Guide to Preparedness Now - 72-Hour Bug-Out Bag - for each family member, including pets

In a time of emergency/disaster, it is vital that you are prepared to evacuate in a moments notice.  Place each family member's 72-Hour Bug-Out Bag near an exit and/or put a second bag in your car(s). 

In addition place your Grab-n-Go Binder which contains important documents there as well. 

What is a Bug out Bag?   The most common definition found on the web is that a bug out bag is a portable survival kit.  It contains the essential items that one person would need to survive away from one's home for seventy-two hours. Unfortunately there is no universal list of essential items.  You need to put together a kit or bag that makes sense to you and your family.  Pay careful consideration of what you do put in this bag because you will be carrying it.  Weight is a primary consideration.   For example, a packet of tuna weights less than a can of tuna.

The purpose of the 72-hour Bug-Out Bag (sometimes referred to as a "Big Out Kit" or "Evac Pack") is to include everything needed to survive  for at least 3 days away from your home.  As an integral part of your emergency/disaster plan your Bug-Out Bag should be packed and ready to go should you have to evacuate.   As you assemble your 72-hour bag, remember this is for survival, not a vacation.  It is for use AWAY from home.  Pack only what you can carry, otherwise you will fatigue quickly and hamper your escape.  The items in your bag should get you through the first few critical days.

So donít throw everything but the kitchen sink in them to cover every conceivable scenario or need.  And don't obsess about planning for well balanced meals.  You should need to pack simple & "eat-out-of-the-can" meals.   If you would rather prepare hot meals, put a stove in a can in your BOB with extra fuel cans.

Do not put off making a Bug-Out Bags for yourself, your family & your pets. And do not scavenge items from the bag with the good intention of replacing them.

Put your Bug-Out Bag in an easy-to-reach location, like an entry-hall closet or under your bed.  Some prepper sites recommend keeping a bag  in your home, in your car, at your place of work and one in your stay-at-home shelter.  These sites advocate that you redundancy is the key to survival.  This is a decision that you will have to make.

Pack only as much as you can carry.  The total weight of the packed bag is crucialThe formula found most consistently online is:  the target weight of your bug out bag = 10% (no more than 20%) of your body weight.  i.e. 10% of 200 body weight = 20 lbs.    Only consider more than 10% if you are in top (and I mean top) physical condition.

Remember to check your bag twice a year to ensure that the things you packed have not expired and still ok to use or safe to eat.  Some suggest checking when you "Spring Forward" and "Fall Back."   

Making an Emergency/Disaster 72-Hour Bug-Out Bag

A typical Bug Out bag is packed to survive at least 72 hours.   Again, the items you decide to include or not to include is a personnel preference. Most of the items listed below won't need to be purchased -  you probable already own them.

Let's start with the bag.   Select a bag that works best for you.   I do caution again using a school book backpack.   You will want something a little more durable.   How to Choose the Best Bug Out Bag for You.    Gather the items going into the bag and then purchase a bag in which all you items will fit.  It is wise to buy one a bit larger.

  • Buy the best that you can afford.  Look for a pack that is specifically "tactical" gear not as a school bag. Tactical bags are resilient and repel water. They have PALS (like velcro) webbing to attach various MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) compatible pouches and accessories.
  • Buy one that fits your body.  Bigger is not better if you can comfortably "wear" it.  Remember, the best bug out bag is one that is comfortable and lightweight.
  • Buy one with padded straps.  Look for a hip strap which supplies added comfort and support.
  • Don't buy bright colors.   Black or a muted shade of brown and/or army green blend into the environment.  Some online sites encourage avoiding camouflage bags - too militaristic or something.

Next, let's discuss what goes in the bag.  Your BOB should carry the basics - food, water, clothing & shelter.  If the bag is not too heavy, then you can consider including things to make your time away both more secure & comfortable.  To lighten the load each family members should carry something.

The Essentials:

  • Food - Pack at least a three-day supply of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food.  Include food that your family will eat.  It is best to include food that requires no refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation; avoid salty items that will make you thirsty.  If applicable to your family, include food to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, those on special diets, etc. "Spork" for each person.

  • Water - One gallon of water per person per day is generally sufficient for drinking, cooking & sanitation.  Water Purifier Tablets for ensuring safe, drinkable water

  • Clothing - Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, jacket, rain jacket or poncho, sturdy shoes (thicker soles in case you are walking over broken glass, nails, chunks of concrete), and a brightly-colored large bandanna. Don't forget underwear, socks, stocking cap and gloves.  Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

  • Prescriptions - pack at least a 3-day supply, a week is better.


Supplies with each category packed in quart Ziploc Freezer baggies:

  • Money:  tuck cash ($10 +/- small bills) or traveler's checks and change into each bag.
  • Toiletries: travel size tooth brush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, pocket tissue packets, hand sanitizer, hand cream, a short comb, chap stick, insect repellent, sunscreen and a washclothMoist wet wipes, end-of-the-roll toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation (Make one for each family member. Write their names on each baggie with a permanent marker.)
  • Communications:  Battery-powered or hand crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.  Cell phone(s) with chargers.
  • First aid kit - kept in a water proof pouch or freezer-type baggie
  • Local maps - kept in a water proof pouch or freezer-type baggie
  • Children Needs - Infant formula and diapers.  Books, games, puzzles or other activities.

  • Pet Needs - leash, harness, toys, food + water


Tools & such: 

  • Bic Lighter

  • Utility tool (small) & Pocket knife

  • Box Cutter

  • Cable ties

  • Can opener

  • Duct tape

  • Plastic Sheeting or tarp

  • Flashlight and/or headlamp and extra batteries

  • Space blanket

  • Safety pins (large)

  • Popsicle sticks

  • Water pouches

  • Safety glasses

  • Garbage bag

  • Small knife

  • Ammonia capsules

  • Bandana

  • Compact Multi-Function Shovel

  • Reflective Safety Vest

  • Bungee cords (assorted sizes)


Shelter & Safety:

  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket
  • Dust mask
  • 12-hour Glow sticks (Put them in a baggie with some string or yarn so you can make a necklace for individual safety lites)
  • Leather-palmed work gloves

NOTE:  There are many online resources that offer pre-packaged disaster supply kits These kits vary in price & content.

Click for the Items in my BOB 
You can purchase these items from

Guide to Preparedness Now

List of commonly used Prepper Acronyms & Terms

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