I love the idea of bug out bags. They appeal to the organized, OCD part of my personality. I must confess however, that I have not paid enough attention to bug out bags in my own preparedness plans. I live in one of the safer sections of the country in terms of potential catastrophes. We have never had a tornado or a wild fire. We don’t have flash floods and we are not close to a nuclear power plant. The one time we were affected by a hurricane was many decades ago. If one were to impact the inland Northeast now we would have ample warning and time to prepare. We are not affected by volcanoes, mud slides, tsunamis, nothing in fact but snow, wind and ice, things that keep one house bound but nothing to make the adequately prepared family leave home.
I do keep a well stocked car kit which would double as an evacuation with personal items such as clothes and medication. It is a beautiful day today and I am feeling twinges of spring fever. Since it is too early to work in the garden, I spent part of the morning going through my car kit and rotating supplies. If you have never put together a car kit, that should be your March preparedness goal.
I keep most of my supplies in a clear plastic bin. I also have a back pack for some smaller items. If I were stranded in my car and needed to walk for help, a good backpack would be really useful. I probably have more in the way of supplies than I am ever likely to use but I am of the “better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it” persuasion.
In addition to registration and insurance papers, I have a flashlight and collection of laminated maps for any place I am likely to be driving. I do have a GPS and I love it but I would never want to be entirely dependant on technology. I also keep a cheap pair of glasses as I am helpless without them. I have an eyeglass repair kit in there as well. I also keep a pad of paper, a pen and about ten dollars in change and one dollar bills.
I have a leatherman, matches, a personal safety device, a whistle and a cell phone as well as some cash, a list of important phone numbers and my health insurance card.
Tools are useful if you know how to use them. I keep jumper cables, a portable battery charge ( I needed one this winter and it worked like a charm), duct tape, emergency flares and a jack in my car. Bruce is a good mechanic and has a complete tool set that he brings if we are going far from home or heading out in inclement weather. If we were evacuating, it would go with us in my large van. Otherwise, it is in his truck. I always keep some antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and a quart of oil in a bin.
I pack some water, non-perishable food, a space blanket and a rain poncho for each family member. The water and the food may need to be rotated. I may never need it but I have a lot of camping gear such as tinder, matches, a mess kit, a water bag, a small saw and a lantern. A pair of learther gloves is a good idea.
I have a good first aid kit. The ones that can be purchased as whole kits are a waste of money in my opinion. They always have a lot of stuff you won’t need and are lacking a few essentials. You need scissors, tweezers and a magnifying glass in addition to band aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relief tablets and some sanitary napkins for use as large bandages. I have an epi-pen because my husband is a bee keeper and I had an extra one. I have an ice pack that activates when you bang it. I recommend adding a box of non-latex gloves and some plastic bags.
I have a first aid manual and a copy of How To Stay Alive In The Woods by Bradford Angier that fit in my emergency bin. I always keep a book for myself and few small toys to keep kids occupied. I keep a bag of kitty litter for traction and a headlamp in there too. Don’t forget a roll of toilet paper (biodegradable).
It sounds like a lot of stuff but it doesn’t really take up as much space as you might think. I was actually stranded in a freak October blizzard on the New York Thruway one year. We were comfortable because we had been planning all day hike and picnic so were prepared by accident but most people weren’t. After seven hours in a car, families were cold, hungry and bored. That was my first preparedness eye-opener.
I should add that a well maintained car should be your first order of business. Know where you are going, have an alternate route, let someone know your itinerary, keep a 1/2 tank of gas and never drive when angry or otherwise impaired.