What would you grab if you were one of the families in Japan and needed to flee your surroundings within thirty minutes?
I’ve recently heard of the “Go-bag,” which is basically a component of your disaster kit. Disaster kit? Yes… and due to current events, it is something I recommend everyone has.
My family recently received our Go-bag in the mail. We bought the Kelty Red Cloud from Amazon. It is large enough that my two-year-old daughter fits in it comfortably. We have been in the process of purchasing items and setting things aside to go in our Go-bag.
I have limited disaster relief training. When I was in junior high school, I remember having a tornado drill. The students had to crouch down in front of the lockers for maybe five minutes. I had fire safety training as the Director of Marketing for Simon Property Malls. And, I taught a fire safety lesson to both of my girls last year. We even have our own family meeting place at a neighbors in case of a fire.
My husband printed off a preparation sheet for me to read so that I am familiar with what items are essential for us to travel with. Many of the items are so clever, definitely things I know I’d skip packing if I were in a panic to leave my house in such a short period of time.
I shared with my husband, that I was considering writing about our experience packing our bag. I thought the information was important enough to share with other families.
How many other families out there on this planet are like ours? What is their disaster relief training? I am thirty-five years old, my most precious cargo is my family… my girls and husband.
I don’t want to put our family at a disadvantage.
So, what are the bare necessitates after all? The basics are food, water, fire, shelter, first aid and signaling. Food and water are vital to your survival. Fire can purify water, cook food, signal rescuers, provide warmth, light and comfort, help keep predators at a distance.
Shelter is the means by which you protect your body from excess exposure from the elements. First aid is not just the basic medical needs, it is the primary way in which you act to survive. Signaling is having available the means and ability to alert any and all potential rescuers that you are in need of help.
How do you prepare a Go-bag?
First, assess your needs. How many dependents do you have? Second, print off this article and highlight the items I list: flashlight, radio (battery operated), batteries, whistles (one for each adult or even each family member in case you get separated), dust mask (one for each family member), pocket knife, emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls, sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat, local map, some water and food (seeds!!), permanent marker, paper, tape, photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes, list of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers, list of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food.
The bag should also contain: copies of health insurance and identification cards, extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items. Prescription medications and first aid supplies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, extra keys to your house and vehicle. Heavy work gloves, plates, utensils, manual can opener and other cooking supplies, rain gear, disposable camera, toilet paper, duct tape, hand sanitizer, feminine supplies, nail-clippers, attach a fishing pole and bait. Also, any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities and any pet care products should also put in the bag.
The list continues with adding: tools such as a crowbar (heavy, I know, but something to consider), hammer and nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cord, blanket, sleeping bags, tent, large heavy-duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation, sewing kit, clothing (cotton is useless once it gets wet; add thermal wear), rope, signal mirror, bug repellent, sunscreen, magnifying glass (fire starter), lighters, magnesium strip (another fire starter), goggles, notebook, pen, pencil, water bottle (we own two Platypus fold-up water bottles). Also, you will need a water purification kit or a SteriPen. Don’t forget to make a copy of your list for your bag!
If you have children, here are some other items to consider: notebook, colored pencils, a few of her/his favorite books, scissors, glue, watercolors, paint brushes, favorite toy, cards, travel board game, small people figures, play vehicles, favorite blanket.
Whatever comes your way, just try to remain calm and do what you have to do to take care of you and your family. STOP means Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan. It is the most intelligent thing you can do when you realize you are lost or stranded. The most important element is to keep your brain functioning rationally, this is basic first aid for survival.
After a major disaster, the usual services we take for granted, such as running water, refrigeration, and telephones, may be unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for three days. You can go crazy adding stuff to your Go-bag depending on the potential for emergencies and the environment you live in.
The tsunami in Japan, earthquake in New Zealand and Hurricane Katrina are recent cases that warrant the necessity of having a Go-bag for yourself and your family. Do you remember the horrendous conditions of the Superdome in New Orleans for the refugees of Hurricane Katrina? It’s a bag that you pack and hope you will never need.
Would you sleep more soundly knowing you have a Go-bag prepared for your family?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Courtney Cappallo of Massachusetts, USA. Courtney can be found homeschooling on her blog, Table of Four.
The photographs used in this post are attributed to the author.
When I used to work at the Federal Reserve Board, all employees were given small “Go-bags”, if there was ever a disaster in Washington, D.C. We would have to take them out for all fire drills, etc.
The closest thing to it that I’ve packed for my family is our first aid kit in our car, but really that’s just a drop in the bucket. My husband has managed to put flashlights EVERYWHERE, even in the car, so we are covered there. But, your article has made me think — would it really hurt to just pack up some supplies? I may just do that!
It wouldn’t hurt to be prepared. You are responsible for two little girls, it’s up to you to take the steps to make sure your family is safe.
I think some people might be turned off by this article, like ignorance is bliss… but my answer is “knowledge is power.” Look at the Superdome in New Orleans.
The people in Japan, they had limited time to pack what they needed, and some were never able to return to their home. The weather on this planet has been acting up and that is something we cannot control. We, as parents, need to be prepared to take care of our children in any situation.
Have you seen the documentary “Crude Awakenings”? It’s worth your time my friend, but I am sorry to say, it will be like pulling you out of the Matrix. My friends just watched it last night, per my suggestion and they are coming over this week to talk about it with us. They are now starting a garden because of this movie.
The bottom line is, your house is the safest place to be, but if you had to evacuate, and you had a limited time to pack, would you remember to have a whistle around your neck in case you got separated from your husband or two daughters? Do you own whistles?
Better to be prepared than to be caught off guard. As a friend, I encourage you to do so.
This is a great article. It is so easy to think I am safe. After all, I live in Toronto, which is not on any fault lines, is not a hotspot for tornadoes, and is not close enough to the ocean to be affected by stuff like hurricanes. But you never know. Mention has been made of the possibility of Great Lakes tsunamis, or there could be enough rain to create a flood, or there could be a massive fire. It never hurts to be prepared. Thanks for giving me food for thought.
You are right, it never hurts to be prepared. Click on this link and take a look at the at the Nuclear Sites in the USA. http://www.radiationnetwork.com/
After the nuclear meltdown in Japan, we decided to start packing our go-bag. They are everywhere… it is scary!
Great post, Court! Living in Manhattan after 9/11 we were all about the “go-bag” but I must say I’ve grown complacent in the years that have followed without an attack and I don’t have a good one anymore. I have a also lived through a days-long blackout in NYC (at work on the 21st floor … walked home 2 miles and walked up to my apartment on the 27th floor). In addition to our ‘go bags’ I also need to beef up our “stay put” bags, which includes a hard wire phone (cordless doesn’t work in a blackout), batteries, radio, flashlights that work w/ crank power so can’t run out of battery. Our apartment building has a back up generator which is great but it won’t run all of the electricity in an emergency. I’m glad that you wrote this post, its motivating me to get my act together and get prepared for the worst.
I love that you have a “stay put” bag, too. After the tsunami in Japan and the nuclear meltdown that occurred after, we printed off what to do in case of a nuclear meltdown. Click on this link and learn what to do: http://www.ki4u.com/guide.htm
The link is a great guide on what you need to do, stay or go, how to pack yourself and your family in tight as to avoid radiation, etc. The fact is what you need most is water, water, water. The sheet tells you, to fill your tub, fill trash bags, whatever you can find… fill it with water. It’s an interesting read.
This is such a well thought out post by you, a well thought out Mom 😉 I applaud how on top of this you are and your assertiveness to share it with us. It IS important. Several years ago, we had an earthquake in Seattle. I was on the 23rd floor of a high rise at the time and stood there stunned (as I am from PA and never even considered earthquakes as part of my world). I watched the other high rises sway back and forth out the window while I was standing in the office door frame. After that, everyone here was about disaster preparedness, but as with all disasters, that fades over time, and my intentions of a disaster kit never came to fruition. Now I am home with 2 small children, and your post just shook me out of my stupor and reminded me that I meant to do these things years ago. Thanks!
Tara B – I cannot imagine how terrifying it must have been for you to be on the 23rd floor of a high rise during an earthquake!
I too am from PA, just south of Philly, on the Mason-Dixon line is a little town called Oxford, PA… born and raised!
I know this post is very “heavy” but being that we are parents now, we are the only ones that are going to take whatever measure necessary to protect our children.
We have an emergency kit – living on a fault-line all your life will do that to you, but not as detailed as you have here. It is good to have such a comprehensive list – thanks Courtney. I do struggle with food and water needing to be changed every few years – with three boys and all being good eaters we have to store a lot of food…it’s a large and expensive exercise for us. The only thing I would add is that we have a dynamo type piece of equipment which is a radio, cellphone charger, torch and siren in one, which then means we don’t need to store batteries. A very timely post. 🙂
Karyn – a girlfriend of mine sent me a private email after reading this article today. She gives lectures for the Red Cross on having a disaster relief plan and kit. She said it amazes her how people look at her like she is nuts when she asks them what their disaster relief plan is. She said she researched 6 daycare’s for her son in San Francisco, trying to find one that had a disaster relief plan. None of them did. She had to give a disaster relief kit to her nanny, and says she updates it every six months.
Thanks for sharing this!! We have a good bit of these things around, just not in the same place, so you have motivated me to organize some stuff into a go-bag. Hopefully, we will never need it, but if we do, I will be glad I was ready.
Maggie, I am glad this article motivated you. I think you’ll feel better knowing you have things organized, I certainly do too, and our bag is not all packed either!