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Ever since the conception of my ‘GO’ bag (or GET OUT bag as I also dubbed it) when I post it on social media I receive several messages asking me what its about, what’s in it, and why we have it. So today, I thought I would talk about it.
I felt I needed to do my best to prepare for the worst: the evacuation text from our police force telling us to flee.
The North Bay Fires
In October 2017 fires errupated in Napa, Mendicino, Butte, Solano, Lake and Sonoma county, about 60 minutes away from our home. The sky was yellow with smoke and pollution and we were hard pressed to find pockets of healthy air. Neighbors to the north of us fled south towards San Francisco and beyond, searching for hotels, parking lots and places to stay safe while worrying about their homes and loved ones. Firefighters rushed to and from the fires, their engines caked with thick black smoke signingling another truck and crew to take over. Drivers on the highway honked and sulted them. They were (and are) heroes.
This was my first experience with a natural disaster at this scale, with a one year old and a Husband that worked in San Francisco, I was alone during the day. To stave off panic and anxiety, I felt I needed to do my best to prepare for the worst: the evacuation text from our police force telling us to flee.
My ‘GO’ bag was born.
When you remove the emotion involved in preparing a ‘GO’ bag, it’s very interesting to see what you actually believe you need to survive. Every person is going to be different here, depending on your family size and needs, age of kids, medical needs, where you are in the world, what natural disaster is closest to you etc. For example, if you’re in say, Toronto with an ice storm you would pack your ‘GO’ bag much differently then we would here in Marin County California for fire or earthquake. When designing your family’s emergency bag keep in mind the current season, ages of children, your emergency evacuation plan etc. A ‘GO’ bag must be revisited several times a year if your seasons change, to keep it updated and ready to grab and go.
Note: #1 : I switch out Amelia’s clothing in the emergency bag when we start a new diaper size OR clothing size to keep it current. When Amelia was a baby, I included formula in the bag as well. We only really have one season here, with rain during the winter months so switching out seasonal clothing isn’t necessary.
Note #2: We also have a red cross survival backpack that we bought pre packed with emergency equipment and food which stays on top of our ‘GO’ bag.
Note #3: Yes. The first aid kit is upside down. Did I do that intentionally? Maybe.
Choose a bag! The first step is choosing a good size travel bag. I chose a bag that we no longer use (I actually bought this from Canada when I moved to the states). It’s large and has several pockets in the front that I thought would be beneficial. Since our family is small (just 3 of us!) we only use one bag. If you have more people in your family, or family members with medical needs, I would suggest choosing 2 or 3 bags and storing them in the same location in your home.
Start filling it up:
I included the following in our emergency GO bag:
Mason jars with dry snacks are a must.
Portable first aid kit (we also keep one in the car)
Bottles of water. I replace the water every time I replace Amelia’s clothing. (I keep the water bottles in a large ziploc container to prevent leaking into clothing)
Coffee (because, obviously.)
Essentials: Wet wipes, sunscreen, shampoo and body wash (the entire family will use this), Contact lenses and comb, extra pair of glasses.
In the case: Purell, nail clippers, small scissors, toothbrushes and toothpaste, pain reliever, pacifiers, children’s tylenol, kleenex, thermometer. I also keep a small bottle of laundry detergent ready to use.
I pack 3 days worth of clothing for all of us. I stocked our bag with clothing that we were going to donate. My thinking is, if we’re fleeing our home do we really care about what we look like? no. I keep only essentials, so 3 pairs of:
jeans, shorts or pants.
Also in this side of the bag is:
2 coffee mugs
Packing the Supplies
Top to bottom:
Diapers in current size. We’re currently potty training Amelia, and, if worse came to worse and we had to evacuate right now she would learn pretty darn fast how to use the potty for #2 ! However, i have included about 10 pairs of diapers for her just in case.
First aid kit, sunscreen and socks in plastic bags
Bottles of water and snacks. I focused on packing dry snacks that would not go off too soon, and tuna. Because for some reason I always feel that Tuna is great in an emergency.
Underneath everything is a large scarf.
Zip it Up
I finish off our bag by adding another blanket and zipping everything up!
I focused on three main things for the creation of my bag: Food, water and warm clothing.
Protect your Important Documents
I purchased two of these fireproof bags from Amazon to protect our documents in case of a fire. Both live in an accessible but safe place.
Bag #1 - Important documents and flash drive of computer backups
Bag #2 - Passports and cash
Write down an Emergency Action Plan!
I encourage you to sit down as a family and map out not only what to include in your emergency bag, but also please PLEASE workout an emergency action plan. Figure out where you’re going to rendezvous if you’re separated (in our case that’s the Marin civic center), write down emergency phone numbers. I can’t stress the importance of developing an action plan to keep you and your family safe during an emergency enough.
I hope you found this post helpful today! Let me know if you’re planning to make your own ‘GO Bag’ and be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook!
Stay safe friends,