A bug out bag is a handy or portable small bag or kit that is used to store items you may need to survive a disaster. It is different from a survival kit as the contents of a bug out bag are items that will let you survive for 72 hours, should there be a disaster.
A survival kit, on the other hand, contains items that you need for a longer term setup after being hit by a disaster. Some bug out bags, however, can be used longer than 72 hours, depending on the design or size of the bag.
Based on the description above, a bug out bag can be considered as a kit only for evacuation on a short-term basis, instead of permanent relocation due to a disaster.
As such, the purpose of a bug out bag is to provide an individual or a group of people with some of their basic needs when they evacuate. Because of this, it is very important to put only the most important items in a bug out bag; it should contain items that you cannot live without during the first 72 hours.
The local government or the agency responsible to oversee the situation during a disaster will normally provide some clear guidance as to what should be placed inside a bug out bag. The contents may vary depending on the location and the disaster that is going to hit the area; the contents will be different for areas that are hit by hurricanes versus if you are preparing for a blizzard or other type of calamity.
For your reference, and for you to be able to prepare better, below are items that your bug out bag should contain. These are the basic ones that you will need for survival for the first 72 hours after evacuating due to a disaster.
This is a basic need for survival and should be included in your kit. During a disaster, there could be a shortage of potable water; hence, it is important to store at least 3 bottles of water (1 liter each bottle). Be aware that an individual should consume at least 1 liter of water a day; therefore, the recommendation is to have 3 liters of water for a 72-hour evacuation plan.
No one needs to tell you that this must be in your bug out bag. An individual must be able to eat something to survive a 72-hr evacuation. The recommendation, however, is to pack only light meals or energy bars that can help you live until the immediate disaster is over.
For the first 3 days, you will need to freshen up and stay clean if possible. Hence, a set of clothes is also recommended to be stored in your bug out bag.
Bring a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, socks, 1 shirt, and 1 long-sleeve shirt, a jacket that you can use to keep yourself warm and as protection against rain and the heat of the sun, and a hat. This can change depending on the weather, your location, and the type of disaster that will hit your area.
A temporary shelter is important in case a good place for evacuation is not available. In this case, you will need a tent to keep you warm and to protect you in case of rain.
Other important items that your bug out bag should include are medicines or first aid items in case of an emergency or if you or anyone in your family gets injured. For the medicines, bring the most important ones such as those for fever, allergies, and diarrhea. For your first aid kit, bring antiseptic, cotton, gauze, wound cleaner, band-aids, and the like.
This refers to items such as a raincoat, matches or a lighter to create a fire, small pot for cooking or boiling water, and a flashlight.
The last items would be those that you can use to keep you safe such as a knife or other weapon that you may have. Use them responsibly.