In the event of another dry and windy fire season, you may not have time to put together a go-bag at the last minute. Years ago, we had to quickly evacuate our house in Carlsbad. We could have been the perfect poster children for doing it horribly wrong.
Go-bags can be a bin, backpack, suitcase, tub, or just about anything else that you can grab which is large enough to carry essential items. Minimally, the contents of the go-bag should help you survive at least three days. And don’t forget to pack for your pets.
So, what should I put in my go-bag?
- Start with a gallon of water and non-perishable food that requires no water or cooking. Paper plates, utensils, and a can opener help as well. Just packing a Costco-sized bag of Oreos probably won’t cut it.
- Next, think about the hygiene needs of yourself and your family including any medicine that is required. If you have a baby, be sure to include diapers, baby food, and formula.
- Pack clothing for at least three days. Depending on the expected weather, bring along jackets or hoodies. Be sure each person has a hat and dependable, sturdy shoes.
- Your go-bag should always include a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, matches kept in a waterproof container, duct tape, plastic sheeting, and any tools that you find necessary. Keep the batteries separate from the flashlight to avoid corrosion.
- I’m sure nobody would ever forget their cell phones but remember to bring your phone chargers. Consider an out-of-town relative as a safe contact point should the need arise.
- Be sure to put important papers into the bag that cannot be easily replaced such as birth certificates. Some people like to include prescriptions, insurance policies, and other papers but many of these documents can easily be reproduced by calling your agent, doctor’s office or the documents are encrypted and kept online which reminds me that bringing a fully charged laptop can be very helpful.
- I understand that many people use credit and debit cards while making everyday purchases but you should also carry some cash, preferably in small bills in case power is out.
- Other items that may make this journey more palatable include blankets and pillows, playing cards, books, games, or any other creature comforts that make this time bearable.
- Plan ahead for your pet’s needs including temporary shelter, veterinary records, pet food, a water bowl, and a leash. It’s also a good idea to have a pet-transport crate handy for a safe and rapid move.
What did I forget when we were quickly evacuated from our home?
We have many photos that are not on a disk that cannot be replicated which we left behind. I also have a nice display of my dad’s WWII medals which I wouldn’t want to lose but left behind. Other than that, most of our belongings could be replaced by insurance. Losing some of my precious belongings would hurt but one can only take so much at a moment’s notice.
We did remember to grab the kids, the dog, the bird, important papers, and both cars though my wife wanted to leave one behind (mine) so that we would all stay together.
I’m sure that I have forgotten a few things. And that’s after giving this a lot of thought over time so imagine what you might forget in very limited time. Living in California, you simply have to be ready.