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Monday Mission: Make a Bug Out Bag

Monday Mission Make a Bug Out Bag

Back when we talked emergency preparedness, we worked through many different steps to getting your home and family ready for the “in-house” sort of emergencies, such as power outages, snowstorms, or other problems that might cause your family to be stuck in the house without access to the outside world for a while.

It seems nearly every few months if you turn on the news you’ll hear stories about more people that have to evacuate their homes due to emergencies, including hurricanes, floods, fires, and storms.

Those folks needed Bug Out Bags.

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to take steps to making a Bug Out Bag, otherwise known as a GOODY bag (for “Get Out Of Dodge”), a 72-hour survival kit, or simply an emergency evacuation kit.

Why bother? Some disasters (forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, chemical spills, and certainly more that my over-active imagination cannot even fathom) simply require evacuation, sometimes at a moment’s notice.

Here’s a personal account from a reader in the comments at an early preparedness post at KS:

Our biggest threat here is forest fire. We have been evacuated with an hour’s notice in the past, so now we have a binder in the front closet with phone numbers, account and policy numbers, a CD with a photographic household inventory and checklists of jobs for each family member to get ready to leave. Each item lists what to get, where to get it, and where it goes. We have family on the other side of a big lake, so that is where we meet. We also have a travel trailer which is stocked with basics and propane/battery/electric fridge and stove, and is ready to hook up within five minutes or so.

The author over at Preparedness Pro talks about how surviving a longer-term disaster would be impossible in a cityif you’re an urbanite, you just have to “get outta Dodge”. It’s an interesting thought for so many of us who do live in cities.

Even FEMA recommends that everyone have a 72-hour stock of food and water for basic survival, and I don’t see the U.S. government as generally being hyper-conservative or over-reactive.

There are fun alternate names for a 72-hour survival kit: a Bug Out Kit, Get Out of Dodge kit (GOODY bags), or the slightly crass “Oh Crap” kit. Whatever you call it, if you’re ready to take a not-so-baby-step toward emergency preparedness, our topic for the last few weeks, or if you live in an area where these kits really are essential, I’ve compiled some resources for you.

How To Prepare To Evacuate

Here’s a 20-step list, designed to be tackled one per week for 20 weeks, to help you and your family be ready to evacuate on short notice with the basic items you might need to survive in an emergency situation:

1. Gather backpacks or storage containers to keep your emergency kit in.

Plan one backpack per family member. You can also use storage tubs or 5-gallon buckets. Do you want to divide each person’s things into their own container, or have 1 container per category (food, clothes, supplies, etc.)? How would you transport items if you are alone–wagon, stroller?

2. Have three days of non-perishable food per person.

Suggestions: MREs, high energy food bars, freeze-dried pouches, canned soups, meats, veggies, fruit, juice; peanut butter, hard candy, beef jerky (recipe can be found in the newly expanded Healthy Snacks to Go eBook along with over 45 real food snack recipes – click HERE to learn more.)
 Make a menu and plan each meal & snacks. Label the food as “Breakfast Day 1”, “Lunch Day 2”, etc. Put expiry dates on packages & your menu.

RELATED: Healthy Long-Term Storage Food (canning, freezing, fermenting, etc.) 

3. Make sure you’ll have access to clean drinking water.

When I made my 72-hour survival kit list, I had originally planned on having one gallon of water per person per day – two quarts for drinking, two for food prep & cleaning. But a commenter here pointed out that you can’t possibly carry that much with you. Better to have a small Berkey filter or filtering water bottle so you could reclaim water from other sources, and also plan to need zero for cooking, because if you’ve bugged out you don’t want to have food with you that you’d need to cook! I’d pack about a half to a full gallon per person, period. Don’t forget pets! More on how to safely store water here.

4. Make a first aid kit.

I have tips on an herbal medicine cabinet and natural antibiotics for infection and this Herbal Nurturing ebook is a good resource.

Other ideas for what to include:

  • first aid manual
  • hand sanitizer
  • vinyl gloves
  • alcohol pads
  • bandaids
  • gauze
  • elastic (Ace) bandage
  • anti-bac ointment
  • pain reliever
  • tweezers
  • needle
  • small scissors
  • safety pins
  • cold pack
  • thermometerimage

5. Get a portable radio, flashlights, and batteries.

If you’d rather not carry batteries, check out solar hand crank options like this one to the right which even has attachments to charge a cell phone. Look for a radio that is NOAA capable. NOAA broadcasts local emergency weather and evacuation instructions (radio is set to your local zip code).

6. Pack a personal hygiene kit for each family member.

This kit should include items in Ziploc bags or waterproof container:

  • small towel/washcloth
  • comb/brush
  • soap
  • liquid detergent
  • toothbrush, toothpaste and other dental hygiene needs
  • deodorant
  • feminine hygiene items
  • other personal hygiene items
  • small wash basin (optional)

This will be even easier if you go no ‘poo and can make your own deodorant!

7. Consider sanitation and waste disposal.

Store the following in a 5-gallon bucket with lid (and optional toilet seat):

  • toilet paper (remove cardboard tube to save space)
  • plastic bags & ties, for disposal
  • chlorine bleach or disinfectant
  • toilet chemicals (optional)
  • paper towels
  • wet wipes
  • small shovel (optional)

Note: Bleach is a tough one when it comes to emergencies. It begins to break down and lose potency after only 6 months, and you hate to have to use or dispose of bleach and replace it when it’s not something you would normally have in your home. Full strength vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, stored separately, should do a sufficient job.

8. Don’t forget to bring fresh clothes!

For each person store:

  • Pants
  • sweatshirt
  • t-shirt
  • socks
  • Shoes (optional)

Store items in Ziploc bags to keep everything dry, and label them with name and clothing size. For children, store clothes that are 1-2 sizes larger. Rotate clothes out when the child grows into them. Be sure to note clothes sizes on your “Master List” so you know when to rotate clothes.

9. Gather eating and cooking supplies.

Include a can opener, stove w/solid fuel or heat pellets, utensils, cups, aluminum foil, Swiss army knife/utility tool with pliers & sharpening stone. Plastic plates & utensils may be used, but be sure to have at least one container for boiling water.

RELATED: How to Keep Emergency Food Stored.

10. Ensure you’ll stay warm and dry.

Pack ponchos or rain gear, emergency solar blankets, and heat packs (hand warmers) for each person in your family. The last thing you’ll want is to be caught off guard in a storm.

11. You might need fire making supplies.

I suggest waterproof matches, flint, or firestarter, which you can make by gently melting a bit of Vaseline. Put 6-10 cotton balls in melted Vaseline and saturate completely. Let cool & store in film canister or Ziploc. To use, place 1-2 cotton balls under tinder and light with a match. Dryer lint is good also, but doesn’t burn as long.

12. Be ready for anything.

Pack some rope and/or twine, duct tape (wrap around a drinking straw to reduce space), extra garbage bags, extra Ziploc bags, whistle, something reflective like an old CD for signaling, and a small sewing kit (needles, thread, tiny scissors), surgical tubing (drinking tube).

From helpful Facebook readers: “Use paracord for your rope/twine. Be sure to buy the kind with the seven strand core so that if you need the finer twine you can use you core strands. I got some from a seller on Amazon that had only a four strand core and it is fairly useless… tangles up terribly! We are trying to use it up on everyday disposable tasks.”

Paracord is used to make emergency “jewelry” too, braided into belts and watch bands, key fobs and bracelets. Super strong and very multi-use.

13. Want something to help pass the time?

You might need some entertaiment, especially for the kids. Paper and pencils, markers or crayons, playing cards, small toys, extra eyeglasses, sunglasses. What packs the biggest punch of fun for the smallest amount of space?

14. Be ready to go…

…with spare house and car keys, a local map for locating shelters, evacuation routes, etc., money. (Have enough cash to support yourself out of your home for 3 days. Keep most of it in very small bills along with some quarters.)

15. Consider important documents.

It’s advisable as part of emergency preparedness to make copies of the most important documents you have:

  • birth certificates &/or passports
  • immunization records & health records
  • bank account & credit card information
  • homeowners’ insurance information
  • emergency plan
  • important phone numbers
  • family emergency plan contact numbers

Put everything together in a “to go” file or waterproof bag stored where it’s easy to grab “just in case,” and perhaps even include a CD of favorite family pictures if your computers aren’t backed up offsite. A fire in your home or in the woods down the street could cause a quick evacuation. Keep originals in a fireproof box or off-site in a safety deposit box.

Here is a printable one-page emergency plan and contact cards for each family member.

16. Where will you lay your head?

Consider a tent and lightweight wool blankets or sleeping bags. If you have a large family tent, keep it in a place where it will be easily accessible in an evacuation. Soooo…not up in the rafters of the garage like ours is… You’ll find some supply recommendations and sort-of-survival skills in The Family Camping Handbook.

17. Bring tools to fit any job.

Folding shovel, hand ax, small hand saw.

18. Does your family need to pack for any special considerations?

For littles: formula, bottles, water, diapers, wipes, ointment, medication, baby sling or carrier (selection of some of my fav babywearing supplies at Sweetbottoms. Choose one that doesn’t take up much space for a Bug Out Bag like this, or put it on your “pack when you’re heading out” list.)

Disabled/special needs: Assess what you need. Add to kit or place on a list of “other items to bring” and keep list with your kit.

Pets: supplies and food

*Note: Most evacuee shelters will not allow pets. Make arrangements ahead of time.

20. Make an “Other Items to Bring If Space and Time Permit” List.

Coats, hats, gloves, boots (winter), tent, pillows, purse or wallet, diaper bag, cell phones and chargers, camera, tarp, extra food and water, special needs items, etc. What else would you need to bring?

21. Choose an out-of-town contact.

Your emergency contact should live a ways away from your house so that there’s no chance they’d be affected by the same potential disaster. Put this person’s number in “to go” file and any cell phones in the house.

Set meeting places, one right outside your home and one outside your neighborhood. Compile contact info for family members including work & school. Plan escape routes from home as well as safe places in case of flood, tornado, hurricane, etc. Prepare a list of people, boarding facilities, & vets where pets can go.

You Can Buy Premade Evacuation Kits

If you don’t want to put together a kit or don’t have time, but you’re feeling the urgency to have one on hand for whatever reason, there are plenty of sources for buying a kit already made up. Here are two:

Do You Need Supplies in Your Car?

The chances of a disaster happening while you’re away from home are at least as likely as the opposite. If you can’t get to all your carefully prepared supplies, you’re no more “ready” than the next person. Having your car stocked with some basics is a good idea (but certainly not a baby step):

In your car you need blankets, flashlights, water, a first aid kit, and some no-cook, easily accessible rations like granola bars, etc. Think of these supplies as another 72 hour kit.


You also need a pair of walking shoes. Ladies, we occasionally leave the house in heels. Wouldn’t it STINK if the trumpet sounded and we had to hike 2 miles in those same heels? Simply be prepared with an alternative pair of shoes in the car so you can always be as stylish as you want.

This is also the reason why I suggest that you never let your gas tank to go below half. A spare gas container, anti-freeze, and windshield washer is a great idea to have as well.

Thanks to Preparedness Pro – read more here

Keep Your Emergency Supplies Organized

In general, you’ll want to keep a master list of everything in your kit, plus a list on each bag of “what’s in there” including expiration dates on food and batteries and clothing sizes, so you know when to replace certain items. That list of “things to bring if we have time” is helpful as well.

Here’s a 24-week calendar to getting your bag ready OR a kit you can just purchase, ready to go.

See all the real food preparedness posts HERE. If preparing a bug out bag is too big a step for you right now, consider these 5 baby steps toward emergency prepardness.

Do you have a bug out bag ready to go on a moment’s notice? How long would it take you to gather up everything on this list if you waited until emergency strikes?
More resources from around the web:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from which I will earn a commission. See my full disclosure statement here.

(photo source)

Need More Baby Steps?

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Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

21 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Make a Bug Out Bag”

  1. I realize this post is very old, but a friend was talking about this so I googled up on it. Here’s the thing. In a “bug out” situation, taking a gallon of water for each of my five family members for three days equals 125lb. Not to mention water for my two dogs or any of the other items on the list. This is not going to be a backpack situation for a family.

    1. Good point Cora! I suppose each person is supposed to carry their own, and if they’re children that’s too heavy – but also smaller people would need less, particularly for cooking. One gallon would be possible, 3, no way. Better to have a small Berkey filter or water bottle so you could reclaim water from other sources, and also plan to need zero for cooking, because if you’ve bugged out you don’t want to have food with you that you’d need to cook! I’m actually going to update the post b/c 3 gallons is silly – that’s what is recommended for general preparedness if you get to stay put. Thanks! 🙂 Katie

  2. Julie Taylori

    The best bug out book that I have found is called, “Realistic Bug Out Bag” by Max Cooper. It blows away all of the other books on the topic.

    It is on at:

  3. RE: Firestarter
    Here is a firestarter that uses recyclable items and works fabulously. You can even use it with wet kindling…
    Cardboard egg carton
    Dryer lint
    broken crayons – we know we have a bundle of those, don’t we moms?

    Place the egg carton in your laundry room. Put the dryer lint in there as you use your dryer. When it is full, get an old pot. Place all your broken crayons in it. (Great time to get help from little ones gathering those up.) Melt those down. Pour into the egg carton over the dryer lint. Keep in one piece.

    To use: Break off one egg holder. Place under kindling. Set fire to it.

    To use when it has been raining and your fire ring, kindling, and tinder are wet: Take aluminum foil (about the length of a cookie sheet or so), fold in half. Make a bowl out of it. Place firestarter inside. Put kindling over that. Ignit firestarter. Works like a charm.

  4. Amy via Facebook

    Yeah! I’ve been wondering if you were going to make it into a list, for those of us who missed it. Thanks!

  5. Lori via Facebook

    I was just looking for this last night! Although, I’ll admit that I was a little overwhelmed with “Day 1.” We currently have about 10 gallons of of water (in the no-no milk jugs!) in our freezer, for a) water storage and b) to increase the efficiency of the freezer’s performance… but now I’m starting to question that method. So, I just decided to go to bed without making any decisions! I’ll think on it more today…. 🙂

  6. I’m midway between you and Cirelo: I like the idea of being prepared but, being short on planning and organizational skills, I find myself using my wits and making do quite a lot!
    That list… whew! I guess we’d have to take the suburban with a trailer attached but at least we could keep everything tied down with paracord!
    I am NOT making fun of you, just airing my slightly overwhelmed sense of cynical humor. Did I mention that paracord is rated to 500 lbs.? Just think, if you braided it you could use it as a tow strap!

  7. Christal via Facebook

    Tried the cotton ball/vaseline thing this weekend on our camping trip, worked like a charm & hubby was impressed how quickly I got the camp fire going! (Btw, I dont usually touch it, the fire is his job)

  8. I’m sorry, I’m laughing at this list from the perspective of a former evacuee. This summer, two days after I gave birth to my fifth child, I walked outside and was greeted by a sky darkened by a huge cloud of smoke. A few hours later my family was evacuating our town due to a fast moving fire that ended up burning over 150,000 acres in our state.

    Looking at your list seems to complicate something beautiful I experienced in what was really a very simple procedure. Though I will concede that having the most important documents handy to grab would have saved me some effort, as I recall it being the most obnoxious thing I had to do. But seriously, it wasn’t a big deal. I threw a couple pairs of clothes per person in a suitcase. I tossed any food that traveled easily and water bottles in a big box. A couple of toys here, an extra baby blanket there. Voila.
    I didn’t worry about forgetting much because what’s the worst? You go to target? My husband and I laughed because there was a run on gas as we headed out, for some reason those people couldn’t coast downhill to the next town 5 miles away.

    You can’t control everything, sometimes you just have to trust that you are in God’s hands. Perhaps the fact that your baby arrived two weeks early is a blessing from God in that you didn’t have to evacuate and give birth in a red cross shelter. Perhaps the fact that the small car you were borrowing made it so that you really have to evaluate what’s important materially to you. For us the answer was, not much. We all had each other. What more do you need?

    God was ever present and generous to us in the people who shared their homes, the hotel owners that offered us large rooms at discounted prices, the over abundance of meals served to us, the bags of clothes provided for us, as the short retreat we had hoped for turned into a tedious 10 day long wait. I would say God provided for us in ways I wouldn’t have even considered, like in prompting our neighbors to offer to take our chickens for us just as we were about to let them go. Or in sending a friend to stop by and hold our new baby as we packed up. I’m grateful that I wasn’t so prepared that I couldn’t see grace working consistently and abundantly for my good.

    Our story had a happy ending in that our house didn’t burn down. But I feel just as certain that it would have all been ok even if it had.

    1. Cirelo,
      That is a lovely story, although it scares the bejeezers out of me, as a planner and one who struggles with going with the flow! Especially with a newborn – you are a saint!

      A good reminder that we definitely need balance and trust in God…but I do think there’s a point where we trust in God enough to use the gifts of knowledge that He’s given us to plan ahead, like the wise women who had enough oil to keep their lamps lit through the night in the Gospel parable.

      Thanks for a REAL perspective! 🙂 Katie

      1. Haha, if I was a saint I probably would feel so necessary to disagree with you. 🙂 I am rather notorious among friends for my antagonism towards anything that sounds planned. . . I suppose it takes all sorts of people to make up a world.

        One more thing before I drop it, I do admit that if you are going to forgo being “prepared” for certain things you do have to realize you might have to live with the consequences of your actions. In my case, I just almost always don’t care. It seems like life is more fun that way. I remember backpacking in Europe I neglected to book a hostel in advance and then they were all full when I arrived… so I slept in a train station. That wasn’t a problem for me. I was totally ok and prepared for that.

        Preparedness for me is being able to use my common sense and the ability to make decisions on the go. Also, to know my limits and to be able to accept the consequences for my actions.

  9. I feel ambivalent about this. I struggle with fear sometimes and could see myself doing this out of that motivation. Where’s the balance of trusting the Lord/not having to fear death and being a good steward/prepared for what’s to come? Not sure, that’s why I’m asking…

    1. Melanie,
      I wrote about my faith perspective here:
      🙂 Katie

  10. Lindsey @ Why Just Eat

    I teach classes on this here in Colorado Springs. I always suggest people make a list of all of the things they use over a 3 day period – how much $$ they spend, places they go, food they prepare, household items they use, etc. It may sound time consuming, but when reviewed at the end, it helps to make a good bug out bag – especially if they look at the list and say “how would I have done X without power/water?”. Also, now is a good time to make sure you have an emergency food and water supply in your car for winter!!

  11. Pingback: Being Prepared: Bug Out Bags or 72 Hr Kits « Somewhat Muddled Musings

  12. Brittani via Facebook

    We had lost power last night. It wasn’t a big deal, as it was time for bed, had candles for the bathroom and kitchen. Set alarms on cell phones and went to sleep. It was back on in an hour or two.

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