Time to feel proud, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. The stockpile of food and water are set, plenty to last more than week. The house is stocked and ready for sheltering everyone in place. The whole family all gathered together in the living room last Saturday, backpacks in hand and provisions laid out in from of them. Bug out bags are set to go, ready to throw in the car and head out of town if and when that dire emergency strikes. So when a disaster does come to town is the plan to leave on foot? Given a choice, most people would rather pile in the family car instead of sitting out exposed to whatever the elements hand out. With that in mind, doesn’t the trusty grocery-getter need its own bug out bag?
Just as each member of the household has their own bag with all the personal supplies and gear they need, so does the family vehicle. It will need its own set of gear, tools, parts, fluids and fuel to get everyone, including itself, to that predetermined, bug out destination. Many of these supplies are the same a typical roadside emergency kit would have, making it a good place to start, a base to build onto.
The following list will serve as comprehensive kit to be kept in the vehicle at all times
- Tools: a general toolkit including; screwdrivers (Philips and flat head), ratchet set, adjustable pliers, crescent wrench, vise grips, wire cutters, hammer, electrical tape, pocket knife. A quality multiplier may replace some of these.
- Fluids: Antifreeze, 2 quarts motor oil, brake, and transmission fluid, washer fluid, WD-40
- Car manual and/or repair manual
- Jumper Cables and/or emergency battery jumper
- Extra fuses
- Tire gauge
- Car jack, lug wrench and/or tire iron
- Inflated, full-size, spare tire
- Roll of duct tape
- Rope and/or other tie downs
- Tow straps
- Pair of work gloves
- Spare rags and/or paper towels and roll of toilet paper
- Well-stocked first aid kit
- Bottled water and some energy or granola-type bars
- Blankets and/or mylar emergency blanket
- Ice scraper
- Roadside flares
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Plastic shopping bags
- Pen/pencil and paper
- Maps of the region
- Tire inflator
- Emergency reflectors or flashing light(s)
Be sure to maintain batteries, replace food and water every couple of months and ensure fluids do not expire or containers leak. Most of this will fit into a sturdy canvas bag or a smaller plastic, storage bin and easily stored out of the way in some corner of the vehicle. There are also numerous car storage organizers on the market today, which could serve the same purpose.
Once the car is set up to for its own bug out scenario begin planning for all the other needs of a true evacuation situation by expanding supply and storage capacities beyond the typical backpack. The rule of thumb for bugging-out is to ensure everyone has enough supplies to survive on for a minimum of 3 days after a disaster. When it comes to preparing for going mobile in a vehicle, think of it as a scaled up bug-out bag.
While sticking to the same general emergency essentials and being aware of weight and available space, a vehicle allows for packing away a larger, sturdier tent, more supplies of water, food and medical supplies, along with additional cooking supplies and fuel. These items can be prepacked (in plastic, Rubbermaid type bins, for example) and readied to go at a moment’s notice. If you’re a frequent car camper, consider keeping all the regular equipment in one bin that’s ready to go for each trip instead of packing and unpacking the camp stove, pots and pans, lanterns, outdoor kitchen and water filter every time. That base kit will serve the same needs during a bug out scenario as it does on a typical camping trip.
Load other bins with the long shelf-life food of your choice, water, additional blankets and clothes, items the family pets will need, spare auto parts (belt, hoses, etc) and a more extensive selection of tools than the roadside emergency kit you put together holds. These bins do not have to be the large, 18-gallon containers. I’d actually recommend against it.
My personal, camping equipment kit is a 14-gallon tote that fits on the floor, behind the front seat of my vehicle, all set and to go whenever I am. There are smaller versions also available. These bins can be packed ahead of time just as personal bug out bags are, ready for any imminent disaster. And when danger strikes load those bins into a rooftop cargo carrier that bolts on, or ties down to existing roof racks. Or they can be stacked up onto a trailer hitch, mounted cargo platform, in a zip-up canvas cover and strapped into place. This then becomes a self-contained, vehicle bug out bag housing all the family’s survival needs when the time comes to go mobile.