What to Include in an Emergency ‘Go Bag’
Most people would prefer to hunker down at home during an emergency, surrounded by familiar things. However, an evacuation may force you to leave your home to get out of harm’s way. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, evacuations are more common than people think. From natural disasters to industrial accidents, it’s important to be prepared to leave your house in a moment’s notice.
One way to prep for an evacuation is to assemble a “go bag” for you and each member of your family. A “go bag” is a pre-packed bag that contains items to help make you and your family more comfortable during your time away from home. Having it packed and ready to go can help save you the trouble of rushing around searching for things at the last minute.
Creating your “go bag” should not cost you a lot of money. You simply gather up items you may already have around your home. To carry everything, you’ll likely want to use a large duffel bag, sturdy backpack or even a suitcase you already own.
1. Water and FoodIn addition to water bottles, bring a portable water filter so you can replenish your supply as soon as you find a water source. Choose lightweight and portable food, such as energy bars. Seal the food in an airtight container to help prevent attracting pests.
2. Change of ClothesPack at least a day’s worth of clothing, including underwear and extra socks. You’ll also want to include rain gear, as well as comfortable walking shoes.
3. ToiletriesKeep yourself clean with a small kit of travel-size soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, moist towelettes, toilet paper, tissues, etc. Bring a couple of trash bags for waste disposal. Tailor your items to address your family’s specific needs, such as contact lens solution, diapers, baby wipes, etc.
4. CashIn an emergency, credit and debit card machines may be inoperable. Bring cash in various denominations such as $1, $5 and $10, as well as spare change in case you need money for toll roads and vending machines.
5. First Aid KitConsider including a first aid kit with over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers, burn cream, anti-diarrheal medications, antacids and allergy medicines. Don’t forget to also include prescription medicines, too. If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, pack an extra pair. You may also want to think about having dust masks in your kit to help you and your family breath in case air is contaminated.
6. Important DocumentsStore copies of important documents in a waterproof bag. Some items to include: your identification, insurance policies and bank records. You should also have photos of your home and belongings stored on an external flash drive.
7. Miscellaneous ToolsCarry a whistle to allow you to call for help and allow searchers to find you in hard-to-reach places. Pack a charger and portable battery pack for your cellphone. You may also want to have a portable light source, such as a flashlight or headlamp, with extra batteries.
8. Items for Your PetsIf you have pets, bring the pet carrier, extra water, pet food, dish and water bowl, leash, collar and pet medications. You might also want to keep a photo of your pet in case they get lost, according to Ready.gov.
Remember, store your “go bag” in a cool, dry spot where you can easily grab it on your way out the door. That way, you can be better prepared in case you need to evacuate your home.