PREPAREDNESS SERIES – GO-BAG SETUP
I never imagined writing blogs about preparedness.
How I got here:
Let’s go back to 2000, picture a doe-eyed high school grad making her big move to South Florida for college. Remember, this is before cell phones, only dial-up AOL internet or, prepaid calling cards.
As we packed my ‘92 red soft top Jeep wrangler for the drive; my mom tossed a large red duffle bag in the back of the Jeep. I am fairly certain I chuckled, rolled my eyes, and muttered “I’ll never need this”.
What was this red duffle bag? Everything you could ever want when stranded, yet never knew I needed.
Of course, as a teenager with no real-life experience, I was naive about the importance of this bag. Twenty-one years later, I understand the magnitude of the gift she had given me.
This emergency bag played a vital role on that world-changing day in September 2001. With limited phone access, 1500 miles away from home, and not a lot of options. I loaded the red bag into my Jeep, withdrew my daily limit of cash, and headed to a family friend’s home.
Away from my dorm, friends, and far away from family the duffle became my most prized possession. Filled with clothing, non-perishable food, cash, laptop, toiletries, and basic necessities I felt calm and taken care of – thanks to my mom’s smart thinking many months prior.
In an effort to be transparent, we (P & I) have never been preppers. We shopped the superstores mainly for weekly groceries – never to “stock up” or create an inventory of items in our home.
Operating as many others do:
- Create a weekly shopping list
- Forget the list at home
- “Stock up” on the items we’d need for 5 – 6 days.
- Forget most of the important items we need
- and REPEAT!
2020, WOKE ME UP!
- I woke up to the bigger picture of what can happen when you aren’t in tune with your health and wellness.
- I woke up to the lack of overall preparation in our home.
- I woke up to the general lack of preparation in my daily life.
- I woke up to the fact that NO ONE is coming to save me!
Que the eye-rolls, yet pause before clicking away.
I hear ya, yep – I heard you say… she is crazy, we have no reason to focus on being prepared.
Never did I think we’d be scrambling for basic human necessities, yet flashback to spring of 2020 when toilet paper was at an all-time premium.
Laughing to myself as I review notes I wrote for this post, I can’t help but think of a recent discussion P and & I had.
At the suggestion of a friend, we purchased a portable jumper cable system. A minimal expense between $45 – $50 dollars. Previously, we would have considered this purchase “unnecessary”, “expensive”, or “we will never need it”.
Spending $45 – $50 on useless decor from a big box store, clothes we do not need, or a meal out that is less than satisfying is how we’d usually spent our money throughout the course of a weekend. Scratch that – if I am honest, we would have spent 2-3x more than what the jumper cable system cost us without thinking twice.
If this is you, you aren’t alone. We carried these habits with us for years!
Edit to add: As I’ve been revising this post to share – we were supposed to be on a hike – yet discovered an engine, starter, or a battery issue with my Jeep (no, not the ’92 from college). Yet again, another reason to be prepared. Thankfully, we are at home, but this could happen anywhere.
Turns out, we needed a new battery – in case you were wondering!
WHERE TO BEGIN:
If the idea of prepping is brand new to you the suggestions below might offer a starting point.
Keep in mind, this process can feel overwhelming. Once you get started and outline the items that best suit your needs, the process can be fun!
There are a million ways to prepare with no one right or wrong way
except…not being prepared at all.
How To Build A Go-Bag or General Emergency Bag
Well versed preppers may suggest different bags for a variety of purposes such as:
- Go Bags / Bug Out Bags
- Get Home Bags
- Never Coming Home Again Bags
- SHIT (Sh*t hits the fan) Bags
To get started we will focus on building a basic Go-Bag.
Each member of your household – including your pets, should have a Go-Bag.
Suggested Bag to Use:
- Backpacks are ideal!
- Ladies, those beautiful designer bags aren’t going to get the job done as pretty as they are.
- Your bag should be set up with supplies to last several hours up to 1 (maybe 2) day at the most.
- Keep your bag light – no need to carry heavy or unnecessary items.
Incorporate seasonal or geographically specific items:
- Do you need hand warmers if you live in South Florida or typically warm-weather areas?
- Would adding extra ponchos or a light raincoat might serve you better?
- Do you need bug spray for the dead of winter in the North East?
Where to store your Go-Bags?
We have a total of 4 Go-Bags – One in each of our vehicles with the same foundational items. A second bag has been created to supplement when traveling together.
Children & Pets
If you have young children combine their items into one bag – as their items are generally smaller.
Children over the age of 3+ years old should have their own bag to carry – choose a backpack that is kid-friendly in size.
- Please think about footwear for your kids. Sandals, flip-flops, or barefoot could be very problematic.
- Slip-on sneakers, boots, or croc-style shoes with a strap over the heel are highly recommended.
Please take a few minutes to think about your pets.
- Every situation and circumstance is unique – however, I couldn’t imagine leaving behind our Great Dane, Winston, should we need to leave home quickly.
- We have an extra leash, harness, water bowls, and food packed for him in our vehicles.
- Rotating their food for freshness.
- Because we have a large breed dog who can handle carrying a tiny amount of baggage we could attach a small pack to his tactical vest should we need to.
BUILD YOUR GO BAG WITH THESE BASIC ITEMS
- Matches, Lighter, Fire Starter, or Fire Stick
- Canteen or Metal Water Bottles that can be heated over a fire
- Life Straw or Water Purification Tablets
- Emergency & First Aid Kit
- Sewing Kit
- Food and Snacks – make sure any item you include is placed into resealable plastic bags.
- I’d suggest ideals with pull tab tins that do not require a can opener.
- Manual Can Opener
- Glow sticks
- Wet wipes or towelettes (unscented!)
- Spare contacts and/or prescription glasses
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand warmers
- Beanies, scarf, and gloves – seasonally
- Neck Gators
- Mechanic gloves
- Duct tape and/or electrical tape
- Pens, Paper, Sharpies
- Emergency Contact Info – laminated or protected in a sealed bag
- Cheapie Sunglasses, Old Prescription Glasses, and Extra Contacts
- Allergy Pills or Medication
These items will vary depending on your personal needs and circumstances. Allow this list to be a foundation, taking from it what you need for your personalized level of preparedness.
- Dryfit style or hiking pants would be ideal – however, old sweatpants, leggings, and shorts are a great starting point.
- Incorporate layers – thermals, dryfit shirts, flannels, sweatshirts, long sleeve t-shirt, and t-shirts.
- Undies – 2 – 3 pairs of clean undies
- Ladies, I recommend sports bras and swimsuit bottoms – stored in a freezer bag
- Socks (2 – 3 pair) – knee-high socks might be something to consider especially if you have boots to wear, will need to walk through tall grass, or climb rocks. – stored in a freezer bag.
- Baseball Cap
TOILETRIES & MEDICATION
- Allergy Pills or Medication
- Travel size toiletries – Opt for scentless products when possible.
- Baby Shampoo & Body Wash — Opt for scentless products when possible.
- Toothpaste & Toothbrush
- Contacts & Contact solution, extra pairs of contacts
- Contact wearers – If you are short on your supply – request a sample of daily contacts from Hubble.
- Bug spray
FOOD & SNACKS
- Food and Snacks – pack your food in heavy-duty zip-lock bags
- Opt for easy open pouches or canned items with pull tab tins that do not require a can opener.
- However, a can opener should not be overlooked.
- Avoid salty snacks which will increase your cravings for water.
- Individual servings of peanut butter
- Trail Mix
- Granola Bars
- Poptarts (non-frosted)
- Tuna Packets
- Individual Servings of Ravioli, Spaghetti O’s, etc.
- Applesauce Pouches
- Packets of Oatmeal
As you gather items for your Go-Bags be mindful of the weight of the bag and remember this is about survival not packing for vacation.