Emergencies and disasters generally happen without much warning. While hurricanes and blizzards usually provide some chance to prepare, tornadoes, wildfires, and earthquakes seldom do. Civil disorders such as rioting and looting can occur quickly, too, and often the loss of lighting in a city is enough to set off lawless behavior. Most emergencies will be such that you will be able to remain in your home, but sometimes, it will be necessary to ‘bug-out’ as quickly as possible. Rather than having to run out with only the clothes on your back, take some time and effort to prepare a bug-out bag before you need it.
What Your Bug-Out Bag Will Need
You will generally want food and water that will last for 3 days. As carrying a great deal of water is impractical, include a water filter straw or plastic water filter. Emergency rations are a good choice for food as they take up little space. A folding camp stove and a fire starter are also necessary, as are some simple utensils. A sleeping bag, should be fastened to the base of your backpack, and if possible a small tent. Emergency tents will also serve and try to carry a tarp as well, or at least emergency blankets.
A map is an essential and it would also be a good idea to have a small writing tablet and a pen or two in the bag. Make sure you know where emergency centers are and are familiar with routes that might be used for evacuation. Prescription medication, copies of the prescription, and medical records can go into the bag as well. A flashlight and a battery powered or crank radio should be included as well as some cash (the banks might not be open, and a widespread power outage means that the ATMs will not be working).
Warm clothing if the season is cold should be available. A roll of duct tape and a multitool will be helpful as well. Include a first aid kits to deal with any minor injuries. Personal protection can be provided by a handgun, taser, or pepper spray.
Keep Your Vehicle Ready
Having the best bug-out bag in the world will not mean too much if you try to leave and your car or truck fails you. Evacuating on foot is possible, but will be difficult, especially if there are children or older people in the family. Make sure that all fluids in the car are kept at the proper levels and keep an extra container of engine oil on hand. Check your tires periodically to make sure that they are properly inflated and that there is still enough tread on them to make a journey safely. It is recommended that at least 1/8 inch of tread be on the tire, if there is less, replace the tire. A spare pair of windshield wipers is also a good idea.