Prior to 2000, my husband and I had already begun to prepare for the Y2K that, well, never happened. Although this event never took place, we learned valuable lessons on what we were missing, and we were not parents at that time. First aid was not at the top of my priority list. We were planning on bugging in, and we naively thought we would be good with staying put in our sleepy town of 1200 people. I remember that we spent $10,000 on preparing for that event. We had more disposable income (again, we had no kids yet), so we got a grain grinder, Berkey water filter, and grains in 5-gallon buckets. The 50-gallon water drum started to make our UPS man a little suspicious. In a small town, we were being watched with what was delivered to our house. It got comical after a while. Then we moved on from the tragedy of 9/11 and again thought, “Could this be it?” We were so unprepared. We had no food stored, and again the first aid was lacking. We did not have kids at that point, so we began to prepare on a conservative level. Looking back, I would have done more.
Then 2008 came. The crash of the stocks and the big bailout created a ripple that was felt in the heartland– Kansas. My husband was a manager of a factory, and the parent company closed it. We quickly ran through our savings and what food stores we had as well as cash saved. Then he found a good paying job in a different city. We left our sleepy little town for another and rented an apartment for a year. Then the company moved to a city of 50,000 people. We chose to buy a small, 15-acre farm 20 miles north. There, we said this will be our refuge and we will live to prepare. By this point, we had two children, ages ten and eight. They loved the place. It was a hundred year old farm with a barn, chicken house, and multiple pens for animals. Immediately I got chickens and started buying fruit and berry bushes that would come on clearance. We planted some fruit trees and grapes. We also were lucky enough to live in a valley where we have wild berries, grapes, and edible plants. I was feeling pretty secure, until I started reading about the details and quantities needed for a family to face a tragedy that would be a year to long term.
SurvivalBlog has been an invaluable resource for us to gather ideas and prepare accordingly. Networking is highly encouraged, and I think it is a necessity. We started to think of what family members we could have join us. If we did leave, we thought to have a plan, map it out, and give a copy to the person we would be staying with in the event God forbid we don’t make it. We thought, if they choose, they can come looking for you.
That was when I read about bug out bags and skills that will get you into a group. I have had a medical background for over a decade in areas of ER, surgery, pharmacy, and wound care. I also have an extensive herbal knowledge. So, I started focusing on if we needed to leave in two hours, which is a generous time frame I know, what would I pack and is it organized enough that I can just grab the boxes and know that I have it all. I have to say the bug out bag was the hardest by far to figure out what to put in. I am a scenario thinker, and I just thought of a million things that could go wrong and then went off of those scenarios. If you begin to get bogged down by thinking about too many scenarios, then quit; please take a break from it. When you have taken a break, please realize that most of the supplies can cross over to many disasters. The first aid kit I feel is the most important thing in the bug out bag besides clothes. We will be living in an age of no more antibiotics and where a scratch can eventually turn to sepsis (a system wide infection that is deadly). This may not be orthodox for the people on this site, but for me and my background I feel these are needed things in your pack.
I tried to remind myself that I was not packing a forever pack but just a temporary pack. That was really hard for me to wrap my mind around. I kept wanting to pack deodorant, for example, plus other non-essential things. The idea is that this will get you to your next location, where you have made arrangements ahead of time with supplies at the ready when you get there. Of course, there is that worst case scenario where all that you had is gone and your pack is it. That is the point where we can in no way plan for every eventuality. Some will disagree with me, but I feel that at that point you do your best and put your wilderness skills into practice. Divine providence is one that is so important to me and my family. Relying on God and His guidance will be paramount in a disaster scenario.
Now the toughest part of prepping are the kids. I have two– a boy and a girl. Their packs look a lot like mine, with some exceptions. I packed more personal comfort items for them, just a few, and make it lightweight, of course. If I can provide a little comfort to my kids during this horrific event, I will. A simple teddy bear can be bungeed to the kids back pack on the outside, so that precious room is not taken. I would carry several plastic store sacks to keep those things dry. Also, most people recommend three day’s worth of food. I try to have small packages (instant oatmeal, ramen noodles, et cetera) or bars to get us through a three-day journey. A small bit of candy can be a mood enhancer for anyone in this situation. The hard candy is inexpensive and every pack I feel should have some. It can help kids as somewhat of a comfort item. When everything else is absolute chaos, a little sucker or candy can just make a person feel kinda normal, temporarily. If you have room in your pack, please do not forget some sort of multi-vitamin and laxative. Our diets will change rapidly; our nutrition will be extremely important, especially for children. Our immune systems will be under a large amount of stress, so taking this simple precaution can save you from many illnesses. Remember, the ever-so-popular laxative, ha ha. As I mentioned, our diets will change and so will our bowel habits. Like it or not, being able to go is vital. Having laxatives in your pack can seriously save your life. Be sure to package appropriate laxatives for children. I feel they may have the toughest time adjusting to their post-SHTF diet. Constipation is no joke and can be life threatening. It is so worth it to have those in every bug out bag.
My husband and I have been prepping since our kids were little, so they were used to the drill of grab your pack and go to the basement in a tornado or if there was a prairie fire and we had to leave. This became routine, and every year I would take everything out and reassess what we need. At first, this scared my children, but it became routine, and it eventually became fun.
I have always tried to involve them in packing and storing food. My daughter has helped me seal and can food for many years. She is well aware of the world situations, and we discuss it as a family. She is 14 now, so she gets it, I think. When I am planning on a two-hour warning, I have a shelf in the garage dedicated to evacuating. There are totes, and all we have to do is pack those, get kids and pets, then leave to our pre-planned destination. The totes are broken down into Food, Shelter, Clothing/warmth, First aid/Hygiene, Cooking, Sleeping bags and Tent. Each are loaded separately. If time allows, then we can afford to put more items in the vehicle. I personally use the 33 gal. plastic totes from say Dollar General or Walmart. They usually cost around $5 each and are a mostly rodent- and moisture-proof way to keep your supplies at the ready to evacuate. If nothing else, this will keep you organized so that you can find items quickly and easily. Another suggestion is to put a list of supplies in the tote so that you have your label “Hygiene” for the tote and inside there is a list of the contents. If you do not want to be exact in quantity, then put a rough idea of what is in your tote. Do what works for you and that your family will understand, if the need arises.
As a mom and wife, I strive to make sure that most of my family’s needs are met. I feel proud to look at the preparing we have done and know that we can do well if anything is to occur. God willing, it doesn’t, but I think most of you can feel it in your bones. Maybe it is just mother’s intuition.