Disaster-preparedness shouldn’t be limited to having a household evacuation plan or stocking up on canned food and bottled water. As scary as it is to consider situations in which you might be forced to leave your home, it’s scarier to think about leaving without any supplies. Putting together a Go Bag, a ready-to-roll assemblage of supplies, is something every household should consider. Have a question? Get an answer from a handyman now!
Choose, Label and Place Your Go Bag - Purchase a bag large enough to contain all of your supplies, but yet still small enough to transport with ease. A duffel bag with a shoulder strap, a large camping backpack or a rolling, soft-sided suitcase work well as a Go Bag. Since it will have to be stored at the most frequently used exit, make sure your Go Bag isn't large enough to be intrusive on a daily basis.
Designate an area for the Go Bag, let all family members know where it is and don't move it. Once you've put together the kit, it needs to be anchored at a spot from which it can be grabbed on the way out the door. Hopefully, it will never have to be used, but if you do, you need to be able to count on it being in place.
Label the Go Bag. You don't necessarily have to write "Disaster Kit" in big red letters on the side, but it should be distinguishable from everyday luggage. Consider labeling it simply "Go Bag" or "Smith Family." That way if you're asking someone else to grab the evacuation bag from your home, it's easy to tell them what to look for. Think about putting together multiple Go Bags if you have a large family. Multiple kits can distribute weight more evenly and ensure that you won't skimp on supplies.
Fill the Go Bag With Supplies - Put together a supply of non-perishable food. It's recommended that this supply include at least a gallon of water per family member and several cans of food. Don't forget to pack a manual can opener. Relying on electricity or batteries in an emergency situation isn't a good idea.
Pack a change of clothes for each person, including a sweatshirt, a pair of walking shoes and raingear. Many times you can purchase pre-folded plastic rain ponchos at dollar stores. They take up less space and are one-size-fits-all.
Include a crank-operated flashlight. Ideally, you should purchase a flashlight-radio combination. Life +Gear makes a product that uses a crank and a battery (see Resources below). Called the PSD NOAA, it not only has a LED flashlight, but also a NOAA Alert Weatherband, an AM/FM radio, a built-in cell phone charger, an emergency flasher and a siren.
Make copies of all important papers, including your driver's licenses (or birth certificates), insurance information, emergency contacts and medication and allergy lists. Seal them in a plain, unmarked envelope and put the envelope in a waterproof container before placing it in the Go Bag.
Keep an unopened first aid kit in the Go Bag. Include a few days worth of prescription medications in the kit. If the first aid kit doesn't already have Emergency Mylar Blankets in it, purchase some and pack those, too. Visit the National Terror Alert Response Center web-site's page on 72 Hour Kits for more information about where to purchase these item.
Pack extra house and car keys along with some emergency cash. National Homeland Security's recommendation is to carry at least $50 in small bills and change
Gather current photos of your family and place them in the Go Bag as a means of identification should you get separated. Along the same lines, make sure you have paper, markers and tape to make posters if need be.