The goal I set for myself on this bucket list item was to be able to bug out and bug in. The goal is basically complete as of 12/30/2016, although some items are still in the mail.
When I thought about my bug out bag, I figured the most likely thing I would have to bug out for would be that my condo was on fire. Especially because although I am fire conscious due to working in product safety, many of my neighbors are not. Like the guy above me who let his grill catch on fire on his balcony, not that the grill should have been on a balcony in the first place. Anyway, I built my bag as a fire bag more than a traditional bug out bag. The fire bag's purpose is to get me to a hotel or a friend's house, and get me through a couple of days until I can get a longer term solution set up. There's also a lot of generally useful emergency supplies in the bag. This is for two reasons. One, who knows what is going to happen trying to get out of my condo during a fire. Two, I may need this for something else, so I might as well be generally prepared.
The above picture shows the contents of the casual tactical bag (and the bag) I got for this purpose. Below is a list of the items in vaguely left to right, back to front order.
- Water bottle (filled, refreshed monthly).
- Prescription medication (10 day supply, rotated out every three months).
- Granola bars (four, rotated out monthly).
- 50 feet of paracord (per D&D).
- Replacement boot laces.
- External hard drive (back up done monthly, frequently worked on data is pushed to a git repository on a shared web server).
- 14 in 1 multi-tool.
- Flash light (LED, lantern mode, magnetic base).
- First aid kit.
- Small zip lock bags (three, one with a few paper clips and binder clips).
- One pair black pants (per Tyler).
- Towel (per Hitchhiker's Guide).
- Two spare t-shirts (one plain, on Monty Python).
- Plastic fold up parka.
- Mylar emergency blanket (not pictured).
- Two kitchen sized garbage bags.
- Reusable grocery bag.
- Zip ties (the yellow ones were on sale).
- Snack bag of dry cat food (one day supply).
- Electrical tape.
- One can of wet cat food.
- Cell phone charger.
- External cell phone battery (not pictured, charge checked monthly).
- Two pairs of clean underwear.
- Two pairs of clean socks.
- Two sets of spare batteries for the flash light.
- Emergency cash.
- One button down shirt.
- Cotton tube (neck warmer/face mask).
- Watch cap.
When packed, the bag has some empty space at the top, and I store it with the zipper open at the top. Near my front door I have an old, dry-boiled pot where I keep my keys (home, motorcycle, and work), my wallet, my security badge for work, my transit pass, a small multi-tool, a small flash light, and a lighter. That is, the part of my every day carry that I don't keep in my pockets when walking around the house. The plan is to get dressed, grab the bag, dump the pot into the top of the bag, zip the bag up, stuff the cat into a pre-prepared cat carrier, and get out.
I have gathered together a month's supply of everything. That way, whatever happens, whatever I can't get access to, I will be fine for a month. I don't have a picture of this, because it's spread all over the place. This includes:
- A month's worth of food.
- A month's worth of prescription medication.
- A month's worth of money.
- A month's worth of toilet paper (the good stuff, per John Pinette).
- A spare tooth brush and tube of toothpaste.
- A month's worth of cat's food.
- A month's worth of cat litter.
- A propane stove to cook on.
- A steadily growing supply of water (enough for basic drinking and cooking, but as I said, growing).
The food is stuff that I normally eat, and is rotated out as I buy new food. This is one weakness in my preparedness: much of it is in the freezer. This means that if I lose access to food an electricity at the same time, I will not have a month's worth of food. It is not inconceivable that a snow storm could put me in that situation, but that has not happened in the 13 years I have lived in this area. I am also looking for alternatives, but as a picky and sort-of ethical eater, good canned turkey products are hard to find. If I can't find a good alternative soon I may go with some beef products, and give them to the food bank as they get old.
I'm sure a lot of you want to email me and tell me what a stupid idea it is to tell the Internet that I have a month's worth of money in my condo. Yeah, I know. But as a Quaker with a strong belief in honesty and openness, I felt I had to put it there. However, keep in mind that I'm also a minimalist. So I don't have a lot of stuff worth stealing, and I don't really need a lot of money to get through a month. So yes, you could break into my condo and make an exhaustive search to find all the places I have hidden bits of money. However, you'd probably do better faster if you broke in next door and just took all the expensive electronics and jewelry lying around in plain view. Just don't tell my neighbors I told you that.
The water is in pasta sauce jars. Whenever I make pasta (that is, every week), I clean out the pasta sauce jar and fill it with water. Every six months I clean out the jars and refill them with water.
While getting all of this stuff together, I also got a carbon monoxide detector. I left my old one with my old condo, and hadn't gotten a new one yet. It's hard wired with a battery back up, just like my smoke detector.
This is the start. This is what is what I consider enough to check off the bucket list item. A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook (thanks, John), and it's made me really think a lot. In fact, it's why this item is on my bucket list. I think the next step would be to assess myself against his 9 prepper commandments. I think I'm doing pretty well on most of them, but I know I suck on some of them.