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Also known as a 72-hour bag or a go bag, bug out bags contain key essential items you need to survive for the first three days after a disaster.
While pre-made bug out bags are out there, we suggest you make them from scratch. Most pre-made bug out bags lack essential items, so it's better to complete one based on your family's needs.
Whether you have small kids or not, we've included guidelines and a list of items for both instances below. Remember, it's always better to be well-prepared for the unexpected.
What Is a Bug Out Bag?
A bug out bag (BOB) is packed with survival supplies like food and water. This bag is kept ready for emergencies that require quick evacuation.
In addition, a bug out bag contains everything you need to survive outside for at least 72 hours. It’s because humans can't survive for longer than 72 hours without water.
The tools in the bag also give you an upper hand when disaster strikes. Before the disaster goes into full mode, a good family bug out bag will save time during crucial moments.
If your family bug out bag is ready, you can grab it and evacuate immediately. This allows you to focus all your time, energy, and attention on getting to safety.
However, a family bug out bag is for evacuation, not long-term survival. This distinguishes a bug out bag from a standard survival kit, car emergency kit, or disaster kit.
Other names for a bug out bag include 72-hour bag, go bag, grab bag, or a GOOD bag (Get Out of Dodge). Regardless of what you call it, they all have the same purpose: to help you evacuate and survive in the short run.
Plus, you primarily need to bug out because your home can be unsafe. It becomes more challenging once you face dangerous disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, nuclear accidents, chemical spills, and terrorist attacks. Sometimes, you just have to find a safer haven outside your house.
What to Pack in a Family Bug Out Bag
- Drinking Water
- Water Filter Straw
- Electric Lighter
- Hand Crank Radio
- Survival Bag
- First Aid Kit
- Emergency Alarm
Here are the items you need to include in your family bug out bag:
1. Drinking Water
Potable drinking water is the most important item for survival. Securing clean water should be your top priority when packing your family bug out bag.
Include at least a three-day supply of drinking water per family member. This equates to at least one gallon for each person.
2. Water Filter Straw
You must stay outside your house or in a shelter for more than three days sometimes. Since you can't carry all the water in the world, it's best to pack a water filter straw.
The Prepared Hero Water Filter Straw gives you clean drinking water and prevents dehydration. It can give you and your family 264 gallons of water. While clear freshwater streams look safe, they usually contain dangerous bacteria.
So, packing one filter straw for each family member will ensure that your family doesn't get any water-borne diseases.
Place your straw inside a water straw filter case to make things safer. Doing so protects it from contaminants that render your filter useless.
The Prepared Hero Water Filter Straw Case prevents water and dust from ruining your filter. Plus, this sturdy case is pressure-resistant and weatherproof.
Bugging out can be stressful, so make sure hunger doesn't get the best of you. Adrenaline can only fuel you for so long, so don't let your family suffer.
Remember, you won't have time to cook meals during evacuation. So, your family bug out bag must include ready-to-eat food. These include canned food, jerky, and bars that don't expire quickly.
Protein- and fat-rich items are the best bug out bag food. They stabilize your blood sugar levels, so you don't get unstable energy drops. Carbs will help, but only eat them if you need quick energy.
4. Electric Lighter
You need fire to survive, especially during winter. On top of that, you can use it to signal rescuers with smoke.
Both lighters and matches are lightweight items, so it's easy to pack them in your family bug out bag. However, electric lighters are better than matches since the rain can easily ruin the latter.
Prepare a backup if phone lines go down or your phone dies.
The PowerTalkieX Radio Set lets you communicate through a three-mile distance and 25-floor buildings with a crisp voice and noise reduction tech.
The PowerTalkieX Radio Set also provides up to 15 days of communication and lasts for 18 to 24 months in storage after one charge.
6. Hand Crank Radio
A hand crank radio is another essential item for your family bug out bag.
For one, a hand crank radio gives you weather updates. Most hand-crank radios are also NOAA-certified (National Oceanic Atmospheric Association). Hence, they can receive emergency and weather updates from the 24-hour station.
Hand crank radios also don't rely on power, which means you can use them all the time (as long as you crank them, of course).
7. Survival Bag
A survival bag prevents hypothermia during freezing weather. Hence, you should put one in your bug out bag.
Prepared Hero's Survival Bag provides enough coverage for people up to seven feet tall. Despite this, the item's smaller than a soda can.
The bag is also made of waterproof and windproof materials that reflect 90% of the heat to you. Plus, the survival bag comes in a bright orange color, which lets rescuers find you easily.
A tent gives you the most comfort and protection during a bug out situation. Having shelter puts your mind at ease and protects you from dangerous animals like bears.
While a tent won't completely protect you from dangerous animals, it acts as a psychological barrier against bears and other animals because they won't attack what they can't see. In fact, many campers who were inside their tents said they sniffed around but didn't go in.
Flashlights don't just give light. They also offer another option to signal other family members or rescuers.
But you know what's better? A flashlight that doubles as a baton.
Prepared Hero's Flashlight Baton lets you see in the dark and protect yourself. It's easy to grab and yet so light to swing.
You can use it to protect your family from human or animal attackers. Plus, it's so durable that being run over by a car didn't leave a dent.
10. First Aid Kit
A proper first aid kit should have everything you need to take care of minor cuts and injuries after bugging out. These include bandages, rubbing alcohol, gauze pads, pain relievers, and ointment.
If you or your family needs regular medication, you can include medicines here. Just make sure you label them properly.
Pack clothes that last for at least three days.
Each person should have clothes based on the season. For instance, you need to pack coats and sweatpants during winter. On the contrary, you need to pack breathable clothes during summer.
12. Emergency Alarm
Have a loud emergency alarm to signal other family members or rescuers if anyone or anything attacks you.
Prepared Hero's Emergency Alarm is helpful for anyone who might get lost or attacked in the woods. It also has a bright, flashing light that helps others find the lost ones at night.
Bug Out Bag Add-Ons for Families With Toddlers or Infants
- Wet Wipes
- Feeding Bottle
Frequently Asked Questions
Should each family member have a bug out bag?
Yes, each family should have a bug out bag. Everyone should be ready to go with their bug out bag in case of an emergency. Additionally, the bags should be durable and easy to carry so your family can leave quickly.
What should be in a family bug out bag?
Here's what should be in a family bug out bag:
- Sleeping bag
- Water filter
- Non-perishable food
- Hand crank radio
- First aid kit
Are bug out bags worth it?
Yes, bug out bags are worth it. They're a crucial part of your emergency plans. Bug out bags ensure your survival and safety when a disaster strikes. Plus, you'll always be prepared for immediate evacuation by having a bug out bag.
How big should a 3 day bug out bag be?
A three-day bug out bag should be around 2,500 cubic inches or 40 liters big for an adult. The bug out should be durable and flexible, too. If you're bugging out with your family, you can share items for group use. You can also assign bigger three-day bug out bags to well-built family members.
How much cash should you have in a bug out bag?
You should have at least $500 in your bug out bag. This will help pay for goods and services if you need to stay outdoors longer.
How many clothes should be in a bug out bag?
A bug out bag should have at least three sets of clothes. This ensures that you have clothes for 72 hours. Remember, you need dry clothes since wet ones are uncomfortable and can cause hypothermia.
You won't have time to prepare a bag stocked with water, food, and tools during a disaster or emergency. This is where a family bug out bag (which helps you save time and ups your chances of survival) comes in.