Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's Your Bug Out Plan and What's in Your Bug-Out Bag?

Do you have a bug-out plan? If you are going to survive a disaster you need a plan - either stay put or leave. A GOOD plan, as in Get Out Of Dodge.

Your Bug-Out Plan
Today I'm going to talk about a bug-out plan. First, where is your safe place? Have you got one in mind? Do you have your primary route planned? What about backup routes in case roads are blocked or impassable due to weather or other problems. You might not be able to count on GPS or your iPhone so be sure you've got old-fashioned paper maps in your bug-out bag.

Make sure every family member knows your family's emergency signal - that is, what you are going to do if it's time to hustle and get out. Is it a code word? Is it a blast on a whistle or fog horn? Define each family member's task - and practice the drill. You should aim for 10 minutes or less for grabbing what you need and getting to your car.

Even little children can have a task. In my family, my son has trained his children in their tasks. The 7 year old's job is to help his younger brother grab warm outdoor clothing and boots even if it's summer, then get them to the front door. Their older sister knows she helps with the youngest.  Why warm clothing? Because he's prepared for a year or longer and they may need winter clothes later even if it's summer when the crisis happens.

Each child knows to grab their own bug-out bag (they call it a go-bag), one toy and get to the front door. There they wait for mom or dad to escort them to the vehicle.

You need a different plan for summer then you do for winter. Do you have a wagon for summer in case your car breaks down or is stuck somewhere? A wagon will allow you to pull younger children or bottles of water and bags of food. What about bicycles? And for winter you need a sled or toboggan in case you have to walk to your safe place. You could also pack snowshoes and make this a fun family activity ahead of time - learning to walk on snowshoes is exhausting and takes a bit of practice so why not plan some family snowshoeing outings?

Think about the weather and the geography of where you live. If you live in a big city you will want to plan a route that doesn't use the roads and highways that everyone else will be using. If you live in a deserted desert area, your choice of clothing and water will be very different from someone who lives in a rural snowy area.

Your Bug-Out Bag
You do have a bug-out bag for each family member don't you? A bug-out bag is a small backpack filled with essential gear and food to last you 72 hours or as long as it takes to get to your safe place.

What you put in your bug-out bag is up to you but experts recommend 3 to 4 litres of water per person per day. You will also need water contamination tablets in case you have to purify water from streams or lakes.

Non-perishable food is necessary - granola bars, trail mix, or MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) if you have them. Look for lightweight foods and be sure every family member has some in their personal bug-out bag in case you get separated. It's a personal choice as to how much food you need to pack.

Take sleeping bags if possible. Duct tape, ropes, a tarp and a good knife may come in handy if you have to abandon the vehicle and sleep outside. I like to have a small knife for things like removing a splinter, cutting string or rope, and a larger knife for defense, chopping small branches off of trees, opening cans etc.

Rain gear is essential. Be sure everyone has something they can wear in case you're walking - ponchos, even garbage bags with a hole cut for the head are better than nothing

Have some extra clothing already packed - socks, undies, pants, sweaters, shorts etc. Be prepared for all types of weather. Lots of extra socks are important as your feet may get wet if you have to walk.

Take any medication you need. Throw in some basic medical supplies - bandages, antibacterial ointment, pain meds, anti-diarhea meds etc.

If a weapon is on your list as a necessity, make sure you have ammo for it ready to go. Ensure that every family member who is old enough has training in gun safety if you are taking a weapon with you. Being safe is important!

Everyone should have a signalling device such as a whistle in their go bag, and once you are on the road, it should be on each person's body. That way if the group gets separated you can hopefully find each other. Teach your children what to do if they get separated from you. Pack a signal mirror and a foghorn or a flaregun too.

What else might come in handy? A compass, flashlight, matches, something for collecting and boiling water.... the list is endless. If it's winter, take some tea candles and a clean tuna or salmon can to put the candle in, so you can have heat in your vehicle if you end up sleeping there.

And don't forget cash. We suggest you have some cash hidden and handy in case of an emergency situation. Remember electronics may be down so that ATM machine isn't going to work. Stores and banks might be closed.


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