January 1949, Nebraska Sandhill Country. My father worked for the U.S. Forest Service on a remote station some 80 miles from the nearest town. It was a Saturday afternoon, the day when all good country folk went to town for their weekly shopping trip. I was only eight months old and they finished shopping early and headed home. At about 3 p.m. the great blizzard of ‘49 struck. (Google it). Dad was driving along a two-track “sandhill road” when their old Chevy became bogged down in a snow drift. Knowing they were not far from a ranch, they packed up their eight month old son, along with all they could carry and hiked three miles through the blizzard to the ranch. It was six weeks before they could get back to retrieve the car.
Most preppers have a “go bag,” or a “ready bag” or some refer to it as a “bug-out bag,” or “flee bag”. Those folks have a belief they may need to evacuate their home on short notice and the supplies in their “bag” will be needed for survival. It is my position for those of us living in Southwestern Oregon, our need to evacuate is minimal. If I lived in a metropolitan area, I would definitely have a well-planned evacuation strategy. My bag goes with me everywhere and I would rely on its contents for survival if the need arose.
I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t have a “get home” bag, but I do know we carried certain things with us at all times “just in case.” There was always a blanket or two in the car. If we were going to be on the road for any length of time, there were sandwiches (no such thing as drive-thrus in those days) and something to drink, no bottled water either. We did call ahead and let friends or family know we were on the way and about what time we would be arriving.
Get a bag! I use a backpack I ordered online for $28. My list is going to be different from yours, but just imagine being stranded somewhere other than your warm, comfy home, and consider what you might need to have with you. My bag includes some food, some extra blood pressure bills, a Sterno stove (and fuel), some matches, and a disposable lighter, a flashlight, a multi-tool, some extra socks and pair of underwear. (I know you wanted to know that!) I also have a screwdriver (the kind with interchangeable bits) a small adjustable wrench and a folding saw. I found an old military mess kit and a pot that contains two drinking cups. I carry my SteriPEN for water purification, some warmer clothes, a First Aid Kit and a couple of good knives round out the basics. I suppose there are a few other odds and ends, but you get the idea. There are a couple of cans of Spam in there and I discovered recently the lip on the can makes an acceptable ice scraper for your windshield if you have need for one. Note of caution here: The metal will mar your windshield and you’ll have to deal with that later, but it does remove frost!
I shared with someone recently that I take my bag with me everywhere. If I have to leave it behind for some reason, I have the same uneasy feeling as when I forget to buckle my seat belt. So “Bag-Up!” Now’s the best time, before you get stranded somewhere.
Dave Robinson is a retired postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.