Step 1: Gather enough bags for each of your family members that can carry their own bag.
Each family member should have a clearly labeled bag that consists of their belongings, assuming they’re able to carry it themselves. A backpack or a larger drawstring nylon sack works extremely well for this purpose.
Step 2: Registering your personal belongings.
This step is the most overlooked step in the family go bag preparation process, but arguably the most valuable. In the event that you and your family lose any possessions to a natural disaster, taking careful track of your personal belongings and necessary documents can be the difference between an insurance nightmare and a relatively smooth rebuilding process.
We recommend taking clearly identifiable photos of each room in your house, along with any valuables that might not be spotted in a broad photo. This includes jewelry, memorabilia, electronics, musical instruments (including type and brand clearly visible), art, and anything else that might be of value.
Once you’ve taken these photos, upload them to the cloud, and back them up on a flash drive, hard drive, or alternative cloud platform.
Step 3: Scanning your essential documents.
After you’ve catalogued the photos of your home, we highly recommend moving through the process of scanning and saving your essential documents. Though this may be a tedious process, particularly for families with multiple children, it’s one of the most critical steps in ensuring your family is safe and that your documents are saved in a location other than your physical home.
Due to the sensitive nature of essential documents, we recommend saving them onto a flash drive, unless you have access to a cloud service that features a high level of encryption.
Documents we recommend scanning include: driver’s licenses, medical records, proofs of insurance, social security cards, passports, birth certificates, immunization records, trusts, personal contact lists, and any additional information you would deem essential.
Step 4: Build out your food and water rations.
Once you’ve taken care of the household elements of your family go bag, move on to the more practical items. Focus on non-perishable food (think freeze-dried meals that only require water, or easy to open soups, beans, etc.) and at least 1 gallon of water per person per day.
We can’t recommend enough throwing in a pack of Liquid IV’s Hydration Multiplier, which can hydrate your body 2-3 times faster than water alone. Having a few of these packets around could mean your fluid supply lasting an extra 1-3 days in the event of an evacuation or other high-stakes event.
As far as food goes, the traditional camping meals and high-carb, high-protein bars are a must, but consider packing a few additional items, particularly if your family includes young kids:
- Multivitamins. In the event that you’re stuck outside of your house for a lengthy period of time, having multivitamins on hand can help to maintain the high nutrient levels that children demand.
- Baby formula.
- Natural fruit and vegetable bars. These might not have as long of a shelf life as a traditional protein bar, but they can help to contribute to a balanced nutritional supply.
Looking for a more efficient way to account for your foods and fluids? Costco offers bulk packages of both Mountain House’s freeze dried meals and Liquid IV’s Hydration Multiplier.
Step 5: Clothing.
Each member of the family should have at least one extra set of clothes. A good rule of thumb in packing extra outfits is to pack 2 extra outfits for your child for every one you pack for yourself. While it’s tempting to by picky about what’s included, try to pack an outfit that could function in all four seasons (aka don’t pack shorts). For growing children, try packing an outfit that’s a couple sizes too big to ensure your go bag can last without having to be repacked again in a year.
Step 6: Outdoor Gear
What gear you pack is entirely up to you and your family, and should be based on factors like location, your proximity to shelters and other family, and the weather conditions in your area. The must-have items are listed below, along with a couple of additional things worth considering.
- Sleeping bags
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight / Headlamp & extra batteries
- Camp Stove (for water prep/boiling)
- Hydration Pack
- Water Filter
Step 7: Additional Personal Items.
Depending on your location, your proximity to family, and other evacuation factors, packing a few personal items might be a good choice, particularly if there’s a chance you could be evacuated for multiple days at a time (i.e. in the event of a wildfire, hurricane, etc.). For children especially, this could include a couple of non-battery operated toys, books, or other games to keep them both entertained and in good spirits throughout any emergency.