We have had more than our share of sticky situations. In the spring of 2016, we were alerted that there was a tornado on the ground and headed our way. With little time available, we grabbed our computers, our two dogs and cats, and drove away with no guarantee our rig would be there when we got back. We got lucky, but it made it quite clear how ill-equipped we were.
“Be prepared” should be the mantra of every frequent traveler and fulltime RVer. Emergencies can result in property damage, bodily harm, and even death. If you need to evacuate, you want to be able to quickly gather what you need, and perhaps the best way to do that is to assemble a “bug out bag”. Bug-out Bag 101
itself needs to be something that is versatile, roomy, lightweight, and easy to organize. Although hopefully you can just grab your bag and take off in your “toad,”
there are occasions that may prohibit this, such as with closed roads when the nearest storm shelter is several blocks or even a couple of miles away. Optimally, you should be able to carry your full bag—with all essentials—for an hour or more, just in case. Basic Necessities
There’s no reason to brainstorm all of the things you might want to include in your basic bag. Based on our experiences, these are items that take up the least amount of space and provide the most benefit.
- Since all of our records—and our means of earning an income—are on our laptops, when we aren’t using them they go in their bags. This keeps them easily accessible.
- A pair of dry shoes and socks for each occupant is a good idea. Even though we only had to evacuate for a few hours in 2016, the first thing we noticed was how incredibly soaked our feet were. We would have been grateful for spare footwear that day. If room allows, two full sets of clothing should be packed. Just remember to switch them out seasonally.
- Keep a working, spare phone charger (or a prepaid phone just for emergencies) in your bag. It’s only during evacuation that we discovered our car charger was still plugged in to the RV outlet and both phones were nearly dead.
- Add a flashlight or headlamp and fire starter in a waterproof container, even if you already have these in the “toad.”
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- Buy spare first aid items, multi-purpose hygiene products, pet-care items, medications, and vitamins. Remember to use and replace them before expiration dates.
- Even if you’re only gone for a few hours, it’s a good idea to have some food. The last thing you want to worry about during an emergency is a drop in blood sugar, which can affect decision-making. Protein bars or MREs (meals ready to eat) make perfect solutions.
Related Read: Putting Together your RV First Aid Kit
- Consider adding water purification tablets, so you can use whatever water is available. They take up less space than one liter minimum, per day, per person.
- Pack some good, multi-purpose gadgets and tools that can be used for a variety of tasks. These may include a small fishing kit, a small sewing kit, and a Swiss army knife.
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- Safety whistle to alert assistance and perhaps pepper spray in case of rioting.
- Our favorite, “don’t leave home without them” items: bungee cords and duct tape. They have gotten us out of many tricky situations.
Be sure to add items that are specific to the needs of each of your RV’s occupants, such as spare glasses or contacts and perhaps a few sources of easy entertainment
like a deck of playing cards. These will come in handy if you have to stay in a shelter or are without power for a while. In Conclusion
Of course, these are just suggestions of ways to get the most useful items in the smallest space. It’s also a good idea to keep some shelter basics like a sleeping bag or blankets in your toad at all times. A ready-made first aid kit and some additional protein bars in the glove compartment can make a tough situation more comfortable. You never want to evacuate your RV and staying aware of your surroundings can minimize that risk. Having a good bug out bag stowed in a convenient to access location will help.