Have You Thought Of?

By “The Coach” (Contributing Editor)


How well have you thought out what to bring/pack with your gear should you have to evacuate or bug out of your residence in an emergency or imminent major disaster?

Sure you have a well thought out Bug Out bag or similar named bag that you can grab and go in an emergency/disaster. You may even keep a well-stocked bag in your vehicle at all times. These bags should have EVERYTHING that you may need to survive for a minimum of two weeks. But you already know this and if you are like me, having gone over that bag many times rethinking what you have packed and what you may need to pack in the bag.

But have you really thought of everything that is important?

One night a couple of years back, my wife observed me going over our bug out bags. I asked her to join me and give me her opinion as to what I may have forgotten or she may think we needed to add. So she sat there with me. After I completed going through our bug out bags I asked my wife, whom I will call Maria, (not her real name) if she could think of anything that I have forgotten or anything that may be important to her to take with us.

Maria thought about it for a second and said, if we had to evacuate for a major disaster or a major emergency and the possibility existed that our house may be destroyed or we might not be able to return home, the one thing that I would want is all of our pictures; our high school pictures, wedding pictures, pictures of our children as they grew up, vacation pictures, pictures of our relatives, etc. She said, if the house and all of our pictures were destroyed, we would never be able to replace them. They are all of our memories of years gone by.

Maria was right. I told Maria that I would work on it and see what I could come up with.

We have a lot of pictures both hanging on the walls of our home, in photo albums and in boxes in the attic. It would be impossible to pack all of the photographs and still have room for any need equipment and food if we had to Bug Out. The time to gather all of them would be prohibitive should we have to leave in a hurry.

Then I started to think about how to organize all of our photographs and then I thought about all of our important documents. Documents like our wills, house title, house and vehicle insurance policies, life insurance policies, deeds to our other properties we own, bills of sales, firearms records and the list seemed to be endless.

I then looked around our home and thought, how would I prove to our insurance agent what we owned if it was all destroyed.

As fate would have it, one day my eldest grandson, Mathew who is 13 years old, happened to be at our house and asked what I was doing? I explained my dilemma to him. Mathew said why don’t you digitize everything and put it on a memory stick (thumb drive). Memory sticks take up almost no room; they are light weight and can hold a lot of information.


          That was the answer I was looking for. I went with my grandson to Wally World and purchased a computer printer/copier/scanner. Along with the printer, I purchased one (1), 64 Gigabyte thumb drive.

I returned home and installed the computer printer/copier/scanner. I took one of our photographs from the wall where it was hanging, placed it on the copier/printer/scanner, plugged in the thumb drive and copied the photo to the thumb drive. I took the thumb drive from the printer/copier/scanner and checked the image that I had just stored on it. The image appeared to be perfect.

I took the thumb drive over to Wally World and had a photograph printed off of the stored image. Fifteen minutes later I had an exact copy of the photograph hanging on the wall of our home.

I went back home and showed Maria the photo I just had reproduced and explained the process. Maria was satisfied with the results.

Now the work started, I digitized every photograph that we had that would fit onto the printer/copier/scanner. Then I digitized all of the fore mentioned documents.

I then took my digital camera and took photographs of every wall and closet in our home to document our belongings. Then I composed a Word document that listed all of the items in our home, of value, TVs, etc. their full descriptions and serial numbers.

Everything fit on the thumb drive.

I keep the thumb drive in a small zip lock bag, in my wife’s bug out bag.

Now if we evacuate/bug out, when my wife grabs her Bug Out bag the thumb drive is in it and she has all of the pictures and important documents that we need and want.

It is a simple process to update the thumb drives when we take new photographs, purchase new items or receive renewed insurance policies.

Yes, it takes a little time to accomplish the above task but the benefits outweigh the time.

This makes a great project for the winter months when you are getting cabin fever.


NOTE:  I DO NOT receive ANY compensation, of ANY kind, from ANY company, for mentioning ANY product, named in ANY of my articles. I write about products that work for me.




“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

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  1. I don’t know why you, or any blog-masters seem so obsessed with wanting to let the readers know that you’re “not” representing any particular company or business. If Campbells Soup, for example works well for you, let us know. Unless you are constantly promoting one particular product I think the readers can appreciate your general objectivity.

  2. always make at least 2 copies.. 3 is even better. keep at least one off site. trust me, flash drives are very convenient but WILL die on you when you least expect it… I use external hard drives. one in an Otter box at home and one off site in a safe. I update the local one regularly and then copy it to the offsite one monthly. updating is not hard and should just be part of your regular maintenance routine

  3. I made 3 duplicate thumb drive copies of my important documents & pics …. I have them positioned in different safe locations for maximum survival chances …. instead of just storing in a plastic bag …. I found small sized thumb drives that fit inside all metal constructed match safes …. for EMP protection I wrap the drives in plastic ….

    keep in mind to index the thumb drive contents and keep the documents current …. new copy of any drivers license – yearly copy of insurance policies – paid tax bill – yearly income tax filing – investment portfolio – ect ect

  4. Thumb drives are great and I use this technology as well, however make sure to keep HARD (paper) copies of your most vital documents.

    – Identification docs
    – Proof of military or other service
    – Deed to property

    What if the grid is down and you need to produce a document that shows you are the true and rightful owner of your home, AND time is of the essence? “Hold on officer, let me get my thumb drive. What’s what, nobody has a laptop?”

  5. If you are going to rely on a thumb (flash) drive, it is a sound idea, but please – PLEASE! make a second copy of your data, pictures, documents, etc.

    They do go ‘south.’ I’ve only known of one person, other than myself, who has lost valuable data from a thumb drive, but it DOES happen.

    I teach (college) and had all my class notes, lectures, PowerPoint videos, etc. on a thumb drive and – you guessed it – it quit on me. I’m now having to go back and redo years of work since I DIDN’T have it duplicated on a separate data source.

    I simply encourage you to buy two, and record it on both. Remember, ‘two is one, and one is none’ – a good point in this case.


    Son of Liberty

  6. Have several back-ups. I believe the M-disks are more long lasting. I leave a set at my daughters house, in case I can’t get to any of mine. And that way the family will have it all if anything happens to us also. If you don’t have any family or other offsite place where you can store a digital copy, then I would suggest a safe deposit box.

  7. Hi when reading about survival manuals (theres alot of info) way too much to print and bring along. I got samsung phones. Replaceable battery, works with no simcard and got solar charger for it. TO USE USB KEY just get small cable that fits powerport on phone with USB female in other end. Got it from Tmart for 2$. Now you got solar powered phone with acces to ALL SURVIVAL MATERIAL.

    • lis –

      Many of the cell phones and tablets out there have great battery life, can be charged via solar, and can hold SD cards filled with tons of manuals, guides, articles, etc.

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