72-hour bags

72-Hour Bags Needed For Survival

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

72-hour bags used to be what you needed for survival, or so we thought for a very long time. I can’t remember when I first heard about 72-hour bags or 72-hour kits, but it has to be over 40 years ago. I think the American Red Cross recommended them, then churches, city, and county groups did as well. I remember telling you about the time Mark and I purchased a home in Farmington, Utah in 1983, and as we finished moving the rest of our belongings into the house, we knew the area was going to possibly be evacuated because of excess rainfall that caused the mountainside to slide down the hill. The city called Bountiful, Utah was starting to be flooded and they had evacuations as well.

What Do You Need For 72-Hour Bags?

Unfortunately, the families (hundreds) that did evacuate to the churches and schools did not bring any 72-hour bags or 72-hour  kits. We laughed about it weeks later because the community had been told to put one together. It’s not funny, it’s just that we called that a trial run that failed. I’m sure some did have the bags but didn’t think to bring them to the schools and churches where they could sleep if they were evacuated. Mark and I lived high above the flow of the water, so our home was okay, but we did help sandbag homes and clean mud from several houses that were not so lucky.

One of the many good things about Utah is the snowfall we get each winter. We feel blessed to have our beautiful mountains covered with white fluffy snow. That snow provides water for our communities as it melts the next spring and summer. Now, in the spring some years it’s been a little scary because if the snow melts too quickly the water coming down may start flooding in different neighborhoods. Thank goodness several cities have geared up after that 100-year storm we had in 1983 to divert and store the water.

I can’t even imagine how Texas is dealing with the devastation right now from Hurricane Harvey. It is not just Texas now, I understand, the damage is spreading to Mississippi and Louisiana according to the news we are hearing here. We are all donating money to help all the people and praying for all the emergency responders, families, etc.

I think the 72-hour bag is a thing of the past, don’t get me wrong, it’s fine, but to be honest, a 72-hour bag does not hold a lot of stuff. I’m not saying don’t put one together, Mark and I have ours ready to grab and go when needed. The picture above shows the bag of food, our 72-hour bags and I have our emergency binder as well. Those are the three evacuation items I would grab. I will grab the WaterBricks with water stored next to them as well. They are heavy and so is the water. I bought the bags with wheels. Yes, I’m a wimp and I own it. I used to be very strong, I’m just not as strong physically as I used to be.

72-Hour Bags

This is a very small list, but you will get an idea of some things to get you started. I have a long list here: Adult bags by Linda

Read More of My Articles  Depression vs Recession: Are You Prepared?


By now you know we need a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day to survive. I prefer four gallons per person per day, but that’s me. I highly recommend practicing carrying the water containers you have chosen to see how many you and your family can carry. They are heavy. My WaterBricks (3.5 gallons) each weigh about 27 pounds when filled with water. Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Food/Can Opener

Here’s the deal with food, only buy what you will eat. I grew up on Vienna sausages, nope they are not in my pack of food. I did buy some soups that I could add water to and cook at the school if they have power. If not, I purchased freeze-dried food I can eat right out of the can. Don’t forget a can opener. You may be the only one at your place of refuge who has one. 15 Foods You Should Be Dehydrating

Emergency Binder

I have talked about my FREE download for an emergency binder. If I’m asked to evacuate I’m not leaving without all of my important documents. Here’s the link if you missed it. It will be a PDF loading on the bottom of your computer on the left side.
Food Storage Moms FREE Printable Emergency Binder


I made tags for my 72-hour bags to remind me to get my prescriptions and my dog’s 72-hour bag. Here’s a link if you can use them. You basically add your name and phone number so people know who the bag belongs to in case you get separated from your bag. Plus, it will remind you to grab your prescriptions and your pet’s bag.

Free: Emergency Tags

Over The Counter Drugs

Now, these drugs could be in your first aid kit. But remember we can only carry so many things, so purchase small containers and have them available if you need them. If they are in your first aid kit, that’s awesome. 35 OTC Medications You Should Store

First Aid Kit

I have put together a list of first-aid kit ideas which is extremely long. When we are talking about our 72-hour bags you can only put so many items in that bag. Please check off the ones that you would need if all the stores and pharmacies are closed for a short period of time. This is a list I have for first aid supplies in my home: First Aid Kits by Linda First Aid Kits-What You Need To Survive

N-95 Masks/Non-latex gloves

If there is one thing I learned from taking the Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T) class, you must have N-95 or N-100 masks and non-latex gloves. We don’t know what we will be exposed to at a shelter if we need to be evacuated. The Pros and Cons of Wearing a Mask Long Term

N-95 Masks

Extra Clothes

I added some clean underwear, that’s about all I could squeeze into our 72-hour bags. If you have children you will need extra clothes and underwear, and don’t forget training pants and diapers if you have little ones around your house. It sounds like underwear and socks are needed in shelters after a storm. Throw in a few different sizes to share with others. Learn How To Wash Clothes During An Emergency

Personal Hygiene Stuff

If nothing else, I want to be able to brush my teeth and use some fresh deodorant. If I could wash my hair that would be awesome, throw in a small bottle of shampoo. A bar of soap in a plastic case would be fabulous for me. I never want to be without toilet paper so I have two rolls in mine and two rolls in Mark’s. Just think big here, those places of refuge will only have so much toilet paper, right? Please add a few items for women who may need sanitary supplies. It would be great to share with those in need at a shelter. Diapers are another thing. We will all need to help one another. 35 Essential Personal Hygiene Products You Need to Stock

Read More of My Articles  Flooding: Everything You Need to Know


I have a confession to make, I’m a snacker, so I have some granola bars and licorice in my stash. I rotate them every six months. I keep them in the house with my food bag shown above. Please add some of your favorite snacks. Those vending machines, if they work at the schools or areas we have to stay, will be expensive. Don’t Forget to Stock Your Favorite Snacks


Boredom will soon set in at any center, so a book you enjoy reading could be added to your bag. Some games that small groups could use will help take some of the stress off the chaos at hand. Using Headphones for Prepping

Flashlight/Headlamp/Multitask knife

I don’t know about you, but I hate the dark, so a flashlight is in my bag. I actually have one in each bag. Some use batteries that I rotate and some are solar and hand-crank flashlights. In our C.E.R.T. class, we were taught to always carry a good headlamp with extra batteries, which I rotate. I think everyone should have a multitask knife, right?

Garbage bags

You can never have too many garbage bags. If everyone brought two or three we would be able to move the trash outside the building. Remember, when things go south there will probably not be our weekly garbage pickup. Just making sure we all think about the trash building up inside the building. How to Prepare for the Threat of Garbage

Pet Supplies

If you have a pet, be sure and put together some 72-hour bags for them. Please keep a copy of medical records, and some dog or cat dishes with enough food to last a while. Please remember the cat will need a litter box and cat litter and lots of bags. Throw in some baggies for dog poop. We have to be real here, right? A reader suggested a crate and a blanket and a special toy our pets love to bring to centers. Ask your Vet if a tranquilizer is appropriate for your animals. What to do With Your Pets in an Emergency

Electronic Chargers

If at all possible if we can charge our phones that would be awesome to communicate with family outside our community. If you have an extra charger or two throw them in your 72-hour bags. Hopefully, somewhere we will be able to charge our phones, tablets, or laptops. How To Recharge Batteries With Solar For Survival

Foot Wear

Great comment from Jacque: One thing I noticed being glued to the TV and watching all the rescues, is that 1 in 3 people didn’t have adequate footwear if any at all. I remember my grandfather drilling into our heads the importance of dry clean feet whenever possible and having the right footwear. Maybe adding shoes, waders, hiking boots, etc to the list would be essential. Thank you for your post it helps to remind us to check and update our own BOBs.

Final Word

Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected. If you have some 72-hour bags you are one step ahead of the game. We need more than the above items if we’re going to be away from home for very long, but it’s a darn good start to being prepared. Please pray for all involved in the path of Hurricane Harvey. Thank you, and God bless this World, Linda

Similar Posts


  1. Back in the Federal Civil Defense Admin. days they recommended that everyone have a 14 day supply of food and water, sanitation, first aid supplies etc. When the Cold War was over they dropped it to 72hours as it would take that long for the federal govt relief efforts to spool up and get aid to an overwhelmed state. Having been a Federal responder I can tell you that those families that had preplanned and had their 72 hour kits for each member of the family where much better off and felt that they had some control over their situation. They were not hungry or thirsty for example. It is still a good idea to have 72 hour kits as a MINIMUM and continue to store non perishable food and water for long term emergencies as you have recommended.

    1. Hi John, thank you for this great comment. I love hearing the about the 14 day supply of water, food, etc. Now, I understand how the 72-hour bag came about, it totally makes sense. I LOVE the comment “they had control over their situation” because they were prepared with their own supplies. Excellent comment, thank you so much! Linda

      1. I did not explain the Cold War 14 day rule for food and water. It was believed that the radioactive fallout would decay to the point that limited trips outside your shelter would be possible. Also at the same time we had massive stores of wheat and corn–enough to feed everyone in the United States for one year. Today the USDA has NO stocks and their Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust gives grains away as fast as they are procured. We have no major food reserve at all today.

        1. Hi, John, I loved your comment the other day, I marched in and told my husband. I always wondered where the 72-hour kits started. But I guess it was really 14 days. Great information for me. You know, John, this really irritates me, why did the government stop stocking massive stores with wheat and corn? I totally believe our government via the USDA has nothing stored. I wish I could shout your comment from the rooftops!!! People we will be on our own, do you hear me??? I love your comment! Now I need to Google the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust. Thank you so much, Linda

  2. Thank you Linda,  I am going to rethink my bags and adjust accordingly.  We get over one storm and another on the way but hope it want head for Texas.  This list you have will help me a lot.   We made it through the storm without water getting in our home.

    1. Hi, Melba, I’m glad to hear you are safe and dry, we will all continue to pray for you and all everyone around you. This 500-year storm is catastrophic for all involved. I have the TV on all day watching the Weather Channel, I get emotional just writing this comment. The one thing I have noticed is the kindness to one another. May God bless all those families. Lunda

  3. I saw a facebook message post from a counselor working in Houston. They are desperate for underwear. I thought to my own kit and am going to add a few pairs. She said people simply don’t have a change of underwear and it is the one thing not donated. Also women’s sanitary supplies.

    Boy, doesn’t all of this bring it all home. Tonight I saw the lines to get fresh water. Miles and miles and hours of waiting…

    1. Hi Gayle, oh my gosh, this really does bring it all home. It’s a huge reminder to all of us we need to be prepared with the little things like clean underwear and women’s sanitary supplies. Even if we don;t need them, we can share with those that do. I have two or three diapers in both of our 72-hour kits. I know someone will be able to use them. The line to get water give me chills, I am glued to the weather channel. Great comment, Linda P.S. I’m adding women’s sanitary supplies to this post. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  4. I have noted, in the continuing coverage of rescues, that few people had backpacks (BOB’s) and appeared to have escaped with only the wet clothes they were wearing. Those images really drove home the importance of a prepared, easy to carry or wear Grab and Go bag. To arrive at a shelter wet, chilled, anxious with children or elders in tow must be overwhelming. The 72 hour bag offers security and comfort, a bit of home. A couple of shelter specific items that are requested…socks, hygiene items and I’d want my ear plugs and eye mask. Linda, thanks so much for all the information you provide.

    1. Hi, Charla, I’m adding some socks to my list, I can’t imagine being wet, shivering and arriving at a shelter and waiting for some water, food, etc. The stress level has to horrendous for the young and elderly especially. I live among several elderly people and they are so dependent on others. The little children would need something to help distract them once they got to a shelter if that’s even possible. A book, a game, oh the list goes on and on. Great comment, thank you so much, Linda

  5. I am in Houston and am in the worst of the flooding. I lost my home and cars. I had a 72 hour bag and was ready to evacuate which was by boat. The darndest thing is that all the rest of my preps are flooded and ruined along with my home. So if it is a fire or catastrophic flood, you will lose all your hard work and saving that you did in order to have long term preps. Those long term preps are only good in the face of economic crisis.

    1. Hi, Bill, oh I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your home and cars. This damage in Texas and the surrounding areas have made us all evaluate our lives, homes, cars, possessions and so much more. Your statement “those long term preps are only good in face of economic crisis” is so true. I think this storm has brought all of us to think about life a little differently now. I can’t even imagine what you are going through right now. Hugs from Utah, Linda

  6. One thing I noticed being glued to TV and watching all the rescues, is that 1 in 3 people didn’t have adequate footwear if any at all. I remember my grandfather drilling it into our heads the importance of dry clean feet whenever possible and having the right footwear. maybe adding shoes, waders, hiking boots, etc to the list would be essential. Thank you for your post it helps to remind us to check and update our own BOB’s.

    1. Along with good shoes — Socks, as noted above.  Chronically wet feet lead to problems.  Dry socks are important.  Also, antibacterial hand wipes, some baby wipes for hygiene, and no-water-needed shampoo.  There’s also no-water-needed body wash.  If stuck in a shelter for 3 or more days, cleanliness will be important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *