What is a 72 Hour Kit?

A 72 hour kit is a disaster supply kit that is mean to sustain you and your family for up to three days, or 72 hours, following a large scale disaster. Local officials and relief workers will be aiding in the disaster, but they will not be able to reach everyone immediately. Basic services like electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, internet, and telephones may be cut off for several days. Alternatively, you may need to evacuate on a moments notice, so having a disaster kit ready to go will help you leave quickly and not leave important items behind. Kits are often referred to as: 72 hour kit, disaster kit, disaster supply kit, emergency kit, bug-out bag, go bags.

Each person in your family should have their own kit with customized items to their individual needs.

Basic 72 Hour Kit Supplies

The following items are recommended to include in your basic disaster supplies kit:

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food. More information can be found below.
  • Three-day supply of water – there is more information about water below.
  • Important documentation – there is more information about important documents below.
  • Extra cell phone battery or charger
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio that can receive NOAA Weather Radio tone alerts and extra batteries 
  • First aid kit
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air. 
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap
  • Non-sparking wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener if kit contains canned foods
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Local maps
  • Extra seasonal clothing
  • Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.
  • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
  • Other items to meet your unique family needs.

Additional 72 Hour Kit Supplies

  • Blankets, sleeping bags, pillows.
  •  Toys and games for children.
  •  Kitchen utensils 
  •  Camp stove
  •  Extra clothing
  • Rain gear
  •  Towels
  •  Work gloves
  •  Over the counter medication
  • Sanitation and cleaning materials

Kit Storage Location

Since a disaster can happen at any time, you should consider keeping an emergency kit at home, in your car, and at work.  

At Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept stored.  

At Work: This kit should be in one backpack or container, and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace. Make sure you have food and water in the kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances.

In Your Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should contain food, water, first aid supplies, flares, jumper cables, and seasonal supplies.

Maintaining Your 72 Hour Kit

Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some tips to keep your supplies ready and in good condition:

  • Check and rotate your materials every 6 months during daylights savings. Write the expiration date on all perishable items.
  • Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is cool.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life.
  • Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented, or corroded.
  • Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies.
  • Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family needs change.
  • Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack, or duffel bag.