Friday, November 11, 2011

Meet BOB (Now with added features!)

*I edited this post to add some things I'd forgotten.

As promised in my earthquake post....

 This is BOB.  Say hi, Bob!

BOB:  Bug Out Bag.  There are other nicknames and acronyms for these handy packs:  Grab and Go/ GAG bag (that one just sounds like something that would be full of plastic vomit); Go Pack; Panic Bag (sounds like something that would be full of real vomit).  There are tons more, depending on which book you're reading about survival, or which websites you visit.

There are also suggestions as to what to carry in your BOB in each survival book and website.  Some of them can be pretty over the top, like the one that suggested a folding chair.  If you can't get by for 72 hours without a CHAIR, go ahead and kiss your butt goodbye.  That same list was about a page long and included so much stuff that was bigger than a breadbox a cart was required to haul it all.  Can you just see me pushing my BOB down the highway?  I keep picturing scenes from the movie The Book of Eli.

What you carry in your BOB is really up to you.  The basics of food, water, and first aid should get you through 72 hours, but you'll probably be wishing you had a lot of other things (besides a Big Mac and cable tv) when the time comes.

72 hours, or three days, is the rule of thumb for emergency supplies.  You need a MINIMUM of three days worth of supplies.  More certainly wouldn't hurt, but you really don't want to carry it all with you.

When we decided to put together our BOBs, I thought about how we may actually use them.  For one thing, they are handy to have in the car.  We live in Ohio, so snowstorms are common in the winter, and it's a good idea to have emergency supplies whenever we leave the house.

A BOB would also be great in case of medical emergencies:  imagine you have to rush a family member to the hospital, and you are stuck waiting in the ER for hours at a time.  After the last year, I'm an expert on waiting rooms, snack machines, and dying of boredom.  A BOB would've made things easier.  OK, I probably wouldn't need my fire starting kit or tarp, but then again, after 24 hours in the ER, I'd like to light a fire under some doctors...metaphorically, of course. ;)

Then of course there's the real reason for putting together a BOB:  any emergency that requires you to leave the house to seek shelter in another location.  Personally, we prefer to 'shelter in place', so it would have to be a major thing to get us out of the house:  a chemical spill, toxic gas, or something along those lines.  But it's best to be prepared for whatever eventuality may force the use of BOB.  Besides, I've read one too many novels involving EMPs, and it's a long walk home from anywhere I go.

Now for the big question:   What the hell do I put in this thing and how the hell am I supposed to carry 3 gallons of water in it? 

The "gallon per person per day" rule for water is a tricky one.  It's no big deal if you are in your home or car, but to carry that, on foot, for any number of miles could be pretty exhausting.  A gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds, so that's an extra 24 pounds in your pack...per person.  If you have someone that can't carry their own, then you are looking at even more weight.  My plan, should this come up, is to carry as much as possible, but also to carry water purification tablets so that we can refill our water bottles from creeks and streams.  Thankfully, water sources are plentiful in our area.

The first aid kit is an absolute must have.  This is ours:

 The contents easily fit into a gallon size ziplock bag.

In addition to first aid supplies, I keep fire starting supplies in this bag, plus a redundancy in the basic BOB pack.  When caught in the wild, a fire can be used to sterilize water (did you know you can boil water in a paper cup or plastic bottle?  Yes, you can!!), as well as cook food and supply heat.

The site has a pretty good list of basic BOB supplies.  Except for the fire extinguisher.  *shrugs*  Maybe for in the car, but for on foot?  No thanks.

In addition to most of the supplies listed at the site, our BOB list also includes:

  • duct tape, because you can use that for just about anything, including first aid.
  • A tarp, preferably camo.  A lot of books suggest carrying a tent, but I've seen the Blair Witch Project, and don't really want to be blind on all four sides.  Oh, and should anyone ooga booga your tent, a la Blair Witch, make sure it's not someone you like before you shove the machete through the tent fabric and into Mr Oogy Boogy, ok?  If you run out screaming like a girl, you fully deserve to suffer through the entire movie.
  • Binoculars
  • Petroleum jelly, for fire starting, chapped lips, and windburn protection.
  • Clothespins, since they can be used for all sorts of things, including hanging wet clothes by the fire.
  • Rope.  Pack more than you think you'll need, and then put in a little extra.
  • Seeds.  I never see this on any list, but yes, seeds.  If it's actually the end of the world as we know it, I want to be able to grow something good.  They don't take up much space.
  • Hygiene items: soap, toilet paper, feminine items, and even shampoo and deodorant.  The end of the world is no reason to be gross.  But leave the perfume behind, unless you plan to reveal your location to every bee in the woods, as well as anyone looking to pilfer goodies.
  • Towel and washcloth.
  • Sewing kit, which can be used for first aid in a pinch.
  • Field guide.  This isn't the time to try to find out which plants are edible, so learn that ahead of time  But it's handy to have a field guide in stressful situations, when you are likely to forget which leaves are safe for toilet paper substitutions. 
  • Fishing kit.  Those hooks and lines have all sorts of uses; use your imagination.
  • A bar of naptha soap, for laundry as well as removing any oils you may get into.
  • A wire saw.
  • A spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol, which will neutralize urushiol from poison ivy, oak, and sumac, on your clothes as well as your skin.
  • A mess kit
  • Food, of course, including ramen noodle, trail mix, and power bars.  Try for things that are lightweight, filling, and easy to prepare.
  • Cash.  This one, I'm not too sure about.  If you are thinking end of the world, cash won't be mean jack.      If I can't eat it, wear it, or wipe with it, I don't want it, so don't even think about offering me money for any of my stuff.  But to be prepared for all eventualities, enough cash for the hospital vending machine is a good idea. Many books suggest cash for a hotel room, which may be a good idea, assuming it's the end of the world and hotels actually ACCEPT cash, which many won't do now without a lot of ID.
  • A folding shovel, because bears aren't the only things that poop in the woods.
  • Fire starting supplies; not just matches.  You'll want to learn to use those before you need them.  I have a post coming up (eventually) on fire starting.
  • Water purification supplies:  iodine tablets (not for use for people with thyroid problems), chlorine tablets, or just plain bleach.

Most books suggest carrying a weapon. I'll be wearing my chainsaw on my hip, so I'm all set.

Each of us have our own BOB, with redundant supplies, in case we are separated.  As you can see with my BOB, any backpack will do in a pinch.  I don't suggest bright colors, unless you are sure you want everyone to know where you are.  I probably sound a little paranoid, but in the event I need to bug out on foot, I'm not sure I want to advertise my location to the desperate and the ill prepared.

I've probably left out a few supplies, so if you can think of anything, or have something in your bag I haven't mentioned, please list it.

ETA:  Knives!! OMG Eöl is going to laugh his butt off at me for forgetting to list knives!!  Thanks to Carolyn Renee from Krazo Acres for reminding me in the comments section.  And I completely forgot to mention a hatchet.  Duh.  Of course you need one.

Knives are probably the most important tools we use on a daily basis here on our farmstead.  So you are probably wondering why I didn't think to list them.  lol  It's kind of like having to remember to list your limbs; we carry ours all the time.

Eöl makes knives and swords, as well as other handy tools like hatchets and ulus.  You can look at a few of his available items over at our Etsy site.  Thanks to Eöl, we all have knives, hatchets, ulus, etc on our belts, on a daily basis.  The items we carry will change with the seasons, but for the most part, we are always bristling with lovely sharp things.

Carrying your knives and hatchets on your belt is a good idea, especially in a bug out situation.  If you are tangled in brush or attacked by zombies, you don't want to be digging in your bag for your knife.

Carolyn also mentioned garbage bags, something else I forgot to list.  Garbage bags are handy for carrying any wild food you find, covering your pack in the rain, tying up your pack for crossing water, and can even be used as a poncho if you forgot to pack one.

A sharpening stone is also a good idea. Learn how to use  it.  It's not used like you see in the movies.  If you don't know what you are doing, you will round the edge instead of sharpen it.

She also mentioned maps.  A great thing to have...if you know how to read one.  Most people rely on GPS, which can be useless when they can't get a signal or in the case of EMPs.  I can read a map, but I'd be lost in operating a GPS unit.

The mirror she mentioned, I hadn't thought of that.  Great one, Carolyn!! Thanks!  I will be adding one to our packs, preferably the unbreakable kind.

Tinder should be included in your fire starting kits.  I don't think I mentioned that.  Wouldn't hurt to carry some dry kindling, as well.  I'll be doing a fire starting post soon.

Remember, none of this stuff will do you a bit of good if you don't know how to use it.  Now is the time to learn.

Keep those suggestions coming!  There are probably other handy things I've failed to mention, or haven't even thought of.


Carolyn Renee said...

Just of the top of my head.....Flaslight, crank kind if possible. Plastic bags (for collecting garbage or for collecting edibles or for waterproofing something). Maps of area. Good knife w/sharpening stone. Mirror (for plucking eyebrows or signaling). Deck of cards.
Guess it's time to go through our bags....I think there are powerbars in there that have got to be five years old!

Country Wife said...

Thanks for adding those! I have the crank flashlight, but I also keep a small mag light, because the crank is kind of noisy. The mirror is a great idea; I'll have to add one. Bags and maps we got, and knives, well, I generally wear mine, but I should've listed all those. Thanks! I knew I was forgetting to list a lot of stuff. I didn't bother to go through the bag and list everything.

BTW, I think the shelf life on power bars is eternity. lol Sort of like a Twinkie. lol