With all the storms happening around the U.S. in the past few weeks and more in upcoming weeks, I though it appropriate to use this week’s blog to go over building or buying a ‘bug out bag’.
A ‘bug out bag’, or BOB, is a bag full of emergency gear, tools and food and water that will help you and yours survive a little easier in an emergency situation. The goal of your BOB is two-fold: One; you can grab it and be out the door in no time flat with all you need to keep going. Two; you can grab it and get to an inner room or lower floor with all you need to keep going.
If you’ve heard of these before, you’ll notice that you’re always told three days or 72 hours is what you should be prepared for. While it is true that you should prepare for a minimum of three days, you really should prepare for a week at least. The hardest part of this is the water you should have with you – one gallon per person, per day for drinking, cooking and washing. At about eight pounds per gallon, it adds up quickly.
Let’s start off by going over what one person will need. From there you can multiply by how many people you need to care for. Now, since I already brought up water, let’s begin there. Water for one person for eight days works out to be 1 x 8 x 8 = 64 pounds. There is a nice way around this however. Water for one person for three days plus water treatment for two weeks works out to be (1 x 3 x 8) + 1 = 25 pounds.
Water treatment can be whichever way you choose to purify your water for the following two weeks, from chemicals to filters. This really shouldn’t weigh much more than a pound unless you are using a large size filtration unit.
Now for food. Ultimately you should figure out how many calories you go through on a normal day and multiply this times the number of days you want to be prepared for. I know that most people don’t really count calories, so we’ll go with an easier route. You need a minimum of breakfast, lunch and dinner for a full week, plus one day. There are a number of ways of doing this, but I’m going to give you my suggestion.
1. One three day emergency food ration bar or three one day bars
2. Three to six packages of noodles with seasonings
3. Three to six cans of soup
4. Three to six cans of chili or meat product
5. Add a couple handfuls or a zip lock bag full of candy or snacks.
Now you already have 6 to 9 days worth of food. Don’t forget to rotate it out and replace it with fresh supplies. This should be done at least every two months when you change out your clothing too.
First aid is next up. Easiest way to take care of this is to buy a kit. Spend at least ten bucks. Buy one of these for every two people you have. If you don’t want to buy a premade kit, you should have the following: a few assorted size and shape band aids (three of each size), some gauze pads (three inch square), some triple anti-biotic ointment, an assortment of pain killers (six each: aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Excedrin type mix), a couple of antacid tablets, a few popsicle sticks, first aid tape or duct tape and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
Do not forget to add a few extra of any prescribed medications. They will be next to impossible to get during an emergency situation. It’s also not a bad idea to grab a few assorted pairs of those dollar reading glasses.
Now we come to a group of items I like to keep in one category called warmth. I mean, clothing, blankets, tarps, tents and flame (which is also included in cooking). Here’s an important thing to remember. Wool. Personally, I’m sad that I’m allergic to it. Wool will hold heat when it gets wet whereas cotton will not. Your clothing should be changed out at least every two months, when you rotate out your food, based on the prevailing weather patterns. Also, keep a few towels with your clothing. Blankets, tarps and tents should be, at the very least, flame retardant.
As for the shelter aspect of the above, I have a small 4 man three season tent that I can grab along with my BOB. You should always have some type of item that can be used as a temporary roof or wall if need be, for shelter, warmth or even just privacy. You’ll want to include some strong twine or rope as well, to hold up these items. We’ll get to flame in the cooking bit.
Cooking is the next stop on our bug out bag building tour. This can be fairly simple or not, it’s entirely up to you. The minimum you need is a coffee can size can (or two, #10 cans), a wire coat hanger, some tinder, some fuel and flame. These items can make you a nice little cooking unit. Beyond this, there are very many different type stoves you can purchase from multi-fuel to candle cookers. Flame is important for cooking and for warmth so you should have at least three sources of flame. Matches, butane lighter, Zippo style lighter, flint and steel and magnesium striker are all good ways to start a fire.
Add to all this, a source of light like a wind up flashlight, candles, small hurricane lamps or similar and a portable hand powered weather radio with NOAA capabilities and you will be all ready to go when the time comes. Throw it all together in a duffel bag or backpack and keep it where you can get to it fast.
There are a few last things I need to mention. One; I would hope that you would include a small container of instant coffee, even if you are not a coffee drinker. You will come across someone who is desperate for coffee. Two; Cash, at least $100 (more if at all possible, up to $1000) in small bills and change. Three; Have copies of all your important documents in a water proof container. This includes IDs, deeds, leases, titles, wills, birth certificates, social security cards, bank statements and a list of emergency contacts with at least one of which being out of state. Four; Please, please, please, don’t forget to pack a can opener.
Maybe you’ve noticed me adding an eight day. I firmly believe that it is our duty to help others once helping ourselves. This eight day practice can allow you to help at least one more person or it can be a buffer in case more days are needed. If you are not forced to be active, you can realistically ration your food and water up to twice the length of time it is meant for, though you will feel it’s effects.
Or you can just buy an almost complete kit and add your medications and clothing to it. Click here (http://www.millionthmonkeyfoods.com/2PersonKit.aspx) for a good ‘two person, three day’ kit that works well as a ‘one person, six day’ kit.