Hurricane Dorian is on its way to the US, and by the time it reaches Florida, it could be at a dangerous Category 4 level. The National Hurricane Center says Florida residents “should have their hurricane plan in place” because there is “risk of life-threatening storm surge along portions of Florida east coast.”
is also preparing for the hurricane, to track it.
If you live in or near Florida and you’re dealing with the storm activity,, which is why you need a go bag.
The go bag (aka bugout bag), once thought of as a security blanket for the conspiracy theorist, has gained the status of a legit safety item that you need in your home. In fact, government and city officials recommend having a go bag ready at all times.
The idea behind the go bag is simple. If an emergency happens, you grab your go bag and… go. It contains items that help you survive until you can return home. Here’s everything you need to know.
Think you needn’t bother? Hurricane preparedness isn’t the only reason you need a go bag. You may need to flee your home to find new shelter at a moment’s notice because of:
The city of Chicago, no stranger to strong winds, recommends that each member of your household have their own go bag. If you’re the parent of small children, however, you can use one big bag to hold everything you and your children need.
Remember, the best kind of bag is the kind you can carry. Don’t get a huge duffle bag unless you’re very strong and can heft it. Also, you want a bag that will fit easily in your car. You don’t want one that’s so big you’ll have to leave one of the kids behind to take it with you.
A hiking backpack with various pockets is your best bet. Make sure it’s made from a strong canvas material and has a strap that secures around your chest. This will take some of the strain off your back if you need to walk a long way.
Also, look for a pack that has a water reservoir you can fill with drinking water. These are often called camelbacks.
I recommend the Sandpiper of California bugout backpack, which is like what my husband used in the military. It’s currently our family go bag. It sells a little under $90. Another highly rated choice is the LA Police Gear Atlas 72 Hour Tactical Backpack ($80).
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Though many experts recommend having a three-day supply of water in your home in case of an emergency, running with that amount of water can be impractical, especially if you don’t have a car. The alternative is keeping a device in your go bag that can turn water from ditches, streams, ponds and other water sources into clean drinking water. Some good choices are the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle ($37 to $46) or the Icon LifeSaver ($85). Both can be clipped to the outside of your go bag so they don’t take up precious room in the pockets.
Be warned, though. Many emergency filtration devices like these need to be prepped with drinking water before they can be used as a filter for yucky water. Be sure to read the directions and prep your bottle before clipping it to your go bag.
In an emergency, batteries may be in short supply, especially in a hurricane. That’s why it’s a good idea to put a lighting system in your go bag that can be powered by a renewable resource.
The ThorFire LED Flashlight ($18) can be powered by sunlight or a hand crank. A solar or crank flashlight that doubles as an AM/FM radio is a good choice, too.
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Water and light should be at the top of your list, but there are plenty of other things you should toss in your bag:
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Originally published Jan. 28, 2017.
Update, Aug. 30, 2019: Updated for Hurricane Dorian.