Emergency travel bag: what to pack if you have to leave the house as soon as possible


An example of a good travel bag.

Alina Bradford / CNET

Wildlife season is here – and over 650,000 acres in the United States have already burned so far. Experts predict it will be another difficult season for forest fires and other natural disasters. If you live in an area where there is one or more natural disasters, it is important to be prepared.

Once considered a security blanket for conspiracy theorists, a travel bag or bug out bag is now considered important safety gear to have on hand. Representatives of the government itself recommend having a backpack ready anytime.

The idea behind the go bag is simple. In case of emergency, you take your transport bag and … go. It contains things to help you stay safe until you get home: your phone, your medications, Important documents and even outdoor survival gear like portable water purifiers. Here’s everything you need to know to build your own backpack.

Read more: Wildfires, tornadoes, floods, intruders: 4 ways your phone can save you in an emergency

Why do you need a travel bag

If you are lucky enough to have some kind of weather warning, you may have more time to evacuate. But many disasters are so damaging because they are sudden. At any time, you may have to flee your home to find new shelter due to:

  • Earthquake
  • Forest fires
  • Tornadoes or hurricanes
  • Tsunami
  • Flash floods
  • mud slides
  • Ice storms
  • Zombie apocalypse (just kidding … may be)

What type of bag is the best?

the city ​​of chicago, accustomed to heavy storms, recommends that each member of your household have their own travel bag. However, if you are a parent of young children, you can use a large bag to hold whatever you need.

Remember, the best type of bag is the one you can carry. Don’t buy a huge gym bag unless you are very strong and can lift it. If you drive, you want a bag that will fit easily in your car. You don’t want one that’s so big that you’ll have to leave one of the kids behind to take it with you.

A hiking backpack with multiple pockets is your best bet. Make sure it is made of sturdy canvas material and has a strap that ties around your chest. It will relieve your back a bit if you have to walk for a long time.

Also look for a pack that contains a water tank that you can fill with potable water. These are often referred to as camel backs or hydration packs. A water-resistant bag can help keep your items dry inside, but you can also cover it with a plastic garbage bag.

the Sandpiper of California Evacuation Backpack ($ 100) is one example.

Make your water, don’t carry it

Although many experts recommend having a three-day water supply at home in an emergency, evacuating with this amount of water can be impractical, especially if you do not have a car. The alternative is to keep a device in your carry bag that can turn water in ditches, streams, ponds, and other water sources into potable water.

Some options are LifeStraw Go Water Bottle ($ 37) or Liberty LifeSaver ($ 125). Both can be clipped to the outside of a go bag so they don’t take up valuable space in pockets.

Be warned, however. Many emergency filtration devices like these must be prepared with potable water before they can be used as a filter for filthy water. Make sure you read the instructions and prepare your bottle before you clip it into your carry bag.

Get lighting that lasts

The batteries may be insufficient in an emergency. That’s why it’s a good idea to put a lighting system in your travel bag that can be powered by a renewable resource.

the ThorFire LED Flashlight ($ 18) can be powered by sunlight or a crank. A solar or hand crank flashlight that doubles as an AM / FM radio is also a good choice.

Read more: Best Flashlights: Rayovac, ThruNite, Olight and more

Other essentials

Water and light should be at the top of your list, but there are plenty of other things you should pack:

  • Non-perishable foods: Ready-to-eat meals (RIMs) are a popular choice, but freeze-dried foods work too. Just make sure they are light; provide a lot of calories and protein; and have a lifespan of several months or even years.
  • A good multitool that includes a knife, pliers, can opener and other tools.
  • Paracord, also called 550 cord, can hold up to 550 pounds and is compact, so choose it over regular cord.
  • Carabiners: These metal buckles with a spring-loaded latch have a million and one uses, like locking gear to the outside of your go bag.
  • A whistle to alert others if you need help and can’t scream.
  • Something to start a fire, like a lighter or matches.
  • SPF sunscreen for sun protection.
  • A poncho and a change of clothes.
  • Your family’s prescription drugs for a week and copies of your prescriptions. You’ll probably want to toss them in the duffel bag on the way out, as keeping extras in your bag will be inconvenient for most people.
  • A small first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic, pain relievers and gauze.
  • Personal care items such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, etc. Put these items in waterproof bags.
  • Your additional house and car keys.
  • A warm blanket. Put it in a plastic bag, use your vacuum cleaner hose to suck the air out of the bag, and seal it quickly to save space.
  • A recent family photo for identification, also in a plastic bag, to protect it from moisture.
  • Cash in small denominations and coins.
  • A regional map and compass so you can find your way without a phone when cell towers and GPS are down or busy, or you’re running out of battery.
  • Paper, pens and tape to leave messages for others.
  • A dust mask.
  • Copies of important documents such as insurance information, identity documents, proof of address and passports, all in a waterproof plastic bag.
  • Your family photos on a USB key. This one is optional, but I like the security of knowing that I have some of my family’s treasured memories with me.
  • Pet supplies such as a leash, collapsible water bowl, and food.

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