An emergency bag is something that everyone should carry in their vehicle. Even if you will never need it will give you some peace of mind knowing you are ready. Since the only real natural disaster that the pacific northwest might have for long-term damage is a massive earthquake we will focus on a bag for that.
The earthquake that happened in Japan is an example of what could happen in the pacific northwest is an earthquake hits off the coast. From what experts predict what we would have would be much worse than what happened in Japan. The Cascadia subduction zone runs for 600 miles along the coasts of Oregon and Washington. If a major quake happened it would be along this entire fault line with a size of 9.0+. This would put a wall of water up to 100 feet high hitting the entire coast line. In addition the size of the quake would cause most of the Willamette valley floor to liquefy into a sinking mass of muddy disaster. Nearly every bridge along the majors rivers would collapse cutting off aid and food supplies to large amounts of people. Power will be cut off for months to years as power poles, transformers, and infrastructure is destroyed. Hopefully this scares you a little, because the chance of this happening in the next 50 years is predicted to be around a 40% chance. I know if it happens while I am at work that I will have a 40 mile walk through potentially flooded fields (also our local dam’s may collapse). This will be a 2-3 day walk so I will put together a bag that can help me with travel for up to 4 days or more.
things to have:
- backpack to hold everything
- pop can stove (a well made one will burn 10-15 minutes on 1 ounce of alcohol)
- bottle of ethyl alcohol (the yellow bottles of HEAT work great)
- cook pan of some kind. You can get military mess kits for fairly cheap. I got mine for $4 each just add some silverware to the inside of the kit.
- Sharp knife and sharpening stone
- 4 days of easily prepared food such as the MRE’s, Hormel microwave meals are good, beans, rice, hardtack. Try to have a good mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Freeze dried meals are nice and light to carry and easy to cook. Just adds a bit to the total expense of your pack
- Snare kit/fishing kit to supplement your carried food. In an emergency there are a lot of Nutria and opossums here in the valley.
- laminated or waterproof map of the area. Due to roads being out you may have to take back roads that you are not familiar with.
- First aid kit (make your own)
- emergency thermal blanket
- some type of waterproof fire starter
- spare change of clothes
- water purification tablets and a strong metal bottle to carry water in. A collapsible water bladder would be good to carry water if you are any distance from a source of water. In the event of a disaster most water will most likely be contaminated so this is very much a necessary. If you have a water filter, you should carry it also.
- small roll of toilet paper in a seal able bag
- Cordage of some type. I vote for paracord 550. One strand will hold up to 550 lbs, and you can pull the inner strands out if you need to for smaller cords for fishing or snares
- 6 or more bullion cubes. (when you are cold and scared a hot salty cup of broth helps a lot)
- Small handheld axe or Machete
- Emergency flares
- Tarp or small tent
- Lightweight sleeping bag
This may seem like a lot to carry, but most of it is very small and easy to carry. An emergency pack shouldn’t be over 20 pounds. Anything that is used for hiking/camping is a great. Most of it is lightweight and packs easily. There are several stoves that you can purchase that will burn almost any kind of fuel. Know the edible plants in your area. Foraging as you travel will reduce your pack weight and provide healthy greens to keep your energy levels up. There are always things that will be unique to your situation that you need to include. If you take a medication then you should have extra with you at all times for these kind of situations. My list of things to include grows and shrinks all the time as I see new items that would help me or replaces something I already have packed.