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Tornadoes, hurricanes, the zombie apocalypse… disaster can strike at any time. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, roughly 60% of America is not prepared in case a crisis strikes.
It seems like many people simply don’t know where to begin.
Several of my readers have sent in questions about what to have in a Go Bag. So I’ve put together a comprehensive guide on what you should have packed to rough it through even the worst disasters.
What do I need to have in a Go Bag?
When it comes to your survival, there are four categories that will be the primary factors in your survival. Shelter, water, heat, and food are the most important things to account for when faced with disaster or extreme conditions.
It doesn’t matter if the weather is hot or cold, shelter is an absolute essential. This can be something as simple as a tarp, or as complicated as a backpacking tent.
Many times, disaster comes in the form of extreme weather, so I recommend going with a durable, comprehensive shelter. At the very least, your shelter should be able to protect you from insects, such as noseeums, and provide waterproof coverage.
We need at least a gallon of water a day, so this is the absolute minimum you should have in your Go Bag. Bring at least a gallon of water per person per day for AT LEAST 3 days.
Although humans can go for several weeks without food, we can only go for a week at most without water.
If you have the money for it, I would recommend you buy a water purifying system. All too often, natural disasters can break down infrastructure and turn what was once clean drinking water into a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
A cold front often follows many natural disasters, such as hurricanes or ice storms. A fire is useful for keeping warm and could be the difference between life and death in extreme temperatures.
It can also be used for cooking and is an extremely portable and useful asset to have. As long as you have a firemaking tool, such as flint, you’re good to go.
Note: It is important to practice starting a fire BEFORE the disaster, so you’re confident that you can do it in a survival situation.
Because of its portability, I always recommend bringing a backup firestarter in case one gets wet or lost. In addition to a flint, bringing something such as waterproof matches is also a good idea.
Although not as important as water, food is still vital. It’s a good idea to bring at least a 3 day supply per person travelling with you.
Focus on bringing nonperishable food with high calorie content. Dried foods such as oatmeal packets or most canned foods will serve you well.
Another thing to keep in mind when packing food is to pack stuff that you and your family will actually eat! Also, remember to pack for any specific dietary needs, and to stay away from sugary or salty foods that will make you more thirsty.
Okay, I’ve got the essentials. Now what?
You’ve got the essentials down, but that doesn’t mean your Go Bag is complete. Here are a few other items you should have packed and ready to go:
A sleep system
You’re going to need a comfortable sleep system, especially when it gets cold at night. You’ll need to pack at least a sleeping pad or mattress as well as warm sleeping bags or blankets.
Although not necessary, items such as a small travel pillow can also make your nights much more pleasant.
Sure, you’ve got your means to build a fire, but can you cook on it? Bringing items such as collapsible pots, pans, dishes, and utensils will be necessary to feed you and your family. Make sure you bring enough for everyone.
Bringing an autonomous cooking system can be a good idea as well. Small gas canisters and portable camping stoves can be bought for relatively cheap and are a good way to prepare quality food even during a disaster.
Also, if you bring canned goods, don’t forget a can opener!
Hopefully you never find yourself in the middle of a disaster, but if you do it’s best to be prepared.
Bringing extra clothes such as socks, gloves, and base layers that you can mix and match according to temperature can come in handy when the temperature begins to fluctuate.
You never know if you’ll have to evacuate your home or if it might get looted in the wake of a disaster.
Pack important documents in a waterproof bag. This can include items such as the deed to your house, birth certificates, passports, etc.
A First Aid Kit
Having a first aid kit on hand is always a good idea.
An ideal kit will be stocked with items such as ibuprofen, allergy medicine, bug spray, ointment, bandages, gauze, and splints. Check out my post on choosing the right one here.
Self Care Items
Just because there is an emergency going on doesn’t mean you should neglect yourself.
Make sure you pack hygiene items such as a toothbrush, essentials such as glasses or contact lenses, and any prescriptions you or your family might need. You won’t regret it.
A few other miscellaneous items that may come in handy include:
- A hand cranked AM/FM radio
- A flashlight
- Duct Tape
- Moist towelettes
- A garbage bag
- A wrench or pliers
- Backup cell phone batteries and chargers
- A whistle
- A compass
- Local maps
- Extra cash or checks
- A deck of cards for entertainment
Is this all that I need to have in my Go Bag?
The contents of a Go Bag will vary from person to person, depending on their situation and how many people they are providing for during an emergency. However, this is a fairly comprehensive list.
Make sure that you keep your Go Bag in a safe place at all times and to check it at least once a year to make sure that all items are working appropriately. As long as your Go Bag is stocked and all items are working, you should be good to go!
If you’re looking for a Bug Out Bag that’s pre-packed for you, check out my post here.
For more info on packing the Go Bag, check out this YouTube video: