Well, I figured as long as I'm going insane and stocking some extra canned food in an unused cupboard for just-in-case, I may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. Yes, I'm pulling together a bugout bag. Have I gone certifiably crazy, or what?!
Actually it's more of a bug-in bag. A convenient centralized storage place for items that might come in handy in an emergency, better to have them already assembled than to be scrounging around and searching once the proverbial shit has hit the fan. I can't really think of an emergency, this side of a house fire, where I'd be better off fleeing my house rather than staying and digging in.
Still, I can think of a number of actual incidents, in the years I've lived here, when it might've been handy to have a bag like this assembled in advance. Ice storms are frequent here in the winter, and I can remember several which kept many people in these remote rural parts pretty much confined to home base for four or five days, and the roads not really so navigable, even with 4WD and a Jeep like mine, for upwards of a week. There are ice storms, there are blizzards, there are power outages, there is flooding, there are tornadoes. A tornado has never come my way yet, though there have been a few close misses, with major damage where the thing touched down. And I could tell you about the time a few years ago when I had to deal with two feet of water in my basement, and many local roads out due to flooding.
I'm basically pulling together a bag which will have what I need in one place in case I need to get along here at home, without electricity and/or without ready access to the outside world for a few days. As a very secondary aim, I'm also planning with an eye to the (much less likely) contingency of ending up staying with neighbors, or in a public shelter, or having to leave the area entirely on short notice.
You can google on bugout bags, and see what people commonly put in them. What strikes me is just how overly-heavy and overloaded many of these bags are. I mean, come on, am I really going to head off into the sunset wearing a backpack that weighs 80 or 100 pounds? I don't think so. The usual advice-- pack two extra changes of clothing, pack a sleeping bag, pack a tent, pack a portable toilet-- I'm sorry, but I'm assuming that unless there's a house fire in the middle of the night, I'm going to be suitably dressed, and carrying in my pockets those items I carry in my pockets whenever I'm dressed. And I'm not planning to leave on a permanent survivalist's camping trip on a moment's notice. We're talking have it on hand, or carry it with me, in some kind of practical real-world framework.
So, I started out by limiting myself to what I could pack inside a shaving bag. A leather dopp kit. This immediately ruled out extra clothes, or food and water, or portable toilets, or any of the other usual extravagances you'll find on so many BOB packing lists. And I was surprised at how much I could fit in that small leather bag, at a total weight of only 10 or 15 pounds.
Coming next: The contents of my bugout bag