Get Home Bag: My disaster kit.

Why do I need a get home bag?

I live here in Western, Washington and there is a constant threat of “the big one”, referring to the Cascadia subduction zone that is severely overdue for a large earthquake.

Image by: National Weather Service

Watch here for a summary

Watch here for more

Similar to the San Andreas Fault in California, there is a large fault line approximately 150 miles off the West Coast of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. My concerns are our aging infrastructure, proximity to several active volcanos, as well as the tsunami risks.

Growing up in the public school system, it was mandatory for us to have a earthquake emergency food supply in our classroom. Each student no matter what grade had to have a home provided emergency food supply. Our teachers had us label them with our names and then they went in a big blue trash can for the year.

In current times, I live pretty far from where I work. Lots of land in between these two places are prone to mud slides, flooding, and trees falling. Additionally there are many bridges that I would need to cross to get home.

The threat of an absolute disaster is substantial enough for FEMA and the National Guard to organize a training exercise around this event. (one exercise in 2016 and another to be in 2022) On top of that many local news stations up and down the coast have ran many stories on the subject.

To summarize, our roads and bridges are unlikely to survive “the big one”. Meaning it is likely that I might have to walk to get home.

WHAT is a “get home bag?”?

I have seen a lot of people call this type of bag/backpack/kit by different names. Mostly based on what their needs and/or scenario looks like. Some people call it a “bug out bag” or “bail out bag” as well as “get home bag”.

In my experience, all it means is a prepared backpack/bag/kit that contains the items that are necessary to escape/evade/survive whatever the emergency happens to be.

In the case of people who live in the coastal areas and are near sea level. They might need a “bug out bag”, since they live under the threat of a tsunami. For them, they need a bag to escape. A grab and go kit to be able to reasonably live outside of their home, which may be swept away by the tsunami.

For me, I would need to be able to get from wherever I am back to home. So I call it a “get home bag”.

So what is in it?

What goes in your bag or kit might vary from what I think I will need. I will explain what and why I have what I have, as I learned through my experiences in the military as well as spending time in the great outdoors.

For my scenario, It is highly likely that I will be on foot at some point. So I chose to use a hiking backpack. I am using the Kelty Redwing 30 Tactical. Since walking is hiking this backpack makes sense to me. 30 Liters is also a practical size in my opinion.

Basic things to consider for your bag:

  • Fire starting: Lighters, Ferro rod, fuel sources.
  • Water: Places to store water and ways to collect/clean it.
  • Food: Nutrition bars, freeze dried food, jerky. High energy stuff.
  • Shelter: Something to sleep in, on and under.
  • Navigation: Compass, maps, GPS.
  • Light source: Flashlight, headlamp, batteries.
  • First aid: Tourniquet, bandages, gauze, medications.

Things to consider before putting together a bag or kit are:

Weather: Cold climate? You’ll need extra layers to stay warm. Here in Washington it often rains. So I have a rain jacket in there, an emergency poncho, and a cover for my backpack. I included other clothing in a waterproof container.

Location and terrain: To put this one simply, where I live is VERY different from Utah or Arizona. I have access to fresh water constantly here that I am able to filter and resupply. Therefore, I don’t store water in my bag. In the desert, you may need to store water.

Also, where you live might change your foot wear, outer layers, ect. You might need sunscreen in Arizona or maybe a set of ski goggles for blizzards in Alaska. Other supplies can change too. A fly fishing rod might be a good idea, whereas some people need a mosquito net for their face. The list is endless, and you yourself must identify what you will need.

I suggest finding people who live near you or have similar needs to you for a more specific gear list. Or an even better suggestion, go outside and give your kit a test run.

There are many other considerations as well. How far are you going? For how long? With how many mouths to feed/clothe/shelter?

I think you get the point.

Breaking down my backpack:

As stated my backpack of choice is the Kelty Redwing 30. On the side pouch I always carry a collapsible dog bowl. (The blue one) I keep this bowl for my dog, as it is my hiking backpack.

Inside the back pouch:

  • First aid pouch (red one) with bandages, gauze, skin closures. ect.
  • Hemostatic Gauze.
  • Sam Splint.
  • Trauma Shears.
  • Chest Seal.
  • A Sea to Summit pack cover.
  • A dental hygiene kit. (I have braces)
  • Eating utensil.
  • Fixed blade knife.
  • Emergency rain poncho.
  • Collapsible cup.
  • Sandwich bag with (2) 9mm snake loads.
  • A Sawyer Squeeze water filter. (black bag)
  • Tissue paper.

Inside the backpack.

  • Nalgene water bottle. (You could use a metal one too)
  • Water bladder.
  • Freeze dried meal.
  • Waterproof bag with extra clothing.
  • Tool pouch.

I’ll Break down the tool pouch here.

  • Compass.
  • Sewing kit.
  • (4) AAA batteries.
  • Forceps.
  • Lighter. (Fire)
  • Ink pen.
  • Knife sharpener.
  • Tape
  • Gerber Dime (multitool)
  • Ferro rod and magnesium.
  • Flashlight. (Streamlight Micro stream)
  • 550 Cord.
  • Buff.
  • Whistle.
  • Large heavy mil contractor bag. (trash bag)
  • (2) Wax fire starters.

Outside of the bag:

In all reality, I keep this bag in my truck, where there are many more supplies. If I have time to get the bag, I have time to grab the extra items as well. These thing include but are definitely not limited to:

  • Paper maps.
  • Compass.
  • Map pens.
  • GPS
  • 550 cord.
  • Full size first aid kit.
  • Rain coat.
  • Freeze dried food.
  • Assorted batteries.
  • Headlamps.
  • Multi-tool.
  • Chapstick.
  • Lighters.
  • Binoculars.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Gloves.

In summary:

Is my backpack set up perfectly? Maybe, maybe not. I could throw a TQ in there, a hiking tarp perhaps? No matter what, I keep the things listed above on hand and in or around ready to be taken if need be.

Also, what is in there now is just the base line for my backpack. Depending on where and what I am going/doing I add or take away things.

An added bonus, for me at least, is that this backpack is not only my get home bag in case of an emergency, but it is also my regular hiking backpack. I can easily trust that if I go out on a hike, and end up lost, I can sustain myself to either get rescued or find my way back.

Let me know what I missed in the comments and as always, thank you for reading.

Venmo to support me: @CStreet652




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