Emergency Go Kits: How To Prepare One

Emergency Go Kits: How To Prepare One

While we would like to believe we know what’s going to happen and that we are completely prepared, the reality is that no one has control or knows the future. In the blink of an eye, everything could change and you need the ability to grab the essentials and go.

The best things we can do is create a plan, and be ready to go at any moment. 

In some instances, your home becomes too dangerous. Creating a go kit specific to your family allows you to grab the essentials at the blink of an eye, and be on the road. 

A Plan 

The key to safety during any life changing event revolves around planning. You have the best understanding of your resources, potential safety, and risks associated with where you live. 

Understanding the potential risks of your area is the first step to a plan. Is your area known for tornadoes, snow, earthquakes, or sand storms? You should make two plans for each one of these events, a stay-at-home plan, and a get-out plan. 

This plan should include a checklist that can be easily read and checked by the family before pulling out. These may be obvious items, but they may be overlooked in a panic such as:

  • Go Bags
  • Pets
  • Prescriptions
  • Wallets

Some personal items that are important to you may not be appropriate to bring and take up room. This raises the importance of storing these items in a safe, which can be locked and left. 

Your Needs 

For your stay-at-home plan, you need to plan for your entire family. Have food, warmth, water, and other preparations for you, your loved ones, and your pets. Consider what you will have with the loss of power, gas, or water, as natural disasters can cause this.

For your get-out plan, you need to start by having the essentials known as a go kit, which can either be bought from a professional source, or built to your needs. You will want to ensure you know how to use everything in your kit, figuring this out on the fly can be problematic. 

You will also want to choose the mode of transportation that will be used, and ensure that you have enough fuel to get to your planned destination. In bad storms or in major events, stores may not be open. This should be the most reliable vehicle possible, as you don’t want to break down along the way. You will also want to ensure your go kit fits in your vehicle. 

Go Kit Packaging 

When considering go kit packaging, we are looking at two aspects, how your items are packaged inside your go kit, and how your entire go kit is packaged. 

Go kits are generally found as go bags, which are most commonly hiking backpacks. This allows you to grab your kit easily, get into your vehicle, and if needed you could strap it to your back and keep going. 

For families, this can be difficult. Storage totes create waterproof storage for your items and may help you stay organized. If you’re going to use totes for your go kit storage, be sure that you can lift it without major struggle, and that it’s somewhere near your vehicle such as a garage. 

Inside any go kit, you want to stay highly organized. Clear baggies allow you to see what’s inside each pack, while keeping items in sets. This becomes important when packing rations of food, as you can place the families meals in each bag and keep track of what remains. 

It’s important to make need-now items easily visible, such as using red or orange, and toward the top of your pack. This could include medical kits, flares, and other important items. 

Your Go Kit 

It’s important to consider your vehicle itself as part of your go kit, this will allow you to store extra quantities of some of your items, having them ready to go when you are. 


One of the items that should be both stored in your vehicle and added to your go kit is bottled water. Your body needs 2.7 to 3.7 liters of water each day. Depending how many people are within your group and how many days your trip could take, it’s important to have enough water.

Be sure to drink the water stored in your vehicle first, allowing your kit to stay filled in case you need to continue on foot. 

Water Purification 

Water tablets, also known as purification tablets are designed to be added to fresh water such as a stream, and kill off any bacteria or other possibly harmful elements and allow the water to be safe to drink. Water is essential to life, and having a backup plan is always good. 

Long Lasting Food 

It’s important to find food sources that have long expiration dates, and are beneficial to your health. This could include items such as protein bars, dried fruits, trail mix, or other meal replacement options designed to give your body nutrients in a small amount of food. 

It’s important to keep in mind the expiration dates of these items.

These foods should be chosen based on your preferences. If you absolutely hate blueberries, don’t feel the need to pack dried blueberries. Choose items that are beneficial, but that you also enjoy as this can relieve stress during a bad situation. 

If you’re bringing canned food, ensure the tops are tab opened, or be sure to pack a can opener. 

First Aid Kits 

If there’s a singular item that you should invest in, it’s a quality first aid kit. Without proper cleaning or care, something as small as a cut can become infected and life threatening. Items such as alcohol pads, bandages, antibiotics, and a tourniquet are life-saving. 

You want your first aid kit to be red or orange and properly marked so it can be easily found. 

Your first aid kit is about more than what you have, it’s about having the knowledge as well. Take the time to learn how to use each piece of your kit, and teach each member of your party about it’s importance. This is a great time to teach your children about the importance of medical attention as well. 

Dry Clothes

While a full outfit would be nice, you want to keep this to a minimum. Known in the US Military as a Skivvy-Roll, consider packing spare socks, underwear, and t-shirts. These items when wet could cause health issues, and pull the heat away from your body. 


When considering warmth, you need to plan within your limitations. Blankets and jackets are a must have in cold weather, and can help create comfort during harsh conditions. 

Items for starting a fire, such as matches or a lighter, can be helpful to have on hand and should be stored in a waterproof container such as a baggie. 

Signal Whistle 

In an emergency, it’s important to remain calm and try to be found. Signal whistles are designed to be loud, and easy to pack away. Add a signal whistle to each go bag, or jacket to ensure anyone who is lost or separated from your group can be found. 

What’s Missing?  

Going back to the idea of your family's needs, it’s important to address what you need every day and compare that to your plan. 

If you take prescription medication, it should be in your bug out plan to grab these items.

Where are you going? Your plan should always have a place to go. It’s important to stock items such as food and water at your end location as well. Even if you’re going to a family members house, they may not have your needs on hand at any given time. This should include:

  • Hygiene Products such as body soaps, toothbrushes, and other needs.
  • Food such as rice, canned goods, and other long lasting sources.
  • Spare funds, since you may be leaving in a hurry and could forget your wallet. 

Do you have pets? They will also need a supply of food and water ready to go. 

Go Kit Maintenance 

Some of the items in your kit have specific expiration dates and shelf lives, such as food. Consider planning a time every 6 or 12 months to go through your kit and ensure each item is still good. If you’re coming up on an expiration date, replace the item and consume the previously packed. 

Even bottled water can have a shelf life, often due to the plastic bottle breaking down over time. To reduce this deterioration, be sure to store bottles in a cool area out of direct light, or simply circulate your stored water occasionally. 

You should also check that none of your items are broken during this time, including the packaging itself. If your bag or bin is showing signs of wear, be sure to replace them right away. 

Be sure to check how items will be packed into your vehicle. You want items that may be used, such as water, food, or blankets near the top so they can be accessed. 


Go bags are about having a plan for when something happens that makes your house unsafe. If a severe storm were to occur today, how long would it take for you to grab your things, assemble your family, and be on the road? 

Panicking is not your friend. The better planned you are for events to happen, the calmer and smoother you will react. Take the time to fully understand the natural disaster potential within your area, and prepare yourself for the events. 

Will these events happen? They may not, but if they were to happen, are you prepared?





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