When the world around you suddenly falls apart due to a manmade or natural disaster, this brief article on Bug Out Bags 101 will help you understand the importance of a well-planned, life-saving bug out bag.
Bug out bags are those invaluable emergency kits that can keep you and your family supplied with 3 days of food and water, warm clothing and medical supplies during a major crisis.
So should you have to evacuate at a moment’s notice, you’ve got critical survival supplies all in one place, always and instantly ready to go.
Who Needs a Bug Out Bag?
If there’s the slightest possibility that you could ever be cut off from electricity, food, water and other necessities, then for your family’s sake, you need a bug out bag filled and ready to go at all times.
Otherwise, what would you do if, in the event of a natural or manmade disaster, you find yourself unable to find food or water, turn on the electricity at your home, or get medical help?
If the authorities evacuate your neighborhood in the face of a raging forest fire, flood or other disaster, you’ll have no choice but to leave.
Are you ready for that?
Having a well-stocked bug out bag ready at a moment’s notice can bring you great peace of mind should the unthinkable happen. In the chaos surrounding an emergency, there’s little time to plan for necessities.
But when you have a well-thought-out, carefully stocked bug out bag, all you have to do is pile it into your vehicle and go.
Bug Out Bag Essentials: Food and Water
In a dire emergency, it’s a safe assumption that you won’t have time to run down to the store for food and water supplies—if that store is even open.
So your first concern should be for food and water.
Remember, if the electricity is shut off (and if the emergency is bad enough, it will be), you can’t count for long on the food in your freezer or fridge. That’s why survival experts recommend that the first elements in your bug out bag be a three-day supply of non-perishable food and sufficient quantities of water.
Calculate how much food each person in your household will eat per day for three days. That’s how much you need to keep in the bag—and don’t forget a manual can opener if you’re eating from cans.
Which foods should you include? You have lots of excellent choices, including freeze-dried food, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), canned food and dehydrated or dry food.
Energy bars are one of our favorite items in a bug out bag. They’re small, high in calories and nutrients, are generally tasty, and can last a long time before expiration.
Other items like nuts, dried fruit, jerky and crackers are also good filler items, taking up minimal space but helping you extend your food supplies with adding a lot of bag weight.
As to water, FEMA recommends you store at least one gallon of water per day per person to cover the three days. A convenient way to do this is by using one of the collapsible emergency water pouch products available online.
It’s also a good idea to have a water purifying filter in your bag in case you need water from streams and rivers that may have contaminants in them.
Every well-stocked bug out bag also needs a good first aid kit. You never know what you’ll have to endure on your three-day trip—cuts, burns, scrapes and bruises are just the most common threats you could be facing.
You should be prepared for anything, so it’s always a wise idea to have a good first aid book, as well. Remember, in a “SHTF” scenario, you may not have access to local emergency clinics or trained medical personnel.
If medical aid is required, everyone may be relying on you for help. That’s why you’ll want to know how to use each item in the kit. Check online sources should you have questions.
Clothing and Other Wearables
Theoretically, if we’re packing for a three-day trip, you might not need a full change of clothing for each person. Some survivalists, however, do suggest a warm sweater should the weather change, plus things like emergency blankets, hand warmers, work gloves and ponchos.
Emergency blankets are sheets of heat-reflecting foil that help you trap body heat when exposed to cold. They take up very little space, but can help keep you and your family comfortable if you’re in an area where the temperatures dip at night.
Also, don’t forget to pack a good poncho as protection from the rain. Some experts suggest throwing in a couple of plastic trash bags which could have many uses, including rain protection.
In a crisis, you need to guard your health as much as possible, avoiding germs and bacteria that can cause serious issues such as infection.
Always include a couple bars or bottles of anti-bacterial soap in your bag, plus hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Plus, (you’ll thank me for this), don’t forget a few rolls of toilet paper!
Another great addition: protective face masks. The Corvid pandemic demonstrated the importance of face masks as a means of preventing germ transmission. If your family is evacuated to a shelter, masks can help protect them at a time when few other health or sanitation methods are in use.
Once you have gathered the basics described above, supplement your supplies with this list from FEMA:
- Portable, battery-powered radio or television, and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Matches in waterproof container, fire sticks
- Plates, cups, pans and utensils
- Photocopies of identification and credit cards
- Cash and coins
- Contact phone number list of family and friends
- Personal prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solution, and hearing aid batteries.
- Infant formula, diapers, bottles and pacifiers
- Basic tools (pliers, screwdriver, pocket knife, multi-tool, etc.)
- Maps of the local area
- Small Compass
How’s That Bag–Getting Heavy?
Naturally, there’s a limit to what you can stuff into a bag and still be able to life it. If it’s too heavy to handle when you need it most, it won’t do you much good.
A good rule of thumb among survival experts is to keep the bug out bag at about 10% of your body weight. If you weigh 250 lbs., your bag should be about 25 lbs.
If you’re going to be transporting your bag in a vehicle, you could always go a bit heavier than that. But if you’re faced with trekking across the hills on foot, you’ll be forever grateful that you kept the weight down as much as possible.
Who Needs a Bug Out Bag? We All Do.
With the treat of serious natural events (earthquakes, fire, high winds), you never know when you will be forced to leave your home, even if only for a few days.
Faced with a situation like this, most people will be in dire straits. They’ll be hungry, cold, thirsty, afraid and miserable.
Don’t be most people.
Start planning and preparing your emergency bug out bag today.