Disaster Strikes: What’s In YOUR Go Bag?

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SWAT standoff, Decatur, GA. Photo: ajc.com

Tanker truck explosion.  House fire next door.  Late-forming hurricane.  Leak in a gas main.  Adjacent hostage situation.  Time to go.  NOW. And you don’t know either when you’ll be back or how long you’ll be on the road. (And those aren’t hypothetical situations – a lifelong resident of a big city near the coast, I’ve been exposed, to one degree or another, to each one.)

Even if you’re being easy on yourself with the estimate, it would take at least 20 minutes to collect and pack the absolute essentials you’d need to get gone and stay gone in a last-second situation.   Even if you’re all set to hunker down with this year’s supply of stick-it-out essentials, seriously consider spending a weekend afternoon preparing for a time when you might need to get outta town fast.

Chemical car train derailment, Robards, KY. Photo: WTVW

Nobody knows this better than our own business continuity and disaster preparedness expert Mike Thomson.  Here’s what Mike has to say:

My Go Bag, which covers my wife and me, is a mix of both a commercially-purchased 4-day kit (just one example) and my own additions.  I think the key is having enough food, water and medicine to cover 4 days or however much longer you believe it will take for you to get to an area where you can live normally and are not impacted.  Here are my contents:

  • 8 gallons of water in individual containers, 4 each for my wife and I [Note:  that’s 64 pounds of water.]
  • Non-perishable food for 4 days (canned goods/meat, energy bars, tuna meals/snacks, etc.)
  • Laptop, iPad, smartphone and a memory stick with family’s personal recovery plan; WDT iMap Weather Radio app, Google map app
  • Portable radio (hand-crankable)
  • Emergency handbook (CERT)
  • Car chargers for cell phones, iPad, etc.
  • Flashlight with extra batteries + hand-charging flashlight
  • Two CERT backpacks (we are both CERT trained):  vests, hardhats, goggles, medical supplies, etc.
  • Chemical light sticks
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Higher-quality first aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask, emergency ponchos and duct tape
  • Emergency tool for turning gas/water on & off
  • Moist towelettes, plastic bags/ties
  • Basic toolkit (wrench, pliers, hammer, screwdrivers)
  • Manual can opener
  • Extra pair of reading glasses & plastic safety glasses
  • All prescription medications
  • Two blankets/pillows
  • Change of clothing
  • Plastics plates, cups and utensils
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Paper & pens
  • Cash (we keep $100-200 on-hand at all times)
  • Spare house & car keys
  • A COPY of all your vital documents

Quake damage. Photo: newskorner.com


We have no pets and keep everything in a wheeled plastic storage container by the back door closest to the garage.  Finally and very important:  vital documents remain behind stored in fire-proof safe.  The exact location and access information for the safe is known by family members who live elsewhere.

Thanks to Mike for that great list.  I don’t have any pets either – except for my iPhone – but here are some great tips on prepping a Go Bag for them (although I don’t know if any cat I ever owned would take too kindly to being transported inside a pillow case).  My kit also includes a couple of bottles of liquid hand sanitizer, a towel and toilet paper.  The odds of needing the toilet paper, hopefully, are slim but if you do end up in a situation where you need it . . .  And then there are the customized items depending on any special wants or needs you have, but you get an idea of the basics.

For those of you wanting to take it to the next level, there’s always lots more information available.

Texas wildfire. Photo: foxnews.com

I mentioned earlier that I’ve had to bug out in the past, both with what I needed more recently and without when I was young and naïve.  With is always better.

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