Do We Need A Go Bag?

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Do We Need A Go Bag_350Do you have an emergency go bag/survival kit? We don’t. Unfortunately, this means we were not prepared for any kind of emergency at the beginning of 2020. In February, the COVID pandemic started to spread around the world. I was following the news in Asia pretty closely so I knew we had to start preparing for a lockdown. I picked up plenty of TP, dried and canned food, soap, and various supplies so we could hunker down at home for a while. Luckily, we acted early so we didn’t have to fight for TP like many families did. Even then, I didn’t think we need a go bag. It just seems like we could stick it out at home for almost any emergency. However, 2020 had more in store for us.

This month, wildfires broke out all over the West Coast. In Oregon, many structures and over 1 million acres burned. Thousands of people were evacuated and about 500,000 were told to be ready to leave their homes. The roads were choked with families trying to get out of the evacuation zones. Hotels and emergency shelters filled up and some people had to sleep in their cars or tents. The smoke choked the state and we stayed mostly inside for about 10 days. It smelled like a campfire even inside our duplex. Fortunately, we live in a dense urban area and didn’t have to evacuate. I don’t think our area has enough trees and vegetation to burn out of control. However, this made me reconsider a go bag.

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Why we didn’t have a go bag

The main reason why I didn’t think we need an emergency go bag is because we don’t have many natural disasters here. I lived in Portland for over 25 years and never needed a go bag. Let’s go over some disasters.

  • Earthquake – IMO, this is the only serious disaster that might happen in Portland. The Cascadia earthquake occurs every 300 to 900 years. It’ll be a huge one when it hits. However, nobody knows when it’ll hit. It probably won’t happen in our lifetime so it never seems like a high priority.
  • Floods – I think we’re pretty safe. There was a huge flood in 1996 and we can kind of tell where the water will go. Our home should be pretty safe from flooding.
  • Wildfires – Our urban area has too much concrete for a fire to get out of control. I think we’re okay.
  • Tsunami, volcano, hurricane, and landslide – None of these apply.
  • Riot/unrest – Portland has been in the news frequently this year. Protesters have been clashing with the police and each other for over 100 days now. People watching the news think the whole city of Portland has descended into anarchy. Families and friends were worried and called to check on us. Actually, the clashes are concentrated in only a small area near the Justice Center or other specific locations. Our old condo was 6 short blocks away from the Justice Center, but we moved in 2019. Whew! That was lucky. We are still in Portland, but we are out of the protest zone. There hasn’t been any problem in this part of town. I don’t think the unrest will spread, but you never know with this crazy 2020 election. Are you better off than 4 years ago?
  • Pandemic – No need for a go bag. Just hunker down at home.

Our emergency plan is to hunker down at home and wait it out. I guess the one good thing that came out of the pandemic is that we’re a lot better prepared to hunker down now. If things worsen and we can’t wait it out, then we’ll drive down to my brother’s home in California or North Carolina. In that case, we’ll need a go bag.

Putting together a go bag

An emergency go bag should help you survive for 72 hours. Also, it should be easy to carry in case you need to walk. With these in mind, here is what I’m putting in our bags.

  • Bag – a backpack for each person. We have plenty of bags so this is not a problem.
  • Food – I think I’ll order Mountain House freeze-dried food from Amazon. These will last 30 years so we never have to buy them again. Also, we can use one for RB40Jr’s food challenge. Heh heh heh.
  • Water – We have a 5-gallon camping water container. That should be okay for 72 hours. Although, we’ll have to ditch it if we walk. I guess we should get some water purification tablets.
  • Hand crank radio – I don’t have one of these so we’ll need to order one. Here is a radio with hand crank, solar charger, and light. Nice!
  • Flashlight – We have a few.
  • First aid kit – We have a small first aid kit. Do we need a bigger pack?
  • Fire starter – We have some lighters. These should be good enough. Maybe I’ll order some fire starters rods later.
  • Mask – We have plenty of these too.
  • Whistle – To signal for help.
  • Personal documents – These are all in one place in our home. We’ll grab these when we need to leave.
  • Emergency blanket – We don’t have these and probably should order a few Mylar blankets.
  • Clothing – I think we can put old clothes in the go bag. Two changes of old clothes should be plenty. For our climate, we probably will need a water resistance jacket as well. I’ll stick an old jacket in there for each of us.
  • Multitool – We have several nice Swiss army knives, but I’d like one of those plier multitools.
  • Personal care items – Hand sanitizer, TP, toothbrush, and soap.
  • Solar cell phone charger – This sounds like a neat gadget. I’m not sure if we need this or not. I guess it would be nice for when we go camping as well.
  • Cash – It’s nice to have some cash in small bills when disaster strikes. You never know if you can use the ATM or not. $200 is probably enough.
  • Self-defense? – I don’t want to get a gun because we have a young child at home. Maybe a tomahawk would be nice. We can take this camping and use it to trim the tree in the backyard. What do you think?

Whew! We have most of these items, but we need to buy quite a few things too. It’ll probably cost $100 to $200 to put together 3 go bags. This is another reason why I never put one together before. Why spend when you probably won’t need it? However, this really isn’t a huge amount. We spend this much on groceries every week. I think it’s worth it to be prepared for an emergency.

Do you have a go bag? Do you think urban dwellers need one?

Image credit: Timo Stern

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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