep any type of food source that will withstand the high temps, but the emergency calorie bars are compact, sealed and provide all the calories you’d need if you didn’t have anything else to eat, (think driving into a snow drift in the middle of nowhere.) When you put your first aid kit together keep in mind that you may not be the one involved in the emergency, but if you happen upon an accident, a CPR shield and some emergency blankets could be invaluable in providing help for others in a safe way.
Your Car Kit Should Include:
- Sturdy pair of walking shoes (especially women)
- Extra pair socks
- Wool or other heavy blanket
- Drinking water, enough for 3 days
- Emergency calorie bars, enough for 3 days
- Foil emergency blankets – one for each member of your family
- Rain ponchos – one for each member of your family
- Copy of your list of important phone numbers
- Flashlight w/extra batteries
- Leatherman Tool (or multipurpose tool)
- Pocket knife
- A basic first aid kit
- Latex/Vinyl gloves
- CPR mouth shield
- Pen and paper
- Tire inflator (Fix-A-Flat)
- Jumper cables
- Tire chains or cables
- (2) Roadside flares
- Quart of oil
- Extra fuses
- Help sign
- You could add plenty more to this kit, but most of us don’t have lots of extra room in the car. These items would be the bare minimum in case of an emergency in your vehicle. Obviously, not all of these items need to actually be in your kits bag, (like the jumper cables, chains & the extra quart of oil) but should be stashed somewhere in your vehicle just in case.
Where Do I Get Supplies for Our Emergency Kits?
You can get most of the supplies at WalMart, K-Mart, Target, Home Depot or other type store. Outdoor and Sporting Goods stores are also a great resource, but watch the prices. A lot of the smaller supplies are even available at the dollar store. If you’re preparing kits for several people and don’t have unlimited amounts of cash, it will save you a lot of money to do a little shopping around.
For specialty emergency items that you can’t find other places, Emergency Essentials has many supplies for this specific purpose. They can be found online at http://www.beprepared.com or you can call them at 1- 800-999-1863. Doing a quick internet google search for emergency supplies will also produce many results and allow you to shop and compare prices as well.
I am an admitted cheap skate, and my husband is even worse. The following supplies are examples of the ones we found at our local Dollar Tree store:
- Box of 10 Earloop Masks
- Box of 100 assorted bandaids
- Roll of 2” Gauze
- Roll of 3” Gauze
- Roll of 4” Gauze
- Second Skin
- Instant Ice Pack
- Tube of antibiotic ointment
- Package of 2 emergency ponchos
- Set of Phillips & flathead screwdrivers Roll of (420ft.) cotton twine
- Box of 12 particulate masks
- Super Glue
We have gotten many more items at the dollar store, but be careful to be selective. There is a delicate balance between which items can be “disposable” or limited-use quality, and which items need to be very durable and high quality. Keep in mind that your 72-hour kit is designed for a three day period where you might have to leave your home, but where you’ll eventually be able to go back. Many items can be temporary. There are situations where you would want a “Bug out Bag,” which would contain items needed to leave and not return. The downside to these bags are that they are usually less portable.
The items that I would not cut corners on would include a good knife/pocket knife/multi-purpose tool, batteries, a sturdy pair of shoes, a P-38 can opener or any other item that will be used constantly if you ever have to pull out your packs. A lot of the small items are for different contingencies and scenarios, and may never actually be needed. The screwdrivers that we found at the dollar store are sturdy enough to be used in a pinch, but they’re not what my husband would want to use all the time. One last word to the wise: I love the dollar store, but some of the items are totally worthless. Before “stocking up” on something, I always make sure to open one up and make sure it will actually work for what I need.
Also, we have stocked our family first aid kit at the dollar store. Gauze, bandages & ice packs are all items that are more than three times the cost at other stores, and they are the same product! There are plenty of first aid items you’ll want in your kit that will be expensive. Save your pennies where you can.
72-Hour Kit Bags
The answer to this question depends on what you are preparing for. You need to answer these questions to determine the right bag:
- Will I be able to come back to my house?
- Can all of my family members carry their own supplies?
- Will I be able to leave with my car?
If you answered yes for number one, then a simple book bag will likely do the trick. You’ll want with lots of padding so that your shoulders aren’t sore. I would start with whatever you have around the house, but eventually upgrade to a hiking pack. Or if I had an infant, I would get a pack where I could carry them as well. If the answer was no, then you will want a much for serious supply. Check out some good information on bug out bags from the Urban Prepper. Follow the link to receive a bug out bag kit supply for each day and for the bug out bag weight. This is more of a serious “get out of town” survival situation. You may also be interested in a bag to hold any guns you would like to take.
Now for numbers 2 and 3… If you a small child or a pet, you probably won’t be able to carry everything on your back. I would suggest a 72 hour bag for your pet, and some type of rolling crate or suitcase for your child/pet’s needs. You may also be thinking about this if someone in your family is disabled. Make sure you think about all of their needs (will they need some type of breathing tube, wheel chair, walkers, medicine, etc.)
Last check out this website to learn about how to organize your bug out bag, or your 72-hour kit. I personally like to place my items in different gallon zip lock bags. I then label them with permanent marker as “food,” “clothes,” hygiene,” you get the idea. Then I place the heaviest items on the bottom (this is for better back support).
This should get you in the right direction. Go a head and get your bag started today!
A special thanks to Candice Johnson who co-authored this article.