Friday, May 11, 2012

The "Get Home" Bag - Companion to the "Bug Out" Bag

Creative Commons License: Some rights reserved by RickC
TV Tech guru James Kim found himself trapped in a snow drift in Oregon while on a family vacation. Kim had his family with him and after two days, decided to go for help. He didn't make it and froze to death. His family survived. These kinds of tragedies happen all the time, largely because we are box people and poorly prepared for emergencies.

By that, I mean we live in boxes, we work in boxes and we travel back and forth in boxes with wheels on them. Living in boxes gives us a false sense of security. The world is a precarious place and all it takes is a little slip along a fault line, a rotating storm system or a large ocean wave rolling ashore to take down the thin threads that hold together our safe little world. At any moment we can be placed in unexpected peril.

A "Get Home" bag is exactly what it says. Whereas a "bug out" bag is for escaping if your home is threatened, a get home bag for getting home if you get stranded somewhere in a crisis. If for some reason you get swept up in a disaster, trapped in a snowstorm or whatever, with a get home bag you'll have what you need to get you home hopefully.

Here's a much better design for a get home bag than the ratty old fanny pack I used to carry around in the trunk of my car. I carry a modified version in a fanny pack similar to the one above for when I can't get to the backpack-sized get home bag described in this article. Here's what I put in my fanny pack version.

  1. Multi-tool
  2. Small AA halogen flashlight and spare batteries
  3. 2 bandanas (head protection, first-aid, lung protection)
  4. Dust mask
  5. Cigarette lighter
  6. Small roll duct tape
  7. Package of energy bars (6-8)
  8. 1 liter water bottle (remember it's refillable)
  9. Parachute cord 25-50 feet
  10. Plastic Camo Pancho (can be rigged as a tent)
  11. Cotton work gloves
  12. Crushable jungle hat
  13. Compass
  14. Small pocket first-aid kit
  15. Cash (credit cards may not be usable)
  16. Acme Thunderer Whistle (accept no substitutes)
  17. Bar of soap/toothpaste/toothbrush (to make you feel human again)
  18. Tube of Neosporin
  19. Pair of dry socks
  20. Pocket Bible (probably should have listed that first) I usually have one in the car somewhere.
  21. Compass
  22. Sealed can of Sterno for emergency heat and cooking
Believe it or not, all that will fit in a fair-sized fanny pack or small carry-on bag. The rest I carry loose in the trunk of the car or attached to my body including:
  1. Smart phone on my hip (has radio in it)
  2. Writing implement and small notebook (shirt pocket)
  3. Watch (on wrist)
  4. Swiss Army Knife (in pocket)
  5. Pair of sneakers or hiking boots (in the trunk)
  6. Machete and/or pistol (weapon in the trunk, shells in the glove box to satisfy law enforcement)
  7. Jacket
  8. Crankable portable emergency radio (Radio Shack - about $40)
  9. Wool blanket
For a full up "get home" backpack capable of an "Incredible Journey sort of check out the Art of Manliness article on the subject. There's also a contest to win a copy of the author's survival book.

Have fun putting your pack together. Get the kids to help you. Explain what all the bits in the pack are used for and let the kids help make decisions about how to arrange the gear in the pack.What items should go on top?  Which ones are seldom used and can go on the bottom?

Remember, this is designed for a situation in which car travel is dangerous or impossible. In a disaster, even if you try to get home in your car (assuming you have four-wheel drive like my truck does) get your pack and supplies out of the trunk before getting underway.  Put everything in the front seat before starting to wend your way home through the devestation in case you get stuck or have to render aid to someone in a hurry.


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