What Should Go in Your Bug Out Bag?

There are many possible scenarios where you may need to leave your home because of a natural or manmade disaster. Ideally, sheltering in place is much more preferable to bugging out. However, this isn’t always possible. If you are required to leave your home because of an emergent situation, a bug out bag can prove lifesaving.

Download our checklist to help you stock your bug out bag.

Geographical location

Do you live in the city, suburbs or country? What part of the country do you live in? Each geographical location carries its own set of unique challenges. Extreme heat, such as desert or Southern states or brutal, cold Midwest winters present their own set of challenges.

What natural disasters are your area most likely to experience?

Consider possible future scenarios that could potentially impact your bug out plans.

Some natural disasters, such as hurricanes and severe storms are usually broadcast, and you have plenty of time to plan and prepare. Others, including wildfires and earthquakes give little to no warning. In those instances, you must be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

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Where would you bug out to?

Have at least 2 possible bug out locations and practice getting to them before disaster strikes. Having 2 locations and alternative routes are necessary in the event one of the routes or locations is blocked and you are unable to get to it. Know how to get both locations by foot and car. Carry laminated maps of the routes and alternative routes in your bag in case you are unable to travel the most direct route.

Be aware of downed power lines, flooding, and excessive winds. Make note of your routes and possible obstacles you may encounter. If you are unable to bug out to your desired location(s) because of weather or other dangers, seek shelter in a public building such as a school or other business until you can continue to your destination.

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Probably the most overlooked but most important (second to medical supplies and medications) is communication. A set of walkie talkies distributed between family members enables everyone to stay in touch if you are not too far apart- while gathering supplies, if someone ventures outside to check on animals, etc. The FCC has a list of radios- GMRS, Citizens Band and others and the rules of operation here. For longer range use- the ability to scan and listen to EMS channels, private citizen reports (trees down, flooding on your route, fires that recently erupted, etc.) having an amateur radio license and radio can prove lifesaving. For more information on licensing and radios check out the American Radio Relay League.


How old is the person that will be carrying the bag? Even young children can carry some of their own supplies. For instance, a three-year old can be equipped with a small backpack to carry their own snacks and a small bottle of water or two and a headlamp. Teens and able-bodied adults will be able to carry gear that younger children or limited mobility members may be unable to.

Physical ability

Take realistic stock of each person in the group or family and their physical abilities. Healthy individuals should carry no more than 25 percent of their body weight.

Group members with limited mobility or other physical disabilities can be challenging. They may not be able to carry much, if any of the contents of a bug out bag. Assistive equipment such as a lightweight, collapsible hiking pole can help negotiate uneven surfaces. Blind or hearing-impaired group members present a challenge. They may not be able to see or hear sirens or alarms ordering them to evacuate. Make sure your local EMS knows that there is a person with disabilities in the home so they can go door to door if needed to evacuate. 

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Medical history

Does anyone in your group have:

  • Asthma?
  • Heart disease?
  • COPD or other obstructive disease?
  • History of stroke?
  • Diabetes?
  • Mental health/anxiety issues?
  • Dementia or other neurological disorders?

Even if their health condition is well controlled, they could be exacerbated by stress, poor air quality and even physical exertion.    

Medical needs and supplies

A well-stocked bug out bag contains high quality first aid supplies. My Medic carries first aid packs that are convenient and carry most of the basic supplies you would need in a minor emergency.

Our increasingly unstable and uncertain supply chain and current drug shortages makes it imperative that you plan for a long-term drug outage, especially if a natural or domestic disaster. Our world is rapidly changing, and we must adapt to these changes.

Be sure to have appropriate and sufficient amount of medications for every person in the group. This is in addition to any minor emergencies cuts scrapes bruises strains burns or acute illnesses that you may encounter.

Any chronic health condition can quickly become an emergency if you are dependent on medication to help manage the symptoms. Make sure that you have sufficient medications, inhalers, diabetic supplies and medications and anything else that you may need to weather the storm. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when disaster will strike.

The entire mission of Jase Medical is built upon being prepared for such emergencies. If you haven’t already, pick up your Jase Case antibiotics and Jase Daily, a years supply of chronic medications for each family member.

NOTE: If someone has received a new diagnosis and medication was prescribed, take the time to pack at least a weeks’ worth or more in their bag. This can easily be overlooked in day-to-day life.

Being prepared is peace of mind

Make sure everyone, to the best of their abilities understands and rehearses what to do in the event of emergency. This will help avoid panic and mistakes. Rehearse scenarios, and clearly communicate what to do if you must bug out. Periodically check your bag, ensuring you have everything you need in it.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

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