Review Your Bug-Out-Bag

The BIG one just happened! You grab that disaster bag and then try to find a way to struggle with it to the emergency shelter. You probably have given up on the idea of "heading to the hills" unless you have a vehicle handy to get all the pieces of stuff to the hills or wherever.

Review your Bug Out Bag

You may have previously scoured the Internet for information and reviewed the endless lists of "suggested items" to have in your bug-out-bag (AKA disaster kit). Using a list of your choosing, the items were collected and somehow crammed into a bag(s) or container(s).

Most of these lists were prepared by the government after their experiences of miscalculating their capabilities during and after disasters such as the Katrina Hurricane. I think the bureaucrat behind the desk who prepared the list has forgotten a few fundamental facts. Try to estimate (or weigh on a scale) your bug-out-bag with all the basic suggested items; clothing, boots, bedding, food, water, and whatever you plan on dragging to the shelter such as a pet and pet items.

One of the basics things always included in the lists of "what you need" is to have 3 days of food per person and one gallon of water per person per day as the minimum. Food is normally calculated at about 2 pounds per person per day, so figure on at least 6 pounds per person (24 pounds for a family of 4) that is if you really think three days is sufficient. Now factor in a basic load of 3 gallons of water per person which equates to 25 pounds of additional weight per person not including the containers (A gallon weighs about 8.34 US pounds). Whew, more than 100 pounds of water for a family of four to lug around! (That bureaucrat must be a weightlifter!)

If you are planning on carrying the suggested items, plus food and water for a family of four, finding a mule to carry your bag(s) to the shelter is my only suggestion.

Young male backpackers in fit condition are suggested not to carry more than fifty pounds and thirty-five pounds for a woman. Just the basic food and water load as suggested in the lists is 31 pounds. Not much weight left to use if you are planning going far with the kit.

I do not intend to suggest a "new list of suggested items" to include in your bag, rather to prompt you to find ideas for reducing the weight and bulk of the kit.

First of all, remove all the items in your kit and spread them out on the living room floor or wherever. Take a good hard look at what you have on the floor.

Now strive to see what is actually needed and what "surplus stuff" there is. Do you intend to go to a shelter for a couple of days? Imagine the basics of what you can get by on for a couple of days.

Look over your items and think of the old architectural saying of "form follows function". Meaning, what is the actual function of an item, and does what you have laying on the floor meet the criteria? Can it be smaller or lighter in weight?

Look if an item can be used for more than one purpose. Do you have multiple items for one use? If you have a fancy hand-powered flashlight and a large D cell flashlight, can you get by with only having one? How about the many survival blankets, space blankets, tarps, tube tents, and ponchos you have laying there? Can you think of ways using a couple and dispensing with the others?

If you have not had a chance, read my small article "Food for Thought" on ways of cutting down on food supplies. Many "kitchen & cooking" items suggested in many of the lists can be pared down simply by looking at the other items you already have. Many of the containers for boiling water, cooking pots, sierra cups, and even plates can easily be replaced by an old-fashioned military canteen cup. We are intending the disaster kit to be used during an emergency and for a limited number of days, not serving a banquet.

How about all the toiletries laying there? I doubt in a disaster or following one, other people are going to care about your appearance. A few more ounces may be trimmed by looking at what you have vs. what you really need.

Take a gander at your bedding and clothing. Are there items you can live without or use for different purposes? A blanket or sleeping bag makes a great winter coat when called upon.

Keep reviewing the items on the floor and I bet you will find unnecessary items which you can place into your stay-at-home disaster kit.

As I said at the beginning, I am not striving to make a new "basic items list" but have you review your personal kit for the items you consider really important to have (and not one ounce more). I bet you can get a functional kit and one which you can easily run to the shelter with or head off into the hills as dictated by unforeseen circumstances; not having to pull a loaded down mule.

-Jerry B Blaine


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