Bug-Out Bags: When to Have One and What to Put In It Part 1.
I admit it, you may not know what I mean when I say Bug-out Bags. I’m as guilty as anyone of throwing out terms and expecting you to know what I mean. Then I get a question that makes me know there are new readers who aren’t sure what a bug-out bag is. It’s just a name for a portable collection of essentials that needs to be prepared for yourself and every member of your family.
When to Use Bug-Out Bags
- In natural disasters which require you to evacuate on a moment’s notice.
- Imminent threat of a terrorist attack in your neighborhood.
- Riots or insurrections in your area.
- Prolonged time when basic services are out and you’re unprepared.
- Government coups.
- Alien invasions and zombie attacks. (Okay, so none of us want to think about those.)
That covers most of the reasons when you need to have your bug-out bag at the ready, although there may be other times. Floods, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes are probably the most likely causes, although none of us can absolutely rule out any of the above in these uncertain times. (I still have my tinfoil hat handy.)
As a kid I lived in a hurricane area, and the TV was full of advice on how to prepare for one. Today, you’re considered a little weird when you take the time to prepare, but we have more reasons than ever to make preparations now.
What Should be in Your Bug-Out Bags?
If you’re alone and have only yourself to think of, the essentials are pretty obvious:
- A lightweight but sturdy backpack with comfortable, padded straps. Weight is the most essential consideration in all your plans.
- Enough water for three days and a container of water purification tablets that can purify the water along your way. There are many options here, including water straws.
- Enough food for a week. (I prefer freeze dried because it’s definitely the lightest.)
- A good tool knife which has multiple purposes. Make sure it includes scissors.
- Your weapon, spare magazines, ammunition and a good quality holster with belt or straps.
- Prescription medication, if necessary.
- A first-aid kit. Watch for an article soon on this important subject. In the meantime, get gauze, band-aids, antibiotics, ointments, antiseptic wipes, and any required prescriptions.
- Grooming supplies, i.e., comb, razor, soap, etc.
- Several small tarps for quick tents and weather protection (6’x8′ at a minimum; larger if children are along)
- Rope, string, and/or twine.
- A light weight sleeping bag for each person (see Part 2 for more)
- At least 2 heavy duty garbage bags per person for ponchos/wind protection ( sized for individual persons)
- 2 or more of the light weight mylar “space blankets” ( available at all camping stores, and at “W”) per person.
- An extra pair of prescription glasses, maybe a pair of sunglasses, and pair of reader glasses from the drugstore.
- Bartering supplies such as instant coffee packets, sugar packets, jam and jelly packets, and cigarettes whether you smoke or not. Think what you’d sell your soul for and keep a small supply of that in your kit.
- A miniaturized set of your important papers, birth certificate, marriage certificate, house deed, car title, etc. To prepare this you need to scan them all, then reduce their size down to where they’re still readable, and print on lightweight paper.
- Money: small bills and a few coins. As for gold and silver ones, that’s up to you. If you do have them, carry only the smallest denominations to keep from having to use a large one for a small item.
- Easy to wash change of clothing and underwear with some detergent.
- Hiking shoes that have been broken in for comfort. Socks are necessary, too, to avoid blisters.
- A police-type whistle
- Ametal “messkit” or a military surplus canteen with metal cup (to boil water)
- Several disposable lighters and matches
- One of the tiny “cookstoves” (such as used by mountain climbers, hikers,etc.), and extra fuel for it.
Sound like a lot? -It is. But having these items can make the difference between life and death for you or a family member. Consider a kit like this for each adult member in your family, taking their needs and ability to carry a pack in mind. It’s good to keep a written inventory of each pack taped to the outside so you can rotate the supplies to have fresh ones at all times.
Children’s Bug-Out Bags need to be specialized to their needs. If they’re old enough to wear a backpack, be sure to get the lightest weight one possible. To entertain the little ones and calm their fears, click http://realearthsolutions.com/2016/05/28/keeping-kids-calm-happy-emergencies/to read Mama Bear’s excellent article.
Maybe you’ve seen some of the kits that are ready-made. They’re usually a hefty price and some are better than others but frankly, I think it’s much better if you assemble your own. That way, you’ll be thinking about what each item will be used for and how to use it. Imagine having a lot of stuff that you have no idea what it is. Also, you’ll save a lot of money.
The question of whether this is an emergency where you can drive your car or whether you’re on foot requires more information than this article has so I’ll be posting about that soon. At this point, it’s always a good rule to keep your gas tank topped off because gas becomes one of the quickest things to run out in an emergency.
For communication purposes, you need to have at the minimum, a cell phone. Since it will need to be recharged, get a copy of my free report, Off-Grid in 3 Easy Steps, on the right hand side.
When we were first preparing our bags, we bought a large plastic container for each member of the family. Then, each time we shopped, we bought one or two items. This way the expense wasn’t overwhelming.
Another benefit, is that the kids will enjoy seeing their containers filling up with their favorite trail mixes and other small treats. It gave us lots of opportunity to discuss these without alarming them. Then after the bags were outfitted, we played the Bug-Out Game where I would yell, Bug-Out and time everyone to see how long it took to get proper clothing and shoes on and their backpacks in place. Remember that a system that’s not tested isn’t a working system.
From that we gradually began to take short hikes with our backpacks on, graduating to longer hikes that ended in a surprise when we finished. This accomplishes two purposes. One, it breaks in those hiking shoes and we find out if there’s a problem with blisters forming. Two, in the event a disaster occurs, everyone will feel more comfortable as they start off.
Depending on the season of the year, you may need a warm jacket to add to your Bug-Out Bags. On our next post we’ll take a look at seasonal adjustments to bag contents.
I hope you’ll add your comments below and tell others reading this the best things that you have found for your bug-out bags. We welcome listings from each of you with any hints you have to share.
Now is the time to get prepared! And don’t forget to send this to friends and family on social media.