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Does Everyone In Your Family Have A Whistle?

paracord-braceletThere is a child’s toy that can save your life.  Does everyone in your family have one?

Does everyone have a whistle?

Whistles are cheap, easy to carry and easy to find. You can carry one on your keychain, around your neck, or on a paracord bracelet. You should have one in your bug-out bag, your car and the prep area of your home.  But that’s not really enough.  Really, you should carry one on you all the time.

The sound of a whistle can carry further than your voice and with much less wind power and effort.  Especially if you are ever injured, the energy required to blow a whistle for a long period of time is much less than the effort required to scream.  Your wind will last longer than your voice.

A humble, little whistle can save your life . . .

  • if you are buried in rubble after a tornado or earthquake
  • if you are being followed at night by a bad guy or
  • if lost in an isolated place.

Whistles don’t need batteries, so they will work when your cell phone won’t.  Whistles don’t take a lot of skill to operate, so even a small child can use one.  They are so lightweight and easy to carry that you will never be tempted to leave it behind.

And they don’t just alert good guys that you are in trouble and need their help.  They also alert bad guys to the fact that you are ready to fight back and call for help.  Someone is about to grab you or your purse?  Blow a whistle and they’ll flee.

If you don’t have a whistle, you should get one now.  And there’s an easy way to get one in a three-in-one preparedness tool.  This gizmo has a whistle, a fire starter and 80′ of paracord.  It’s called a FireKable and you can get one free — you just pay for postage.  But it’s only available free for a short time, so if you want one, you should get it now.

Click on FireKable to get yours free.

Does everyone in your family have a whistle?  What other safety tools do you carry every day?  Let us know below in the comments. (Or just let us know what else you are thinking.)

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Tons of Uses for Paracord

paracord-braceletWhen you are camping or hiking, or certainly if you are ever in an emergency situation in which you are fighting for your survival, you will need to make do with what you’ve got.  So you always need to be sure that you have versatile, adaptable tools with you.  One of the most versatile — and therefore most helpful — tools you can have on hand is paracord.

Paracord, or parachute cord, is a nylon rope that was developed during World War II for use as suspension lines for parachutes.  It’s lightweight, but strong.  In fact, 550 cord can hold 550 pounds.  It can be used in dozens, even hundreds of ways.  Whenever you need to tie something up, tie something down, or tie something together, paracord may be your answer.

Paracord comes in different colors, which can be helpful for color coding things or people.  And the color of the paracord will of course be crucial if you are using it for crafts instead of survival.

The real genius of paracord is that you can improvise with it to solve the problem you’ve got.  But just to stimulate your imagination, here are some uses for paracord:

Carrying, Toting, Dragging, Hanging

  • Make a lanyard to carry your keys, whistle, knife, binoculars, or other items around your neck.
  • Tie those same things to your belt.
  • Tie bulky items to your backpack.
  • Tie your food or other items to a tree to keep it off the ground and out of reach of animals
  • Tether your dog or use the paracord as a lead.  You might want to braid it to make it more comfortable to hold in your hand.  It’s not inconceivable to use the same technique on small children, but please be prudent.
  • Hang a cooking pot over a fire.
  • Tie a length around firewood or other items that you need to carry.
  • Tie your equipment or backpack to a length of paracord and lower them down the side of a cliff.
  • Tie your stuff down when a storm is threatening.
  • Hack a backpack by weaving a net and stringing a drawstring around it.
  • Use it as a tow cord.
  • Use it to tie your boat to the dock.
  • Just in general, use paracord to fix anything broken that can be repaired by stitching it up using the inner threads or by lashing it back together again using the inner threads or the entire cord.

Makeshift Shelter and Furniture

  • String paracord between two trees and drape a tarp, emergency blanket or poncho over it.
  • Lash poles together and cover it with a tarp, emergency blanket or poncho as a small makeshift tent.
  • Secure a tent.
  • Weave the paracord into a net and tie it between two trees.  Voila — a hammock!
  • Tie a log between two trees and you’ve got a bench.
  • Make a rope ladder or bridge.
  • String up a clothes line.
  • Replace broken cords on things that use cords — lights with pull strings, pull cords for lawn mowers, chain saws or other types of motors.

Clothing Fixes and Personal Care Uses

  • Use a length of paracord as a makeshift belt or suspenders, or a chin strap for your hat.
  • Use inner threads to sew up tears.  (Don’t forget to bring a needle in your first aid kit.)
  • Replace broken shoe or boot laces.
  • Replace drawstrings in hoodies, sweat pants, and backpacks.
  • Replace a broken zipper pull.
  • Use inner threads as dental floss.
  • Replace a broken watch strap.
  • Use it to tie back your hair.  Paracord comes in many colors so you can match your outfit!

First Aid Uses

  • Use it as a tourniquet.
  • Secure splints to keep a broken limb straight.
  • Use the inner threads as makeshift sutures.
  • Lash two poles together to make a stretcher.
  • Make a sling for a wounded arm or shoulder.

Self-Defense and Personal Safety

  • Create a tripwire around the perimeter of your campsite.  Tie cans or other objects to it to make noise to alert you to someone crossing it.
  • Tie someone to a chair with it.
  • While you’re at it, tie his wrists together if you don’t have handcuffs.
  • If that doesn’t work, create a whip, tying knots at the end of several cords and tying the cords together at the other end.

Hunting and Fishing

  • Use the inner threads for fishing line.
  • Make a snare or trap.
  • Make a fishing net.

Entertainment

  • Create a jump rope.  Tie some sort of small weight to the center so that the rope will swing around.
  • Make a tire swing or tie a flat board to a tree branch to create a swing.
  • Crafty folks can make key fobs, belts, dog collars, necklaces, bracelets and all sorts of things.  If you are bored, just think something up, design a plan for it and create something.

So there are tons of uses for paracord.  And, really, the best approach is just to be creative when you have a problem or difficulty.

Now, when you are carrying a tool with you, it’s always a good idea to use a multi-purpose tool if one exists.  And I’d like to recommend a tool that is a paracord bracelet combined with an emergency whistle and a fire-starter.  As I right this, it’s also free.  You just pay for postage.  It’s called FireKable. Go ahead — have a look!

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What are your favorite uses of paracord?  Let us know in the comments.

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Preparedness Essentials: Fire Starters

As part of your emergency preparedness plan, you will need to include fire starters.  To state the obvious, fires produce heat, light and a means to cook food.  All of those things are important in your emergency preparedness plan.

The first thing you should have on hand is a box of waterproof matches.  It’s possible to make your own by covering matches in paraffin and storing them in a watertight container.  I don’t bother to make my own, though.  I purchase them.  There is nothing special to know about using waterproof matches.  Simply strike them on the strike strip as you do for other matches.

You should also have a magnesium fire starter as a back-up.  This tool is made of a block of magnesium with a flint strip and a metal rod.  Use the metal rod to scrape magnesium shavings off onto your kindling.  Then strike the flint strip to make sparks, which will ignite the magnesium.

I recommend having both of these on hand in case you have an issue implementing one of them.  You will also be able to use the matches if you run out of flint in the magnesium fire starter, or use the magnesium fire starter if you run out of matches.

It’s also helpful to have fire starter nuggets on hand.  Nuggets are used instead of kindling as the first, small material that is set on fire when you are building a fire.  They can be used in fireplaces and stoves.  Although not essential for starting a fire, they sure make it easier.

As always, you should be sure that you know how to use your equipment before any emergency takes place.  Try the water proof matches a time or two, just to get familiar.  Using the magnesium fire starter actually takes some skill, so you should definitely practice using it until you can start a fire quickly and easily.

Keep these items in your bug-out bag so that you’ll have them with you when you grab your bag and go.

I can recommend the following products:

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Emergency Preparedness: Becoming Food Self-Sufficient

Vegetable gardenStoring food is a crucial part of your preparedness plan.  You need to think of two time horizons:  the first 72 hours and the long term.  Your bug-out bag should include enough food for three days.  Think of cans or pouches of tuna fish, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruits and other nutrient-dense, non-perishable food.  Most if not all of it should be ready to eat without need of cooking or heating.

Your long-term plan can include one or all of a few different approaches.

One option is MREs or meals ready to eat.  These are the same meals that the military provides to service men and women.  They are pre-packaged meals that are usually packaged with a built-in heating device that allows you to heat the meal without any fire or other equipment.  You can buy them by the box.  The advantage to them is that they provide full meals with a certain amount of variety.  It’s more expensive to buy them this way, but it’s also faster to provide for a few week’s worth of meals.  And the meals themselves require no preparation other than the self-heating mechanism.  They have a long shelf life, usually of five years or so. I can recommend Sure-Pak MRE Meal Case Packs With Flameless Ration Heater-Pack Of 12

Another option is to set a plan to collect food that you can store for an emergency.  Dried food can last indefinitely.  They also make good soups.  I stock up on dried beans, lentils and split peas.  I keep rice and pasta on hand.  I also make sure to have plenty of beef, chicken and vegetable stock, cans of diced tomatoes and cans of vegetables.  Don’t forget salt, pepper and some basic herbs and spices.  With those ingredients, you can make delicious, home-made soup exactly the way you want it.  I keep the fixings for home-made soup rather than buying cans of soup or stew because I like the variety and because I think you get less adulterated food that way.  Dried beans don’t contain chemicals, stabilizers, preservatives or large amounts of salt.

Of course, men and women don’t live by soup alone, so you’ll need to construct a plan to ensure that you have supplies to provide a full menu.

In my opinion, though, the best way to be self-sufficient in your food supply is to garden and preserve your harvest.  Start now.  Growing a garden takes time, so you don’t want to wait until the emergency is on your doorstep before you start growing your carrots.  A garden will give you organic, healthful, GMO-free fruits and vegetables for very little money.  The choice of fruits and vegetables is entirely up to you, so you can get the produce you love.  Gardening will also give you hours of peace and quiet as you work in it.

I will admit that preserving the harvest is a set of skills that I have not yet mastered.  Certainly it takes time, and some equipment.  But it is the road to self-sufficiency so I will be learning what I need to know and doing what I need to do.

Plan to become food self-sufficient.  It will see you through all manner of disasters, especially financial ones.

Are you food self-sufficient?  Share your experiences in the comments.

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Start With Water

WaterOf all the things you need to do to be prepared, start with water.

Water is crucial to your survival.  The first and most obvious reason is that you need it to drink.  Lack of water can kill you in three days.  If you have water, but not as much as your body needs, you may survive but are likely to experience symptoms of dehydration, which can include dizziness, confusion, weakness, heart palpitations and fainting.  You may be unable to sweat, which can cause you to become overheated, and you may have decreased urine output.  So water, and enough water, is necessary to keep you alive and well.

But you need water for more than drinking.  Think of everything you do with water over the course of a day.  You bathe with it.  You brush your teeth with it.  You flush the toilet with it and wash your hands with it afterward.  You need it to prepare food.  You need it to wash your dishes and your clothes.

I’ve read articles that suggest that you prep a gallon of water per day per person.  Considering everything you need water for, that doesn’t sound like much.  Of course, in an emergency situation, you would be careful about using water and you wouldn’t waste it.  Still, you could easily go through a gallon a day just using it for drinking, cooking and minimum personal hygiene.  But let’s start with one gallon per person per day and increase your stock when and if you can.

Water is heavy and hard to carry, so if you are facing an emergency that has you on the move, you may need to rely on uncertain water sources and use water purifiers or filters to make it safe. Out in nature, untreated water may contain pathogens that can cause intestinal distress or worse.  There are various ways of removing pathogens and all of them have drawbacks.

A rolling boil will kill most but not all pathogens in water.  Obviously, boiling water requires the equipment necessary to heat water to boiling.

Water purification tablets provide another means of making water safer.  These are tablets that dissolve in water.  They kill bacteria and viruses but don’t filter out particulate matter.  They usually leave the water with an unpleasant taste.

Handheld filters eliminate bacteria but not viruses.  They take out particulate matter and usually leave the water tasting pleasant.

Since water is crucial to your survival, it should be one of the items you take great care in planning.  Whether you are sheltering in place or bugging out, you should have a well thought-out plan for your water needs.

How have you provided for your need for water in your emergency preparedness plan?  Please leave a comment to let us know.

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“My Town Disappeared”

large explosionThere is an ongoing crisis with train derailments that result in fiery explosions.  These explosions happen when tanker cars that are ill-equipped to withstand collisions are used to transport crude oil.  The oil usually originates in North Dakota, whose oil industry has grown so fast over the last few years that it is now second only to Texas as an oil-producing state.   North Dakota doesn’t have any oil pipelines, so in order to get the oil to the refineries, the oil companies transport it by train.  And they transport the oil in tanker cars called DOT111’s, which were not designed or built to transport hazardous material.

One such explosive derailment took place in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada on July 6, 2013.  Forty-seven people were killed in that small town and a large portion of the town was destroyed.  As one townsperson described it, “My town disappeared.”  You owe it to yourself to take ten minutes and educate yourself on this issue.  Watch this video prepared jointly by The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News:

Now, don’t console yourself by thinking that this is one incident that took place in Canada.  It is, in fact, one of several incidents.  Similar incidents have taken place in Virginia, Alabama and North Dakota as well as in Alberta and New Brunswick in Canada.

In addition to the deaths that have occurred, the explosions result in environmental degradation.  Toxic fumes, destruction of property, disruption of utilities and emergency services in the town, contamination of the water supply and other hazardous consequences have occurred or could occur from accidents like these.

In light of this, you need to ask yourself what you would do if something like this happened and your town disappeared.  Do you have several alternate routes out of town, so that you always have a way to go away from the hazard?  Are you prepared with alternate destinations?  Is your bug-out bag ready, one for every member of the family?  Does your bug-out bag contain enough cash to pay for an inexpensive hotel for a couple of nights?  Is your gas tank at least half full?

These disasters are horrendous.  Although, in the big scheme of things, you can predict that these derailments will continue to happen, any particular incident comes completely out of the blue.  You can’t prevent or predict them and you probably can’t avoid them.  But you can prepare yourself in advance to be able to weather the catastrophe.

What do you think are some of the most important steps in prepping to survive a similar disaster?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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What’s Your Evacuation Plan?

Firefighters fighting fireBefore an emergency happens, develop an evacuation plan.  Or rather, develop a series of evacuation plans.

Short-Range Evacuation

The first type of plan that you need is for a short-range evacuation.  Plan this for an emergency that happens to your home, such as a fire or gas leak.  Use this plan when the emergency doesn’t extend beyond your home to your neighborhood or town.  Your plan should include a spot where all family members will gather to be able to check in with each other, assess the emergency and take further action.  A neighbor’s house can be a good option, or a local place of business that is open nights and week-ends.

Medium-Range Evacuation

The second type of emergency evacuation plan is more medium-range but with the understanding that you can reach your destination on foot.  This is your plan for a fire or other emergency that extends beyond your home to other homes on the block or possibly more of the neighborhood.  It may also be necessary in times of civil unrest.  Agree to meet your family members at a location outside of your immediate neighborhood.  Plan a couple of different routes in case streets are blocked.

Long-Range Evacuation

Then, finally, make long-range evacuation plans that will get you out of town.  Rehearse with your family every step along the way.  First, you meet at the short range or medium range meeting location.  Then, once your family is together, proceed with your long-range plan.

Consider all your options.  Even if you can and would prefer to drive, research public transportation routes.  Choose two or three possible destinations.  You want to have a couple of places pre-planned in case one of them is facing the same emergency that your town is facing.  Pick homes of out-of-town family members and friends.  When you discuss your plan with those family members and friends, encourage them to make their own emergency evacuation plans and offer to reciprocate as their safety destination.

Decide on at least two alternate routes for each of your destinations.  Again, you don’t want to be trapped when a road is closed.  And don’t forget that if your town is experiencing an emergency, roads will be crowded with other fleeing families.  You should learn the routes well enough to be able to navigate them without assistance but you should still take paper maps with you in case roads are closed or you have to improvise at the last minute.  GPS systems may not work and your cell phone may go out, so be sure to have paper maps as a back-up.

Evacuation Tips

When an emergency arises, you may need to evacuate your home and move to a close-range location, evacuate your neighborhood and move to a medium-range location or evacuate your town and hit the road.  Don’t wait until the emergency arises before you decide where to go or how to get there.  Come up with alternative destinations and routes now.

Conduct drills with your family.  Drills not only teach your family what the plan is, they also help you identify deficiencies in your plan and improve it.

Get in the habit now, before there is an emergency, of keeping your gas tank at least half full.  You don’t want to have to stop and wait in line for gas and run the risk of shortages or increased prices at the moment that you need to activate your plan.

And in each case, whether short-range, medium-range or long-range, be sure to grab your bug-out bag on the way out the door.

Make a plan and work to practice and improve it.  Knowing that you can keep your family safe in an emergency brings peace of mind.

What are your experiences with your plans?  Have you made your plans, practiced them or implemented them?  Let us learn from your experiences — share them in the comments.

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Know When You Need To Bug Out

Prepared ConceptYou’ve either bought a bug-out bag kit for each member of the family or you have built one from scratch.  You have made your evacuation plans and practiced them with your spouse, children, pets and anyone else that you consider family.  You’ve got your paper maps, compass and alternative routes ready.  You always keep your gas tank at least half full, but you know that if you need to bug out, you may have to do it on foot.

So when do you need to bug out?

It’s time to bug out when the place you are in is at risk of becoming unsafe.  Don’t wait until you are actually in danger.  Leave before the danger comes.

The danger can be due to any number of things — a severe weather event, civil unrest, a contaminate hazard, a terrorist attack, or anything else that puts you and your loved ones in harm’s way.

If you live near a chemical plant, you should be aware that both corporate and government officials can and will cover up the potential harm in the event of a discharge.  Don’t wait for their advice.  Pick up and go.  And keep alert to news events.  A tanker car on a train or truck can be damaged in transit and discharge toxic materials.  Evacuate — in the opposite direction of the accident.

Leave if there is a city-wide blackout.  Criminals love to hide under cover of darkness.  Likewise, if the 911 system goes down, you should bug out.  When there is no way to communicate with law enforcement, the entire city is at risk.  Don’t wait  it out, hoping for the best.  And don’t risk your life trying to protect your property.  Take matters into your own hands and leave.

In the case of a serious weather event, bug out before government officials tell you to.  Don’t delay until the roads are congested with people who wait until the last minute to leave.  You may end up stranded on a crowded road as the blizzard or hurricane bears down on you.

Much of what I advise you to do on this blog is to plan and prepare.  You must do that.  But you also must act resolutely and unapologetically if a bug-out-worthy event is imminent.

Have you ever bugged out?  Or didn’t and wished you had?  Leave a note in the comments and let us know your story.  Or share your thoughts about your planning and preparation.

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Consider A Bug-Out Bag Kit

Prepared ConceptAlthough you certainly can create your bug-out bag from scratch, you may want to get off to a faster start and invest in a bug-out bag kit.  It can actually be more economical to start with a kit and add to it than to purchase everything separately.

When you choose your bug-out bag kit, start with a good backpack. For information about backpacks, check out What You Need To Know About Backpacks For Your Bug-Out Bag.  Make sure your kit starts with a sturdy but lightweight, watertight backpack.

Then have a good look at the contents of the kit.  You’ll want your bug-out bag to include some standard supplies, so be sure that your kit has them.  A good kit will include a first aid kit, some food supplies, a flashlight, lightweight thermal blankets and heavy duty gloves.

But even the best kits will need to be supplemented.  Your kit may include food but you may need to supplement it or change it out.  Most kits don’t include water, so you’ll need to be sure to add that.  You’ll need to add paper maps of your regional area.

Of course, you’ll need to add your own clothing, copies of your legal documents and prescription medications.  You’ll need to add your favorite past-times and entertainment items.  If you have children, you’ll need to add their food, clothing, formula, diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers and toys.

Then you will need to consider whether you need to add anything given your surroundings and the types of emergencies you are likely to face.  Do you live in an area with a chemical plant?  Protection against chemical leaks will be essential.  Likewise, consider whether you are likely to face hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires, snowstorms or other weather-related events, then be sure that you add any specific items needed for them to your bug-out bag kit.

And, in general, review the contents to be sure that it includes everything that you consider essential.   Even a well-chosen kit may be missing a few items, such field glasses, a compass, a fold-up tent, an emergency radio, a sleeping bag or other things.   Compare the items in your bug-out bag kit to the items on my checklist in Your Bug-Out Bag Checklist.

Even though there’s no one kit that can meet all of your needs, purchasing a bug out bag kit is an excellent idea for making sure you have a good basic set of essentials. For many people the idea of gathering many items for a 72 hour emergency kit is overwhelming.  Or you may feel that an emergency is imminent and you need to get prepared immediately.

When you purchase a kit, you can get most of the items you need and only have to add a few personal or supplemental items. It may actually cost you less money to purchase a kit than it would to purchase items individually.

And when you purchase a kit, most items are designed to have a long shelf-life making them a good value. If you’re more willing to buy a kit than to collect individual items, a kit will get you one step closer to being self-reliant and prepared for an emergency.

In a disaster, you can’t count on anyone else to take care of your basic needs. Having a good basic bug out bag kit can help you to be prepared for a disaster that requires you to leave your home.

Did you begin your bug-out bag with a kit?  Leave a comment to let us know how that worked for you.

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Your Bug-Out Bag Checklist

A bug-out bag is a bag, usually a backpack, that contains supplies necessary for you to survive the first 72 hours of an emergency.  It is crucial for your bug-out bag to be prepared in advance.  The idea is to have it complete and conveniently located, so that you can grab it and go when an emergency arises.

It can take some time to gather all the materials for a bug-out bag.  While you are getting your supplies together, don’t think about what you don’t have yet.  Think about how much more prepared you are than you would be if you hadn’t started.

When you begin to gather your supplies, start with a checklist.  Make a plan to gather supplies as your budget allows.  Keep the checklist and the plan in your backpack.

The following is a recommended checklist to start you off collecting supplies for your bug-out bag:

* Sturdy backpack to hold items

* Sleeping bag

* Plastic sheet

* Tent or tarp for shelter

* First aid kit – including nonprescription and prescription medications and contraception (a three day supply)

* Children’s medications (if applicable)

* Feminine hygiene items (if applicable)

* Baby wipes and diapers (if applicable, though baby wipes are useful for cleaning up for all ages)

* Change of clothing – including pants, a short sleeve shirt, a long sleeve shirt, socks, underwear, a jacket, work gloves

* Rain coat or poncho

* Emergency blanket

* Flashlights

* Camping lantern

* Batteries

* Candles

* Water-proof matches

* Flares

* Three day supply of food – such as granola bars, protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit, canned tuna, canned chicken, Vienna sausages, beef jerky, juice, candy, Meals Ready to Eat

* Three day supply of water – about four liters per person

* Manually operated can opener

* Utensils for eating

* Shovel

* Axe

* Knife

* Rope

* Duct tape

* Solar powered radio (with back up batteries)

* Toilet paper

* Hand sanitizer

* A bottle of combination soap, shampoo and conditioner (you can use it to wash dishes and clothes, too)

* Entertainment items – such as a deck of cards, knitting supplies, a book to read, paper, pen

* Personal documents – including legal documents, insurance policies, birth certificates, car titles, copies of prescriptions, etc.

* Cash – at least enough for three nights in a hotel

* Pet items – including food, water, cat litter, leash, bedding

* Other items as needed for children such as formula, pacifiers, bottles, etc.

When it comes to food, make sure you create a menu plan so that you know what you’ll eat each day. And every six months you’ll want to check expiration dates and replace food that’s near the end of its shelf life.

You’ll also need to check the children’s supplies every six months.  Be sure that the children haven’t grown out of the clothes you prepared for them and make sure that whatever other supplies (formula, bottles, etc.) are appropriate for age and size.

Don’t forget that you need to be able to grab your bag and go.  One of the things that means is that you need to put your supplies in your backpack and leave them there.  Don’t fall into the trap of using your bug-out supplies for daily use.  That will either delay you on the way out, or leave you underprepared when you get there.

You’ll need to have a bug out bag for each member of your family. Even children are capable of carrying their own packs with some essentials. This helps them to feel more self-reliant and confident during an emergency.

Once you’ve collected these items, you’ll need to keep them in an area where you can easily access them in an emergency. A bug out bag checklist can help you to keep in mind what you have and what you still need to purchase as you prepare for survival needs.

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