Introduction to Emergency Bags
Although there's a similar blog up here already, let's do my take on it for fun.
I'm not even going to attempt to explain how to make an emergency bag. There's a plethora of articles and videos out there, and truthfully none of them are 100% "correct" because it is such a preferential and subjective topic. Emergency Bags are also known as Survival Bags, Bug Out Bags, INCH (I'm Not Coming Home) Bags, and Get Home Bags. In this blog, I'd rather spend readers' time explaining why millions of people worldwide have undergone this project. Like anything we don't understand, it may seem arbitrary or perhaps even a little crazy, but do me a favor and humor me for five minutes.
Bad things happen. We see it every single day on the news, the radio, social media, etc. We subconsciously say to ourselves "that will never happen to me!". Well...it happened to someone. And they also thought that it would never happen to them. Here's a seemingly unrelated question: do you keep money aside for unexpected expenses? Hopefully your answer is yes (if your financial situation permits you to do so). We do this because we are expecting the unexpected. We're not really quite sure what expenses will come up, but we know eventually something will. This is the exact same mentality we "prepared" people have -- we're not sure what will happen, but we're ready if it does. Just as it makes sense to invest some money into financial preparedness, it also makes sense to invest some money into preparedness for all other situations.
People prepare for all different disaster scenarios. While some prepare for one very specific scenario, I simply prepare for the sum of probabilities of all possible scenarios. There's earthquakes, global warming, nuclear/chemical warfare, asteroids, tsunamis, the Yellowstone Geyser, virus/disease epidemics, terrorist attacks, financial collapse, and a million other possibilities that are the reasons people prepare. While the probability of each scenario individually is extremely low, can we at least admit that when we factor in every possible disaster scenario together, there's a decent chance of something happening in our lifetime? Alright then.
Take yourself away from your computer/phone/tablet for a minute and imagine these two scenarios:
Scenario 1: You wake up to a national emergency alert on your cell phone at 3:00 am. It says <insert your favorite emergency scenario here> has occurred and you have to evacuate your home within 15 minutes. You get a call from a family member asking if you're ok, and you now realize you're not dreaming. You wake up your family and tell them that everyone needs to be ready to leave. You have 11 minutes left.
Scenario 2: Same beginning, but with the twist that you are prohibited from leaving your home. They tell you that the lock-down is in effect for an undermined amount of time. It was your grocery shopping day, because you just ran out of food.
Sit there and really imagine yourself in those situations. Throw in the possibility of losing power, running water, and all communications. What in the world would you do?! If you had a choice, would you rather: Run around in a dazed panic trying to find what you'll need hoping you didn't leave behind anything important (which you probably will), or grab a backpack that you've confidently prepared in advance that contains everything you'll need? Some people may consider preparing to be a little crazy, but we think it's a little crazy to be so naive.
Reality shows such as "Doomsday Preppers" might be fun to watch, but it puts us prepared people in a bad light -- making us look like a bunch of obsessive lunatics. This is a terrible representation of what we really do, because it only shows the extreme. The truth is that most of us have a supply bag at home, a supply bag in our car, and a couple shelves in the closet with extra food and water. That's it! We're not suggesting to spend your life savings on an underground bunker with a 50-year food supply and a full arsenal of weapons.
Being in the heart of inner Boston, I experienced Scenario 2 during the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013. I got a call from a distant friend around 1:30 am asking if I was ok. I had no clue what she was talking about. I turned on the news, which told us that we were prohibited from leaving our homes until further notice as the terrorist was known to be in our general vicinity. I knew that can of corn I had left in the pantry would probably let me live for a day or two, but what if I was stuck there for a week? Or what if they had told everyone to leave immediately? Although I always had survival/camping/backpacking as a hobby, this was what really got me thinking. Although, I can't say the whole thing caught me with my pants down, because when I got the call that late, I'm pretty sure I wasn't even wearing pants.
No matter how good you are at dealing with pressure, you will never be able to assemble everything you need to survive in 15 minutes without planning ahead. Even if you are Superman and could think with a perfectly clear and focused mind, you probably do not even have what you would need in your house (although I suppose if you were Superman, you could simply fly to safety). Under that level of duress and panic, time moves fast and you think more slowly -- bad combination. Planning ahead gives you the luxury of time to think clearly and strategically. It gives you the time to properly prepare and acquire the items you'll need that you may not have already.
Like any sort of project or hobby, you can take it as far as you'd like. Some of us (like myself) have considered this to be a constantly evolving concept that we keep updating and revising. The sky is the limit and you can do endless research to keep finding new advancements, methods, and developments. For others, it can be a very basic, budget-friendly project that requires minimal upkeep.
No matter how far you take this, we urge everyone to at least have basic preparations. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a list of items that they recommend everyone should have: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/90354
We encourage you to think outside the box (or inside the bag!) and consider the difference that building an Emergency Bag could make to help keep you and your family safe. Once you've completed this project, you will be astonished with how much peace of mind it brings. Stay safe, stay prepared. As always, thank you for reading!