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Preparing for a potential crisis does not have to be expensive. Sure, there are some higher-priced items, but filling the ultimate bug-out bag or first aid kit can be done on a shoestring budget. Putting together a “get-me-home bag” for everyone in the family can be accomplished both quickly and easily.
Here are 9 items, each under $9:
1. Tea tree oil is a must for any first aid kit or bug-out bag. The local big box store likely carries an adequate version of the natural antibiotic for around $5 to $7 dollars. You also can make it. Tea tree oil can be used to soothe sore muscles and to clean wounds. Apply in small amounts on lips to prevent and reduce blisters, and spread on the skin to deter insects.
2. Fire Starters can be made by wrapping dryer lint inside wax paper. Twist the ends so it looks like a piece of candy and put them in the bag or kit until needed. They are lightweight and take up very little space. You can also purchase a package of Paraffin wax to make hard, solid fire starters which also take up little space. Fill the pockets of an empty egg carton with dryer lint, pour the melted wax over the carton pockets and place in the freezer. To prevent mess and loss of wax, do this in three stages, filling the carton a little higher with wax each time. Once the lint and wax are thoroughly frozen, remove from the freezer. Cut or tear the pockets apart and place the individual fire starters where you want to store them.
3. Small sewing kits in plastic cases are also available at discount or dollar stores. The kits can serve as both a first-aid and long-term preparedness item. In case of emergency, the kit could be used to stitch up a wound. The small sewing kits can be used to repair holes in socks, gloves and hats, and to turn a shirt into a makeshift baby gown.
4. Portable gun-cleaning kit. Guns must be cleaned regularly and properly in order for the firearm to remain in top working order. A small bottle of gun cleaning solvent sells for about $3 to $5.
Put the solvent and a pack of cotton patches (about $3 for a big package) into a plastic bag and then inside your bug-out bag. Although the portable gun-cleaning kit will not have the tools necessary to fix a broken weapon, it will be sufficient to perform typical maintenance after firing your weapon.
5. Hand warmer packets often sell for $1 each at a dollar store. These little packets will not only keep you warm during an emergency, but they also can be held next to sore muscles or tired feet to soothe the area. In a pinch, wrapping several hand warmers around an MRE pouch should heat the meal enough for you to eat. If you are hungry and do not want to attract attention by building a fire, the hand warmers are at least worth a try.
6. Sample packets or travel size containers of generic bandages, aspirin or Tylenol, and a roll of gauze can comprise a basic first aid kit. Add a tube of super glue from the dollar store to the mix, and simple first aid tasks can easily be accomplished. Super glue is great for stopping blood flow. One-time use ice packs are also often available at dollar stores. Putting $9 worth of first aid supplies from the discount retailers in a gallon Zip Lock bag will not weigh much and can fit inside a purse or child’s backpack.
7. Flashlights. That is, more than one. If you drop your flashlight into a pond or drop it on a rock, you will need a backup. As we all well know, one is none and two is one. While quality flashlights with all sorts of fancy options can become a little pricey, the dollar store variety can serve as a viable substitute for a “get-me-home bag” and in a children’s backpack. Two dollar store flashlights and extra batteries can be had for less than $10. Generic batteries might not last as long, so search for online for coupons and buy quality batteries when they go on sale.
8. A signaling mirror is yet another cheap must for the bug-out bag. Buy both a small and handle variety from a discount store. Wrapping the handle in duct tape will make the mirror more durable. Wrap the mirrors inside the emergency change of clothes in the bag to protect it from cracking.
9. Pool floats can also serve a valuable purpose in an emergency scenario. If you opt to travel home or to a safe location by going through the woods to avoid roadways, water may become an issue. Blowing up a pool floating mat or inner-tube may allow you to take a shortcut and wade through water while keeping your bug-out bag dry. If you are tired or injured, floating on the pool toy may also help you reach your destination easier.