Monday, May 7, 2012

Bug-Out Bag

The Anderson County Preparedness Fair on Saturday got me to thinking about a lot of things. You know how you hear something and think it's important? And then you hear it again from another source, and you think, "Yeah, yeah, I have to do that?" And you may hear it a third and a fourth and a fifth time? Well, I guess Saturday was the final nudge for me.

I am prepared for many things, but not for some of the most important things. I haven't made copies of important documents and stored them in a safe place or three. I haven't made my 72-hour bug-out bag. I haven't stored enough water. I still need to find out . . . blah, blah, blah.

I thought maybe it would help me get on the ball if I share with you some of the essential steps in disaster preparedness. Just this morning I was thinking, "What if everyone who was evacuated to wherever it was they put people in New Orleans - the football stadium? I don't remember now, but what if every person had a backpack to grab and it had two bottles of water and food for 3 days and all the other things that should be in a 72-hour bag? Can you imagine how different an experience that would have been for people?

There are hurricanes, hopefully NOT like Katrina, tornadoes (Birmingham, Chattanooga, Joplin, MO, 2011), fires (SoCal), floods (Mississippi River!) and all kinds of other natural disasters, where we may have only a short prep time, and then it's too late to think about all the things you need to take, because it's a maximum stress time! So, today's topic is 72-hour bug-out bags. This is Step One.

There are a lot of things you can stuff into a backpack (look at the thrift store for those!), particularly with the aid of modern discoveries. I have a sleeping bag in my tiny survival kit (that's about 6 x 8 inches and 4 inches deep and would help me for about 24-hours) - and it fits in a box 1" deep and about 4 x 5 inches. There's also a blanket in a mylar bag that's about 4 inches square, flat and weighing almost nothing. I have a flashlight with a winder on it - no batteries needed. 1 minute of winding is an hour of light and you can wind it over and over and over. It cost $5 and is about 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.

So, here's a list from the LDS church about some basics to put in your kit, for EACH person. Read the footnotes!

  • Food and Water
    (A three day supply of food and water, per person, when no refrigeration or cooking is available)

    Protein/Granola Bars
    Trail Mix/Dried Fruit
    Crackers/Cereals (for munching)
    Canned Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, Vienna Sausages, etc. *
    Canned Juice (Juice boxes will work if they don't get smashed.)
    Candy/Gum ** and ***
    Water (1 Gallon/4 Liters Per Person)

    You may substitute light-weight freeze-dried foods, such as GO foods for the cans. Of course, you will need more water if you do that! Maybe a combination would be best. Peanut butter is a good thing to have along, too. Don't forget some eating utensils! I saved some from take out food when I was eating it at home.
  • Bedding and Clothing

    Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, etc.)
    Rain Coat/Poncho
    Blankets and Emergency "space" blankets
    Cloth Sheet
    Plastic Sheet
To be split and divided among family backpacks:
  • Fuel and Light

    Battery Lighting (Flashlights, Lamps, etc.) Don't forget batteries!****
    Extra Batteries
    Water-Proof Matches
  • Equipment

    Can Opener
    Radio (with batteries!)
    Pen and Paper
    Pocket Knife (A Winchester multi-purpose one is great!)
    Rope (small and flexible, such as parachute cord)
    Duct Tape
    Maps & compass
    Pepper spray (protection)
    A plan, emergency phone numbers, etc.
  • Personal Supplies and Medication

    First Aid Kit and Supplies
    Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, feminine hygiene, folding brush, etc.)
    Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, unscented soap, shampoo, dish soap, etc.
    Immunizations Up-to Date
    Medication (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, children's medication etc.)
    Prescription Medication (for 7 days)
  • Personal Documents and Money (Have a lot of SMALL bills and coins! People won't have change or give it.)
    (Place these items in a water-proof container!)

    Genealogy Records
    Patriarchal Blessing
    Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, etc)
    Vaccination Papers
    Insurance Policies
    Credit Card
    Pre-Paid Phone Cards
  • Miscellaneous

    Bag(s) to put 72 Hour Kit items in (such as duffel bags or back packs, which work great) Make sure you can lift/carry it!
    Infant Needs, elderly needs, disabled needs (as applicable)
If you are thinking that is a lot to fit into a backpack, you are right! However, a family wouldn't need all of those things in *every* backpack. Most families I know keep the backpacks in the trunk of the car. Yes, it takes up space, but when you want to grab and go, you don't want to look for it! Think about how scattered your mind can be in an emergency. If you keep it in the back of the car, you may want a small Sterlite or Rubbermaid drawer to store some of the things.

Some families keep them in the garage, near the door, so they can just grab and go. My advice is to practice the evacuation procedure often with your family, just like you do fire drills, so that each person knows what their responsibility is, and can carry it out easily.

At a very minimum, have the food, water, and clothing, then important papers copied and inserted in a pocket of the backpack. Have something to sustain you physically and emotionally and spiritually, in case you lose everything else. Be sure to check your backpack every six months, and rotate foods in and out.

If you have siblings, each of you should copy all important papers and photographs and exchange them, so someone would have copies of those precious moments such as first birthday parties. With digital cameras these days, a life-time of pictures can go on just a few CDs for safe keeping. Maybe you'll want a copy in a safe-deposit box, too. If you have no siblings, then exchange with a good friend.

Now, if you think that is all overwhelming, imagine how you will feel if you have to evacuate and you've not prepared anything!

You can compare this list to the Homeland Security backpacks and see which you'd rather have if you have to leave your home in a hurry.

Or watch this video of a man who puts his in a medium pilot suitcase. list and video

*Pop-top cans are not as strong as regular cans and may explode in heat. Just be sure you have a small can opener - the kind my dad used to carry in his pocket always worked, was about an inch square, and weighs nothing. Finding one at a store may be tricky, but have a small one of some kind.
**Be sure your candy is in a snack baggie of its own. Jolly Rancher and some others may melt and you don't want a sticky mess.
***Mint flavored gum can, with time, make everything taste like mint, so wrap it in extra foil and then in a baggie to minimize the effect, or have a gum with little or no flavor.
****I like the crank one better, BUT it is limited lighting.