BYU students use backpacks as 72-hour kits

A backpack serves as an emergency 72-hour kit. 72-hour kits have become popular among many college students. (Natalie Bothwell)

Some students have 72-hour kits, or backpacks with emergency supplies for their survival in case of unforeseen dangerous situations.

One reason backpack emergency preparedness kits have sprung into popularity for college students is that they’re portable and convenient to have in a dorm room or apartment. Portability and efficiency are important in emergency situations according to BYU’s risk management office. 

Emergency manager for BYU Ryan Rasmussen explained the importance of students having a 72-hour kit.

“It’s not a matter of if an emergency happens but when,” Rasmussen said. “Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and at all different kinds of times. Being prepared with a basic 72-hour kit can make all the difference in the world in the outcome. Perhaps most important, however, is the confidence and peace of mind that comes from knowing that you can take care of yourself, even if it is only for a short period of time.”

Hilary Finlayson, a senior majoring in business strategy, said she got her emergency kit from her grandparents.

“I’ve actually gotten a lot of use out of my kit,” Finlayson said. “You honestly never know what’s going to happen, so it’s good to be prepared.”

Here are three things to remember when putting together a 72-hour kit:

  • Change out your food regularly. Food does go bad, so it is vital to check the expiration dates of the food in kits. Food kept in cars may need to be switched out more frequently, since temperatures in cars can be extreme. Choosing food that has a long shelf life is important as well. “It is important to remember that some items, like medications and contact solution, etc., have expiration dates,” Rasmussen said. “They need to be rotated before they expire.”
  • Make sure the kit is actually carriable. “Many times a 72-hour kit can get so large and so complicated that it is hard to use and move around when necessary,” Rasmussen said. “Remember, you are just trying to sustain (and) protect life, for as long as you can, until other help can begin to arrive.”
  • Have a kit for your car and for your home. Disaster could strike wherever you are. Having kits both in your home and in your car is important. Keeping food in your car in not recommended because of extreme temperatures; however, it is still important to keep water and clothing to keep warm.

Rasmussen also said students should include everything students will need to survive for 72 hours.

“A person should evaluate their circumstances and any needs they have and include provisions for those needs in their 72-hour kits,” Rasmussen said. “For example, some people need eye glasses to be able to see, others have prescription medications that should be kept in their kits.”

Some items to include in a 72-hour kit are:

  • Water
  • Food that requires minimal preparation or are single servings.
  • A change of clothes
  • Sleeping bag
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Money/important documents

There are many different sources for information on what to put in a 72-hour kit according to Rasmussen.

“One that we recommend is,” Rasmussen said. “This is a good way to get a basic kit started but as with anything like this, the kit will grow and customize to the person that it is for.”

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