September is National Preparedness Month, an annual observance to remind all Americans how important it is to be prepared for disasters and emergencies that can happen at any time. With so many unpredictable and unprecedented events, such as floods, wild fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters, it is wise to be prepared in case of an emergency.
One way individuals can be ready for an emergency is by creating a portable emergency kit, also known as go bags, emergency bags, bail out bags or bug out bags. This is one place to hold food, water, clothing, emergency supplies and documents to take with you, if you ever have to evacuate due to an emergency. It is recommended that you have at least 3 days worth of supplies ready to go for each person in your household. You’ll need to assemble the bag, determine a storage location, and have a plan to assess and restock the contents regularly.
Assembling a Go Bag:
There are many helpful resources for making a go bag, and numerous retailers where you can purchase the needed supplies, here are just a few:
Tips on how to build an emergency kit from ready.gov This site includes a detailed checklist of what to pack inside the bag.
The American Red Cross sells a pre-assembled Deluxe 3-Day Emergency Preparedness Kit
Determining a Storage Location:
Since the pandemic and recent natural disasters, many more of my home organizing clients have these go bags assembled, but no set place to store them. Determining how to store, organize, and maintain an up-to-date stock of items can be a challenge. It is essential that food and medication in the bags have not expired, clothing fits, flashlights work, etc.
You’ll want to have easy access to your bag when you need it in an emergency, so packing it, and storing it in an organized manner is important! These bags should be stored in a cool and dry place. Since they contain food and medication, you’ll want to keep pests out, and keep the bags out of reach from children and pets. Do not store these in areas that are not climate controlled, such as most basements, attics or garages.
The bag doesn’t need to be in a high traffic area, just a place where you can easily grab it. Look around your home and create a designated storage space for your go bag (or bags, depending on the size of your household). Perhaps these can be stored on the upper shelf of a closet in a hallway, bedroom, bonus room, home office, or spare room. Maybe you can store these in a laundry room cabinet or shelf. The storage location depends on the layout of your home, but once you’ve decided on a space, let everyone in the home know that this is where to go for the bags if there’s an evacuation.
Planning to Regularly Restock the Contents:
To prevent food and medications from going bad, and to make sure clothing fits and everything inside the go bag is in working order when you need it, schedule a regular time to check the contents of the bag, and restock as needed. Put a reminder on your calendar, such as once every 4 to 6 months, to make sure the clothing inside is for the correct season, and it is the right size, and to verify that all supplies inside are up to date.
Having a well organized and easy to access go bag is one of the most important things you can organize in your home. Knowing that these bags are ready will give you peace of mind, and you’ll be well-prepared in the event of an emergency.