A Guest Post from Jennifer Smith
A bug-out bag is a 72 hour portable kit that is focused on assisting a short term evacuation rather than a long-term survival strategy. This is what differentiates it from a survival kit. Deriving its name from the “bail-out bag” used by some military personnel as emergency kits, the bug-out bag is intended for use during house fires, tornadoes, natural disasters, or other emergency situations and its contents will vary based on the region.
However, there are core contents that are indispensable and which every bug-out bag should contain. Here are the top 5 items that your bug-out bag needs in order to keep you safe and healthy during an emergency situation:
Food and water for 72 hours
As a bare minimum you will need a liter a day per person for drinking alone, although many experts say you should plan on having more like 2-3 liters. You will also need an additional two liters for hygienic needs. Additionally, make sure you have water purification supplies, such as iodine tablets.
As for food, aim for nutritious, non-perishable items that lend themselves to food storage. You will also need cooking supplies, such as a small portable gas stove or even just freeze dried meals to which you can add boiling water. If you prefer to keep your bug out bag on the lighter side, keep your items to freeze dried meals – many of which don’t require water – and water purification tablets as opposed to big bottles.
During an emergency you will still need to be clothed. Plan on having a pair of boots or sturdy shoes, a pair of long pants, two pairs of non-cotton socks, two shorts, a warm protective jacket, long underwear, a hat and a bandana. If you are able to find them, purchase military grade socks and undergarments with copper in the thread. The copper keeps odors away and prevents bacteria from forming which means you can wear them longer more comfortably if need be.
First aid kit
A first aid kit is a highly important item to have as injuries are common during emergency situations and professional medical assistance may not be readily available. As a bare minimum your kit should contain absorbent compress dressings, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment packages, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, non-latex gloves, sterile gauze pads, tweezers, and a pair of scissors.
This should include rain gear (such as a poncho), fire-starting supplies, cooking supplies, lighting gear (such as flashlights and batteries), a versatile knife (go for the Swiss Army), and batteries. Also be sure to include signaling items such as mirrors, flares, and even a space blanket. While all three will allow you to get attention should you need it, the third couples as an excellent heat source should you need refuge in the cold.
This is a very personal decision, but if you’ve seen the movie The Road you can understand why some people prefer to have a firearm in their bug-out bags. Beyond that, your survival knife could be all you need to deter unsavory characters.
Many people plan much more comprehensive bug-out bags that contain bedding, medical records, radios, rope, tarps, and hunting equipment. But if you’re planning for the bare essentials, the above items are your core contents that will keep you safe and alive during a 72 hour emergency.