Posted by: Meagan | May 19, 2009

72 Hour Kits: Part 1

We live in Kansas and are in the midst of Tornado Season! Well the first one of the year at least. And I have been reminded that I need to get our 72 Hour Kits put together again. When we moved I disassembled the one I had done before because it needed to be rotated out. This time I hope to do a more thorough job of it though. Instead of one massive kit I’m going to break it down into 3 kits, one for each member of our family.

I admit that putting together a 72 Hour Kit is daunting. There is so much that you “need” to put in, but you don’t want it so heavy you can’t carry it! That would defeat the whole purpose. So we need something that is light but has the most amount of needed items possible. Some people want to put together their own kits, which is what I am planning on doing, and some people want it bought and done with. If you are one of those people you can buy pre-made 72 Hour Kits. The American Red Cross sells one. Click here for the link!

Food is probably your number one priority, 3 days without food just isn’t going to work.

Light weight food options:
granola bars, oatmeal, grits, soup mix, Ramen noodles, dried fruit, jerky, fruit leather, gum, hard candy, hot chocolate packets, Kool-Aid packets, crackers, freeze-dried potatoes, MRE’s, 100 Calorie Packs, etc.

Medium weight food options:
canned fruit, canned meat, trail mix, peanut butter, chili, canned soup, small cans/bottles of juice, etc.

Heavy weight food options:
do NOT pack heavy food!

Water needs:
You will need 1-1 1/2 gallons of water per person per day. That is heavy enough. Bring food that you can add water to to make meals.

Other essential items:
bowls/silverware, hand sanitizer, poncho/garbage bags, emergency reflective blanket, first aid kit, list of emergency phone numbers, hygiene kit, cash, flashlight (batteries), water-proof matches, iodine tablets (for water purification), sunscreen, whistles, pocket knife, hatchet, rope, tent, recent family photos, important documents, change of clothes, flares, etc.

You can get pretty extravagant with those extra items, I would say the “bare bones” list would be:
bowls/silverware, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, emergency reflective blanket, first aid kit, wind-up flashlight, matches, important documents, cash.

We have 2 wind-up flashlights (Crank LED Flashlight , Wind ’N Go™ $12.50) and a wind-up weather radio and we really like them, they are really bright and you can always count on them! You can google them or a link to some is here. They are also light weight which is a plus.

Make sure all your food and essentials fit into one easy to grab bag or bucket. I know some people like 5 gallon buckets. They are water tight so your emergency items will not get wet or get bugs in it while in storage. Other people prefer duffel bags, back packs, rolling back packs, or a combination. If you have a large family, or if your children are old enough to carry their own emergency items take that into account. You could even let them choose their own bag/bucket.

Rotation, rotation, rotation!! Your items need to be rotated out every 6 months to a year, depending on the expiration dates on the items you buy. Why is this important and how do you remember to actually rotate them?

It is important because it would be devastating if you were in an emergency situation and all your food was spoiled! No food = hungry people.

How in the world do you remember to rotate out food?
When you change your clocks rotate it out. Have a “survivors weekend” and camp out in the yard (or living room) and live off of your 72 hour kits for the weekend. Not only will this get rid of the food while not wasting it, you will know what your family members like and dislike in the kits and can adjust it when you restock the kits. I would also suggest taking your children with you to buy items for their emergency kits, they will be excited to help, and proud that they put together their own kits. But be sure to make a list of daily meals before heading to the store! This can be a wonderful family activity.

Please Note that I will be updating as I put my family’s 72 Hour Kits put together. I will include items in the kit along with how much it costs. So stay tuned for more tips, and need to know information!

My Sources:
72 Hour Kit: Homeland Security
American Red Cross

Another Great Blog with good info: Self-Reliant Sisters


  1. Great job! You’ve reminded me that I need to update ours. B/c of the move, I’ve totally put it off.
    I have enough stuff in there for all 5 (yikes!) of us, and I have 5 bags (actually 3 book bags and 2 buckets), but I’ve done basically one big “family” kit. My children are so young, I can’t envision them being away from me and needing or even knowing how to use their own, so our stuff is all mixed up.

    It’s also really important to think through a disaster to know what really will be important and what you don’t really need. For example, when we had the ice storm here, we were without power for 5 days. The stores threw all their refrigerated food away for fear of it spoiling and our fride didn’t work, so we tossed it all. We couldn’t cook because the stove didn’t work. Fortunately, everything in our kits could be eaten cold. But, the problem was, we were cold. We don’t have a heater or generator or anything to keep us warm (a problem I still need to solve). You can only stay in your 30 degree home eating 72 hour stuff for so long, so we went to the Wendys and McDonalds a few miles away to eat. We spent a ton of money on food (and entertainment), even though we had the kit, it was basically useless.
    So really, it’s important to think through, what if we don’t have power and we’re freezing? What if we have to walk a long time? (you covered that…keep it lite), What will we do when we get bored? (with no power, you will) What if we can’t get to our kits? (I’ve heard of people putting half somewhere and half somewhere else) Anyway, everyone in their specific situations should think through things. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to know what to prepare for if you’ve never been through it.
    I’ll keep you updated as I rotate mine. Good luck on yours, looks like you’re doing a great job!

  2. […] out Part 1 and Part 2. […]

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