To properly assemble an effective bug-out or grab-and-go bag you must basically determine one or all of three possible destinations you are headed towards by foot, bicycle, vehicle or horse: (1) THE WOODS OR OUTDOORS (2) A SHELTER, HOTEL OR STRUCTURE (3) A RESIDENCE.
Disasters and emergencies can occur at any time – at home, work, vacation, at play or while in a vehicle. This article, Essentials for Bug-Out Bags and Vehicles, offers my suggestions on creating an effective emergency kit/grab-and-go bag and it also lists items necessary for a vehicle preparedness kit.
When assembling your emergency kit/grab-and-go bag these are the crucial questions to answer if you must leave your home or business quickly:
- If an evacuation has been declared, a severe weather event is imminent or a significant disaster has occurred, how will I know?
- If I have to evacuate, will I be in a cozy government evacuation center with food, water, blankets and a bed, or will I be on my own in the elements, a crude shelter or a friend’s/relative’s house?
- If specific government, church, community and friend’s sheltering options are not available, where do I go? How far? How do I get there?
- What conditions can I expect to encounter – best scenario – worst scenario?
- What are the weather conditions I am likely to encounter? What is the season?
- Will I be alone, or are others depending on me? Family – children – elderly – pets?
- What are the special needs – medical, dietary, emotional or otherwise – of those dependent on the supplies provided?
- Am I dependent on others? Who? Why? Do I expect the government to take care of me?
- What kind of support is likely to be available?
- How long should I prepare for?
- What if there is nothing left when I return?
- Are my essentials, heirlooms, personal treasures, irreplaceable photographs, documents and financial assets secure if I leave with only my grab-and-go bag?
- Do I have a reliable communication plan to contact family, friends and business associates at a moments notice?
- What is the potential severity of the emergency I might experience?
- Will I have transportation, or will I be on foot?
- Do I have enough money on hand to pay for possible shelter, food or supplies if I am suddenly evacuated and away from home or business?
- Am I truly prepared for the unexpected, a procrastinator or am I in denial? Be honest!
To have a truly adequate emergency kit/grab-and-go/bug-out bag the above questions must be answered. Your personal preparedness bag contents will vary depending on numerous factors such as time, number of persons, locations involved, mobility, support available, season, comfort level desired and the degree of peace of mind you want.
Here is a list of the basic essentials for every kit. Each category will have multiple options depending on how you answer the above crucial questions. Cheap, inadequate and poorly made provisions don’t belong in a quality kit. Prepare your kit as if your and your family’s life and comfort depended on it – because it does!
- Water – bottled/filters/purifiers/tablets/containers
- Food – ready-to-eat/bars/trail mix/freeze dried/shelf stable/food preparation equipment
- Medical – quality medical kit with instructions/prescriptions/glasses/essential medications/sunscreen/dental medic/foot care/safety pins/dust mask/gas mask
- Special Needs – food/medical/children/elderly/disabled/pets
- Tools – multi-tool/knife/wire/cable ties/duct tape/rope/paracord/gloves/small axe/repair tools/super glue/aluminum foil/ /manual can opener (often on multi-tool)/bungee cords/foldable or wire saw
- Communication – radio/hand crank – solar – battery/two-way radios/cell phone
- Fire – fire starter/lighter/matches/tinder/flint starter/magnifying glass
- Signaling & Orienting – whistle/signal mirror/compass/maps/GPS device
- Lighting – Hand crank – solar – battery/headlamp/flashlight/lantern/candles/light-sticks
- Power & Energy – batteries – regular and rechargeable/power-pack for batteries & cell phone recharged by solar and/or hand crank/solar and/or hand crank that charges devices directly
- Shelter – tarp/tent – tube or larger/plastic sheeting/insect protection
- Emergency Blankets/sleeping bags – emergency or larger or bivy sack
- Personal Hygiene/sanitary supplies/disinfectant
- Plastic Bags/ties
- Personal Security – weapon & ammo if appropriate/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
- Appropriate Clothing and Footwear – protection from the elements/apparel for warmth/heat packs – hand and body warmers
- Identification and Essential Documents – Bible/compact survival handbook/personal ID/insurance and other key documents/entertainment items
- Spare Keys
- Phone Numbers and Addresses – friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
- Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
- Cash/credit cards
- Configured Compact Emergency Kit with Essential Items
- Carrying Device – carry bag/backpack/suitcase/sturdy container/Food & Supply Brick™/duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)
If time permits, take irreplaceable items such as heirlooms, heirloom jewelry, photographs, military/marriage/birth/deed records, computers, tablets, and personal contact information and documents not included in your grab-and-go device.
For a very detailed list go to: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness
For further crucial questions that apply to preparedness in general go to: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning
It is especially vital to be prepared while in your vehicle. When you consider all the potential problems that might arise, not being equipped and ready for the unexpected can potentially lead to serious injury and worse.
I live in area that receives significant storms, snow and cold – and contains many back roads which can be especially hazardous, and year round everyone who lives nearby may not be respectful to others particularly women. The consequences of not being responsible and prepared in the event of an emergency while driving, are too difficult to consider. Please, teach your children to change a tire, check vital fluids, escape if under water, signal for help, survive in a storm and any other essential information they need.
Here are suggestions for your vehicle emergency kit from my article: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness
Emergency Preparedness Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s
These items are especially important for long trips, family outings, new younger drivers, inclement weather, remote areas and at night.
AS A FATHER OF 3 DAUGHTERS AND 3 GRANDDAUGHTERS, I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE FATHERS AND MOTHERS TO ENSURE YOUR CHILDREN ARE SECURE AND PREPARED – ESPECIALLY IN WINTER – WHEN THEY ARE DRIVING!
- Spare tire
- Jack with tire iron and supporting tools
- Device to break window and cut seat belts from the inside in an emergency
- Tire inflation device – portable power and/or aerosol can inflator/other tire repair materials
- JB Weld®/super adhesive
- Jumper cables
- Portable power unit for jump starting and backup power
- Tow cables/rope
- Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening
- Hidden spare key
- Extra oil
- Extra gas/funnel if appropriate
- Siphon hose
- Tire pressure gauge
- Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts/repair kit
- Window scraper
- Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
- GPS device if appropriate
- Empty gas can
- Material to gain traction if stuck in snow or ice – cat liter/sand/wood shavings/old rug
Additional critical items from the Essential Checklist to carry in your vehicle:
- Blankets/emergency sleeping bag
- First Aid kit
- Baby supplies
- Food and water/water purification/containers if appropriate
- Pen/magic marker/paper
- Personal documents and photo ID/registration/insurance
- Duct tape
- Repair tools
- Plastic bags large and small
- Cell phone/smart phone/charger
- Emergency radio/hand crank radio
- Emergency lighting
- Small solar/12 volt power packs for small electronics
- Cash/credit card
- Extra clothing in harsh and/or wet weather/hat
- Hand/body warmers
- Rain gear/rubber boots/poncho
- Toilet paper
- Small fire extinguisher
- Matches/fire starter
- Extra batteries
- Personal protection devices or items as appropriate/pepper spray
- Refer to the Essential Checklist for other items relevant to your vehicles specific needs.