When preparing for anything it greatly helps to know what you are preparing for. Although you can’t predict the future, there are different statistical likelihoods that certain events will happen.
Luckily I live in a fairly peaceful part of the world and major earthquakes, hurricanes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis and other natural disasters are unlikely to occur. This fact saves me from a lot of “home improvements” to counter those immediate threats. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a bunker in the backyard, I just don’t have a real need for one at the present.
What I am vulnerable to however, is what usually follows any natural disaster, namely the disruption of infrastructure. We have come to rely so much on running water, electricity, phones and internet access that when one, or all of those, stop working, most people have no idea how to cope. History tells us that some degree of chaos and anarchy is likely to follow.
In the following I will try to lay out a basic list of what you should have available in case infrastructure fails for a short time. As even the basic list is fairly extensive I will be dividing this post in two posts based on whether you want to shelter in place or bug out. Part one deals with bugging out.
A major disaster just hit your area and has taken out power and landlines. There are still a few mobile providers available, running on backup power, as is the water supply. The disaster is such that you do not expect power to come on again anytime soon, which means whatever infrastructure is still running will soon fail. It’s time to get out of Dodge. Rural roads are still open so you decide to take your car.
This is what you will need (partly compiled from ready.gov and redcross.org):
- Extra fuel for your car (about 1000 kilometers / 620 miles worth)
- At least one spare tire and tools to change tires.
- Water: One gallon per person (about 4 liters) per day (3-day supply for evacuation)
- Food: Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation)
- A way to prepare food (camp stove or similar)
- Headlamp and/or flashlight (I recommend a good headlamp to keep your hands free)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (in case you have to ditch the car)
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
- Multi-purpose tool with can opener
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers (for mains and for the car)
- Powerbank for charging phones
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blankets
- Map(s) of the area (preferably with suitible escape routes already plotted)
- Duct tape
- Alcohol based disinfectant
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper (bleach can be used as a disinfectant by diluting nine parts water to one part bleach. For emergency water treatment use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners)
If you have children or babies consider special needs such as entertainment, diapers, formula etc. The same is applicable for pets (leash, food, ID, water and bowl)
Depending on the type of disaster, you might need to protect yourself from dust or contagions, and for that purpose you will need at least a N95 or FPP3 mask fitted for every family member. Forget about surgical masks as they do little to protect the wearer from dust or infectious agents. Furthermore a good quality chemical protective clothing, with at least type 3 and 4 protection, is nice to have on hand, for added protection from radioactive particles and infectious agents.
Keep in mind that in most survival situation water and heat are your most precious resources, so fill up on water and fuel as long as those resources are still working. Tools for making fire, dry and warm clothing and blankets/sleeping bags can be essential in surviving in cold climates.
Lastly when travelling in a group, a means of communicating (such as two way radios) can prove immensely valuable.
The list above is by no means complete, but it will most likely cover the basic needs and these are the items I have stored for my family. Part two of this post will deal with the scenario of sheltering in place.
Which items do you have in your “bug out” disaster kit?