Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pack a Bug Out Bag for disasters.

Whether you call it preparing for the year 2012 or getting ready for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or simply a 72 hour Personal Emergency Relocation Kit (PERK); having a small set of tools and gear packed and ready to go on a moments notice helps prepare you for escaping from a disaster. Let's just call it a Bug-out bag for now.

Most recommended Bug-out bags consist of a backpacks worth of supplies and equipment. Fine if you drive to work and can leave your Bug-out bag in your nearby car, but what if your job requires you to leave the vicinity of the employee parking lot? Or car pool? Or commute via train or bus? Obviously we all can't have a backpack with is at all times. Here's a solution to that problem.

A Bug-out bag is a portable kit containing items you would require to survive for seventy two hours after a disaster. The more gear you carry the bigger and heaver your Bug-out bag will have to be.

The best Bug-out bag (like the best First Aid Kit and the best Survival Kit) is the one you have WITH you when you NEED it. The smaller/lighter the kit is the more likely you'll have it handy if the time ever comes.

Having all the tools and gear you might possibility need to keep you going for 72 hours would require carrying a large backpack everywhere you go so might want to use the Matryoshka doll (AKA Russian nested doll) stratagem and have successively larger kits in place. That way you always have at least one kit with you. Each of the smaller kits could help you get to the next larger kit or, if necessary, serve as a bare bones Bug-out bag if events conspire to keep you from the next larger kit.

Your personal Every Day Carry (EDC) kit is just that; things you carry with you every day. Don't kid yourself that you're going to start lugging around a big bag of stuff. Your resolve will wane just like all those New Years resolutions you've made in the past.

You can't have everything physically with you at all times, but you can have everything packed and ready to go and nearby. The contents of your personal belt/purse survival kit will hopefully help you make it to your vehicle survival kit which then would aid in get home to your big kit.

With the Matryoshka doll method each successively larger kit contains backups of essential items from the smaller kit plus larger/heavier items. One way to do this would be with a belt or purse kit, then a car kit and finally a home kit.

You don't need to buy all this gear today, but you should start building your kits (at least earmarking items you already have for one or another of the kits) soon.

EDC Kits

My own EDC/Survival Kit starts with the genuine Swiss Army knife
that's always on my belt when I leave the house. That's "Wenger S.A." or "Victorinox A.G." brand Swiss Army knife. Period. Accept no substitutes.

Most all red handled copies of the Swiss Army knife are made in China or Pakistan, yes, even the ones with the little white crosses on them. Get the real Swiss Army knife, the fakes are made of cheap metal and will fail when you need them the most.

If you want to carry a few more tools carry a genuine Leatherman Multi-tool. Again, get the real thing or don't bother.

I cannot stress enough the desirability of getting a REAL Swiss Army Knife or a REAL Leatherman Multi-tool. You're buying a survival tool here, not making a fashion statement. In a survival situation it HAS to work.

Other items you might want to add to your EDC personal kit could be an extra $20, $50 stuck in the back of your wallet earmarked for emergency use only. Cash could come in handy if credit card systems are down when you desperately need something. A length of 550 cord (again try to get the real military stuff not come cheap knockoff) could be used to bundle a makeshift kit together if all other options are closed.

Obviously if you normally carry a Messenger bag or purse of similar size you can add more items like waterproof matches or a small lensatic compass to the 550 cord in your personal survival kit.

Vehicle Kit

The next step up in your Matryoshka doll system would probably be a small to medium sized backpack stowed in your vehicle. Since you won't be lugging it around all the time you can put some heaver and bulkier items in here. A crank, solar or battery powered portable radio, first aid kit etc. This would be a good place for a compass (or backup). Even a cheap toy compass will do if it reliably points north.

You should seriously consider having a spare (or larger) genuine Swiss Army knife and/or Leatherman in your vehicle kit.

Buy water in pint bottles which will be easier to distribute about your person than a one gallon jug if you ever have to walk out without your car. Stow the bottles (upright) in the vehicle.

You may want some canned food. Try to buy foods that don’t need to be cooked and in pop top cans like Spam, Vienna sausage and Sardines or Kipper snacks. Store them, right side up, in zip-locked plastic bags so there won't be a mess if one of the cans leaks.

Also include a light jacket in summer and a heavy one in winter. You can change out the water bottles and food at the same time you exchange the jackets, twice each year.

For 72 hours some of y'all up north would need a serious sleeping bag too. Sleeping bags are preferred to blankets since they preserve more warmth than an equal weight/volume of blankets.

As to cooking gear, I'd stick with a Sierra cup. A real Sierra cup's cool rim lets you drink directly from the cup even after boiling water or heating soup in it over an open flame. You'll want to stuff the cup full of paper match books in sealed plastic baggies to get that fire started unless, you're practiced in the art of fire starting via rubbing sticks together.

Sierra cups can be used for cooking, boiling/ purifying water, or simply for drinking from. In a pinch your Sierra cup can be used to dig in snow or soft dirt. Again buy the real thing. The cheap Chinese copies only look similar and will burn your lips if used like a real sierra cup.

Spare clothes and walking/hiking shoes should be in the vehicle Bug-out bag too. But not everything necessarily needs to be in the Bug-out bag. I know of one person who travels a lot who keeps a one tenth ounce gold coin stashed somewhere in his car in case he needs gas to get home (he tries to keep his gas tank at least half full at all times) and the station attendant can't or won't take credit cards or paper money.

Home Kit

Your largest Bug-out bag will probably reside in your home. You'll want backups of all the essential gear from the other two Bug-out bags to include a compass which I would consider essential if you're forced to travel off road, particularly at night or in fog.

It needn't be a liquid filled military lensatic compass delineated in mils. You ain't gunn'a be building roads or laying in artillery. A small simple Silva compass is relatively cheap and will help you navigate over the river and through the woods to grandma's house.

All the stuff you were thinking of putting in the other two kits, but decided not to for one reason or another can go here. Also, a note pinned to this bag can remind you to gather other items (like medicines that don't do well when stored in hot cars for long periods) that you normally need for everyday use.

The airport stores sell an internal frame backpack that doubles as a wheeled suitcase for those who don't want to look like Rambo with a camouflage assault pack. They come in black, gray & tan which helps with the visibility issues associated with brightly colored backpacks.

Good carriers for your GO Bags are (building up from personal through vehicle to home) a sheathed Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool, Purse, Messenger bag or Fanny Pack for each family member; a Medium backpack in each vehicle; and a Large internal frame backpack at home.

Resist the temptation to cram too much nonessential stuff into your bags; someday you may have to actually carry them. Keep a list of hard to replace papers (passports, deeds, birth/marriage certificates) so you can take them with you if you expect your home to be destroyed.

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