Are 72/96-Hour Kits just a myth that will get you killed?

Life Changing MomentSomething was taking place last night with me, I’m not exactly sure what it was. It is still with me this morning. Actually, something has been changing in me since mid-August when I left to go fight wildfires in Washington State. Maybe not “changing” so much, more like clarifying or defining.

Yeah, you want me to let you into my head for minute to join in that conversation, right? Careful what you ask for…I listen to Glenn Beck

A couple of months ago I was listening to Glenn Beck. He was really excited about a few things, but mostly he was saying, “Now is the time to take action!”

What he was getting at, as I understood it, is there is a lot going on in the world that is “bad.” Many would say the majority of current events we hear about are outright evil. I would agree. But Glenn’s point was, as people, as individuals, it is time for us to take action. It is time that we start doing those things that we need to be doing.

Those “things” are both as individuals for ourselves/family, and as part of our congregations and communities. That got to me, it really meant something to me. So this article is just one of the results of that experience…

will 72-hour Kits get you killedAre 72/96-Hour Kits just a myth that will get you killed?

And, why am I even asking that question?

Remember the reason that I wrote my books and why I am doing this site?

It is because I care. I care about your safety and your ability to take care of your family and your community during times of crisis.

That being the case, I asked the question, “Are 72/96-Hour Kits just a myth that will get you killed?” for a specific reason.

But let’s step back a minute and review a couple foundation blocks of emergency preparedness. I am speaking of catastrophe categories. Namely; Emergencies, Disasters, and Grid-Down. Can we agree that for “preppers” those categories of catastrophic events pretty much work for all of us? < click here to read more about catastrophe categories >

I will assume you generally agreed with the categorizations. Next thing we need to fundamentally agree on are the threats that are associated with those catastrophes. As I have written before “threats” pose risk, but risk can be mitigated. However, before we can identify and mitigate those risks we must find the common threats to the catastrophe categories that I mentioned above. I believe those common threats are:

  1. Threats Cause Risks for preppersViolence
  2. Sickness/Injury
  3. Lack of, or poor, communications
  4. Lack of, or poor, organization
  5. Dehydration
  6. Exposure (need for shelter)
  7. Starvation

Yes, I put them in priority order; the priority order in my opinion. And, the priorities are set based on the risk of fatality. In other words, those things that are the most likely to kill you the quickest are given the highest priority. They relate back to the “severity” and “probability” matrix principle. < click here to read more on threat matrix >

Yes, I am going to get to the 72/96-Hour Kit thing in a minute, please be patient with me.

So, if we can agree on the types of threats and their prioritization then we can also agree on how to mitigate the risks associated with those threats. We don’t have to possess identical mitigation steps, but they will generally be the same, yes?

One last item to touch on, “mission.” Can we agree that each piece of gear or equipment has to have a specific mission to be included on any list? Otherwise, that item would be a waste of weight and space.

72-hour Kit will get you killedOK, finally…the 72/96-Hour Kit issue…

When was the last time you actually read a list of items for a 72-hour or 96-hour kit?

When was the last time you ever carried your 72-hour or 96-hour kit for even 30 minutes?

Do you even know why each item is on your kit’s list and actually in the kit?

During my career in emergency services I have seen lots of folks evacuate, everything from hurricanes to wildfires. Wildfire evacuation house burned downAnd I don’t ever remember a single person having a 72-hour kit ready to go. What they did take was what they felt were “irreplaceable items” such as family photo albums, family bibles, pets, etc. It is easy to understand their last minute actions.

Now let me pick on a couple items that usually appear in most 72-hour kits and let us compare the true usefulness of that item to the threats/risks and the mitigation needed.

Food – Really? People can go 21-days without food before they starve to death. A relatively healthy person can go 48 – 72 hours before there are even any negative affects other than feeling hungry. So why have any food in a 72-hour kit, an emergency kit?

Water – Seriously? A normal healthy person can go 3 days without water before dying. A normal, relatively healthy person can go 12 – 24 hours before suffering any real side-affects from dehydration other than chapped lips. So why have all that water in your 72-hour kit?

Clothes – Now there is a peach! I’ve gone 12 days wearing the exact same clothes, and without a shower, while fighting wildfires. So what is the purpose of having any clothing item in a 72-hour kit?

So there are three main items of many 72-hour kits that I just touched on. And frankly, I made case for not including all of them in a kit.Think Outside The Box for emergency preparedness

You are either thinking outside the box right now, or you are coming up with a thousand reasons to criticize everything I just said about food, water, and clothing in 72-hour kits. Which are you…a thinking person or an argument preparation person?

All that being said, what is the purpose of YOUR 72-hour kit? I am asking you, what exactly have you written down that this “kit” is supposed to do for you and your family. I mean the exact details of the kit’s mission, and did you write it down?

If you are like most people you probably have not thought through exactly what the kit is supposed to do for your family…what its mission is. And almost assuredly you’ve not written that mission down on paper.72-hour emergency kit list

If you are like most people you have seen items on some list somewhere and said to yourself, “Oh, that sounds good, I’ll put that in my 72-hour kit.”

Now, you may think I am being critical of you and your prepping. Well, in a way I am being critical. But not in such a way that I intend to hurt your feelings or insult you. Although I am sure you could read it that way. What I am trying to do is challenge you and your thinking about how you prepare your family for emergencies, disasters and grid-down.

If you have read my “GOOD BOB” article < click here to read more about GOOD BOB > you see that the mission for my Get Out Of Dodge – Bug Out Bag/Box is very specific. And any item that doesn’t directly contribute to that mission is not included. Every item is justified by challenging mission accomplishment vs. that item’s weight & space.

Why so finicky? If you have read my article on 72/96-Hour Kits < click here to read about 72/96-Hour Kits > you know I am concerned about their weight and space issues. If you can’t carry your kit for a decent amount of time or distance, then your kit is impractical. And my GOOD BOB is designed to be carried in a vehicle first, but reduced to Question yourself on preparedness and 72-hour kitbackpack size if needed. < read more about that here >

But what about you? What about your kit? Is it really practical? Is each item truly necessary? Does each item have a specific purpose compared to the kit’s overall mission?

Couple challenges to get you thinking…

Canned Food in 72-hour kitFood – I have heard about people putting cans of food into their kits. Think of the weight and space taken up with cans of food. Even packets of freeze-dried food can be bulky. If you are in a situation where the emergency demands that you flee with only a 72-hour kit, are you really worried about canned Spaghetti O’s or Mountain House Lasagna? I’ve lived off Quaker Oat “Dips” for two days while fighting a wildfire and did just fine. Rethink what kind and how much food you need to have in your kit.

5 gallon collapsabe Water JugWater – I have heard that people have a 5-gallon container of water that they include in their 72-hour kit. That container would weigh in at over 40lbs. Who is going to carry that much weight? You? Really? When was the last time you carried a plastic container with a tiny handle and it weighed over 40lbs? How far do you think you are going to carry it? Why not consider a personal water filtering “straw” that each person can carry? < read more about NDuR > Or carry a single MSR Sweetwater filter that weighs less than 1lb? < read more about the MSR Sweetwater filter system >

There will be some kind of water around, just filter it and you are good to go. But don’t even worry about it the first 24 hours if you don’t need to. If there is absolutely no water of any kind…well, show me that situation please.Pile Of Clothes for 72-hour kit

Clothes – I think you can wear the same clothes for 72 hours, yes? You may smell, they may get a little dirty, maybe even crusty. But are you going to die over it? No, you won’t. Are clothes really that important? If so, what kind and how much?

But what can you die over? What can kill you or a family member?

IFAK Individual First Aid KitAbsence of, or inadequate, first aid kit can surely do it! And I am talking about having a real first aid kit with you, not a box of band aids. < click here to read about an Individual First Aid Kit >

How about some means of defense? I would be happy if you are even taking along a good survival knife for each person over the age of 5. Like and ESEE-6 or an ESEE-3, etc. But why not your EDC pistol?

Oh, the disaster shelter won’t let you in with it? Why the heck would you tell them you have it? Or, better yet, find somewhere else to shelter!

Boafeng UV-5r handheld Ham RadioSo you have a change of clothes…but do you have a handheld radio for each family member and do they know how to use it? Do you have charged replacement batteries for each radio? Do you have a way to recharge the batteries?

So a clean pair of underwear is more important than maintaining communications with family members? Especially so if family members get separated!

So what the heck is my point here?

I want to Challenge youI want to challenge you on the contents of your 72-hour or 96-hour kit. I want you to do the following:

  1. Decide on what exactly the mission is of your kit. Then write it down on paper.
  2. Take all your stuff out of your kits. Look at each item and compare it against the threat/risk list above (or a list you have compiled).
  3. Only put those items in your kit which directly mitigate each threat/risk in the proper priority order.
  4. Then ask yourself, “Will my new kit protect and sustain the lives of my family as long as possible?”

Yes, I am asking you challenge yourself in relation to your prepping. I want you to consider having a major paradigm shift. I want you to look at your 72/96-hour kit in a whole new light.

I want you to ask yourself, to challenge yourself…

Will my existing 72-hour or 96-hour kit get me or my family killed?Failure Is Not An OptionFailure for me is not an option.

This website is my “calling” that I am supposed to be doing at this point in my life. I am to do everything I can to help you and your family be prepared for what is coming.

Failure is not an option…not for me, not for you, not for your family.

Prepper Family


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7 thoughts on “Are 72/96-Hour Kits just a myth that will get you killed?

  1. “I’ve lived off Quaker Oat “Dips” for two days while fighting a wildfire and did just fine.”

    This is an i important point. I do have an emergency kit – the same one I backpack with. Everything has it’s ‘mission.’ The issue really isn’t food as much as it is what kind of food. Protein takes longer to digest and isn’t all that useful for the first 2-4 days. Carbs are very important. Having granola bars, dried fruit or other high carb, light-weight food is important – both physically and psychologically. I’ve gone without food and water for 3 days. I’ve been in situations where weight severely limited the food we could take. Having ‘taste-good,’ high-carb foods is definitely helpful.

    Carrying gallons of water is impractical (a pint’s a pound) and using some form of light weight water filtration should be obvious.

    For clothing, I agree with the exception of socks. An extra pair of socks should be in every kit. Socks should be changed and washed every day, when possible. You may get away without changing your socks and you may not. I’ve seen feet deteriorate in just a couple of days in the right situations. Foot care is very important, especially if you plan to walk any distance.

    I agree there is too little thought in most of the stuff out there. For example, I object to the typical survival hype that says ‘water’ is the most important priority. This is nonsense. As the author points out, the most important priority is the one that will kill you first. In many, if not most cases (not including SHTF), it is exposure to the elements, not lack of water, that presents the greatest danger.

    My kit is different in the summer than it is in the winter. Climate, location, threats, etc. all have an impact on an emergency kit. I completely agree that each item should be carefully evaluated based on a persons individual location and threats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All great comments!!!

      You are exactly right about the socks!! They are the only thing I change regularly. And we come from the same school of thought when it comes to their use. I use only high-quality wool socks(…the thicker the better ( I will wear pair #1 all day, take them off at night, wash them really well with a tiny bit of soap, hang them up to dry inside out. Then I wash my feet, or at least wipe them down with a WetOne.The next morning I put on Pair #2 and tie Pair #1 to the outside of my pack right side out and let them finish drying if needed. If the hiking is really tough I will stop mid-day, clean my feat, especially between my toes and put on the clean pair of socks. Then the pair I just took off gets tied to my pack for the rest of the day. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to take care of your feet.

      You are exactly right about “exposure” being the greatest threat to outdoor survival. I wish it were true for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down situations. If it were, it would be way easier to deal with.

      Sounds as if you are pretty dialed-in! Good job…please share more when you have time.


  2. I will definitely, this week, make a total re-evaluation of my bug out bag. Thanks. The question I had on clothing, though, was to have some in case one became totally wet. I thought of wet clothes and hypothermia. Thoughts? I don’t carry water, but have the berkey filter bottles, but I am thinking that the filter straw idea may be better.


  3. Everything ok? I was looking forward to reading your post when I saw you unpublished it. I mean the portion of the blog post that shows up in the email had me hooked! -Rob

    On Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 2:44 PM, A.H. Trimble – Emergency preparedness informati


    • Hey Robert, I “fat fingered” it 😦
      Yeah, I was doing a last minute edit on it and I accidentally hit the “publish” button vs. the “update” button.
      But, the article will go up tomorrow. Thank you for watching so closely. Sorry about the confusion. AH


    • Hey Wayne, I “fat fingered” it 😦
      Yeah, I was doing a last minute edit on it and I accidentally hit the “publish” button vs. the “update” button.
      But, the article will go up tomorrow. Thank you for watching so closely. Sorry about the confusion. AH


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