If there’s anything the recent flooding in Florida and devastating wildfires in the western U.S. have taught us, it’s that disaster can strike at any moment, without a smidgeon of warning. Indeed, across the globe, those who are in the path of floods, earthquakes or fires rarely get much of a head start. In Russia’s recent flooding, many families had virtually no warning of the coming floodwaters. In Colorado’s recent rash of wildfires, a telephone system intended to warn residents failed to function properly. And many Japanese in 2011’s devastating tsunami had just 15 minutes of warning.
When time is the only thing that stands between your family and an impending disaster, it’s extremely helpful to have a pre-packed disaster prep kit (sometimes called a BOB, or Bug Out Bag) ready to go. That way, even if you only have a five-minute head start, you can grab your bag and run, knowing your kit contains all the essentials you’ll need for two or three days away from home. (Typically, this is the maximum amount of time needed for government agencies and nonprofits to lend a hand to disaster victims.)