Go Bag: Why it’s Good to Have One In an Emergency [GateHouse Interview]

Why is it important to have a “go bag” ready in case of a natural or other disaster?

A go bag, otherwise known as a bug out bag or 72 hour bag, is important to have on hand when disaster strikes. When something bad happens, time is of the essence and mere seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Take the recent wildfires for example. Having a go bag, already pre-packed with everything you need to make your getaway means you can spend those crucial moments getting to safety. Instead of scrambling to grab the essentials and potentially forget critical supplies in the midst of all the chaos, you can remain calm and composed. This is better than the alternative, which may mean you not make it out in time at all.

How long should your go bag supplies last? A couple days?

A go bag’s contents should be able to provide for at least 72 hours of food, water and shelter. As a general rule of thumb, this is the average duration it takes rescue crews to locate and retrieve people in times of disaster. This is also the amount of time that a person can generally survive without water, although you should plan for having plenty of water on hand during those 3 days.

There are comprehensive survival kit packing lists online, but can you offer some details on a few specifics? How much water is needed and do you have any tips of purification or disinfecting?

As we cover in our own free bug out bag list, you’ll want enough water to last during that first 72 hours and then also have the ability to filter and purify clean water from various sources using a survival water straw and/or purification tablets. Your body requires around a gallon of water per day per person to function properly. The same goes for food. Although you can technically last for several weeks without food, you’ll want to have enough packed to keep your body and mind operating properly in the midst of a stressful situation.

What are some tips for food in your go bag? What kinds are best?

Non-perishable, calorie-rich nutrients such as energy/protein bars are lightweight and easy to pack and eat on-the-go. Datrex bars are a survival ration intended for this purpose. Pack some gum as well to help curb hunger cravings, and keep your mouth moist and breath fresh. For more tips check out this companion article on how to choose the best bug out bag food for you.

In addition to food and water, what other personal products/documents should be included?

We recommend carrying copies of personal identifying documents such as your license, passport and birth certificate along with immunization records and anything else that would be helpful for emergency crews. Documents such as paperwork identifying your blood type, any medical conditions, etc will be greatly appreciated should the need for them arise. As we recently saw in Puerto Rico, if the disaster disables the power grid for any length of time, you’ll also be glad to have spare cash on you as ATMs and card swipes may not work.

Since you may be relying on your phone, any tips for making your electronics last longer?

A solar charger for your phone is relatively affordable and worth every penny when you need the extra juice. Having a lightweight power bank in your go bag along with extra USB cables will also be worth the added ounces when you need it most. There are compact solar lanterns that double as a USB charging device and work well for emergency situations like these.

What basic clothing should be packed in a go bag?

Dress in layers to help accommodate different weather scenarios and regulate your body temperature as needed. Make sure your base layer clothing is made out of moisture-wicking material such as polypropylene, polyester and wool. What you will wear and pack depends on your geographic location. A few items you’ll want to include in addition to your clothes on your person and in your bag are a hat, gloves and multi-purpose scarf/shemagh.

Anything else I should know about go bags?

Bug out bags are not a one-size-fits-all solution. You will need to customize your bag to suit your particular climate, needs, and skill level. Your bug out bag will not “automagically” keep you alive. It is, however, intended to help you wait out or survive a disaster.

Learn how to use these items effectively and practice using them on a regular basis to increase your chances of survival.




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  • Paul says:

    I’ll definitely read any more you make!

  • Paul says:

    Thank you for the good advice! Keep at it!

  • Cathy says:

    Thank you for all the good information

    • Andrew says:

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!