You may not buy into the World War III, race war, zombie apocalypse, or 2012 apocalypse theories that are out there. However, it is never a bad idea to be prepared for the worst. You may not need it for the end of the world, but you cannot live anywhere without being at risk for a natural disaster. One of the best things you can do to be prepared for an emergency is to have an emergency preparedness grab bag.
Contents of your Grab Bag
Every emergency go bag should contain objects from five categories.
- First-Aid and Medical Supplies
- Food and Water Storage
- Light and Communication
- Survival and Rescue
- Misc. Supplies
First-Aid and Medical Supplies
Your emergency bag should have bandages, antibiotic ointment, burn gel, anti-itch cream, and painkillers. If you want to be extra prepared, it is not a bad idea to have some basic surgical supplies like medical tubing, tweezers, needle and fishing line for stitches, and scissors.
With the more advanced medical supplies, make sure you know how to use them. Have a book that shows basic first aid knowledge like tying a tourniquet or stitching a wound. If attempted incorrectly, these basic techniques can make medical matters worse.
Food and Water Storage
While it may seem like a smashing idea to pack your emergency bag with food, it's not. Go bags are not meant to be lived off of for months. Ideally, a go bag should contain enough food and water for each person to last 2 to 3 days.
This means things like power bars and bottled water. Possibly dehydrated food if you want to pack more in and save space.
It is a wonderful idea to have some sort of water purification system in your bag as well. Iodine tablets are the old classic, but I personally recommend a new gadget called the Pure Water Straw-Advanced. It is a compact straw that filters the water you drink. It can purify up to 25 gallons of water. You can see how it could be useful.
Light and Communication
Whether your power went out or you have to leave your home during a disaster at night, light is always a must. There are many options for light, but your grab bag only needs two options. You need flashlights, preferably one for each person as well as a change of batteries for each. You can also go for the hand crank option which is preferrable.
As well as flashlight, your bag should have several emergency glow sticks for the times when you need to keep and area light.
For communication, your go bag should have a hand crank AM/FM radio. Radio is the most used means of communication in the event of an emergency.
Survival and Rescue
Your grab bag is getting pretty full now, eh? Just a few more things are left. Every grab bag should contain some items in case your emergency has you running for the hills or you find yourself without shelter.
Your grab bag should be prepared for all sorts of weather. Have ponchos and and all weather blankets. It should also have the supplies needed to signal someone, such as a lighter for fires, a flare for signals, and whistles.
By now you have gotten all the essential things. For this section it is just other items that you may need.
Survival books are always a decent option to stuff in. Books like what plants are edible, first aid books, or what to do in an emergency.
Some of the non-essential things can be added into your bag. Things such as soap, feminine hygiene, and handiwipes are nice but not always needed. Cups and plates are nice too, but again, not necessary.
If you are concerned that riots or looting may be an issue for you, it's not a bad idea to pack some protection. A knife can be handy in not only protection but also survival. Though a gun can have it's uses too. Though if the world order has not completely dissolved, taking a gun to an emergency shelter may be a bit risky.
When to Go
Now your grab bag is chocked full of the most useful supplies you will ever need in an emergency. However, when is a good time to grab it and go.
Anytime is a good time. It does not even have to be an emergency, if you are going camping this emergency go bag is the perfect companion. Just imagine if the hiker from 127 Hours had had a go bag with him. He would have had a bit more time to consider cutting off his own arm and better tools to do so!
When the power goes out, when the tornado sirens sound, and when the national guard comes to get you out of your homes always have your go bag nearby. It could save the lives of you and your family.
Though once the emergency is over, do not forget to replace what you have used out of the go bag. If you are particularly organized, you would probably have a written inventory of its contents.
What To Do in the First Hours of a Disaster
You have your bag all set up now, that should really be good enough, but everyone should know some steps to take in an emergency. If the emergency threatens your home, grab the bag and go somewhere safe.
However, if it does not threaten your home...
Step 1 - Draw Water
Draw as much water as you can. You never know when the electricity could go down and take your water with it. Fill juice pitchers, big glasses, and whatever is available to hold water.
Step 2 - Keep Cold Food Cold
Do not let anyone touch the refrigerator. Everytime someone opens it the cold comes out. On the beginning of the second day without power, it is time to start cooking the food and eating it if you can. Campfires are great for moral and blackout boredom.
Step 3 - Keep Current With The News
Remember that handcrank radio that's in your grab bag? Time to put it to use. Information is power in a disaster. So always know what is going on in the world. There could be a giant tidal wave rushing towards you and they could be telling you whether to run or stay put.
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