What to Pack Before an Evacuation

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Be prepared and have a bag packed and ready to go.  Here's some items to get you started.

Natural disasters occur throughout the country every year. From California fires to the hurricanes of the east coast, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, and droughts we should all have some items packed in advance that would make the evacuation of our homes quicker and safer.

You can use and prepare something as simple as a basic backpack, and who doesnt have an extra one of those hanging around the house? Depending on where you live and the chances of an evacuation occurring yearly or multiple times in a year, you may want to use a more tactical or military-style bag made for such quick maneuvers.

Any size backpack will work

Many times these bags are referred to as Go Bags, Bug Out Bags, Safe Bags, or for bags stocked to leave in your car, a Get Home Bag. No matter what you call it or where you store it, the idea is to be ready with a few items that can be picked up, tossed over your shoulder and enable you to move quickly.

You don’t have to be concerned about a zombie apocalypse, it’s much more likely a natural disaster, or even something as simple as three to five days being out of power could cause you to decide to leave your home for a safer location for your family.

Now that you know what to use it for, you’re probably wondering what you put into it? Here are a few items we keep in our bags as well as some ideas friends have given me.

You may want to adjust for your particular climate, and the chances of not having access to a vehicle, water, electricity, phones, etc.

  • Extra set of clothes, specific to the weather
  • Warm hat
  • Rain gear or poncho
  • Bandanna
  • Pair of comfortable walking shoes, these do not need to be new
  • First aid kit, including Israel bandages, tourniquet, quick clot, gloves, bandages, emergency blanket, and CPR mask
  • Personal Hygiene items; toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons, hand sanitizer
  • Knife
  • Working Flashlight, make sure to test the batteries regularly. Regular alkaline batteries do not last long in the extreme temperatures of a car
  • A small sewing kit
  • Waterproof matches
  • Empty water bottle
  • Weather radio (hand crank)
  • Portable chargers (preferably solar) for essential items
  • Fire starters or candles
  • Medications; both over the counter medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea, and allergy medications, as well as any prescriptions medications you will need.
  • Pouches of tuna (easy to store and lasts a few months without the need for can opener)
  • Don’t forget the kids; items such as diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, small toys, and blankets.
  • Emergency cash
  • Playing cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Copies (and of course bring your originals) of Drivers License & Passports
  • Small roll of duct tape
  • Necessary reading or prescription glasses

If you believe you would have a few days warning and think you’ll be able to evacuate via car in advance of an upcoming event; you can store bottled water for a period of time and rotate periodically to avoid any plastic deterioration. Living in California the past two years our daughter has had to deal with the wildfires and preparing for the possibility of them getting too close to where they live. She’s loaded much of what she needed in her car days prior and now keeps a Go Bag packed throughout the year.

Many people go beyond the basics and their Bug Out Bags contain items that will sustain them for lengths of time outdoors. You can determine if any of these may be useful and decide to add to your bag as well.

  • 550 Paracord
  • Fishing line and hooks
  • Portable Water Filtration System
  • Calorie dense food sources, or MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)
  • Small camping items; collapsible cup, utensils, plate
  • Insect repellent
  • Tactical shovel
  • Wire saw
  • Glow sticks
  • Firearm
  • Ammunition
  • Pepper spray
  • Mosquito Netting
  • Toilet paper
  • Ziplock bags

This list is exhaustive and you can find many more items survivalist recommend you pack in such bags by searching the internet.

Remember that the items must be rotated or checked for expiration dates, proper clothing for the time of year must be packed, and items used must be replaced. I have calendar reminders set in my phone to inspect the bags stored in each car and the house twice a year for this purpose.

A few other things to consider;  create a plan for your family.  How would you gather your family if something occurred during work and school hours? How would you get home if the roads were shut down, and where would you meet?  Weather events, natural disasters, and the events of 9-11 all found people without plans and stranded due to mass transit shut downs and roads congested to the point of abandoning cars. 

Your bag can be as basic or elaborate as you would like. Think of what you would want to grab if you had little to no notice of having to evacuate your family.

I’d love to hear what you have packed or plans you and your family have made.  Please comment below and share your ideas with others.  Stay safe.

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