In Praise Of The Bug Out Bag
In the vernacular, a `bug-out bag' (BOB) is a bag of emergency supplies, ideally kept at the ready, that one can grab on the way out the door during an emergency.
It isn't supposed to be a survival kit, but rather, to provide the essentials one might need during the first 72 hours of a forced, and sometimes unexpected, evacuation.
It should contain food, water, any essential prescription medicines, copies of important papers (ID's, insurance, important Phone #s), a first aid kit, portable radio, flashlight, extra batteries, and ideally blankets and extra clothes.
Sometimes emergencies occur with some warning, such as with a Hurricane, granting one a few days or hours to prepare. Other times they happen with such suddenness that there is no time to think, no time to prepare. Such as in an earthquake, a tornado, a chemical leak, or even a terrorist attack.
Every year, thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of Americans are forced to leave their homes in emergency evacuations. Most won't be ready.
Which is why everyone should have a BOB outfitted and ready to go.
This weekend, with the approach of Hurricane Gustav (that's Hanna on the right, still not quite ready for primetime), many thousands of residents along the Northern Gulf coast will either have their BOB's, or sorely wish they did.
In New Orleans residents are being told to evacuate, and that there will be no `shelter-of-last-resort', such as the Superdome, this time around.
08-29-2008 11:17 PM By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press Writer
NEW ORLEANS (Associated Press) -- Police with bullhorns plan to go street to street this weekend with a tough message about getting out ahead of Hurricane Gustav: This time there will be no shelter of last resort. The doors to the Superdome will be locked. Those who stay will be on their own.
New forecasts Friday made it increasingly clear that New Orleans will get some kind of hit _ direct or indirect _ by early next week. That raised the likelihood people would have to flee, and the city suggested a full-scale evacuation call could come as soon as Sunday.
Those among New Orleans' estimated 310,000 to 340,000 residents who ignore orders to leave accept "all responsibility for themselves and their loved ones," the city's emergency preparedness director, Jerry Sneed, has warned.
As Katrina approached in 2005, as many as 30,000 people who either could not or would not evacuate jammed the Louisiana Superdome and the riverfront convention center. They spent days waiting for rescue in squalid conditions. Some died.
Stung by the images that flashed across the world, including the photo of an elderly woman dead in her wheelchair, her bodied covered with a blanket, officials promised to find a better way.
This time, the city has taken steps to ensure no one has an excuse not to leave. The state has a $7 million contract to provide 700 buses to evacuate the elderly, the sick and anyone around the region without transportation.
If you think having an emergency bug out bag sounds like something that only a camouflage wearing, gun toting survivalist would have on hand . . .think again.
Here is the advice from Ready.gov. They call is an Emergency Supply Kit, but the idea is the same.
Step 1: Get A Kit
- Get an Emergency Supply Kit,which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car. This kit should include:
- Copies of prescription medications and medical supplies;
- Bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows;
- Bottled water, a battery-operated radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a flashlight;
- Copies of important documents: driver’s license, Social Security card, proof of residence, insurance policies, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, tax records, etc.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Prepare your family
- Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency
- Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
- It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
- Plan to Evacuate
- Identify ahead of time where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
- Identify several places you could go in an emergency, a friend's home in another town, a motel or public shelter.
- If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
- If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
- Take your Emergency Supply Kit.
- Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
- Take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class from your local Citizen Corps chapter. Keep your training current.
A search of the Internet will find loads of information on BOBs, including some kits so chock full that it would require a pack mule to carry. Some restraint may be required when making a suitable BOB, particularly if you may be forced to carry it.
A bug-out-bag should be a smaller version of a much larger emergency supply that every household should maintain. While a BOB should provide for 72 hours of your family's needs, you should be prepared to stay at home, without outside assistance, for at least 2-weeks.
Many organizations, including some government agencies (US and others) have recommended that up to 3 months of preparations would be prudent, particularly in view of the current pandemic threat.