Considerations for prepping a 96-hour emergency kit for your family
By Grace Olson // Nov 03, 2019

Recent disasters and rescue missions have shown that it takes longer for help to arrive. Preparing a 72-hour emergency kit may no longer be enough. To ensure that you and your family have enough supplies to last through the first couple of stages of an emergency, it’s best to pack kits that can last 96 hours or four days. (h/t to


Here are some tips on packing a 96-hour emergency kit:

Things you need to consider before packing a kit

While there are emergency kits you can buy online, it's best to prepare one yourself, so it can cater to you and your family's specific needs. Here are the things you have to know:

  • Consider your location. Prepare for disasters that are more likely to occur in your area. For example, if your house is located beside a mountain with a forest reserve, a forest fire or a landslide is more likely to happen than a tsunami or an avalanche.
  • Tailor each kit to your family. Each family has different needs and wants. The number and kind of supplies you stockpile depends on the number of people in your family. Buy food and supplies that your family likes. Make sure to consider your pets as well.
  • Plan for special needs. Some members of the family may have needs that require special preparation. For example, grandparents may need food that are not generally eaten by the rest of the family. Other special needs include food allergies and medical conditions.
  • Ensure proper storage. This ensures a better shelf life and accessibility. When packing supplies, make sure to place them in waterproof containers, like sealed bags or plastic boxes. Properly label each one with the general category, specific contents, and expiration dates, if applicable.
  • Consider your get-away. In an emergency, you need to get your kits immediately. Don’t stuff them far into the closet. Place them in a cabinet near your emergency vehicle or hide them under a cupboard near the exit.
  • Manage your money. If you’re not careful, prepping can cost you a lot of money. Buying too many supplies of one kind wastes both money and space, and may lead to financial emergency before disaster even occurs. Additionally, you have to rotate your supplies to ensure they’re still usable. Do your homework on prepping and buy wisely.

Things to add in an emergency kit

In packing for an emergency, basic needs go first: food, water, fire, warmth, and shelter.


The first thing to do is to ensure safety. Get out of immediate danger and prepare a place you and your family can stay in.

  • Clothing – Make sure to pack at least one change of clothes, including socks and underwear. Choose clothes that are one size bigger to account for growth.
  • Tents – They should be big enough to hold both your family and your supplies.
  • Blankets – Invest in thick, well-woven blankets, like wool. Moreover, if the need ever arises, you can use them to make clothes or hang up a tent.
  • Sewing kit – This will help you repair clothes or make new ones, or make a makeshift shelter.

Fire and light

You need these to navigate and do other tasks in the dark.

  • Fire – You need to have more than one type of fire source, preferably all of them. These include:

    • Matches (place them in waterproof bags)
    • Lighters
    • Candles
    • Fire starters

  • Light

    • Handheld flashlights
    • Spare batteries (store in a plastic container)


Drinkable water and water for other purposes are a top priority.

  • Bottled water – You can store water in used soda bottles and place them somewhere dry inside the house.
  • Filters – There are commercial filters available in the market, but you can also make your own. Learn how to make a sand and charcoal filter.
  • Water purification tablets – Place them inside plastic containers.
  • Bleach – Add 1/8 teaspoon of bleach to a gallon of filtered water. Mix well then wait for 30 minutes. Boil it first before drinking.


Food is tricky to stockpile because there are many options on the market. Here are some tips on which food to buy:

  • Make sure that your family likes them.
  • Choose the dried or powdered version for longer shelf life.
  • Consider the nutritional content and number of calories.
  • Prepare them in ready-to-eat packs to make cooking and eating easier in emergencies.

Personal care and medical supplies

These items help maintain sanitation and prevent people from getting sick.

  • Hygiene – In an emergency, keeping yourself clean can help you feel calm and assured, as well as prevent sickness. Place all personal care products in sealed bags.

    • Dental items (toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.)
    • Napkins and tampons
    • Soaps and shampoos
    • Comb
    • Lotion
    • Baby wipes
    • Toilet paper
    • Baking soda (you can use this for toothpaste, soap, etc.)

  • Medical supplies – Each family member must have his/her own first aid kit. It must contain the person’s medicine (if any) and the standard items find in a first aid kit. (Related: Do you have a first aid kit for your pets?)

Once a person’s basic needs are addressed, you can now address the following needs:

Personal safety

Each person in the family should have items they can use to protect themselves. These include:

  • Pepper spray
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle


It’s highly probable that there won’t be any electricity after disaster strikes. However, you can still try and check if there’s a signal from other areas. This allows you to become aware of the overall situation and plan your next steps accordingly:

  • Mobile phone
  • Solar charger
  • Ham radios
  • Two-way radios


Documents serve as evidence of your and your family’s identities and properties. Make sure to place them in waterproof envelopes or bags.

  • Physical and digital copies. Make a copy of IDs, bank accounts, marriage certificates, diplomas, transcripts, etc. For good measure, make sure that your children have copies of their own. In case family members get separated, they still have evidence of their identity.
  • Money. Mark the plastic bags with the person’s name. Use small bills, and make sure that your children have some in their kits as well.

It's impossible to prepare for every scenario, but doing your homework and preparing for likely disasters in your area increases your chances of survival. Learn more about prepping supplies for any kind of emergency at

 Sources include: 1 2

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