Figuring out what to put in a DIY 72 hour emergency kit can mean the difference between life and death. When putting together an emergency kit it’s important that it is organized efficiently. You can’t just start throwing things into a gym bag haphazardly. Instead, you need to figure out how to put together an emergency kit that will be portable enough to move in an emergency, but still comprehensive enough to meet the basic needs of you and your family. That means that you need to spend some time listing essential items and figuring out what you would need to survive for 72 hours in the event of a real emergency.
Step 1 of building a 72-hour emergency kit is deciding whether you want to buy a ready-made kit, or if you want to build your own. There are a lot of great survival kits out there that you can buy, but it’s better to build your own for two reasons. First, building your own kit will save you money. If you add up the cost of all of the supplies in a ready-made kit and compare it to what they charge, you’ll see a mark-up. The companies selling these kits have to make a profit, so it’s reasonable to expect this. But, if you want to save a little cash, then plan on building your own. The other, and more important reason you should build your own kit is so that you can customize it to fit your needs.
When choosing a container there are a few basic criteria that you need to look for. First, it must be portable. Depending on the size of your family you may be carrying a lot of gear and supplies in your kit, so maybe choosing one with a handle and wheels would be a good idea. Second, the kit has to be durable, your survival kit is worthless if it tears and dumps all of your supplies on the ground. The last thing you need during an actual emergency is to have to stop and find a new way to carry your supplies. Third, a waterproof kit is always a good idea. Remember, this is an emergency, you have no idea if you’ll end up trapped in the rain or spend time in a body of water, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. The last thing to look for in a container that has external pouches and clips for storing things. This will not only give you more storage space, but it will also let you keep things you may need frequently in an easily accessible area.
When figuring out what to put in a DIY 72 hour emergency kit why not start with the most basic of necessities, food. Rule number one for any food that goes into your kit, is that it has to be high in calories. During an actual emergency, you will need energy, so high-calorie foods are your best bet. Rule 2, the food in your kit should be shelf-stable, which means that it doesn’t require refrigeration. Freeze-dried foods are a great option here because they don’t require refrigeration, they are high in calories, and they can be stored efficiently.
Having canned goods is another option, but make sure that you get cans with a pop-top, and don’t carry too many since they are heavy and take up a fair amount of space. You also need snacks that you can eat on the go, after all, this is an emergency you are preparing for. Make sure to pack protein bars, granola bars, nuts, and other healthy snacks that you can eat on the go. It’s also important to remember to rotate your food supply out regularly. Freed-dried foods and other shelf-stable foods have a long shelf life, but they don’t last forever. The last thing you want is to be in an emergency and find out that your food supply is spoiled.
While food is important, water is even more so for survival. Most people know you can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water. In an emergency, you’ll likely be burning through more calories and water, so having an adequate supply of each is essential. When it comes to water, there’s no way that you can carry enough for three days. What you can do is have some emergency water pouches, and then have a way to purify more water. Getting a water filter is a must, it requires no power to use, is small and lightweight, and it can turn unsanitary water into water that is safe to drink very easily. Having a metal container and a way to make fire is a great backup, so you can boil water, and water purification tablets are another option to consider.
When you are trying to pack efficiently a tent is not a great option for a shelter. It takes up too much space, and it takes time to put up and takedown. Instead, you need 2 things, something that keeps you dry, and something to keep you warm. To keep dry a simple tarp with some plastic zip ties can be used to keep the rain at bay as long as you can find a tree, fence, or other structure to put the tarp over. If it comes down to it you can just lay the tarp over you to keep the rain away. To keep warm, space blankets. Space blankets reflect your body heat back in, so despite being thin and lightweight they can keep you warm in most conditions.
Fire is an essential resource in any emergency situation. You can use fire for light, to cook food, purify water, signal for help, keep warm at night, and help keep predators at bay. When it comes to making fire the general rule of thumb is to have at least 2 sources. Source one should be a lighter. Why not matches? Because if they get wet they are useless. Source two should be a flint striker. You should also carry a small Sterno stove that you can use to light up in case you can’t find any dry tinder.
If you or your family take prescription medications, they need to be in your kit. On top of those, you should also have basics such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine. You aren’t trying to pack an entire medicine cabinet here, what you are trying to do is to pack what you may need for a few days in an emergency. You should also pack first aid supplies, bandages and disinfectant/pain-relieving spray can help you to deal with minor injuries that may occur during an emergency.
During an emergency, you may need access to tools. Again, you need to pack efficiently. So, instead of a toolbox, pack a multi-tool. A small, heavy spade can work for digging as well as a hammer in a pinch. A good knife is also a must since you never know when you’ll need a cutting tool. It’s important to keep these tools in an easy-to-reach place because they can double as weapons should you find yourself in need of one.
Assuming that the emergency you are preparing for doesn’t involve a doomsday type of apocalypse, you’ll probably still need important documents, such as I.D. cards. Money can also be helpful. Even in emergencies, money is a powerful motivator that can get someone to help you when you need it the most.