It is important to prioritize when you pack a 72-hour emergency kit. There is a huge difference between what you need and what you want. It is also extremely important to consider your family’s situation. How many people are there in your family? Does anyone have any allergies? Is anyone currently on any medication? All these are questions you must ask yourself when you pack an emergency kit. Your emergency kit should be easy to carry around, but it must also fulfill the needs of all the members of your family.
In an emergency, you and your family will probably have a maximum of 5-10 minutes to grab the essentials and evacuate your home. Therefore, it is better to have a prepared kit containing all that you’ll need to survive for the next 3-4 days, rather than running around the house and searching for everything you need. Preparing an emergency kit might seem like a burden, but once it’s done, the satisfaction will be worth it, and it will be a huge load off your back!
What To Keep In 72 Hours Kit?
A. The Basics
Some of the items that you will need are:
The FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends 1 gallon of water per person per day, for 3-4 days. This, however, is a bare minimum and you must consider that you will need more water for first aid, sanitation, etc. Here are some items that will be useful:
- Pre-filled Water Bottles
- Bladder bags for toilet breaks
- Water Purification tablets
It is important to carry food that is rich in nutrients and packed with calories. Below is a list of foods that can be packed. An important question you must ask yourself is, will your family be alright with eating food from packets or will they need properly cooked food? Make sure you pack foods that will cater to your family’s needs.
- Granola bars
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter snacks
- Freeze-dried meals
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Canned foods and meat.
Along with this, you must pack necessary utensils and tools such as can openers and knives. It is advisable to carry foods that require little to no cooking before consumption because, in an emergency, you can never be sure where you’ll be staying and what kind of facilities you’ll be provided with.
3. Communication Devices
- Battery-powered radio to keep yourself updated about the news and the weather forecast.
- Cell phones: Everyone in your family who owns a cell phone must carry theirs because it is important to have spares if yours run out of charge. Additionally, it might be useful to keep one extra, fully charged cellphone in the emergency kit itself.
- Walkie-talkies for close-range communication.
- Signaling devices: Flashlight (with extra batteries), whistle.
4. First Aid Kit
- Sterile Gauze
- Ointment, antiseptic creams
- Rubbing alcohol
- Prescription medicines
- Pain relievers like aspirin
- Paracetamol tablets
- Face masks to avoid dust and germs
In an emergency, you need to do everything possible to prevent you and your family from catching any infections or falling ill. The best way to do this is to keep yourself clean and sanitized, it solves half the problem! Here are a few essentials that need to go into your toiletry kit:
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Dental floss
- Bodywash/Soap bar
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes, Clorox
- Moisturizing lotion
- Hand sanitizer
- Menstrual Supplies: Sanitary pads/Tampons/Menstrual cup
- Sunscreen lotion
- Insect repellant cream/ Bug spray
- Dry shampoo
- Trash bags to discard garbage and to store wet clothes.
Based on the climate, or the natural disaster you’re facing, you need to pack a suitable set of clothes. Avoid walking around in wet clothes as this will only result in you falling ill. Always carry a spare set of dry clothes. Here are some other clothing items that you’ll need:
- Extra sets of clothes and underwear
- Extra socks
- A sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes
- Rain poncho/Waterproof jacket
- A suitably thick blanket for each family member
Make sure everything you carry fits properly and is comfortable to move around in. The last thing you need in an emergency is tight clothes and shoe bites. If you have an infant, you might require more than one change of clothes and a sufficient supply of diapers. Make sure you carry a few garbage bags as well, these can be used to store wet and dirty clothes.
7. Important Documents
You must always have spare copies of all your family members’ important documents in case you need to identify yourself. These should be kept in a waterproof folder, and to take it a step further, you can store all the documents’ soft copies in a pen-drive. Here are the documents required:
- Driver’s License: to identify yourself
- Social Security Cars: for identification
- Credit and Debit Cards: for purchasing essentials
- Birth Certificate: for identification
- Medical Certificate and medical records: Easy reference for doctors in case you are ever in need of serious medical attention
- Voter Registration
- Contact Information
- Also, remember to carry enough money in the form of cash to sustain your family for the 3-4 days
8. Other Supplies
This includes items that cater to the individual needs of each family member.
i) Non-prescription Medications
Besides packing a basic first aid kit, it is also advised to be prepared for other ailments that your family members might face. Pain-killers, antacids, motion sickness tablets, laxatives, and cough medicine are medicines that you never know when you might need, hence it is always better to have them handy.
ii) Separate Kit If You Have A Baby
If you have an infant, a lot of extra things need to be packed. Infant formula, baby food, extra diapers, baby wipes, baby bottles/sippers, diaper rash cream, extra changes of clothes all need to be carried, preferably in a separate bag so that all the items are easily accessible and don’t get mixed up with the other items that you’re carrying.
iii) Prescription Glasses, Contact Solutions
iv) If you have a pet with you, you should carry pet food and extra water
v) For Fire And Heat
If you’re staying outdoors, or constantly on the move, making a fire is a great way to keep you warm, and you might even be able to cook some food. Here are some tools you should carry for the same:
- Waterproof matchsticks
- Portable stove and grill
vi) Useful Camping Gear Tools
You must always be prepared for the worst. There may times when you won’t be able to find any proper shelter or accommodation, and you should have the necessary means to fend for yourself.
- Carry protective, properly insulated sleeping bags, one for each person.
- Ax for chopping firewood
- Duct Tape: You never know when you might need, but a roll of duct tape always comes in handy.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Wrench, pliers.
- Sewing kit
- Ziploc bags
vii) Things To Entertain Yourself
The best way to get through any emergency is to constantly keep your mind alert and busy. It might be a good idea to pack some of your favorite books, crossword puzzles, small portable board games, playing cards, papers, and pencils in your 72-hour emergency kit, and if you have young children in your family, perhaps you can pack a few stuffed toys for them to play with.
B. Packing Options
Now that you have an idea about all that needs to go into your 72-hour kit, you need to think about the easiest and most efficient way of packing everything. There are several options for this, and you need to choose the best and most suitable one for your family. It’s better not to pack everything in one large bag or suitcase as this just makes everything harder to access. Here are a few options that you can consider:
A rolling tub typically can carry emergency resources for 4-5 people. It has wheels on one end and a handle on the other making it easy to move. If you have babies or small children who cannot carry their things, this is a very good option. However, it does not have many inner compartments so the items inside may get mixed up and harder to find. These are a few things you must consider before using a rolling tub.
2. Rolling Suitcase
These are extremely convenient and everyone is familiar with using them. Suitcases can even be handled by children. A huge advantage is that suitcases have quite a few inner compartments, so you will be able to separate your clothing and toiletries from your food and tools. Although, if you have to travel on foot through uneven terrains or wilderness, suitcases are not the best option. Make sure you have evaluated your situation properly before buying a bag to store your emergency kit. Rolling duffel bags are also available which can be used for smaller families or individuals as well. Always remember to consider the size of your family before you purchase a suitcase.
Backpacks and hiking bags are the most popular option to carry emergency kits. These have many compartments and are the most convenient to use when you have to do a lot of on-foot travel. If you have school-going children who use their own school backpacks, this is a great option as they too can carry parts of the emergency kit, making them feel involved and independent. This way, the weight will be distributed between everybody and you won’t be the only one hauling the kit in one bag. Check out sports goods stores and military surplus stores for strong, durable and good-quality hiking bags. Most importantly, make sure you follow the body weight/backpack weight ratio so that no bags are over-packed and no one has to carry an unnecessarily heavy backpack. Here are some bodyweight guidelines that should give you an idea about how much you must pack in each bag:
- Children: 10-25% of their body weight
- Youth and Adults: 20-25% of their body weight
- Extremely fit people: 25-33% of their body weight
How To Pack Your Kit?
- Keep canned food in a clean, dry place.
- Make sure no food items are expired
- Keep all electrical items together, along with chargers and extra batteries. Check the batteries now and then, and if they need replacing, do so immediately!
- Keep sharp tools such as knives and wrenches away from the packed foods, and make sure they are away from your children’s access as well.
- Make sure your bag isn’t too overstuffed as the last thing you need in an emergency is opening your bag to a major lotion/shampoo explosion!
- Distribute all the items among all the members of your family.
- Keep a checklist to make sure you’ve not missed out anything.
The last page of this article contains a comprehensive emergency kit checklist prepared as per the FEMA guidelines. Extra spaces have been provided so that you can customize to your needs.
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72-Hour Emergency Printable Check List
|No||Basic Requirements||Tick Box|
|1.||Water: 1 gallon per person per day for at least 3 days for drinking and sanitation|
|2.||Food: 3 day supply of non-perishable food|
|3.||Battery powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with extra batteries|
|4.||Flashlight with extra batteries|
|5.||First Aid kit, toiletries|
|6.||Whistle to signal for help|
|8.||Moist towelettes and garbage bags for personal sanitation|
|9.||Wrench and Pliers|
|10.||Can Opener for food|
|No||Additional Requirements||Tick Box|
|1.||Prescription medicines and glasses|
|2.||Infant formula, diapers, baby wipes, extra changes of clothes for baby|
|3.||Important Family Documents in a Waterproof Container|
|4.||Cash, debit and credit cards, traveler’s checks.|
|5.||First Aid Handbook, Survival Handbook.|
|6.||Sleeping bags or/and warm blankets|
|7.||Extra changes of clothes (based on the weather) and underwear, and sturdy, comfortable shoes|
|8.||Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water|
|10.||Matchsticks in a waterproof container|
|11.||Feminine Supplies (pads/tampons/menstrual cup)|
|12.||Utensils, tissues, toilet paper and wet wipes|
|13||Books, Games, puzzles to keep yourself busy.|
It’s a good idea to go camping or hiking with your family once in a while. This will prepare them for carrying heavy loads, traveling long distances on foot, living outdoors and making do with whatever resources they’ve got. They will also learn basic survival skills such as making a fire, pitching a tent, cooking food and swimming. Also, make sure you have regular test runs and emergency drills with your family. You have to make sure that your family is ready to face any situation.
Regarding the emergency kits, make sure you have a kit ready in all strategic locations; one in your home, one in your office and one in your car. Make sure you check your kit and replace expired foods, expired medicines and batteries regularly. An emergency kit will only be useful if it is regularly updated to meet your family’s requirements.Most importantly, be positive! As long as you’re cheerful and ready to face anything, you’ll be fine. Stay together as a family and keep your spirits up.