Preparing 72 Hour Emergency Kits

According to the Government of Canada, in the case of emergency preparedness you need to be prepared to get by without water or electrical power for 72 hours. That is 3 days, in case your math is rusty. While you can find plenty of lists that give you the ins and the outs of preparing a 72 hour survival kit, there are some things these lists won’t tell you.

  1. You need to get a duffle bag or backpack for each person in your household that they will be able to carry while running. Also make sure the bags can be carried by each person. Obviously you don’t want to leave your five-year-old carrying a bag three times her size. The premise is that in certain emergencies, such as a fire or flood, you’ll want to get out of Dodge and you’ll need to take 72 hours’ worth of supplies with you.
  2. Save the canned goods in your storm shelter. You won’t get too far with a bag loaded with canned peas weighing you down, so opt for lighter weight goods. Look for freeze-dried food packages and powdered drink mixes, and save the heft of your bag for the bottles of water.
  3. Speaking of bottled water, this is perhaps the most important thing you should have tucked safely in your 72 hour emergency kit. According to FEMA, you’ll need to have “one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.” Even more importantly, you want to keep your bottled water maintained. Wouldn’t it be a disaster to grab your emergency kit in the case of a flood, only to find out that all of your bottled water had joined the flooding waters thanks to a bottle burst from frozen water? Also, you don’t want to find yourself drinking stagnant water, so keep your water supplies fresh. Check your water supply monthly, or weekly during times of bad weather and social distress.
  4. There are certain cases that call for special items. Do you have a baby in tow? Not only will he or she not be able to carry a bag, they’ll also require an additional bag filled entirely with their own supplies. The FEMA’s READY program suggests having a duffel bag stuffed with items you’d typically carry in your baby’s diaper bag. However, as babies grow at a substantial rate, their 72 hour emergency kit will need to be checked weekly. Keep in mind that baby formula and jarred foods will need to be checked and replaced just as often to prevent spoilage.
  5. Finally, consider the climate that you live in. Do you have short summers and harsh winters, or are you living in a tropical climate? You should pack three days’ worth of clothing according to the current weather conditions. Therefore you’ll need to change the clothes in your kit every 3 months or when the seasons change.

Packing a 72 hour emergency kit is a no-brainer if you want to survive in most emergencies. However, thinking outside the box will separate the men from the boys. So consider personalizing your kit with items of great reward, such as family photos or mp3 players, which can help your family members keep their sanity in times of distress.

Don’t Let Zombies Ruin Your Day!

You may have a lot of little frustrations throughout your day. A flat tire on the car, a bill collection notice comes in the mail, and your favorite performer bombs on American Idol. But, nothing can ruin the day like those pesky zombies! The best way to avoid that is to be prepared. Make yourself and your family a survival kit.

Plan to make several survival kits. One for your house, one for the car and a few to place in the other various “safe houses” you have designated in case of a zombie attack. Leaving your survival kit behind as you are escaping a shambling horde of zombies surrounding your house makes for a bad day!

Water is your first priority. Purchase large, sealed locking containers to store water at your house. There are many sizes available so get the largest containers you can find that will support you and your family for 2-3 days. Make sure the containers are secured to a floor or wall. Zombies aren’t big drinkers, and they’re not keen on bathing. But they are not very graceful and like to push things over so you don’t want your water source to be inadvertently dumped.

Besides this water source, you will want to keep a water filtration kit and some purification tablets in your survival kit. Zombies are slow moving and not very good at planning, so who knows how long they will hang around the neighborhood. Be ready in case you use up your containers of water and need to tap into rain water or other sources.

Next, consider your food needs. It case of a zombie apocalypse, every survivor will be looting the Oreo’s and Cheese Whiz from the local Mini-Mart so you can’t count on that. Here’s a helpful tip…zombies can’t operate a can opener. Stock up on canned goods that have a long shelf life. And be realistic. After your 100th can of spaghetti, you’ll never want to see another one. Have a variety of foods and throw in some of your favorites as a treat.

Dried foods are good choice, too. Remember to keep it in a sealed, waterproof container. Pulling out a bag of beef jerky for a snack to find it covered in something left behind by a zombie will make you suddenly lose your appetite.

Another very important item for your survival kit is a fire source. After the 100th can of COLD spaghetti, you’ll wish you had learned how to rub two sticks together to make fire. You can stock up on matches and fuel sources, but those will run out, too. Have a flint and steel available in your kit and a fire starting kit. People made fire long before the Zippo lighter was invented; you can, too.

These are a few important items to have in your zombie survival kit. Take some time to be prepared. Don’t let zombies ruin your day!

Create your own survival kit for emergencies

Create Your Own Survival Kit

When you create your own survival kit, there are a lot of variables to consider. What size should your emergency kit be? What do you need inside and how much of each item? Where do you get the components? Don’t get overwhelmed by the minutia though – we’re here to help.

What is an emergency/survival kit? Premium 2 Person Emergency Kit 1000px

A survival kit is a collection of items designed to help you get through an emergency in one piece. They will all look a little different based on what emergency they were made for, but they’ll all have similarities. We always need the same basic things to survive, after all! Food, water, and shelter are the key three, but we recommend covering all eight areas of preparedness in your kit if you can: food, water, heat, shelter, light, communication, first aid, and sanitation.

Why should you create your own survival kit?

Preparing for an emergency can make the experience less difficult to deal with. Heavy snowstorms may keep you homebound for several days. High winds can knock out electric power and this can take several days to repair. A basic survival kit is easy to put together and it can be designed around your personal needs. Consider the types of events you are most likely to face and keep them in mind when building your kit. If you have to face them, you’ll be grateful to have a survival kit handy!

Where to start?

The best place to start when creating your own survival kit is to make a plan. Consider what hazards are in your area. Consult the government of Canada’s Get Prepared website if you are unsure what concerns are in your area:

map of canada

Also note how many people you’re preparing for. Are you supplying only immediate household? Will your tenants or neighbours need help or supplies? Do you have family nearby who might come to stay? While preparing for an emergency is an individual responsibility, it’s important to consider those around us when creating a survival kit.

Survival kits can be put together in different sizes. You may want to have a small kit for use in your car and a larger kit for your home. An 18 to 30 gallon (68 to 114 liter) plastic tote container can be used to store items for easy access. If lifting is an issue for you or members of your family, use wheeled containers. Backpacks and duffels also work well, though they can be too small.

How long are you preparing for? While 72 hours (3 days) is often quoted as the go-to amount of time to prepare for, this is most appropriate for go-bags. Go bags and other kits designed for evacuation are usually smaller for portability. Ideally, your shelter in place kit should give you at least a week of self-sustainability. If you’re rural, you may want to prepare for longer, as help might take more time to reach you.

Basic survival kit needs: freeze dried food is perfect when you create your own survival kit

First Aid

First aid kit with a variety of bandages, gauze and medical tape, antiseptic towelettes, burn cream, tweezers and aspirin. Modify your kit to meet your needs and skill level. Consider purchasing a prepackaged kit for economy and convenience.


Bottled water can take up space. The average recommendation is to have one gallon of water per person, per day. In addition to storing water, you should have water purification tablets or filters available. You can get large water jugs at most grocery stores, or re-use clean milk jugs. Note that plastic storage containers should be rinsed out or replaced every 6 months unless they are BPA free. In this case, change the water inside every couple of years. Store clear water containers in a dark place. Want something you can set and forget? Blue Can Water has a 50 year shelf life and makes a great addition to any kit.


Non-perishable food items including crackers, peanut butter, dried fruits, nuts and canned meats are some of the items that you can add to your survival kit. Remember to include a manual can opener even if your cans have pop off tops. Most grocery store items need to be rotated through every 2 years or so, so be sure to do an annual checkup on your kit! If you want to use 25 year shelf life freeze dried food in your kit instead, we have some great options!


Candles with matches and a flashlight, with extra batteries, will provide a light source if the power is out. You might add one or two small solar powered yard lights to your kit. These can be charged outside and then used inside. Light sticks can also be a good tool for marking key destinations, like the bathroom! Be sure to pack a flashlight or head lamp for each person – everyone will need to see!

Radios Emergency radio

A radio with either extra batteries, or a crank or solar charger are a must have in any emergency survival kit. It will help you to stay connected to what’s happening in your area and receive important updates. In today’s world, it can be tempting to skip this item (we all have smart phones, right?) but please don’t! Batteries run out, and cell towers can go down or get overloaded. Trust me on this one, pack a radio!


Total Prepare is located in the most temperate part of Canada, and as I write there is snow outside. We’re not known as the great white north for nothing! Pack blankets, sleeping bags, rain ponchos/coats, tarps, and anything else you think you will need to stay warm. Personally, I live and die by disposable handwarmers. For tips on keeping warm in extreme cold, check out our other posts!


Have a plan in case your toilet stops working. Frozen pipes, flooding, earthquakes, or your big-eating cousin can all effect your facilities! For those times when a plunger just won’t cut it, have garbage bags, a shovel, and/or a portable toilet. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer too!

Comfort Items

Emergencies are scary! Pack some things to help you feel more relaxed and calm. A deck of cards, spare set of clothes, stuffed animal, etc.

Important documents

If you have an emergency plan or binder, there’s a good chance that it will contain copies of important documents. If not, you’ll want to make sure those are included in your emergency kit. These help you to claim insurance and prove your identity.

Looking for a full, detailed list? Check out our printable brochure on Shelter in Place Kits!

Unique personal needs:

  • If you or any family members take a prescription, try to keep enough on hand for emergencies. Rotate the supply to keep it from expiring.
  • Pets will also need food and water. Dry or canned can be stored but remember to include a can opener.
  • A baby in the household will require diapers, food and formula if used.


  • Add a container of baby wipes to your kit. These can be used for cleaning hands or freshening up.
  • Rotate food items in your kit to keep food fresh.
  • Organize kits with other family members or neighbors to increase the variety.

Thanks for reading! Let us know what you want to see included in our next survival kit article in the comments!