No one hopes for a disaster, but they happen. All over the world, disasters strike every day, most often, they happen without warning. As a result, it’s best to always be prepared. As preppers throughout the country know, it is wise to hope for the best while preparing for the worst.
When it comes to being prepared for a disaster situation, having the right gear and supplies is essential. This is where survival bags come in handy. Survival bags help to store and transport your emergency gear and supplies. These emergency bags are designed to hold everything you need to survive in SHTF scenarios; common items include portable water, non-perishable food, and medications; to flashlights, radios, and batteries.
Survival bags come in many different types to suit different needs. We'll explore the various types of survival bags, their individual uses, and how to choose a survival kit that is right for you.
Why Are Survival Bags So Important to Preparedness?
Think of a survival bag as an EpiPen. People who have allergies don’t go about their days looking for or anticipating encountering a life-threatening allergic reaction. On the contrary, they spend their whole lives trying to avoid them. But emergency allergic reactions occur anyway and when they do, these individuals must depend on an EpiPen to help them survive. This same thing applies to having a survival kit in a disaster.
A survival bag can mean comfort, aid, and survival and sometimes the difference between life and death in a disaster situation;it is a life-saving measure should you ever need it. Having survival kits ready to go at a moment's notice means you'll have everything you need for you and your family to survive an emergency, especially if you have to evacuate your home for a while.
What Should Be in My Survival Bag?
There are items every survival bag should have which makes them different from any other bag. These items include basics like food, water, important documents, and medications. These are the non-negotiable items needed to get through a disaster.
When it comes to the not-so-basic components of your survival bag, that depends on your needs, your lifestyle, your environment, and others you may be responsible to care for. One size does not fit all.
When choosing items for your survival bag, consider all the factors. We have put together a comprehensive list to help you put your emergency bag together:
1. Location - Where do you live?
Your location plays a critical role in deciding the content of your bag. What you need to survive an emergency in a city would differ from what would be required if you lived in a suburban area, and still differ for a rural area.
Your location might also predispose you to certain disasters, which would in turn influence how you prepare. If you live in California, for example, you might need to prepare for the risks of earthquakes and wildfire outbreaks. If you lived in Oklahoma, you would need a survival kit to address the likelihood of a tornado. The contents of your survival bag very much depend on where you live and the potential and likely emergencies that exist in that area.
2. Environment - What is the environment like where you live?
Do you live in Florida where it is warm most of the year or are you in cold, frigid Alaska?
The climate and terrain of your area directly determines the type of emergencies you will need to plan for which further determines the necessary content of your survival bag.
Preppers in Florida and other Southern states will want to be mindful to pack sunscreen and warm-weather layers, whereas preppers in the Norther states of Alaska, Montana, or North Dakota would prepare with cold-weather layers, hand-warmers, and winter jackets.
3. Do you have Pets?
If you were packing a bag for just yourself and other members of your household, you would stick to human essentials and gear. If you have pets, however, that takes more planning.
You will have to consider your pets’ well-being and stock up on enough supplies for them as well. This means packing a separate pet-friendly survival bag that includes pet food, potable water, medication, and other necessities like leashes, waste bags, or collapsible water bowl.
4. Do You Have Kids?
The content of a survival bag for one is simple: food, water, medication, gear, and anything you know you’ll need. When children are in the picture, however, you need to consider their needs and well-being as well. This could mean that your survival bag might now have to include items like diapers, baby food, medication, or a pacifier along with age-appropriate clothing layers. Different ages have vast and varied requirements meaning that a child’s survival bag needs to be updated annually. And remember, the more kids you have, the more you need to stock up on.
5. Do You Have Elderly Dependents?
Just as you need to consider a specific survival bag for young dependents, you may also have to consider elderly dependents. If you have your mom, grandfather, or uncle-in-law living with your family, you must also pack them an emergency bag.
Consider packing an adult dependent survival bag with medications, mobility aids like canes or hearing devices, personal hygiene items, and clothing layers that are necessary for them which could mean extra layers if they have temperature sensitivity.
6. Do You Have Disabled Dependents?
It can be tough trying to care for disabled dependents and is especially challenging when during an emergency. But packing survival kits that cater to special needs goes a long way to ease the situation. Emergency bags for disabled dependents could include items like mobility aids, medications, special-needs accessories, distraction games or devices, and specialty clothing (depending on specific needs and requirements).
7. Does Anyone Use Medications?
You likely keep all family medications in one place already; however, medication needs can vary greatly from one individual to the next. This is why you must plan. The challenge comes when you try to get everyone’s sorted without mixing things up.
If anyone in your household uses medications, you'll need to make sure you pack enough to last at least a few days. Include multipurpose medications like ibuprofen, antihistamines, and antacids along with specialty medicine and inhalers. Don't forget to label them appropriately and store carefully.
8. Does Anyone Have Allergies?
You know it's an emergency, but allergies don't. If any member of your family has allergies, include allergy medication in your survival bag.
You cannot afford to forget because pharmacies will typically be closed during an emergency. We’ve outlined8 factors that determine what goes into your emergency bag and survival kits. Considering these and planning ahead will help and your loved ones sustain in a disaster scenario.
Now that you know what goes in your survival bag, let's highlight the different types of survival bags available.
Types of Bags
Being prepared for emergencies is a top priority for any prepper. To be safe, it should be a top priority for everyone, but especially those living in disaster-prone areas. One of the most important items to have as part of your emergency preparedness response is a fully planned and stocked survival bag.
There are several types of survival bags available for various situations. From short-term emergencies to long-term survival scenarios, we will look at different survival bags and their importance in emergencies.
EDC Bag (aka 12-hour bag)
The EDC Bag, which means “Everyday Carry Bag,” is for carrying items with you daily – in case of emergency. It is most likely the bag you are already carrying to school or work, which makes EDC Bags typically stylish and fancy.
All you might need to do to convert your everyday bag to an ECD Bag is add some essential items to ensure you’re prepared to survive minor emergencies. Items like a pocketknife, a lighter, flashlight, and medications, are examples of EDC Bag content and come in handy in emergencies.
You can read our previous article that covers the EDC Bags basics.
Get Home Bag (aka 24-Hour Bag)
As the name implies, the Get Home Bag is for helping you get home rather than survive out of it. This bag is ideally stored in the office or vacation home or somewhere away from your disaster-prone home.
It contains the same items as a Bug Out Bag but also additional items that can help you get home. Get Home Bag items can include prepaid phones, extra bus passes, a compass, a map, or cash. Read our previous article on Get Home Bag to learn more about it.
Bug Out Bag (aka 72-hour bag)
A bug-out bag (BOB) is a backpack filled with essential items you would need to survive for up to three days. Ideally, it should contain water, portable food, shelter, clothing, a first aid kit, and personal hygiene items.
A BOB is designed for an emergency (gas leak, hurricane, or wildfire) that demands you leave home in a hurry. The type of bag should be lightweight, portable, and easy to carry.
Go Bag/Ditch Bag
“Go Bag” is a common term in the military, law enforcement, and emergency medical community. Essentially, it describes an already packed bag that a person carries when they have to deploy at a moment’s notice.
It is similar to a Bug Out Bag, although typically smaller and lighter. It contains items you would need to survive in the wild, such as a water filter, fire starter, shelter, and tools to hunt or fish.
INCH Bags (aka I’m Never Coming Home Bag)
An INCH Bag is for long-term survival situations where you may need to leave your home permanently. This bag is understandably larger than both the Bug Out Bag and the Go Ditch Bag. Unlike these two bags, this one requires extra care to back because you will be gone for a while. It should contain items such as food, water, shelter, medications, and tools to start a new life. Include copies of identification, medical papers, passports, and banking information, and cash.
An INCH back is usually the bag of choice for preppers who want to be fully prepared for any situation. This is advisable because most disasters make your home uninhabitable for a long time.
A Car Bag is a survival kit you keep in your car at all times. Think of it as supplemental to your other survival bags. The items found inside would be similar to what you find inside a Get Home Bag. The bag should also include items you’d need to carry out light car maintenance. Since it’s already inside your car, it can include items like jumper cables and a small gas can. A Car Bag is typically heavier than your usual survival kit.
Waterproof Boat Bag
A Waterproof Boat Bag, as the name suggests, is made to keep your survival items dry in case of an emergency on the water. It should be stored on the boat and contain items such as life jackets, flares, signaling devices, and navigation tools. In addition to being waterproof, the survival bag should be buoyant in case it falls overboard.
If you are someone who enjoys water activities or lives in coastal areas, this bag is a necessity for you.
Disaster-Specific Survival Kit
As preppers know all too well, different disasters require different preparations. Having a general survival kit is good, but it’s even better to pack a disaster-specific survival kit. A survival bag that works well during a flood might not be sufficient to survive a wildfire outbreak. With a disaster-specific survival kit, you will not need to pack a bag full of things you don’t need.
Here are some disaster-specific survival kits that every prepper should know:
Hurricane Survival Kit
Hurricanes are known to cause widespread damage to infrastructure and leave many people without necessities like food and water or power for days or even weeks. A hurricane survival kit can protect you against this reality. If you live in a coastal region, you are likely to experience a hurricane at some point.
To stay a step ahead of the disaster, pack a hurricane survival kit and ensure it includes essentials such as:
Don’t forget to save copies of important documents such as identification and insurance policies. Also valuable is a printed list of phone numbers for emergency contacts and loved ones in the event your cell phone is no longer operating.
Fire Evacuation Survival Kit
Fire can break out and spread quickly so you require immediate evacuation. In a case like this, it's essential to have a custom survival kit that can help you evacuate quickly and survive.
Your fire evacuation survival kit should include essentials items like:
Consider adding a blanket and a fire-resistant bag to protect your valuables.
Tornado Survival Kit
Tornadoes, like most natural disasters, can strike without warning, leaving you with little time to gather your belongings. Tornadoes typically cause power outages,leaving affected areas without electricity or access to heat and internet. Building yourself a tornado survival kit to increases your survival odds. Your tornado survival kit should include essentials such as:
- A whistle (for communication and signaling purposes)
- A flashlight
- A radio
- First aid supplies
You should also consider adding a helmet to protect your head from debris, a pair of sturdy shoes, and blankets or sleeping bags. Keep a printed list of phone numbers for emergency contacts and loved ones, as well as medicines.
Earthquake Survival Kit
According to a U.S. Geological Survey report, nearly half of United States residents live in earthquake-prone areas. Earthquakes cause significant damage to infrastructure, often leaving people without necessities, which is why you need an earthquake survival kit.
Your earthquake survival kit should include essentials like:
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable food
- A flashlight
- A radio
- A whistle (for communication and signaling purposes)
You might also want to add a pry bar, a wrench to turn off gas and water lines, and a pair of sturdy boots. Beyond your survival bag, those in earthquake prone areas should prepare their homes as well.Secure heavy furniture, appliances, and other heavy or breakable items in your house to the walls. This will prevent them from falling over during an earthquake. And do not place beds under mirrors or windows.
Volcanic Eruption Survival Kit
Around the globe, dozens of volcanoes are erupting every day. Volcanic eruption, when it happens in and around communities can be devastating. The flow of lava and the ash that follows can make your home and area unlivable.
If you live in an area with an active volcano, it helps to have a survival kit tailored for this purpose. Items in your volcanic eruption survival kit can include:
You may also want to include a gas mask, flashlights, a radio, and a pair of sturdy shoes. Bandana are multi-purpose and can serve as a dust mask to protect your lungs, sun protection on the head, a cloth for washing, or as a wrap for cuts.
Flood Survival Kit
Heavy rain and storm surges can quickly cause flooding; this can in turn cause severe damage to homes and other buildings. The United States is no stranger to flooding so it is best to always be prepared.
Your flood survival kit should contain essentials like:
- A waterproof container
- A first aid kit
- Non-perishable food items
- Portable water
- A compact life jacket
- A whistle
- A battery-operated radio
Beyond building a flood survival kit, prepare sandbags and other flood barriers beforehand to protect your home from rising water. You might not be in your home during flooding but you can prevent water from destroying your property with a little planning.
Tsunami Survival Kit
Tsunamis describe large ocean waves usually resulting from volcanic eruptions or earthquakes, They can be very destructive. If you live in a coastal region, you should have a tsunami survival kit.
Your tsunami survival kit should include important items, such as:
BONUS: Your survival bag should also include an evacuation plan. Know the signs of a tsunami, including a sudden rise or fall in water level. Useful knowledge is an important part of surviving any disaster.
Blizzard Survival Kit
Blizzards can lead to power outages, road closures, and other setbacks, all of which can leave people stranded. To prepare for a blizzard, you should have a blizzard survival kit.
Your blizzard survival kit should have:
Pandemic Survival Kit
Our recent pandemic caught the world unprepared. Even in our modern times, it broke out suddenly, spread rapidly, and shut down our society as we knew it. Now, more than ever, we can all appreciate pandemic survival bags.
Your pandemic survival kit should include:
Cosmic Disaster Survival Kit
Cosmic disasters, such as solar flares, asteroid impacts, and electromagnetic pulses, can disrupt power and deprive people of basic necessities. These disasters may seem unlikely now, but they are not impossible. It’s a good idea to pack a cosmic disaster survival kit to be prepared.
Your kit can contain:
Also, consider packing a solar-powered charger for your electronics and a Faraday cage to protect from electromagnetic pulses.
Personal Defense Survival Kit
A personal defense survival kit is critical in the event that you need to defend yourself and your family. Your self-defense kit it should contain items like:
- Pepper spray
- A Defense Weapon (knife, gun, etc.)
- A whistle
- A flashlight
- A first aid kit
- A stun gun
- A self-defense manual