Meta Description: Lynn Rosen shows how to make emergency go-bags for home and car
Ukelele player on beach at sunset


Story and images by Lynn Rosen

We never know when a disaster is going to strike, but we can figure that being prepared for one is the smartest defense. The US Department of Homeland Security’s site provides a wealth of information and advice for emergencies of all sorts. We would recommend visiting that site for further guidance. But we’ll go over some basic measures here that will get you going with your preparation in case an evacuation is necessary.

  Emergency go-bag backpack   Emergency go-bag on wheels  
If you can carry it, a light backpack will easily hold your kit.
Choose to use a wheeled bag for ease of transport overall.

We all know that this is a great idea, a good thing that we should all do. If we have to evacuate, it’s way better to have all your ducks in a row so you can get out quickly. But the hardest part of putting together your “go bags” is just getting started. Make a list of critical things you want to save, but start with small things. Pick out a bag - a backpack, wheely suitcase or anything you are comfortable carrying or rolling and just start collecting things you already have on hand.

  Emergency go-bag, money and  passport   Emergency go-bag: medications   Emergency go-bag, first aid  
Pack small bills, passport, vaccination card, credit cards.
Take critical medications and everyday vitamin supplements.
Pack first aid, dental, sanitizing and sunscreen supplies.

Put your important documents (or copies) in a Ziploc bag - your birth certificate, passport, contact list with names and phone numbers, pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, and other documents. Emergency cash money - small bills are best - and credit cards stashed in that bag could be lifesavers.

Another Ziploc bag should contain your essential medications and a first aid kit with all the basics - whistle, antibiotic ointment, sanitizers, bandages, gloves, etc. Include feminine hygiene and dental care items, soap, alcohol, washrag, towel, paper towels and toilet paper. Mylar blankets and extra warm and/or waterproof clothes and shoes/boots, hats, gloves, scarfs may also be lifesavers.

  Emergency go-bag, water and food   Emergency go-bag, phone, charger, glasses, batteries   Emergency go-bag: flashlight, whistle, rope  
Take water, energy bars, dried soups, fruits, nuts, and utensils.
Pack sun- and reading glasses, phone, cables and power bank.

Headlamps, flashlights, a compass, rope, whistles are musts.

Don’t forget plenty of water, nutrition and electrolyte packs like Emergen-C, along with energy bars, packets of nuts, dried fruits, dehydrated foods and - again - plenty of water. Include plastic baggies, large garbage bags and plastic utensils.

Add sun glasses and, if you need them, extra reading glasses. Your smart phone, a phone charger and a separate power source are also no-brainer additions. Flashlights are a must, but throw in some head lamps which will free your hands for other duties. Don’t forget extra batteries for all your devices.

  Emergency go-bag, tools, lighter   Emergency go-bag: masks  
Take tools - like a leatherman or Swiss army knife, and a butane lighter.
KN95 and/or surgical masks are must-haves,
also critical in case of fire smoke.

Multi-purpose supplies could certainly make a big contribution to your survival: Bic-lighter, matches, Handi-man tool, Swiss Army knife, wrench, pliers, plastic sheet, duct tape, scissors. Add masks which we all need because of Covid-19, but you might also need a mask if you’re dealing with a fire, attack or toxic spill.

If you have pets, have separate go bags for them as well - food, leashes, medications, etc. If you have children, books, games, puzzles, cards will make this emergency a bit easier for the little ones.

Since you don’t know where you’ll be when this emergency hits, keep your “go bags” in a designated place to grab if you have to leave home quickly. Make sure everyone knows where these kits are located. Hopefully, you will all be able to leave together. In case you are stranded, have a secondary go bag in your car or at your work place.

This is not a perfect science. We are all subject to the vagaries of the universe. But if you strive to be as prepared as possible, that mindset will go a long way to getting you and your family/friends/pets to safety and hopefully survive whatever disaster strikes.

About the author:

  Lynn Rosen is an Emmy award-winning TV broadcaster, producer and director, and has been on the Journalism and Theatre faculties at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. She’s also a theater critic, travel writer, published author, fearless skier and belongs to the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).   Lynn Rosen