Oh dear. I was afraid someone would ask me about my bug-out bag. These bags seems to be high on the list of must-haves for preparedness and I rarely give mine thought. I happen to live in a very safe area geographically. We rarely have floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes. I can’t actually remember any of these things happening. I suppose they are possible theoretically but I just don’t worry about them.
I do have a child who depends on daily medication. If I had to get out of the house in a rush, say like in a fire, I would grab the med box, which I keep near the front door, and get out. I have a fire proof safe that holds my important papers. If I could get those things out I would but in a fire I would have to trust the safe. That being said, I do a keep my car stocked with some important items that are many of the things one would find in a bag. I could imagine being stranded in my car during a blizzard so keeping that stocked makes sense to me.
I keep basic food and water. I stick with fruit and grain bars, hard candy, tea, sugar, bullion cubes and water bottles. I take out the hard candy in the summer as it melts in the heat. What a mess! I have a folding shovel, a basic first aid kit, a mess kit and a folding stove, fuel cannister and waterproof matches. I have a flashlight, a poncho and a space blanket for each of us, a couple of emergency flares and a tub tent. I keep a folding saw and handcrank radio with a cell phone charger and emergency light and siren in my kit as well. I have a leatherman and a whistle in my purse.
With this stuff in my car, I only keep toiletries, some cash, a change of clothes, an individual mess kit and a bit more food in our bags. My house is the bug out destination. We have another house in a town about 30 minutes from here as well as some land for camping, some nearby and some about an hour away, that I could go to if necessary. I have worked to make this place sustainable in a crisis so I would not have to leave.
The first thing anyone interested in this subject should do is assess their risks. If you live down wind from a nuclear power plant, in a wildfire zone, a flood plane, tornado alley, hurricane territory or in or near a city, evacuation is possible and you want much better bug out bags than I have. You also want a destination. Maybe you can work out a swap agreement with another family and preposition supplies there. What you want to avoid is going to a shelter if at all possible. That being said, do not put off going to a shelter if you are at risk. It is better than staying in a dangerous place. The key is too evacuate sooner rather than later to avoid the rush. Make sure you have some cash. If the power is out your plastic money is worthless and cash will be king. Also keep your car with a full tank of gas, in good repair and park facing out so you can make a quick get away.
As for what to tell your children. I think we put too much worry on the shoulders of young children. I just do the whole fire escape drill with the girls but I don’t make a huge deal out of it. They know how to get out from every room, and how to use the escape ladder. Karen knows to get Phoebe if one of us is not there. But the truth is that in a real fire, one of the girls might panic. I know Bruce and I would take crazy chances to get our kids out in a fire.
The one thing that makes me crazy is seeing people who know a disaster is eminent, waiting until the last minute to evacuate and then trying to pack the family jewels in the back of a sub-compact while the flames lick their feet.