A Bug Out Bag for Women
What is a ‘bug-out’ bag? Put simply it is an emergency, quick to get, all pre-prepared bag that you can grab at a moments notice and be able to leave the area with in case of disaster. Everything you should need in an on the go emergency, to last for three days time, should be contained in one easy to carry bag. Anything over three days tends to be a different sort of long term disaster that might mean setting up camp, which is a slightly different bag.
I have seen lots of lists on what should be included in such a bag from all sorts of ‘preppers’, for everything from natural disasters to nuclear war and zombie apocalypse, but I have never see anything specifically for what a woman might need over a man. Most things would indeed be the same, but not everything.
A bug out bag isn’t just for the paranoid conspiracy theorists out there. It’s just a good idea to have one set aside, just in case, and a great thing to have in the car, particularly if you are traveling far from home. In my world, they come into play for tornado preparedness and flooding, but here are the basics for what any woman will need in her ‘bug-out’ bag.
- You may have to carry this yourself at some point so the bag itself is really important. Get a good hiker’s or mountain climbers back pack, complete with all the belly straps and hidden pockets and huge amount of balanced room. When you have it as loaded as you can go, with you wee little tent and sleeping bag on, put it on. Can you walk? Could you run with this? Hopefully this will be something that you have in your vehicle when you ‘bug-out’, but make sure you can carry the essentials if you loose your vehicle for some reason during the disaster. Your life, and the life of your family, could depend on how portable you can make your bag.
Micro Bug-Out-Bag (Photo credit: Jose C Silva)
- Three days worth of water, which is at the very least two liters per day, per person. If it is just you, not that big of a deal. If you have kids with you, you are going to have to divvy up this load. This is the single most important things you can bring with you. Don’t skimp on the water because of weight. You can live for awhile without food, but you have two to three days without water. Bring sealed bottles, that are sturdy enough to be refilled if a potable source of water is available. Don’t ditch the bottles once they are empty until you know for sure and certain that the crisis, whatever it is, is completely over.
- A first aid kit, put together by you. A store bought one is a good place to start, but certainly not the end all be all. You will end up taking almost as much stuff out as you put you. You should have: Latex free band aids but not a ton of them. Some really large ones are good to have and a some medium size ones, preferably the ones that will stay on when you sweat or get them wet and some butterfly closure strips; Non-stick gauze pads and gauze tape, and a roll of gauze with scissors; Medical grade super glue or a suture kit (personally, I hate sewing on people, so go with the super glue. That’s what the stuff was actually invented for.); Two elastic wraps, one small and one large, for wrapping different joint areas; Betadine and iodine for washing and disinfecting areas, and rubbing alcohol pads for the same; Vinyl or latex gloves; Tweezers; Anti-itch cream; Antibiotic cream; Pain relievers such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or Aspirin. Your choice; An antihistamine, such as Benadryl; Wet wipes, preferably alcohol and fragrance free and a small hand sanitizer; Soap, travel size.
- Here’s where the boys and the girls differ. In a woman’s kit you will also need to have something for yeast infections. In any emergency situation hygiene is important, but not always possible to do well. A toilet is actually a luxury. You need a good vaginal itch cream as well.
- You need to have a supply of feminine hygiene products for your period- tampons, thin pads, whatever it is you use-and enough to last your entire period. You never know when exactly a disaster will strike, so don’t leave these out!
- A change of clothes that include clean and dry socks, preferably wool (they are warm when wet and are resistant to mildew and fungus), a change of underwear, cargo pants with lots of pockets, and a clean shirt. The pockets are important for taking things that you can’t afford to drop like an inhaler, epi-pen, or cell phone and are great for putting things you find on the go.
- A solar charger for your cell phone. You may not be able to charge up for awhile and communication, in most bug-out situations, is essential.
- A crank flashlight as well as a small regular flashlight with new batteries.
- A crank radio with am and fm capabilities, preferably one that you are able to fine tune by hand to pick up ‘illicit’ traffic. A battery or solar one is also okay, but don’t make it too big.
- All prescription or necessary medication for you and anyone in your care, like a child or elderly family member. Really important to keep this up to date. Also include vitamins in this mix. You only need enough for three days, but you might also include two epi-pens and two inhalers instead of just one. Keep one on the person and one in the bag in case the first is lost or damaged.
- A roll of toilet paper. Trust me, you can trade this for gold in about five weeks after the fall.
- A thin thermal blanket or sleeping bag, rolled up and ready to go.
- A small tent or tarp to keep dry if you have to sleep out in the elements.
- A rain poncho, again to keep dry.
- A hat that is water repellent and can offer shade from the sun.
- Sun screen and bug repellent. Do not spray bug repellent inside the small tent. Travel size is fine for your three day bag.
- A small fold up toothbrush and travel size toothpaste. Everything is better with good oral hygiene.
- A notebook and a couple of pens or pencils to write stuff down, take notes whatever.
- A map of your immediate area. A state map is good, as long as it shows county roads and whatnot. A large road map of the US is also good, depending on where you are going and how you are getting there. Sure, you have your GPS. As long as the towers are up and the satellites are giving you signal.
- A good multi-tool with a sturdy knife, like a leather men or an old school Swiss army knife. They should have not only a knife, but a can opener, scissors, saw, and a multitude of other little bits of useful low tech that you won’t miss until you are without it.
- A box of wooden matches and a lighter. Even if the lighter runs out of fluid, you can use the flint and steel to spark up a fire.
- A compass.
- Two emergency candles. Do NOT light the candles or a propane heater/stove inside of your sealed tent. This will suffocate you and all the occupants faster than you can say sleepy-time. When heating a tent with flame make sure there is an escape for the smoke and a way for fresh air to get in. A good tent, packed with people, will keep heat inside rather well even without the benefit of a fire. Hopefully you will have your car or truck to sleep in, if need be, if the weather is horrendous, but the same goes there. Don’t try and heat any sealed area with flame.
- Non-perishable food that is in sturdy, water proof wrapping. Check out some MRE’s (meals-ready-to-eat), but if you have none available look at some protein bars, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, beef-jerky. Think light and on the move. You don’t need to take a buffet, just enough to keep you and whoever you are with going for three days. Any more than that, and you will be in foraging mode anyway, and that is a different bag entirely. You can take canned good, but they tend to be bulky and need heating. If you do, remember to get the cans that have a ring pull and don’t need a can-opener.
- I am including only a small pot or pan in this bag as we are not preparing for a long haul filled with cooked meals and camp fires. With that, take a fork and spoon.
- A small towel. There are many, many things one can do with a towel, not just dry off, but drying off is good.
- A small mirror, like from a compact. Not for make up and hair, but for looking at cuts and abrasions on yourself that may need tending, but you can’t see, such as on your face. They are also good for looking around corners, signaling in sunlight and amplifying sunlight.
- A hair brush and hair bands to braid up long hair. I just keep the bands right on the brush handle. If you have short hair, include a do-rag. You may not be able to wash your hair, but brushing it out every night to remove any bugs or debris will help to keep it clean and you healthy.
Women, you don’t need your razor or your make-up for an emergency situation, but if they make you feel better and you have room, throw in your lip stick. Morale is just as important as anything else.
Women unfortunately need to worry about protecting themselves in a different way than men do. Violence against women and rape are often included in large disasters and you can’t assume there will be a police presence to help you. However, do not include a gun in your bag. They will more than likely cause more problems than they cure, and unless you know that firearm inside and out it is much more of a danger to you than any possible assailant. However, a good pepper spray is fine. Just don’t spray yourself. Also, an aluminum baseball bat stuck is the car with the bag is all the deterrent that most people need. You also have your sturdy knife in your multi-tool, but hopefully you won’t need it as a weapon. Protecting yourself and your family will mean not getting yourself into situations that leave you unprepared and needing help. Then, there is always the dog for personal protection.
A good dog is the best criminal deterrent in the world. My mastiff is fiercely loyal to me and the kid and has the scariest bark ever, even though she is a sweetie. If you take the dog, you take food and water for the dog as well. That is a whole nother ball game. I would say that if you have a dog or cat, take it, or at least set it free to fend for itself, which most animals can do quite well.
Remember, this is not a bag to help you survive a nuclear holocaust, just a bag to get you through three days. Anything that lasts longer than that is going to require some more planning and skills, but the things in this bag will help you get going on longer term survival as well.
Other little things: