Friday, January 30, 2009

Finding the Right Container for your 72 Hour Kit

Access the needs of your family! I did not buy any new containers–I just looked around to see what I had already. If not then take advantage of the sales. Keep in mind they should be sturdy but don’t have to be beautiful—go to a thrift store and see what they have. A friend found her family's backpacks for less than $3 each! The containers should be lightweight and compact, yet have enough room in them to carry what you need. No single container meets all of the needs of everyone. You need to look at your family’s individual needs. For example I have 4 children under 7 and my husband will most likely be at work like usual. Small children will not be able to carry a large bucket on their own or even a heavy backpack. I have to assume for the worst–that I will be carrying the bulk of the weight. Although, it is recommended that you don’t try to cram supplies for your entire family into one large container. You may not be able to move it when a critical situation arises.

These fit my families needs:

The older kids have a backpack that I made sure they could carry

I would like to say this is my little backpack, but it is my husbands. He is usually at work and if he was not home during an emergency I would need to carry the backpack with all of the babies stuff as well.

I packed this pretty full of my things, the babies things and any water the kids could not carry on their own. I can still manage to haul it around and still hold the baby if needed----although I will keep a small stroller near our kits as well....he is not a light baby:) The dogs kit is in here as well. If you have a large dog I havc seen kits that you can strap on them. My dog is 7 lbs and not pulling his own weight during an emergency:)

This bag I call the "extra bag". It has items in that would be usual but not essential. I could not fit a change of clothes in my bag like the kids and baby, but I figure I do have a poncho to keep me dry and a emergency blanket to keep my warm. BUT it would be nice to have extra clothes and soft blankets. I also have a portable potty in here as well as some f my CERT supplies if I was needed. I also put in a little extra water bottles, dry milk, and play dough for the kids. If at all possible this bag will come with me, but it all depends if my husband is home and my kids are managing on their own. It rolls and has straps so I feel confident it will not be problem.

When choosing a container for your kits, don’t worry that you find the perfect one the first time you look. You can always change your mind along the way as you find better options or it is more financially possible for your family. The following are options that could be used for your emergency kits. They are graded by how practically they are suited for an emergency kit. Polyethylene Buckets- You can find these buckets, typically 5 gallons, at hardware stores, Emergency Essentials ,Walmart or even at the grocery store during their Case lot sale. They average around $5 but are on sale at Macey' s occasionally for $2.99. I bought several of these last year to hold wheat, flour, oatmeal that I bought in bulk for food storage. You will also need a resin-type wrench to open the lid easily. They are usually sold next to it and cheap. Duct tape this outside of your bucket for easy access.

Pros: These are the best containers for several reasons. They can hold all of the essential items, stack well, and waterproof. They can also be used for a wash basin, a seat, or as a toilet if needed (we will talk more about this during the hygiene section:) For this reason it is recommended that you have at least one bucket for your family.

Cons: It is too bulky and heavy for a small child to have to carry. I tried it with my young ones and it just isn’t possible. I also wouldn't have much use for this because I prefer to have my arms free to hold children or other items.

Plastic storage tubs-

Pros:The 10/20 gallon rectangular storage tubs WITH carrying handles are a great choice. They also stack well and can hold water if needed. Avoid using tubs that are larger than 18-20 gallons because it can become to heavy.

Cons: Also to heavy for a child to carry. I had one of these and it was quite heavy when full .It was not convenient for me to carry if I have to carry more than one kit and my baby as well.

Backpacks- Pros:Most are easy to carry and are water repellent. If you used a hiking backpack with frame you could expand your kit capacity as well. School type backpacks are the most popular and depend on the quality. Although I have seen huge kids backpacks that have wheels and these would be a great option.

If you have small children this is the easiest for them. They also hang on a hook in the garage for easy and convenient storage.

Cons: They tend to be too small to fit essential items for one kit. With small children they will still not be able to hold all of the weight.

I put the childs change of clothing, snacks, coloring book and pencils, their 3 days of food, 2 water bottles, and their hygiene items in the backpack and it is just right for them. They are not water proof, so I put everything inside a garbage bag first. Duffel Bags- Heavy- duty, shoulder-strap-style bags or gym bags make fairly good emergency kit containers.

Pros: They are usually quite sturdy. Many have wheels or handles and multiple compartments. I put fabric blankets, mine and my husbands clothes, and the portable potty, in our wheeled, strapped duffle and it is light and easy to move about. I put all of the items in a trash bag before to keep moisture out. The items I put in here would be nice to have but not essential.

Cons: The drawstring bags like those used for laundry are not recommended. They can be cumbersome and difficult to carry. Plus they are usually thin and not water resistant.


Pros: You can find luggage in all types of sizes. Some come with wheels and retractable handles. They are usually big enough to carry your supplies but not so heavy that you can’t lift them.

I had my kits in these for 2 years, but I overheard someone say that in rocky terrain or other bad conditions I would be better off being able to carry my kit on my back. These were heavy and although they rolled they wouldn't even fit in my SUV without difficulty. Plus I tried to imagind how I would roll both of these with another backpack on my back, AND hold my huge baby!

Cons: Just because you find a huge suitcase that can fit all of your supplies doesn’t mean you should:) You have to remember lightweight is best. It is also recommended that you put your items in a large trash bag before putting in the suitcase.

Boxes- Pros : A sturdy produce box is a adequate way to get started on your kit if you are ready to get started right away. Get one with handles.

Cons: this is not a long term solution. Cardboard boxes get wet and will fall apart. If this is your option for right now place the contents of your kit inside a trash bag and then put the whole box into another trash bag.

Trunks, footlockers, and ammunition boxes-Not recommended: Too heavy and unmanageable for one person to move. Plus the lids are insecure.

Garbage cans- Not recommended: This is what I had for years. I had a wheeled one that stored my blankets, clothes and first aid. Then I read the latest information and switched my container.

Cons: They become to heavy when full, even if on wheels. A 30 gallon garbage can full of supplies can weigh up to 200 pounds! They would be almost impossible to get into a car. Also, if you were to take your garbage can to a shelter, it would be difficult to get to the items in the bottom of your can. The lids are also insecure.

Access the needs of your family! I did not buy any new containers–I just looked around to see what I had already. If not then take advantage of the sales. Keep in mind they should be sturdy but don’t have to be beautiful—go to a thrift store and see what they have. A friend found her family's backpacks for less than $3 each!

*Resource-It's Time to Plan not Panic" by Barbara Salsbury


  1. I am excited to start putting everything together. It will be good to do it one step at a time. Excellent info.

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