Dissaster can strike anywhere, anytime
No matter where you live in the world horrific disasters naturally occur including:
- and wildfires
Anywhere in the world you live man-made disasters also manifest including:
- home or structural fires
- a home burglary
- foreign invasion
- warfare and marshal law
- rioting and looting
- zombie like infectious diseases (maybe only in movies)
There are all sorts of reasons you may need to leave your home quickly. There are all sorts of reasons you might not have shelter, power, food or water readily available to you.
The best way you can prepare yourself and your loved ones is to have an emergency-to-go bag.
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Every home needs an emergency-to-go bag.
This bag has emergency supplies for up to 72 hours. Why 72 hours? In a dire disaster it may take up to three days before federal emergency services, such as FEMA or the National Guard, could help you.
In the Emergency Preparedness world it’s called a bug-out-bag or bail-out-bag (BOB). Other names include: 72-hour kit, a grab bag,go bag, GOOD bag (get out of Dodge.
Whatever you choose to call, you need one. There are lots of good pre-assembled emergency kits out there, you putting one together piece by piece is also affordable. Below is a list of everything you will need.
everything you need for an emergency-to-go bag
Discrete, Supportive Backpack
Emergency bags come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I recommend a backpack instead of a duffle or rolling back, so that you can be hands free on any terrain. They can get heavy, so get one that is supportive and has a strap around the waist and/or chest.
Many emergency packs are bright red or yellow to get attention. This may seem like smart idea if your are stranded in a natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or floods. However, there are some emergency scenarios where you do not want to bring attention to yourself. Any instance, if you are fleeing from a home burglary, foreign invasion or rioting. Also during emergency, even the best of people get desperate. A bag that says “survival kit” or “emergency kit” might get stolen by people waiting in line for emergency assistance.
My recommendation is to purchase a low-profile backpack. Use other items to attract attention, like glow sticks, whistles, flashlights, brightly colored bandanas. Black or grey are good colors.
You will need 72 hours of food and water, and that can get a little heavy even for one person. So each capable adult in your home, should have their own backpack. If you have young children in your family that cannot carry their own backpacks, then you should buy a larger backpack that can carry their emergency supplies as well.
Set of Clothes including Sturdy Shoes
Worst case scenario: you are in sleeping in your skinnies when an earthquake or wildfire hits. This is why you pack a set of clothes including shoes in your bug-out-bag. No need to worry about what your wearing now; just grab your bug out bag and go.
Your shoes should have a sturdy sole and be mid-to-light weight. Next time you buy a new pair of sneakers or light hikers, put your old pair in your emergency bag.
Have a variety of clothes for different weather. You can always layer for more warmth.
- Tank top
- Long sleeve shirt
- Two pairs of underwear. Cotton or a breathlable material is best.
- Two pairs of socks, including a light weight and heavy weight pair.
- For the ladies: maybe a sport bra.
Newer emergency radios are compact and are powered by hand crank, solar cells or both. If you have one with batteries, pack extra batteries. Do not leave batteries in compartment because they will become corroded. They are best in left in their orginal container.
Find out what your local emergency frequency is, and set it to that channel. Maybe even add a label to your radio. Here is a website that list them by state here.
Let there be LIGHT!
The brighter the better. Again, my advice is to go hands-free, and get a headlamp. I prefer ones that have a pulsing strobe. This is great for getting attention if you need it. I also like ones with a red light feature. This is great for not shining that bright light into other people’s eyes.
Pack extra batteries. Do not leave batteries in compartment because they will become corruded. They are best in left in their original container.
Charger for your mobile device
You might remember to grab your cellphone in an emergency, but you are not likely to grab a charger for it. Newer multi-use radios/flashlights now include a USB charging port. Because you would not want to miss the opportunity to write “#helpme #emergency” on social media.
Can you start a fire?
Place a full lighter in a waterproof container or bag to protect against the elements.
Water proof matches might be useful if you are in hurricane or flood area. A magnesium ferro rod, or flint striker, is also useful because they are weather proof and never run out of fuel. However, you need to know how to use them properly. Practice with them before hand. I recommend ones that come pre-packed with kindling like a cotton ball or fat wood.
Lighters are so much easier than matches and flint strikers, as long as you keep them dry. For a 72 hour period, one lighter that is full of fuel will easily suit your needs. A pack of lighters is even better, if you have the room. They are a small, light weight item that will be in high demand. So they make an excellent item to trade or gift to others in need.
Get a good solid multi-tool that includes a sawing edge knife, wire cutters and pliers. A cork screw, bottle and can opener are always preferable too.
This is not an item to skimp on. My husband and I both have a Leatherman Juice multi-tool and love them. They are compact in size, but perform well with lots of functions.
A real survivalist would also suggest a fixed blade or full tang survival knife. Fixed blade means that the knife does not fold and is preferred for self-dense. Full tang means than the blade is made out of one piece of metal. If large enough it would be good for chopping branches and wood.
Your Emergency Plan
Your emergency plan should be specific for your area. What kind of natural disaster could you possible face? There maybe more than one possible. Earthquakes can lead to structural fires; hurricanes can lead to flooding. Map out will you react in each situation.
Your emergency plan should also be specific to your family needs. Where do you spend most of your time? Where would you meet up in an emergency? Where would you meet up if your home was not safe? Who is your out-of-state emergency contact?
Copy of Identifying Documents
Make a copy of identifying documents like your driver’s license and passport, just in case such items are lost along with your wallet in an emergency. You can buy waterproof and fireproof document holders of various sizes.
Picture of You with Your Loved Ones
If you cannot find your loved ones right away, you will want a picture of them to show the authorities helping you find them. This will be extra helpful if your cell phone is not available to you.
Make the photo is a close up of your loved ones’ faces, because facial recognition will be the easiest way to find them. Make sure the photo is up-to-date, especially if you have young children whose looks change rapidly. So you may need to cycle a new photo every one, three or five years.
I suggest printing your photo at 4×6 inches, because it is not to big and the cheapest size to print. You can buy self-laminating photo sheets to keep your photo clean and from bending easily.
Small notebook, pen and a sharpie. This is essential for communication purposes, you may need to leave a note for loved ones while evacuating from on area. Sharpies are great for printing larger letters that can be seen further away.
If electricity is knocked out during a storm or earthquake, then ATMs and Point of Sale machines at stores will also be down. You will not be able to get money or make a purchase, unless you have cash. So make sure to add cash to your emergency-to-go bag.
It is better to have a lot of smaller bills like $1, $5 then larger bills like $50 and $100. If a store cannot make change for you, you may not be able to make the purchase or be forced to buy something at a higher price.
Food for 3 Days
Buy high calorie food bars. They range from 1200-3600 calories, and are all you need to survive. These are great, because they are light and compact. They do not need water or heat, and are ready to eat.
Another great source of easy prepared, non-preistable food is Meal-Ready-to-Eat or MRE. Yes, these are the small, brown bags of food that soldiers eat. MREs contain their own heat source using a chemical base warmer, like a hand warmer. You can eat them out of the pouch, so they do not need any platewhere. They often come with seasoning, utilities and little desserts too. You can buy packages of 1, 4, 6 or 12 on Amazon.
If you have extra space you maybe want to include our favorite protein bars, candy bars, maybe some chocolate. If you include these types of items you will want to cycle through about once a year. Put them in a plastic baggie so they will not melt.
Water for 3 days
Buy emergency water in 4oz pouches. 4oz is just enough to wet your whistle. Such a small sized pouch makes water easy to regulate and ration. The Coast Guard says you need a minimum of 2 of these 4oz packets to survive. For three days that is only six packs. You can buy them in packs of 12. Any more than 12 packs would be too heavy or bulky to carry in a to-go-bag.
To avoid the heavy weight and bulk of carry three days of water, I suggest getting a Life Straw filter. The Life Straw is small and light weight. It will filter out 99.999% of all water-borne bacteria and parasites. This makes a great addition to your water pouches.
Pair of Work Gloves
Often in emergencies things get broken and things need to be fixed. A pair of light work gloves are great for keeping your hands warm and protected. I suggest buying a pair of work gloves that actually fit your hands and are not too bulky.
What is Paracord ? Paracord is short for parachute cord. Yes, is the stuff people jump out of planes with. It is multi-strand woven rope that is extremely strong for it small size. I recommend buying 550 paracord. At only 4 millimeters in diameter it can withstand a remarkable 550 pounds of pressure. It is flexible enough to make bracelets and keychains.
I recommend buying at least 25 or 50 feet of paracord. What will you use all this rope for? During major disasters lots of things get broken. Rope is a great why to secure fallen objects and create structures like a tube tent. You can use it as a rescue line if someone needs to be pulled or lifted out of danger. It has medical applications such as a sling or tourniquet. There are countless other applications for survival uses, hopefully you will never need.
Paracord also comes in so many awesome bracelet and keychains. You will only get 5-8 feet of paracord from these, but you can carry it with you everywhere.
Again, things break during disaster. Duct tape fixes everything. Did you know duct tape easily rolls onto itself to make it smaller? You can buy travel sized duct tape. You can also wrap it around your flashlight or sharpie. If duct tape wasn’t already the fabric of the universe, it just got even more awesome!
Tube tents are great for making emergency shelters. If you are in major hurricane, tornado or earthquake and your home is dismantled you can use the tube tent, duct tape and paracord to secure an area free from the elements. Tube tents can also be used out in the wilderness if you are lost day hiking. Tube tents are usually made with polyethylene or mylar foil.
Emergency Thermal Blanket
Emergency Thermal Blankets are made of mylar foil. They are light and flexible, and cheap. Use them if you get stuck in the rain, snow or cold and need to warm up. Emergency blankets can seriously be life saving purchase. They come cheaply in packs of 4 to 10. Put a couple in your car, it might save your freezing butt someday if your car breaks down in the cold.
Poncho with Hood
Pocket sized ponchos are a light weight and cheap alternative to adding a full on rain coat to your emergency bag. Though if you are in an area where flooding is predominate problem, then you may need to invest in a quality water waders instead.
A cotton bandana is another cheap buy that has many uses. It works as a face mask, head cover, wash cloth and emergency flag. You can buy one in red or bright orange to grab attention. Micro-fiber towels are also a great choice.
A whistle is very important. A loud whistle can make call for help when your own voice is not reaching your resquer. The five-in-one whistle is very popular. It also includes a compass, dry matches, singling mirror, and ferro rod.
Glow sticks have serval functions. They can act as source of light, as a signal, and as marker. Place them in a mason jar, milk jug or water container to create an ambient light. Hang them up high or in your window to signal you need help. Put them on your children to give them comfort and make your children easier to see the in the dark.
N95 Dust Mask
An N95 dust mask is rated 95% effective against air borne illnesses like the influenza. The advantage of a dusk mask is that it is light weight. The disadvantage is that it should be discarded after every encounter. You should have at least two per person.
You may also consider getting respirator. They heavier, larger in size and more expensive. You will need to get a filter for them.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is probably one of the most important item in your emergency-to-go-bag. The problitity of you needing it in disaster is high. Here’s everything it should include:
- steril gloves
- anti-spectic wipes
- bandages, the bigger is better than too small
- burn gel
- small pair of scissors
Pill Box Full of Drugs
Make sure to have 3 days worth of all your prescription drugs. Also include any over the counter drugs you take regularly. Get a pill box that is water proof (of just place in a ziplock bag) that you can label.
How well can you see?
Make sure to add an old pair of glasses or 3 days worth of contacts, if you need vision correction. Maybe a pair of sunglasses too.
Personal Care Items
If you buy commercial survival bag it may come with a generic personal items such as a tooth brush, tooth paste, soap, facial tissue, etc. I suggest finding a travel size version of your favorite, normal brand. It is the little things that will comfort you in your time of need.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Facial tissue
- Wet wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Comb or travel-sized brush
- Possily hair ties, if your hair is long
- Ladies: 3 days worth of sanitary napkins or tampons
- Travel size Toilet paper
- Chapstick, make sure to get SPF
- Sunblock: water/sweat proof
Deck of Cards
There is a good chance you will actually be bored while you wait for the utilities to come back on, the storm to pass, or emergency technicians to tell you it is safe to return home. A deck of cards is a great way to entertain yourself and your loved ones. You can play all sorts of games like solitaire, gin rummy, poker, go fish, etc. Distraction is good medicine, and essential for young children to feel safe.
If you are a heavy smoker or drinker, going cold turkey during an emergency will be a nightmare for you. Pack a pack of cigarettes or some nicotine patches. Grab a few travel-sized bottles of your favorite hutch. For me, my go-to-vices are wine and chocolate.
Preparedness is Ease-of-Mind
When you know you and your loved ones are prepared for the worst, your mind can be at ease. As hurricane season, flood season, or wildfire season approaches you can review your emergency plan and cycle through your emergency pack. You will know that you have everything you need to survive for 72 hours during a disaster.
What’s in your emergency pack? Make a comment below, and share this with everyone on your emergency contact list.