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In my free webcast on disaster recovery planning for small businesses, I talked about building a bug-out bag.

My Bug-Out Bag

My Bug-Out Bag

Every IT professional should have a bug-out bag in the trunk of their car with enough stuff to let them hit the road for 24-48 hours straight.  This gear helps you react more confidently to minor problems and major disasters.  Here’s what I’ve got in my bug-out bag:

A polyester polo shirt. Hardly the pinnacle of fashion, but polyester can be rolled up for months at a time without holding permanent wrinkles.  If I spill something all over the front of my shirt right before I need to be seen in public, this gives me a little bit of an insurance policy.

A couple of old t-shirts. These can serve as apparel or rags, whatever’s needed at the moment.

Swimsuit trunks. Because sometimes an opportunity for sailing or swimming just presents itself, and I’m not too fond of skinny dipping.

A power inverter. Plug this into your cigarette lighter, and you can power a couple of electric outlets for things like laptops, cell phone chargers or a coffee bean grinder.  (Yep – I used that after a hurricane.  Forgot to grind beans ahead of time for my Bialetti Moka coffeemaker that runs off a gas stove.)

Jumper cables with instructions. Every now and then somebody’s car needs a jump-start, and I never remember how these are supposed to clip on. I’ve tried the kind that plug in via cigarette lighters and had miserable luck.

A pocket road atlas. In my disaster recovery webcast, I explain that you might not be able to rely on the internet connection in your fancypants phone.  This little pocket atlas helps me find routes around problems.

A padlock. I move around a lot, and every now and then I need to lock up a U-Haul truck or a storage unit.

Some tools, including an adjustable wrench, needle-nose pliers, and a screwdriver kit with socket fittings.  I’m not handy by any means, but I can lend these tools to someone who can actually fix something.

A self-powered radio/flashlight/charger. I bought this Eton FR150 for $30 last year, and it’s a slick little device.  It’s a small weather radio that also doubles as a cell phone charger, and it’s powered via hand cranking or solar cells.  The manual says that 15 minutes of cranking equals around 1 minute of talk time, and I hope I never have to find out.  It’s easy to crank, and the weather radio works great.

I’ve also got a few more things that aren’t pictured:

  • Bottles of water
  • A box of energy bars
  • A pair of old blue jeans
  • A pair of sandals (good for boating or hiking)
  • Phone charger and cables (I keep those in the glove box)
  • Copies of my insurance paperwork

In the webcast, I also explain other things database administrators should keep in their bag, like install CDs, license keys, and contact lists.  I’m lucky enough not to have to support any production applications at the moment.

You can build a bag just like this for under $50 using things you’ve already got around the house.  They’ll do you much more good in your car trunk.  Hurricane season is coming again this year – why haven’t you built a bug-out bag yet?

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  1. Good list. Now that you’re living in the north, you might want to include candles, gloves, and an emergency blanket.

    Also, if 15 minutes of cranking only gets you 1 minute of radio time, you might ask for your money back. :)

  2. >Also, if 15 minutes of cranking only gets you 1 minute of radio time,
    >you might ask for your money back. :)

    Or get a battery powered cranker…

  3. Great list! Throw in a weather radio or a portable scanner as well–for those that live in the frozen north. I keep it as part of my “survival case.”

  4. Add a lighter than can withstand hurricane force winds, and water purifying tablets.

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