You are at work and you are trying to beat the clock. Is just one of those days when nothing seems out of the ordinary. Suddenly you hear sirens in the distance and the power goes out. You try to use the cell phone but the line is busy, it’s no use. You know that a disaster is coming your way and you need to get out of there. You have to get home although you are many miles away from your family. However, you have a solution to get to them. Your get home bag.
Our lives are spinning in these modern times and we spend surprisingly little time at home. Between work, running errands and making appointments, some of us spend more time away from our families than at home. You must take this into account when building your emergency preparedness plan. You shouldn’t count on luck and hope that nothing will happen when you are not at home.
What is a get home bag and why should you need one?
A get home bag, as the name implies, is a survival kit designed to get you home if a disaster happens while you are away. It’s much simpler than a bug out bag. It’s also much more practical to carry it around back and forth to work every day. A get home bag can take a variety of forms depending on the preferences of the owner. However, the idea is to keep it as light and as simple as possible. A small backpack is ideal if you want to have a proper get home bag.
Many people will argue that building a get home bag is a waste of resources and that you don’t really need one. Usually, the people who say this are those that work close to home. For them, having such a bag can indeed be useless. However, there are various types of events that require the use of a get home bag. It doesn’t have to be a catastrophic disaster to need one. A get home bag can prove useful during car failure, blackouts or even powerful storms.
Related article: The Eight Principles of Emergency Evacuation
Some disaster may prove more devastating than others. There will be people for which a get home bag will make a huge difference. It will drastically increase their chances of getting home safely. Putting together a get home bag is not a daunting task. It can be done quickly in one afternoon. When it comes to emergency preparedness you should know that is always better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.
Below is a list of recommended get home bag supplies. You are free to add or subtract from this list as you feel adequate. Remember that a get home bag has to be built based on the lifestyle of the owner and the career and environments are factors that will dictate the items in your get home bag.
Get home bag essentials
One liter of water
You should have one liter of water in your get home bag and I suggest storing it in a metal container. A metal container gives you the option to boil water and cook in it if necessary. Not to mention that a metal container is more durable in extreme conditions. Besides having water, I recommend also getting a practical water filter like the lifestraw. It’s an excellent addition to your get home bag and it’s a perfect plan B for your water needs.
Don’t go overboard with packing elaborate meals. You need to keep it simple. Having three to six energy bars in your get home bag will do the trick. High-calorie bars are simple and are good meal substitutes. In your get home bag, you should have food that doesn’t require heating or preparation. All food should be open and ready to eat meal. Even better, if you want to save money, learn how to make Pemmican and add it to your get home bag.
Related reading: How to make pemmican, the ultimate survival food
Having a lightweight tarp in your get home bag is a good idea because you can use it under various scenarios. You can make a temporary shelter, you can use it as a ground cover or you can even use it as a ground to air signal. A tarp has many uses and it can come in handy when a disaster strikes.
A rain poncho
You don’t want to get wet when the weather turns on you. It’s not only miserable, it’s deadly. Hypothermia is the number one killer in the outdoors and if you get wet, your vulnerability increases with every passing minute. You can get a military rain poncho that can also be used as an improvised shelter. This way you save money on the tarp and you make your get home bag lighter.
If you wear dress shoes to work, adding a pair of sturdy boots in your get home bag is really important. You should pack a pair of comfortable shoes that will help you travel faster and protect you from injuries.
Don’t forget to pack the right type of socks as well because you don’t want to get blisters when moving across rough terrain. SmartWool socks are a good choice because they will keep you warm in cold months and will let your feet breathe in hot months.
Having a change of clothes will allow you to change out of your working clothes into something that offers more protection. Having the right clothes will provide you with maneuverability and you will ease off the stress. You should add normal clothes to your get home bag, the type of clothes that help you blend into crowds.
Don’t forget to get a hat or a cap to protect from the sun. Whatever your clothing choices are, make sure you vacuum seal them so that you save packing space.
Fire starting tools and tinder
Here the options vary and you can get from fireplugs to lighters and so on. It doesn’t matter what you chose as long as it works and it helps you start a fire under any condition. Make sure you also pack some fire starting tinder. You can buy some or you can make your own by soaking some cotton balls in petroleum jelly. If you need to start a fire, is better to have all the tools you need. You might not have the time to improvise and you need fast working solutions.
A quality multi-tool
Being cheap when choosing a multi-tool is a mistake you will regret and you should avoid buying cheap China items when it comes to multi-tools. Your tool should have a solid knife blade, pliers, a saw blade and flat/cross point drivers. You never know when you might need one of these tools and it’s better to have it at hand.
Get a quality multi-tool for your get home bag. There is a big debate among preppers and survivalists when it comes to blades and many of them add a fixed blade knife as well. A real survival knife is a formidable tool, but you can make good use of what your multi-tool provides if you have the right knowledge. It is all up to you in the end.
Related article: Why the blade matters when choosing the perfect knife
A first aid kit
Most get home bags have a mini first-aid kit and you should get one too. Your mini-kit should contain: bandaged, gauze pads, medical tape, insect repellent, lip balm, tweezers and a variety of medications: aspirin, Dramamine, antacids and specific medicine you depend on. If you wear glasses or contacts, make sure you include a backup pair as well. Keeping good health is essential to get home safe.
Many preppers decide to add a sturdy flashlight in their get home bag and they usually go for a hand-crank one. You can even go with a LED lamp as long as it provides a good amount of light. I prefer a hands-free water-resistant headlamp because it’s much more practical.
Sure you might need to toss in extra batteries, but it will provide you with better maneuverability. Once again, here is all up to you and each choice is based on the personality of the individual. You need to know how to use a headlamp in order to avoid becoming a target.
You don’t need a sleeping bag in your get home bag, but you should really consider getting a Mylar blanket. It is cheap, lightweight and compact; it will also keep you warm in cold weather and it can save your life. You can use it with your tarp or rain poncho for maximum efficiency.
This is a mini kit that will keep you clean when things get dirty. I should contain toilet paper, soap, disinfecting wet napkins, and hand sanitizer. Some prefer to add a toothbrush and toothpaste, but it will just add to the weight of the get home bag. You should also include a face mask that will protect you from debris, dust or sickness. You can use a bandanna or your t-shirt, but it’s not as a convenient or efficient as an N95 facemask.
Any disaster will cause panic and panic is the breeding ground for desperation and violence. Violence skyrockets if the aftermath of a disaster and ideally your self-defense items should keep you safe. You should avoid hand to hand combat and you should get something that keeps some distance between you and your attacker. Having a compact pistol with two or three extra magazines in your get home bag is indicated.
Related article: 5 guns every prepper and survivalist should own
A map and a compass
Having a paper map of your area and a compass can be invaluable. If you don’t know very well your surroundings and you need to find an alternative route, a map will be very useful. Everyone will try to get out of the city and you need to plan for detours and avoid bottlenecks. A map is much more reliable than a smartphone or a GPS system as these devices might not work in an emergency.
Cash is a universal language and they don’t need to communicate with the power grid. Pack small denominations in a variety of places to never reveal all your money at once. You never know when you need to use it to get out of a sticky situation and it’s better to have it in your get home bag.
There are entire books on the uses of paracords and it is an essential item for every get home bag. You can do whatever you think of with a paracord. It’s recommended to have one during a time of crisis. Get a paracord that provides the most for your buck and learn how to use it.
I keep a hand-crank radio with me at all times and you should get one for your get home bag. Make sure it receives NOAA alerts because this could be your only source of disaster-related information. You should go for a model that has an integrated USB that helps you charge your phone or any other device.
Rescue signal items
You need to have a signal mirror or a whistle that can be used for conveying messages and making your location know to the rescue teams. You might need to let people know where you are and you should be able to do that with simple items.
The weight of your bag is an essential factor and you need to make it as light as possible. Although all of the items could be packed in a smaller bag I suggest getting a bigger backpack as you never know when you might need the extra space. You might have to scavenge for supplies and you should be able to carry them with you.
Having a get home bag is a preparedness step we need to make in this unpredictable world where unfortunate situations are inevitable. Survival is always a gamble and a disaster usually has an advantage. Having a get home bag will even the odds and it will help you reach the safety of your home where your family depends on your safe and timely return.
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