Building 72 hour kits for kids can be overwhelming. I know I was very overwhelmed when I started researching what to include in my kids’ 72 hour kits. I’ve taken everything I learned about putting together a good emergency kit for kids and I’m breaking it all down for you today. My mom is really into emergency preparedness, so I used her as my starting point when I was trying to figure out what to pack. I also looked at a few websites that I will list below for more information.
Ready.gov– This is an official U.S. government website with lots of good information about emergency preparedness.
CDC Guidelines– The CDC has a great site with lots of information about what they recommend you pack in an emergency for your children.
To make things easier for you, I’ve broken down the items I packed into different sections. For my own sanity, I bagged each of these sections separately in gallon ziploc bags and put them in the kid’s backpacks that way. Not only will this keep the items dry in case of wet weather, but it will also make it easier to keep their bags organized.
72 Hour Kits for Kids:
For my kid’s bags, I used smaller backpacks that I purchased on Amazon that would be easier for the kids to carry than a large backpack. I did make sure they are pretty sturdy and strong to hold up to wear and tear. I will link the bags below so you can see what I purchased. You can also use backpacks you have on hand for this. If you’d like to save money, you can wait until the back to school sales are done in the fall and you can find backpacks on clearance for good prices then, too. I am also planning to pull a wagon with extra water and any other items we need to bring with us in case we are traveling on foot instead of in a car.
Another thing I did that you may want to think about if you are also a single parent, is that I made duplicate 72 hour kits for my kids that I sent to their dad’s house to be kept there. This way, if there is an emergency situation and they are are their dad’s house, I don’t have to worry as much about them having the supplies they will need to be safe and evacuate if necessary.
It’s important with all of these recommendations to keep in mind the ages of your children. My children are between the ages of 4 and 10 and all potty trained. You will also want to set a reminder in your phone or on your calendar to check your 72 hour kits for kids every 6 months or so. This is a good time span because kids grow quickly and you may need to switch out the clothing you have packed, and you will also want to check on the food you have packed to throw away anything that may have expired or spoiled.
I chose head lamps over flashlights for my kids because I think it will be easier for them to use a head lamp. I also think they will get a kick out of using a head lamp. Anything I can do to take some of the fear out of a situation that will most likely be filled with fear is worth it to me. The light sticks are also something that is not only practical, but also will be fun for the kids to have.
- Hand Warmers
- Rain Poncho
- Thermal Blankets
- Light Sticks
- Head Lamps and extra batteries
- Emergen-C Packets
This is going to be very personal. I tried to select things I knew my kids would eat. I’m still trying to figure out what could be better and get swapped out. But here is where we are starting. I also got a small cup/bowl that can be used over a fire to cook the things that need cooking or warming. Each kid is getting one in their bag. I’m putting a small gatorade in the cups for now in their backpacks for easy storage. If we don’t have access to a fire, I have a small jet boil in case we need to cook something. Don’t forget to include a metal fork and spoon for eating.
One important thing to remember if you have babies or small toddlers, be sure to pack infant formula or even dry/boxed milk for them. For babies this is especially important to remember, because you don’t want to worry about them being hungry. For toddlers that still take a bottle or sippy cup of milk before bed, I’d recommend adding that onto your list of food necessities for them.
- Metal bowl with handle for cooking
- Metal spoon and fork
- Hard Candies
- Beef Jerky
- Apple Sauce 3x
- Protein Bars 3x
- Tuna 3x
- Jif To-Go 3x
- Hot chocolate packets 3x
- Instant Oatmeal 3x
- Breakfast Essentials 3x
- 1 gallon of water
- Infant formula and bottle (if needed)
The kid’s activity bags are not a necessity. I included them to give my kids something to do if we are stuck in a shelter or somewhere for a few days. If we need the space in their bags for other items, I will remove the activity bags and leave them behind. Keep in mind that my kids are between the ages of 4-10yrs old. Pick activities that are age appropriate for your children. I would not recommend putting crayons into an activity bag for a young toddler, instead I would put matchbox cars, a small baby doll, or action figures of some kind.
- Card game
- Hard candies
- Coloring books or pads
For the hygiene bag, I had to make some substitutions because of the pandemic conditions we are dealing with right now. Do your best, and know that you can always change things out later. If you can’t find travel size toilet paper, just use a toilet paper roll that doesn’t have a lot of TP left on it, and put it into a small ziploc bag to protect it from getting wet. If you have a child with longer hair, think about including hair ties or barrettes into this bag as well.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Wet Wipes
- Toilet paper
- Small trash bags
- Chapstick with SPF
- Microfiber Towel
Because I don’t have any babies or toddlers, I didn’t pack diapers/wipes in my kid’s packs, but I’m including them on this list because they are important if you have younger kids or babies. Be sure to account for the ages of your children when planning your clothes for your 72 hour kits. Also, keep in mind where you leave and the different seasons you experience in your area. If you live in a colder climate, you will want to pack items that are warm for the winter time. If you are in a warm climate, you won’t necessarily need wool socks.
- Wool socks
- Jogger pants
- Running shoes
- Diapers/wipes for 3 days (if needed)
The extra items I’m including in my 72 hour kits for kids are some of the most important, I think. It’s always important to have some ID on everyone’s person/bag. Not only for safety, but also in case you get separated. Having a small amount of cash on each person is important, as well. You never know what situation you will be in and how much money you will need to take care of your needs in an emergency. Remember, ATM’s and credit card machines will most likely not work in the event of a true emergency.
- ID Tag (print your own HERE!)
- $20 in small bills
What I purchased on Amazon for these 72 hour kits for kids:
- Small Trash Bags-Can you ever have too many trash bags? These can be used for so many things. I’m including a few in each kid’s backpack.
- Head Lamps (batteries not included)- I think these head lamps will be easier to maneuver for the little kids and they are also smaller than flashlights. I’m storing the batteries outside of the head lamps for safety.
- Everest Backpack-I bought one of these for each of my children to use for their 72 hour kits.
- Thermal Blankets- These thermal blankets are great for keeping you warm without being too bulky.
- Sunscreen SPF 50- There’s nothing worse than a sunburn when you are already in distress.
- Whistles –I attached a whistle to each kid’s backpack so we can find each other easily if we are separated.
- Hand Warmers-Make sure to follow the directions on these, they can burn you if you leave them on your skin for too long. But they are really helpful in cold climates like Utah where I live.
- Glow Sticks-I am giving a few of these to each kid in their bags to help them be visible in the dark and to keep them from feeling scared.
- First Aid Kit- I’m planning to store this large first aid kit in my bag for all of us to use. But, if you have older kids, you could put it in an older child’s bag for all of the children to have access to.
- Rain Ponchos- Rain ponchos are important in 72 hour kits because you never know what kind of weather you will be out in.
Want to Learn More?
I hope this post has helped you to see that it’s important to be ready for any emergency that may come your way. I know I will sleep better at night just knowing that I’ve got these bags ready to go for my kids. To see what I included in the 72 hour kit I made for myself, click HERE.
I’ve created a few printable lists for you to download and use to build your own 72 hour kits for kids, and as a bonus I’m including some printable ID tags you can print off for each of your kids. Just click the button below to be emailed the pdf printables!