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Be Prepared for an Emergency Evacuation with a Go-Bag

By Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie on December 3, 2018

The Malibu and Paradise fires are a sobering reminder that we should have a “Go-bag” packed in our home in the event we need to evacuate without much notice. Often there isn’t any time to think about what to take when ordered to evacuate.

A Go-Bag is a packed case you grab on your way out the door that will help keep you safe and comfortable in the coming hours and days. Stopping to search for your medications or other important needs can cost you critical seconds in an evacuation. Why not pack a separate Go-bag for yourself and every member of your household and keep them stored in the same location?

A Go-bag should contain the following:

  • Several bottles of water
  • Non-perishable food such as energy bars or beef jerky
    • There are ready to eat meals available through camping outfitters, but they may require potable boiling water—water than might be unavailable.
  • Food for your pets and their leashes
    • Maybe think about a portable or collapsible water bowl
  • Charging cords for your cell phones
  • Hand crank radio to access the Emergency Weather Solar Crank AM/FM NOAA Radio
    • With portable 2000mAh power bank, bright flashlight and reading lamp for household emergency and outdoor survival is available at Amazon for approximately $30. It has USB charging ports for your electronic devices and a solar charger, hand crank charger, and can also run on three AAA batteries.
  • Extra batteries for the radio and other electronic devices you have in your Go-bag
  • N95 respirator face masks to reduce smoke inhalation
    • These become unavailable when there is smoke in the air due to wildfires and are available for around $15.00 at hardware stores and Amazon.

While getting ready for a typical day, list every toiletry you use and then buy a travel-size version of each item. Pack backup eyeglasses, as well as a first-aid kit, baby wipes and a multipurpose tool with a knife and can opener.


  • Pack a few days’ worth of necessary clothing and include layers you can add or remove, along with underwear and lightweight rain gear and waterproof boots.

Important Medications

  • Pack about a three-day supply of each of your prescriptions that should last until you can get to an open pharmacy. If you need larger items such as an oxygen tank, make sure you have a portable version.

The Perfect Bag

  • Think small and portable. A backpack is ideal, but a lightweight suitcase with wheels will also work just fine. Just remember, you may literally be running with this item in your hands.


Fill a zip-top waterproof bag with photocopies of the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security and Medicare cards
  • Power of attorney and Will
  • Any marriage, adoption, or naturalization certificates
  • Proof of address
  • Insurance, medical, and immunization records
  • Verification of your credit and ATM cards


In addition, we recommend packing enough money for a few days including small bills and a roll of quarters. If you need to purchase something from a vending machine, you wouldn’t want to start asking equally desperate strangers for change.


Considering the holiday season prompts us to think about how thankful we are for the positive things in our lives, just make it an annual ritual to check your Go-bag for anything you might want to add and/or to replace food items, medications and batteries with fresh items.

Hopefully you will never need your Go-Bag in your lifetime. But it is far to better to be prepared than risk the extra headache and hassle being unprepared could cause at an already difficult time.

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