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Defend Thyself Personal Defense

Go Bag Checklist for an Emergency

by George Wehby   |  September 5th, 2011 13

I do not know if it is the fact we have 24-hour media coverage or the beginnings of the apocalypse, but it seems we are hearing more and more about natural disasters, flash mobs and terrorist attacks. The fact that these things occur should give us pause and make us all think twice before we assume it will not happen to us. Well, prior proper planning prevents poor performance.

One way to be properly prepared is having a go bag checklist.

A go bag or bug out bag is a pre-packed satchel or bag that contains an assortment of supplies that you may need in the case of an emergency where you have to leave your home or residence. The go bag needs to be large enough to carry a good amount supplies, but small enough that you can transport without much effort.

Here’s a quick Go Bag checklist:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Water proof matches
  • Pocket knife
  • First aid kit
  • Copies of identification cards
  • List of emergency contact numbers
  • Roll of quarters for phone calls
  • An assortment of cash (small denominations)
  • MRE (Meal Ready to Eat)
  • Street map of your area
  • Couple bottles of water (change them out regularly)
  • Any and all prescription medications
  • 100-mph tape
  • All-purpose blanket and 550 chord (paracord)

This is obviously not an exhaustive list.  You can add and subtract from your bag as you see fit or according to you and your family’s possible needs. Either way, having this bag available could be the difference between success and failure in an emergency situation.  I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Good Luck.

  • Leigh Ratcliffe

    Add a metal cup or pot to boil water in. More people die in the aftermath from water borne illness than in the actual event.

    Also add a butane lighter (lasts longer than matches) and a couple of trioxane tabs. Make the torch a waterproof head torch. You will need three hands otherwise.

    If you want serious, reliable information on the subject google: Equipped To Survive.

  • Jay Abramson

    Cut back on the quarters. When is the last time you saw a pay phone? Substitute a phone card. Likewise a disposable cell phone. These can be had for under $30,00. Minutes can be bought on a card and not activated until needed. Most cell services remained up during Florida's severe hurricane seasoon of 2004. As to the flashlights, LED based lights using standard type batteries. These are more easily found than the exotic types. Eveready Lithium cells can be packed for storage, then replaced with Alkaline bateries which will be more prevalent, either by barter or purchase.

    • George Wehby

      I see pay phones everywhere. The Va earthquake knocked out my cell for an hour and it was weak. Due to call volume some cells didn't work during 9-11. Carry both. Thanks for the feedback.

    • breamfisher

      It depends on where you are as to cell phone coverage during the hurricanes of 2004 in Florida. People in Lake, Volusia, Leon, and Sumter counties had limited to no cell phone coverage. While there's a chance your cell phones may be working, there's a also a chance they won't. Have an alternative plan ready.

  • HOUSheepdog

    I'd make the local street map one of the waterproof kind – IMHO. Also, my BugOutBags and GTH Boxes include several thick, construction grade trash bags. They keep things dry, you can use them as rain gear, you can use them in water as a survival bag to stay warm, and you can collect drinking water in them. Multiple uses. Also, a small container of bleach for disinfecting water, wounds, etc. Those small, white dusk masks store easily and work good if you have to bug out due to fire, smoke, ash, etc. My list and bags are pretty extensive, to include spare ammo, Henry survival rifle, etc., but this small stuff can go into just about any kit.

    My .02


  • breamfisher

    You might want a little more food and water, most recommendations are for 3 days of food and water. Also, bring some entertainment that doesn't require batteries, especially if you have children: games, decks of cards, books, etc.

  • Paul Purcell

    Hi George, You're correct. Natural disasters are increasing and so are things like industrial accidents, civil unrest (to include street crime), and the threat of terrorism is NOT going away.

    Thanks for posting the intro bugout kit list and for being one of the ones who helps others.

    A few bits:

    1. Kits should be customized to the user, the geographic area, and to the most likely threats. Since you mentioned the VA quake in one of your responses, we'll continue with urban setting thoughts.

    2. In an office setting, keep some items at your desk and the rest in your vehicle if you drive.

    3. Copies of all your keys is crucial. Keep a "hide a key" on your vehicle. A common scenario is a building fire where you're rushed out and many people leave their purses or bulky key ring sitting on their desk.

    4. Carry a mass transit pass or tokens.

    5. One of the things we teach in our courses is that on your street map copy you should mark: Threats (bridges and bottlenecks, bad neighborhoods), Assets (payphones, vending machines, mass transit stops, medical services), Rendezvous points (where you'd meet loved ones), and EM sites (police and fire departments), among other things.

    6. Coins. Yes, carry a roll. Payphones still exist, and vending machines are great for snacks if the power is on.

    7. Hand sanitizer. Get one that's alcohol based. Keeps you cleaner and safer since you'll be thrust into crowds of new people, slapped into an assailant's eyes it's like impromptu pepper spray, and being alcohol based, it may help start that campfire if you wander away from our urban scenario. Also, alcohol is a useful solvent in some personal decontamination scenarios.

    8. I'd suggest a Leatherman or other good multi-tool over a pocket knife.

    9. Ziploc bags; gallon size (2 or 3 of them). Useful for everything from collecting water from a faucet to making a pillow if you wind up resting for a bit.

    10. Spare prescription glasses or over-the-counter reading glasses AND sunglasses. Eye protection and seeing clearly are crucial.

    11. Chapstick and skin lotion. You'll be out in the elements longer than normal, even in an urban scenario, so protect exposed areas.

    12. Emergency cell phone charger. Constantly texting and calling to see if lines are working will drain your battery. You'll want the phone to work when lines are opened back up.

    Naturally, this list could go on and on, but you did a good thing here and I wanted to add a little to it.


  • HOUSheepdog

    These lists can go on and on. I have water purification tabs, trauma kit, spare ammunition & mags, boonie hats, cash, etc. My bags are based on my location which has a greater potential for a water-based natural disaster and/or the human crisis that may follow (ie. Hurricane Katrina).

    Everyone's BugOutBag requirements will differ. I would hope that everyone who decides to prepare themselves would glean as much information as they can from the internet, these forums, neighbors, police, etc., and would put together the exact BOB's and GTH boxes that 'fit the bill' for them. I know I've just expanded my 'kits' with a few tidbits from the posts above. Thanks.

    I'm still almost fascinated at the number of people I see and speak to who are completely unprepared for any natural disaster or confrontation. I know that some training is too expensive for many people in today's economy but simple internet searches can yield so much valuable information. So many sheeple simply choose to not plan or fail to recognize the need to.

  • Joe Harlan

    I used to take GIs on horse camping trips, canoe trips, etc. I had a three column list of supplies needed. One column was for my personal needs, one column was for group support equipment, tools, tents, etc. and one was for food: breakfast, lunch and supper times the number of days we were going to be camping. Gleam ideas from the above posts as well as from Cabelas, Bass Pro, etc. Hikers can also add ideas. Great job folks!

  • Rick

    A gret terd sofar, but I would add a CB radio and power inveter for your vehicle to charge your cell phone a poncho and poncho liner make a great shelter or sleeping bag, a bar of soap and a synthetic chammy to clean and dry off, it can also be used to gather water, a military entrenching (e-tool) tool, tow strap or 3/4 inch nylon rope, a tool kit aa 5 foot bit net. and in t ktchen you can hve a "kit" set up with canned goods (with manual can opener) olive oil, RAW HONEY (which can be used as medicine) and a cast iron dutch oven or skillet and alumium foil.

  • Rick

    that was a "great thread"

  • don

    pay phones we dont having any around anymore

    there hard to find

  • Bluesman50349

    Water purification, fire starter, survival bars, K-Bar, hand gun, camel back, socks, tourniquet, sling, first aid items including mole skin, syphon hose, and on and on. Between what I keep in the truck and in the bag I’m good to go for a while regardless of weather or the lack of polite society. Hope it never happens, but better safe than sorry…

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