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When you’re preparing for an emergency, one of the first things you’ll likely do is reach for your 72-hour emergency kit. You do have one, don’t you? Emergency Preparedness is something that not every family does, but every family should do.
Why? Because the first 72 hours of any disaster, be it earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flooding, fire, etc. are the most critical.
It’s this time period that determines how much you can salvage, how much damage is done, and how comfortable you will be during the event.
Some might affect you only your household (fire) while some will be a bit more widespread (tornado, earthquake). Others will completely disrupt everything (blizzard, hurricane, flooding, and forest fires).
Either way, knowing how to build a 72 hour emergency kit and knowing which items to store for an emergency is so important that it may just save your life one day.
Tips for Building a Family Emergency Kit
When you’re looking at learning how to build a 72 hour kit the first thing you need to do is make an emergency preparedness plan.
Not only will this help you figure out why you’re preparing in the first place, but it is also the the first thing that will go into your emergency kit.
To make your plan, ask yourself things like:
- What will my family do if the smoke alarm goes off at 2 am?
- If the water goes out because the main froze up and broke the pipe how will we deal with it?
- What if my home is flooded or destroyed by a tornado?
- What if my family needs to evacuate from a wildfire?
Take a good hard look at this stuff and figure out where everyone will meet, how you will contact everyone, where you will stay, how you will pay for the items you need and so on. Not knowing the answer to these questions could really cause major issues for your family.
How to Build a Bug Out Bag
Once you have the planning part of things taken care of, you’ll want to get started actually learning how to build a 72-hour emergency kit. Despite a lot of common beliefs, a true 72-hour emergency kit is just that.
It isn’t something you’re going to live out of for weeks, it isn’t something that you’re going to take on a cross country tour. It is, pure and simple, something to help you live life for 3 days. Nothing more and nothing less.
72-hour emergency bags are often called “bug out bags” or “get home bags” – also called a BOB or GHB – for a reason. They are meant to be used quickly and in a true emergency.
In other words; you don’t need nor do you want 100 lbs of unnecessary gear in your BOB.
Supplies for a Bug Out Bag
To start building yours, you’ll want to pick up a quality backpack to store yours in.
Yes, you absolutely could use a $9.99 backpack that you picked up on clearance at Walmart but the truth is; that bag is so cheaply made that chances are really good that it won’t hold up at a moment in time when you need to.
For this one thing, take the time to pick your bag carefully and don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more than you normally would. Quality matters significantly over quantity in this one.
With that being said, if all you can afford is that $9.99 bag? Use it. It is better to have something than nothing.
Before you start adding things to your 72-hour emergency kit, you’ll need to look at what you’re going to include in it. You need to think about two things when filling yours.
- Who are you going to be with?
- What needs will you/they have?
Keep these three questions in mind when you’re adding things to your own kit but also remember that what someone else recommends isn’t always what you or your family might need.
When you go to answer who you will be with, make the decision if you’ll use one kit for everyone or if each person, including children will have their own.
We personally each have a bag since each of us has different skills and needs. If that works for your family, go for it. If a single community style bag works, use that instead.
What to include in a 72-hour emergency kit
Filling your bag will take some time if you’re going to learn how to build a 72-hour kit on a budget instead of just simply going out and buying everything at once.
If that is what you need to do; that’s okay.
There’s absolutely nothing that says it has to be done overnight and in fact, I highly recommend that you take your time.
Doing so allows you to stay within budget, but also gives you the time to try out and test the items that you’re including to find your favorite manufacturers and brands.
When you’re considering which items to include, you might want to consider these items:
- Hand Crank AM/FM Radio
- Rechargeable Batteries in AA, AAA, C and D sizes
- Small Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool
- At least $250 cash
- 3 days worth of clothing for the current weather season
- Extra socks
- A spare pair of shoes – Its best to use shoes that have been broke in already. New shoes will hurt your feet and leave blisters.
- 3 days worth of bottled water or a reusable and filtered water bottle
- 3 days worth of food – A good mix of freeze dried backpacking food, regular snacks such as granola bars and canned foods such as soups that don’t require cooking is best.
- Disposable poncho or a 30 gallon trash bag with head and arm holes cut out.
- Trash bag for waste
- Lighter and/or waterproofed strike anywhere matches
- Mylar Emergency Blankets to use for heat and to line your shelter with to help hold in even more heat
- 3 days worth of any prescription medications you currently take
- Fully stocked small first aid kit
- Notebook and Pens
- Copies of all of your identifying documents such as your birth certificate, passport, drivers license, etc
- Wool Blanket
- Pre-paid cell phone with basic calling service or a phone card at the very least
- Travel size personal care items – shampoo, soap, lotion, Chapstick, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, bug spray, etc.
- Toilet Paper
- Baby Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Your chosen form of personal security – firearm that you are trained to use, knife, pepper spray, etc.
This list is by far all inclusive. There will be more that you will want to include and there may be less.
As I said earlier, you’ll want to build your kits in a way that fits your family. No matter what you include in it though, make sure that you have it ready to go should you need it.
Where to Store Your Bug Out Bag
Once you have learned how to build a 72 hour emergency kit, keep your bag in a place that it will be easy to reach if you have to leave your home in a hurry.
If your home is on fire, you need to be able to just grab it and go.
Front closets, mud rooms or a shelf by the front door are all great options.
Make sure that you keep your emergency kit updated with each season too. You’ll want to toss any expired items, change clothing to match the current season and so on.
Learning how to build a 72 hour emergency kit really is one of the most important prepping basics that you should do; especially if you’re practicing emergency preparation for families. It can be one of the most overlooked though since it really is so “easy” that it’s quite easy to overlook. Don’t make that mistake. Take the time to learn how to build a 72 hour emergency kit while you can and it will be there for you when you need it.