A Beginner’s Guide to Bugging Out

| July 30, 2013 |


A bug out bag refers to a pack or kit, popular in survivalist and military culture, that is designed to carry supplies to last the user 72 hours.  The focus of a bug out bag is not on long term sustained survival, but instead of evacuating a disaster safely.  The term is derived from a practice from the Korean War during which U.S. Army units would sometimes be advised to “bug-out,” or displace, from their current position if it were to be over run.  The bug out kit in its current form, that which holds 72 hours worth of supplies, comes from the recommendation of many emergency relief organizations that have stated that they may be unable to reach some individuals for up to 72 hours after a disaster to offer aid.

The most important thing in any bug out kit is water.  The amount of water recommended depends on the country and climate you live in, but in general you’ll want to have 3-4 liters (or around one gallon) of water per person per day.  It is important to note that some of this water is for washing and hygiene, while most of it is for drinking.  As a nod to planning ahead beyond the initial 3 days, you should also have water purification supplies.

Next on the list is enough non-perishable food to last 72 hours.  This could be canned food, but as cooking may be difficult and the kit is only designed to be used for a few days, I’d recommend simply packing energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, etc. (foods that require little to no preparation to eat and will offer a high caloric output).

Next up, have a first aid kit handy – this should be fully stocked with bandages, a few over the counter medications, wound cleaning materials and swabs, etc.  Make sure that you pack a few different sizes of wound dressings, as you’ll want to be ready for any injury that might arise from a disaster type situation.

Also included should be a fire starting tool.  Depending on your proficiency, this could be matches, a lighter, or a number of other survival implements meant for sparking a flame.  Inside your kit be sure to also include a map or paper with location and contact information of local emergency relief organizations.  There’s no guarantee any phone will be working, and if they are the lines will be busy for hours, but it’s worth being able to get in touch should you have the chance.  Other items to keep on hand in your kit include standard camping equipment, sleeping bags or blankets, waterproof, or at least weather appropriate clothing, any prescription medicines you need, a crank-powered radio, a crank-powered flashlight, cash, identification documents, a knife (survival, pocket knife, etc.), rope, and plastic tarps for shelter.

When looking beyond the first 72 hours, it may be prudent to include wire for animal traps (if you need to survive for longer that initially expected).  Learning how to trap animals is an invaluable skill to have in an emergency.  Additionally, you should keep a compass and local area maps on hand; if emergency services can’t reach you within a few days, you may need to start moving on your own.  As with any supply in a bug out bag, it is imperative that you learn to effectively navigate with a map and compass before you ever need to do it with your life in the balance.

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Category: Bug-Out

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