-by Kurt Dugger- You turn on the news and hear that familiar severe weather alert tone. Tornadoes are expected in your area. You get in touch with friends with a good basement, and they are happy to let you stay the night. You grab your BOB, toss the kids the car, and you’re off, confident you have everything you need.
What’s a BOB you say? It’s a Bug Out Bag, or 72-hour kit. BOB is a pre-packed bag with everything you need to stay relatively comfortable for two or three days if you have to be away from home unexpectedly. It’s not super-expensive. It’s not like you need enough stuff to run away from the zombies and live in Crockett Bottoms for a year. We’ll leave the unlikely extremes to the reality shows and focus on making likely scenarios less stressful.
First, your bag. A good backpack is the best way to go as it leaves you hands-free. But, an old gym bag, or piece of luggage will work just fine. Now let’s look at some useful items to throw in our bag. Keep it light. Remember: “short term.”
- Clothing: 1 pair pants, 3 shirts, 3 pairs socks and underwear, warm hat and gloves.
- Sanitation: body wash, baby wipes, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, toilet paper, towel and washcloth.
- Lighting: headlamp, hands free lighting (nice when your hands are full). If you have children, give them their own light. It will make an unfamiliar place far less scary.
- Knife and Multi-tool: Pack both so you have two cutting edges, pliers, and screwdrivers.
- Cordage: duct tape, 550 cord, and zip-ties should handle anything temporarily.
- Food: Choose food that is stable in heat or cold. Don’t pack what you don’t like. Look for things like beef jerky, protein bars, canned meats, peanut butter and crackers. Also pack two can openers in case one should break when you really need it.
- Communication: AM/FM radio, pencils and notebook with written list of contacts and local hotels. This is good for trading directions and contact info when you are not thinking as clearly as usual. I recommend pencils because pens leak and stop working if they get wet.
- Water: Two 12-16oz bottles per person. A way to boil liquids such as an aluminum water bottle or small pot is also a good idea.
- Energy: 12v and A/C USB adapter to charge your phone, a backup battery with extra cord for the same. Also bring ear buds with a mic for your phone so you can hear and be heard in a loud environment. It keeps you from disturbing your neighbors.
- Fire starter: Maybe not needed, but a pair of Bic lighters and some Vaseline coated cotton balls don’t take up a lot of space.
- First Aid kit: Do not buy one off the shelf, as you can DIY much cheaper: Pain relievers, Pepto Bismol, and any daily medications you need (pills not liquids since they store better), antibiotic ointment, band-aids, scissors, gauze and ACE bandages will handle most situations. Any kid will tell you, no matter how terrible that scraped knee is, its 90% healed after mom puts a band aid on it.
- Miscellaneous: Cash in small bills, a scanner app for your phone, games or books for the kids. (Get the kids involved in building your kit wherever you can. They will think it’s fun and learn a lot along the way).
- Containers and spare batteries: Get electronics such as flashlights and radios that use the same type of battery. Pack in Zip-Lock bags, and you also have a handy container. Tupperware works great for keeping crunchy things protected. Contractor-grade trash bags can take the place of raincoats and blankets. Also, using them to “vacuum pack” your clothing will make them more compact.
Leave your guns, swords, and numb-chucks out of your BOB. This bag is not the place for that. You may need Aunt Sarah to grab some clothes for you because you are already checked in for an unexpected stay at Baptist Memorial. You don’t want to have to explain to her why she needs to remove your arsenal before she drops off your bag.
This is just a place to start, so don’t go overboard. Kids’ bags should be kept very light. They might think it’s cool to help out, but limit them to what they can easily move around, maybe just clothes and a toothbrush.
If this all looks a little intimidating to you or your budget don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Grab a bag and throw some clothes in. Then just add a little here and there as you go. Remember you can’t help your neighbor if you can’t help yourself. Now look at you—-better prepared for everyday emergencies than your average Doomsday Prepper.
For more similar preparedness projects checkout Jack Spirko at thesurvivalpodcast.com.