72-Hour Survival Kit

In the case of a TEOTWAWKI event, your 72-hour survival kit is going to be the most important thing in your life. An apocalyptic event can come in a variety of different forms and you should prepare for the worst. This means planning for life without running water, electricity, heat or communications.


Experts recommend that you have a bag ready to help you survive the first three days. Once this period is over, all of the federal emergency systems should be in place and you should be able to get further help or will have found somewhere to make a more permanent base.

NOTE: In the event of an apocalyptic event (nuclear war, New Madrid earthquake, or other large-scale disaster affecting at least a good portion of the country), FEMA will NOT come to your rescue right away. In fact, it could be weeks or months, so a 72-hour survival kit does NOT take the place of long-term preparedness.

Ready to Go

Your 72-hour survival kit should be ready and accessible at all times. If the event is something like an earthquake or bombing strike, your house may not be the safest place for you, so your kit needs to be somewhere that you can access easily such as the garage or a room next to the front door.

The kit should also be stored in something with wheels as it is likely to be quite heavy, and it needs to be in something waterproof in case you need to take shelter outside in bad weather. A wheeled plastic storage bin will suit your needs, or you may choose to have it split up into small waterproof backpacks so you can share the load with your family.

What to Pack

While no absolute hard and fast rules determine what should go in your 72-hour survival kit, you will need to bear in mind the basic needs of humans for survival. You will need to feed and hydrate yourselves, keep everyone warm and sheltered and start to think about making contact with other survivors.

To help meet these needs, your 72 hour survival kit should include:

  • Water bottles — Anticipate one gallon of water per day per person. Put in more during the summer months as you are likely to sweat more, but bear in mind that each liter of water weighs a couple of pounds so you may want to think about simple water purification systems if you’re packing for a large number of people.
  • Food and cooking utensils — A simple gas cooking stove can mean the difference between life and death as you may need to heat all food to make sure it isn’t contaminated. Canned food is your best option as it will not spoil and stacks neatly. You can always worry about getting fresh fruit and vegetables once you have made it past the three days mark.
  • Survival blanket — A survival blanket, aka "space blanket," like plastic sheeting can have a variety of uses from providing you with somewhere dry to sleep to making temporary ponchos in case of severe weather. If you pack some rope, you can also turn it into a shelter if you are forced outside.
  • Radio and flashlight — These will help you to begin to think about the future as the government’s main communication tool in an apocalyptic event will be local radio broadcasts. The flashlight will help in all manner of situations after dark. Make sure that you either pack plenty of spare batteries of the right size or get hold of wind-up models of each so you can always power them.
  • Change of clothes — While you may be able to make a fire or find shelter somewhere, the chances are fairly high that you’ll get wet at some point in the first three days. A change of clothes will help keep you warm and dry which reduces your risk of catching an illness.

If you are still not sure about how to put together a 72-hour survival kit, you can order them pre-made online. You will need to specify how many people for whom you are preparing and what the local surroundings are like near your home so that the company can tailor your kit to your needs.

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