Creating a Grab and Go 72 Hour Kit

How to Create a Grab and Go Bag with a 72 Hour Kit {Family Emergency Preparedness Series} @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Grab and Go Bags for Emergencies

You can read all of the Family Emergency Preparedness articles here.

This past week I worked on putting together Grab and Go Backpacks for each person in our family and I’m still working on them. I’m almost done, but have a few more things to get together.

So, what is a Grab and Go Bag and why do you need one?

A Grab and Go Bag {or backpack} is what you quickly grab in the event of an emergency that forced you to quickly leave your home – house fire, natural disaster, etc. Ideally you’ll have one bag per person.

How to Create a Grab and Go Bag with a 72 Hour Kit {Family Emergency Preparedness Series} @ AVirtuousWoman.org

I went to our local Wal-Mart and purchased new backpacks for my kids. My husband and I already owned really nice backpacks similar to this one. I chose to purchase backpacks that are found in the camping section – typically used for backpacking. The idea being that these backpacks are made with lots of storage and for comfort in mind if we were forced to escape on foot.

When purchasing backpacks for your kids, it’s really important to make sure the backpack fits your child. If it’s too large, your child will be uncomfortable and possibly in pain after walking even a short distance. The backpack I initially bought for my youngest daughter Laura was too big and I had to exchange it for a slightly smaller version. I ended up taking her with me and trying them on before we settled on the one we liked.

Since I’ve taken my girls on backpacking trip before and we are planning on doing it again soon, I figured these backpacks could serve double duty. When we aren’t using them for a backpacking trip, I’ll keep them stocked with our emergency 72 Hour Kit Supplies.

It is important to take into account how much the finished bag weighs. When we went backpacking, I carried roughly 35 – 40 pounds for 24 miles over very steep, rough terrain. It was not easy. In fact, since I’m not extremely fit, it was probably one the hardest if not the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In the unlikely event that you would need to hike out on foot, for a long distance, you would need to carry all of that weight with you. So, just be aware.

My nine year old carried 15 pounds and my other girls carried roughly 20 – 25 pounds each. You want to take into consideration age and weight when planning how much your child should carry – you may need to pack some of your child’s gear. And honestly, I’ve raised my girls to be tough and not complain when camping or packing through the woods. So, if your kids are a little on the wimpy side, you might want to consider practicing some strenuous hikes where you all carry some weight on your backs.

Emergency Preparedness

What situation could possibly leave you with the need to leave your home and possibly your town on foot? I imagine this would be a pretty dire situation – maybe a terrorist attack, EMP attack, or even if cars were piled up on the highway and you ended up abandoning your car because you were unable to get your car out of the traffic. Or what if a widespread power outage happened and you were not able to get gasoline?

You just never know. It could happen.

Having said that, leaving your car or home on foot in an emergency really should be your last resort. Not your first choice.

Anyway, back to what goes in these bags. 

72 Hour Grab and Go Kit Supply List

Your 72 Hour Grab and Go Kit should have enough immediate supplies to last you at least 3 days {if not a week} – so that you have a little time to figure out what to do if you are in a situation where emergency rescue is needed but not coming. Remember, Hurricane Katrina’s rescue efforts?

For our backpacks, I used easy zip top baggies to organize our supplies to make it easier to find things, plus the baggies could be used to carry water if needed. I also purchased travel size items – Wal-Mart has a great selection to choose from. Although, if you can find them cheaper than $1.00 each, do so, because it really added up. Alternatives might be saving hotel shampoos and lotions and soaps, samples of products, etc.

How to Create a Grab and Go Bag with a 72 Hour Kit {Family Emergency Preparedness Series} @ AVirtuousWoman.org

The List

If ATM’s are down, you’ll need some cash on you. In fact, I’d recommend always having some cash stashed where you can easily get to it.

Remember to pack enough feminine products to last several days for yourself and your daughters because you never know if you’ll be faced with an emergency during your time of the month. You may want to try the Diva Cup or Moon Cup – I’ve never used one, but the cup is reusable so might come in handy.

I purchased my girls each a whistle/compass/reflective mirror/fire flint/match holder combination that they can carry around their necks. Also, I purchased paracord bracelet clips so we can make paracord bracelets for each of the girls. It’ll be a fun craft, and will take the weight {however small} off their backs and put the cord on their wrist.

How to Create a Grab and Go Bag with a 72 Hour Kit {Family Emergency Preparedness Series} @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Bandanas are useful for so many things – you should always carry at least one bandana, if not a few of them in different colors. Plus, you can cover your dirty hair if you need to. Always a plus in my book. And, Wal-Mart sells nice ones for about a dollar a piece.

You can buy Wet Nap Hand Wipes at Wal-Mart in the napkin or toiletry section and I just love them. The citrus ones smell amazing. Or, if you can’t find those, you could go with Wet Ones which I’ve used before as they also work well.

If you have to make your escape in the winter time, you’ll want to be sure to include items to help you stay warm like emergency blankets, gloves, and hand warmers.

Reader Shari shared this tip in the comments below – a large 30 gallon size garbage bag can be used as a rain poncho {just cut slits in the bottom and sides for head and arms and can also be used to keep things dry when crossing a river or even if it’s raining. Also, I thought of this – if you live in an area where bears are prevalent like I do, you need to keep your food in a bear bag. When we went backpacking, we used large black garbage bags tied to a rope to hang our food in the trees.

Shari also suggested packing clothes pins to hang clothes or other items to dry or even to clip a tarp – which is a great idea. I always take clothes pins when we go camping, so I don’t know why I didn’t think of it!

Card games are light weight and could provide some laughter and fun during a stressful time. Our family loves UNO, Dutch Blitz, Rook, Old Maid, Farkle, and Phase 10. Any of these would be a great addition to your Grab and Go Bag. If you have younger children, include a new, small toy in their grab and go bag.

  • medications – over the counter and prescriptions
  • lip balm
  • complete change of clothing – pants, shirt, socks, underwear and EXTRA socks
  • comb
  • lotion

When you purchase lip balm, get the good kind for bad weather, really chapped lips, or even cold sores. I mean, chap stick works for chapped lips – but what if stress causes you to break out with a nasty cold sore? I personally love Carmex brand.

  • lightweight food for three days
  • can opener in each bag {if canned food is included}
  • water/ container for filling with water
  • lightweight mess kit
  • Life Straw or water filter

As for food, try to choose lightweight options such as freeze dried MREs, granola bars, ramen, To Go packs of peanut butter, fruit cups. You want to provide a good mix of protein and carbohydrates.

Water bottles may be the easiest to include – you could keep a case of water bottles with your backpacks, or go ahead and throw a couple of water bottles inside each Grab and Go Bag. You’ll want a way to refill water – either a canteen or sturdy water bottle. Just remember that having water available, and clean water is really, really important.

The Life Straw is an amazing water filter. This is on my wish list for each person in my family. You use it like a straw and it filters out all the bad stuff with no waiting required. This thing could be very useful.

Other tools you might want in the really detailed Grab and Go Bag:

  • backpacking shovel
  • toilet paper
  • signaling mirror
  • lightweight binoculars
  • sleeping pad
  • sewing kit
  • 1 lb. tarp or an emergency tent
  • sleeping bags

When I took my girls backpacking, we slept on a tarp instead of in a tent. I prefer camping in a tent, but we survived, despite the freezing weather and rain. A tarp is lightweight and can provide important shelter. We used two tarps like you would find in the hardware section at Wal-Mart but you can also purchase these nylon tarps that weigh less than a pound. Definitely on my wish list. Another option would be a tube tent like this classic scout tent.

A tarp can also be used to collect rain water which could prove to be very important depending on the situation.

You may want to also include sleeping bags in your preparedness closet that you can grab and go. A few years ago we purchased everyone lightweight -20* sleeping bags for backpacking. These backpacks pack small, are lightweight to carry and keep you warm. However, I can attest to the fact that a quality ground insulator is very helpful if you are sleeping in very cold weather. A sleeping pad would a luxury item, though, and totally optional.

You may not feel like you need to prepare for a scenario where you and your family might be faced with sleeping outdoors in an emergency situation. Personally, I prefer to go ahead and just assume it’s a possibility, however unlikely.

Being Equipped

We all hope that we’ll never be faced with the possibility of having no choice but to vacate our homes in the event of a disaster or other type of emergency. But, the fact is, we don’t know what the future holds. Having a plan of action equips you and your family to better handle any situation that comes up and gives you a better chance of staying safe from harm.

Have you put together a Grab and Go Bag? Do you have a 72 Hour Emergency Kit? Is there anything I missed?

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.


John 14:27 {Rest}

My peace I give you. John 14:27 @ AVirtuousWoman.org

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.


Preparing a Home Emergency Closet & Being Organized

Preparing a Home Emergency Closet & How Being Organized Could Save Your Life @ AVirtuousWoman.org

You can read the rest of the Family Emergency Preparedness Series here.

Family Emergency Preparedness Series

Part of being prepared for emergencies is knowing where your stuff is when you need it.

Years ago, when my youngest child Laura, was about 18 months old, just learning to toddle around the house, we used to keep our basement/family room door locked so that she couldn’t open the door and tumble down the stairs.

One night, while we were all sleeping, a terrible storm came up. Lighting flashed and thunder boomed. My husband and I woke up and jumped out of bed, very concerned. The wind was howling. And then the power went out.  That’s when we heard what sounded like a train. My husband threw open the window to look out and that sound. It was terrifying. We were sure a tornado was coming.

Laura and Hannah {who was about 4 at the time} were both asleep in our room. The three older kids were asleep upstairs in their rooms. I had been asleep in a t-shirt and my underwear. And all I could think was, if a tornado came and hit our house, I didn’t want the rescue workers to find me in my underwear!

I grabbed the baby, Mykal grabbed Hannah and rushed to wake up the older children. In the dark, I opened my drawers to grab some pants and ran to the basement door – which of course, was locked. I knew the key was on top of the clock – where the kids couldn’t reach it, so I grabbed the key. {We have a couple dozen old fashioned skeleton type keys for all of the doors in our house – and none  of the match.}

Anyway, I grabbed the key, holding the baby and my pants, while Mykal roused the kids and told them to all go into the basement. It was dark, I had no lights, and trying to get that key into the little key hole while my heart pounded as loud as the thunder outside was so stressful, but I did it. All seven of us carefully made our way down into the basement where it was even darker.

I promptly put on my pants on and we huddled under blankets on the sofa with the kids until the storm passed, in the dark, but safe and sound. All of the above happened very quickly – not more than a couple of minutes!

There was a small tornado in the area – not much was damaged and thankfully our home was just fine and the power came back on eventually.

I was not prepared. I’m very thankful that nothing more serious happened that night.

  • First of all, I shouldn’t have been worried about my pants. But, I wouldn’t have worried if I’d been sleeping in my pajamas.
  • Secondly, if I’d had a flashlight by my bed, I could have gotten the basement door open faster.
  • Thirdly, I should have had a stash of candles and matches in the family room where I could easily find them instead of only having my candles stored upstairs in the dining room cupboard.

We weren’t expecting a bad storm that night – and my husband and I try to stay on top of the weather. And that’s the thing about emergencies – many times they are unexpected!

So, regardless of whether you are expecting the crisis that comes or not, having your home organized with emergencies in mind will go a long way to helping your family stay safe during an emergency.

Here are several things you can do to keep your family prepared. 

Create a Home Emergency Closet

In our house, we store food and other supplies in various places. But I also have a place in our coat closet by the front door that houses our Grab and Go Bags, camping gear, and other emergency supplies.

You should have a stash of emergency supplies – especially your Grab and Go Bags by an exit and easily accessible so that in the event of an emergency where you need to vacate the house, you know exactly where to find all of your stuff and quickly. The garage, mud room, or a coat closet are good places to store these types of items.

It’s also a good idea to have supplies stashed in different places around your home where you might need them. For instance, if your home has  a basement where you would go during a bad storm {or perhaps a closet under the stairs}, find a place to keep emergency supplies like candles and matches, water, blankets, snacks, a game of UNO, etc.

Being Organized

Being organized could save your life.

  • If you own matches, but can’t find them – how will they help you?
  • If you have emergency blankets, but you stuck them in a drawer instead of your glove box – how will you stay warm if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere during a winter storm?

Being organized can also prevent a lot of unnecessary stress in times of crisis.

  • If your power goes out for several days {it’s happened to me} or weeks {it’s happened in my state} and most of your family’s clothing was sitting in the laundry room unwashed – you’ll be faced with hand washing clothes, and perhaps even wasting water that you could have used for food preparation or hydration.
  • If your kitchen is a disaster when a water main breaks – instead of having to deal with a few dishes used between meals, you’ll be faced with the challenge of washing dishes with rain water, stored water, or just waiting it out. Also know that when the power goes out, water purification systems may not be properly working. Don’t use possibly contaminated water for washing dishes, brushing your teeth, drinking. wash your hands, make baby formula, or make ice.
  • Keeping your cell phone charged or almost fully charged as much as possible could save your life. If you are in an emergency situation and your battery power is low, keep it turned off except for when you especially need it.
  • Knowing where a pair of sturdy shoes is located is important. Teach your children and other family members to keep a good pair of shoes beside their bed at night. You may want to keep a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes for each family member in your Home Emergency Closet as well.

What To Do

Choose strategic places in your home to store emergency supplies. And then set goals to get your home, laundry, and life organized if you have not already.

How are you preparing your home and family for emergencies or disasters?

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.


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