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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Get Home Bags

With the weather changing into the colder winter months, it is time to review and update our Get Home Bags.

What are Get Home Bags (GHBs)? As the name indicates, they are bags all of my family members keep in our cars to enable us to get home in the event of an emergency. Living in Northern California, we are prone to a number of natural disasters. Mud slides, levee breaks, and of course, earthquakes.

At a minimum, all of our bags contain enough food and water for two adults for 3 days. In regards to these items, as you'll see from the contents, this isn't "Living at the Ritz"! It is basic, minimal food and water to sustain ourselves, not to thrive.

What won't be shown below are the things that are kept in the car regardless of the season.  These include a heavy-duty 10' x 20' tarp, a fold-up shovel, hiking shoes and socks, and a hat.  The update from summer to winter will involve swapping out a light-weight jacket for a heavier rain slicker and fleece pull-over.

All right, on to the bag!

The bag is a heavy-duty day bag. It has padded shoulder straps and a chest strap to keep it from bouncing around. It has 3 main compartments, along with two external side pockets and a couple of minor zippered pockets.

The contents -

At the bottom of the main compartment is the food and water. I keep 2, 2400-calorie emergency bars, two dozen water pouches and two pouches of Gatorade powder.

As I said, this amount of food and water is not intended for us to thrive - just to give us enough calories and hydration to get home.

If things are bad enough that we're required to spend the night where ever we may be, we've included items to make things a bit more bearable.

Five light weight carabiners (for hooking stuff to the bag), 3 flashlights and batteries, 10 thirty-minute glow sticks, 300 feet of 550 lb paracord, 100 feet poly cord, two Sierra cups, a 2 quart bota bag, signaling mirror, two whistles, water-proof matches, magnesium sparker, disposable lighter, Vaseline-soaked cotton balls, two pill bottles with fire wicks, Altoid can survival candle, Leatherman Wave multi-tool, two pocket knives, a survival chain saw, and the blue thing is a knife sharpener.

To round out the rest of the bag, I've included the following items - Starting with the black box in the upper center: Being this is the People's Republic of California, you are not allowed to have a weapon in your car unless you have it unloaded, in a locked case AND you have a "legitimate" reason (BTW, in California, Self-Defense is not considered a legitimate reason). That's a .38 special with 3 five-round speed loaders filled with Hydroshock rounds. Below that are 3 inside the waistband holsters, a compass, 20 gauge snare wire and an old pack of cheesy crackers. The last row has a Katadyne Hiker water filter, some water purification tablets, an emergency sewing kit, lotion, compact binoculars, two emergency mylar blankets, a tooth brush, two emergency ponchos and a first aid kit.

So how do I meet the California, "legitimate purpose" requirement for having a handgun with me almost all the time?  Virtually any time I leave the house, it is work related.  I'm going to a class or workshop or some other event where I am "talkin' guns".  If I'm not doing one of those things, I'm most likely headed to the range for practice. This means that I will usually have my complete range bag with me as well, so I'll have plenty of magazines/speed loaders and ammunition in my possession.

In instances where this is not practical - such as holidays - I keep a pepper spray canister attached to the bag (somehow, that didn't make any of the pictures).

Accept The Challenge

Put together a Get Home Bag.  If you consider how much time you spend away from your home - either at work or while on the road - you most likely spend more time away from home than actually in your home.  If an emergency happens, you don't want to be left without any resources.  If you take public transportation to work, you should have some sort of emergency bag that you leave at work, and another (perhaps) smaller version that you can keep in your purse, backpack or brief case.

Don't allow yourself to become a "refugee" simply because you're away from home.

Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

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