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If you’ve read our Read First article, you know that one of the first things you need to take care of in your emergency preparedness plan is an emergency kit (also called a survival kit, 72-hour kit, or a bug out bag—we use those terms interchangeably around here). In a nutshell, an emergency kit is a bag or pack that has the food, water, and gear you need to survive for a minimum of three days (72 hours), preferably longer.


The main reason to keep a kit on hand is to provide portable gear and supplies that will keep you alive and well until help arrives, or until you’re able to return home, get to the safety of a shelter, or make your way to a friend or relative’s home. Grab your survival kit on the way out the door and use it to get through a disaster when you need to evacuate.


If you had 2-5 minutes to gather your family and kits in a mandatory evacuation, could you do it? Or would you have to dig your kits out from under a pile of boxes in the basement or storage room?

Put it where you can grab it in a hurry. Many people keep their 72-hour kits in a coat closet or linen closet they would pass on their way to the front door. However, you should consider the layout of your home and decide the best location for your kit(s).


Your bug-out bag should have supplies that will keep you alive and healthy for a minimum of three days (again, that’s a minimum—it is wise to prepare for longer stretches of time if you can). You should have supplies to meet your needs in the following categories:

  • Cash in small denominations
  • Extra clothing
  • Coats, hats, gloves, etc. depending on the weather/season
  • Important Papers
  • Custom items to fit your personalized needs: medications, extra eye glasses or contacts, additional gear, etc.


Each member of your family or household should have their own bag, customized to meet their individual needs. It’s a great idea to have a kit at home for each person, as well as a car emergency kit for each person. If there’s no room for each person to keep a kit in the car, a larger “family-size kit” with just one of each reusable item, along with water, food, and sanitation items specific to each person could be kept in the trunk or under a bench-style seat.

If you are away from home for work, school, etc., consider keeping a small emergency kit at that location so you have supplies if a disaster strikes and you’re not able to get home for a day or two—even a few hours.

Parents with children in school should work with teachers, principals, or other school authorities to coordinate a kit for each child in the school—whether it’s provided by the family and kept in the child’s desk or cubby, or provided by the school and kept in a designated spot in each classroom. Including some small supplies in the child’s backpack is also a good idea.

Some sites encourage you to build your own fully-customized emergency kit. And we’ve got all the components you would need to create a one-of-a-kind, custom emergency kit for yourself. However, a lot of people simply choose to buy a pre-built kit from Emergency Essentials. Here’s why:

  1. Our kits have everything you need to meet your basic needs for at least three days.
  2. When you buy a pre-assembled kit from Emergency Essentials, you pay less than you would to build it yourself (not more, like at some preparedness companies).
  3. Our kits have been used in real emergencies, and we’ve received feedback from experts and disaster victims.
  4. Our kits are the best value on the market for a well thought-out, complete kit that covers all the basics.
  5. All of our kits have room left in the bags for you to customize them with your own medications, glasses, extra clothes, toiletries, or other items as needed.

So, if you’re just getting started in preparedness and you need an easy first step… here it is. (You’re welcome.) Grab a kit or build a kit—either way, we’re happy as long as you’ve got something that will meet your needs and sustain you in a crisis.