Military and civilian government personnel who held positions that required them to deploy on immediate notice were the first use a “Go Bag.” Today, they serve a much broader range of needs. Preppers, people living in areas requiring the need for evacuation, frequent travelers, and hams all maintain go bags. The purpose of a go bag typically determines its size. Hams and preppers generally build a 72-hour or 3-day kit.
Your Physical Go Bag
Today, we are going to focus on the bags themselves. Size
Next, be realistic in your thinking.
Color is quite the personal preference. Some want bright, stand-out colors, like fluorescent orange or lime green, while others prefer black, camo or desert colors. Another consideration is the number of compartments, outside and inside pockets help to setup your pack by function. Larger compartments can be used for food and clothing, while, while smaller ones may be dedicated to fire making, first aid, or pathfinding. It’s your pack, there is no right or wrong, make it work for you.
Next, is load-bearing. Put them on your back and adjust the straps – all of them. Remember, once it’s loaded determine how it fits you and how well it distributes the weight.
Lastly, it is always better to buy bigger than you think will be needed, just don’t go overboard and buy a huge 4,000-6,000 cubic inch bag. Remember, you aren’t a Marine.
We all have specific needs that do not change when you are away from home. We take medicine, wear glasses, and may even have to pack for others that depend on us, like children. Whatever these needs may be, they do not stop because we are “out of pocket.” We must include those items in our go bag.
Except for perishable items, such as insulin, we can plan on packing enough for 72 hours. It doesn’t make any difference how many pills you may need or when you take them, plan on having them available just as if you were at home. It is usually best to package them in groups as you require them. A couple of critical points here:
- keep the package small
- try to keep your medicine air and waterproof.
Plastic sandwich bags and larger resealable plastic bags are a great way to store your medicine. Lay out your morning pills, put them in a sandwich bag in a knot and cut off the excess. Repeat two more times, and you have three mornings worth of pills. Put them in a small resealable bag labeled “Morning Meds” and then repeat the process for all the other times (Midday, Dinner, Bedtime) you must take medicine. You can use commercially available pill sorters for this task. If the pillbox is not waterproof, slip it into a plastic bag and seal it up.
Refreshing your Medicine
Here is the part that is going to require some work past this initial phase. Medicine may expire, so you can’t just do it and forget it. A good rule of thumb is to rotate them out every three months. On your phone calendar, or on the one of the fridge, make a note to replace the pills in your go bag. While you are at it, replace all the batteries on a regular basis. The last thing you need in a crisis is a dead flashlight, or radio, or whatever. You pick the timetable. Just do it.
Spare prescription glasses, thick socks, and underwear are also personal items you must review. Other personal items such as sunscreen, insect repellent, lotion, lip balm, etc., must be sealed in a plastic bag. The last thing you want to discover is that something leaked, melted, or otherwise got all over the other items in your go bag.
It’s also a good idea to keep a pair of tennis shoes or boots in the car near your go bag.
ID and Personal Papers
Make copies of your identification papers – any vital information like driver’s license, passport, and advanced medical directives, should something happen, and you are unable to communicate. Also, keep medical
Keep a programmed handi-talkie in your go bag that has every repeater in the state. Also include the FSR, GMRS and NOAA frequencies. Make sure the batteries stay charged.
Other Personal Items
Other personal items will be the following for you to ponder:
- Water purification – You can use drops of bleach, purification tablets r, my personal favorite, the Life Straw®. No matter what – you will need water.
- Water storage – It could be a surplus
canteen,or one bought from an outdoor sporting goods store. Alsoconsider a bladder system that can be built into your pack, there are several that are made to incorporate a water system, such as the “Camelbak” system.
- Flashlights, yes plural, because you never know when the night is going to be your friend. These days, you can buy strong lights of 1,000
candle poweror more with rechargeable batteries for around $30.00. These lights also let you pick the power you need for the task at hand. Alsothink about headlamps and two or three light sticks of different colors and make sure one of them is red. Red light insuresthat your night vision stays intact. They come in different sizes to give you up to 12 hours of light.
- Personal protection – This is a tricky subject IF you are licensed you may want to carry a pistol – size and type are to your preference but please carry extra ammunition and have some pistol shotshells as well to kill snakes and vermin – or dinner! Most of us already carry a knife but is it large enough for personal protection or general camp duty? Consider a blade that s both smooth and serrated, or you could also add a small machete.
- Rain and bad weather gear – Rain suits, ponchos, Gortex ®, plastic, small and not so small are some options. Polartec® coats or vests and a hat of some type is also important. I carry a rolled up “Boonie” in my pack.
- Food – last, but very important is food. Look at
freeze driedmeals – they are compact and can be packed tight since the bags are very tough.
- Personal Protective Equipment – Work type gloves, safety glasses
anda quality dust mask are worthwhile options to consider. Lots of people have also started carrying gasmask in their vehicle due to the possibility of toxic substances. Like everything elseit’s your decision and yours alone.
September is National Preparedness Month
Hurricane Florence has made us all aware of what a disaster can do to our future; that future is now. Tens of thousands had no plan, no kit, and they lost everything. Ask yourself, honestly, “What would I do? Can I care for myself and my family?” Well, could you?
Lists and Plans
A Go Bag is not much use if you have no idea where you are going. If you have been following along, possibly, you have already started your “Kit” list – the items you feel you must have to survive at least 72 hours. But, did you involve your spouse? Your children? Family members easily and quickly take part when they are asked for help and can see you are thinking about their safety and well-being. Make it fun but make it educational as well.
Remember, your spouse needs to know every detail in case you are separated, or something happens to you. Yes, you are a Ham and know how to communicate, but in most cases, they are not. Do you have other types communication for them? They are making better and better FSR (Family Service Radios) these days. Greater range and options along with longer battery life are available now. Also, GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) which requires a license, but there is no test, is another option which has repeater systems available much like 2-Meters. Check them out and see what fits your needs and have everyone practice using them. History has proven time and time again that cell phones become useless in times of disaster. Either the cell sites are so jammed that it is impossible to make a call or there is no cell site at all. Do NOT depend on your cell phone, after all you are a HAM!!!
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