Fleeing the home: (Also called a "bug–out bag," "72–hour kit," a "grab bag," a "battle box," a "Personal Emergency Relocation Kit" (PERK), a "go bag" or a "GOOD bag" (Get Out Of Dodge).
Making a Dash Pack (Grab Bag).
by Survival Expert James Mandeville ©2020This article is primarily for:
Military Personnel, Outdoor and Extrememe Sport Enthusiasts.- RETURN TO ARTICLES LIST -
Dealing with a major emergencyHow to Prepare
Making a Dash Pack is a relatively small investment in time, money and effort but it can make a huge difference if you have to flee your home because of a major emergency or disaster. If you follow these simple suggestions, and also teach your children how to take care of themselves, you will be better able to cope and protect yourself and your family.What is a Major Emergency?
A major emergency is something on a scale that needs special arrangements to deal with it. For example:
- Serious accidents (plane cash, train crash, spillage of toxic substances, etc.)
- Extreme weather and the aftermath of it (freak storms of all types, tsunami, flooding, mudslides, etc.)
- Forest fire.
- Terrorist attack; public riot.
- Industrial accident: (Toxic chemical/radioactive release.)
- Shortages of essential utilities like water, food and power.
- Infectious disease outbreak, use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons during war or by terrorists.
The emergency services, local government, hospitals, police, the armed forces and public utility companies all have coordinated emergency plans in place for such eventualities. They have joint training exercises to help them to contain damage and save life. However, the truth is that they cannot role–play a full–scale emergency and they have restricted (or sometimes no) first–hand experience of managing a major disaster outside of a training environment. If you think through a couple of disaster scenarios that could affect the area where you live and how the authorities may respond, it is obvious that:
- They have to mobilize and coordinate all the different emergency services.
- They have to attempt to contain the disaster itself to minimize the extent of damage to life and property.
- They have to deal with the initial casualties and evacuate them to the appropriate medical centres.
- They have to inform and instruct the civilian population.
- They have to deal with panic, fear, confusion and possibly looting and other crimes.
- Only after dealing with all of the above can they help the remaining civilian population with emergency shelter, water, food and lesser medical attention.
It can happen that emergency and rescue services cannot access a disaster area until it is safe, an example of this recently is the terrible bush fires that ravaged parts of Australia. This can also apply to flood areas and contaminated areas. In these scenarios the local population have to fend for themselves.
With the best will in the world, the professionals dealing with a major emergency will also be tired, frightened and capable of making mistakes by the time they get round to helping the civilian population. They may all do fantastic work but they are only human beings too, so everything you can do to help yourself and others is prudent and reduces the load on the emergency services. At the best, it means you know what to do, have food, water and essential supplies and are independent of the help that may be a long time arriving.
Being prepared for a major emergency also means that you can deal more effectively with a minor emergency. In most situations, you will need either to seek immediate shelter from the threat or hazard or to move right away from it – so it makes sense to have a plan to do either. Useful steps you can take beforehand include:
- Making a list of important contacts such as family, friends, neighbours, schools, doctor, veterinary surgery, gas supplier, electricity supplier, water supplier and your insurers. Know where all the hospitals in your area are located and what area of medicine they specialize in (for example if they have a specialist burns unit).
- Make a note of all essential documents so you can replace them if the originals are destroyed. (Birth certificate, driving licence, NHS number and National Insurance number (UK) (Social Security USA), resident card, passport, blood group, academic qualifications, etc.) Print out the key information necessary to replace these documents onto a card the size of a business or credit card and have it laminated in plastic; most copy shops can do this for you. Keep copies of these cards in your wallet or handbag and in a readily accessible, secure place in your home and at work. Make sure you have one of your laminated cards in your Dash Pack. Bear in mind that this information could be used for identity theft, so if you are concerned about this, alternatively, scan all essential documents and keep the information on a miniature, password protected USB or flash drive. Keep a copy with you and in your Dash Pack. Once the disaster is over, this information will speed up the process of having documents re–issued. Keep credit cards and credit card information separate from all your other personal information.
- Make a reciprocal agreement with a relative or friend out of your area to be the family contact point in case your family or theirs become separated during an emergency. Bear in mind that citizen band radio, telephone land–lines and cellular networks will become jammed with traffic. If you have a portable computer and can link into the Internet, you may be able to make contact by e–mail, social media or live chat. You may think about investing in a mobile satellite phone, as satellite links are less likely to be jammed by excessive communications traffic.
- Make up an emergency pack (Dash Pack) for home, work and car. Make sure everyone in the family has a pack and they know where the packs are kept. Train them to use the items in their pack. This is especially important if you have children. Do not scare them, make it fun, but bear in mind that if the very worst should happen you may be injured or dead and the children may have to fend on their own until help arrives.
- If anything does happen to you, your children should know where to go for help; this could be a neighbour, relative or the police.
- Know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water supplies.
- Even if you normally listen to other radio stations or never use a radio at all, know how to tune into your local radio stations for public safety information in an emergency. Make sure that everyone in your household knows how to do this.
- If instructed by the authorities to move, never be tempted to stay behind to protect your property, check that your insurance cover is up to date so you have peace of mind leaving if the need arises, then you are free to lock the place up and go.
- If in a flood risk area, keep stocks of empty sandbags and sand. (Carrier bags filled with soil will also be adequate as a temporary measure.) Make sure that everyone in your family knows how to fill a sandbag and close it and how and where to stack them to best protect your property before you leave.
- Have emergency money in small and medium denomination bank notes equivalent to 2 month's salary. These notes should be divided up into separate amounts, sealed in plastic bags and kept in your Dash Pack. Each family member, including the children, should have their own Dash Pack; spread the money between the packs. Although unthinkable to many people these days, your credit card may be no good if all the phone lines and Internet links are down.
Making a Dash Pack: The Concept
Other names for such a bag are a "bug–out bag" "72–hour kit," a "grab bag," a "battle box," a "Personal Emergency Relocation Kit" (PERK), a "go bag" or a "GOOD bag" (Get Out Of Dodge).
The Dash Pack is simply a pack that can be grabbed in an emergency when you have to leave your home or vehicle and flee. It should contain everything needed to support you for up to 72–hours; with full survival skills a carefully constructed Dash Pack can help you for months. The Dash Pack needs detailed planning and attention to your needs or the needs of your family. Escaping a disaster doesn't necessarily mean heading for the nearest forest, it could mean going to a hotel, B&B, a friend's home or staying with a family member. If this is how you plan to "escape," the contents of your Dash Pack should reflect this (fishing hooks and fire–making equipment are not much use in a hotel suite). Regardless of where you do go to, your situation will be much easier to manage if you have given it forethought and planning. Share your plans with your loved ones (after all, you may not all be present when disaster strikes) and gather together enough items and equipment to make your unexpected "break" more bearable. 72–hours should be the minimum time limit that you plan for.
You need to give consideration to what course of action you will take in the event of an emergency. The incident may occur whilst your children are at school, you and your partner are out at work or shopping etc.
Depending on the nature and location of the incident it may be safer to leave your children at school until such a time as you have met with your partner/wife and collected your Dash Packs. This is a decision only you can make, but either way, you need to know who will contact the school and make them aware that you are removing your children and who will be actually picking them up. You need to establish a meeting place should you be unable to get access to your home. Your whole family need to know where your escape location is situated and you need to work out multiple routes in order to get everyone to that destination. These routes should not just be viewed by maps and Google Earth but should actually be visited regularly. Whilst no plan can cover every eventuality, having a plan directs one's thought processes and helps reduce the panic and confusion later.
Choose a pack of approximately 15 – 30 litres (26 – 52 pints) for children, 90 litres (20 gallon) for women and 130 litres (30 gallon) for men. It should have a carrying handle, a comfortable harness, exterior pockets and be waterproof. Any waterproof rucksack or backpack will do; choose bright colours or add fluorescent orange strips to Army–type packs to help rescue services spot you. Avoid using a sports bag or holdall as this will become tiring if you have to carry it a long way. This also applies to a Dash Pack kept in your vehicle – bear in mind that you may have to leave the vehicle and walk. Not many rucksacks are fully stormproof, so buy a rain cover to fit the pack if it does not have one built in.The basic Dash Pack
Each pack should contain these essentials. If you want a lighter pack, substitute these products with quality smaller items. Only you can decide what you need to pack, but here are some suggestions if you need to rough it for a few days:
Below is a guide to the sort of foods you may think of keeping in your Dash–pack:
For American readers
bug–out bag (bug out bag) is a portable kit that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy–two hours when evacuating from a disaster. The focus is on evacuation, rather than long–term survival, distinguishing the bug–out bag from a survival kit, a boating or aviation emergency kit, or a fixed–site disaster supplies kit. The kits are also popular in the survivalist subculture. Illustrated below is a Red Cross standard off–the–shelf bug–out bag available commercially.
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, 'the term "bug–out bag" is related to, and possibly derived from, the "bail–out bag" emergency kit many military aviators carry. In the United States, the term refers to the Korean War practice of the U.S. Army designating alternate defensive positions, in the event that the unit(s) had to displace. They were directed to "Bug–out" when being overrun was imminent. The concept passed into wide usage among other military and law enforcement personnel, though the "bail–out bag" is as likely to include emergency gear for going into an emergency situation as for escaping an emergency.'
There are many retailers of bug–out bags in the USA. Some work on the 72–hours strategy, others work on the strategy of longer–term survival. As with all commercially packed survival items, make sure that the one you choose has top–quality items in it. Select a backpack bag, rather than the holdall or grip bags because you may have to travel some distance with the bag and a backpack is less tiring to transport than any bag you carry in your hand.
Other important advice
Make an evacuation check list of additional items to pack quickly if you are suddenly advised to leave your home. This might include:
- Your Dash–pack.
- Warm clothing.
- Essential medication and personal items e.g.
- Baby food/nappies
- Wallet, purse and bankcards.
- Mobile phone and charger.
- Pet carrier/collar, lead & pet food.
- A pocket–sized emergency pack.
Essential and immediate survival items such as water, food, and shelter are the main priorities in case of evacuation, but after the crisis is over it is often difficult to recover the personal and financial aspects of one's life. Making insurance claims, proving home ownership and ownership of assets, replacing key documents, etc., can be a long drawn–out and harrowing experience. This may be especially true at a time when the social infrastructure may not be functioning normally. Having backups of personal and financial documents are also key elements to an effective emergency survival kit.
Some documents can be digitized copies burned onto a small disk or USB drive, others should be original documents (with certified copies carried by other family members) laminated or otherwise protected. Here is a check list of some important items to consider when creating your own personal disaster or evacuation survival plan for you and your family's personal and financial records. It isn't exhaustive and you must add to it to suit your own circumstances. Financial survival tip 1:
- Photographs of every member of your family (write name, age, address, relationship and contact details on the back of hard copies or add this to digitized copies).
- Copies of passports, birth certificates, social security cards, driving licences.
- Academic awards (Keep originals and certified copies, some universities will not re– certificates).
- Military records (discharge papers or related records).
- Medical documents such as immunization records.
- Medical directives in case of emergency.
- Marriage licenses and divorce certificates.
- Copies of wills, powers of attorney.
Financial survival tip 2:
- Create a list of items in each room / photograph of each room and photographs of valuables. Have copies of proofs of ownership for valuables.
- Copies of mortgage documents.
- Copy the declaration page of insurance policies proving you have cover for: Home owner – Flood – Life – Auto – Health cover.
- Copy of property tax bill (to prove home ownership in insurance claim).
Financial survival tip 3:
- Monthly statements from bank accounts.
- Copy of credit report. Not so common in some European countries, but can be purchased, and this will have the names, addresses, and account numbers for all financial responsibilities.
- Bills will still need to be paid and this is often overlooked in a crisis, so have all the information in one place and make sure you have on–line banking to keep your financial affairs in order wherever you are. Keep contact phone numbers and account details of the organizations you have to make regular payment too so you can phone them if you cannot make a payment on time.
- Banking and credit card details.
Creating a financial survival kit will not lessen the severity of a disaster, but being prepared will certainly make the recovery process much easier. Just remember that size, portability, and easy access to your personal and financial survival kit are crucial factors in the case of a rapid evacuation.
Burn financial and personal documents to USB drive or mini CD in order to maximize portability and convenience. Store important papers in fireproof box. Remember to take your personal and financial survival kit with you!
In the Car
This may vary according to the time of year, but keep these items in the car as a basic emergency kit:
- Bottled water (all year round).
- First aid kit (all year round).
- Torch and batteries (all year round).
- Cigar plug lead for mobile phone (all year round).
- Sweets, long life snacks (all year round).
- A blanket, warm tracksuit and woolly hat.
- A waterproof coat (autumn (Fall) to winter).
- Wellington boots (all year round).
- Spare socks (these can also be used as gloves) (autumn (Fall) to winter).
- Snow shovel, spade, snow chains (autumn (Fall) to winter).
- Sabre cutting saw (all year round).
Know the emergency procedures for your workplace thoroughly.
In some situations, you might have to remain at your workplace for safety. Your building may have good facilities; even so, it pays to think about what additional items you would need if you had to stay a night or two. The greatest risk is from fire or terror attack, consider owning your own respirator.