The recent tragedy in Japan made me realize just how disaster can strike anytime. Japan was as prepared as they could be. They had earthquake-proof buildings—but that didn’t stop Mother Nature from claiming thousands of lives. Many more had to flee with scraps of belongings they could find.
California isn’t too different from Tokyo or Sendai. We too, live in an earthquake zone, and we live near the coastline where tsunamis can strike anytime. Scientists have been talking about “the Big One” for years, saying that California is due for another massive earthquake.
Disaster Preparedness comes to mind. I’ve been working on several survival kits (House Survival Kit, Vehicle Survival Kit, Office Survival Kit and a Bug-out Bag) for the last couple of years since I heard about the “Big One”. I’ve made list after list of things I need to put in a survival kit—I just never got around to actually gathering the objects.
Of course, when the earthquake hit Japan, it was a jolt of electricity to my otherwise complacent brain. I re-started my disaster preparedness kits with renewed energy.
The first survival kit I worked on is the BUG-OUT BAG.
A Bug-out-Bag, also known as the GO Bag, and GOOD (Get Out of Dodge) Bag, is a portable survival kit, popular among survivalists. Basically, the Bug-out Bag contains everything that one person needs to survive on the go for 72 Hours in the face of a disaster.
There are 15 essential elements to have in a BOB:
Water is the most important element in terms of survival. You can go for weeks without food, but three days without water is certain death. Survival experts recommend having 1 Liter per day, per person. This, however, is the bare minimum. So in your BOB’s, you should have at least 3 Liters of water. That’s less than a gallon, in case you’re wondering.
In cases of extreme disaster, water might be difficult to come by for several days. You need to be able to extend your water supply, so you’ll need water purifying systems such as iodine tablets, water filters or even the ability to boil water.
Energy bars, MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), and basically anything to keep you going. I actually made my own home-made (MRE) where I gathered packets of soup, energy bars, dried foods and so on all into a nifty 1 gallon ziplock bag. I also including cooking implements.
Experts will tell you to pack for the kind of weather you have. Thankfully, here in California, we typically have only one kind of weather.
These are the usual things you should put in your bag:
- sturdy shoes/ hiking boots
- a pair of pants
- 2 pairs of socks (wool is recommended as it absorbs the moisture and dries quickly)
- 1 long sleeved shirt
- 1 short-sleeved shirt
- thermals (if you’re having winter weather)
- warm, waterproof jacket
If a disaster takes your house, you’ll need protection from the elements and gear to keep you dry such as tents, tarps, sleeping bads, sleeping bags.
REI towel, tube tent, poncho, emergency blanket
You should have at least 3 ways of making a fire such as lighters, matches, magnesium flints, tinder, etc.
Lanterns, emergency candles, headlamps, and flashlights with spare batteries.
7. Communication Tools
Emergency radios are a great way to get information about the safety of the area . Prepaid phone cards, too might come in handy if you want to call someone but your cellphone has run out of battery.
8. Navigation Tools
Having a map of your area is important. It’ll give you an idea of where to stay, and what direction safety can be found. A compass or a gps system will also come in handy.
9. Safety Gear
Dust masks, goggles, working gloves and tools for protection such as pepper spray or sticks can be of use in a disaster situation. Don’t forget to add your extra prescription glasses, reading glasses, contact lenses, etc.
working gloves, pepper spray, dust mask
Even in the face of disaster we should keep hygiene in mind. Small towel, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, wet wipes are basics, but feel free to add anything else you need.
Survival knives, leatherman, pocket knife, duct tape, paracord/rope, portable shovel/pick axe, etc.
12. First Aid Kit
You can buy those pre-made first aid pack, but be sure to add your own prescribed medications into the kit (inhalers, heart medicine, etc).
Add a pack of playing cards, some puzzles, and books to keep your spirits up when you’re waiting around for news.
14. Important Documents copies
Lastly, (and I’m still working on these myself), you need copies of your most important documents. Birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, greencard, drivers license, vehicle registration, a list of your account numbers, insurance policies (car, house, etc), mortgage papers, car papers, immunization/health records, school records, tax returns, etc.
You should print out hard copies and keep them in a waterproof bag. Scan these documents and keep a digital copy in a flash drive or memory stick. The more copies you have the better. You can also keep copies of important family pictures as both hard copies and in your flash drive.
15. Important Miscellaneous Items
- Cash – a hundred dollars broken down into smaller bills and scattered in various hiding places in your BOB.
- Coins – quarters for calling
- Giftcards – target, walmart, ralphs, etc. These might help tide you over when you run low on cash.
- Address book – for contacting relatives and friends.
- Survival handbook/manual
- Notebook, pens, markers
Lastly, you need a strong, sturdy bag that you can put all these things in.
I have most of the things on my list in my bugout bag, but I’m still working on gathering up those important documents and scanning them.In the meantime, I keep my bug-out bag within easy reach of the bed. I’m also planning to go on some kind of camping trip one of these summer days, to actually test out all these survival items.
I hope I never have to use this bug-out bag, but in case of emergency, it gives me peace of mind knowing I have this close by. Disasters are random, picky things, and I may or may not be lucky despite all this preparation, but at least I know I’ve increased my odds of survival just by taking the time to prepare for such an event.
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