Shelter or Bug Out?

When working on our family's emergency preparedness plans we realized we had to make a decision about whether or not we would evacuate if the local or federal government instructed us to, and we thought it through carefully. Due to our unique situation and the availability of resources, we have decided we would likely do what FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) calls, "shelter in place," staying on our property riding out the emergency on our own. (That decision also helped us name this blog by the way!)

But we're realistic, we know that there may come a time when we are forced to leave our home and go to a Red Cross shelter or seek safety away from our location, or we might even be away from our home when an emergency takes place. That's when a "bug out bag" (described by FEMA as a "72 hour kit") or a "get home bag" will be our mobile emergency supply kit.

Like our emergency supplies at home, our bags, whether for "bugging out" or for "getting home," include the following:
  • Water, as well as alternative ways to purify water including water purification tablets. Coffee filters and a pan for boiling water.
  • No less than three days of food. Some of the items include high energy foods such as peanuts, dried fruits, energy bars, cereals, instant items like oatmeal and soups, as well as packets of tuna and powdered electrolytes like Gatorade. (Some preppers use freeze dried foods and military MRE's, we've chosen not to due to cost.) Some small reusable utensils.
  • Heat and light sources, such as candles, lighters, waterproof and regular matches, light/glow sticks, flint, and small outdoor solar lights.
  • Standard first aid supplies, plus additional items such as emergency medicine supplies, pain relievers, antihistamine and expectorant, finger splints, solar blankets, dust masks, dual use soap, towelettes, toothpaste and brushes, TP, small bottle for portable bidet which can also be used to flush out wounds, and feminine products.
  • Survival items such as a small fishing kit, knives, compass, emergency whistle and signal mirror, ponchos and trash bags for rain or wet grounds, paracord and rope, maps, small shovel, hatchet, and saw.
  • One change of clothes such as socks, underwear, as well as gloves and extra smaller bags that supplies can be separated into if need be or to carry additional supplies obtained from outside sources such as Red Cross or from hunting and gathering if in a remote area.
  • Comfort items such such as gum and candy, small books, paper and pencils for children, as well as other items such as combs, chapstick, and sunblock. 
Not all "bug out" (aka 72 hour kit) or "get home" bags are the same and should be tailored to each person's needs and preferences. Portable supplies can also be placed in buckets or plastic storage containers, but are less mobile if on foot, so backpacks are recommended, especially for "get home" bags kept in your vehicle. Also try to pack food items and survival gear that is lightweight so your load is lighter which in turns help lower your need to expend any more energy than what's needed to get you and your family members to a safe place. Remember to read the "Disclaimer" page, this list is based solely on what we have done to prepare our own family.