Disaster strikes and you’re at work. What’s the first thing on your mind? After shaking off the initial shock, you immediately check on your family back home. You tell yourself you must get to them no matter what. Thank goodness you have your get home bag to help you on your difficult travel back into the arms of your loved ones.
What’s a get home bag, you ask? The short answer is that it’s a bag full of stuff you’ll need to get back home, hence the name. The long answer is that it is a collection of survival gear, food, water and other supplies necessary for you to survive while trekking a likely treacherous path back to your family. Or it could be a small bag with enough supplies to keep you safe and nourished when your car breaks down in the middle of the road, stuck in traffic Armageddon, or stranded by flood or severe weather.
Get Home Bag vs Bug Out Bag
It’s easy to confuse a get home bag (GHB) with a bug out bag (BOB). For one thing, they’re both prepared in anticipation of natural or man-made disasters and emergencies. They’re meant to help you survive such calamities. They carry food and water supplies necessary to survive for at least a few days. Also, they basically have the same survival gear.
A bug out bag is a kit composed of supplies and survival gear that you need to survive after you “bug out” or evacuate your home. A get home bag, meanwhile, is also a bag filled with supplies and gear but this time, they’re meant to help you get home. The contents may be similar but the purposes are different though both are ultimately about surviving.
A bug out bag should be readily accessed in case you need to leave immediately. Don’t hide your BOB in the basement or in a closet in a room far from the exit. It should be near the door so you can easily grab it when SHTF. A get home bag is kept in your place of work or, better yet, in your car. People who are always on the road should have a get home bag in their vehicle.
Another difference between the two is that the get home bag is packed with fewer supplies. A BOB should last for around 72 hours while a GHB has 24 hours worth of supply. If travel time from work to your home takes more than a day, you should have a more comprehensive survival bag with you.
Choosing the Right Bag
Building a get home bag starts with choosing the right bag for the job. There are different types of bags you can use for this task. The most common and most preferred is the backpack. If you have to ditch your car and travel on your feet, it’s better to have a bag you can easily strap on to your back. This also frees up both of your hands.
A messenger or sling bag also makes a good get home bag because it hides the fact that you have something that other people may have an interest on like food and water. It’s also easier to access than a backpack. However, it may be difficult to lug a messenger bag when traveling long distances.
There are other factors aside from choosing the right type of bag. Size is one such factor. If you’re close to home, you can use a small bag. If you have a small build, you may have a hard time carrying a big overstuffed bag.
You also need to be subtle. Those bags that shout, “I have food, water and other cool stuff you need!” are out of the question. Tactical and camo bags look cool but are more for long-term survival. You need to blend in and not attract attention so you can reach home without anyone bothering you.
What’s Inside a Get Home Bag
As mentioned, a GHB contains food and water supply that will get you through the first 24 hours. It should include food, water and basic survival gear.
Food and Water
You don’t have space in your survival bag to fit canned goods or any of the heavy stuff. What you need are energy bars, about 3 to 6, to keep you from going hungry. You can add a couple of MREs, granola bars, and maybe even some peanuts.
Aside from packing some drinking water in a stainless steel container, you also need water purification tablets in case your trek takes longer than expected and you run out of clean water. A collapsible water bottle also works as a backup container since it occupies little space when not filled.
If it gets dark, you need a flashlight and a headlamp. You can also build a fire with waterproof matches and lighters. Glowsticks will also work plus it’s a great way to attract people when you’re hurt or lost.
Extra Clothes, Footwear and Eyewear
If you live in a place prone to cold weather, you likely have a jacket with you all the time. Even if you’re not, you should have warm clothes in your get home bag. Aside from clothes appropriate to the weather, you should also have extra socks, gloves, walking or hiking shoes, a poncho, bandana, hat, and a pair of sunglasses.
The weather-appropriate clothes are mainly to protect you from the elements. The sunglasses protect your eyes from the glare of the sun and dust particles. You also need a dust mask or N95 respirator to protect your lungs, sun screen for your skin, and insect repellent to ward off annoying and possibly disease-carrying bugs.
An emergency radio will come in handy when you’re cut off from the rest of the world. It will tell you the conditions of the roads, which areas are not safe to pass through, and if your family is safe back home. You should also have your phone with you always. Include an extra battery and a powerbank in your GHB. It would be better if you have a solar charger.
Invest on walkie talkies so you can still communicate with your family and other people even if the phone grid is down. You should also keep a prepaid calling card in your pack as well as a pencil and paper so you can leave notes.
Health and Hygiene
People get hurt all the time. Natural disasters and emergency situations take the notch up a lot higher. Pack a first aid kit in case you need some fixing up. If you take medications for specific conditions, make sure you pack extra in your survival kit. You may also need pain medication and fever reducers.
You have to stay clean if you want to stay healthy. Include toilet paper and baby wipes in your get home bag.
You need some way to defend yourself from threats when things get a little out of hand. A licensed firearm plus some extra ammo are great but not everyone can afford a gun or wants to own one. Some alternatives are pepper spray, stun gun, and a knife. A multitool has a blade, which you can use if you have nothing else on you.
Other Get Home Bag Necessities
Other survival gear that will increase your chances of getting home include paracord, duct tape, compass, GPS, maps, some cash, and credit card. Bring a small binocular so it’s easier to survey the situation before proceeding.
A get home bag is just one of the things you need to prepare for any eventuality. You have a pantry filled with survival food at home. There’s also the bug out bag and bug out vehicle in case you need to evacuate your shelter. You bring your everyday carry (EDC), well, every day. The get home bag will take care of your needs while you’re away from home and trying to get back to your family and preps.
You may find yourself threatened by people taking advantage of all the chaos and confusion. With your goal of getting home to your family about to be compromised, it’s time to take action. If you have no other recourse but to fight back and defend yourself, you’d be in a better position if you have some self-defense training under your belt.
Fortunately, Alpha Nation’s First Strike is just what the doctor order. Interestingly, this program doesn’t teach you to tackle threats even if you don’t have any martial arts training. What it does is release the inner badass in you so that you’ll be able to use “a handful of devastating tactics” to your full advantage.
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