When it comes to emergency preparedness, having a well-equipped bug-out bag is arguably the most essential component. What’s more, your family can’t rely upon a single bugout bag for everyone. Everyone in your party from the smallest child to the oldest grandparent needs their own.
So it’s important to go back to the beginning, look at the basics, and evaluate the bug-out bags that you and your family are using. Remember, nothing in your bugout bag should just be “there.” Everything needs to serve a very specific purpose and if you don’t know what that is… it needs to go.
Remember that when you hit the road with your bugout bag, everything is weighed. Ounces can quickly become pounds. So what you want is a lean, mean, and highly effective bugout bag that can do everything that you need it to.
Step 1: Understand the Purpose of a Bug-Out Bag
Before we do anything else, it’s important to understand the purpose of the bugout bag. A bug-out bag exists to sustain you and your family during the initial stages of an emergency evacuation. You also need to understand that this could be a lot longer than you might think, so it’s good to have versatile tools in your bag that can be used for a variety of situations. Understanding the purpose of the bag will guide your choices in assembling it.
Step 2: Customize for Each Family Member
The bugout bag that Dad has will not be the same as the one that Mom has and neither of those will be anything close to what the kids will have. Even the kids’ bags will be different based on their ages, specific needs, and roles in the family. You need to tailor the contents of the bug-out bag to accommodate considerations like age, medical requirements, and personal preferences.
Children, for example, will want comfort items in their bag, such as a favorite toy or stuffed animal. Elderly members of your party will likely have special medications that need to be pre-packed so that you don’t forget them en route to your destination. Don’t forget to have a bugout bag ready for your pets, too!
**3. Include Basic Survival Essentials:
The bug-out bag should contain fundamental survival items such as non-perishable food, water purification tablets, a compact water filtration system, a multi-tool, and a first aid kit. Prioritize items that are lightweight and space-efficient.
Step 3: Packing Your Family’s Bugout Bags
Now you’re ready to start packing bugout bags for the entire family. While the contents will be different for every member of the family, there are some basic things that everyone needs to have in their bag. While there will be some slight variations in what one person has versus another, the general framework will have a lot of similarities:
- Clothing and Shelter: Certainly, the heavy work of carrying shelter will fall on the parents and the older children. But everyone needs sturdy footwear, plenty of changes of socks, compact blankets or sleeping bags, and other gear for roughing it.
- Communication Devices: Everyone should have their own communication devices like portable two-way radios, extra batteries, and a whistle. These are devices that will help people to stay in touch even if cell phones aren’t working.
- Personal Hygiene and Sanitation: In a survival situation, cleanliness won’t just make everyone feel better about the situation, it can keep them alive. So make sure that people have soap, toothpaste, wet wipes, and hand sanitizers.
- Prescription Medications and First Aid: Any prescription medications for each family member should be packed in ample supply. Every member of the family needs their own personal first aid kit with wipes, pain relievers, fever reducers, bandages,, and any other necessary medical supplies.
- Important Documents: Essential documents should be packed in waterproof, compact containers inside the bugout bag. USB drives with electronic copies can be useful but don’t leave out their physical versions.
- Comfort Items for Children: Children are probably going to be having a hard time, so packing favorite toys, games,, and books can help to maintain a sense of familiarity and comfort during emergencies which can help to make them feel more comfortable and less stressed.
- Pet Considerations: Don’t forget the four-legged members of your family. You can get special bugout bags that will fit your four-legged friends as they traverse through the wilderness with you. Don’t forget their food and comfort items.
- Water and Water Purification: You need water, but carrying it is heavy. So have a water filtration and drinking system preferably built into the bag. Water purification tablets and similar are much lighter than carrying around tons of water.
- Cash and Important Contacts: Even in an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it kind of situation, cash is going to be king for a while. So have a few hundred dollars on hand and have some for every member of the family. Your electronic payments might not work.
Regularly Check and Rotate Supplies
Once the bugout bag is done and packed everything isn’t over. You need to review bags on a regular basis, update them, and remove items that have expired or otherwise gone bad or worn out. Everything needs to be in good condition at all times. Seasonally reviewing the contents of the bag and changing out their contents where needed is a good schedule, especially if you have small children who grow like weeds.
Train Your Family Properly
An item in your bag that your family doesn’t know how to use is a useless item – dead weight. So make sure to train regularly with all of the items in the bag. You don’t have to make this like being in the military. There are lots of fun ways that your kids can learn how to properly use the items in their bugout bags that don’t feel like chores and don’t stress them out.
Ensure that all family members are familiar with the contents of the bug-out bag and know how to use essential items. Conduct training sessions, especially for children, to build confidence and preparedness.
By following these practical tips and customizing your bug-out bag to meet the specific needs of your family, everyone will be well-prepared for a potential evacuation. Remember, the goal is to have a bag that is not only comprehensive but also manageable for every family member to carry comfortably during an emergency. Regularly review and update the bag to ensure its effectiveness in any situation.
What’s inside your bugout bag? Any secret tips or hacks on making sure you’re always ready for anything a disaster throws at you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.