FEMA recommends that each household prepare a disaster supplies kit that is ready to “grab and go” in case of an evacuation or an emergency such as a terrorist attack, a nuclear incident, a flood, or a chemical spill.
They recommend that this kit (bug out bag) have enough food, water, first aid supplies, tools and emergency supplies to last for three days or more.
Introducing the bug out bag
This bag is also known as a “bug out bag” or a G.O.O.D. bag (Get Out Of Dodge).
This emergency preparedness survival bag is important because if you have to evacuate during a disaster, it may be the only thing you have time to grab as you are leaving.
It may be the only source of food, water, and essentials that you have for a several days. The bag could save you a lot of anguish.
Since you may have to pull up and leave at a moment’s notice, having an emergency preparedness kit already together means you don’t have to think of everything on the spot as you are walking out the door.
It also means that you can be miles down the road while other people are still trying to figure out what to gather up. Sometimes in an emergency, seconds count.
While there are many things that would be nice to have, you must keep the contents of this emergency preparedness kit to a minimum.
You may want to have a bug-out kit for each member of the family to carry. That may increase how much stuff you can take, so make sure that your bug out vehicle will carry it all.
The hall closet, if you have one, is a good place to keep your emergency preparedness bag so that you can grab it as you head out the door.
Pre-packaged bug out bags for sale
Like with pre-packaged survival food, pre-packaged commercial 72 hour bags are less than ideal.
They have always have things in them that you do not need and will never use in an emergency, the quality of the goods may be substandard, and they don’t usually include items that suit your particular disaster preparations.
Instead, put your own emergency preparedness kit together. It is cheaper and will better suit your specific needs in a disaster.
You can use a duffel bag or any large canvas bag to hold the contents of your emergency kit, or you can use a five gallon plastic bucket with a good handle and a sealable lid.
A bucket with a lid can be an invaluable and irreplaceable tool in a disaster. You can use it to carry water or a hundred other things after you reach your destination.
You can also use it with a trash bag spread inside the bucket as a make-shift potty in a disaster.
This is one reason to make sure that your buckets have lids. Lids also keep the emergency preparedness kit together and intact, as well as making the bucket weather-resistant.
Prioritizing your 72-hours grab and go bag
Make a list of all the things you will need to take in your 72-hour kit. Then gather these items and lay them out in the floor, along with the number of buckets or packs that your family will be carrying, one per person.
Now is the time to see if you will be able to haul all the survival gear that you have selected in the emergency containers you have selected.
If not, you will have to make some choices. Be sure and put the lighter items in the buckets or packs which will be carried by the younger members of the family.
One of the first items you must plan for in an emergency is water. Water is heavy, weighing 8.34 pounds per gallon, but you must have it with you in any disaster.
Since the average person drinks two quarts of water per day, pack your emergency preparedness kit with bottled water accordingly and include a water purification filter and water purification tablets (read about water purification here).
A small container of unscented chlorine bleach would be good to have in your 72-hour kit for treating drinking water that you may find along the way.
MRE’S, canned chili, and canned stews are great for the best bug out bags because they require no refrigeration, are easy to heat up, and can be eaten without cooking in an emergency.
They are packed with protein and carbohydrates which you may need in a crisis. Other good choices for your 72-hour kit are peanut butter, granola bars, canned meats such as tuna, and dehydrated soup mixes.
The down side to packing items such as tuna in an emergency kit is that they make you thirsty, and water may be in short supply on your journey.
You could include a small backpacking stove in your 72-hour kit; the space and weight are negligible, and you might be amazed at what a hot meal will do for morale during a disaster.
Canned fruits and juices are good choices for emergency kits because they provide quick energy and, again, will do wonders for a person’s spirits in a crisis.
Just remember that these juices will also make you thirsty if water is in short supply, as often happens during a disaster.
Other good choices for emergency food include chocolate bars and candy.
Don’t forget to pack your disaster kit with a few salt tablets, some forks and spoons, one metal drinking cup per person, and baby food and diapers if applicable.
Above all, do not forget the can opener. In fact, pack a can opener in each emergency preparedness bucket or pack.
Pack some warm clothes, a stocking cap, extra underwear and socks, and good shoes in your disaster kit for each person.
If you have room in your bug out pack, take a sleeping bag or blanket for each person. If not, pack metallic emergency blankets or space blankets.
A set of rain gear for each person would be nice, if there is room in your emergency kit.
Rain ponchos are even better because a small candle held in your lap with your legs crossed can provide a lot of personal warmth under a poncho. Just be careful and don’t melt your poncho!
Include a bar of hand soap, a roll of toilet paper, wet towelettes, and feminine hygiene items in your 72-hour kit.