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You already have a Bug Out Bag (BOB), and you already have your Every Day Carry (EDC), but what about a Get Home Bag (GHB)? I know what you’re thinking – you want me to carry another bag? Think about it this way: what if you’re at work and disaster strikes?
You will need to find a way to get home to your family (and bug out bag) as quickly and as safely as possible. You also have to consider the fact that you may not be able to drive home due to an urban gridlock or an EMP attack.
This means you will have to walk that normal commute, and 15 miles walking in a disaster will be a challenge.
And there’s not just work to consider. What if you go on a day trip with your family? Or you go the next town over to run an errand?
Even if you drive 30 miles away, that’s 30 miles of walking in a disaster you will have to do. Let’s get prepared.
What exactly is a Get Home Bag?
A GHB is going to carry the things you will need to get you home within 24 hours of a disaster.
It’s not going to be filled with the same kind of gear your BOB will have, and it will be a little bit more extensive than your EDC. Think of it as the middle child of the bags.
It should have the basic tools you would need to get from work to home. Also, it should be lighter and smaller than your BOB, and you should feel comfortable taking it to work.
Things to consider
There are some personal factors you need to consider when assembling your GHB.
- Consider the weather and change the supplies according to the seasons. If you’re a long distance commuter, you will need to pack a few extra things to get you home safely.
- Think about your personal medical conditions and your work environment.
- Lastly, if you’re already carrying these items on you or in your EDC, it’s not always necessary to double up, but do make sure you have them.
What To Pack in a Get Home Bag
Before we start packing, think about what kind of bag you will use. Choosing the right bag is important. This bag may be going into the office with you, staying in your car, or going into stores with you.
Choosing a backpack or bag that looks very “military” like a tactical backpack would make you stick out. Consider something nondescript, an easy to carry backpack or messenger bag would be best.
For ladies, it could be as simple as a large purse.
- Water – At least 1 liter. Consider grabbing an all-metal water bottle in case you need to boil water.
- Food – Energy bars and trail mix are good choices. Get 3-5 high calorie energy bars; you don’t need a lot of food but you will need something to get you by.
- Cash – Keep some small bills on you and in your GHB. Try and keep about $100 if you can. I’d throw in a couple of quarters in case you need to use a pay phone or need a gumball.
- Emergency Radio – A small, cheap hand-crank radio could make a big difference in a disaster. Getting information is crucial when SHTF. Knowing roads that are blocked, areas to stay away from, and if rescue is on the way can help you make life saving decisions.
- Walking Shoes – If you work in an office, you may not have comfortable shoes on. Keep a sturdy pair of running shoes or hiking shoes in your GHB.
- Change of Clothes – Your work clothes may not be appropriate for your journey, plus you can always layer up if it gets cold. Don’t forget extra socks!
- Paper Map and Compass – Things are going to get rough out there and you may need to get off the major roads. Paper maps of the area and a compass will be crucial. Mapping out routes home, including walking routes, can save precious time and energy.
- Multi-tool – A good multi-tool is an essential item. Always have one in your EDC or GHB. If you carry a small multi tool in your EDC, consider packing a larger one in your get home bag.
- Knife* – Knives serve a myriad of purposes in the event of a disaster, not only self defense. Most states allow a blade up to 4 inches to be carried on your person but check your state laws first.
- Paracord – There are endless reasons to have paracord on you. Rappel from a burning building, improvise a tourniquet, create a harness to carry injured coworkers, lash an improvised splint, the list goes on.
- Duct Tape – Don’t leave home without it!
- First Aid Kit – Keep the basics in it like gauze, bandages, tape, sunscreen, medication, glasses, and insect repellant. Pack this according to your needs and think about basic comforts along with your environment.
- Flashlight – A good LED flashlight with a long battery life (and extra batteries) is crucial. Consider a headlamp for some hands-free light. This is one we always recommend that costs less than $5.
Optional Get Home Bag Contents:
Personal Defense* – This is going to be to your discretion. Consider where you will be keeping your bag and what you will already have on you. Taser, pepper spray, legally licensed firearm, etc.
- Gloves – You may have to move heavy objects or climb fences. They will also keep you warm. Broken glass, metal doorknobs during a fire, and clearing broken rubble are just a few examples of situations where gloves (especially tactical gloves) would be useful.
- Eye Protection – Keeping your eyes shielded from debris such as fine rubble or dust, or even just bright sunlight, can keep your vision sharp when you need it most.
- Hat and Bandana – If it’s sunny, your head and neck will thank you. The bandana has a multitude of applications including using it as a rudimentary dust mask.
- Dust Mask – An N95 dust mask filters much more than a bandana can such as smoke, fumes, and other contaminants (learn how to make your own face mask).
- Signal Mirror/Whistle – If you’re stuck, a signal mirror and a whistle could save you by alerting rescuers to your position.
- Fire Starter – Keep a couple lighters in your bag and consider keeping some fire tinder too.
- Rain Poncho – Being wet is the worst! Don’t make yourself go through that in a disaster.
- Tarp and an Emergency Blanket – These can work together interchangeably. Keep one or both.
- Hygiene Items – Good hygiene can go a long way and it helps with moral. Keep some toilet paper, wet napkins, toothbrush, and anything else you need.
- Paper and Pencil – You may need to leave a note, or record where you have been.
- Bus Ticket/Subway Token – Always good to have another mode of transportation.
- Ebook Reader – We’ve mentioned before how useful it can be having a hoard of survival knowledge at your fingertips.
- Towel – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy states that the towel is the most massively useful thing you can carry. So I obviously couldn’t leave it off this list.
There are always other things to consider bringing with you based on your own personal needs.
Think about each item, what you will need the most and what is most important to you and your daily survival.
Make sure this bag will get you back home to your family as quickly and safely as possible.
Remember that the Get Home Bag is not meant to be a replacement for your bug out bag, just a collection of essentials to get you back home.
The extensiveness of your GHB will be dependent on how far you will need to travel, your environment, and your personal abilities.
*If you will be bringing your get home bag into your office, there may be rules (or even laws, depending on where you work) prohibiting certain weapons. Check first. You might need to leave that item at home or in your car. Or dig a hole and bury it near your office. It’s your party.