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72 Hour Bag

Updated on June 26, 2013

The 72 Hour Bag

Hurricane. Earthquake. Tornado. Wildfire. Chemical spill. Tsunami.

Events like this fill our news daily and all too often, people are caught unprepared when they happen and unaware they could have take steps to mitigate the immediate effects. Effects like food, shelter, clean water, heat and light.

A 72 Hour Bag is an emergency "go to" bag containing enough life saving supplies for three days. Experts, including the federal government, all agree that each of us should have an emergency bag packed and ready to go at home, in the car or at work at all times.

However, knowing what to carry and include in a 72 Hour Bag is important. The wrong contents, or too much will make the three day bag useless and burdensome. Learn here what to include and how to make your 72 Hour Bag.

72 Hour Bag Disasters
72 Hour Bag Disasters

What is a 72 Hour Bag?

What a 72 Hour Bag Is:

A short term kit for ensuring the survival of you and your companions when services are interrupted, if you are forced to flee your home or when traveling from one location to another

An emergency kit in the event you are stranded away from home in an inhospitable environment.

A three day lifeline until authorities, rescue workers and outside help arrives

What a 72 Hour Bag is not:

A one stop shop for surviving any catastrophe

A long term or permanent survival solution

A purchased solution which requires little if any thought or planning.

Your 72 Hour Bag contains what is needed for your particular scenario. An earthquake in Southern California requires different contents than a hurricane in Louisiana or a broken down car in the Pacific Northwest in January.

Remember, the most important item for survival is not in the bag, it's between your ears! Know where you are going, what you are facing and what to do with the contents of your survival bag.

72 Hour Bag - The Bag

While other bags, such as a duffel can be used, it is best to be prepared for the worse case scenario which involves traveling on foot. That means a heavy duty backpack designed for outdoor use. Children and smaller people should get a bag which they can wear comfortably for long periods of time and which has room for most of their basic needs.

I prefer an internal frame back back along with a "fanny style" pack for items needed quickly. There are many different styles to choose from and even an inexpensive bag is better than nothing!

72 Hour Bag - Clothing

Clothing should reflect the conditions and season. When winter approaches or if traveling in an area with significant snowfall, make sure to include:

- Goretex parka

- Stocking type hat

- Handwarmers

- Gloves

- Long underwear

- Fleece

- Moisture wicking inner socks

- Wool outer socks

- One pair of heavy walking shoes or boots

Other weather scenarios or seasons may dictate less heavy clothing, but make sure your bag includes:

- At least two spare changes of moisture wicking socks

- Wide brimmed hat for sun protection

- Three bandanas

- Two t shirts

- Two pair of light weight pants

- Two long sleeve, light weight shirts

- Two pair of underwear

Do you have a 72 Hour Bag?

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72 Hour Bag Shelter
72 Hour Bag Shelter

72 Hour Bag - Shelter

Adequate shelter is needed to keep you warm and dry and the elements away. A shelter can be a lightweight tent or improvise from a waterproof tarp, poncho or even large trash bags. The main points to consider regarding shelter are it keeps you protected from the elements and it is easy to transport, especially if you are on foot.

Shelter Supplies List

- Weather rated sleeping bag

- Small folding plastic tarp

- Four contractor sized trash bags

- Camping hammock

- Tube style tent

72 Hour Bag Emergency Food
72 Hour Bag Emergency Food

72 Hour Bag - Food

Next to water, food is essential in your 72 Hour Bag. It is best to have foods which store well at room temperature and keep for long periods of time. Remember to rotate food out often for freshness.

Food

- 3 Day supply Mainstay or Datrex Lifeboat rations

- Foil packages of tuna and salmon

- Nuts, sunflower seeds

- Trail mix including dried fruits and nuts

- Beef jerky

- Instant oatmeal

- Instant rice

- Protein bars, at least six or more

- Hard candy

- Baby formula or dried milk if traveling with small children

- Hot cocoa, tea bags, instant coffee

- Basic condiments and seasonings including salt, sugar, pepper (get packets from fast food restaurants)

- Bullion cubes

72 Hour Bag Tools
72 Hour Bag Tools

72 Hour Bag - Tools

Ask dad and he will tell you to always have the right tool for the job. Make sure your 72 Hour Bag has some basic tools with others available for particular situations. For instance, a shovel will not fit into an emergency bag, but it makes sense to have one in the car if traveling in remote areas. Your 72 Hour Bag should include:

- A Swiss Army knife

- A Leatherman style multi tool

- A compass

- A basic "mess" kit including a stainless steel bowl, spoon and two quart cooking pot

- Sewing needles, sewing kit, tweezers, small pair of scissors, small mirror

- Emergency NOAA radio, preferably hand crank powered or solar.

For remote traveling, it makes sense to have a hatchet or machete available as well as a larger, non folding knife.

72 Hour Bag First Aid
72 Hour Bag First Aid

72 Hour Bag - Medical and Hygeine

Your 72 Hour Bag must have the tools needed for staying clean and to take care of basic medical needs as they arise. Make sure to include:

- Toothpaste, toothbrush

- Insect repellent

- Sunblock (SPF 50 or better)

- Lip balm

- Body powder (for feet, especially if traveling on foot)

- Bandages, Neosporin ointment

- Antibacterial hand gel

- Baby wipes for quick cleanups

- Benadryl

- Aspirin, Tylonol, Immodium

- Toilet paper

- Sunglasses

- A small bar of soap

- At least one hand towel or wash cloth

- Comb

Depending upon the situation, location and time of year, it might make sense to include items such as handwarmers (in cold climates), a snake bite kit (in wet areas during warmer months) and so forth. Be aware of what scenarios you and your traveling companions may face, especially if forced to travel on foot or though remote areas and plan accordingly.

72 Hour Bag Fire Heat Light
72 Hour Bag Fire Heat Light

72 Hour Bag - Fire, Heat, Light

This subject gets a category all its own. Fire for heat, cooking and purifying water, light to see by and heat to stay warm.

- An LED headlamp

- At least one LED flashlight and one LED key fob flashlight

- Six "snap and break" glow sticks

- Three Bic disposable lighters

- Magnesium and steel fire starter kit

- One package of water proof matches

- Film canister containing Vaseline soaked cotton balls for tinder

- A four pack of "space blankets"

- Spare batteries

- Portable solar charger for cell phones, GPS, personal computers or flashlights

72 Hour Bag Water
72 Hour Bag Water

72 Hour Bag - Water

Nothing is more important than fresh clean drinking water. In most disasters or survival scenarios, clean water is often not available or difficult to obtain. Your emergency bag must contain water for drinking, containers to carry more and the ability to sterilize water sources.

- Two quarts bottles of drinking water minimum

- Two Nalgene water bottles, pre-filled if possible

- Polar Pure water disinfectant

- A small plastic bottle of non-scented bleach

- Filter straw

72 Hour Bag Personal Documents
72 Hour Bag Personal Documents

72 Hour Bag - Personal

Some of the most important items to carry in your 72 Hour Bag are personal documents and other papers. A quick list to carry originals or copies (and for others traveling with you such as children or seniors) include:

- Drivers license, passport.

- Medical insurance identification

- Proof of auto and home insurance

- Home deeds or mortgage paperwork

- Copy of will, medical power of attorney

- Maps of immediate area especially road maps

- Money in the form of cash, change and credit/ATM card

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is very good information, I like it, thank you for sharing. :)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Some really good advice. It would have helped a lot of people who were recently hit by hurricane Sandy.

    • profile image

      mic604 4 years ago

      As I read this I am waiting for Frankenstorm to hit here in Jersey. Not worrying about an evacuation where I live, but nice to know I have a camping stove and other camping gear to fall back on. Nice lens with good info.

    • profile image

      profitsimon 4 years ago

      I can tell you from going on numerous backpacking trips in many different climates, that one thing alot of people do not think about, is that water is very heavy to carry. 1 gallon weighs about 8 lbs. A water filter is a great investment.

    • PickupTrucksFan1 profile image

      PickupTrucksFan1 4 years ago

      Being ready to go is a good idea any time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Good to be stocked for any emergencies... Like the concept of the 72 hour bags!

    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      72 hour bags are very important! You covered this topic well! I like the reference about --->what is needed for your particular scenario is critical.<--- We should plan well for the area we live in. VERY nice lens!