Everyone should have a bag packed with essential items, kept ready for use in the event of an emergency evacuation of one’s home. The following list, provided by the Natural Resources Defense Council, is for Natural Disaster Preparedness.
In Your “Go Bag”
Use a backpack or small roller suitcase. Keep it easily accessible. Pack it light enough to carry easily. Adapt as needed for your needs and/or location. Use this list as a baseline for putting together a small “Go Bag” intended to handle emergencies of a short duration. Perhaps use a small backpack for one to keep in your car at all times.
- Copies of your important documents (insurance cards, house deed, photo IDs, passport, bank information, physician contact information, family contact information) in a waterproof container – this is something you’ll want to be very careful with
- Contact and meeting place information for your household, and a small map
- Cash ($50-$100, in small bills)
- An extra set of car and house keys
- Bottled water and non-perishable food such as energy or granola bars
- Cans of pet food and pet dishes (Paper is light as are ziplock bags for dry food)
- A flashlight (traditional bulbs have limited lifespans; LED (light emitting diode flashlights last up to 10 times longer than traditional ones)
- Lightweight, waterproof blankets or plastic ponchos
- A first aid kit, list of the medications each member of your household takes, why they take them, and their dosages – store extra medication in your Go Bag and to refill it before it expires
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Child care supplies or other special care items as needed
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust masks, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- A can opener
- Cell phone with chargers (car, home or solar charger)
- A complete change of clothing, including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and sturdy shoes (the last may not fit in a “Go Bag” designed for short term emergencies)
Where to Find Items for Your Go Bag(s)
Items below may make a single Go Bag too heavy to carry, so consider multiple bags to distribute weight and improve manageability.
- Non-perishable food (and a can opener): You can avoid hormone disrupting bisphenol-A in the linings of cans by choosing foods in aseptic cartons such as those produced by Tetra Pak and Sig Combibloc. Eden Foods also does not use BPA in their canned organic foods line (edenfoods.com). See “Cans: A Source of BPA” for more information.
- Radios: Solar radios that can also be hand-cranked mean you have fewer batteries to worry about. Freeplay Eyemax includes an LED flashlight and their Companion radio includes a flashlight and cellphone charger (freeplayenergy.com).
- Flashlights: LED flashlights (of which there are many models) will extend battery life considerably or try a hand-cranked model like the Freeplay Sherpa.
- Batteries and rechargers: Batteries are snapped up quickly in emergencies, but rechargeables can draw on solar energy to keep the power flowing. For rechargeable batteries of all types, see sundancesolar.com. A variety of solar chargers for car batteries are available at batterystuff.com. To recycle rechargeable batteries at the end of their life, check with your municipal sanitation department.
- Stoves: For extended emergencies, you’ll want to cook and may need to purify water by boiling it. Solar cooking provides a clean-energy option where sunlight is plentiful. The Preparedness kit, which includes a pot, water pasteurization indicator, and solar cooker is available through solarcookers.org. Or keep a portable, propane stove and fuel conveniently close to your emergency kit.
- Sewage: Properly handling human waste is a necessity when sewage lines have broken or been overwhelmed by flooding. You can convert your toilet or a 5-gallon pail to an emergency toilet by lining it with two heavy-duty garbage bags and placing kitty litter, fireplace ashes or sawdust at the bottom. Bags should be sealed at the end of the day and removed to a garage or outbuilding. The city may accept bags in the solid waste stream under emergency rules or they may be disposed of in a properly working sewage or septic system. Alternatively, the PETT Portable Toilet provides waste bags and powder to break down waste and render it fit for disposal in regular trash.
*For more information, visit Natural Resources Defense Council.