72 Hour Emergency Kits

The Government of Canada itself advocates 72 hour kits as being a part of its citizens preparations. This should be a clear message that we need to act for ourselves.


For detailed information on building a 72 hour kit, click here. You'll find useful tips to help you out. This is more than just some other list to print out, so have a look.


Important:

In the United States, many local state and federal agencies are changing over to a 7 day kit. I'll talk about the 72 hour kit, however, go for a 5 to 7 day bag instead. The reason is due to stretched resources and that in the event of a large-scale disaster the first responders may not be able to respond within 72 hours, such as with hurricane Katrina.

A 72 hour kit, also known as a BOB (bug-out-bag), 72 hour disaster or emergency kit, is essentially a grab-and-go kit, if you are required to leave your home immediately. Every member of your family who is capable of carrying a 72 hour kit, should have one for themselves.


Remember, that there are no commercially made kits that should be considered “one size fits all”. You need to personalize, or tailor your kits to meet your families needs, such as items for babies and young children, any medications etc. that are necessary to the kits that you purchase.


Also, be certain that the components comprising your kits are of good quality, as you'll see below. Rotate the food and water rations, batteries (every year), as well as any medications you place into your kits.


Have a properly stocked car kit and put a battery operated radio in there as well, or other radio that can operate off grid. You may use your car radio, but if it is very cold be careful to not drain the battery. If you can start the car every now and then to warm it up, the battery will recharge. Consider according to your circumstances, to have a kit at your place of employment, or use your car kit if not in a high rise office building where it would be preferable to have a kit on the floor where you work.


A small kit can be stored at school for older children, or for college and university students as well. Include information about the Family Plan, such as contacts, telephone numbers and meeting places in all kits.


Be certain to see to the needs of any family members with any physical disabilities as well. Learn to improvise to meet the needs of physically challenged individuals, in the event that a wheelchair has been damaged or if a wheelchair cannot be utilized for a reason or other.


Be certain to take thought for your pets to! Too often you see animals abandoned by their owners after disasters leaving them to fend for themselves and possibly become dangerous to others in the process. Dogs tend to form packs and can attack humans. They become wild and vicious in a prolonged scenario. They are a part of your family, and have the same basic needs as we do, food, water, shelter etc. Please look after them (dogs, cats, birds, whatever) by preparing for their needs as well.

 

The importance of having a 72 hour kit cannot be over-emphasized. Having a kit prepared in advance, means that you do not have to scavenge your home at the last minute to organize the essential items you’ll need. Worse, is if you do not even have the time to do that, in which case you are sent out into an affected zone without provisions. And if you can gather up some things, it is likely that you will forget something important in the rush before leaving home. This is like the expression that says “Being up a creek without a paddle".


Time at the moment is on your side, so prepare, for time can also be your enemy, if the emergency is upon you while being unprepared. Also, it is preferable to have a backpack to carry the kit in, to enable you to have your hands free. This is important if you have a child to carry, or anything else as well.


The Red Cross and the government advise in having a 72 hour kit. Be certain to know how to utilize the components of the kit, and that it is only quality components that are in there. It isn’t time to find out that a company played cheap on something to save costs or rid themselves of inventory, and that as a result you couldn’t fully rely on that component when needed.


Also check any expiration dates for items like water rations in commercially available kits. An example concerning quality is in a commercially made personal survival kit that had a toy-like whistle for signaling. The whistle worked, but it was not the quality whistle one should see in a kit that your life may depend upon. Replace any cheap components, which often can be purchased in-expensively today. F.Y.I., the Fox 40 Micro is a great whistle you can obtain for a few dollars at Canadian Tire or Walmart.

 

Know how to use your kit as well, if you do not, this can be likened unto someone that has all the ingredients to make a great tasting cake, but doesn’t know what to do with the ingredients to make it happen. You do not have to purchase commercially made kits, where companies have basically decided for you what is best for you and for your family, as well as possibly being biased for a reason or other, possibly at the expense of the quality of the components in the kit.


Remember that commercial means money/profit. Also, by making your own kit, you have control over the quality and type of equipment that will become your kit. However, having said that, I believe that there are decent companies out there that have in mind your safety, but remember to personalize, or tailor your kit as mentioned above. If the idea of making your own kit seems daunting, there are some great kits you can buy, like from the Red Cross and others.

 

List of advantages of having a 72 hour kit:

1. Prepared to leave immediately: grab the kit and go.

2. Portable provisions to keep you safe and alive for the first 72 hours of an emergency.

3. Preparations by having a kit provides some peace of mind, a great thing to have.

4. Advanced preparations means that you won't leave something essential behind.

 

The government as well as other agencies that may be mobilized at the onset of an emergency, may be overwhelmed and possibly ill-prepared for all that has happened. An example of this is during hurricane Katrina, where many suffered because the government wasn’t able to provide for the people's needs in an orderly and timely fashion. If you have a kit, you have the basics to keep yourself and your family alive, until rescue may come, if you don't, you will have a hard time. It isn't too late to begin your preparations.


An important reminder:

In the United States, many local state and federal agencies are changing over to a 7 day kit. I'll talk about the 72 hour kit, however, go for a 5 to 7 day bag instead. The reason is due to stretched resources and that in the event of a large-scale disaster the first responders may not be able to respond within 72 hours, such as with hurricane Katrina.


A word of advice here as I'd written elsewhere on my site:

"Another thing to keep in mind is the nature of the emergency. If there is a need to evacuate, and these kits are designed for that in mind, do you want to wear a bright red backsack with the words "Survival Kit" on it? It screams prepared to those who aren't and may attract unwanted attention to yourself. These kits certainly have some value, but I personally feel that making your own is better. Blend in by using colors that don't say tactical or I'm prepared. Use blue or black as an example.


The type of backsack/backpack or other as well may scream prepared, such as a kit surrounded by MOLLE attachment points. Don't go to either extremes such as going all out tactical or all out I am helpless and don't know better except I am prepared as well with my big bright red survival kit, be the 'grey man'.


Keep the size under control as well. If you carry a very large mountaineering pack in the middle of the city where there is looting and muggings and all manner of lawlessness, you WILL be noticed."


You can download the list by clicking 72 Hour Emergency Kit. You may print it to have a copy on hand.

Resources

How to use a 72 Hour Emergency Survival Kit
Bug Out Bag, Walmart Style: 72-Hour Bag for Hurricane Katrina - type situations

A Word of Caution

Another thing to keep in mind is the nature of the emergency. If there is a need to evacuate, and these kits are designed for that in mind, do you want to wear a bright red backsack with the words "Survival Kit" on it? It screams prepared to those who aren't and may attract unwanted attention to yourself. These kits certainly have some value, but I personally feel that making your own is better. Blend in by using colors that don't say tactical or I'm prepared. Use blue or black as an example.


The type of backsack/backpack or other as well may scream prepared, such as a kit surrounded by MOLLE attachment points. Don't go to either extremes such as going all out tactical or all out I am helpless and don't know better except I am prepared as well with my big bright red survival kit. Be the 'grey man'.


Keep the size under control as well. If you carry a very large mountaineering pack in the middle of the city where there is looting and muggings and all manner of lawlessness, you WILL be noticed.