You never know when an emergency is going to happen; perhaps you need to bail from your car and escape into the woods, perhaps you’ve found yourself stranded with few supplies, or perhaps you’ve stumbled upon an emergency and need to be prepared. This is where a bail-out-bag, or bug-out-bag, comes in handy.
Originally used by the U.S. Army during the Korean War, the bug-out-bag was designed as supply kit to be taken in case of an enemy invasion when the U.S. soldiers would have to “bug out” and leave camp in a hurry. The kit itself is designed primarily for sudden evacuation and emergencies as opposed to a more long-term survival kit, with most bags being designed to contain enough supplies for only a few days. Since the war the concept for the bail-out-bag has come into wide use by military and law enforcement, although the equipment found in the bags is just as likely to include emergency situation gear for running towards an emergency as it does running away from one.
The equipment found in each bag differs greatly depending on the region and profession of the person, as a law enforcement officer has different needs than someone expecting a flood or hurricane. That said, there are a few potential items that are always useful in your bag for just about any emergency situation:
- Enough food and water to last for 72 hours, such as MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat).
- A first aid kit.
- Fire starting tool, such as matches or a lighter.
- A disaster plan including location of emergency centers, rallying points, possible evacuation routes, etc.
- Professional emergency literature explaining what to do in various types of disaster, which you have studied and understood before the actual disaster. The reason to keep these on hand is for reference use.
- Maps and travel information of the local and surrounding areas.
- Weather appropriate clothing such as a poncho, headwear, gloves, etc.
- Bedding items such as sleeping bags and blankets.
- Enough medicine to last an extended period of time.
- Lighting tools, such as a flashlight or glow sticks.
- Cash and change, as electronic banking transactions may not be available during the initial period following an emergency or evacuation.
- Positive identification, such as drivers license, state I.D. card, or social security card.
- Fixed-blade, folding knife, and Swiss Army Knife.
- Duct tape and rope.
- Plastic tarps for shelter and water collection.
- A compass.
- Firearms and ammunition.
As always, what you use to fill your bail-out-bag is dependent on what you’ll need from it, but these items will serve you in general emergencies. Additionally while it is useful to keep a bail-out-bag at your residence, it is also worth considering a “get me home” bag, which is designed for use in case vehicle transportation is unavailable and you are stranded at your workplace or car during an emergency. These bags are ideally kept at your place of work or the trunk of your car.
Emergencies often catch us unaware, so it’s important to be aware and prepared for anything that can happen. A bail-out-bag is good for putting your mind at ease, as you’ll know you’re well prepared just in case any emergency situation does manage to catch you by surprise.