First off, if you were in any way affected by Hurricane Sandy, my thoughts go out to you and your family. Sandy left most of my area (South-Eastern Massachusetts) unscathed for the most part. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like, and what it must be like for those who were hit hard.
Were you affected? If so, please share your story in the comments below.
More importantly (only as it relates to this blog post!) – were you prepared?
Now, let me first start off by saying that I am not one of those Doomsday Preppers, in fact, I am not even in New Hampshire, where everyone and their brother has a stockpile of arms and a bunker (wink! wink! nudge! nudge!). I don’t even have a “prepper” in the family. I am the closest one to this that I know of, but, I am far from it.
What I want to accomplish by this post, is to get you thinking, and get in the mindset of what you need to do for you and your family. If this post helps, or, is lacking in any way, shape, or form, please, drop me a comment!
I came to the realization after Irene went through last year, that, if we had to get out quickly… we basically had nothing. Sure, we had 6 gallons of water, food, flashlights, batteries, and some tools handy. But that was certainly not enough.
I recently had come back from a great backpacking trip, my first in over 5 years since my son was born, and the prepping for that trip, got me thinking about prepping for my family… as for about a month beforehand, I was adding/removing gear from my bag that I would need.
I will be the first to say it, my wife could most likely take me in a fight. That being said, I still feel the need to provide for my family, and, to be the one to be able to get us through any event. So, I started building a “Bug Out Bag”, or BOB. There are 4 of us in the family, but, I am not expecting my 1 year old daughter, or even 5 year old son to haul around a heavy backpack.
NOTE: Yes, you can buy a bug out bag, or disaster survival backpack all day long on sites like amazon.com – they are great “starter kits”, and should be supplemented by things that you need, and at the very least, a better backpack. These off the shelf are better than nothing, but, they are not great by any means… if its all you have, you are better off than not having it.
Being that I am very involved in the product I consult around, I attend and speak at a lot of conferences, so, I happen to have a lot of bags lying around of great quality. I chose to build 2 kits, one that my wife could take, and one that I could take. Each bag has supplies mostly squarely split down the middle, with items for 1-2 people.
First things first. Yes, you want the best for your family, but, you can do nothing for them if you don’t make it out. Look after #1 first, so you can be there for your friends and family. You do no one any good when you’re dead.
I built these organically over a few months… placing the bags in a location, and starting to add to them. Being an avid, or, shall I say, average outdoorsman, I have plenty of knives and spare equipment to go around.
Here’s what I’ve added to my kit (mirrored in another bag), and I will likely keep on managing this kit over time. This list is not in any specific order!
- Cash (undisclosed amount)
- Keep cash on-hand. If it is not the end of the world and currency is not useless, there may not be power or a way for folks to get money out of electronic banking machines, banks may be closed, looted, etc. Always keep some cash on hand. A few hundred dollars may be worth millions when you’ve got it in a disaster situation.
- Roll of paper towels
- Useful as TP, wipes, makeshift bandages, cleaning cloths, etc. Spring for a roll of the good stuff, Viva.
- Hand sanitizer
- Keeping healthy is key. Cuts, scrapes, sewage.. all baddies.
- Not only is it good for sanitation, it can be used as a fuel. There are probably thousands of use for the stuff. It burns great. Anything with alcohol will!
- Multiple mini-keychain lights (one is a hand-crank light)
- Light is good. Helps you to do things like… see in the dark.
- Water filter straw
- Nothing is more important than water. Food sources can be found just about anywhere, and, if you’re like me, you have the extra capacity built-in to go with food for a while. Without water, over a few days, you’re dead.
- There are many kinds of these out there. These are basically a straw-looking water filter. Stick it in water, and drink. The safe thing to do first would be to strain the water, as well as boil it, and THEN use the straw. But, if its not an option, its better than nothing. You are in a world of hurt if you get a virus or harmful bacteria from your drinking water source.
- Remember – in a disaster, there is no telling what might be in that water source – coolants, fuels, sewage, and other harmful things.
- Also remember – that unless you are drinking from THE source of a pure mountain spring, the water is likely tainted.
- Water purification tablets
- See above on the importance of water – one or more ways to make water safe to drink is key.
- Dust masks
- You don’t want to breathe in bad things.
- First Aid Kit (FAK)
- For my prep bags, I have off-the-shelf kits from the French store Target. My backpacking FAK has been honed over years of use.
- You can do what you’d like, but, you should at least have:
- Keep the bad stuff out of cuts and scrapes
- Gauze (+ extra rolls)
- Antibiotic ointment
- non-latex gloves
- Duct tape
- Patch just about anything, and stick just about anything together.
- Emergency Blanket
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Toothpaste also will relive bug bites…
- Big large black trash bags
- carry stuff, poncho, etc.
- 100’ Paracord
- Preferably 550lb test paracord
- Hang things, tie things, fix things… rope is just as awesome as duct tape.
- Many applications – such as, add to your paper towels as an excellent fire-starter.
- The most useful outdoor tool. Ever.
- Extra batteries
- AA, AAA, D
- Notice that’s plural. Get the old-school Bic lighters. The fancy press and ignite ones fail miserably. Trust me.
- Plastic dinnerware
- When you’re going to eat, you, especially your kids, might need something to eat with…
- Signal mirror
- Compass & Whistle Combo
- Emergency stove & tablet fuel
- 2 x Datrex 3600 Calorie Bars
Some additional items not in the “BOB”:
- Have some extra clothes ready to go in another bag, for all seasons – buy some stuff at Savers or a thrift shop if you do not want to toss a few of your $100 Brooks Brothers button downs in there – this is for emergencies only, and, in an emergency, no one cares about fashion.
- long-sleeve shirts
- extra winter clothing
- Sleeping bags + travel pillows
- Sleeping pads
- 12 x 12 tarps – for ground cover and shelter
I keep my backpacking bag packed near the “BOBs”, so that can be grabbed as well. I’ll cover my backpacking and day hiking gear lists in another post.
So that about sums up what is currently in my kits, and I am constantly upgrading it. Now, you may notice you do not see things like water, food… let me continue…
I keep my food and water in several plastic bins – with desiccants! For things that are not sealed wonderfully, the humidity in the summers can spoil your foods. Keep it in a cool, dry place. I have enough food for the family for about 2 weeks, 3 if we really stretch it. I am not preparing for the end of the world as we know it, just a disaster.
I have enough water for roughly the same time. And also ways of filtering water that may be contaminated, to last for the long term.
And to close out this post, but not the topic… Just as important to having a kit, or bug out bag, is having a plan.
- Make sure all of your family members know your plan
- Make sure all able-bodied adults know where everything is – you might not just be there when disaster strikes