Now that you know that you need a bug-out bag, let’s talk about what you need to put in it.
Always keep in mind that it needs to be portable, useful in any emergency and intended to be used in the urgent, immediate 72-hour period following an emergency. So keep urgent needs in mind and don’t waste space on less important needs, or longer-term survival necessities.
To make your bug-out bag, first, start with a sturdy backpack. Buy the best one you can afford. A metal frame makes it stronger and easier to carry if you end up having to hike a long while. While you need a roomy main compartment, you also need side pockets for easy access to frequently used items.
Then you should have a three-day supply of food and water. Foods that are good to have in a bug-out bag include trail mix, protein bars, meals ready to eat, tuna or canned meat, and soups. Be sure that the cans have pull tabs or that you have a manual can opener. If you want to carry it, you can also bring gel fuel to warm your food up. Otherwise, bring food that you can eat cold. Don’t forget formula, baby food or whatever food items are appropriate for the children in your family.
In addition to food, you will need water. The rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person per day, or three gallons of water per person for your bug-out bag. That’s heavy and bulky. It can help to use many smaller bottles of water, so that you can distribute them in your backpack to try to increase your comfort as you carry it, and so that you can discard the bottles as you need them to make room in your pack.
After food and water, the next thing to think about is a compact first-aid kit. Don’t overlook any prescription or over-the-counter drugs that you or your family members use. Bring along small packages of toiletries and hygiene products as well. If your babies are in diapers, add some to your bug-out bag.
The next thing to think about is clothing. Your bug-out bag should include a change of clothes that are appropriate for foul weather, including boots and a rain poncho. If there are growing children in your family, check the clothing in their bug-out bags every couple of months to make sure they haven’t outgrown them.
You’ll also need equipment to provide some sort of shelter. Plan out what you need for shelter, including a tent, a sleeping bag, emergency blankets and a plastic sheet or tarp.
You’ll need safety and navigational tools, too. A radio, flashlight and batteries, knife, rope and duct tape are all essential. A compass and a paper map are important, too. The GPS on your car or your phone may be inaccessible in a hurricane or blizzard.
Your bug-out bag should also include copies of important documents. Your insurance policies, auto title, house deed, passports, IDs and any other documents important to you.
Finally, you should have a stash of cash in your bug-out bag. My goal is to raise $500 for my own bug-out bag. You may need to pay for three nights in a hotel, for example. You can pretty much count on unforeseen expenses and higher prices than you budgeted for.
Pulling your bug-out bag together will take time and resources. The best approach is to set out a monthly schedule for gathering your materials. Month by month, as you see your bug-out bag become more complete, you will gain peace of mind.
Have I left anything out? What do you think is essential in a bug-out bag? Leave a comment and let us know.
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