Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, forest fires, floods, riots — sounds like a news report from 2011. These things happen without warning and can wreck your plans. If they happen to you, you need to leave and right now. You don’t have time to decide what’s important to have with you when you get the evacuation notice. So its important to prepare a bug-out-bag ahead of time.
The government of Canada, NASA, and several other government agencies have urged their citizens to prepare for emergencies. Most of us ignore the warnings. I remember, as a child, watching the test pattern on channel 12 “Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. For the next 60 seconds this station is conducting a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test. If this had been an actual emergency you would have been told where to tune in your area for news and official information.” The beep was a daily reminder, to ignore the warnings — after all, the important stuff was coming up next.
Now I want you to pay attention — just long enough to get that bug-out-bag prepared. It will make any emergency, a bit less traumatic, and it might even save your life or the life of your loved ones. There won’t be time in a real emergency to gather what you need, so don’t put this off any longer.
72 hours — 3 days — basically a long weekend. Are you prepared? If you’ve avoided this task, let me help you move past the obstacles and get it done this week.
There are two basic parts to this. Steps one and two are for survival. You must do the first two steps — its like an insurance policy to keep you safe and alive until you can get to help. Steps 3 to 6 are for your peace of mind — you can plan to do them over the weekend or a few weeks, as you have time, and put them into the bug-out-bag as each is completed.
Step 1: Find a back pack, diaperbag, or suitcase for each member of the family. Small children can share a bag.
Step 2: Gather the necessary items — do this today. Don’t wait. (See below)
Step 3: Upload all your personal pictures onto a DVD. In a real emergency, you don’t know if you will come back to them. For peace-of-mind, save them to a disk and take them with you. Its one decision you won’t have to make under pressure.
Step 4: Photocopy or scan all your important personal and business documents — Will, Passport, Social Insurance Cards, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificates, Driver’s Licence, Citizenship card, Landed Immigrant Status card, Health Insurance Card, Power-of-Attorney, etc. Place the paperwork into an envelope and add to the bug-out-bag.
Step 5: Any important work files — your novel or book that you are working on, sketches for a project, school essays, etc. should be saved to a thumb drive — keep it in your purse or add it to the bug out bag. You’ll want to update this periodically.
Step 6: List your important phone numbers — next of kin, doctor, vet, colleagues, neighbours, on a 3 x 5 card and slip a copy into each bug-out-bag.
Step 7: Make a family emergency plan. You can use the form put together by the Canadian Government or make your own.
Now assemble a bag for each family member and keep it by the back door.
If you’re really prepared you can assemble a second bag and keep it in your vehicle — but keep it out of sight. You don’t want someone to break into your car to grab it.
If you work from home, you’re done. If you work away from home — make a bug out bag for the office, too. Consider it an insurance policy — that will cover you for Acts of God.
What to put in your Bug-Out-Bag:
For Each Family Member:
One complete change of Clothing for each member of the family
Extra socks and underwear
Necessary toiletries for each family member: Toothbrush, comb, face cloth, hand towel, soap – a Joybilee Farm shampoo bar is a great all-in-one solution that won’t leak in the bag and hand sanitizer
Wool blanket or emergency blanket for each family member
For your family or group:
Plastic bags in 1 litre, kitchen catcher and garbage bag size.
Food for 3 days at 2,500 calories per day per person — you want food that won’t spoil. Think of the food you would take camping. Granola, granola bars, energy bars, dried rice and bean dishes that you just add water to, will all work. Replace this food periodically with fresh food. I’m working on a more detailed article with recipes for your Bug-Out-Bag, that use food from your basic winter food preparation and storage system.
Canned fish or meat
Manual can opener, if you are packing canned food.
6 litres of water per person (That’s 5 gallons for our family for 3 days. I’ll fill a 5 gallon water jug and put paper cups in the bug out bag.)
LED Flashlight with dynamo or spare batteries or 6-12 hour light sticks
Radio, with a dynamo or battery powered. Spare batteries.
Small cooking appliance that uses solid fuel, I use a Kelly Kettle (see it below from Amazon)
Pot or can for cooking in (the Kelly Kettle kit has a pot and a pot support. You can improvise with a coffee can and a pair of pliers. Think ahead and pack what you’ll need)
Matches or fire steel (Matches should be strike anywhere matches, not safety matches)
Multi head screw driver
Folding shovel for sanitation
Hatchet or wire saw
Cord, twine or strong rope
Plastic sheeting for improvising a shelter
First aid kit
SAS Emergency manual or another emergency and first aid manual
Special needs like medication, medical equipment, diapers, baby formula.
The government websites suggest extra keys for your car, home or office, but I wouldn’t want an extra set of keys in my bug-out-bag, in case they were stolen. Put them in your purse or in a safe place away from home.
Small amount of cash for emergencies.
That’s the bare minimum. What other things would you add?
Is your bug-out-bag ready? If you already have one, are you replacing the food and water periodically? If you aren’t preparing a bug-out-bag, what’s stopping you? Leave a comment.
Here’s some resources that will help you make up your bug-out-bag:
Emergency Thermal Blankets (4 Pack)
Pack of 10 Light Stick Green 12-Hour for Emergency Disaster Preparedness