What if you had only three minutes to grab whatever you could take from your home, and the rest of your belongings would be lost forever?

What would you take?

As the compound disaster in Japan switches from the short term devastation of the earthquakes and tsunami to the long term and complicated damage of nuclear radiation, many people that have been forced from their homes are facing the fact that they may not be able to return for a long time, if ever.

With this in mind, let’s discuss the value of a Bug Out Bag. This bag (B.O.B. for short) is a collection of goods that you would need to survive if you had to flee your home with no guarantee of shelter, food or water during the emergency. Think of the B.O.B. as your survival insurance policy for any disaster or mayhem.

Most people use either a backpack or a duffle bag as the container for their goods, which should include basic survival essentials and a few irreplaceable items. Any good B.O.B. should include a minimum of the following–with most things sealed in zip-top bags to prevent water damage:

• Necessary prescription meds that you need to live
• Shelter items like a backpacking tent and sleeping bag, or at least a tarp and blanket
• A couple quarts of drinking water, and purification equipment to disinfect more water
• High-calorie, no-cook foods like protein bars, peanut butter, trail mix, etc.
• First-aid, sanitation and hygiene supplies
• Fire starting methods, and a small pot to boil water or cook
• A few basic tools like a knife, some duct tape, rope, etc.
• Extra clothes appropriate to the season
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Cash
• A digital backup of all your important documents and family treasures. This could be a thumb drive with your bank info, insurance documents, wills, family photos and videos

You could keep a B.O.B. by the front door, or even have multiple bags at home, at the office and in your car. This might seem like overkill, or even a little paranoid to some of you, but just imagine what a difference this kind of preparation would have made to the people of Japan. Then think of the difference a B.O.B. will make if those disasters happen to you.