The very real need for the BOB
For some, this will be preaching to the choir. For others, it will be a rehash of what you hear from other sources. The reality is that no one can refute the need to have a bag ready to grab and go in case of an emergency. It used to be the realm of the die hard preppers and survivalists, but its quickly becoming mainstream. Even the government puts out information on how to put together a GO bag or Bug Out bag (commonly known as a BOB). BOB is the name I use because its easy to say, and on the blog, its certainly a lot easier to type!
There are so many great information resources available that I won’t give step by step instructions on how to put one together. I’ll include a few links at the end of the post you can check out. I do want to share some of my thoughts on the subject, and a few things I’ve learned.
It would be easy to list a hundred reasons on why you should have a basic bag put together, but one obvious one is being realized all over the state of Texas right now. We are in the midst of a horrible fire season, and it seems to be getting worse. The town of Bastrop is going up in flames with over 500 homes destroyed and countless others in the path. Every one of these homes contained people and their possessions. The people are out and safe for the most part, but everything they owned is now gone. Some only have the clothes on their back. I saw his firsthand when my grandparents lost their house to a wildfire many years ago. The had just a few minutes to run through and grab what they could. In the panic, not much was saved. Heirlooms, pictures, and documents and several pets were lost forever. I’m not saying that having a BOB will save all of your possessions, but having access to documents after a fire is important. Being able to save the most important pictures is invaluable.
A lot of the info on how to put a BOB together covers the basics of survival. Every list is going to include: A change of clothes, 3 days of food and water, firemaking supplies, flashlight, batteries, portable radio, communications, etc. Most lists include everything you would need to survive for 3 or more days in the wilderness. That’s all good, but in reality most of us won’t be in a situation that requires surviving in the wilds of Montana or the deserts of the southwest. Its probably more realistic that a disaster won’t be so widespread that we are going to have to take to the woods and wait it out. The fires in Texas, while huge, only impact a small area. Tornadoes are ruthless in their destruction, but don’t wipe out entire states. If you are forced to leave, you’ll most likely be heading to a shelter, hotel, or a family member’s house. Once the acute effects of the disaster are over, you’ll be going back in to start rebuilding what was destroyed. A few items that make this stressful situation a little easier are good items to have with you.
1. Copies of document (or originals), including birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, insurance policy information, and important contact information. These can be digitized and stored on a CD, DVD, or thumb drive.
2. Important family photos. These can be digitized and stored on electronic media as well. Photos are impossible to replace if lost. Having them backed up in multiple locations is cheap and easy.
3. Cash. I know some people will say that they keep credit or debit cards, but those don’t always work if the power is out. Cash will spend, even in the dark. You don’t have to have thousands, but having enough for a couple of days including lodging and meals is always a good idea.
4. Cell phone or PDA chargers. An extra charger for your communication is invaluable. In a disaster, letting loved ones know you are well will put their mind at ease. A dead cell phone is a paperweight. Having a spare battery might not be such a bad idea either.
5. Some form of entertainment. This is especially important if you have kids with you. A couple of small toys, a deck of cards, or even a few crayons with some paper can keep the little ones entertained. This will be really important during stressful situations. Your kids know when your stressed, and it stresses them out too. A paperback novel will go a long way in passing time if you need a distraction yourself.
6. Small heirlooms. Anything small that can’t be replaced should find a spot in the BOB. Nothing would be more heartbreaking that frantically searching through the rubble looking for that ring your grandma gave you before she died, or that watch that your dad gave you the day you graduated high school.
7. Personal toiletries. A familiar tasting toothpaste and your normal deodorant will maintain some level of normalcy. We can be very picky about the brands we use, and having that with us will do wonders for our morale.
The point is to not only survive a disaster, but to come out the other side with some semblance of our sanity and dignity. I would much rather end up staying in a hotel and going through a few heirlooms and pictures while the kids play a game of Old Maid than be sitting on a cot in a school gym hoping someone will donate some clean underwear before morning comes.
Here are some links to help you get started.
Here is a good list, but leans toward being prepared for all out collapse.
This is a very thorough list.
One of the better articles I’ve seen on BOBs
FEMA has some thoughts on how to prepare.