Friday, September 02, 2005

Today's Safety Topic: Bug-Out Bags

207. You may not have any time at all to respond a disaster. If you can only escape with the clothes on your back, then escape!

But if you have 5 minutes, grab your bug-out bag before you flee a disaster.

208. Wikipedia describes a bug-out bag here. A bug-out bag is the one thing you grab on your way out the door. It should have clothes, food, a pocket knife and money in it. If you are on prescription drugs, pack those. If you wear glasses, an extra pair is handy. A hand-cranked flashlight is great. I like these Russian dynamo flashlights. You can only carry so much, especially in a disaster...so figure out what works for you depending upon your financial resources, age, size, general health, and fitness level.

Wikipedia also has some interesting background information on the survivalist movement if you want to learn more about the community of people who obsess over what to do when the things go South in a hurry. Captain Dave is just such a survivalist. See his list of bug-out bag links.

209. For bonus safety points, keep a small bug-out bag in your car and another one in the workplace. Lots of people spend more time at work than at home. It never hurts to learn more about your disaster preparedness at work, either. But I'm obviously a safety geek...

210. If you want to go to the next level, have a hiking backpack with an internal or external frame ready to go. Add a map, compass, and a multi-tool. Gloves, a first aid kit and a pair of sturdy shoes are all desirable in most disasters. (By one estimate, 20% of the refugees evacuated to the Astrodome did not have any footwear.)

211. I once read that flooding is the most common natural disaster. Not sure if it's true, but it makes sense to put some thought in to how to respond to flooding, whether localized or regional. Sometimes flooding is localized to your home because of a sewer back-up or a pipe break. In those cases a 5 gallon bucket, a shovel, and trash bags are really handy.

The flood 1993 inundated much of the Midwest, which I recall quite vividly. I was volunteering as a crew leader with the Topeka Youth Project that summer and we were tasked for flood clean-up and sandbagging duties at times.

Ironically, flash floods are also a problem is the desert. The ground doesn't absorb water well and people who have camped in depressions can be swept away by the sudden torrent of water.

My thoughts go out to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Hopefully we can all learn something from their misfortune.

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