You probably already know that you need a survival kit in case of an emergency. But what should you put in this kit? Where should you keep it? What type of disasters should it prepare you for?
Unfortunately, no one survival kit will prepare you for all the various disasters which might occur. If you want to be truly prepared – regardless of the type of disaster and where you happen to be when it occurs – you will need four different survival kits.
72 Hour Bag
Also called a “Go Bag” or “Bug Out Bag,” a 72-hour bag should contain all the items you need to survive for three days completely on your own. It should be tailored to your geographical location. For example, a 72-hour bag for a person living in a city would look a lot different than that of someone living in a remote mountainous area.
A 72-hour kit should also take into account your level of expertise. If you know survival skills like how to build a shelter, pick a lock, or forage for food, you can get away with fewer items in your kit.
You’ll need various survival tools and supplies in your 72-hour kit. These items can be broken down into the following categories:
- Water: Such as bottled water and methods of purifying water.
- Food: The best emergency food for survival kits has a long shelf life and is easy to prepare.
- Shelter and warmth: Such as a sleeping bag and tent or space blanket.
- First aid kit: And the know-how to use all of the items in the kit!
- Personal items: This includes clothing, footwear, rain jacket, face mask, and hygiene items.
- Survival tools: You’ll likely need tools and supplies like fire starters, duct tape, rope, flashlights, and a knife in survival situations.
- Self-defense: Items like pepper spray and firearms can protect you against humans and wild animals.
- Vital documents: Often overlooked, you’ll want to make sure you have copies of your vital documents packed.
It is tempting to pack lots of gear in your 72-hour bag “just in case” you need it. But the kit also needs to be lightweight enough to carry long distances. For example, this 72-hour kit contains nearly everything you’d need (and has plenty of space for adding extras) and weighs in at 27lbs.
Get Home Bag
Emergencies often occur while we are away from home. For this reason, everyone needs a Get Home Bag (GHB). This kit contains all of the items you need to get home safely during an emergency situation. For example, if you work in an office in the city, your GHB might contain comfortable shoes in case you had to walk all the way home.
Some people confuse Get Home Bags with 72 Hour Bags. While some of the items in the kits might be similar (such as food, water, and self-defense items), the GHB is usually smaller and lighter. Its primary function is to get you home quickly and safely - not for evacuating and surviving multiple days on your own.
Ideally, you should keep a GHB in all of the places you spend a lot of time (such as at work, your car, school…). Because you’ll likely be carrying it through populated areas, the bag should look discreet. Avoid military-style backpacks as this will make you stand out in the crowds.
Everyday Carry Kit
It is unrealistic to carry a complete survival kit with you wherever you go. I personally am not going to lug my 72 Hour Kit with me when I go to the playground with my kids or walk to the supermarket. However, it’s still smart to keep some basic survival items on you at all times. These items are part of your everyday carry or EDC.
EDC items are small and compact and often multi-functional. Some examples of these items are:
- Lighter with duct tape wrapped around it
- Paracord bracelet
- Water purification tablets
- Power bank and charging cable
- Mini first aid kit
- Self-defense item
- Notebook and pencils
- Small LED flashlight
As with all survival kits, your EDC kit will look different depending on where you live and your personal needs. For example, as a mom with two small kids, my EDC probably looks a lot different than the EDC kit of a single man.
Vehicle Emergency Kit
A vehicle emergency kit should contain all of the items you’d need to survive if something happened while you were driving.
For example, you’d want basic repair items in case your vehicle had a breakdown. You need emergency food and water in case you get stranded. If you were to get stranded in cold weather, items like a sleeping bag, hand warmers, and trash bags for sealing your car doors and windows could save your life. You’d also want supplies like rain gear and sturdy boots in case you have to walk for help in bad weather.
Just because you have survival items in your vehicle, it doesn’t mean that you don’t also need a 72 Hour Bag. During major disasters, roads often become impassible and people are forced to abandon their vehicles and set off on foot. You don’t want to have to pack all your gear in a hurry. So make sure you bring your 72 Hour Kit with you when evacuating, even if your car is already loaded with survival supplies. A lot of people even keep one 72 Hour Kit at home and another in their vehicle so they are always ready to go.
Diane Vukovic is a writer at Primal Survivor and author of the book Disaster Preparedness for Women. She spends most of her time camping with her daughters, practicing survival skills, and battling slugs in her garden.