How to Build Your Own Quick and Easy 72 Hour Kit

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Do you ever feel so overwhelmed looking at all of the lists available online for what you need to put in a 72 hour kit? I know I did! I spent the first six years of our marriage building our kit, and adding to the list of what I needed to include. When we got Howie, I added a new list of things to include and with each child, I added more to my list as well. Last year after all of the natural disasters around the world, I knew I needed to buckle down and finish our kits. Being prepared for an emergency, no matter how big or small, gives me peace of mind and is one way that I can let my family know that they are a priority to me.

Related: 9 Ways to Prepare Your Marriage and Your Family for an Emergency

72 hour kit list of ideas

I know just how overwhelming it can be to find a list that includes everything you really need in your 72 hour kit and then find all of those things and purchase them at a decent price. There's a reason that it took me almost seven years to get this project completed. I have felt completely confident in what I put together and am glad that I chose to invest in the items that I did. This kit took me just an hour or so to pull together and I know that we are prepared to grab our things and go, if we never needed to.

72 Hours of Food

72 hour food supply

I think the food was the most stressful for me to put into our kit. I wanted to include things that were shelf stable, didn't weigh a lot or take up a lot of space, and that we would actually want to eat if we had to. My kit had a few MRE packs in it already, but they weren't something that I was all that excited to eat. I found this bucket of 72 hours worth of food for four people and purchased it immediately. I love that the food included is familiar and something that we would eat and cycle through when the time came to replace the bucket with new food before it went bad. I love how convenient the bucket is to just grab and go, it doesn't weigh a lot, and I know everything in it is something that my entire family would eat and enjoy. Click here to purchase yours.

emergency food supply that you'll actually eat

Done for You 72 Hour Kit

done for you 72 hour kit

The most daunting task of this entire project was finding everything that we would need in case of an emergency and getting it all packed nicely in a bag. Someone shared this already done for you emergency survival kit with me, and I knew that it was an investment we needed to make. By the time I would have found, purchased and put together all of these items on my own, I am sure that I would have spent close to, if not more, the cost of this entire kit . This same company sells different kits depending on your family size and the natural disasters that you might experience in your area. I purchased the four person kit for earthquake evacuations because that's the one big thing that we have to be prepared for where we live.

deluxe 72 hour kit

I love how this kit is packed and I didn't have to go out and find any of the random items that I might not have thought about or known where to get. They have truly thought of everything from first aid supplies to water to toilet paper to shelter. There are even a few energy bars included, in case you aren't able to grab your food supply or are out for longer than you planned. The Amazon listing includes a detailed list of everything that you'll find in the kit. Click here to check it out and find the kit that fits your family's needs perfectly .

what to put in a 72 hour kit

Family Emergency Backpack

Emergency Backpack for Kids

The big evacuation kit I bought covers the majority of our emergency needs, but it is not personalized for our family, so I added a backpack of my own with the extra things we needed. Inside that backpack you'll find a bag of supplies for our dog, items that our kids need, a few of our favorite snacks, scriptures, and a few things for fun. I'm going to break each section of the backpack down below so you get an idea of what I included for my little family and what you might want to include for yours.

fun ideas for 72 hour kit

I have an assortment of books wrapped up in a big trash bag (to keep them waterproof) in the front of our backpack. I've included a copy of our scriptures, a little hymn book, a couple of things for the kids to color in, the most recent copy of the phone book (I figure that's better than just chucking it when it hits my porch), a card game and a family photo album.

family photo album 72 hour kit

Family Photo Album

I printed a bunch of photos, 4x6 size, and slipped them into this photo album that I found at the dollar store. You can find these little photo albums at Walmart as well. I printed out pictures of each of the kids, Joe and I, our whole family, Howie, members of our extended family and other things that are familiar and comforting to the kids. I can't remember where I first saw the idea to do this but I loved it because it's a good way to keep some familiarity for kids and help them in what could be a very traumatic time.

72 hour kit for kids and babies

72 Hour Kit Bags for Kids, Toddlers and Babies

This was the one thing I knew I'd need in addition to our general 72 hour kit. At the very least, I knew that I'd need diapers and wipes and when our kids were babies, I included formula. I've had a few people ask me about what I included in this portion of our backpack so I'm going to include a detailed list.

  • Diapers and Wipes - I have a lot of these for each kid and will be changing them to pull-ups for Bensen now that he's potty trained. I tried to include what we generally use in 72 hours, and double that amount. I'd love to be able to grab a box of diapers in the event of an emergency, but I don't know if that will always be possible.

  • Food and Snacks - Like I mentioned, when our kids were younger, I included formula in our back, but I don't have to do that now that they're older and eat the same food that we do. I did however include a bag of snacks in our backpack that are things I know they love and will eat, just so we have some extras in addition to our food supply. We'll rotate those out once a year.

  • Sanitizing Wipes - I carry a pack of these in our diaper bag at all times and decided they'd be a great addition to the 72 hour kit, for obvious reasons.

  • Toothbrush - As I was looking at this picture, I kept thinking, 'will that even matter in an emergency?' but then I decided that yes, it will. When we might not be able to take a shower, or use a regular bathroom, we can at least have a little sense of clean and brush our teeth easily every day. It seems silly, but it made sense to me.

  • Toys and Books - Keeping our kids entertained and having fun and not so focused on the disruption to our life and schedule will be important if we're ever in a disaster. I snuck a couple of cars and a few books that our kids love to play with into this bag. We made the mistake of letting them see those when they were laid out for these pictures though and Bensen was begging for the two cars for a few days. (oops...) You'll also notice crayons that can be used with the coloring books I mentioned in the section above. The coloring books wouldn't fit in this gallon ziploc bag, so I included them here.

  • Comfort Objects - This was one of the most important things for me to include in our kids' bag. I asked my mom to sew a couple of extra taggies (small comfort blankets) with the same material of ours at home, and then each kid has a binky in there as well, even though we're fairly weaned from them.

72 hour kit for your pet

72 Hour Kit For the Dog

If we were in an emergency, you can bet that we will bring Howie with us. He's a member of our family and I couldn't imagine leaving him behind. I was able to pack a fairly small bag with essentials for him as well.

His bag includes a collapsible food dish, leash, sweater, doggie bags, a few toys, a bone, some treats and a decent amount of food. Once a year, we will go through and swap out his food and treats for fresh ones, then use the ones that are in there before they go bad.

72 hour kit toiletries

72 Hour Kit Toiletries

This is the most basic stuff that I first thought about adding to our 72 hour kits. Just those little comforts that will help you feel more like yourself in a disaster. Each of us have a bag with deodorant, toothpaste, chap stick, floss (because I'm all of the sudden going to make that a habit when disaster strikes), mouthwash, a brush, hair elastics, etc. I packed those two small bags into a gallon bag with toothbrushes, wet wipes, and a travel pack of q-tips.

72 hour kit toiletries for him
72 hour kit toiletries for her

I grabbed everything for the toiletries section of our bag just from the travel size product section of our local grocery store. It was easy to find our brands of choice and didn't cost a lot of money to put together. That's the thing that I loved the most about only having to pull together a small backpack of things personal to our family, in addition to this big 72 hour kit that I purchased online. Everything that I needed to include came from stuff that we already had here at home or was easily found at one store and for a decent price.

medicine for 72 hour kits

Medicine to Include in Your 72 Hour Kit

One of the other things I felt that we really needed in our 72 hour kit was a basic bag of medicines that we might need. You can of course personalize this if there are prescriptions or other things that your family might need in the event of an emergency, but I just included the basics for ours. Our gallon bag has sunscreen, bug spray, lotion, and hand sanitizer in it. I also added tylenols and ibuprofen for both the kids and us as well as allergy medicine.

I put all of our kits together and have them stored in one location, easy to grab and go without having to search the house for everything. You might have noticed that I didn't include clothes for the kids or us. A couple of articles that I read suggested that in the event of an emergency, you can grab clothes from the dirty hamper for the entire family, or just grab something from closets. This saves space in your bag and ensures that everyone will have clothes that fit them and are appropriate for the season. With little kids, who are constantly growing, it's hard to keep the bag update to date with clothes that are the right size and in the right season.

72 hour kits for families with young kids

Car Emergency Kits

I also put together kits for our cars. Once again, I grabbed a couple of backpacks that we had on hand and filled them with things that we might need in the event that we got stuck on the road. I'm also planning on purchasing this kit for each of our cars and hope to have that added to each of our trunks in the next month. These kits are helpful to have on hand for a car accident, if you get stuck in traffic for hours and aren't able to exit the freeway, if your car breaks down and you're waiting for a tow truck, or in severe weather conditions. One thing I think about frequently when driving is what if we crashed and I have hungry kids, or something similar. I also have a few snacks and things on hand in the diaper bag, but this is just added security.

The tricky thing for me was the fact that we have three vehicles. Mine and Joe's main cars, the ones that we take our kids in most often, have the bigger car kits. Joe's truck has a smaller kit but still includes a lot of things that we might need if the kids are with us because we often take them in that vehicle as well. I cringed a little putting these together and thinking about the extra cost of having that extra vehicle to stock, but I know it's an investment that's worth it because it will help my family out in the event of an emergency and my family is the most important thing in my life.

Related: Four Ways We Keep Our Family Safe and Happy on Car Rides

car 72 hour kit

The car emergency kit is a smaller version of the bigger backpack that we have put together and stored with our big 72 hour kit. I tried to think of different scenarios that we might find ourselves in on a short drive across town or a long road trip and prepare for everything.

  • Poncos and Emergency Blankets - For cold or wet weather, these are a must. Even for something as simple as a tire change in a rainstorm, these will come in handy. I also included a hoodie and I always have a few blankets in the trunk of my car as well.

  • First Aid - I have a couple of small first aid kits in our bags, in addition to a bigger kit velcroed to the floor underneath one of the seats inside the car. Some other things you'll find for emergencies are a whistle, glowsticks and a flashlight.

  • Personal Hygiene - I'd never hope to be stranded in my car for very long, but we included extra diapers and wipes for the kids, toilet paper, sanitizing wipes, kleenex and soap.

  • Food and Entertainment - Once again, I have a big bag of snacks because nothing is worse than a hungry toddler, or to be honest, a hungry parent. We added gum and emergency water packets as well. And then there are games, a few toys for the kids, some books to read, and a set of scriptures.

  • Misc. Extras - A few other things I included for no real reason but that it felt like a good thing to include are duct tape, socks, a candle and matches.

72 hour kit necessities

One thing that I would add that it is included in each of our kits is cash. When you're adding cash to your emergency bag, make sure you're putting it in smaller bills and separating it throughout your bag. If you need to use your money to acquire something, people will try to get as much out of you as they can. If they see that you have a 20, they'll tell you that they don't have change. It's better to have the exact amount they're asking for and not let them know just how much you have in your possession. 

I hope this post helped you feel less overwhelmed about your emergency preparedness. I know that purchasing those bigger kits and not having to think about all of the little things that are included and hope that I was able to find it all was a game changer. I love knowing that if we ever need it, we have something to help us through an emergency. Being prepared will let me focus on my family and their needs and sticking together through our challenges.

Photography by Sadie Banks Photography

72 hour kit lists can be overwhelming. After years of putting mine together, this is what I ended up including for our family, kids and dog.