Everyone is searching for the “best bug out bag check list“, but you’ll never find it. The “best list” is the one you make yourself because it will apply to your personal needs. Every person and family is different and will have different needs. Rather than simply following some list, we’ll go through various categories that you will need to prepare. Once you fulfill your needs in each category, you are equipped and well on your way to being prepared. Being prepared is more than simply being equipped. I could supply you with a rifle, body armor and everything soldiers in Afghanistan are using, but you probably wouldn’t be prepared for combat.
Many people confuse being equipped with being prepared. Simply having supplies in only part of being prepared. You need to know what to do with them, how to use them, and most of all you need the mindset of surviving. Then you are prepared.
I use Categories of Preparedness in my planning system. These categories are: Water, Shelter, Food, Medical/Hygiene, Information/Communication, Tools, and Self Defense. I’ll address each of these categories in future posts.
But here’s a basic kit list to get you started:
32 oz Water Bottle
2 MREs in heat bags
3 Power bars
Solar/Crank LED Flashlight
First Aid Kit
AM/FM Radio (uses AA batteries)
4 MREs in heat bags
Large Plastic Bags
Personal Hygiene Items
I like to split the kit up into “essentials” and “niceties”. Put the essentials in a backpack. I like the military style MOLLE backpacks that have the MOLLE webbing so you can easily add pouches, but any backpack will work. Then use of duffle bag for the rest of the stuff. This leads to the concept of Modular and Mobile.
The complexity of emergency preparedness is not knowing what you’re preparing for. The emergency doesn’t fit itself to you. You have to fit yourself to it. Your plans and supplies need to be flexible. Your survival supplies must be modular and mobile.
Think of modular like a nesting doll. One doll fits inside another and inside another and so on. You can take out a single doll or you keep them all together. Your survival supplies must be adaptable to the situation at hand. Making them modular allows you adapt to the situation you’re dealt.
There’s only a few scenarios you must be prepared to deal with no matter what the situation is.
Evacuate on foot. Roads are jammed and you cannot take your vehicle. Take only what you can carry.
Evacuate using your vehicle. Take as much stuff as possible.
Remain in your home. Survive with whatever you have at home.
You’re away from home during the emergency. You may or may not (most likely) be able to drive home immediately. You will only have whatever you have with you.
Using these four scenarios you can begin planning your response and the supplies you will need. A modular survival kit fits together and is organized for maximum flexibility.
Military special operations forces use this principle in organizing their equipment. They carry the most essential gear on their body. Next they have a backpack usually consisting of a large main pack and a small “Shoot & Scoot” bag.
War is an emergency situation in and of itself. The large pack contains the least essential items. The “Shoot & Scoot” bag contains more essential stuff. If the soldiers come under fire, they can drop the large pack yet still have the “Shoot & Scoot” bag and whatever equipment is on their body. If the situation really gets bad and they need to move fast, they can drop the “Shoot & Scoot” bag but still have their most important gear with them. This concept allows them to rapidly adapt to the situation at hand.
Organizing your survival kit along these lines will allow you to rapidly adapt to any emergency situation. Start off with essential items that you want to have with you no matter what. Put them in a vest with large cargo pockets like a photographer’s or fishing vest. Next you have a small backpack stuffed full of your next most essential items. Then you should have a large duffle bag. You stuff the vest and backpack into the duffle bag along with your least essential items.
Now all of your gear is organized into one place. You can quickly find it during an emergency. If you need to evacuate, you grab it and go. If you end up evacuating on foot, and your kit is too heavy to carry very far, you take out the vest and backpack and keep going. Or maybe someone else can carry the now lighter duffle bag. This system allows you to improvise, adapt, and overcome problems during an emergency.
It’s nothing for us to get in our cars and travel fifty, or more, miles from home without ever thinking about not being able to drive home. Many people commute this distance to work daily. Thirty or fifty miles is nothing to drive, but how long would it take you to walk? Would you be able to do it? Ladies, how far could you walk in high heels? Guys, are you ready to walk home from the office in your suit and dress shoes? Business attire is not very practical for dealing with emergencies. Include a set of rugged, comfortable clothing and shoes with a modular survival kit in your vehicle. If possible, keep a kit in your workplace or office.
Dealing with distance is going to be a major problem because we have no concept of it. In fact, in most metropolitan areas we no longer refer to distance, but the time it takes to drive. Listen to the way we speak, it’s “15 minutes” to here and “45 minutes” to there. We don’t have a clue how far it is. We only know how long it takes to drive. Well, how about knowing how long it takes to walk? It’s “3 days to here” and it’s “8 days to there” might someday turn out to be reality because you can’t hop in your vehicle and rocket down the road 75 miles per hour. You must start thinking in terms of distance and how you will deal with it.
Let’s clear away some of the “fog of war” surrounding emergency preparedness. During an emergency situation, there are three basic tasks to be concerned with; Secure, Stabilize, and Assess.
Take a car accident for example (one of the most common emergency situations). Once the car crashes and comes to a stop you need to prevent any further harm from occurring to yourself or others. You stay in the vehicle rather than getting out in the middle of traffic. Preventing additional harm is Securing. As police and emergency services arrive, their first priority is securing the scene. They want to ensure no further harm comes to the victim and make sure no one else is harmed or gets involved in the accident.
Once the scene is secure, the paramedics want to stabilize anyone affected. The police start directing traffic around the accident to provide a secure, stabile environment to deal with the problem.
Then they assess the situation and decide what to do. Are there life threatening injuries? Do they require a helicopter med-evac? Do they need to stabilize any of the victims prior to transporting them to the hospital? The next step must always provide increased Security, Stability, and Assessment (help) than what the current one does or it’s not worth taking.
Any emergency situation requires these three tasks; Secure, Stabilize, and Assess. Your first priority is to prevent any further harm to yourself and those around you. Then you need to stabilize your situation to get a clear picture of what’s happening. Next you assess the situation and determine what you need to do. Do you stay in place or relocate? The entire goal is to survive the situation and return to your normal standard of living. You will Secure, Stabilize and Assess until you are back to your normal way of life.