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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without expressed written permission from
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72-Hour Kits

72-hour Kit 96-Hour Kit 72/96-Hour Kit for emergencies and disasters familiy preparedness About 10 years ago the government began advising people to have a 72-hour kit for emergencies and disasters. For over 60 years members of the LDS church have been counseled to be prepared for a time of need or emergency.

It has been my experience that most government sponsored (i.e. FEMA) responses take about 96-hours to really get flowing. So a good place to start is with a 72/96-Hour Kit. The LDS church has been recommending these kits for decades now. They simply make sense.

But before I go on let me give my opinion on a few differences that are important:

72-Hour Kit72/96-Hour Kit – This is a kit that is what I consider “milk toast” in nature. It is for the normal family to use in the case where they need to leave their home for a limited period of time.  However, they will be able to return to their home once the emergency or disaster is over. This kit doesn’t address the issue of violence being the primary threat. Hence, there are no weapons mentioned. This kit only addresses needs such as food, water, and clothing.Fieldline Tactical pack for a get home bag.

Get Home Bag – This is a kit designed to get a person from their current location (i.e. work) to their home. It addresses violence as the #1 threat in the situation. It is designed to assist a person to move undetected and survive out in the elements as opposed to in a shelter. <read more about Get Home Bag click here>

condor 3-day asault bag pack makes a great Bug Out Bag get out of dodge bag

Get Out Of Dodge or Bug Out Bag – This is the “dooms day” option. This kit is designed for the situation where you must leave your home and there is little, if any, hope that you will ever return. Contents are geared more towards “survival” and combined with a person tactical vest and weapons, addresses the #1 threat of violence. <read more about GOOD BOBs click here>

Now that the differences have been identified let’s return to the 72/96-Hour Kit…

FEMA takes 73 - 96 hours to show upIt generally takes government disaster relief agencies 3 – 4 days to move in and set up before offering assistance.  Being able to take care of your family till then is vitally important and the goal of this kit. A 72/96-Hour Kit is a good minimum to start with but additional items maybe important if you can travel via vehicle. But keep the contents separate. Anything other than the 72/96-Hour Kit contents should be kept in another bag, back or box. Mixing the different kits’ contents reduces the ability to grab the more portable 72/96-Hour Kit and move quickly if needed.

Kit Guidelines

  1. The objective of the 72/96-Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit is to have, previously assembled and placed in one location, all of those essential items you and your family will need during a 72 – 96 hour time period following an emergency away from your home. When an emergency occurs you will probably not have the luxury of going around the house gathering up needed items, especially if you have to evacuate your home on short notice.
  1. Take time now to gather whatever your family needs to survive for 4 days based upon the assumption that those items are the only possessions you will have. Your kit should be in a portable container located near the primary exit of your house. This is so you can grab it quickly on your way out of the house in a serious emergency.
  1. Each family member should have their own kit with water, food, and clothing. Distribute heavy items between kits that the adults and teenagers will carry.
  1. Keep a light source in the top or on the outside of your kit, so you can find it quickly in the dark.
  1. Personalize each family member kit. Make sure you fill the needs of each family member. Make a list of each item that will go into the kit. Write their name at the top.
  1. Select a backpack or bag that will only be used for this purpose. Check each item off the list as you put it in the bag. Place a copy of the list in the bag for future reference.
  1. Enclose the extra clothing, personal documents, and other items that can be damaged by smoke or water in Ziplock bags to protect them. If it’s raining when you have to evacuate, you will appreciate the dry clothes.
  1. Inspect your kit at least twice a year. Rotate food as needed. Check children’s clothing for proper fit. Adjust clothing for winter or summer needs. Check expiration dates on food, batteries, etc.
  1. Consider the needs of elderly people as well as those with handicaps or other special needs. For example: for babies, store diapers, washcloth, hand wipes, ointment, bottles and pacifiers, and other special supplies.
Mandatory Contents:
  • Water – It is virtually impossible for the average person to carry enough water for 3 – 4 days; that would be upwards of 32lbs of water alone. But I would suggest you still have 3 – 4 gallons of water stored beside your Kit in case you can utilize a vehicle. However, each Kit should have at least 2 liters of water in one liter stainless steel water bottles.
  • Aqua Tabs – One set of water purification tablets.
  • First Aid – A basic first aid kit is absolutely mandatory for each person (IFAK). I would also highly recommend a family first kit as well (TBAK).
  • Freeze Dried Food – Three meals (minimum) of freeze dried food.
  • Flashlight & batteries
Suggested Contents:
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Towelettes
  • Change of clothes
  • Map & compass
  • Food & Treats as appropriate
  • Knife
  • Lighter
  • Handheld radio(s)
  • Survival radio

I have given you a start of your Kit content list. I have intentionally not provided a comprehensive list of contents other than the “mandatory” items that I listed. I think a 72/96-Hour Kit is a recipe for disaster. I think it is woefully short of addressing the #1 threat in any disaster, emergency and especially “grid-down” and that is violence.  However, a 72/96-Hour Kit gets you started and may be your only option based on your circumstances.

Now, take the information provided here and build a kit list for each person in your family. Follow the Tips & Traps information as well. At the end of this article I list some additional links, specifically for the Get Home Bag and GOOD BOB bag. Look at the lists that i have for each of those situations and see if it can help you with the 72/96-Hour Kit you want to build.

  1. Don’t overload your kit! You may have to carry it a long way.
  2. Consider using a piece of luggage (or pack) with wheels on it.
  3. Everyone should have their own flashlight.
  4. All flashlights should use the same size of batteries.
  1. You probably don’t need all the clothes you packed.
  2. Canned food is VERY heavy, freeze dried pouches aren’t.
  3. When you need it most, it will break. Have some redundancy.


Additional valuable information:


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No reproduction or other use of this content
without expressed written permission from
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