In turbulent times, we may be forced to leave our homes temporarily. Depending on circumstances, we may have to leave immediately at any time during the day or night and having the bare essentials at hand and ready to go at a moment’s notice may mean the difference between life or death for you and your loved ones.
We see all manner of lists that are suggested as necessary for a 72-hour kit. Many of these are unrealistically elaborate, expensive and heavy. Please bear in mind that a 72-hr kit should be something that you can carry comfortably if you have to evacuate on foot and should contain only a minimal amount of items. All a healthy adult really needs to SURVIVE comfortably for 72 hours is a change of clothes, a handful of Granola bars and a couple of gallons of water. Anything beyond this should be considered carefully. Understanding that the possibility may exist for a longer stay than planned, here are a few suggestions for your kit. Keeping it minimal may even allow you to comfortably carry enough supplies for 3 to 5 days.
Two of the most important things to consider first are water and a comfortable means of carrying your supplies. A durable, comfortable backpack is certainly the best choice for our personal kit and some families may want to include a medium sized duffle bag for a certain amount of family items or things for the young or old that cannot carry a very big pack themselves.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay at or near your home, you should have plenty of water put away. If you have to leave on foot, you should make plans to carry at least enough for one day in your pack as 2-3 gallons of water would be too heavy for most people to carry along with the rest of their gear. Another option is to carry a water purification system such as LifeStraw or purification tablets to make irrigation or rain water safe to drink. Camelbak, HydraStorm and a few others make some well-built packs of various sizes with built-in water bladders. There are military/law enforcement models and recreational models. The military versions are extremely well built and heavy duty but more expensive than the recreational models. An adult should be able to put everything needed in a pack with a cargo capacity of around 2000 to 2500 cubic inches (30-40 cubic liters). Children should have packs of from 900 to 1200 cubic inches (15-20 cubic liters) depending on age and build. Naturally, the adults will have to carry a certain amount of the children’s gear but the children should be able to carry quite a bit of their own things. It is essential that families plan training outings of increasingly longer hikes at least monthly with increasingly heavier packs to be certain that all members are properly prepared.
The following is a list of items that should be included in your personal kit.
• Enough food to keep you reasonably comfortable, not necessarily full, for at least 3 days. MRE's are not ideal but the average adult should be able to easily get by on 2 MRE’s a day for 3 days. The more hardy and children might get by on one. The MRE’s should be stripped of non-essential weight by removing anything that you won’t eat or can’t use. Home-made meals can be a simple as Spam, jerky, dried fruit, crackers and Granola bars or something similar as long as it provides enough carbohydrates and protein to provide the energy to do whatever physical tasks are required for your situation. Add some chocolate or hard candy. Survival Tabs are also a great option!
• One change of clothing with 3 pairs of socks and 2 extra changes of underwear. Long johns, jacket, coat, knit cap or ball cap, depending on season. Add a couple of large plastic garbage bags to keep your equipment dry and to store clothing and other items in.
• 2 space blankets and 2 disposable ponchos should be adequate for shelter and sleeping in moderate weather for many people but others may want to include a light weight sleeping bag or a couple of blankets. Additional bedding will be required for cold weather. Of course, additional provisions will have to be added for the very young, elderly and infirm.
• Small first aid kit - Various sizes of Band-aids, surgical gloves, topical ointment, pain reliever (Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, etc.), hydrocortisone cream, eye wash, gauze and tape, sterile compresses, elastic bandage, Super Glue, suture kit, tweezers, antiseptic wipes, betadine or iodine and burn cream. Additional items can be added for individual needs such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, etc. but keep it reasonable. At LEAST one tourniquet is mandatory!
• Personal hygiene items (chapstick, sunscreen, toothbrush and paste, comb, hand towel, wash cloth, bar soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene items, etc.)
• Toilet paper and a few paper towels in a zip-lock bag.
• A small notebook and a pencil.
• Small sewing kit with 3 large safety pins.
• Waterproof matches and butane lighter.
• Good quality flashlight and extra batteries. Also, a couple of large candles may be helpful. Preferably beeswax candles.
• GPS or compass.
• 25' of 5/16" or 3/8" nylon rope or mule tape and at least 25' of strong twine for securing additional items to your pack, building shelters, aiding in climbing walls or lowering your gear down an embankment, etc.
• A well-made multi-tool such as Leatherman or Gerber.
• Heavy duty non-folding knife and sharpening stone.
• A pair of inexpensive FRS/GMRS radios and, if possible, a hand-held scanner.
• Defensive measures.
The above list of supplies will be more than enough to keep a person alive, comfortable and healthy for 3 to 5 days. Those that have trained and practiced for such an emergency may survive much longer by supplementing food when possible by hunting or scavenging and obtaining water through other sources. This list contains suggestions. Tailor it to suit your individual needs.
The event or series of events that cause us to have to rely on our emergency kits could very well be a situation that may last much more than 3 days. Our 72 hour kit is primarily designed to provide us with enough supplies to sustain us for the time that it takes for emergency services to get organized. THIS WILL BE AN EMERGENCY, NOT A VACATION! Public utilities and transportation may be shut down or interrupted. Be prepared to make do without phone service, water, sewer and electricity. Stores, gas stations, schools and your job will likely be shut-down. Emergency services may be interrupted and hospitals full. It may also be prudent to seek training in first aid, land navigation, firearms use, edible plant recognition and ways to obtain water.
Long-term survival preparations are much different than what is listed above. Please don’t confuse the two and have a bunch of stuff that you can neither carry nor use in 3 days. Mobility may be essential and most of us don’t have hand carts.
Colts and Kimbers are what you show your friends.
GLOCKS are what you show your enemies!