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By August 6, 2009 Read More →

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, SurvivalMoms, do every day. In my world, it’s not unusual to have a kid’s dentist appointment, a field trip, and a swim meet 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 needed if you’re 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 know I pretty much always have the kids with me, my own list is a little different. Here’s what I’ve packed.

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. I 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 (With my luck…)

Sustenance (Kids will quickly panic if they think you’ve run out of food, but whatever you pack, make sure it’s something your kids will eat!)

  • Beef jerky or something similar
  • Trail mix
  • Small cans of food, such as fruit, ravioli, tuna
  • Protein bars and granola bars
  • Hard candies (Offer a prize for whoever can make their Lifesaver last the longest!)
  • Packets for flavoring water
  • Can opener, unless all your cans are pop-top
  • Plastic utensils, one set per person

Entertainment (After everyone has eaten and gone to the bathroom, then what??)

  • A read-aloud book (It 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 message on your vehicle.)
  • Glo-sticks (Great value: entertainment and emergency light in one!)
  • Ear plugs (For me)

Hard-Core Survival

  • Emergency blankets (The cheapest ones I have found are at WaltonFeed.)
  • Fleece blankets (Cheapest way to get these? Buy two yards of any inexpensive 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 (Not sure what I’d actually use this for, but I just like having it around.)
  • Hand and foot warmers (Small, stashable)
  • Rope (Check out brand name Paracord for top quality.)
  • Knife (A cheap pocket knife is better than nothing, but you’ll be grateful if you pack something sturdier.)
  • Battery/solar-powered emergency radio
  • Work gloves
  • Extra batteries for anything battery powered in your Kit
  • Umbrella
  • Waterproof matches
  • Whistle
  • Water purification tablets
  • Small portable water filter
  • Mirror for signaling (The back of a CD would work in a pinch.)
  • Small, sturdy shovel (Check out a collapsible version if space is tight.)

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 stops bleeding in case of a serious wound.)
  • Benadryl
  • Aspirin
  • Small bottle of bleach
  • Thermometer
  • Sunblock
  • Medical gloves and face masks
  • Tweezers


  • Ziploc-style bags (Just store some of your items in different sized bags so you’ll already have them packed.)
  • Rubber bands
  • A bungee cord or two
  • Comb/hairbrush
  • Small scissors
  • Sewing kit
  • Cloth sheet
  • A couple of compact nylon bags and/or a nylon backpack (If we have to leave our vehicle, we’ll need something for carrying supplies.)
  • Money in small bills, along with plenty of change (If nothing else, this will greatly help with bribing your children!)

In addition to storing things in the plastic bin, I took a long, hard look at the interior of our Tahoe to find other nooks and crannies where I could store additional supplies. A large city map book, along with road maps of neighboring states, is in a back seat pocket, and there are two Gymboree blankets rolled up and stored beneath the back seat.

There’s a lot of storage space beneath the back seat, so that’s where I have several 2-liter bottles fileld with water stashed. The combination of water/plastic bottle/heat isn’t the best for drinking, so when we leave the house, I always make sure we have a handful of fresh water bottles with us. However, if the stowed water was all we had, we’d drink it until we could get fresher 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’s 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 container or two. Remember, water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon, so having smaller containers in addition to larger ones, is a good idea if you end up having to abandon your vehicle and hoof it.

What about a change of clothing for each person? It depends on how much space you have in your Kit and in your vehicle. Typically, clothing is something to be stored in a home-based 72 Hour Kit, which I’ve written about on my blog. However, a clean shirt, pants, underwear, and socks shouldn’t take up too much room, and you could probably find a place to stash it outside of your plastic bin. If you have Space Bags or something similar, clothing and items like the fleece blankets will take up even less room.

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. It was just a matter of tracking it down! 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.

Posted in: Bug Out Vehicles

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