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Go Bag - your evacuation kit
Usually people don't think about what they would do if situation forced them to evacuate from their home. Maybe it sounds abstract, but life is unpredictable. Let it be fire, flood, hurricane, war or zombies attack - all of them may make you leave your home in hurry. The principle of evacuation is to leave as fast as possible, not to pack things you might need, so usually people run out just as they stand. It's not hard to imagine a sub-zero temperature, fire in the house and evacuated people freezing on the snow in their pyjamas. It would be useful to have something warm to wear, wouldn't it? But cold/hot/wet weather is just a short-term problem. The bigger problem is that you might not be able to get back to your home to get your things. Just in a few seconds you might be left out without anything but what you're wearing. Not a nice thought, but such situations are real. That's where the idea of the "Go Bag" or "Evacuation Bag" appears.
The basic idea
The basic idea is to always have the most needed things packed in a small backpack ready to be taken during evacuation. It's called a Go Bag or Bug Out Bag. It should be kept in an easily accessible place. When the fire starts and there's heat and smoke everywhere it's hard (and dangerous) to search your house for underwear or keys to your car. Having them in the prepared bag makes it easier - you grab the Go Bag, throw it out of the window and then evacuate yourself. If you live in a house I'd even suggest keeping your Go Bag somewhere outside. It'll let you focus on the evacuation without a worry that fire won't let you get your bag from the other room as it'll already be waiting for you outside.
For military personnel having such a bag has another value - when the red alert goes off you will be ready to go and will get to your unit faster. In my unit everyone is ordered to have such a bag prepared in case we have to move out quickly. Of course for the military usage the Go Bag will have a slightly different content.
There exists another concept of the Go Bag which I call an "Emergency Bag" (to discern it from the Evacuation Bag this article is about). In contrary to the described Go Bag, the Emergency Bag usually is a big backpack containing almost everything, including water and food supply, a rifle and ammo for it. An Emergency Bag is supposed to let you survive for a at least 72 hours using its content only. As a concept alone it isn't bad but it has some severe drawbacks. Two most important ones are: the size and the weight. Both of them makes that concept having a very limited use in a rapid evacuation situation - it won't be easy to grab such a big backpack and throw it through the window. Also older or less fit people would have a serious problem to carry such a weight on their back for couple of days, not to mention running with it. Because of that I think the Go Bag concept show in this article is more suitable for most people although it has its own drawbacks as well.
First off - there's no need to buy a special backpack nor any special equipment. In most cases things present in each home will do. Below is presented an extended list based on my military Go Bag. If you're not combat concerned you may remove extras from the list.
- soap x2
- small mirror in a hard case
- disposable razors x6
- small tent
- sleeping bag + foam pad
- warm pants + sweatshirt, warm hat/balaclava, socks x4, underwear x4, mittens, sport shoes - everything packed in the plastic bag and secured from water
- charged phone, spare keys to your home and car,spare documents - also secured from water
- flashlight + set of batteries x2
- nylon rope
- red lightsticks x2
- medical gloves x3
- toilet paper
- wet baby tissues
- eye glasses if needed
- light waterproof jacket
- plastic garbage bags
- small bottle of water + MRE
- first aid kit
- anything you need and fits in your bag
That's it. You can add anything you think will be useful and doesn't take much space. Try to keep your Go Bag small, so it can go through your window easily and can be carried around without much effort.