Friday, October 9, 2009

More on Get-home Bags

I’m frickin’ sick right now, so I really don’t have much to say about survival or preparedness right now. This proves, though, that you can practice great personal hygiene – keeping the hands clean, avoiding common surfaces as much as possible, keeping your fingers out of your eyes, that sort of thing – but still pick up nasty germs and other bugs.

So, let’s talk about something that I can concentrate on long enough to write a few coherent sentences about, mmkay? Yeah, that would be good. Let’s talk about get-home bags because, judging by the high number of “Get home bag” search queries leading to this site, folks are interested. Even though I’ve discussed these bags before, there are a few more things worth saying about them.

Okay…let’s just do the questions that I hear most often, because they’re important. Lots of you want to know these things, so let’s get right to it.

What kind of bag should I use?
It doesn’t matter. Really. Find a bag, pack, or sack that’s well made, sturdy, and large enough to hold all of the necessities. You should be able to easily, comfortably carry this thing, preferably on your back because you might have to do some heavy-duty walking. I’d also keep the bag’s weight in mind, both empty and fully loaded, because it’s easy to get weighed down.

What sort of stuff should I include?
Well, what sort of items do you think you’re going to need? I would definitely include changes of clothes; some snacks and other food; plenty of water; and a first-aid kit, because these are all vital to your survival. However, there are other things that you might want to consider packing, like fire-starting gear; a flashlight with extra batteries; and maps of the area. Also, remember that you can always add or remove items as you learn more about your personal needs and preferences: you don’t have to get everything right the first time, I’m glad to say.

Why should I worry about a get-home bag in the first place?
Emergencies don’t often announce themselves very long in advance, meaning that you can be stranded with little warning. Do you want to give yourself the best possible chance of getting back home in one piece, or do you want to rely on other people and luck to get you through?

Even if you don’t think that anything terrible is going to happen, you have to admit that everyday emergencies are entirely possible. If your car breaks down in an area where you don’t get cell phone reception, you might have to walk several miles. Wouldn’t that hike be easier if you had a bag with comfortable walking shoes, some water to keep you hydrated, etc.? Sure!

Should I pack a weapon in my bag?
No! Your weapon should stay on or near your person whenever possible because, that way, you can quickly reach it in order to defend yourself. My handgun, for example, usually goes in an inside-the-waistband holster because I carry concealed. However, when I’m in the car, I can’t easily reach the handgun in its holster: therefore, said gun is near my person, but still concealed in order to comply with state law.

However, storing duplicates in the get-home bag is not a bad idea. If you have a folding knife that you keep on your person, stash the second one in the bag – just in case.

What kind of food do you recommend?
I like food that’s easy to prepare without any additional tools, including can openers. I bought pull-top cans of ravioli, for example, and I can easily open the snack crackers and peanuts and such without anything but my fingers or, in the worst-case scenario, my folding knife.

Plan for both energy-giving snacks and full meals, because you really don’t know what sort of situation you’ll be in. You could end up camping out in the vehicle for a day or more, which would be a fine time to have some decent food – versus a box of Cheez-Its and Spongebog Squarepants fruit snacks.

Do you have any weird items in your bag?
Yep. I have a 24-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew in my get-home bag because I’m a caffeine addict. Yes, there’s plenty of water in there too, but I’d hate to go without my Dew if I had down time and didn’t have to have the water to stay hydrated. You can call that a crutch if you will because that’s basically what it is, but I don’t see any problem with comfort food (or comfort beverages in this case). I just wouldn’t overdo comforts like alcohol or pot because you might need a clear head to get out of the situation you’re in.

And now, if you’ll all excuse me, I’m off to bed. The medicine’s starting to kick in and I’m feeling rather loopy, so this is probably a good time to sleep.

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