Imagine this scenario: you’re going about your daily routine when suddenly, disaster strikes. It could be anything from a natural disaster to a sudden emergency that leaves you stranded far away from home. In those moments, having a “get home” bag can be a lifesaver. But what exactly should you pack in this essential kit? This article will provide you with some valuable insights on the must-have items for your “get home” bag, ensuring that you’re always prepared for the unexpected.
Clothing and Footwear
Extra set of clothes
Having an extra set of clothes in your “get home” bag is essential for various reasons. You never know when you may encounter unexpected situations that leave your clothes dirty, torn, or wet. Having a spare set of clothes will ensure that you can change into clean and comfortable attire, allowing you to feel fresh and confident during your journey home.
When it comes to footwear, durability and comfort should be your top priorities. Opt for a sturdy pair of shoes or boots that can withstand long walks or rough terrain. You never know what obstacles you may encounter on your way home, such as uneven surfaces, debris, or broken glass. Ensuring that you have reliable footwear will protect your feet and prevent potential injuries.
Unpredictable weather can be a challenge when you’re trying to make your way home. That’s why packing rain gear in your bag is highly recommended. A lightweight raincoat or poncho will keep you dry during unexpected downpours, while waterproof pants and boots will provide additional protection. Staying dry will not only keep you comfortable, but it will also prevent your clothing from becoming soaked and potentially leading to hypothermia in colder temperatures.
To be fully prepared for diverse weather conditions, make sure to include seasonal accessories in your bag. In colder months, pack items like gloves, hats, scarves, and thermal socks to keep you warm and cozy. In hotter months, don’t forget to include sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Adapting to the seasons will ensure your comfort and safety throughout your journey.
Hygiene and First Aid
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Maintaining good oral hygiene is important, even in emergency situations. Including a toothbrush and toothpaste in your “get home” bag will help to keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh. This small act of self-care can go a long way in boosting your morale and overall well-being during stressful times.
Soap and hand sanitizer
Proper hygiene is crucial, especially during emergency situations where access to clean water may be limited. Packing soap and hand sanitizer will enable you to maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of germs. Remember to choose antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to ensure maximum effectiveness.
First aid kit
A well-stocked first aid kit is an absolute must-have in any “get home” bag. This kit should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, pain relievers, tweezers, scissors, and any necessary prescription medications. Having the means to tend to minor injuries or ailments will provide you with peace of mind, knowing that you can take care of yourself until more advanced medical help is available.
If you rely on prescription medications, it is crucial to include an ample supply in your bag. Ensure that you have enough medication to last you for several days or even weeks, depending on the distance of your journey home. Additionally, if your medication requires special storage or administration instructions, be sure to include any necessary equipment or documentation.
For individuals who menstruate, including an adequate supply of feminine hygiene products in your bag is essential. Be sure to pack enough pads, tampons, or menstrual cups to accommodate your needs for the duration of your journey. These items can be challenging to find or access during emergencies, so planning ahead is crucial.
Food and Water
Including non-perishable snacks in your “get home” bag will provide you with sustenance and energy during your journey. Choose lightweight options that are high in calories and nutrients, such as energy bars, trail mix, or dried fruit. These snacks can help stave off hunger and maintain your energy levels until you reach your destination.
Staying hydrated is paramount, and having an ample supply of water is crucial in any emergency situation. Packing several bottles of water in your bag will provide you with a reliable and accessible source of hydration. Aim to have at least one liter of water per day, per person, for the duration of your journey.
Water purification tablets
In situations where clean drinking water may be scarce, having water purification tablets in your bag can be a lifesaver. These tablets effectively kill bacteria and viruses, making contaminated water safe to drink. Follow the instructions on the packaging to ensure proper usage and purification of water.
Utensils and a can opener
Don’t forget to pack basic utensils, such as a fork, spoon, and knife. These utensils will come in handy when eating your non-perishable snacks or meals. Additionally, including a compact can opener will allow you to open canned food items should the need arise. Being prepared with the necessary tools will make your meals more enjoyable and hassle-free.
Navigation and Communication
Map and compass
In unfamiliar or challenging environments, having a map and compass is key to navigating your way home. These tools will help you determine your location, plan your route, and make informed decisions about which direction to take. Familiarize yourself with map reading and basic compass usage beforehand to ensure proficiency during your journey.
A whistle is a simple yet effective tool for attracting attention during emergencies. If you find yourself in a situation where you need help or want to alert others to your presence, a whistle’s loud and distinct sound can carry far and cut through background noise. Keep it easily accessible, either around your neck or attached to your bag, so that you can use it whenever needed.
Cell phone and charger
Carrying a fully charged cell phone is crucial for communication during emergencies. Make sure to keep it in a secure and easily accessible location in your bag. Additionally, including a portable charger or a spare battery can ensure that your phone remains powered up throughout your journey. Remember to conserve battery life by limiting non-essential usage and considering airplane mode when not actively communicating.
Emergency radio with batteries
In situations where cellular networks may be down or communication is limited, having an emergency radio can provide you with vital information. Look for a portable radio that can receive AM, FM, and NOAA weather channels. This will allow you to stay informed about potential hazards, evacuation notices, and important updates. Don’t forget to pack spare batteries to ensure continuous radio functionality.
Tools and Equipment
A multi-tool is a versatile and compact instrument that combines various tools into one convenient device. Including a quality multi-tool in your bag is highly recommended, as it can come in handy for a wide range of tasks. Look for one that includes features such as pliers, a knife blade, screwdrivers, a can opener, and a bottle opener.
Flashlight and extra batteries
In low-light or emergency situations, a flashlight is essential for visibility and finding your way. Choose a durable and reliable flashlight that provides sufficient illumination. LED flashlights are recommended for their energy efficiency and extended battery life. Additionally, pack extra batteries to ensure that you have backup power when needed.
Duct tape is a versatile tool that can be used for a myriad of purposes during emergencies. From temporarily fixing gear or clothing to creating makeshift shelters or splints, duct tape’s adhesive properties and durability make it incredibly useful. Consider wrapping a few feet of duct tape around a small cardboard tube or pencil to keep it compact and easily accessible in your bag.
An emergency blanket, also known as a space blanket or thermal blanket, is a lightweight and compact item that provides insulation and warmth. These blankets are made from a heat-reflective material that helps to retain body heat, making them particularly useful in colder climates. In the event of an unexpected overnight stay or when additional warmth is needed, an emergency blanket can make a significant difference.
Paracord or rope
Having a length of paracord or rope in your bag is invaluable for various purposes. You can use it to secure items, create a makeshift clothesline, construct a shelter, or even fashion a tourniquet in emergency medical situations. Opt for high-quality paracord that is both durable and lightweight, ensuring that it can handle a variety of tasks without adding excessive weight to your bag.
In certain scenarios, a small shovel can be a useful tool for digging, clearing debris, or creating makeshift latrines. Look for a compact and lightweight folding shovel that won’t take up much space in your bag. Make sure it is sturdy enough to endure moderate digging tasks while being easy to assemble and disassemble for convenient storage.
Including personal identification documents in your “get home” bag is crucial. Carry your driver’s license, passport, or any other valid identification that may be required during your journey. These documents will be essential for proving your identity and facilitating any necessary interactions or transactions along the way.
Emergency contact information
Having readily accessible emergency contact information is vital during unexpected situations. Include a list of important phone numbers of family members, friends, or trusted contacts who should be notified of your whereabouts in case of an emergency. This will enable you or others to reach out for assistance or inform loved ones of your safety during your journey home.
Cash and coins
In emergency situations, access to electronic payment methods may become limited or unreliable. That’s why it’s important to include a reasonable amount of cash and coins in your bag. This money can be used for purchasing essential items, paying for transportation, or engaging in transactions where card payments are not an option.
In the event of an emergency, having your insurance information readily available can be crucial. Include copies of your health insurance cards, auto insurance documents, and any other relevant policies. These documents will help facilitate any necessary medical treatments, claims, or interactions with authorities or service providers during your journey.
Personal safety is of utmost importance in any emergency situation. Including self-defense tools like a personal alarm, a small flashlight with a strobe function, or a tactical pen can provide you with added peace of mind. Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations regarding self-defense tools in your jurisdiction to ensure compliance and responsible usage.
Pepper spray is a non-lethal self-defense tool that can be immensely helpful in deterring potential threats or attackers. It is compact, easy to use, and causes temporary discomfort, allowing you to escape dangerous situations. Make sure to choose a pepper spray that is legal in your area and familiarize yourself with proper usage techniques.
An emergency whistle is another effective tool for attracting attention and seeking help during emergencies. Its loud and piercing sound can help you communicate distress signals to others who may be nearby. Attach the whistle to a lanyard or keep it easily accessible in your bag, ensuring you are prepared to use it whenever necessary.
Extra phone charger and cables
Keeping your cell phone charged is essential for maintaining communication and accessing important information. Including an extra phone charger and cables in your bag will allow you to charge your phone even if you can’t access a power outlet. Consider portable chargers or solar-powered options for added convenience.
Having spare keys for your home, car, or any other relevant locks is a wise precautionary measure. Accidents or emergencies can sometimes lead to loss or damage of your primary keys, which can significantly impede your progress. By keeping spare keys in your bag, you’ll be prepared to swiftly regain access to your essential spaces.
Protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays is just as important during emergencies as it is in day-to-day life. Including a pair of sunglasses in your bag will shield your eyes from excessive sunlight and glare, enhancing your visibility and minimizing eye strain. Look for sunglasses with UV protection for optimal eye care.
Hat or cap
A hat or cap is a versatile accessory that can provide crucial protection. In hot weather, it can shield you from the sun and help prevent heatstroke or sunburn. In colder weather, it can help retain body heat and protect your head from wind and precipitation. Choose a hat or cap that suits your personal preferences and climate.
Carrying a few trash bags in your bag may seem unconventional, but they serve multiple practical purposes. Trash bags can be used as makeshift rain covers, ground coverings for sitting or resting, or even as impromptu waterproof storage for your belongings. These versatile bags are lightweight and compact, making them a valuable addition to your “get home” bag.
Entertainment and Comfort
Books or magazines
During long and potentially stressful journeys, having a source of entertainment can provide a valuable distraction and boost your morale. Including a small book, magazine, or e-book reader in your bag will allow you to engage in leisurely activities during moments of rest or downtime. Choose materials that you genuinely enjoy and that can help alleviate stress during uncertain times.
Playing cards are a compact and versatile form of entertainment that can be enjoyed alone or with others. They can provide hours of amusement and help pass the time during lengthy waits or delays. Whether you prefer solitaire, poker, or other card games, adding a deck to your bag ensures that you have a reliable source of entertainment whenever needed.
Small comfort item
Packing a small comfort item with sentimental value can provide emotional support during challenging times. It could be a favorite photograph, a small figurine, a keepsake, or any object that brings you comfort and reminds you of loved ones or enjoyable experiences. Having this item in your bag can offer a sense of familiarity and solace when you need it most.
Earphones or headphones
Carrying a pair of earphones or headphones in your bag allows you to enjoy music, podcasts, or other audio content without disturbing others or compromising your situational awareness. Listening to your favorite tunes can uplift your mood, offer a temporary escape from stressful situations, and help you stay focused on your journey home.
Important Documents and Records
Copies of important documents
In addition to carrying personal identification documents, it is highly advised to include copies of important documents in your bag. These may include birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, or any other legal or official papers that may be required during emergencies. Place them in a waterproof folder or protective sleeve to ensure their integrity.
Emergency phone numbers
In times of distress, it’s crucial to have easy access to emergency phone numbers. Print or write down essential contacts for local emergency services, law enforcement agencies, ambulance services, and other relevant organizations in your area. Having this information readily available will expedite your ability to seek assistance during challenging situations.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or allergies, including a copy of your medical information in your bag is vital. This information should outline your medical history, current medications, allergies, and any specific instructions or precautions. Providing this information to healthcare professionals can expedite treatment and ensure that you receive the appropriate care.
Proof of residence
Carrying proof of residence, such as a utility bill or a lease agreement, can be valuable in certain situations. It may be required for accessing certain services, proving your residency, or resolving administrative issues. Make sure to include a copy of a recent document that clearly displays your name and address to support your identity and legitimacy.
By packing all of the essential items listed above, you will be well-prepared to navigate back home during unexpected or emergency situations. Remember to periodically review and refresh the contents of your “get home” bag to ensure that everything remains up to date and in good condition. Stay safe, be prepared, and always prioritize your well-being.