Don’t Leave Home Without It: the Vehicle 72-Hour Kit
Soccer moms, football moms, cheerleading moms, whatever they call us, “chauffeur” better describes what we, Survival Moms, do every day. In my world, it’s not unusual to have a kid’s dentist appointment, a field trip, and a swim meet all on the same day, transported by our trusty Tahoe. Now, if that Tahoe ever broke down or for some reason we couldn’t get home as planned, what would we do?
My answer is the Vehicle 72 Hour Kit. If you were well and truly stuck somewhere, this Kit could see you and your family through at least 72 hours. That’s three days. It wouldn’t be luxurious living, that’s for sure, but it would be survival, and that’s what we’re talking about here.
I consider the Vehicle 72 Hour Kit to be an essential part of being prepared for emergencies.
To get started on your own Vehicle 72 Hour Kit, you’ll need some type of container that will fit in the back of your minivan or SUV or in the trunk of your car. I chose a Rubbermaid clear plastic bin, the type that is designed to fit under beds. It’s the perfect width for our vehicle, and I like the fact that I can see what’s inside. It also holds a lot.
The typical 72 Hour Kit, sometimes called a Bug-Out Bag, is stored at home and ready to grab as you run out the door in case of an evacuation. Since we’re building a Kit for your vehicle, we want it filled with items we’ll need if stranded somewhere.
You can find numerous lists online of what should be in a 72 Hour Kit, but since I’m a mom, and I pretty much always have the kids with me, my own list is a little different. Here’s what I’ve packed. A lot of these items are available through The Ready Store, and I’ve included links.
Sanitation (With kids, you just have to start here.)
- A 4-pack of toilet paper, flattened (Take the center cardboard tube out to make it as flat as possible. Can hardly imagine civilized life without toilet paper.)
- Baby wipes
- Small box of Kleenex
- Hand sanitizer
- Bar of soap
- Clorox wipes (Germs never take a vacation.)
- A few plastic grocery bags stuffed into another grocery bag
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Dental floss
- Tampons/feminine protection (With my luck… :::sigh:::)
- paper towels
Sustenance (Kids will quickly panic if they think you’re out of food, but whatever you pack, make sure it’s something your kids will eat.)
- Beef jerky or something similar
- Trail mix
- Shelled sunflower seeds
- Small cans of food, such as fruit, ravioli, tuna
- Protein bars and granola bars
- High calorie energy bars (Handle these with care. High energy may be the last thing your kids need!)
- Hard candies (Offer a prize for whoever can make their Lifesaver last the longest!)
- Packets for flavoring water
- Can opener, unless all your cans have a pop-top
- Plastic forks, spoons and knives, one set per person. (Check out this handy set at PamperedChef.)
Entertainment (After everyone has eaten and gone to the bathroom, then what??)
- A read-aloud book ( Should be something entertaining for the whole family with plenty of chapters. I packed Journey to the Center of the Earth and Charlotte’s Web.)
- Small Bible (This is more for my own sanity than that of the kids!)
- Paper and pens/pencils
- Deck of cards. (Think “War”, “Go Fish” and math flashcards. If you’re stranded for very long, your kids will invent their own games!)
- Single-use digital camera (Not only good for entertainment, but it might come in handy to document your emergency situation.)
- Small binoculars
- Sharpie (Drawing fake mustaches on each other should keep the kids busy for a couple of minutes, and you’ll be grateful for this if you have to leave a note on your vehicle.)
- Glo-sticks (Great value: entertainment and emergency light in one!)
- Ibuprofen (For me.)
- Ear plugs (Again, for me.)
- Emergency blankets
- Fleece blankets (Cheapest way to get these? Buy two yards of any fleece print at a fabric store. Instant blanket. Bulky, but can be stowed beneath a seat.)
- Light sources (Headlamps are worth their weight in gold, but also have a traditional flashlight or two. These can be stored in a glove compartment or other niche in your vehicle.)
- Rain ponchos
- Duct tape
- Hand and foot warmers (Small, stashable)
- Rope (Check out brand name Paracord for top quality.)
- Knife (A cheapie pocket knife is better than nothing, but you’ll be grateful if you pack something sturdier.)
- Battery/solar-powered emergency radio
- Ground cover (I packed two large heavy-duty plastic tablecloths.)
- Work gloves
- Extra batteries for anything battery powered in your Kit
- Waterproof matches
- Water purification tablets
- Small portable water filter
- Mirror for signaling
- Small, sturdy shovel (Check out a collapsible shovel if space is tight.)
- Two heavy duty black trash bags
- An emergency radio (If your car battery is dead, you’ll have no way of keeping up with weather reports or road updates.)
Medical Emergencies (With kids, need I say more?)
- Basic First Aid Kit from Wal-Mart, price $9
- Children’s pain relief medication and dispenser
- Adult pain relief medication
- QuickClot (This product quickly stops bleeding in the case of a serious wound.)
- Small bottle of bleach
- Medical gloves and face masks
- First Aid reference book
- Super Glue
- Ziploc-style bags (Just store some of your items in different sized bags so you’ll have them already packed.)
- Rubber bands
- A bungee cord or two
- A cell phone charger. Unless you know that you know there’s one elsewhere in the car.
- Small scissors
- Sewing kit
- Cloth sheet
- A couple of compact nylon bags and a nylon backpack (If we have to leave our vehicle, we’ll need something for carrying our supplies.)
- Money in small bills, along with plenty of change (If nothing else, this will help greatly with bribing your children to be nice to each other!)
In addition to storing things in the plastic bin, I took a long, hard look at the Tahoe to find other nooks and crannies where I could put additional supplies. A large city map book, along with maps of neighboring states, is in a back seat pocket, and there are two Gymboree baby blankets rolled up and stored beneath the back seat.
I also have several 2-liter bottles filled with water stashed beneath the back seat. I’m not so sure the water/plastic bottle/heat is a good combination, so when we leave the house, I always make sure we have a handful of fresh water bottles with us. However, if the stored water was all we had, we’d drink it until we could get fresh water. Even if we don’t drink the stored water, it can be used for washing grubby hands and faces.
It’s recommended to have a gallon of water on hand per person, per day. It would be pretty difficult to keep that much water stored in your vehicle. One option, in addition to the 2-liter bottles, is a 5-gallon collapsible water bottle or two.
What about a change of clothing for each person? It depends on how much space you have in your Kit and in your vehicle, but a clean shirt, pants, underwear and socks shouldn’t take up too much space. If you have Space Bags, or something similar, clothing and items like the fleece blankets will take up even less room and can be stored beneath the back seat.
For warmth in extreme cold condition, check out this homemade heater demonstrated by Erich over at Tactical Intelligence. If you use this, be sure to roll down a window for ventilation.
Finally, not to be a fear-monger, but there’s always the chance you’ll be stranded far from any bathroom facilities. A 5 or 6 gallon bucket, equipped with a portable potty lid is a big improvement over squatting by the side of the road. Be sure to include toilet bags and there are even chemicals to have on hand that keep the odors down.
You’ll be surprised by how quickly your own Kit comes together once you get started. I was able to finish mine in just a day or two. I actually had most everything on hand already. You may never need this Vehicle 72 Hour Kit, but I’ll bet it will bring you and your family peace of mind just knowing it’s there.
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