It’s not likely to be a terrorist attack or a sneak attack from the Communist Chinese that forces you from your home. It could be a weather event (hurricane) or other natural disaster (earthquake or fire) or even an accident from a chemical spill or natural gas leak.
Regardless, a bugout or emergency evacuation kit (EEK) is a critical component of any crisis scenario. But what should your EEK contain? Jack A. Spigarelli writes in his Crisis Preparedness Handbook that you can’t prepare for every possible scenario, so to prepare your EEK you must first consider what type of crisis is most likely to befall you.
“To function adequately, the EEK must fulfill some well-chosen criteria,” Spigarelli writes. “The first is to match the anticipated crises. Ideally we would like to be prepared for all possible crises, but that is seldom possible due to cost, space and weight limitations. The EEK should be prepared to handle the high-probability, high-risk crises.”
Spigarelli provides a list of 10 items that should be part of everyone’s EEK:
- Container: The container should be sturdy and large enough to hold everything you need. It helps if it is waterproof. A backpack is a good place to start, but a plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid also works well. A plastic bucket can serve many purposes: hold items, carry and hold water, be used as a seat or a toilet. One container per person is recommended for personal items, with another container or two for the whole group.
- Water: Water is bulky and heavy. Each individual should have a 1- or 2-quart canteen, some purification tablets or other means of purification. A 2 ½ gallon collapsible bucket or jug with a spigot would be a great thing to have if you aren’t using buckets for your container. In the desert, a solar still would be handy. Store a 5-gallon container of water near the vehicle you’re likely to use.
- Food: It’s best to store foods that don’t need refrigeration and can be eaten without being cooked. Don’t worry about having your meals nutritionally balanced for the short term. Palatable calories are more important. You should have enough for three days for each person in the group. Store foods like canned meats (Vienna sausage, tuna, etc.), stew, jerky, pork and beans, peanut butter, cheese, soda and graham crackers, canned and dehydrated fruits, hot chocolate, powdered milk, fruit juices, chocolate bars, nuts, hard candy, soup, bouillon cubes, protein bars and sugar. If you have babies, be sure to include baby foods, formula and a supply of bottles with nipples. Each container should contain a spoon, fork and sharp knife. A plate and stainless steel camping cup would be ideal. And don’t forget a can opener and some detergent and pan in which to wash your dishes and utensils.
- Clothing and bedding: Have a change of warm, durable work or outdoor clothing suitable to the temperature you expect. Remember outer wear like a coat and rain gear. Extra socks and underwear are essential, as are work gloves, a good hat and well-fitting, previously-worn shoes or hiking boots. The lightest bedding should be one “emergency” blanket per person. More substantial bedding would include a sleeping bag or wool blanket.
- Shelter: To protect from exposure to elements a shelter can range from a plastic drop cloth to a “space” blanket to a nylon tarp or a tent.
- Sanitation: If your EEK uses plastic buckets, you are all set. Use one for a toilet and another for waste storage. Otherwise, get a portable camping toilet with plastic bags. Hand soap, facial tissue, packets of wet towelettes and feminine hygiene and shaving needs should be considered. Babies need extra disposable diapers, and don’t forget the toilet paper.
- First aid kit: A good first aid kit is essential. It should have an instruction book or pamphlet and plenty of large sterile bandages, pads, gauze and adhesive tape. If you need specialty medications for conditions like high blood pressure, asthma, etc., you should have a good supply at all times. Some moleskin, super glue or second skin is great to help repair blisters and other minor foot injuries.
- General: A radio that is solar powered or doesn’t require batteries is ideal. If the radio needs batteries, always have a fresh supply on hand. Other items to consider are nylon rope, parachute cord or climbing rope (which can be used to help build a shelter and many other things), a Swiss army or survival knife, a cable saw, insect repellent, duct or electrical tape, folding shovel with serrated edge and maps of expected evacuation routes. A compass or global positioning system (GPS) is a necessity. Also, a pocket survival kit that includes fishing gear, razor blades, snare wire and water proof matches is good to have.
- Light-heat-cooking: A flashlight is a must. Some can generate electricity by squeezing a lever or turning a crank and therefore not beholden to battery power. Otherwise, store fresh batteries and check them often. Other sources of light are survival candles, signal flares and cyalume light sticks. A fire-starter kit (there are several types to choose from) can help you when it’s time to build a fire for warmth and a hot meal, and a small backpacking stove and fuel can be easily stored and carried.
- Personal: Things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, brush, mirror and personal toiletry items can add comfort to a bad situation. Paper and pens are useful, as is a small amount of cash and change. If you feel the need to take important documents with you, a military ammo can is ideal. They are made from a heavy-duty metal and are watertight when sealed.
Spigarelli writes that you may also want to carry a weapon for protection and to help bring down small game to augment meals. He recommends a .22 survival rifle, a small pistol and possible a larger rifle for larger game.