Simplify Your Family's Emergency Preparedness

The Ultimate Emergency Kit Grab List

72-hour kits Part 5

grab list items laid out on floor.

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GRAB LIST is an ESSENTIAL part of a 72-hour emergency kit. It is a list of things to grab before evacuating (if circumstances allow, of course).


While your pre-packed kit should always be ready and available to throw in your car, there are some things that aren’t feasible to have packed all the time. These are the things you would want to include on your Grab List.

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What types of things to include in your grab list

  • Items that you would need during the process of evacuation/displacement that you didn’t include in your pre-packed 72-hour kit (or that would make your time evacuated incrementally more convenient/manageable)
  • Irreplaceable memories with sentimental value
  • High value items that are reasonably small

Sample Grab List for a 72-Hour Emergency Kit

  • Glasses/Contacts
  • Prescriptions/Medicines – these can be expensive to rotate, and if you have prescriptions, it can be hard to get any extra to keep tucked away in a 72-hour kit all the time.
    • Cold Medicine
    • Cough Drops
    • Tylenol/Ibuprofen
    • Children’s/Infants Tylenol/Motrin
    • Thermometer
  • Medical Devices (CPAP, Cane/Walker, etc)
  • Tent
  • Air Mattress
  • Sleeping Pads
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Diaper Bag
  • Baby Carrier / Baby Backpack
  • Bottles, Formula, Binkies, Blankies, Cuddlies
  • Stroller
  • Wagon
  • Cell phones
  • iPads
  • Phone Chargers
  • Winter Boots
  • Coats
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Extra Canned Food
  • Extra flats of Water
    • You should have one gallon per person per day. 
    • We get our water from Costco, and get the Kirkland brand because it is the cheapest. Each flat of water = 5.28 gallons, which is almost enough for the recommended gallon per person per day for 2 people. Combined with the extra water pouches in each pack, as well as the water bottles in each side pocket of each pack, we figure we should take one flat per 2 people in our family. (One flat of water has 40 bottles, each bottle has 16.9 ounces of water; 40 X 16.9 = 676 ounces per flat, which is 5.28 gallons of water)
    • We have flats of water in the same closet that our 72-hour kits are stored in.  They are easy to grab and go, and can be used for drinking, cooking, and bathing if needed.
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Box of Trash Bags
  • Cash – this is small and very valuable, so knowing all the places you have a decent amount of cash stashed is essential.
    • Purse
    • Kids’ Wallets/Purses
    • Kids’ Savings Jars
  • Guns/Ammo
  • External hard drive / computer tower for a PC
  • Laptop, Camera, Video Camera, Chargers
  • Fireproof Box (explained in this post)
  • Kids’ Memory Box
  • Photo Albums/Scrapbooks
  • Journals
  • Blankets/Quilts
two packed grab list bags.

Making your grab bag

Because of the nature of this, everyone Grab List will look a little different. The above list just has some ideas to get you going.


#1 - Start your list

Start jotting things down as you are building your 72-hour kits. For instance, I chose to not include medicine in our kits. Instead, medicine is a top priority item on our Grab List. As you pack your kits, pay attention to things you are choosing to leave out, but would definitely want to grab on your way out.

#2 - House Walk-through

In addition to keeping a growing list as you build your kits, I would recommend doing a walk-through of your entire house, writing things down as you go.

#3 - Include all family members

Include all family members in this process. If you have young children, ask them what one or two items they would want to bring with them if you were being evacuated and your home may be destroyed.


#4 - Order your list

  • Have a section for the big stand-alone items that will not be put in a bag/suitcase. These items would be things like a fireproof box (affiliate link), a PC tower, flats of water, etc. Anything you would carry out straight from the house to your car will be in this group.
  • Order everything on your list that will be thrown in your grab bag/suitcase, according to the layout of your home. Group everything that is in each room or part of your home, to maximize the amount of things you can grab in very little time.  You don’t want to be running back and forth a bunch of times when time is so precious, so be smart about the order of your grab list.  Start in one room and work your way through all the rooms you need to go to.
  • Since we have older kids, I would want to utilize their help if they were home. I chose a few things they could grab on their own, and that’s why I have a section labeled, “KID JOBS.” These are things they can work together to gather. Then “EACH KID” has their own garbage bag for a winter coat, extra clothes, their journal, and electronic devices.

#5 - Prioritize your list

Depending on the amount of time you have, you may need to skip parts of your Grab List.  I have the absolutely essential things highlighted and bolded in red on our grab list.  That way if we have less than 5 minutes to get out of the house, we have already prioritized our Grab List and don’t have to take time to think through what to get and what to leave behind.


Some people have a few different Grab Lists. One will be for a 30-minute evacuation, one for a 10-minute evacuation, and one for a 5-minute evacuation. However you decide to organize your priorities, make sure you consider different amounts of time that you may have to get yourself loaded and out of the house.

#6 - Have empty bags

Make sure you have a bag(s) big enough to fit your entire Grab List (except the big, stand-alone items that you would put directly into your car).  And make sure they are ALWAYS empty and right next to your 72-hour kits. They could even be garbage bags if you want! Just make sure you have something ready to use to collect all of your Grab List items.


I chose to label the bags so we knew exactly what would fit in each bag. This is especially helpful if you plan on splitting the gathering of items up between family members. I would love to be able to count on the whole family being home when we need to evacuate, but since we have no clue what circumstances we may be evacuating under, I assigned jobs to the kids *IF* they are home. I have a kid bag with all of the trash bags labeled and ready for them to get to work.

#7 - PRINT your grab list

Make sure your Grab List is printed out and INSIDE the bag the things will go in (or taped to it or attached somehow).  That way you always know where it is.


If you want a step-by-step guide that walks you through every single step of building your 72-hour kits, from preparing a functional space to store your 72-hour kits, all the way through to a rotation guide for when they’re done, click hereThis is a COMPLETE GUIDE to 72-Hour Kits for families. And when I say complete, I mean COM-PLETE! It is kind of insane how much I put into this thing. No more having to come back to the website, or subscribing and finding your free printables in the resource library, and clicking around the website.


This is ALL in one spot. One PDF with all the kid tips, budget tips, pretty much every tip/hack imaginable with 72-hour kits. It comes with 25 supporting printables that are updated and amazing. This guide takes you through all of the steps in the schedule I outlined above, and more. Much more. 

Another option for 72-hour kits and other preparedness topics

Know you need to get started with emergency preparedness, but you’re not feeling quite ready to tackle 72-hour kits right now? Or maybe all you know about is those pre-made kits from CostCo?


You might want to check out my Personalized Preparedness membership. You’ll start with a quick quiz that will help you know which area of emergency preparedness to start with so you don’t get overwhelmed! Click here to check out all the details for your personalized preparedness.

tablet mockup of personalized preparedness membership menu.
72-Hour Emergency Kits for Beginners - GRAB LIST! A Grab List is an essential part of a 72-Hour Emergency Kit...things that aren't realistic to have packed and ready to go, but are extremely important. Don't wait until you are in the moment to think through what you should take! -PlanForAwesome

A comprehensive guide to 72-hour kits

For more help with 72-Hour Emergency Kits, see the posts below. 

Part 1 – 72-Hour Kits for Beginners – this has all the general tips, tricks, and things to think about before beginning to put your kits together.

Part 2 – 72-Hour Kits for ADULTS – this has a list of things to include in your 72-hour emergency kit (bug out bag).

Part 3 – 72-hour kits for KIDS / BABIES

Part 4 – 72-Hour Emergency Kits for Pets

Part 5 – Grab Lists – this is the page you are on.

Part 6 – A 16-Week Schedule to Actually Finish Your Family’s 72-Hour Kits

Part 7 – DIY First Aid Kit for Families

72-Hour Emergency Kits for Beginners - GRAB LIST! A Grab List is an essential part of a 72-Hour Emergency Kit...things that aren't realistic to have packed and ready to go, but are extremely important. Don't wait until you are in the moment to think through what you should take! -PlanForAwesome

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