This week, in my Natural Disaster class, part of the forum discussion included talking about what we would put into our personal 72-hour kits.   The intent of the 72-hour go bag is to allow an individual to be entirely self sufficient for at least three days after a disaster strikes.  This includes food, water, shelter, and hygiene. I shamefacedly admit that I don’t have bags for my family, but I do know what I want to have with me.

That being said, this is something that I have put a lot of thought into over the years.  I have made some steps in the right direction, but I have to actually sit down and put what I have together as well as flesh out the missing pieces.

There are a couple of places that I have shopped in the past for emergency or disaster supplies.  The first is, which carries a good selection of essential survival gear and first aid supplies.  The other is Emergency Essentials, which my Mormon mother turned me on to many years ago.  They have a good selection of food storage, emergency kits, and emergency gear and tools, as well as a number of “survival” (NOT survivalist!) books and a GREAT amount of information in their “Education” section and their blog.

  • A minimum of three different water purification methods (I have a family of 6), enough to purify at least a gallon of water per person per day… More in extreme heat or cold.  (I have a backpacking water filter, a battery operated chemical purification unit, and the capability of boiling water in a pinch)
  • Water container.  A Nalgene-type bottle is pretty bulletproof, although any sort of canteen will work.  A larger, collapsible bulk container is well advised.
  • Food for three days.  In a disaster situation your caloric needs tend to rise, but the bare minimum of around 3000 calories per person per day is my target.  MRE type meals, dehydrated food stuffs, canned goods, and “survival rations” are all available and have their individual positives and negatives.
  • Depending on your personal choices, you need to have something to cook over.  At the minimum, you should have something to heat (boil) water over and in.  This could be as small as an Esbit pocket stove or as large as a multi-burner propane camp stove, depending on your needs and carrying capabilities.
  • Eating utensils and food preparation container.  This all depends on your food situation, though.
  • A sturdy pair of broken-in shoes or (better) hiking boots.  Why broken in?  Less chance of forming blisters when you can’t really afford them.
  • Personal protective equipment.  This should include sturdy work gloves, eye protection, N-95 respirator masks, and possibly a hard hat.
  • Firemaking supplies.  I like to have at least three different methods of making fire in my “survival unit” (family) gear.  I have waterproof tinder (TinderQuik and Wet-Fire tinder), a fire steel, a sparker (kind of like  cigarette lighter without the fuel) and waterproof matches in a waterproof container.
  • At least one full change of clothing, including a light weight long sleeve shirt, durable pants, a t-shirt, wool hiking socks, a mid-weight fleece top, a hat with a brim, and a large bandana or shemagh.
  • Rain poncho.  If possible, a “sil-nylon” or military style one with grommets on each corner and snaps up the sides are ideal, since they can fill several functions in one unit.
  • Shelter: This can be a large tarp to set up like a tent, an actual tent (or military shelter halves, a favorite of mine), a sleeping bag or “bivvy bag” (I like the SOL Thermal Bivvy, runs about $25 each)
  • Light!  Light is important, particularly at night.  Headlamps are great, especially if you have to be moving around at night, since they leave your hands free.  Chemical light sticks are good, but have a short useful life, and are fragile in the bag.  Nothing more disappointing than a dead light stick when it’s getting dark.  Keychain size lights are great, too, and candles have their place.
  • Hygiene supplies,  Include some TP, all-purpose soap, a pack towel, hand sanitizer, and some “Wet-naps” premoistened towelettes.  A toothbrush and toothpaste can be included, as well.
  • Tools: A fixed-blade knife (NOT one of those hollow-handle “survival knives” since they are weak and can break easily), a mid-grade multi-tool, a folding pocket knife, and a trowel for digging a small, personal latrine hole.
  • Communication devices and important information documents are a high priority.  Cell phone, external charger, and (even better) a hand-crank charger are all very useful. I include a multi-power (solar, battery, wall plug, crank) AM/FM radio with NOAA weather capability.  I’m a huge advocate of weather radios.  Waterproof notepad with a pen or pencil for documentation and note taking.  I use Rite in the Rain notepads with Fisher Space Pens. Signal mirror should be considered, an I include a loud, waterproof whistle. Fox 40 is a good one.
  • Duct tape, 550 “parachute cord” in hanks of at least 20 feet, per person, large heavy duty “contractor” grade garbage bags, Ziplock bags of various sizes, safety pins, zip ties, and a sewing kit.
  • A durable compass and a map of your area, preferably one that is both durable and waterproof.  I like to buy custom maps from MyTopo because they are highly customizable, very durable, and relatively inexpensive.inexpensive.
  • Stash some cash as well, since credit and debit cards may not work in a disaster because power or communication lines may be out of service.  At least $50 in a number of denominations, and as much as $500 or mode, if possible.
  • If you are so inclined, some pepper spray/mace or (if legal in your area) a sidearm and spare ammunition may be useful
  • First aid kit.  Choose one that is sized to suit your group and purpose.  Adventure Medical Kits offers a number of very well thought out kits in a variety of sizes and price ranges.  I recommend including blister prevention of some sort, as well.