Introduction: The Big WHY for 72 Hour Survival Kit Items
When a disaster strikes, Your Survival Tools are What-You-Know, What-You-Have-on-You, or what you can reach.
Why Carry a 72 Hours Survival Kit? (also known as "Get Home Bags" - GOOD BOBs <Get Out Of Dodge or Bug-Out-Bags> are usually larger and more inclusive.)
Most Disaster Scenarios are over in seconds, minutes or hours but Help may not reach you for 2-3 days.
MY GREATEST FEAR: Forget wind storms, fires, terrorism, etc for the moment. NASA (our space agency) says Solar Storms are strongly possible. On September 1–2, 1859, the largest recorded solar storm occurred. The flares set fire to telegraph lines and office in the US and Europe. Do you know anything with wiring?
Imagine - IF a Super Solar Flare (Mass Coronal Ejection) occurs, the first wave slams into our communications satellites. All cellphones and the entire Banking ATM system shuts down. When the solar flare strikes Earth, the electrical wave would overwhelm and burn out major sections of our electrical grids. Unprotected motors would burn out. IF cars were drivable, roads would be restricted to Military and Emergency Vehicles Only. How Far Might You Have to Walk to Get Home? or, to reach children, family or friends?
Step 1: The Basics of a Great 72 Hour Survival Kit or Bug Out Bag
FIRST LESSON: Ounces Add Up to Pounds and Pounds Add Up to Pain.
The size of your backpack should be based on what you can realistically carry - At A Minimum - to survive 72 hours or more.
The pictures below show my current two favorites. You can buy backpacks with Water Reservoirs. Daily I carry the 72 hour kit on the left with the two external pockets for water. One is full and the other is a "filtered water bottle" for a dip-and-drink scenario. <<It's ALWAYS best to boil water.>>
The larger, green 72 Survival Kit is called an Alice Bag and they come in various sizes. It has a light metal frame which supports your lower back. It's famous in the US military for its large, deep pockets.
Step 2: How to Select Your Basic Survival Kit Items
- Three minutes without air (or from some wounds and extreme freezing conditions)
- Three hours without shelter in severe weather
- Three days without water
- Three weeks without food
Step 3: Boil All Water - Fire Starters
Water Will Be A Major Issue! Humans are Walking Bags of Water.
In a major disaster, you may be faced with drinking from questionable sources. Your Best Rule is Always Boil Water. You must make fire. I suggest you carry at least three different methods: lighter, matches and a magnesium striker. WHY? Lighters can be defective or run out of fuel. Matches can be difficult in wind and bad weather. You do not want to rub sticks together. Even Survival Experts hate that one.
Magnesium can be carried safely in a small block, but when you scrap the edge into small grit, it will ignite with a spark. The striker is a metal bar that when struck by the edge of a knife, for example, causes that high temperature spark. The wooden handles version is slightly different. The wood is oil soaked and the scraper is used to strap the wood to form tender which lights easily, even after a half hour under water.
Another tip to accelerate fire starting is to carry Cotton rubbed with petroleum jelly. I carry them in old film canisters or prescription bottles, both of which are water-resistant.
The other benefits of fire are heat, cooking, medical, protection from animals and a signal for rescue.
Step 4: Always Boil Water - Except .....
Why Boiling? Preppers must face reality. Untreated water on this planet contains urine and feces from animals. The moment water reaches boiling, all of the biological organisms are dead.
What if Boiling is impossible? (Fleeing and you must keep moving / horrible weather) There are some alternatives. First, strain the 'dirty' water through: a coffee filter, mask or a piece of cloth.
There are water purification tablets - effective but often bad tasting. (Bad taste or death? I'll pick Life.)
There are a variety of Survival Grade Water filters which are portable. I carry a water bottle I could dip in a creek and drink from. There are even "Straw Filters" offered by International Human Aid organizations in areas without water treatment.
Step 5: Pack an Emergency First Kit & the Knowledge to Use It
In a Disaster, YOU are Your Doctor - until help arrives.
This is a harsh reality but the truth. In major disasters, you, your family and friends depend on one another for medical assistance. Take 1st Aid Training as soon as you can. You do not want to watch someone suffer without the ability to help.
Customize your medical kit for your 72 hour bag beyond basic band aids and alcohol swaps for simple wounds. Build from there. Only buy items you know how to use. Carry enough of your own prescriptions for two weeks, IF possible.
There are commercial kits available yet none that I've seen leave room for your medicine. If you buy a prepacked kit, ask yourself, "What is specific to me or my circumstances?" To illustrate, my wife has asthma. I carry extra inhalers in my kit, in case hers are lost or damaged.
For Example Only, IF I required medical injections, I would pack my needles in a Water-Proof, Floating Cigar Box Holder. I also carry spare glasses and a knee brace. What might you need?
Step 6: Survival Shelter in Your Kit
The Minimum is an Emergency Survival Blanket. In ideal conditions, it can retain about 90% of your body heat. There are various sizes and qualities. They can also be used for shade and rain protection.
A Sturdy Poncho is Second. In addition to deflecting rain, it can also provide shade.
The Pink area in the photo is a large piece of hardy plastic which I put down to the ground. I cover that with a blanket for softness and to cut the chill from the Earth.
550 Paracord has a wide variety of uses. When tied between two tree or posts, you drape it with a poncho for a "quick tent". Or, cut branches with leaves and lean against it for a wind break (called a lean-to).
Step 7: The Importance of Survival Hats, Gloves and Clothes
Head covering is Vital. Select ones you like but understand Why each is important. The Climate at your locate.is your first consideration. My choices are different between the Arctic and the Sahara. The first location means keep heat in. The dessert requires let-heat-out, except at night. People forget that desserts are cold after dark.
I typically carry three types of gloves:
- non-latex gloves for treating bloody wounds
- work gloves to lower my risk of cutting my hands
- weather appropriate gloves - highly insulated in cold, a full glove for + sun protection
Carry extra socks. IF your primary Survival Clothes get wet or sweaty, you want to
- Let Your Feet Dry Out (Could use spare shirt as towel)
- Put on dry socks
- Dry your wet socks by fire, if possible. Store in plastic bag if available
Step 8: Survival - Disasters Requires You to Supply Your Own Food at First
What YOU have on you - or can reach - is ALL anyone has to start with in an Emergency.
It's the reason - at 65 - I wear my full 72 hour bag when I walk-for-exercise around my neighborhood. I carry food and vitamins.
There are so many choices:
MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) - Military and Survivalist staple but not my favor
3600 Calorie Bars - designed to give you the maximum energy at a time when calories are important. Tastes? not my favorite. Read more before you buy either of these.
Stick with things you like and provide you good energy. IF the foods you carry contains 'live food', change it out frequently as they can spoil, especially in a hot car. There are many options. Learn and pick wisely.
Step 9: What Keeps Us Human? Toilet Paper and a Tooth Brush (part One)
In a survival situation, your 72 Hour Bag (or Bug Out Bag) should have everything you need to handle all normal biological functions.
I suggest you start with a "Mess Kit" (from Military, Camping, Hiking, Survival to Boy & Girl Scouts). Contained in a small, pouch is a mini-Kitchen. In addition to it's cooking and boiling duties, the kit provides protected, water resistant, storage space.
Look at the pictures to see what I packed into these cracks and containers.
Step 10: What Keeps Us Human? Light and Laughter (part Two)
All disasters cause us grave emotional distress.
WHY do you want to live through this Horror? In the darkest moments, you better have a reason. My family photo keeps me going when times are tough.
In your 72 Hour Bag, in addition to Your Photo, carry "Human Conveniences".
I picked a few items as illustrations:
Toilet Paper - many uses beyond the obvious (sanitation, clean wounds, fire starter, etc.) The core is removed to reduce weight.
Toothbrush - Take Care of Your Health - especially in an Emergency. I'll put this in a "Toothbrush" holder to carry.
Fire Starting Tool - Lighters fail and matches get lost or damaged. BE SMART - Have a Back Up System to Heat, Cook & Boil
Travel Candle (be careful in extreme heat of candle melting) - light & an easy way to start a cooking fire - reassuring also
LED - Light Emitting Diode bulbs don't burn out and use less power. Light is always a blessing in the dark of an emergency.
Glow Stick - this is a rechargeable version and won't glow as bright as the Chemical reaction ones. BUT All I have to do is run my LED up and down the body and the 'beads' inside recharge and glow for several hours.
What else would make you feel better? A Comb, a symbol of your religion, wet-wipes, .... that's customization.
Step 11: Weapons & the Wisdom of Warriors
Violence will only get you hurt; Avoid it at all costs.
Several martial arts instructors have told me, "If a man wants your wallet, give it to him. If a man wants to hurt you, run from him. IF he has you cornered, kill him." To win without fighting is the Greatest Victory. Tsun Tzu Fighting is stupid; you can get injured and every cut can be life threatening. IF You Must Defend Yourself, End the Battle Quickly.
Weapons can Kill You - no, not the other guy - YOU.
IF you do not know how to - or you won't - use a gun, don't carry one. Guns and bullets are heavy. In my 72 hour bag, I want water, food, medicine and shelter. I have no gun.
I do recommend carrying several knives. My Primary Knife is "Full Tang" (from the tip of the blade to bottom of handle is one piece of metal) and 'large' for my size and strength. My secondary knives are found in my multifunction tool: one smooth and one serrated for sawing. I carry smaller back up knives in each back pack in each car. I favor the Clip Knife. I can "clip it" to my belt, shirt, pants or socks. The design of the Clip Knife makes it easy to open with one hand; useful if your other arm is injured.
In the back of my photo, you will see one of my sling shots. Sling Shots Are Deadly Dangerous and Illegal in Most Cities. These are high velocity, projectile weapons. Sling shots are human powered Guns. I only carry these when I'm traveling into areas with wild animals AND I am in a situation where a gun is inappropriate. (hiking or biking in a group) A sling shot takes practice in a highly secured location. Once I learned this weapon, I can shoot a wide range of "calibers" for defense, dinner or distraction. (PS: if the 'rubber' bands break, I can use paracord to make a hand-slung version, or the David and Goliath sling shot.)
MAJOR SURVIVAL RULE: You Are Only as Sharp as Your Knife. << Aron Ralston's Worst Lesson >>
Step 12: Customize the Rest of Your Survival Kit ... & Some Ideas
My first customize is CASH. IF the disaster takes out ATMs, cash is your only way to buy water or a ride, if available.
IF you carry a mess kit, remember to include the utensils, which are helpful in several ways.
I'm the Snow White of Survival Preparedness Teachers. I've got to carry sunscreen. It's saved me a few times when I've run out.
My wife is a city girl and nervous in the wilds. A glow stick can make the difference in her stress level. Our 6" stick fits perfectly in a traditional, round toothbrush carrier. The question - think of Haiti or Japan's Earthquakes - is Always: "What would I want with me if my world falls apart?"
Here are some other optional survival items:
- Can Opener (often in multifunction tools)
- Shovel - handy for holes but 'heavy' for some
- Radio - Hand Cranked is smart & with batteries is ok (keep them fresh)
- Pen, Paper and Sharpie - you may need to make notes, or leave them (Sharpie great for arrows 0r to name a 2nd location)
- Axe - handy but 'too heavy' for many
- Female hygiene needs - good not only for its primary sanitation function, but pads can double as Large Wound bandages . (Navy Seal's Tip)
Step 13: Travel Light But Walk About Prepared
I carry a Sleeping bag in my car. IF I were forced to abandon my car, I'd use (bungee or para...) cords to attach it to my 72 hour bag, even if it wasn't designed for it. I can.carry the weight. This will help me at night when temperatures drop. Weight vs Warmth. Comfort and heat win.
Communications can be vital if you are separated. Jacquie and I have an old pair of walkie-talkies. We trade out the batteries every Halloween, along with our smoke detector batteries. .
Another form of communications is your phone list and alternate locations. Here's your Worst Case Scenario (in good weather). The Disaster happens when you are both at work. Who picks up the children? The Parents? IF your home base is impossible to reach (wildfires, terrorist attack, blizzard, chemical spill, Nuclear disaster), where would you meet? Pick 3 alternate locations and have people with phones out side of state or your effected area.
IF you lack a Disaster Plan for yourself or family, read my Reviews.
Enjoy the Best In Life, but Prepare for the Worst!
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