Emergency Bugout Bags for Families

You can’t control when and where disaster will strike. Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, or man-made chaos will happen, and the only thing you can control is your ability to be prepared.

In disaster situations, it will normally take days before FEMA or another government agency actually gets organized and touches down, and it could take even longer for water and electrical grids to be repaired if they’ve been damaged. Therefore, it is important to have gear that will sustain you for at least three days until some stability is restored. For this reason, everyone should have a go-bag, because it could mean the difference between life and death for you and your family.

Essential Items for a Family Go-Bag

All the items below need to be in your bugout bag. The ability to filtrate water, stay dry, start a fire, and protect yourself from the elements are the key components of survival. Understanding what you have in your kit and how to use it is the best way to be prepared if an emergency arises. Based on family size, you may need to pack multiples of the items listed below.

  • Ruck: selecting a 3-day pack should be the first order of business. I suggest something American-made, tested, and durable. Veteran-owned companies typically design well-made and efficient bags.
  • First Aid Kits: first-aid kits are essential for emergency situations. In addition, knowing basic first aid techniques, CPR, and how to move/stabilize a patient are also important skills. If you are interested in learning these skills, EMR (emergency medical responder) courses will teach you the life savings skills that you will need to properly navigate most situations.
  • Regional/Seasonal specific items: if you live in northern regions, gloves, hats, and air-activated heat packs are appropriate. For those on the west coast, you may need breathable clothing, sunblock, and sunglasses. Use your judgement on which items would be the best fit your bag according to your location and seasonality.
  • Rain Jacket: staying dry and protected from the elements not only boosts morale, it could save your life. Being wet compromises your body’s ability to regulate its temperature and allows for you to lose heat at a significantly faster rate.

  • Survival Tent: many companies have a 2-person compact, light, survival tent that when folded, will fit in the palm of your hand. Staying dry and protected from the elements should be one of your top priorities.
  • Collapsible Water Tank: this multi-purpose tool enables you to transport large amounts of water and is easier to carry than a regular container.
  • Compass: a compass with a strap (think of a watch) will allow for hands-free navigation.
  • Water Filtration System: while water purifying tablets are an option, investing in a portable water filtration system is the most sensible option. There are extremely light, hand-held, durable systems that you can take with you while traveling, hunting, and camping.
  • Multi-tool: in regard to this item, less is more. Do your research and find the multi-tool that works best for you. Keep in mind, you’ll most likely need a strong blade, pliers, wire cutters, toothed saw, and a can/bottle opener.

  • Fire Starting Kit: based on your level of skill, there are a variety of options for fire starting gear. Becoming skilled in using a device that creates a spark will provide longevity, while waterproof matches and zippo lighters provide ease.
  • Food: there are a variety of brands of emergency meals. Light, easy to carry, and calorie-dense are important things to consider when selecting meals to pack. These rations will provide you with the calories needed to get through your first few days. Depending on the brand, they typically have a shelf life of 5-10 years.
  • Headlight: allowing for your hands to be free while navigating terrain, cooking, or setting up shelter, headlamps are another item you’ll be thankful you packed.
  • Shovel: depending on your terrain and the length of time you’ll be off the grid, a shovel can be a great tool to have in your arsenal.
  • Chemlight/Mirror: mirrors are helpful signaling devices and chemlights can keep a group together at night. Glow in the dark tape can also prevent items from getting lost at night.

  • Paracord: compact and light, paracord bundles or bracelets provide strong cords which can aid with many tasks.
  • Dry bags: keeping sensitive items and pieces of clothing dry during inclement weather can prevent a crisis, medical or otherwise. Lightweight and easy to carry, dry bags are extremely important items to have in your go-bag. Simple zip-lock bags can do the trick – and can be used to carry water in a pinch.
  • Medication/Medical Supplies: If anyone in your family has medical issues, you’ll want to make sure you have a month’s supply of extra medication or supplies on hand and ready to grab. Insulin, heart meds, asthma inhalers, oxygen – anything critical to a person’s survival needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Be sure to store them properly.

Prepare your bugout bag ahead of time, and store it in an easily accessible, safe location. You’ll want to go through it every few months to make sure everything is still viable and ready to go in an emergency.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Caitlin Fitzgerald

While Caitlin is currently a full-time writer, she spent the last few years on call as a Firefighter/EMT and enjoyed every minute of it. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is currently working toward an associate degree in the health sciences to enhance her EMS skills.
Caitlin Fitzgerald
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