Let’s make the ultimate emergency reference guide for a bug out bag

In a previous forum thread talking about light weight gear, I recommended that people ditch the heavy and bulky survival manual in their bug out bag, store most of that info in your noggin, and maybe have a laminated 1/2 sheet sized reference guide as a reminder or for those hard things to remember.

Another member asked if I or anyone else has a 1/2 sheet reference guide like this, and to be honest, I don’t. But let us change that and come together and come up with some things to add.

What do you all think of the following list? What do you like, dislike, or want to add? I’ll do all the work and compile it into a document, but I need ideas of important things you would find helpful on a 1/2 sheet size reference guide.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Contact info for someone out of town, for your child’s school, spouse’s workplace, and other important numbers like doctor, insurance company, or utility company.
  • Emergency meeting place location and instructions
  • Diagrams of how to navigate using a wrist watch
  • Diagram of how to set a snare
  • Diagram of knots
  • Escape routes
  • Important radio frequencies

  • Best Replies

  • Comments (11)

    • 4

      That’s a great idea! I’ll keep thinking about it, but off the top of my head…. something that I would like to have as a reference is how many drops of bleach are needed to purify water. I always seem to have to Google it.

      • 5

        I looked it up to help out with this project and found the following:

        Clorox’s website says 1 quart = 4 drops. 1.75 gallons = 25 drops or 1/4 tsp. 

        The CDC says 1 quart =2 drops. 1 gallon = 8 drops

        The EPA says 1 quart = 2 drops. 1 gallon = 8 drops. 

        I vote to go with the bottom two because they seem to be in correlation. But when in doubt, a drop or two more doesn’t hurt.

        Here’s some additional notes from the EPA, but not necessarily necessary for the reference chart you are working on.

        • Disinfect water using household bleach, if you can’t boil water. Only use regular, unscented chlorine bleach products that are suitable for disinfection and sanitization as indicated on the label. The label may say that the active ingredient contains 6 or 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.If water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.
        • Locate a clean dropper from your medicine cabinet or emergency supply kit.
        • Locate a fresh liquid chlorine bleach or liquid chlorine bleach that is stored at room temperatures for less than one year.
        • Use the table below as a guide to decide the amount of bleach you should add to the water, for example, 8 drops of 6% bleach, or 6 drops of 8.25% bleach, to each gallon of water. Double the amount of bleach if the water is cloudy, colored, or very cold.
        • Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let stand for another 15 minutes before use.
        • If the chlorine taste is too strong, pour the water from one clean container to another and let it stand for a few hours before use.

        One thing I would like to see is some star navigation techniques added to the reference chart if you think it is a good idea as well. I know there is a north star but I don’t know how to find it or how to use it once I found it.

    • 2

      We should clearly separate personal material (contact info, meeting place, escape routes, radio freq) from information that helps everyone (knots, snares, navigation). We can have an authoritative PDF for the everyone document. Each of us can print out and laminate. But the personal one would vary so much that at best we could collaborate on an example document.

      For the “everyone document”, could we have a reference on edible or otherwise useful plants? A diagram for how to construct one useful style of shelter?

    • 5

      This is a great idea! I will follow Eric and differentiate “personal” from “general” info. 

      For personal info., I would add insurance policy numbers, insurance claims department phone numbers (i.e., not just the number for your agent), vehicle VINs, computer serial numbers, a list of the dates of key immunizations/vaccines for every household member (always good to know when that most recent tetanus shot was…) and, for pet owners, microchip numbers, the number and address for both your regular vet, a couple of local 24 hour animal hospitals, and animal poison control.

      I also think some general but location-specific info. makes sense. For example, my city has a plan to activate emergency communication nodes after a major earthquake, so I have a map of the nodes. I also have a pictoral guide to when and how to turn off utilities, which is mostly general info. but includes some guidance specifically from PG&E (from when I lived in NorCal). I haven’t added this to my info sheet yet, but I did find a map of major gas lines in my city and I feel like that’s good info. to have in map form if you live in earthquake country. 

      As for totally general survival info., I have the bleach-to-gallons of water ratios already and totally second that idea from Robert. I’d also probably want cues to help me remember how to treat shock and bleeds. I’ve also been meaning to condense this emergency toilet guide into the essentials (i.e., only the stuff that isn’t obvious, though I feel like a lot of it is kind of obvious and kind of not obvious at the same time?).

    • 3

      Thanks for starting off this thread!

      Regarding personal information to include, I’d like to add that I made a some laminated credit-card sized cards for my husband and myself that we carry in our wallets. One side has each other’s phone numbers so that if one of us has an accident, people will be able to contact the other spouse quickly. The other side has phone numbers for a couple of additional family members, police and fire/ambulance numbers (I live in Europe and there are different numbers; I’ve memorized them now but hadn’t earlier), a number for texting the police, the non-emergency police number, the poison control number, and the number for blocking debit/credit cards. Plus if my phone battery dies and I can’t remember his number, I’d be able to still call him from someone else’s phone. For BOB purposes I’d also want to include other contact info for utility companies and other numbers that people already mentioned. I’d also include the IMEI numbers for our phones in case they are stolen, which wouldn’t be that useful in a major emergency but it’s s good to have it written down someplace.

      For general knowledge, I’d agree with what people already suggested: water purification, information/diagrams for making two types of tarp shelters, a couple of knots, navigation techniques, treating shock+ bleeds, how to check if someone had a  stroke or heart attack, and relevant radio frequencies (for those with amateur radios). I’d agree that information about useful plants would be nice, but mainly if the plants are easy to find and recognize locally, e.g. dandelions and wild blackberries.

    • 2

      I can understand having an annotated OS map, a little black book with contact details, call signs, passwords, bank account details, radio frequencies etc. As for the rest of it I can store that in my head so it doesn’t compromise anyone else’s safety or security.
      I already practice making natural cordage, knots, netmaking, trapping and snaring. I’ve no need for a cheat sheet on those matters.
      Everyone’s crib sheep would need to be created individually as we all live in very different situations and have different skill sets.

      • 1

        Many of the items you list on your crib sheet are capabilities you should be mastering now.  tying a critical knot for the first when it really matters?  bad idea.  Learn your knots now!  Same with edible plants.  Try them out now and see if you can handle them.  Will they be available when your really need them – maybe and maybe not.

        A crib sheet is a poor substitute for experience and knowledge.  On the other hand, it is better than nothing at all.

    • 4

      Thank you everyone for your suggestions. Here is a link to our first rough draft of the 1/2 sheet reference chart. (Thanks to TP for hosting the file on their Google Drive).

      It is easily editable so you can remove or add whatever you want. Maybe you don’t care for the section on important phone numbers or how to make an emergency toilet. Change it then and make it your own. I left two little blank sections so you can add whatever you want in there.

      If you want a more comprehensive multi-page reference guide this YouTube video contains a link for a very comprehensive multi-page guide. I think there is too much information in there, some useless stuff, and some things that 100% need training on beforehand and isn’t something you are just going to be able to pick up by looking at the guide. Still, it’s a good guide and I stole a few of the pictures from it for our 1/2 sheet guide.

      Be honest, tell me what you like and dislike and we can add additional info on the second page that people can then copy and past onto the main page.

      • 3

        I think it’s good, it’s clear and factual. I agree with you that any skill that could be necessary to preserve your life should be practiced before you really depend on it.

        Nice job, thank you.

      • 2

        Thanks for the compliment! It’s good to learn about each technique and practice many times beforehand and then use this guide as a refresher of “Oh ya! That’s how you do it”.

        I for example have tied all the knots in the reference guide many many times, but since I don’t do that every day I forget it. But just a quick glance at the diagram reminds me and I’ll be able to do it again.

    • 1

      A user on The Prepared’s Facebook page shared this link containing a few different cheat sheets from various preppers on the internet. Personally I like Bradical’s and this community’s combination in a small 1/2 page form factor, but still take a look at the other cheat sheets out there and see if you want to copy any of the information onto your own small 1/2 page sheet.