Wake Up, Stuffs* Happening!
*Use your preferred colorful metaphor
For a while now I've been thinking about preparing for those fast happening emergencies that happen in the middle of the night after a friend of the family was woken out of a dead sleep in at 4 am by his cat. His house was on fire and he only had a few moments to get our of bed and collect his wife, 2 kids, and dog (the cat got out on his own, but was nice enough to give them a warning beforehand!)
The house was almost completely destroyed, all of the bedrooms and the home office were lost. Photos, computers, office filing cabinet: all gone. The garage was where the fire started so he couldn't get to his emergency kits on the way out!
Their cars were parked out in front of the house, but he ran out without the keys so both were lost to the blaze once the house really lit up.
Talking with him about what happened, he was only in the frame of mind to grab his phone from the nightstand in addition to his family members, and only had about 3 minutes to escape before the smoke began to overtake them.
This really got me thinking, how can someone be prepared for this kind of situation, where there is only 2 - 3 minutes to get out of harms way?
This led me to a new concept: an ultra-portable emergency kit that sits next to your bed and is ready to go in a moments notice. We're calling it a WUSH Bag.
Wake up, Stuffs* Happening Bag
We talk a lot about Bug Out Bags and they are a really important preparation. But if you only had 3 minutes to get our of your house, would you be able to grab it? Most people don't keep them in their bedroom. Hopefully you can keep it by the front door but lets be honest, 99% of us keep them buried in a random closet or in the garage.
Would you have everything in it you would need to restart your life if you lost everything?
This is why a WUSH Bag is so important. Why? For a few reasons that we'll dive into deeper but for now:
- It's next to your bed, in a night stand, or under the bed. Within arms reach from where you sleep at night.
- You can grab it and be out of your home in seconds.
- It's small: you can still collect wife, kids, pets, etc without it getting in the way.
- It has all the essentials you'll need to start your life over, and save you a ton headaches.
Lets look at that last part first, number 4, since it's arguably the most important.
What goes in a WUSH Bag?
We're going to go category by category first to explain some things. If you want just the itemized list scroll down to the bottom where its summarized.
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Wallet & Cell Phone
Keep your wallet at arms reach from where you sleep. Preferably also next to your phone and next to your WUSH Bag. This way you can dump both into your WUSH Bag quickly if you have to bolt.
If you are so disciplined just keep your wallet in your WUSH Bag at night so it's one less thing to worry about.
Dumb Phone Backup
You can also do what we do: have a cheap dumb-phone from Walmart for $30. Look for one with a big battery with a long standby time. The old-style phones typically last for weeks as opposed to the couple of days smart phones last.
Make sure it's a 3g phone cause 2g is no longer active. Be careful if you are looking to get one on Amazon, lots of 2G phones on there.
Also throw an extra charging cube and charging cable(s) that match your device. Grab a multi-port USB wall charger if you have a big family with a lot of phones to charge.
We also have a backup USB battery pack. It has multiple outputs and can charge our phones 4x. I only have to remember to charge it up 3-4x a year cause it holds its charge.
Use EXTRA keys! Go to your local hardware store and get copies of your house keys. If you have duplicate car keys put them in there. If you need to get more made. This set should live in the WUSH bag and NOT be used on a daily basis. Put them on a key ring and on a lanyard so they can be found quickly.
If our family friend had the time to take his car keys during the fire, he could have saved both vehicles before they were destroyed. That would have made their lives 100x easier after the fire.
Portable USB Drive
Arguably the most important item in the kit, at least when it comes to preserving your past and your family legacy. This is the best, most least expensive insurance policy you will ever buy. Why? Because here is what you will put on it:
- Digital copies of all of your family photos
- Copies of all the files in your Documents and Desktop folders of your computer(s)
- Backup copies of your: (If you don't have a scanner, just try to take decent photographs with a phone)
- Drivers License
- Insurance Policies
- Deed for House
- Marriage License
- Heath Insurance Info
- Credit Cards
- Blank Check
- Backup of all important Phone Numbers: family, neighbors, friends
- Whatever other important things you can think of
Don't skimp on the hard drive size. Get at least 4GB. You will eventually need the space unless your digital footprint is just teeny tiny. You can get an inexpensive portable USB hard drive with 4 or 5gb of space for around $120.
Setup a schedule to backup to it on a regular basis. Once a month at least. Set a calendar alert on your phone to remind you. PUT THE DRIVE BACK INTO THE WUSH BAG when you are done!!
Put a piece of painters tape on it and label it "Emergency Backup Drive" and add your name and phone number in case it gets misplaced. Also put a piece of tape over the USB port on it just to keep water out as a backup protection measure. You could also put the whole thing in a Ziploc bag.
If you and the wife/husband keep your personal stuff in separate areas, then you might not be able to grab their wallet or phone on the way out. Have printed copies of their important documents and ID's tucked into a pocket of the WUSH Bag.
You will hopefully have your wallet with you, but if it's lost in the rush out of the house you're stuck. Put as much cash away as you are comfortable doing in the WUSH Bag. Make it a mix of small and large bills. Keep in mind that you might need at least a weeks worth of money, especially during holiday times where banks may be closed.
If you suffer from any sort of serious or chronic illness it would behoove you to have at least a weeks worth of backup medications in your WUSH Bag. It may take a few days to get a hold of your Doctor and get a new prescription filled. Don't take that chance or you'll may wind up with a hospital visit to boot.
If you're like us, you can't see very well without your glasses. Toss an old pair in there if you can. Even if the prescription is a little old and the lenses are a little beat up at least it will be better than nothing. If you have a spare box of contacts, you can go that way as well.
This one is optional however it's a good add since the WUSH Bag is likely to be used at night this may be helpful, especially if you have lost power due to the reason you are evacuating the house.
You may have a couple of items you want to throw in there: snack bars, boo-boo kit, etc. But don't go nuts. The point of this thing is to get you out of the house and into shelter somewhere else, while making sure you have whats most important to you.
What Kind Of Bag Should You Use?
A WUSH Bag is NOT a full-blown emergency preparedness kit. It is meant to be a grab-and-go kit. As such it should be very compact and easy to store and grab. It should have a strap to allow you to keep both arms free. Ideally it will have multiple pockets on the outside so you can keep it easily organized.
We prefer a bag you carry like a messenger bag or a purse, meaning one strap you sling over your head and shoulder. If it has a handle as well that would be ideal.
A small backpack would be acceptable if you already have one lying around but it needs to be small and not over-packed.
We use a Voltaic Systems Switch Bag, mainly because we had it lying around but also because it was the right size. It has a built-in 6 watt solar panel and came with a 4000mah backup battery.
If you have something already laying around that would work then just use that. It doesn't have to be that fancy or durable. It just needs to be good enough to hold the stuff you need.
Not to harp on it, but keep it small. This isn't a mini Bug Out Bag. You're probably gonna need to grab some other things...like kids or pets!
The WUSH Bag Checklist
So as promised, here is the list stripped away to just the items you need:
- Cell Phone (and/or backup Dumb Phone)
- Backup USB Battery and Charging Cables
- House & Car Key Copies
- Backup USB Drive (4GB or greater!)
- Backup Printed Documents
- Old Prescription Glasses
- Miscellaneous little things relevant to you
That's it! Go make yours now, it probably won't take you more than 10 minutes to get most of it organized. Grab a backup drive from Amazon and go get copies of your keys made.
Thank you for the article. I use a small gym bag for my bag. Part of the reason is I also have a pair of sweat pants, shirt, and old shoes in it. I don't mind escaping the fire in my PJ's but I don't want to stand around in them while watching the fire or checking into a hotel.