On Sunday, we assembled new bug out bags (see Emergencies Don’t Wait). We managed this long-delayed process by declaring our efforts provisional, creating “good enough for now” survival kits rather than waiting till our entire plan, and perfect contents lists were decided.
So many decisions go into what, exactly, one should put in a small pack to provide the best chance of survival should one need to leave one’s home. A quick search of the Internet and books on our shelves produce many, widely varied lists of what one must have with one when one bugs out. On top of that, we found many more questions to mull over.
What quality of items do we stash? Do we include clothing and items that we don’t normally use, such as clothes we rarely wear, or do we include things we like and trust? This bears consideration. Since a sense of wellbeing is essential to survival, particularly when an event that forces evacuation can cause shock or other trauma, might it not make sense to carry the clothes that make us the most comfortable? A favorite sweater might provide a needed psychological boost at a critical moment.
Where do we keep our bug out bags until needed? Living in extremely limited space, this may be our most crucial question. Under the bed makes the most sense, as it seems most likely that a bug out situation would come at the least convenient moment, in the night time. That location requires keeping access to the bag clear—we’d have to resist the urge to pack the space around the bag. We can’t shift other under-bed storage into the bag’s extraction path, either.
We might easily put them in the boat/guest house. If the cabin were to burn, we’d immediately move there. However, if we fled a tsunami, we don’t want to delay moving to high ground to retrieve packs.
We could put them near the top of the ridge with the bug out bucket, but that would require strengthening them against rodents. Also, should we get burned out and move to the boat/guest house, we’d then need to hike up and retrieve our gear.
These are just a few of the places we’re considering. We have no shortage of hiding places to choose from!
What food should we store? This one causes endless debate. We need healthy, nutritious food that won’t go bad. It must be easy to prepare, even avoiding those that require boiled water. When we find that, we still need to rotate it faithfully, replacing aging food with fresh as time goes by and we hopefully don’t use the bags for an actual bug out.
This is the crux of it: we are preparing against events we desperately hope we’ll never actually experience! No one wants a house fire, after all.
How elaborately should we plan? The brainstorming starts with a tiny bug out bag, but soon expands to ideas such as stashing our 3-room tent somewhere near the ridge top. With a warm fire and hot drinks at hand, we could speculate on this stuff for hours without putting a single item in a pack!
What about the cat? Do we pack food and water for her? We’ve realized that the forest is full of cat food on the paw and wing, and water in quantities too small for us to mess with, but plenty large enough for a cat.
And, perhaps the most puzzling, what would it mean for us to bug out in the first place?
Generally speaking, a bug out bag is a portable container of that which one might need to evacuate one’s home to a safer place. It’s essentially a transitional survival pack, to get one from the compromised safety of one’s home to some other safe place—the home of friends or family, an emergency shelter or refugee center, or a hospital. Many lists seem to suggest packing to see one through until one gets to a hotel!
Since we feel that our own land is our safest place, our bug out bags tend toward survival essentials that allow us to shelter in place, just a slightly different place than usual.
These are just some of the questions that delayed our long-planned upgrade of our bug out packs and plans for so long. If we hadn’t taken action Sunday, we’d still be at it when the unexpected eventually happens.