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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

109: Get-Home Bag Essentials

Howdy! If you aren't familiar with the concept of a get-home bag, it's just emergency supplies for if you're stranded away from home. For example, this could be because your car broke down during inclement weather in an area with minimal cell service, or due to a large scale industrial accident near your job. Perhaps you missed the last train of the night, don't feel safe camping in the station, and can't justify the cost of an uber. Your lifestyle and location determine the most likely scenarios to plan for. It's best if the bag isn't heavier than you can comfortably carry, all while providing for your basic needs. You could be walking a long ways to get home, get help, or get back to civilization. Even if it's safer to stay put, you'll be more comfortable with your own snack and water supply, at a minimum, than without.

Your Get-Home bag should contain:

  • Water (The more the merrier, in general, but remember you have to carry it.)

  • Food (Should be non-perishable). Options include:

    • Honey doesn't go bad, even if you store it in the car in the summer.

    • Nuts/Peanut Butter and Trail Mix last a very long time but fatty foods can turn rancid in the heat. Plan to swap them out in the summer months.

    • Individually wrapped granola bars will get sticky in the heat, but shouldn't spoil before their expiration date. Poptarts, Hostess snacks, and many other individually packaged snacks last a very long time. Individually wrapped seaweed can last for years. Candy is good for ages. These aren't all nutritious suggestions but will provide calories.

    • Ramen, Instant Mashed Potatoes, or even a Boullion cube, just need to be mixed with water. The Ramen will take about a half hour to soften in cold water. The oil in the Ramen flavor packet, and I assume the Boullion cube, can turn rancid so plan to swap them out in the summer.

    • Instant Coffee just needs water, but remember! It's a diuretic and you don't want to become dehydrated.

    • Jello packets or Gatorade powder can be mixed with water to provide electrolytes. These help stave off dehydration.

  • Bowl, Spoon, Fork, Knife (Ideally in plastic since it's light weight.)

  • Pocket Knife / Multitool

  • Lighter / Matches

  • Outfit/s (Tailored to your climate and season. Swap out seasonally. Include undergarments and multiple pairs of socks.)

  • Shoes (Sneaker or boots, ideally. Waterproof if possible.)

  • Flashlight

  • FM Radio (to keep track of news, traffic updates, and weather alerts)

  • Batteries for Flashlight & Radio

  • Portable Phone Battery (fully charged) You'll want to double check this periodically.

  • Phone Charger Wire

  • First Aid Kit

  • Toilet Paper or Baby Wipes

  • Pads/Tampons (if relevant)

  • Sunblock (not the spray kind as they may combust in extreme heat)

  • Poncho

  • Blanket or Sleeping Bag

  • Paper Maps (relevant to your area) and a Compass (GPS has limitations.)

  • Whistle (to summon help/draw attention)

  • Marker, Notepad, & Tape (in case you need to leave a note)

  • Cash

  • List of Emergency Contacts

  • Insurance Information

  • List of Known Allergies

  • List of Current Medications

  • Prescription Medications (This is ideal but unrealistic for many, unfortunately.)

If you have other humans who travel with you, consider adding clothes, food, water, dishes, a poncho, blanket or sleeping bag, prescription medications, and the relevant lists for them. If you travel with pets, consider adding bowls, food, water, prescription medications, and the relevant lists for them. You can move your companions' supplies to their own bags to keep every human's light, so long as everyone knows with bag is theirs and which has everyone's shared supplies (since it might not be cost effective for every companion to have their own flashlight). Communication is key. You know your household's situation. If your teenagers take the train, they should keep basic emergency supplies (that won't get them in trouble) on their person. Maybe toss small bags for younger children in the car trunk, as they are mostly only travelling with you.

The contents of your get-home bag should be swapped seasonally to account for the most likely scenarios.

If your locale has excessive heat, consider adding:

  • Shade Hat

If your locale has excessive cold, consider adding:

  • Foldable Shovel (to dig yourself out of the snow)

  • Gloves

  • Spare Coat

  • Hot Hand Packets

Many would suggest including a means to defend yourself, and your companions, whether from ill meaning people or dangerous wildlife. If that's a priority, consider adding:

  • Pepper Spray (For use against human attackers. Must be kept accessible so you aren't digging for it when approached.)

  • Bear Spray (For use against potential animal attackers. Must be kept accessible so you aren't digging for it when approached.)

You can keep your bag/s in the car if you like, though public transport commuters are best off bringing their bags to work (having left out anything that can be interpreted as a weapon unless their workplace is very chill) and then back home with them. If vehicle break-ins are a common problem in your area, then you don't want to leave these bags in the car. They're not car-specific emergency bags unless that's your intent. They're for holding you over when you're stranded, wherever that may be.

As far as car-specific emergency supplies go, you should have a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, and reflective cones/triangles. Ideally, you should also have a snow brush and a windshield visor.

Anyway, I hope you found any of this helpful! Stay safe! I drop a blog post every Monday. Toodles!

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