PURPOSE AND CONTENTS OF THE PERSONAL
72 HOUR KIT
by Cope Reynolds
In turbulent times, we may be forced to leave our homes temporarily for a few days. Depending on circumstances, we may have to leave immediately at any time during the day or night and having the bare essentials at hand and ready to go at a moment’s notice may mean the difference between life or death to you and your loved ones.
We see all manner of lists that are suggested as necessary for a 72 hour kit. Many of these are unrealistically elaborate, expensive and heavy. Please bear in mind that a 72 hr. kit should be something that you can carry comfortably if you have to evacuate on foot and should contain only a minimal amount of items. All a healthy adult needs to SURVIVE comfortably for 72 hours is a change of clothes, a handful of Granola bars and 2-3 gallons of water. Anything beyond this should be considered carefully. Understanding that the possibility may exist for a longer stay than planned, here are a few suggestions for your kit. Keeping it minimal may even allow you to carry enough supplies for 96 hours or more instead of 72.
Two of the most important things to consider first are water and a comfortable means of carrying your supplies. A durable, comfortable backpack is certainly the best choice for our personal kit and some families may want to include a medium sized duffle bag for a certain amount of family items or things for the young or old that cannot carry a very big pack themselves.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay at or near your home, you should have plenty of water put away. If you have to leave on foot, you should make plans to carry at least enough for one day in your pack as 2-3 gallons of water would be too heavy for most people to carry along with the rest of their gear. Another option is to carry a water purification system or tablets to purify irrigation or rain water. Camelbak and HydraStorm make some outstanding packs of various sizes with built-in water bladders. There are military/law enforcement models and recreational models. The military versions are extremely well built and heavy duty but more expensive than the recreational models. An adult should be able to put everything needed in a pack with a cargo capacity of around 1800 to 2100 cubic inches. Children should have packs of from 750 to 1200 cubic inches depending on age and build. Naturally, the adults will have to carry a certain amount of the children’s gear but the children should be able to carry quite a bit of their own things. It is essential that families plan training outings of increasingly longer hikes at least monthly with increasingly heavier packs to be certain that all members are properly prepared.
The following is a list of items that should be included in your personal kit.
• Enough food to keep you reasonably comfortable, not full, for 3 days. The average adult should be able to get by on 2 MRE’s a day for 3 days. The more hardy and children might get by on one. The MRE’s should be stripped of non-essential weight by removing anything that you won’t eat or can’t use. Home-made meals can be a simple as Spam, jerky, dried fruit, crackers and Granola bars or something similar as long as it provides enough carbohydrates and protein to provide the energy to do whatever physical tasks are required for your situation. Add some chocolate and hard candy.
• One change of clothing with 2-3 pairs of socks and 2 extra changes of underwear. Long johns, jacket, coat, knit cap or ball cap, depending on season. Add a couple of large plastic garbage bags to keep your equipment dry and to store clothing and other items in.
• 2 space blankets and a couple of disposable ponchos should be adequate for shelter and sleeping in moderate weather for most people but others may want to include a light weight sleeping bag or a couple of blankets. Of course, additional provisions will have to be added for the very young, elderly and infirm.
• Small first aid kit – Various sizes of Band-aids, surgical gloves, topical ointment, pain reliever (Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, etc.), hydrocortisone cream, eye wash, gauze and tape, sterile compresses, elastic bandage, Super Glue gel, suture kit, tweezers, antiseptic wipes, betadine or iodine and burn cream. Additional items can be added for individual needs such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, etc. but keep it reasonable.
• Personal hygiene items (chapstick, sunscreen, toothbrush and paste, comb, hand towel, wash cloth, bar soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene items, etc.)
• Toilet paper and a few paper towels in a zip-lock bag.
• A small notebook and a pencil.
• Small sewing kit to include various sizes of safety pins.
• Waterproof matches and disposable lighter.
• Good quality flashlight and extra batteries. Also, a couple of large candles may be helpful. Preferably beeswax candles.
• GPS or compass.
• 25′ of 5/16″ or 3/8″ nylon rope or mule tape and at least 25′ of strong twine for securing additional items to your pack, building shelters, aiding in climbing walls or lowering your gear down an embankment, etc.
• A well-made multi-tool such as Leatherman or Gerber.
• Heavy duty non-folding knife and sharpening stone.
• A pair of inexpensive FRS radios and, if possible, a hand-held scanner
• Handgun and/or short barreled shotgun and ammunition for personal defense.
The above list of supplies will be more than enough to keep a person alive, comfortable and healthy for 3 to 5 days. Those that have trained and practiced for such an emergency may survive much longer by supplementing food when possible by hunting or scavenging and obtaining water through other sources.
The event or series of events that cause us to have to rely on our emergency kits could very well be a situation that may last much more than 3 days. Our 72 hour kit is primarily designed to provide us with enough supplies to sustain us for the time that it takes for emergency services to get organized. THIS WILL BE AN EMERGENCY, NOT A VACATION! Public utilities and transportation may be shut down or interrupted. Be prepared to make do without phone service, water, sewer and electricity. Stores, gas stations, schools and your job will likely be shut-down. Emergency services may be interrupted and hospitals full. It may also be prudent to seek training in first aid, land navigation, firearms use, edible plant recognition and ways to obtain water.
Long-term survival preparations are much different than what is listed above. Please don’t confuse the two and have a bunch of stuff that you can neither carry or use in 3 days. Mobility may be essential and most of us don’t have hand carts.
In Liberty, Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona