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Creating a Grab and Go 72 Hour Kit

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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?

How to Create a Grab and Go Bag for Emergencies @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Grab and Go Bags for Emergencies

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

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.

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

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.

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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?

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18 Comments

  1. Two very light weight items I would add: 1.trash bags, at least the 30 gal size to be used for rain coats with a quick cut for head and arms, also can be used to put things that cannot get wet, like food or clothing while crossing streams or rivers etc. 2. clothes pins, the ability to dry out clothing is important and it can be used to clip tarp quickly.
  2. I thought of one more item that I put in my grab bag. I know its getting full but I have a couple sanitary pads the thick ones in mine. They can be used for their purpose or as a bandage for a large wound.
    1. Shari, you and I were on the same track. Late yesterday I thought of that and added it to the list! :) Thanks for sharing. I hadn't thought about the fact they can be used for bandages. Great idea!
  3. I love the clothes pin idea and will be adding that to our bags... I know you mentioned cash, but I specifically keep a roll of quarters in my bag. I know they are heavy but I have already had two instances where they proved invaluable. (emergency dash to the hospital and rest stop while traveling)
  4. How can you get prescription medications for your bag? I'm not sure if I should ask my doctor or talk to the pharmacist...
    1. Audra, I'm not on prescription medications, so I'm not sure. Here's some suggestions from another website: http://www.agingcare.com/Answers/how-to-get-extra-medication-to-put-in-an-emergency-supply-kit-146188.htm
  5. Melissa, you should all, not just your children, be carrying a whistle as it can be heard further than a human voice. A knife or hatchet, to cut rope or wood.And bear or pepper spray for wild life. Will usually come in very handy as well.
  6. If you should happen to pack canned veggies or fruit cups in its own water... Don't waste the water in the can! It's drinkable!
  7. Hosting an "emergency preparedness class" for the parents of my family child care business. I have added your list to all the documents and important information I will share with them. Thank you. Regards, Adria
  8. This stuff is going to be way too heavy! What is really scary and you need to think of this... If someone sees you with all this gear you make yourself a target to get attacked and robbed of your things other people have not bothered to get for themselves. Rather keep it simple and discreet. You need to be able to move fast and seamlessly. Documents, cash ,small first aid kit, water and food maybe some extra socks. And undies. Don't forget meds. Here is a cool pin if have animals I thought you'd like this Pin on Pinterest... http://pin.it/q2ZEFuX We pray it never comes to this but the way the world is going better to be wise....safe not sorry.
  9. I always ask the doctors to write my scripts for 90 pills/tablets since my copay is the same whether its 10 or 90. Insurance is strange so some they give 90 allows at once, and some they divide into 30. (Scheduled drugs are usually more restricted but it varies.) I rotate them so the fresh ones are stored and the previous ones get used. You can ask for a 2nd label if you like to keep something at work order school and some at home, plus you want your stash bottle to have the most recent date. HTH :-)

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