The 15-Minute 72-Hour Kit (repost)

Monday, March 21, 2011
***This is a post from March 2010. In light of the recent events in Japan, there has been increased interest in preparing 72-hour kits, so I'm reposting to make this one easier to find.***

The unprecedented scale of the recent disasters in Japan has gotten a lot of people thinking about emergency preparedness. While not officially part of the food storage program of the LDS Church, 72-hour kits are still great things to have as part of your emergency preparations.

I think we all understand the need for having one, but I think there are still a lot of people with many questions about what to include, how to put one together, and wondering how to start.

When you think about putting something together for an emergency, you naturally try to think of all the possible situations and what you would need in each one. And what starts out as a small list of survival basics can quickly turn into a huge storage container of "stuff" that you would want to have for X, Y and Z contingencies. Then it starts to get a little overwhelming - How do we gather all that stuff? How do we pay for all of it? What do we store it in? How are we going to carry it all? When are we going to find the time to put together this intensive emergency kit?

It doesn't have to be that way. I want to give you an idea for a simple, basic kit you can put together in about 15 minutes with stuff you probably already have around your house. Sure, this isn't the "deluxe" model, but this is fast, lightweight, easy, cheap and most importantly, it will still put you in a much better position in an emergency than having no preparations or kit at all!

So here goes...I started by just jotting down the things that, in an emergency situation, would be directly involved in sustaining or preserving life.

Here are the most basic concerns:
  • drinking water
  • wound care
  • basic sanitation
  • warmth
  • food
To that end, here's what I gathered up:

small backpack [this is a super el cheapo, only one main compartment, backpack]
bottled water [sure, it's not the recommended 3 gallons worth, but it's WAY better than none at all!]
small assortment of adhesive bandages
antiseptic wash [you could use alcohol wipes or iodine, I just couldn't find mine this afternoon]
antibiotic ointment
bar of soap
1 day's worth of food [I just grabbed 6 granola bars - simple, easy, no cooking involved, and easy to ration if needed]
small bottle or individual packets of pain reliever
roll of toilet paper
(for the gals) sanitary pads/tampons

That's it. That's all there is. It took me all of about 15 minutes to round up these items from around my house. Remember, this is not a deluxe kit - this is a bare basics, "only those thing that would be necessary to sustain life" kind of kit.

Sure, it would be nice to have a full change of clothes, or shampoo, or a folding shovel, or a portable toilet, etc., but those things are not absolutely necessary to sustain life. In the context of an emergency situation, those things are "luxuries" - you can survive without a change of clothes, you can survive with dirty hair, you can relieve yourself without having a sit-down portable toilet, you can spend the night without a tent...It wouldn't be pretty, and you might be downright miserable, but you'd survive.

But you CAN'T survive for very long without water. And if you have a wound that gets infected, you WON'T survive for very long without medical intervention.

Here it is all packed in the backpack. There was still a good 6 inches at the top of the backpack AND nothing in the small outside compartment, so you could add additional items if you wanted. All together, even with the water bottle inside the backpack, the entire thing only weighed 5lb 10oz!

The idea is just to give you an example of something quick and easy that you can put together without much expense and in very little time. If you don't have an emergency kit yet, make this your first! You can always add to this later. You can add additional items as time and finances allow. But even just this little basic kit will still get you much further ahead in an emergency than not having anything at all!

Use whatever you have on-hand right now in your home. Even if it's just a can of Diet Coke and a roll of toilet paper thrown in a plastic grocery bag and hung on a nail on the wall of your garage. SERIOSLY. It is still WAY better than having nothing at all!

Handout for the "15-Minute 72-Hour Kit"