6 Essential Items for Your Bug-out Bag

6 Essential Items for Your Bug-out Bag

Do you have a bug-out bag (emergency survival kit) prepared in case of a hurricane, tornado, flood or other disaster? If not, now is the time to put one together!

A poll from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster, but only 39 percent of respondents have developed an emergency plan. We’re not saying you need to be a conspiracy theorist or a doomsday enthusiast, but you should at least have supplies on hand to take care of yourself and your family in an emergency.

A bug-out bag contains the essential items you need to survive for 72 hours. While certain items may vary based on your location and your skillset (it doesn’t make much sense to pack tools you don’t know how to use in hopes that you’ll learn on the spot), here are the six must-have items to pack in your bug-out bag.



Survival experts say you can live up to three weeks without food, but water is a different story. You can’t survive for more than three days without water, which is why this is the first, most important item on our list. You can pack water in a variety of ways: water bottles, water pouches or a built-in or exterior bladder for your pack.

Remember, everything you include in your pack adds to the total weight, and water bottles can feel heavy if you’re carrying your bag for an extended period of time. Instead of multiple bottles, pack these portable hydration tools:


Pack a three-day supply of food. Although canned food will keep for an extended period of time, cans add unnecessary weight. Pack portable food options like nutrition bars, trail mix, and ziploc snack bags. In addition to snacks, pack some pre-packaged emergency food:

Survival Tools

Survival tools like knives, flashlights, matches and a multi-purpose tool will help you handle the elements and are useful in the event you need to cut through things, fend off animals, make your way in the dark or set up shelter. Survival tools for your bug out bag:


When it comes to shelter, you’re restricted to the size of your bag, and since you need to pack a lot of other items, a tent may not be ideal. Tarps are a great shelter option because they are extremely versatile so pack some tarps and some rope.

To keep warm and shield yourself from the elements pack these shelter items:


You can’t predict the weather in advance, so make sure you pack clothes you can layer if it’s cold or remove if it’s warm. Pack a pair of boots, breathable, waterproof clothing and an extra pair of socks. You may also want to pack a pair of work gloves and personal hygiene products. When it comes to clothes, just pack the essentials. You’re packing for survival so you don’t need multiple options or unnecessary weight.

Miscellaneous Supplies

Include the following safety and communication items:

If you’re still not sure of exactly what you need, you can also purchase one of our pre-packed emergency backpacks.

Keep your Bag Ever-ready

Set a phone alert or email reminder every 12 months to ensure your bag has items that will work and be somewhat fresh or at least palatable. Check batteries, battery packs or use as many items that are solar-powered as possible. For the energy bars, replacing them at least annually is a good idea, if not more often.

Pack your bug-out bag in hopes that you will never need it, but with the confidence that you have everything you need in the event of emergency.

True Crime Confessions: Former Burglars Share the Home Security Tactics That Scared Them Away

True Crime Confessions: Former Burglars Share the Home Security Tactics That Scared Them Away

If you want to know what really works to keep your home and family safe from break-ins, who better to ask than an expert at breaking into homes? That’s right, a burglar!

We’ve gone straight to the source to help you maximize your home security. Keep reading for six tips from former criminals on how they chose their targets and what you can do to scare them away.

Burglars Prefer Vacant Houses

The majority of burglars hit houses between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when people are at school or work. Before they attempt to enter a house, they look for signs that someone is home. “I would check for cars in the street/drive/garage and watch for a short while for activity inside the house,” one former burglar confesses. “Also, I would watch for the flicker of a TV or computer screen, and as I got closer, I listen for noise from a radio or TV, or a person moving around.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Consider leaving the TV or radio on while you’re away from home.
  • Timed lights and motion-activated lights (which you should install as part of your security system) can trick potential burglars into thinking someone is home.

Burglars Prefer Houses Without Alarms

If you don’t already have an alarm system or security devices, like cameras and motion detectors, your house may be an attractive target for potential burglars. A survey of 400+ burglars found that 83 percent said they would try to detect if an alarm was present before breaking into a house and 60 percent said they would find another target if there was an on-site alarm.

Here’s what you should do:

Intruders Want to Get in and Out, Fast

When it comes to breaking into a house, time is of the essence. A thief wants to get in, score the goods like cash, jewelry, electronics and easily-pawnable items and make a break for it. If a burglar can’t get into your house within one minute, he will often move on to the next target.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Slow the burglar down and encourage them to give up and find another house:
  • Get stronger locks like deadbolts and smart locks to add to the time it takes to enter your home.
  • Add security laminate to your windows, making it harder for thieves to gain access by breaking the window. The retired cat known by the moniker “taw4” says, “A crook’s worst enemy is time, and the laminate takes up too much of that.”
  • Keep track of your keys! About one in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key they had previously acquired to gain entry. Get a really good key hider rather than giving your keys out to friends and neighbors.

Burglars Want the Easy Way In

Having strong locks is one thing, but they can only help so much if you forget to use them. You and your family must be diligent about locking the doors when you leave your house. Most burglars like to operate without forced entry. More than 60 percent of thieves come in through unlocked doors and windows.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Create a routine so you regularly lock your doors and windows.

A Big Dog May Not Deter A Burglar

Some burglars avoid dogs, but others don’t. Turns out, some burglars fear little, yappy dogs more than bigger dogs. According to one former burglar:

“Let me give you the low-down on dogs: they aren’t protection or security. A dog can usually be easily usually. Act friendly, give it a few rubs, and they’ll happily follow you around. If that doesn’t work, after my first run-in with an annoying dog (a small, yappy dog), I started carrying rawhide sticks with me. That stopped them very fast. Also, on the topic of dogs, if you want a security dog, get a small, loud dog that barks at almost everything. Big dogs may look scary, but considering most people don’t like the chance of their dog turning on them, the dogs are either very tame, or chained up. Small dogs, however, bark–a lot. Those were the only ones I was ever worried about. Even then, as I said, a stick or two of rawhide and they were down for the count.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Install an alarm system (burglars can’t bribe alarm systems with treats!)

Thieves Look for Places to Hide

Contrary to what the movies suggest, many burglars break in during the middle of the day, when people are away at work. While you may want to decorate your lawn with flourishing foliage, when it comes to home safety, less is more. Criminals like targets where they have privacy; they’re more likely to choose a home with plants and shrubbery where they can hide from neighbors and onlookers:

“I tried to only hit houses with enclosed backyards. That beautiful wood fence you have up? Those lovely tall bushes? That ivy-covered fence? Congrats, you’ve just ensured that your neighbors will probably never see me.” -Former burglar

Here’s what you should do:

  • Make it easy for neighbors and passing cars to see anyone trying to break into your home. Add extra security to hidden doors and windows.
  • If a burglar thinks your house is secure (armed with strong locks and security devices), he will be less likely to try to break in.

Protect your home from the inside out and keep your loved ones and your valuables safe. If you have questions about home security or surveillance devices, contact us to speak with a home security expert!

Tactical Pen vs. Knife: Pros and Cons for Self-Defense

Tactical Pen vs. Knife: Pros and Cons for Self-Defense

When it comes to using a weapon for self-defense, I strongly suggest everyone get regular training with the weapon of their choice. Two potentially effective weapons, which are generally of similar size and weight, are the folding knife and the tactical pen. While both can typically be carried in the pocket and wielded effectively with a single hand, each has particular advantages over the other for self-protection purposes. The following are some pros and cons of the tactical pen versus the tactical knife for self- defense.


Advantages of the Tactical Pen Over the Knife

Less Conspicuous

In situations of heightened alertness or potential danger (i.e. an empty parking lot at night), it’s always advisable to carry your weapon of choice in hand, so as to deploy it at a moment’s notice if necessary. Now, a deployed blade carried openly in hand looks like…well, a blade. And it’s generally illegal to carry an open unsheathed or extended blade in most places.

A tactical pen, on the other hand, looks…well, like a pen. In fact, it’s often difficult to tell what it is in your hand unless someone is up close to you. So, aside from the legal benefits of carrying the tactical pen inconspicuously, it also does not draw the attention of would-be attackers as might a blade in your hand. If they’re not focused on it, they won’t target it, which means it should be easier for you to use if you need to. A surprise attack is always better than an expected one.

Less Training Required

Although I highly recommend getting trained with any weapon you carry, the tactical pen—in my opinion—requires far less training to use effectively than a knife. To use a knife effectively and safely, much practice must go into accuracy, speed, and power with the blade. Otherwise, you’re bound to cut or puncture places you didn’t plan, creating life-threatening wounds when unintended, and maybe even cutting yourself.

Plus, many knife grips—especially on folding knives, which don’t have full tangs—can be slightly imbalanced and tough to hang onto when used at full force. That means a knife can more easily be taken away and used against its owner. The tactical pen, on the other hand, is pretty simple to engage with a solid grip: just make a fist, squeeze, and stab, and it’s unlikely to be ejected from your hand. A natural downward motion with your hands, like exaggerated jogging, can be an effective technique for the tactical pen.

Pretty simple. Further, there are no real laws that I know about (though I might be mistaken) that govern the carry of tactical pens; there are, however, knife laws in each state. So, part of your training must be to understand what weapon is legal and how it can be legally possessed.

Less Than Lethal

A tactical pen used correctly can certainly be damaging, but it can also be used very effectively for creating only pain and gaining the momentary advantage needed to overcome the attack or escape. The tactical pen can be considered a less-than-lethal weapon, because striking someone is unlikely to permanently injure or kill someone in most cases.

Walking away without maiming or killing is always preferred, for legal, psychological, and even moral reasons. A knife on the other hand can be lethal with a single slash or stab, even if unintended. That’s why a knife requires more training and has specific laws governing its possession.

Advantages of the Knife Over the Tactical Pen

More Frightening

Circling back to first advantage of the pen, if you find yourself in a life-or-death situation against a would-be attacker, drawing a blade is certainly more intimidating than flashing a pen. If an attacker knows you’re ready to use a knife against him, he might be far less motivated to go through with the attack. So, while the conspicuousness of holding a blade is disadvantageous in some situations, in other situations, it could save your life and even stop an attack from occurring before it begins. 

More Lethal

Once again, circling back to the third advantage of the tactical pen, should you be faced with a life-or-death self-defense scenario, a knife used effectively can possess more stopping power than a pen. In many instances, a tactical pen may just create pain; it can also be used against soft targets like the eyes and throat, which can certainly stop an attack, but using it effectively to absolutely stop an attacker may be more difficult than with a knife.

A knife, especially when wielded by someone who has trained with a blade, can be deadly with ease. A few cuts in the wrong places can end a fight in seconds. This is why so much more training is recommended for effective knife use, and why the laws are very clear when it comes to knife possession. A deadlier weapon has greater consequences, but it might more easily save your life if used correctly in an absolute survival situation.

Whichever weapon you choose for personal protection, remember that training is key! You want to be able to deploy the weapon quickly, use it effectively and safely, and escape. Get yourself into a self-defense training program ASAP. Also, you can view some of my knife training instructional videos online, and purchase your tactical knife or pen from The Home Security Superstore. Good luck and stay safe!