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10 Overlooked Emergency Kit Items for 72+ Hours

Emergency kit checklists can be found all over the internet. Each has a new list of things to add to your emergency survival kit. Despite this, there are some items we see missing from almost every emergency kit that walks through our door. Whether you’re preparing for 72 hours or three months, here are some items to double check are in your emergency kit.

Our Top 10 Most Overlooked Items:

 #10 Manual Can Opener

can opener for an emergency kit

Regardless of how much food you have in your emergency kit, it’s a good idea to pack a manual can opener. Your pantry should be your first line of defense against hunger. Even if you have to evacuate, some warming centers, food banks, or neighbours, might be handing out cans rather than prepared meals. This hits home for me – a friend once had a can opener in his kit… then during a power outage he realized that maybe packing a plug-in electric model wasn’t the brightest idea!

#9 Notebook and Pencil

notepad and pencil for an emergency kit

These are a must have in any kit. Having somewhere to write down directions, to-do lists, and notes from any calls you make (think insurance broker). Notebooks can also be useful to leave messages for family members at meeting places if you are forced to move on. If nothing else, there’s always tic-tac-toe if you’re stuck somewhere for a while.

#8 Towel/Handkerchief/Bandana

bandana for emergency kit

Having a clean length of cloth around can come in surprisingly handy! You can use them as flags, towels, or (if there’s no first aid) bandages. Cover your head with it to keep heat stroke and sun burn at bay. Carry/pick up things in it. The possibilities are endless!

#7 Tools for Cooking/Eating

cooking pots for emergency kit

So many people stock up on premium 25 year long shelf life emergency foods when they visit us. We always make sure to remind them to pack a pot, cooking utensils, and eating utensils in their emergency kits too. It’s great to have food on hand, but it’s a lot better if you can actually prepare and serve it. Picking up a cooking pot and utensils from a thrift store is usually the best way to go for this. You won’t need your fancy china!

#6 Pet Emergency Kit

Don't forget to pack pet supplies into your emergency survival kit!

Fido is family too! This won’t apply to everyone, but if you have a pet you need to think through what will happen to them in an emergency. Packing leashes, carriers, food, water, and other supplies is critical. Make sure to include contact numbers and addresses for a couple of places that might be able to care for your pet if you need to board them for a week or so. For a better idea of what to pack, check out our other article on emergency pet kits here.

#5 Emergency Plan/Emergency Contacts


A folder with the cut-off words "emergency plan" on it.

Emergency plan or Disaster Preparedness on the desk.

If you have put together an emergency plan, make sure to keep a copy with your kit! Taking the time to pack away a list of websites, emails, and phone numbers for important contacts will save you so much headache if you need them. Include information for friends, insurance brokers, school offices, poison control – the list goes on! Don’t have an emergency plan yet? Check out the government’s guide on creating your own.

#4 Cash

Put cash in your emergency kit. Coins pictured but we recommend bills.

In a power outage, atms and card machines won’t work. Many emergencies like winter storms and earthquakes can knock out power for several days. Be sure to pack some cash in small bills to buy groceries, gas, and other essentials. How much to add to your emergency kit will depend on your personal needs. I generally consider $50/person a good rule of thumb for a 72 hour emergency kit.

#3 Hygiene Supplies

toothbrushes for emergency kit

It’s amazing how many people miss this! A humble toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, deodorant, and a comb can be a big deal in an emergency. They don’t take up much room, they aren’t expensive, and they can help you feel human when things are out of your control. When normalcy is in short supply, it’s the little things that count. Highly recommended!

#2 Change of Clothes

Clothes for an emergency kit.

In many emergencies, you are going to get wet. Floods, storms, burst pipes, and liquification (earthquake hazard) can soak you through in a matter of moments. For emergencies that aren’t traditionally water-related, it can always rain. Having something familiar, dry, and comfortable to change into can help you to avoid hypothermia and keeps you comfortable.

#1 Sanitation Supplies!

back-country sanitation/emergency toilet set for an emergency kit

Sometimes, you won’t have a working toilet. Plumbing is a fickle thing, and lots of factors can lead to a breakdown, even on a good day. Pack some toilet paper and hand sanitizer as a minimum to help prevent the spread of germs if you have to find alternate facilities. If you can, also pack a shovel and garbage bags. Want a complete solution? Check out our toilet set. Everybody poops – plan for it!

Wrap up:

What else do you think is overlooked in most emergency survival kits? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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