By Melany Gardner
Oct 02, 2013

Be Prepared: How to Make a 72 Hour Kit

Early this September, the rain began to fall hard in Colorado. In a few days it was evident that this storm would cause unprecedented flooding. The flood waters took at least eight lives, damaged or destroyed 2,000 homes and washed out hundreds of miles of roads, leaving many communities stranded.

Colorado communities were struck by floods earlier this September, photo courteousy of the Denver Post

Colorado communities were struck by floods earlier this September, photo courtesy of the Denver Post

Disasters can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. Like the people in Colorado, there may be times when you have to evacuate your home with little to no warning, or you become cut off from the resources you rely on.

If caught unprepared, these situations can turn into a frightening experience for you and your family — but it doesn’t have to.


If you apply the Scout motto to always “be prepared,” you will find a sense of security when you are faced with unexpected circumstances.

The first place to begin to “be prepared” for an emergency is with a 72 hour kit.

Step One: Preparations

Make sure you have sturdy backpack that is a decent size for all your materials, but not too large or heavy to carry. It is also important to prepare one for each member of your family who is able to carry one.

Put your 72 hour kit in an easily accessible place like your closet or under a bed – somewhere to be picked up in a hurry.

Lastly, make a note on your calendar to refresh your 72 hour kit every 6 months. Otherwise, you’ll be learn how bad, unperishable food can become.

Step Two: Water

Everyone in your family needs at least 1 gallon of water per day, or 3 gallons per person. You may also consider getting a portable water filter or chemical tablets for making outside water safe for drinking.

Step Three: Food

Choose items that you’d want to eat that require no cooking, refrigeration or preparation. Here are a few examples:

Protein/Granola Bars

Trail Mix/Dried Fruit


Canned Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, Vienna Sausages, etc.

Canned Juice


Step Four: Equipment

It is very likely in an emergency you won’t have time to search through your camping stuff to find your flashlight, and you never know when your batteries are going to stop working. We
recommend having a solar powered light such as a HybridLight flashlight or lantern, to ensure you will always have light in a dark time.

 Other equipment you should consider:

72 hour kit

Can Opener



Radio (with batteries)

Pen and Paper


Pocket Knife




Waterproof Matches

Step Five: Personal Care Items

This is an important step to the easing of the hardship that may be involved with a disaster situation. Make these items a priority:

 First Aid Kit and Supplies

Basic Toiletries (toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, brush, etc.)

Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, dish soap, etc.)


Prescription Medications (for 3 days)

Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, etc.)


Rain Coat/Poncho


Step Six: Personal Documents:

Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, etc)

Vaccination Papers

Insurance Policies


Credit Card

We're Prepared

There are many more things we could include beyond what I have mentioned. Each family may have their own unique needs, but the main thing to keep in mind is how prepared you are to meet your needs when a disaster strikes.

Discussion: How can you follow the Scout motto to “be prepared”?





Author: Melany Gardner | Marketing and Program Assistant, Utah National Parks Council





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