If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that my last couple of posts have been related to the designation of September as National Preparedness Month. As I’ve noted, these are the broader concepts of urban survival, which – if you’re an experienced prepper – might have you saying, “Yeah, I know this stuff already.” But my hope is that you’ll send a link to this article to friends and family members to get them thinking about disaster preparedness and how to stay safe during a civil emergency or natural disaster.
One of the absolutely essential items to have in your house is a go-bag. But why even have a go-bag if you have survival supplies in the house? Very simply, a go-bag puts essential items into a portable container for you to evacuate very quickly in a time sensitive situation: A railroad tanker overturns across town, leaking hazardous chemicals; a wildfire closes in on your community; the city erupts in riots over political tensions; a hostage standoff causes police to cordon an entire neighborhood for a day or more. Every one of these situations has actually happened in recent years somewhere in America.
In these cases, you may have not hours but minutes to evacuate, and your emergency plan should have a short check list of critical items to check off before you lock up. (You did create your family emergency plan, didn’t you?) If you can run through your checklist, grab your go-bag and jump in the car, you’ll be in a much better place than you would if you had to run around the house gather individual items at the last minute.
So what should you include in your go-bag?
Flashlight, radio and alkaline batteries
Dust masks for every family member
Knife – it can be a pocket knife, utility knife or hunting knife, but make sure you have something sharp
Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
Photocopies of your ID, health and other insurance paperwork, plus a list of emergency contacts
Toiletries, including toothbrushes, and a First Aid kit
Essential medications, such as prescriptions, plus a list of allergies for each family member
Photos of family members for identification if you get separated
Permanent marker, paper and tape
Water and MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)
Extra clothes and shoes to match your climate
Rain poncho, plastic tarp, work gloves
Maps, extra keys, chargers for cell phones and other items
That’s the broad overview of what to put in your go-bag, but stop and think what might be necessary to your specific situation that might not be on here. One great device that you may not have thought of is an AC converter that plugs into your car’s accessory outlet (what we used to call the cigarette lighter) and enables you to plug in various household items that may need charging. You may only be gone for a day or two, but it’s best to have enough emergency supplies in case it’s longer.
When the order to evacuate is given, you may only get minutes – not hours – to get out of the house and on the road. Sometimes, it can mean the advantage of beating the traffic jam of other motorists who are leaving town at the same time, but in other cases, it could make a real difference in the safety of your family.
Be well and stay prepared.