A bug-out bag is a portable kit that normally contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours, when evacuating from a disaster, however some kits are designed to last longer periods of time than just 72 hours. The focus is on evacuation, rather than long-term survival, distinguishing the bug-out bag from a survival kit, a boating or aviation emergency kit, or a fixed-site disaster supplies kit. The kits are also popular in the survivalism subculture.
The term "bug-out bag" is related to, and possibly derived from, the "bail-out bag" emergency kit many military aviators carry. In the United States, the term refers to the Korean War practice of the U.S. Army designating alternate defensive positions, in the event that the units had to displace. They were directed to "bug out" when being overrun was imminent. The concept passed into wide usage among other military and law enforcement personnel, though the "bail-out bag" is as likely to include emergency gear for going into an emergency situation as for escaping an emergency.
Other names for such a bag are a BOB, 72-hour kit, a grab bag, a battle box, a Personal Emergency Relocation Kits (PERK), a go bag, a GOOD bag (Get Out Of Dodge) or INCHbag (I'm Never Coming Home).[verification needed]
The primary purpose of a bug-out bag is to allow one to evacuate quickly if a disaster should strike. It is therefore prudent to gather all of the materials and supplies that might be required to do this into a single place, such as a bag or a few storage containers. The recommendation that a bug-out bag contain enough supplies for seventy-two hours arises from advice from organizations responsible for disaster relief and management that it may take them up to seventy-two hours to reach people affected by a disaster and offer help. The bag's contents may vary according to the region of the user, as someone evacuating from the path of a hurricane may have different supplies from someone who lives in an area prone to tornadoes or wildfires.
In addition to allowing one to survive a disaster evacuation, a bug-out bag may also be used when sheltering in place as a response to emergencies such as house fires, blackouts, tornadoes, and other severe natural disasters.
Some survivalists also recommend keeping a 'get me home' kit in the car and/or at work. This is a kit to enable getting back home from work in an emergency where all transport cars and public transport has broken down and is designed around personal circumstances where, for example, a walk of 25 kilometres might be required from work to home. The 'get me home' kit can include, for example, enough water to get home, suitable walking shoes, a map (not electronic), enough food for 12 hours, clothing for adverse weather, etc.
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- Enough food and water to last for 72 hours. This includes:
- Water for washing, drinking and cooking. Canada recommends 2 litres per person per day for drinking plus an additional 2 litres per person per day for cleaning and hygiene. New Zealand recommends 3 litres per person per day for drinking. US recommends 1 gallon (3.78 litres) per person per day.
- Non-perishable food
- Water purification supplies
- Cooking supplies
- A first aid kit
- Fire starting tool (e.g., matches, ferrocerium rod, lighter, 9volt battery, etc.)
- A disaster plan including location of emergency centers, rallying points, possible evacuation routes, etc.
- Professional emergency literature explaining what to do in various types of disaster, studied and understood before the actual disaster but kept for reference
- Maps and travel information
- Standard camping equipment, including sanitation supplies
- Weather appropriate clothing (e.g., poncho, headwear, gloves, etc.)
- Bedding items such as sleeping bags and blankets
- Enough medicine to last an extended evacuation period
- Medical records
- Pet, child, and elderly care needs
- Battery or crank-operated radio
- Lighting (battery or crank operated flashlight, glow sticks)
- Cash and change, as electronic banking transactions may not be available during the initial period following an emergency or evacuation
- Positive identification, such as drivers license, state I.D. card, or social security card
- Birth certificate or passport
- Fixed-blade and folding knife
- Swiss Army Knife
- Duct tape and rope or paracord
- Plastic tarps for shelter and water collection
- Wire for binding and animal traps
- Slingshot, pellet gun, blowgun or other small game hunting equipment
- J. Allan South, The Sense of Survival, Chapter 11 (Equipment), Bug-Out Bag Contents, p. 221, Timpanogos Publishers, Orem, Utah, 1990, ISBN 0-935329-00-5
- Lundin, Cody, When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes , Chapter 3 (Includes a Bug Out Kit list) Gibbs Smith, Publisher, Layton, Utah, Sep. 2007
- "Disaster Supplies Kit- Canadian Red Cross". Redcross.ca. 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
- "FEMA: Disaster Planning Is Up To You". Fema.gov. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
- Rawles, James Wesley, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, The Clearwater Press, Kooskia, ID, 2007, p. 5
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- Dr. Bruce Clayton, Life After Doomsday, Chapter 3 (To Flee of Not To Flee), p. 39, Paladin Press, Boulder, CO, 1980
- J. Allan South, The Sense of Survival, Chapter 11 (Equipment), Bug-Out Bag Contents, p. 221, Timpanogos Publishers, Orem, Utah, 1990 ISBN
- Building Kits: Getting Prepared takes commitment, by Mike Peterson, American Survival Guide Magazine, Dec., 1993, p. 76
- Survival Skills Intensive Training: Assembling the Bug Out Kit, by Christopher Nyerges, American Survival Guide Magazine, May, 1998, p. 26
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- Rawles, James Wesley, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, The Clearwater Press, Kooskia, ID, 2007, p. 133
- Rawles, James Wesley, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, The Clearwater Press, Kooskia, ID, 2007, p. 119
- Survival Kits: Consideration of personal situations in making your own kits, by Hal Gordon, American Survival Guide Magazine, Nov., 1986, p. 57
- The Commuter Kit: Essential Tools for Daily Commuters, by M. Marlo Brown, American Survival Guide Magazine, Jan. 2000, p. 112
- Survival Kits: Critical 10 Percent, by Daniel C. Friend, American Survival Guide Magazine, Mar. 1990, p. 30
- Rawles, James Wesley, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, The Clearwater Press, Kooskia, ID, 2007, p. 121
- Rawles, James Wesley, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, The Clearwater Press, Kooskia, ID, 2007, p. 120
- Rawles, James Wesley, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, The Clearwater Press, Kooskia, ID, 2007, p. 31
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- "The Best Bug Out Bag: A Checklist for Essential Contents". http://realsurvivalist.com/. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
- International Red Cross Preparedness Plan
- Canadian Red Cross 72 Hour Kit Recommendations
- Ready.gov Emergency Kit Overview