In prior articles we’ve emphasized the importance of preparedness when it comes to effective self defense. Protecting yourself from a hostile human being is just one aspect of self defense. It’s at least as important to think of other kinds of emergencies that arise from extreme weather, getting lost and other incidents that don’t involve a violent individual but can affect you just as adversely.
One handy concept is the go bag (or “bug out bag”): a gym back or backpack filled with everything you need for short term survival. The go bag has become a more prevalent idea since the rise of regular, extreme weather in the southern US. Hurricane Katrina made it obvious that it pays to have the necessities of life on hand, and the ability to take them with you to a safe place.
Here’s a set of guidelines for an effective go bag:
Food and Water: Prepare enough food and water to last for 72 hours. For water, one gallon per person per day is a good guideline. For food, goods that won’t spoil and don’t require heat or water to prepare are the best choice. In addition, pack water purification tablets, cutlery and cooking equipment. Camping supplies are a good source for these.
Medical Gear: Pack a first aid kit along with a supply of any medications you regularly take.
Radio and Lights: Get a radio and light with a fresh, ready supply of power. Our safety light is one compact option. In any emergency where you have to retreat from your home, you need access to the radio for important announcements, and enough light to get you through power interruptions.
Bedding and Clothing: Carry enough bedding for your family and three sets of clothes per person. Clothes and bedding should be appropriate for the worst weather the region has to offer.
Money: Store cash, because in an emergency, ATM and debit may be unavailable.
Tools: Your go bag should include a compact set of tools, including a knife. This category also includes self defense products. This isn’t just to deal with people; you may encounter wild or feral animals in a severe emergency. A can of bear spray is not out of the question. Finally, make sure you have a way to easily make fire. We recommend strike-anywhere matches and a set of lighters. Each of these excels in different situations.
Once you’ve gathered the required materials, pack them neatly and make sure it’s light enough that you can lug it around for a few hours without any trouble. If necessary, split an overly heavy bag into two, or more, but make sure that each one includes every item, so that if you lose a bag, you don’t lose an entire category of necessary items. Check your go bag for expired components (such as food or medicine) every few months. If you never need to use it, that’s great! Take it camping in the summer, restock it when you get home and remember that preparedness is never a waste.