The purpose of 72-hr Kits is to have all of those essential items you and your family will need during an emergency period of 3 days (72 hours). When an emergency occurs you will probably not have the luxury of going around the house gathering up needed items, especially if you have to evacuate your home on short notice.

Take the time now to gather whatever your family needs to survive for 72 hours based upon the assumption that those items are the only possessions you will have with you. Store these kits in a closet near the front door, or some other easily accessible place where they can be quickly and easily grabbed on the way out of the door.

Fear may well be responsible for more deaths than exposure, hunger and injury combined. Realizing you have fears and that these are normal emotions in an unfamiliar situation, you will be aware of them and better able to cope with them as they appear. Fears can be expected in any outdoor problem situation. However, fear is usually based on lack of self-confidence and lack of adequate preparation and experience. By preparing your family for these emergency situations through 72-hr kits and holding practice sessions with your family members, this will help instill confidence and control fear in the event of an emergency.


The container you choose for your kit must be waterproof, or items protected inside from water, have some type of carrying handle, and must be able to be carried easily by family members. The following are good containers: rolling backpack, suitcase (rolling is best), polyethylene plastic bucket, duffel bag, trunk or footlocker (on wheels), or plastic garbage can (on wheels). Go here for a good rolling backpack.

To make your container waterproof, pack all items in Zip-loc bags to keep them dry and air tight. This will prevent a liquid item from spilling and ruining other items in your kit and will keep the rain and other forms of moisture away from the items stored.


To see a pdf version of this go here.

These are pictures of Typical Items in a 72-hr Kit.

Food and Water Items.

Shelter and Bedding Items.

Clothing and Sanitary Items.

Fuel and Miscellaneous Items.

* Water

Since we live in a dry, AZ climate it is recommended to bring 3 gallons of water, per person in our 72-hr kits. If you live in a wetter climate you might be able to reduce that by half to 1.5 gallons per person for 72 hrs. As you probably know, a gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs! So can you imagine carrying around 25 lbs of water on your back for a 3 day supply? There is a better solution with these 8-gallon rolling water containers go here. You will be able to carry enough water for yourself and other family members with these great rolling water containers!

* Food

You should include in your kit a 3-day supply of non-perishable food. The food items should be compact and lightweight and in sealed packages. MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) or Mountain House freeze dried meals are a good choice because they require little preparation. Mountain House foods are "my preference" but you need to remember that they require extra water in your kit. Plan nutritionally balanced meals, keeping in mind that this is a survival kit. Include vitamins or other supplements, if desired. Also include a mess kit or other compact equipment for cooking and eating. We have 2 Sternos with a Sterno oven so we can boil water for our Mountain House meal preparation.

* Shelter

The objective of shelter is to provide emergency housing. It is extremely important to be physically protected from nature's weather elements. There are many types of shelters that can be easily included in you 72-hr kit. You may want to consider a family tent, backpacker's tent, tube tent, rain poncho, garbage bags, nylon rope or cord, duct tape, emergency blanket and emergency sleeping bag.

* Bedding

Bedding should be warm, lightweight, comfortable, waterproof and compact. An emergency blanket or sleeping bag (also called space blanket) are an Aluminum-coated Mylar material and are very efficient at retaining body heat and are a must for every 72-hr kit. Even when used buy themselves, without the added benefit of a sleeping bag, emergency blankets or bags will keep you warm during the night. In cold winter weather, which we don't see much in AZ, they may not be entirely comfortable but they will probably keep you warm enough to keep you alive. Due to the mylar coating, they will prevent moisture from coming in. However, they will also retain sweat and condensation from your breath, so you may find that periodically during the night you will have to air them out in order to sleep comfortably. They can also be used during the day to protect from rain, sun and to retain body warmth.

* Clothing

Include in your kit one change of clothing and footwear, preferable work clothing. Anticipate severe weather conditions. If you have a growing family, remember to update clothing sizes and needs at least once a year .

* Fuel

Every family member should have fire starting materials and know how to start a fire except in the case of young children less then 12 years old. Teach all family members how to use them and let them practice building fires with all methods until they feel totally confident with their ability to do so. Children aged five or six can be safely instructed in "correct fire building techniques" under proper supervision. Then if an emergency arises, they will not panic or feel overwhelmed or frightened at the prospect of building a fire for their warmth and protection. Some different sources of fuel are:

o Matches. Carry at least 2 dozen wooden kitchen matches that have been either dipped in wax or nail polish to make them waterproof, or carry them in a waterproof container.

o Magnesium fire starters. These are good for starting fires with damp or wet wood. Shave magnesium shavings off a magnesium block with a pocket knife and them strike a spark from a flint starter with a pocket knife. Magnesium burns exceptionally hot and will ignite almost any combustible material. This works even when wet and can be purchased at most sporting good stores!

o Small magnifying glass. Use to concentrate sunlight onto paper, shredded bark or other tinder.

o Flint and steel. A spark from flint and steel, when directed at dry paper (especially toilet tissue), shredded bark, dry grass or other tinder, if persisted in patience, will work very well to star a fire. This is the most reliable "non-match" method of starting a fire.

o Sterno fuel and stoves. These make an excellent cooking fuel when backpacking or in emergencies. Sterno can be lit with a match or a spark from flint and steel. Slivers of jelled sterno can be cut from the can and placed on top of tinder and lit with flint and steel, or with a match as well. Sterno fuel burns hot enough to ignite even damp tinder.

* First-Aid Kit

Update your first-aid skills and keep your first-aid kit well supplied. We store our first aide kit in our family duffle bag with an emergency solar radio/hand crank flashlight, emergency 100-hr burn candles, etc. Suggested first-aide supplies for your 72-hr kit include:

- Waterproof container or Zip-loc bag

- First-aide book

- Assortment of band-aides, butterfly bandages, gauze pads, small roll of gauze and adhesive tape

- Cotton balls, Q-tips, alcohol, alcohol wipes and hydrogen peroxide

- Safety pins, collapsible scissors, medicine dropper and tweezers

- Thermometer or forehead thermometer strips

- Cold pack, crushable heat pack

- Smelling salts, Pepto-Bismol tablets, antacid tablets (good for bee stings), Benadryl capsules, aspirin (promotes healing of burns), Tylenol (chewable for children) and Advil (check experiation dates on these often)

- Special prescriptions or equipment

- Small tube of antiseptic cream

- Small spool of thread and two needles (may be needed for clothing repairs or to help stitch up someone in the event of no medical personnel around)

* Miscellaneous

Some other miscellaneous items may be very helpful and include:

- Light sticks, small flashlights, extra batteries

- Pocket hand warmers or foot warmers

- Toiletries (toothpaste/brush, deodorant, pre-moistened wipes, toilet paper, feminine products, sunscreen, soap, lip balm, waterless soap, brush, extra plastic bags, etc.)

- Compass, pocketknife, metal mirror, portable radio with hand crank, compact fishing kit, spare glasses, etc.

- Identification/medical card, money

- Pen, pencil, paper, small games, small scriptures, etc.


In addition to emergency survival supplies you should also collect vital family information. Record and keep it in a least 2 safe places- a fire resistant "get-away" box that you can take with you if you have to leave the home, and a safe-deposit box at your bank or credit union. The following items would be useful for you to record and keep in these 2 locations:

- Full name and social security numbers of all family members.

- Copies of important documents with originals that will travel with you in the portable "get-away" box. These include SS cards, birth certificates, wills, deeds, tax returns, citizenship papers, etc.

- Listing of all vehicles, boats, etc. with identification and license numbers.

- Listing of all charge account card numbers with expiration dates, bank account numbers, bank account numbers, insurance policy numbers, securities, deeds, and loan numbers showing the company name, address and telephone numbers

- Name address and telephone numbers for your employeer, schools, fire/paramedics, family contact, utilities, police doctor, hospital, attorney, etc.

- Genealogy records



Email: johnjen at reynoldsnet.org