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Top 5 Reasons to Keep a Book in Your Evacuation Bag

Jana believes in being prepared and self-sufficient. She also loves sharing prepper tips and community projects with kindred spirits.


Grab and Go: the Purpose of a "Bug Out Bag"

Preparation enthusiasts refer to this grab-and-go as their “bug out bag.” It might contain personal documents and survival gear preferred by the individual. Overall, the golden rule is to pack items that pull their weight. In other words, things that help with sustenance and survival.

This bag is crucial as a concentrated survival source but holds limited packing space. There is a good reason for this. It must be small enough to allow the person to move quickly. Nobody is going to escape a riot while lugging two giant suitcases. So why add a book?

1. Light a Fire

It's no secret that paper is flammable. Once it catches fire, paper can flare long enough to kindle a fire. This is perfect for when you're running low on matches. Apart from lighting a fire, paper can also provide the base for one. Any fire needs some kind of kindling, things like small sticks and dry grass.

Scrunch a few pages into balls and shove them in between the wood. However, avoid adding too much paper to a fire; the resulting ashes can clog the hearth and smother the fire.

2. Entertainment

When bag space is limited, taking a book along for pure entertainment sounds like a waste. This is a personal choice, but it could help to take the edge of a bad experience.

Most people need a distraction from the grind of everyday life. It can be a television program, movies or the Internet. All those things require electricity or going to a public place, options that are not always possible or safe during a social crisis. Such times are distressing enough, but to a bored mind, things can appear even worse.

A valuable survival skill is to channel one's thoughts productively. Once settled in a safe location, the reading of a favorite book can keep a worried mind from conjuring up more panic and fears than necessary.

When the need for entertainment is great but electricity is out, a book can be the perfect choice.

When the need for entertainment is great but electricity is out, a book can be the perfect choice.

3. First Aid

Paper can stave blood. This is not an option for heavy bleeding or prolonged use. However, when band-aids are lacking and you sustained a cut, pressing a piece of absorbent paper against the wound will provide a barrier that helps inhibit the flow.

Books are not the cleanest things, especially when they're second-hand. However, finger contamination should be less on the inner side nearest the binding area. Never use stained or dirty pages for first-aid. The wound should also be sterilized as quickly as possible once the bleeding has stopped.

4. Toilet Paper

Real toilet paper is prized in any evacuation bag. During a serious social problem, there is always a chance that, among other necessities, the rolls might run out before new ones are available. Indeed, toiletries are hard to replace when a grocery store's suppliers are cut off, people gather in a shelter or worse: when one is forced to grab the bag and stay on the move. Then you'll be glad you packed your 800-page fantasy trilogy.

Certain kinds of paper make a good replacement for toilet paper. Glossy magazines are out.

Certain kinds of paper make a good replacement for toilet paper. Glossy magazines are out.

5. Body Heat

Rough sleepers often make newspaper blankets. These large pages are remarkably warm. However, the pages of a book are too small for a makeshift blanket. This doesn't mean a book cannot help keep the body warm.

Extremities like the feet need warmth. A few pages wrapped around each foot before pulling on a sock can provide insulation. Pages placed underneath clothes can also insulate the torso, midriff, arms, and legs. There is a big caveat: When paper placed on the body becomes soaked, perhaps through rain, they must be removed immediately. Instead of incubating your own body heat, wet pages will strip you of precious warmth. Needless to say, in a survival situation that can be deadly.

Treat It as a Second Choice

A book is a good item to add to an emergency bag. That being said, all five points have better options: firelighters can start a fire; a bandage can stop worse bleeding; real toilet paper is king; a blanket is unbeatable; and entertainment is not necessary to one's immediate survival. A book is your five-in-one backup that's readily available when the main choices run out, are destroyed or were never packed.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jana Louise Smit