Let me begin by saying that I have a compulsive desire to have control over situations.  I don’t like it when grocery stores or oil prices dictate the price I’m supposed to pay for groceries, I struggle when the military tells my family where we’re going to live, heck, I’ll admit I don’t even like it when my sweet husband does the laundry because I’m afraid he’s going to bleach my favorite shirt or shrink my daughter’s pants.   “Hi, I’m Joanie Demer and I’m a control freak.”  Despite my self-diagnosed ‘handicap’, I will say that I’m learning not to dwell over things outside of my control:  the weather, traffic, people who wish me ill. . .

In the wake of the tragic stories coming from Japan, and the doomsday earthquake predictions being made regarding the west coast of North America (aka home, for me), I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t lost some sleep the last few nights thinking about what my family would do in the event of an big earthquake or Tsunami.  Now, I live on the coast in Tsunami-central, so I hope that my fear is not yours, but the truth is we might all do well to create a plan for how we would cope and provide for our families immediately following such a disaster.

I’m inviting you in to see my latest attempt at take back control over something as out-of-my-control as an earthquake!  After reading much (but not all) of FEMA’s Are You Ready? it is very clear that the government is telling the public that in the case of a major disaster, government aide will not be available to a mass group for approximately 3-days.  Logistically, it’s going to take at least that long; remember FEMA and the military are run by the same clowns elected officials that operate the DMV and Post Office [think long-lines].   If you or a loved one has a life-threatening injury, then hopefully you can be attended to by a professional, but for everyone else, who is displaced from homes or isolated for whatever reason, having emergency food, water, light, warmth and a few comforts will go a long way!

I put together a 72 hour kit for each member of my family, each stored in a backpack and kept in an easy place, in case there is ever a need to grab quickly and go!  The best part is, (and the reason I hoped the topic appropriate for KCL), I only spent about $20 per kit!  All of the foods we stockpile and get for free every week, are the perfect supplies you’ll want to create this sort of kit!  In case you’re interested in doing something similar, let me share some of what I included in each of my kits:

  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • Rain Poncho
  • Emergency blanket
  • First Aid kits
  • lighters
  • glow-sticks (dollar store)
  • hand-warmers (check Hunting supplies, on clearance at Kmart, others)
  • lightweight umbrellas
  • toilet paper (take the cardboard tube out and squish the roll flat in a ziploc bag)
  • complete change of clothes for each family member
  • Granola Bars, energy bars
  • Protein: jerky, tuna salad/crackers, tuna pouches (super-light, really long-shelf life!)
  • crackers, cookies, candy, gum
  • pudding cups
  • fruit cups, fruit leather
  • trail mix
  • raisins
  • juice boxes
  • instant oatmeal
  • toothbrushes, deodorant, lip balm, hair rubber bands (the real disaster would be you being all smelly and ugly with your hair in your face, right?)
  • 6-8 half liters of water (FEMA suggests at least 1 gallon per person per day, but that would be way too heavy to carry in a regular day-pack, so I’m going with the “something is better than nothing” on emergency water storage.)
  • We also have one wind-up radio for our family.

I’m also storing more water in my home (I use empty bleach containers.  Once the Clorox is all gone, you don’t even need to rinse the container, just fill it with water!)  Even though I have no control over natural disasters, I can feel a little bit more “in-control” when I get prepared.  I really see these emergency kits as being an extension of my extreme couponing.  I coupon-shop to stay debt-free and create savings: not only of money, but a savings or stockpile of food to sustain my home.  As many of you know, when my husband lost his job a few years ago, my stockpile sustained my family for 3 months!   This is just a mobile stockpile.  :)  It may not be for everyone, but since those who are already Krazy Coupon Ladies have many of these items in your stockpiles already, I thought some of you might like the idea of taking some parts of your stockpile “to-go”.

What else are you all doing as far as emergency preparedness goes?  I’m afraid to ask, because I’m sure the list is long, but what am I forgetting in my own kits?  I’d love to hear what you’re doing!  Hears to hoping that these kits never get used and rotating them can be my new annual chore!

Leave a Reply

190 thoughts on “72 Hour Kits: Emergency Preparedness on a Budget!”

  1. April says:

    Posted about this on my blog. Included a link. Can’t wait to get my kit started!!!

  2. Penny says:

    Buy backpacks at second hand stores. You can find them still in great shape for only a few dollars. Save all the free samples that you can! Definite space savers!

  3. Lili says:

    I am a beginner at this. Do you print all online coupons? There are so many of them, how you manage to print all?

  4. JESSICA says:

    I come from a long line of hunters and one thing we have always said is, if something ever happens we will be able to hunt for our food and live off the land!!! We always try to keep shotgun shells stocked up for all of our guns, to last us for long periods of time. Not only is it for hunting but for protecting our family and what is ours as well!! We also put gardens out every year to can and put different vegetables up in the freezer and it last us usually between a year to two years. I’m 26 years old and i was raised up to hunt for our meat and put gardens out for our vegetables. My 3 & 4 year old kids also love learning how to garden and my son absolutely LOVES going hunting with us. It teaches kids how to be responsible and how to live and feed their families, if something ever happens!!!

  5. Charisse says:

    1. Don’t forget about college kids!!! We sent our son back to school after Spring Break with a survival pack.

    2. Decide on a meeting place out of your immediate area where everyone knows to go if they get separated. (As well as a place for college kids to meet you).

    3. Designate a contact outside of the area so that if you can’t reach each other, you can get messages through that person.

    My husband is ex-military and is very impressed with this post/idea!!!

    Keep up the good work :)

  6. jenny says:

    we put water purification tablets(foundat walmart camping,kmart basspro) in each on of our packs just in case we run out of water, lord forbid, waterproof matches, first aid kit alcohol and other medical supplys we also bought a survival book just in case something happened to me and my hubby that our child could read til she got help. sounds nuts but you never know.

  7. kim h. says:

    has anyone mentioned adding a portable DVD Player to the list? Easy to transport in the car or backpack and it’s entertainment for the whole family to pass time.

  8. L says:

    I’m a government employee and I try to do a good job, so your comment stung, for sure! I was just surprised because the “clowns” thing just sounds pretty mean, which I didn’t expect because you are usually so positive. Anyway, I realize from your comments to a few other people that you didn’t mean it that way, but we (government) are people (and your readers) too!

  9. Heather says:

    We have worked on tweeking our 72 hour kits for years for five children, and have learned a few things. One, make sure clothes fit at least once a year – kids grow fast! We sealed food, clothing, toilet paper, etc in foodsaver bags so that they are waterproof, and added a safety letter opener to each backpack for easy opening. Who wants to be in an emergency situation to find that your food and clothes are wet and unusable? We also added card games, gum, copies of ID, and some cash just in case. I had a friend in an emergency situation who did not have access to tampons or pads during her period and had a horrible situation made worse because of it. I want to be sure that if my family is ever in an emergency we make it through as painlessly as possible for everyone!

  10. Jennifer says:

    Not sure if anyone else posted this idea, but these emergency kits would make great gifts – - they are very practical and while they aren’t really flashy, they take a lot of time/thought/organization to put together. I think those are the kind of gifts people really appreciate (at least I do!) Plus, if you are a KCL like most of us are, these won’t cost much. I think I’m going to stock up on the items I want to include and then set up an assembly line to put several of these kits together to give to family members and close friends for Christmas.

    • Charisse says:

      We vacuum sealed our items as well. Any batteries, matches, clothes, etc will be dry. The metal items will not rust. Not to mention that it removes the air making some items more compact. :)

  11. Katrina says:

    So, I was thinking of something to add to your kit… CASH! It wouldn’t hurt to throw in an extra $500 or so just to have just in case…

  12. Angela says:

    I have 72 hour kits also but I resently decovered shelf reliance foods. I know it is a whole lot cheaper to shop at Albertsons but I am loving the taste of the fruits and veggies from shelf reliance. And they are LIGHT WEIGHT!!! a small amount of water will reconstitute the food and many of the veggies are actually cheaper then regular store prices. The light wieght is the best winner for our families needs. Easy, quick and Delicious!!! qthrive.shelfreliance.com

  13. Laura says:

    Also check out thesurvivalpodcast.com, a daily hour-long message on prepping in order “to live that better life, whether times get tough, or even if they don’t.” Jack Spirko has 600+ podcasts on bugging out, sheltering in place, and building self-sufficiency into your life, not the least of which is learning how to grow your own food. Great resource for preppers.

  14. Amy says:

    I hate to be the one to say this, but it’s a valid concern. I would put a handgun and extra set or two of bullets in a safe place (not in or around the children’s kits) and just remember to grab them before leaving. My family and I helped hurricane Katrina victims and the stories we heard were too gut-wrenching to repeat here. When it comes to our children we need a means to protect them from cruel crazy people. If you must go to a centralized shelter of some sort with many people keep one hand on your kids and the other on your gun.

  15. Amy says:

    I have been in this mode to and found a ton of usefull information on survivalmom.com. They have very extensive lists of what to have in your 72hour kit. Also on another site somewhere a lady put a razor scooter in her husbands car with his 72hr kit/get home fast kit incase he had to abandon his car. Another great idea is to put an under the bed box in the car incase you can’t get to your bags. You could also suplement yor water there. Happy preparing.

  16. Amy C. says:

    Put Your Free Product Samples, Dental Floss, and Colgate Wisps in Your Emergency Kits!

    Given the amount of stuff you need to put in a go-bag, you’ll want to keep every piece as inexpensive and lightweight as possible. Manufacturer sample packets of shampoo are much lighter and less bulky than hotel mini-bottles of shampoo.

    Other samples great for a 72-hour kit:

    Maxi-pads (for a sterile way to stop wound bleeding)
    Medicine packets (painkillers, antacids, etc.)
    Food (mini boxes of cereal, granola bars, etc.)

    I recently replaced our travel toothbrushes with much smaller Colgate Wisps (that I got for free with coupons!). Unwaxed dental floss (also free!) can be used to sew up a ripped tent or torn clothing (just remember to pack some needles in different sizes).

    For more tips on reducing your carry load, check out websites on lightweight backpacking.

  17. Karen says:

    I totally believe that you didn’t mean to offend and i really, really appreciate all you do to help your community at large. I do have a sense of humor just probably didn’t pick up on your kidding through the written word. just want to make sure we appreciate everyone’s place in the horrible world of disaster response.

  18. Cindy says:

    So appreciate this post!! Thank you so much KCL for putting the effort into this. Wonderful thought and ideas!! I may just put together my own emergency kit…we too live on the West Coast…only 3 hours from Seattle.

  19. Amy says:

    A few little things to add…
    Scan and email copies of all important documents to yourself and one trusted family member – or copy them to a zip drive. Make sure to have a LAMINATED phone list kept in each backpack, along with a seperation scenario…for example if you and spouse get seperated, you try to meet at X location and call X friend or relative.
    Don’t count on having your cell phone with you, so having the phone numbers written down is huge! Having the list protected will be a blessing if anything gets wet or floods.
    Laminate a family picture, and pictures of each individual, including pets so each backpack has them. This can help with indentifying missing people as well as a bit of comfort if you are seperated.
    Cash is king, and make sure to have some smaller bills. Always keep a few bucks in your car too.

    Just a sidenote… you can also download all your photos from your computer onto the many online sites, then they will always be there even if your computer is lost!

  20. Bob says:

    I have read several articles about “Emergency Kits” and they all say not to use bleach bottles for two reasons; first they are not food grade plastic, and second it is too easy for your child to mistake a bottle cotiaining ALL bleach for the “water” bottle. I would rather be safe and use old Pop or “soda” bottles or just spend the money on commercial bottled water. I know we are all trying to save money by doing this coupon thing, but in preparing for an emergency I don’t want to have to stop and read which bottles I am grabbing with only 15 minutes to get out.

    I like the idea of having the emergency supplies in a shed in the yard, or in a designated place in the house or garage. Have it CLEARLY marked so it can be found NOW with no searching. I am thinking of putting ours in a rubbermaid container or something similar and painting it bright red or orange and using stencils, to mark it EMERGENCY KIT in black paint. That way ANYONE can find it and get it in the car in under 5 minutes. I also like the idea of having a kit in the car at all times, because it is true, you might not be at home when the emergency hits.

    Also, I had not thought of keeping supplies for our two cats in our kit, and will most definately get those in it, as I will be taking them with us if at all possible.

  21. Cbug says:

    I signed up for AllYou free sample emails. I use the samples in my kits.

  22. natalie says:

    Joanie, I just need to say I LOVE YOU!!! I also think we may have been seperated at birth.

  23. Jana says:

    I just read the part about storing water in bleach containers. Please do not drink that water, use it for handwashing, dishes, etc. The bleach is able to seep into the plastic and that can cause too much bleach to be in your drinking water. Please do some research on water storage. It could keep your kids from getting sick during an emergency.

  24. Athena says:

    There are water filtrating straws that you can get for your kit that will filter up to 20 gal of water. They are lite and small to fit into almost any kit. You can see and example here http://www.amazon.com/Aquamira-Frontier-Emergency-Filter-System/dp/B000OR115W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300646806&sr=8-1
    If anyone can find it cheaper let me know.
    Thank you for helping us all be aware of the need to be prepared.

  25. Jana says:

    I am happy to see your post! We live in a rural area with forest fires and have had to evacuate. Your packs are great, but are missing a few things. A change of clothes including socks and shoes are very important. Wet feet will make you miserable and can cause medical problems. A hat and sunscreen are also important. Be sure to rotate out food and clothing. Nothing worse then needing the bag and the clothing is two sizes too small for the kids.

    Each family should have an emergency bag with a full first aid kit in their vehicle that stays there year round. Start small. Teach your kids why you have the kits and what they are to used for. You can easily do this without scaring them. Practice using the bags and see what you need to add and what you can take out. Its a good start that you have going.

  26. 3little swimmers says:

    I live on the east coast and I always thought that nothing that bad could ever happen just because of where we live. Boy was I wrong!!! Ever since 9-11 I have realized that no one is untouchable by the effects of man or mother nature. Heck we had a propane business blow up less than a mile away from where we lived. Now we weren’t displaced like some other unfortunate people have been but it was an eye opening experience as to how unprepared I was for my family.

    Thank you for writing this post because I’m making my list now as to what to pull from my stockpile. I will say that I like all of the ideas that everyone has added even those things that you don’t even think of. The only thing that I would add is that even though there is so much violence and hate in this world we are all human and when it comes to tragedy and disasters somehow our overwhelming urge to help each other shines through. So for me on top of the five bags for my family and the ones for the dogs I’ll be making an extra one and who knows who it will ever help out.

  27. wendy says:

    Red Cross web sites are a good place to find accurate information.
    A battery run or crank radio is helpful. I believe the small bottle of Clorox recommended was to use if there was no other water source. Your local pharmacy will probably give you a dropper for free. You need a booklet about emergency first aid measures. It is tough to remember exactly what to do when under stress.

    Lucky me, I was given all my supplies from the Red Cross and my local PBS station when I made a TV program about emergency planning and being a caregiver. As a caregiver for others you have to figure out a plan for those in your care.

    Guess this is a good time to update my kits. Thanks for the reminder

  28. kelly@whatkellydidnext.com says:

    Fabulous ideas everyone! I will totally be using part of spring break to get this together. I love the idea of a rolling trash can in lieu of backpacks. Very portable and you could collect rain water in it when empty.

    Also love the idea of the flash drive and copies of important docs – wouldn’t have thought of that!

    Couple of additional items: extra contacts and solution, flares, newspaper (for fire), cold compress bags.

    Thanks KCL for starting the conversation!

  29. lisa says:

    I don’t live where alot happens. Come to think of it the only time something weather related happens is during the winter. Usually just power outages. So I really need to get the water stockpiled. Even if you can’t drink the water it is nice to be able to flush the toilet. When I was a kid we had to go without electric for 2 weeks in Febuary! Not fun. Thankfully we had a fireplace where we cooked and stayed warm. But my grandpa was the convience saver. Every morning he would go fill buckets, lots of them, with snow them set them around the room with the fireplace. By early evening they had melted enough we could us them to flush the toilets. My grandma even used some to heat up for us all to have little sponge baths. As for food, most of all we ate anyway was already canned or frozen. And we always had milk and eggs from the cows and chickens. Because my grandparents had grown up cooking on woodstoves and heating with such items they were okay with the 2 weeks of no conviences. I always looked backed on those 2 weeks as miserable. But I now think about what if I hadn’t had my g.parents around. Would I have been able to do as well. I hope to be able to. I think I’ll start saving some jugs. You never know When just flushing the toilet would make your day! lolol

  30. Amber says:

    I love that many of you are remembering the pets! One tip to add, if you have a standard size or larger dog, invest in a backpack made for dogs, they can help carry some of their own supplies if you end up on foot. Make sure to have them wear it on hikes or occasional walks so it is something they are used to. Sometimes it even helps break bad walking habits as dogs know when they are doing an important job!

  31. Charlene says:

    Along with packaged water, we have water bottles that take small chlorine tablets (of course we have some chloring tablets to go in them too), and that filter the water as it goes through the bottle, with those you can use almost any water source and make your own drinking water. Realistically it’s just not feasible to carry enough water to put it in a 72 hour pack, but if you need a 72 hour pack in most cases you are going to be going to a shelter where they will most likely (not always, but usually) have some water available.

  32. Mike says:

    We have our 72 Hour kits ready. For the water my wife and I purchased two 50 gallon blue plastic drums and a hand pump. We put about 1 TBS of bleach to keep it from going bad. This is mainly for washing, clothes, dishes etc.

    The biggest thing I have been doing in our kits is that I wear contacts and glasses. So I have my old pair of glasses and a couple pairs of contacts (still sealed) as well as contact solution. I figure if I can’t see I can’t help my family. Think outside the box. What can I put in my food storage and 72 hour kits that don’t take much space but will help me be more comfortable.

    Oh, and most importantly on clothes if you lost and/or gained weight and you have growing kids make sure you update each outfit every 6 months or so.

  33. Kaitlynn says:

    Something my family puts in them is something for the kids to do: games, coloring books or a couple of small toys.

  34. Kristi says:

    We were told to keep your gas tank as full as possible at all times in case you have to use your vehicle for the radio, cell charger, and/or heater.

    Also to have one person out of state for everyone to contact.

    Then a picture of each family member with name, date of birth, allergies on it in case you have to look for them or (God forbid) leave them somewhere injured.

    For comfort we have pictures of extended family and our cats (these are also in case we have to locate them after we come home).

  35. Shelia says:

    A few years ago after Katrina hit New Orleans, our Wal-Mart had the pre-made 72 hour prepardness kits on clearance. I purchased one to get an idea of what we might need. We have 2 coolers (coolers will float was my thought process) and the backpack ready to go. One cooler has noting but MRE’s and water, the other has batteries, paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, first aid items, toothbrushes & toothpaste, baby wipes, fem. hygiene products, hand santizer, water proof matches….etc…some things that I hadn’t thought of that were in in purchased kits were plastic gloves, masks to cover your nose and mouth (like construction people use to avoid dust), duct tape and plastic sheeting. It has been awhile since I have rotated the supplies, but the last week or so I have been thinking I need to make that a priority! Thanks for all you do and know you aren’t the only control freak out there =), we are with ya!! Thanks for all you do!!

  36. Staysea says:

    Duct tape! :)

  37. Roz V says:

    Learned from preparing for hurricanes in Fl that taking home pictures to show proof of personal property loss prior to a hurricane helped prove damages to my insurance company. Store in backpack in ziplock bags along with a copy of your homeowners policy.

    Also have filled gas cans ready for your car, propane tanks filled for grill. Lines at the pump, even days before are horrible, and gas runs out FAST!

  38. Kevin Barth says:

    Thanks for the post, and to everybody who has responded with such great suggestions.

    I live in an area relatively safe from natural disasters, but unfortunately we are a big, fat bullseye for potential terrorist attacks. So sheltering in place is more likely than bugging out to be of use around here. I have my water stored up (in unopened 5-gallon bottles from the local bottled water delivery country), and am building my modest stockpiles of food and sundries. Would be very interested in hearing from like-minded individuals, especially those who want to share their tips for storing things in relatively little space (I’m an apartment-dweller, and don’t see that changing any time soon…).

  39. Christie says:

    Just last week I picked up a bunch of very study backpacks at the Bargain Barn behind Goodwill in a cart sale for this very purpose!

  40. Ashley says:


    • Paula says:

      I was thinking the same thing about my dogs! If we had to grab and go, my dogs would be with me. You can easily measure out food for a few days and keep it in a freezer zip top bag.

  41. lindsey says:

    In my bag, I included maxipads, as I also have a teenage daughter.
    In hubby’s bag I included a phone#list, knife, and a small camping cookwear set.

  42. 4joaquin says:

    don’t forget a wind up phone charger! They are small, inexpensive and great for travel or camping too.

  43. Nici says:

    Thanks for publisihng this! As a person who lives in a hurricane zone (OBX NC) and a nurse who also has “control issues” I too like to have an emergency kit ready. I didn’t read all the posts and hope I don’t duplicate but a few things I would add are….

    1.medications, tylenol, ibuprophen, benadryl….in age appropriate doses of course. we have 3 kids (13, 9, and 2 months) so in my kit I have adult, junior and infant strengths.

    2. be sure your first aid kit has not only bandaids and antibiotic ointment but larger dressings as well, if, God forbid, a major injury did occur. also be sure it has a little card in it or print one off online that explains basic first aid, and medication dosage if possible, it sounds silly but many people do not have basic first aid knowledge….especially in a stressfull situation.

    3. many people will “shelter in place” so like many of the other posts said be sure you have ample water supplies avaliable at your home for drinking and cleaning. if you must evacuate and are on foot have a plan for where your going to go and how your going to get there…..this place should be a well fortified place that will (hopefully) have access to water and a back up generator, like a hospital. but no matter where you shelter be sure you have a plan for waste removal (we all know what I’m talking about ;) remember, the plague was spread by improper waste disposal and contamination and a natural desaster leaves the door wide open for that sort of thing!

    and don’t forget, when all else fails common sence prevails……don’t be the last one standing on a sinking island because you didn’t want to look foolish for evacuating.

  44. Beatrice Rivera says:

    Thank You All!! For all the tips and ideas. The one thing I need to address today is my pets. We have one dog and two cats. They have their food, treats, toys, etc… OMG!! But in a major disaster my cats would freak out and run. They are indoor only! Do not wear a collar and only use their carrier when they go to the vet’s. Any Tips?

    • Kristi says:

      Our cats are indoor/outdoor and don’t wear collars but I packed food for them anyway. My plan is that if we do have to run and I can’t grab them I’m going to dump all the dry food out for them and hope for the best. I do pack the foil envelopes of wet food and a ziplock of dry food in the event that I do grab either or both of them.

    • LIssa says:

      In the case of cats, only so much can be done as they do freak out and hide/run. Make a joint backpack kit for all the pets with collapsible food/water bowls, dry food, water purification tablets, a 1mo supply of any prescription meds, an extra harness(more secure than collars, esp. when they may needed to be tied to objects for extended periods of time if evacuated)/slipleash, important vet records, a favorite toy, maybe a chewie. For cats w/ carriers, put 2 pillowcases in the carrier, either as bedding or under a towel/other bedding. The pillowcase can be used as a “carrier” in an emergency. If you can’t get the cat into the carrier or need to take it out to clean the carrier, drop/stuff the cat into the pillowcase and tie it shut. Obviously, don’t leave them in there too long without some air breaks! But this is safe and doesn’t carry the association that cats have for carriers. You can dump the cat into the pillowcase and grab the backpack/carrier (or just the backpack) and run….stuffing the cat in pillowcase into the carrier. Or if managing carriers isn’t possible, make sure to have a cat harness (instead of a collar) & leash in the backpack, the cats can be tethered with the harnesses on to objects.

      ALSO, ALL pets should be microchipped. Make sure to register the microchip and include an emergency contact that is out of area. That way if you are separated from your pet, if it ends up getting rescued, the rescue workers will be able to find you. Make sure the emergency contact has any pertinent vet info to relay to the rescue workers.

      If the cats hide and you can’t get them, leave doors/windows open, fill some bowls/pans with water, and dump a bunch of food on the floor and get out. The worst thing you can do is get injured or lock your pet into the house. Thousands of pets died in Katrina because their owners left them closed into houses thinking they would be able to get back to them and that they would be kept safe inside…..only to die of starvation or flooding.

      I have 2 dogs and 3 cats and live alone. I am so totally screwed in case of a sudden evacuation or severe disaster. The dogs are easy to grab and for the cats, I have a rubbermaid container on wheels that I would stuff each cat in a pillowcase and then dump them in the container for transport. Once safely away, I’d get harnesses onto the cats for control and use the rubbermaid as their kennel.

  45. Laura says:

    Haven’t read all the posts so hope I don’t duplicate, but there are LOTS of 72-hour kits on the market, google the same and check out their associated lists of items (google emergency essentials, nitropak.com). Also check out “Every Day Carry” for items you should have on hand at any time. And don’t forget extra gas for the car in case gas stations are rationing supplies or gas becomes unavailable. However, gas doesn’t keep for a long time, so supplies need to be rotated regularly. Water is one of the most important necessities…don’t skimp on it. If it doesn’t fit in your backpack, go to Wal-Mart and get a 7 gallon food-grade container to keep with your backpack. And treat it with bleach as indicated above to keep safe.

  46. carol q says:

    what about if u get ur period??? lol seriously we always get it at the WRONG times dont we lol

  47. shannon says:

    i didnt have time to read all the comments but i just wanted to suggest storing your blankets, flash lights, and radio and such in ziplock bags. and another suggestion which may or may not be useful is hand sanitizer or soap.

  48. Darryl Dote says:

    I know that they may not be exactly cheap, but here in earthquake country, we were told that putting our supplies in a Rubbermaid storage shed or trashcan in the back yard is a really good idea, especially since if your house (God forbid) collapses, you’ll have easy access to your supplies. Another recommendation is to keep a flat of bottled water in the trunk of your car, as well as your supply backpack, since earthquakes and disasters don’t always happen when you’re at home.

    On another note, since cell service and phone service is seeming to be spotty in Japan, the recommendation is to have a contact out of state that everyone should call or try to contact. That way everyone has one central place to check in that’s hopefully unaffected, keeping phone lines clear and allowing for better communication.

    Hope that we won’t have to use these plans, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

    • Melissa says:

      So glad about this idea! I have been wondering ‘what if you can’t get in your house to get your stuff’ while reading all these posts. I think keeping your kit away from a structure (in the yard) is really one of the best ideas. Also keep as much stuff in the car in case you can’t get home.
      As for what to keep in the kits, pretty much everything has been said except only 2 people have mentioned knives (weapons). I hate to be negative, but I think each adult/teen should have a way of defense. There may be a chance that other survivors really want the supplies you have and want to take it from you by any means…suffering causes people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t.

  49. KarenTX says:

    CHEAP BACKPACKS can be found at WalMart even at this time of year. I teach kindergarten and keep a stash of extra ones for my little friends and, also, use them as take-home kits. I buy the smaller ones for $3.00 all the time. They are usually in the purse/bag section. These would be a great size for little guys and gals. I keep my daughters old one each year for things like this. She’s in Jr. High and her backpacks are bigger and will hold our adult size items plus all the extras.
    Hope this helps!
    Now I have to get busy and get our repacked!

  50. Jessica says:

    We store ours next to the sleeping bags. One thing I have done to “rotate” is in the middle of summer tell the kids (out of the blue to them bu I have been prepared) there has been an emergency and we have 10 minutes to leave. They have to grab their sleeping bag and back pack. We drive up into the mountains and go camping for three days. All they have to eat for those days is what they have in their backpack. Of course I did have two cases of water in the back of our van and a tent before we left. Don’t forget a paper and pencil to write down any changes you would make and anything you did not have that you should have (we also pack an extra set of clothes make sure they fit). Go home and repack your bags with new items. Nice to see the outcome of your preparedness without a real disaster.

  51. mary m says:

    This post makes me think of 5th grade when my awesome teacher had us make survival kits…Except it all fit into a tin band-aid container. So they were super basic with waterproof matches, twine, razor blade, folded up plastic etc.

    This does make me want to get something put together. Being on the west coast means we are at a risk for an earthquake, and if you read all the hyped up news, Oregon/Washington needs a big one….

    It seems like the bags you put together have a huge amount of food. I’d make more space for water, as it’s more vital than the food is.

    And while I’d love to have these available in my car as well as my home, having 4 in the trunk would take up atleast a 1/4 of it! So that’s not possible. Luckily I work less than 2 blocks away, and the school is 2 blocks the other direction. So if anything were to happen, there is a very good chance we’d be somewhere near by…

    • Sheila M. says:

      Thanks for triggering the grade school memory mary m. We made our survival kit during ‘Outdoor Education Camp’ and it fit into a film canister. I remember the match, fishing line, foil, and a bouillon cube. Time to upsize my survival kit.

  52. Tara says:

    I also started throwing in my pack all the free samples I have been getting in the mail thanks to FreeSampleFreak.com. All of these little samples weigh next to nothing, but add minor luxuries such as nice shampoo, lotion, dog food, mini hair spray, dental floss (which is super strong and can be used for many things), instant coffee, small packets of vitamins, toothpaste, etc.
    P.S. definitely don’t forget to pack toothbrushes & an extra pair of glasses & a mirror(for reflecting light, starting fire or whatever you want it for).

  53. Laura says:

    I have always kept canned or powdered milk on hand as an emergency. I would also add a small sewing kit amd safety pins to the pack. We used to live in the Dakotas and kept chocolate, trail mix, jerky, emergency blankets and water in the car, just in case we got caught in a blizzard while driving.

  54. Jennifer says:

    Also things to include – 50ft rope, extra batteries (even if radio or flashlight is hand crank) dusk masks, multi tool knife, and a sewing kit

  55. Alynn says:

    Great tips. I just wanted to tell you that I have a friend whose family is in Sendai, the hardest hit area in Japan. He said that his family was surviving because they and a few others had food storage to eat. They don’t have to rely on the government aid for food (which has been very slow to get there) He said that having food storage (ie:stockpile) has been such a blessing from God”
    Also when we did our kits we got rolling bags for our kids beacause we know they will get tired if they have to carry them. Also you could use a 5 gallon bucket for one member of your family so that you would have a bathroom to use!

  56. Tara says:

    OK here’s some extras that may or may not have already been mentioned: A screwdriver with the changing tips to use for various tasks, rubber gloves to prevent infection if you are treating a wound, pliers, can opener, small fishing kit (very inexpensive), a jar of Peanut Butter in each (it is the perfect food to sustain you for several days and lasts for a very long time), beanie hats, a couple pairs of underwear (you’ll be very greatful to have a pair of underpants to wear while a 2nd is drying), small sewing kit, collapsible bowl for collecting water or washing or serving food in, pocket knife, scissors, permanent marker, whistle (because even when you can yell for help no more, you can also blow a whistle), salt (it helps cure meat and make stuff taste better), wet wipes, small bars of soap (soap is often a tradable commodity), bouncy balls for the kids to have something to play with without taking up room and weight, so much more. Try watching “The colony” from time to time to see just what items become important or necessary. It’s interesting the things we don’t think of until we don’t have them.

    • Amy C. says:

      Great idea, Tara, about watching “The Colony”. I haven’t seen it yet, but now I’ve got a reason to.

      Mantracker is another good show for picking up some survival tips. Louis L’Amour books (westerns) are another great source for survival tips – they’re a fun, quick read.

  57. Kim says:

    I would put a pack of wet wipes in each backpack…
    I love the idea of the flashdrive with all the important documents and photos :)
    I would also suggest some plastic gloves.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Great idea on the flash drive. I’m going to fill one up with all my important documents and pics today. I might even scan my insurance card and contact info and add that.

  58. Xenia says:

    Another great thing that i’m going to add to mine is those litle Tide trial packs. One in each back pack, they’re super small and light weight and go a long way in washing clothes.

    • Letty says:

      I think those travel sized Tide packets are an awesome idea! Especially since we generally get them for free after coupons! :)

  59. Samantha says:

    This is such a great idea!! Got me thinking if something happened I am not prepared, which is so scary to think about!! I’ll be making up a kit tomorrow!! I’d suggest if you have a family pet maybe adding a little something in there for him or her to eat.

  60. Elizabeth says:

    A few extra things i added to our kits are water purification tabs, zip ties, a 7 in 1 tool, dust masks, and sterno fuel mini stoves. That way i can include rice, pasta and boullion for fuller more filling meals. I also included a few rx pain pills and infection antibiotics-in a natural disaster those will come in handy!

  61. amber says:

    I dont know why some people are so worried about the bleach bottles. Honestly if a disaster happens- you wont care where the water came from- you will just be lucky you have any at all.

  62. Nerisa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this great and useful idea. I will share this with everyone I am able to. This is a scary time with all that is going in the world but the more we prepare ourselves and have faith the more we can lighten our burdens to give it to The Father.

    I know everyone may not be religious but know that the same principle of respect and love for life in general in God’s word is the same we all share. And I pray that we all hold our loved ones near and to really start to appreciate moments shared that we so take for granted.

    Thank you again for the post, May God sheld us with his love and healing arms during these trials in our nation and worldwide.

  63. Laci says:

    Awesome ideas. Gave my inspiration to do the same thing. I am going to start working on my families diaster kits first thing in the morning.

  64. Cameo says:

    Thanks, KCL for posting these tips. These exact things are on my mind and it’s a big project to get together so I appreciate your every word! I do want to say that while you have a 72-hour kit, great start. You actually need a TWO WEEK kit for home, and that handy 72-hour kit in easily identifiable backpacks to “grab-and-go” in the event of an evacuation. The two-week kit is to prepare you until the government comes through. Look at Hurricane Katrina for your example. People were stranded for WEEKS before government responded. Thank you again. One step at a time, and you are getting me to step 1, 72 hour kit.

    • Cameo says:

      I should revise my comment. KCL and others who have been at this awhile are definitely prepared (as you mentioned, three months when your hubby was out of work). But for the general public and those here without a stock that size yet, a minimum of 2 weeks to sustain you.

  65. Gille says:

    Thanks for posting this! I need to get the kits together and the house together. My brain is definitely going on this now!

  66. Angel says:

    We have to leave often for hurricanes & one thing not mentioned is cash. Sometimes everything will be down or jammed & this way you can still buy gas to get out if needed. So having some cash on hand is a must.

  67. Maddy says:

    This is a really nice idea. I’m gonna do this! I wonder where to get the cheap backpack. thanks for sharing this stuff!!!!! This is a really nice idea.

  68. princesskaraoke says:

    I Live in Southern California, so when we had the fires, my mom made us have emergency backpacks. I have a flash drive with all my important information scanned as well as cherished pictures. I put as much information as possible on my flash drive since it is lightweight and fit anywhere.

  69. michelle says:

    some other things to keep in mind
    Prescription Medication, surgical mask, pocket knife, scissors, umbrella, duck tape. keep cash in small bills. Also a photo of each family member.

  70. Melissa says:

    Goodwill for backpacks, luggage and various other storage containers ANY time of year!

  71. Suzanne says:

    What a great idea! I would like to start these emergency backpacks and was wondering if I had a coupon that I wanted to use, is there a website/link that will tell which store has that particular item on sale? How often do you rotate the food items?

  72. Randa says:

    What a great idea! I love what others have added, too :) One other thing I thought of is any medication family members might be taking that can be stored for awhile…such as pain relievers, antacid pills, allergy medicine, cold and cough medicine, etc. Also, maybe some cash, one never knows. I will be making my family’s emergency kit very soon!

  73. Kimberly says:

    Hey, my mother is one of those “clowns” who run the DMV :o) LoL I am just kidding… My mom really does work there but the state changes things so much the employees can’t keep up. I think the employees take all the slack for the states ignorance!

  74. trina says:

    Ensure is a good source of protien and easy to carry

    • Casey says:

      Another option could be just some protein powder in a baggie, mix w/ H2O and drink…probably a bit easier to carry

  75. Heather says:

    I work in disaster preparedness for historical documents and vital records. One of the key items we teach folks about is having information readily available. In this plugged in society we can really lose touch quickly. One suggestion is to have a crank flashlight or radio that also is a cell phone charger, that way you can always have a line of communication. If you don’t know how to text message, practice now. In a major disaster like an earthquake or hurricane, traditional lines tend to go down or get overloaded. Text messages operate on a different bandwidth so you can generally send and recieve texts when you cannot make a call. Another great resource is a pocket reponse plan and for those of us who love a good bargain- it’s price tag is only the piece of paper and ink to print it. You’ll want to include emergency contacts for family and friends, important records like medicines, allergies, where neighborhood shelters or aid stations are typically set up etc. Type it, fold it, and put it in your preparedness kit, your wallet, your glove box. You never know when having that information at your fingertips could prove valuable. The Council of State Archivists has a great template on their website for a Pocket Response Plan or PReP. It is geared for archives but since it is a word document it is easily modified for your own use. Not that you should live in fear but for every minute of preparedness you take now, you stave off disaster just a little!

  76. Julie says:

    I didn’t realize it was safe to store water in an empty bleach bottle. Is this for drinking or just to have water? Very good ideas though, Thank you very much!

  77. Seanna says:

    I would suggest adding baby wipes, sanitary wipes, towels, and hand sanitizer.

  78. Terri says:

    I take everything that doesn’t need to get wet and put into the vacuum seal bags that are now also water proof and vacuum them them very small put each persons name on them inside the container just incase water got to it.We also carr plenty of the self stick bandage, I’ve actually found great coupon deals at Publixs.

  79. stacy says:

    I live in Florida and during the hurricane season in 04 we were hit with 3 hurricanes back to back. We went without electricity for 5 days. I wished that I had had a emergency pack like you have put together. The only other suggestions I can recommend is that you put a box of ziplock bags in your kit. There is hundreds of uses that you can do with them.

  80. Kristi says:

    Feminine supplies and kids games like UNO are other great ideas to add to your kits.

  81. Laura says:

    RE: Water

    Inside your backpacks, make sure you check the water bottles once so often to ensure they’re tightly sealed still. Same with any other liquids.

    I speak from experience. We had a kit in our basement for tornado season (gotta love tornado alley!) While the container was protected, a water bottle inside the bucket leaked somehow and ruined everything I had inside the container with mold.

  82. lee teasdale says:

    I agree with Roni. It might be important to have important papers on hand. I took everything out of my wallet, and photocopied it.Front and back. Now you have a copy of drivers license, social security, credit cards,passport etc.(This is also a good idea in case your wallet gets lost or stolen!) You might also like a list of your bank accounts, birth and marriage certs and such. If a disaster strikes, you would be able to reconstruct your accounts. We also keep a small stash of cash, in case the ATM’s are down. Money always helps.

  83. dee says:

    having worked as a medic/nurse and have taken classes for biological and chemical warfare. I can tell you please add to this list atleast 2 extra pairs of socks…if your feet get wet or sweaty and start to get sores u are a burden to your loved ones., Plus socks can be used to tie things…use as medical bandages and so on. I also beg ya’ll to learn how to clean water..you can purchase pills but these will only last so long!..using ash/dirt/coal/sand/osmosis and many other ways you can take the most horrid water and turn it into drinking water. also read online or pick up a book on your local wild plants that can be eaten as well as bugs…yes bugs! and learn to know them on sight. I hate to add this but please read up on what to do after a nuclear disaster…did you know you can still eat animals? well you can..just not the meat near the bones or the skin that would hold nuclear dust…please know these things!…and pray to whomever it is you pray to we never need to use the knowledge…Dee

    • dee says:

      also forgot to add…whistles to every emergency kit…if seperated do to say a tornado….they can be used if trapped..wear these around your necks incase of any kind of emergency..dee

  84. Estera says:

    This is awsome, thanks for the ideas and reminder to update my emergency kids. I put them together about 2 yrs ago but have not touched them since :)

    I too would like to know where to get CHEAP backpacks this time of year ? I could use a few extra for other family members.

    Thanks for all you do!

  85. Laura says:

    Oops, read over your article again. Missed the first aid supplies on your list. =}

  86. Emily says:

    Great post! I need to make a kit, I just didn’t know where to start. I think some small things of sunscreen and bug repellent in case you’re stuck outside. Also, travel size shampoo, etc. You can find them at the dollar store.
    If your pregnant, maybe add a very basic homebirth kit in case your planning a homebirth or if your planning a hospital birth but get stuck and can’t get to a hospital. DH and I are hoping for baby #2 in the next year and want a home birth, so that stuff would be in my kit. As for where to buy back packs- Goodwill store, other resale shops, Walmart or Target, etc right after school goes back in to session would be good places to buy.

    • Amy C. says:

      Disasters and Preterm Birth Risk

      Great point about the “birth kit”, even if you’re in your first trimester. As the mother of 3 preemies (now ages 14, 13, and 5), I’ve learned preterm birth can be triggered by extreme stress or dehydration – two factors present in any disaster situation. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep one birthing kit in your car and one at home.

  87. CarrieD says:

    You should add a little bit of cash to each backpack. $1s and a few $5s they say is what you should have.

  88. Melissa Hawkins says:

    It’s a great idea for everyone no matter where you live! If earthquakes or tsunamis aren’t likely in your area, chances are hurricanes or tornados are! Whatever the threat, tailor your emergency stockpile for your families needs. The bleach bottles are a great idea! A bleach solution is what you would use to sterilize the empty bottle with anyway, and adding a tiny amount to a jug of water helps keep it clean for longer periods of time. I have forgotten the exact ratio, so do your homework! Thanks, Joanie for the timely reminder to be prepared!

  89. Clothesline and clothespins so you can wash your clothes and dry them

  90. Mama Bear says:

    Also, concerning water storage…..

    For tap water that is treated and not well water you do not need to add any kind of bleach. You can store it in an empty 2 liter (clear) bottle or juice bottles. I do not recommend milk jugs. Tempting, but the plastic is just too thin and it breaks down, causing leaks.

    If you do not have treated water, or if some reason you are told to boil or sterilize water and do not have the means to do so you can follow the following:
    Add two drops of Clorox bleach for each quart of water, eight drops of Clorox bleach for each gallon of water or ½ tsp of regular Clorox bleach per 5 gallons of water. If the water is visibly cloudy, double the amount of Clorox.

    Make sure it’s PLAIN bleach…not scented….could kill you! :)

  91. Laura says:

    Great article, thank you! I need to get out our  emergency kit and restock. I’m sad to say that it has been too long since I rotated supplies.

    Some other things in my kit:
    First aid supplies
    Pain relievers
    A small amount of plates, cups silverware
    Peanut butter and jelly
    Swiss army knife (with all the goodies)

    I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow!

  92. MamaBear says:

    Kudos to you KCL for posting this! You would be amazed how many people DON’T have a “Go Bag”. I have started packing ours this week. We had rolling black outs a few months ago, people with freezing water and a water ban. I realized how unprepared I was. Then I got thinking about my (little) coupon stockpile and how wonderful it is. I was also quite upset when people were bashing your stockpile. I’ll bet ifthere was an emergency and you had to stay in your house as opposed to evacuate, you would be set for months! I’m envious of that! Keep on stockpiling and posting things like this.

    I would also include lots of paper and crayons or markers in kids go bags as well as a pair of sturdy shoes—even if that means a Goodwill trip for a second hand pair.

    I admit I’m a control freak too….and right now I hate where the army sent me, but I’m making the most of it and you’re helping me learn how to stockpile on the cheap! :) Thank you!

  93. Rachael says:

    A change of clothes or at least socks and underwear. And a multitool. Also, something to entertain the kids, crayons, coloring books, maybe even a small stuffed toy for comfort. We’ve had our kits since Katrina. We live in tornado alley so when the sirens go off we grab the bags and hide.

  94. Casey says:

    Awesome that you put this stuff together.

    I consider myself a bit of an amateur survivalist, so I have a couple ideas for you to get the most from your kits.

    One thing that you should probably consider is some sort of fire starter that you can keep dry. It’s not necessary in “normal” conditions, but if you lose power or get stranded somewhere, you’ll need fire to cook and/or heat up, whether it’s on your home grill or in the wild. The easiest option would be a lighter, but you could also go with waterproof matches or a firesteel. Also, some cotton balls covered in Vaseline (store in a mini-Ziploc) are a great firestarter.

    A small pot. Can’t cook oatmeal or anything else without a container to cook it in.

    A small address book with names, numbers, and addresses of your friends/family. If you need to evacuate, you might not have access to all this,or remember it if cell phone loses charge. Also, may want to get a map just in case.

    Also, 1 more suggestion is to check the Walgreen’s clearance section whenever you go in. I recently bought 5 hand crank flashlight/radio combos for about $1.75 each (from $7.99). Also grabbed 10 boxes of 10 Tea light candles for $0.25 each. If you’re stranded and need to light a fire, always light a candle first. If you’ve tried to light a fire with a match, you know sometimes it can take several tries. But if you light a candle, it takes one try and you can then light the fire from that flame, so tea lights area good inclusion.

    Long-winded I know, but hope some of those ideas help.

  95. Deidra says:

    Great list…thanks for posting. Some ideas I have are: medicines that are taken on a regular basis, copies of personal documents that are sealed in zip-type plastic bags (photo I.D., emergency phone numbers, social security numbers, insurance cards, etc.), plastic utensils, hand sanitizer, some money in small bills and coins, bug repellent (I live in the South where the mosquitoes will carry you away!).

  96. Courtney says:

    I copped out and ordered a ready made 72 hour family emergency kit a little over a year ago but your homemade one is great!
    A few things I would add:
    basic medications: Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Neosporin; ace bandage wrap for lesions/lacerations; hard candy to keep blood glucose elevated in case of a dire emergency, and potasium iodide tablets to protect your thyroid in case of a nuclear event. Also, copies of all members of yoru family’s birth certificates and your marriage certficate. Passports, if you have them, should be kept in or very close to your emergency kits. Also, have a copy of your family’s emergency meet-up location(s) in each backpack in case you guys get split up at some point.
    This is one of my favorite sites to get info from because it’s put into easy “mommy-friendly” reading for me :)

  97. Taylor says:

    I applause your efforts…..One thing I would like to also suggest is having a emergency kit in you car at all times also. We keep back packs in our car just in case. With flash light, first aid items, a litter of water, change of clothes, non perishable small food items, hand sanitizer, empty metal can ( if you put hand sanitizer in can and light it you have a heat source / cooking source omits no carbon) emergency blanket. We customize ours according to our needs. These are just some ideas. One never knows when one might need it.

  98. mpn says:

    With all due respect, the DMV and FEMA are run by different entities. FEMA is federal and the DMV is usually county government.

  99. Anita says:

    We keep most of what you already thought of plus peanut butter and MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat)

  100. Jimmie says:

    I think this is great but I think I would add a plastic clothesline and a few plastic clothespins just so you can rinse and hang up dirty clothes.

  101. Sara D. says:

    Here is a question about the water in the bleach bottles. Will it hold up better in the garage during the summer? It doesn’t get super hot in there but hot enough that the regular jugs of water you can buy start to leak. Drives me nuts!

    • Joanie says:

      I’m not sure of the answer, to be honest. I know that a cool place is ideal. You can use empty 2-Liter soda bottles too; I’ve read that you should just put in a cap full of bleach in with the water, if using other bottles. I had a friend who kept a bunch of bottles in her crawl space. Interesting idea, I thought.

  102. Casandra says:

    You did such a good job. I have been told to set this stuff up for years, using the pre-packaged foods. You did great putting your own kits together, to fit in a backpack, it is stuff your kids will eat and will be happy with. You also gave me some really good ideas. I will re-post this on my blog with your logo!

  103. Sarah M. says:

    And don’t forget some cans or packets of food for the pets :)

  104. Karrie H. says:

    Just thought I’d add, if you’ve got pets, you might wanna grab a backpack for them, as well. I would think that the kit should include any vet records, pet meds, collars, leashes,doodie bags, chewies for boredom, food and water for pets, too! Maybe some gladware disposable bowls for food and watering. My pets are like my kids, so I know I’d want to make sure they are secure as well. Another great item would be one of those portable pet “bags” that are collapsible and can be strapped over your shoulder or kept in the bottom of the backpack.

  105. Cindy says:

    I would also add diapers, feminine hygiene items and a supply of prescription medicines. Definitely gets me to thinking that we need to put something like this together . . .

  106. Missy says:

    A bottle of rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, baby wipes and paper towels. Something not a neccessity but would be nice instant pkgs. hot chocolate, tea, or instant coffee w/ pkgs sugar & powdered cream. Plastic silverware or a cheap set thats reusable for camping. A cheap or hit goodwill for a pan or camp stove and if possible a portable tent. You never know what the disaster may bring. I rotate the snacks when school starts.

  107. Tania says:

    Thank you for this post. I too began repacking our emergency bags after this horrific tragedy in Japan. I’m not necessarily controlling, maybe just paranoid since I live in Ohio! Anyway, instead of flashlights and batteries, I bought some of the squeezable flashlights on clearance from bed bath & beyond after Christmas. They are very lightweight and require no batteries. I also added waterproof matches, a manual can opener, dried fruit, and peanuts. I am a firm believer that you should be prepared to take care of your own (and others when possible.) We should not depend on the government. Also, hubby & my packs have switch blades, not only for mild protection, but for opening packages, etc.

  108. Tampons(!!!) and hand-sanitizer? I’m working on ours, too (so thanks for the post!) and I was adding those inexpensive $1 stretchy gloves- if not for keeping hands warm, might be good for other uses!

    • Sonja says:

      I purchased some of the gloves as well. They were on clearance for .39 for a 4 pack! I figured they would be great to throw in the car kit too since you never know when you might need them…changing a flat, etc. ;)

  109. emily says:

    I have always heard fill any empty container with water even empty milk jugs,even if you can’t drink it you can wash with it or some other use for it

    • Athena says:

      Dont store water in milk jugs. Even after you clean it there is bacteria from the milk that leeches into the plastic and can cause bacteria to grow in your water.

  110. Selina says:

    I am a new couponer and am loving it, but I started out as a food preserver first. I put up my own foods by canning, dehydrating, storing wheat, dry milk, etc. I started a website to help people do this about a 1 1/2 years ago. I believe if you did a search for self reliant living, you would find many sites to help you do this and live an even more frugal lifestyle. The more fresh veggies, etc. you preserve, the less you have to purchase. Although, the coupons help, they do not help on some healthy food items that we enjoy. Also, if the power goes out, you can learn to preserve food by using solar dehydrators or canning and cooking on an open fire. This along with your coupons, you could be a money saving machine.

    • michelle says:

      Selina, what is your website? I would love to know more about food preserver like canning, dehydrating, storing wheat, etc. thanks

  111. Lily says:

    Oh wow! You, dear Krazy Coupon Lady, are the first of the three sites that I follow to mention something like this! Thats so awesome! :)

    Honestly Ive never thought too much about such; around where I live, the worst we’ve gotten are like…2-3 floods within the span of a decade. Not saying its safe, but so far nothing bad has occur — knock on wood!

    Maybe, depending on the child’s age or even age/interest of adult, a few things to keep them busy? For me (And I’m 17 lol) I’d pack a coloring book and coloring pencils XD Yes, Im childish an dLOVE it…

    Otherwise, you’ve got some fantastic ideas/lists already.

    Although, yeah, Im curious about the Clorox thing…you mean water to USE or to DRINK? Either way, clever!

    I honestly think I’d only put such a thing together around the time we were in a season of danger/warning of danger…if that makes sense lol. Otherwise, Id be twitchy/irritated that the exp. dates on the food/items would be…yeah…Im weird like that.

    OH! And medicine of course! Pain killers and whatnot…and even a few thermacares? XD Not TOTALLY “need to have” but it would be a pleasant luxury, depending on the person’s body (for example, my dad’s shoulders trouble him often so….yeah lol)

    Thanks for the post; it’s different, new, and “realistic”, so to speak ^^

  112. Rach says:

    My husband also was without a job–and then had one that was only eight hours a week. I had enough stock pile of some things that we still have not had to buy. Which is great, because my husband wasn’t getting forty hours until about a month ago(almost two years). I plan well in advance, and it has worked great for us. We are planning a trip–it is a ways off, but I’m already couponing to get the things we need. We also keep bottled water and other things on hand as we are in “tornado alley.” Always a good idea to be prepared.

  113. Julia hodges says:

    Get steel wool and 9volt batteries. All you have to do is touch them together to start a fire if needed.

  114. Melanie S says:

    If your kids go to daycare make sure that your daycare also has a pack for your child… I am sure you will have to buy it, but add a letter to your child and a picture of the family.

    It’s also good to have the same stuff int he car, you could be in the car as a family and not able to get back home to get your stuff..

    I would add a water filter to the parents backpack too, water tablets to clean the water make the water taste bad and they are not as good, and can run out a lot faster than the filter on a water filter goes out.

    • I lived outside of DC during the horrible sniper events about 8 or so years ago and kept an emergency storage bin in my trunk just in case events required me to need help when I was not at home. I never needed anything from the bin but it brought a lot of peace of mind.

      And you will want a can opener. Even if you don’t have cans in your kit. Cans are often handed out by charieties in such disasters and openers become priceless.

  115. Harmony says:

    I’ve been thinking about this kinda stuff for a while. Back when Petsmart at those $5 off coupons I stocked up on pet stuff along with little carrying cases for my small pets.

  116. Practically Frugal says:

    We also have a “go-can.” A garbage can on wheels that can be easily transported. It has all of the above items AND: $1000 in cash (small bills), copies of all of our important documents, (will, passports, marriage and birth certs)Canned food, can opener (this isn’t big until you don’t have one.:))And we have a 10gal gas can right next to it. So, if we have to evac, we can. Right away. We have practiced a couple of times (to make sure *I* can load the can if my husband is at work.) It’s tough, but I can if I have to.

  117. Jen K says:

    Great post! I’m in Northern Ca too! and also a bit freaked about the major Quake predictions!

  118. Paige Harshbarger says:

    Thanks Joanie! We really need to update our 72 hour kits. Thanks for the great lists and suggestions! I struggle with the winter or summer clothing debate for ours though…what are your thoughts? Maybe winter and we could cut off sleeves and legs if it was hot?

    • Heather says:

      a good Idea to keep things rotated is Every year at Easter (in the spring) and at halloween ( in the fall) rotate the food and switch out the clothing especially for kids who may have gotten bigger. This way the food won’t be wasted by going bad, clothing can be changed for the season and batteries can be replaced if they have gone bad. My kits are not very extensive but something is better than nothing when you’re on a tight budget. And Better safe than sorry.

  119. Karen says:

    This is a great idea and very timely. I’ve been thinking about it too as i live in western Oregon. I do have a couple of thoughts… The DMV is run by state government. FEMA is federal. And those ‘clowns’ would be the ones risking their own personal safety to try and help you and yours in case of an emergency. Just my own opinion.

    • Joanie says:

      Sorry Karen. I didn’t mean offense. My husband is active duty US Coast Guard, so he is exactly who is responsible for emergency response. I was just poking fun at government agencies. No harm intended! :)

      • Paula says:

        My husband is active duty security forces in the Air Force, and we took no offense! We thought dmv joke was funny.

    • Natalie says:

      Karen, I agree – that one stung me a little, especially coming from another military wife. My husband is in the National Guard, and has spent weeks at a time away from us responding to tornadoes, floods, etc. “Clowns”? Really?

      On the other hand, I appreciate the post – it got me thinking about making some kits for my family.

      • michelle R says:

        oh please its called a sense of humor my husband is military also and calling him a clown doesn’t bother me one bit. Joanie is helping others so if she is offending you why dont you get off her website and read some boring humdrum “in case of an emergency ” posted on a gov’t website.

      • Joanie says:

        Natalie, I’m sorry! It was a joke and I was referring to the government, NOT THE MILITARY members. I read the “clowns” line of my post to my husband before hitting publish and asked him if he thought it was funny or if people wouldn’t get the tone; I guess he and I were both wrong. Hope you won’t hold it against me.

      • Adhis says:

        I cried and cried myself to sleep after reading the “clown” comment.
        Just kidding!

        We read this blog post as part of our family home evening. My husband is a government employee (non-military), and HE laughed when he read “clowns”.

  120. Sally L. says:

    I am in Houston, TX and have had an “emergency box” ever since we went 9 1/2 days (and 37 minutes) without power after hurricane Ike- with a 2 and a 4 year old.It helps to be prepared!! Now, at the start of hurricane season each year I replenish my “box” with items from my stockpile. One thing that we’re always sure to have on hand now is a generator and plenty of gas!

    • When I was in High School, living in Houston, my mom bought us all plastic bins to put cherished memories in, just in case we had to move to high ground. Funny thing is that we didn’t really have emergency supplies all ready, but at least we had our yearbooks, dance/cheer uniforms, memory books, etc ready to take in an emergency!

      When I was a kid, my house burned down to the ground, so I think my mom just wanted to make sure we had memories to share with our children, since her stuff was destroyed in the fire. NO, it is not life-saving stuff, but I do appreciate her concern!

    • Rhonda says:

      I had to laugh at this, Sally. We were without power after Ike for 13 days, 12 hours, and 4 minutes. Isn’t it amazing how we know exactly how long it was?? That was definitely a crash course in emergency preparedness, although nothing compared to what is going on in Japan.

    • Jackie says:

      After Ike we were without power for 12 days. GROSS.

      I would say for sure pack food your family will eat, and maybe a card game or a small toy, coloring books?, in your backpacks.

      72 hours is a lot of time to fill not only for food but for activities for kids.

    • Jenna says:

      We had our power out 15 days and about 9 hours after Ike. I have no idea how many minutes. :) We cooked on our campstove (grilled hot pockets, anyone?), had a neighborhood bbq, and ate a lot of what we had frozen. It was eye opening. I have a child with a heart problem. We were glad to have someone with a generator next door to store his medicine that has to be refrigerated. Really makes you think about the things that you need to have on hand. Even when we are broke I try to keep the pantry full, just in case.

      One thing that made me laugh is that we homeschool. So all the other kids were out of school for a week at least after Ike, but we were having school like normal, except we pulled folding tables outside to do it. Good times.

  121. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have always been the type who gets really scared about things that could happen, and more so when I see them happening in other parts of the world. I have wasted so much energy on just being panicky, and now that I have a baby boy (who I really don’t want to raise to be terrified of everything), I wish more than ever to figure out how to channel that energy into positive, practical steps to protect my family the best I can (and trust God to do what I cannot do). I am going to get started on emergency kits for me, my husband and my son right away. I know I’ll feel a weight lifted just by being prepared.

  122. Shannon says:

    This is really awesome! I would also add getting some iodine water purification tablets-they are inexpensive and lightweight. You can add them to water, and much lighter than transporting large amounts of water in a bag. Medications and feminine hygiene products as well. Also, some dryer lint-put some in a ziploc bag. The stuff ignites like crazy and very useful if you ever need to start a fire!

    • sheila says:

      Good ideas Shannon. I would also add a whistle and paper and pencil to each. Really, water is the number one problem/need so the purification tablets are a good idea. You can purchase water boxes (like a juice box) that last up to 5 years from speciality websites. You can also purchase large cubes (for storing water at home) that hold several gallons of water and are stackable (like legos). You also cannot underestimate the value of a comfort item (like a small stuffed animal) thrown into the bag.

      • Kara says:

        While researching I learned bleach works better than the purifying tablets for disinfecting drinking water. With that in mind I found bottles with droppers and put bleach in them for each kit. I included instructions on each bottle for how to use the bleach. It only takes about 16 drops of bleach (less or more depending on clarity) to disinfect a gallon of water so my tiny little bottles will work on about 40 gallons of water. I figured since I was going on the same theory some water is better than none (heavy to carry a gallon) I could protect my family knowing they could clean additional water if needed.

    • Excellent ideas, Shannon! I’ll certainly add those items to my list!

    • margie says:

      those are wonderful add ons. you can take the dryer lint and put it in paper egg cartons add wax and you have 12 fire starters. feminin products have many uses and are sanitary.

    • Desirae says:

      We make fire starters out of lint, paper egg cartons, and the little bit of was left in burned candles! We use these camping as well! All you do is fill each egg cup tightly packed with dryer lint. Then you warm up the candle wax and pour over each cup! Cut them apart, then use the corners of the paper egg cup to light the fire starter. The candle wax slows the ignition of the lint, but maintains a flame to get a really good fire going!

    • Shannon says:

      Purification tablets are great for on-the-go scenarios when you have to leave an area quickly as water can be VERY heavy to transport and depending on the scenario-adverse weather, even more trying to transport heavy gear. Thank-you for the tip on the larger water storage containers. That is perfect to have at home!

  123. Nikki says:

    Yea for this article! I’m curious where/when should I buy backpacks on sale? ANy good leads?

    Also-I have to say-bleach containers for water???? really???

    • Selina says:

      Nikki, I have bought some at the thrift stores very cheap and in really good shape.

    • Whitney says:

      I 10000% agree on the clorox water. Without even rinsing the container?? No thanks.

      • Ember says:

        My only concern with the bleach bottle for water storage is if the bottle itself is food grade plastic. The bottle probably should be rinsed because amount of bleach left in the bottle without rinsing might be to much. You can add bleach to water to help kill microorganisms, but you have to measure.

        “Disinfecting small amounts of water


        Boiling is the best way to kill bacteria, viruses and parasites. A full boil for at least one minute is recommended. At elevations over 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) you should boil water for at least two minutes to disinfect it. NOTE: This is not appropriate for water that is heavily polluted or subject to chemical contamination.

        Disinfection using chemical methods:

        Unscented household bleach with 5% chlorine can sometimes be a good disinfectant. For example, this may work when the water is not heavily polluted, or when Giardia or cryptosporidiosis are not a concern.

        Bleach does not work well in killing off Giardia or beaver fever or Cryptosporidium parasites. The amount of bleach needed to kill these parasites makes the water almost impossible to drink. If Cryptosporidium or Giardia are in your water, boiling is the best way to ensure safe drinking water.

        Disinfection using bleach works best with warm water. Add 1 drop (0.05 mL) of bleach to 1 Litre of water, shake and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking. Double the amount of bleach for cloudy water or for cooler water. A slight chlorine odour should still be noticeable at the end of the 30-minute waiting period if you have added enough bleach. The longer the water is left to stand after adding bleach, the more effective the disinfection process will be.

        Chlorine Tablets:

        Follow the manufacturers’ directions.


        Whenever possible use warm water (20°C) and let stand a minimum of 20 minutes after mixing and before drinking. For cold water (5 – 15°C) increase the waiting time after mixing to 40 minutes. If you are using 2% tincture of iodine, use 10 drops (0.5 mL) for every one litre of water. With iodine tablets, follow the manufacturer’s directions.

        Note: Pregnant women should not use iodine drops to purify water as it may have an effect on the fetus.

        Iodine should not be used to disinfect water over long periods of time as prolonged use can cause thyroid problems.”

      • Shannon W. says:

        My husband said it is actually best if you don’t rinse the bottle if you are using tap water. If you have tap water in a container with nothing to “sterilize” it, it can go bad.

      • Joanie says:

        So, the idea behind the bleach is simply if you’re looking to store water long term. The bleach will prevent the growth of microorganisms. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Add four drops of bleach per quart of water and store in a cool, dark place.

        I shake all the liquid drops out of the bleach container and then fill.

      • SafetySteph says:

        Yes, bleach, surprisingly. It’s safe to consume just a small bit. For instance while swimming you consume a little on accident. Just add powdered drink mix to your kit and you and you kids will be able to get it down happily.
        Also, laundry detergent bottles without rinsing and then filled again are EXCELLENT for having soapy water for cleaning in an emergency.
        Last, don’t forget utensils in your kits!

      • Jen says:

        The CDC warns not to use old bleach bottles to store your emergency water in. Be sure you do a little more research.

        • Joanie says:

          Thanks for the info, Jen! I researched this morning (so as not to poison my family) and I’m kind of laughing at the contradicting info I uncovered from the CDC alone:

          source: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/safe_water/personal.html
          Avoid using the following containers to store safe water:
          * Containers that have ever been used for any toxic solid or liquid chemicals (includes old bleach containers)

          source: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/food.asp
          Water should be stored in sturdy plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids. Rinsed chlorine bleach bottles work well for water storage.

          At any rate, I’m glad I’ve been coerced into doing some more research on safe water storage. I think I’ll call and get prices on the big 5-gallon sealed jugs from the water company. :)

    • Brianna says:

      When it comes to backpacks, I found Walgreens to be the best place. For the last 3 years that I’ve couponed that’s where I’ve bought ours. Around back-to-school time they will have them on sale for BOGO making it $9.99 for two and they’re great backpacks too, very sturdy and durable!!

      I’m wondering the same thing about the bleach containers. You really don’t have to wash them out??

    • Corrine Pritts says:

      Yes, actually, bleach bottles are perfect for water as the very small amount of bleach left in there will kill bacteria in the water

    • megan says:

      try ross. i just got my kids new school back packs paid only 10 $!!

    • tiffany says:

      of course, its your own decision to rinse the clorox bottle, and i probably would because thats me, but the truth is, most water treatments in cities have more chlorine in them than what would get into your water w/o rinsing the bottle.

    • Nancy says:

      Actually if you add 1 TBS of bleach to a gallon of not clean water and let sit for one hour you will have safe drinking water, youshould always keep bleach on hand, also workd to sanitize and you can use it to clean wounds, also should have on hand cyanne or black pepper, you use this to stop bleeding…..just some other ideas.

    • Maria says:

      Usually they go on clearance about the end of September, when school has already begun. I know it’s a long ways away, But I’ll be making a temporary “family” emergency kit in a tote for now and wait until I score a great deal on backpacks to make individual kits for my family. There are eight of us and I am not about to cough up $20/pack. Good Luck in finding something that will work for you and your family!

  124. roni says:

    This is a great idea, my family and I have had one prepared for over a year now. I just updated the bin because the water was so heavy. I purchased a rolling (bin with wheels) at Walmart for about $17. I also included a bible and a copy of all our important info. Great Job!

  125. Kia says:

    Thank you!!!