72 Hour Survival Kit Simplified

72 hour survival kit list

I believe there are three basic things a person should include in his/her 72-Hour emergency survival kit:

  1. Warm clothes (or protection from the elements)
  2. Clean Water
  3. Food

I place them in this order of importance because as the experts say—you can live for about three weeks without food; you can live for about three days without water; but you can only live for about three hours without warm clothing (or shelter) in cold weather.

It’s a good idea to keep these basics of survival in mind when building your kit.

I live in Utah, which is earthquake country. Since 1983, Utah has received eight presidential disaster declarations. Now, Utah certainly does not have a corner on the market when it comes to disasters, as there are disasters everywhere (natural and otherwise). But my preparations might be different than your preparations. Depending on where you live, weather conditions and other factors can determine what should be a part of your kit. Try to keep the basics, (1) protection from the elements (2) clean water and (3) food, foremost in mind when considering items to include in your kit.

Be Ready Utah (BeReadyUtah.gov) is the State of Utah’s official emergency preparedness campaign managed by the Division of Homeland Security and under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor. It is my understanding that there is a “Ready” campaign in every state of the U.S. They are designed as a bottom-up approach for preparedness. The focus is on the personal responsibility of every individual to prepare.

The Ready campaign encourages us to:

  • be ready with an emergency plan
  • be ready with an emergency supply kit
  • be informed about potential emergencies

We are told that “the time and effort we invest in preparing now will help us navigate through and recover quickly from what may come our way at the most unexpected moment.”

We are encouraged to consider creating two types of kits. One that has everything you will need, kept at your home, and one that is a smaller, lightweight version to take with you if you need to evacuate. Consider placing a kit in the trunk of your car. Students can keep one in their dorm room. All kits should include enough supplies to provide for your needs for at least three, or even four days.

As a matter of fact, I have seen the emphasis on 72-hour kits shift to 96-hour kits. When I spoke with someone at a “Be Ready Utah” preparedness fair and asked why the emphasis was shifting to 96-hour kits, I was told that experience has taught them that it usually takes four days before help can arrive after a major natural disaster.

The following suggestions come from the Be Ready Utah Campaign:

Recommended Items to Include in Your Basic Kit:

Download Survival Kit Checklist

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask (or cotton t-shirts), to help filter contaminated air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps

Additional Items to Consider Adding to Your Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book, or information from www.ready.gov
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. *Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

More Things to Consider:

  1. Your kits should be placed in portable containers located near an exit of your house so you can grab them on your way out in a serious emergency. Do not overload your kit – you may need to carry it a long distance to reach safety or shelter.
  2. Each family member should have their own kit with food, clothing, and water. Distribute heavy items between kits.
  3. Enclose extra clothing, matches, personal documents, and other items that can be damaged by smoke or water in plastic to protect them. If it is raining when you need to evacuate, you will appreciate dry clothes.
  4. Keep a small flashlight source in the top of your kit so you can find it quickly in the dark.
  5. Personalize your kit. Make sure you fill the needs of each family member.
  6. Inspect your kit at least twice a year. Rotate food and water. Check children’s clothing for proper fit. Adjust clothing for winter and summer needs. Check expiration dates on batteries, light sticks, warm packs, food, and water.
  7. Consider the needs of elderly people as well as those with handicaps or other special needs. For example: For babies store diapers, washcloth, ointment, bottles and pacifiers, and other special supplies.
  8. Make copies of important personal/business documents and store them in a safe place.
  9. Identify an out of state contact person so family and friends can communicate with you during an emergency.
  10. Develop an individual/family/business emergency plan.
  11. Plan for a meeting place if you cannot meet at home.
  12. Discuss what children should do if at school.
  13. Coordinate with neighbors for pick-up if children attend the same school.
  14. Designate a surrogate parent for your children if you are not able to tend to them & provide all of this information to your child’s school.
  15. Learn how to locate and shut-off (if necessary) power, water, and gas (think twice before turning off the gas, you may not turn it on again without a gas company technician).



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