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A lot of us prepare for natural and man-made disasters and create go-bags based on these scenarios. I want to introduce a third scenario for which to prepare a go-bag: a pandemic.
A go-bag for a pandemic isn’t too different from other survival bags: They share a lot in common, but there are a few extra angles and pieces of gear that you need to keep in mind.
If you are like me, I keep a general go-bag prepared for any event and can tailor it in an instant to whatever time of year or disaster may be approaching. Is it zombies? If so I pack magazines. Is it a pandemic? Then I toss in hand sanitizer and Lysol.
If you want a pandemic proof bag, here are the top ten items I’d bring.
10 – Food and Water
By now, you’ve likely read enough about go-bags to have a good idea of the essentials. Two obvious ones are food and water. Those are a must-have for any go-bag. Every emergency plays out the same: food, water, (and more) is stripped from the stores’ shelves. Having food and water on hand, specifically for disaster, is a must.
Have enough water for at least 24 hours per person for the initial escape period. I pack more than that, and if need be I can always dump weight. Additionally, having a reusable container is also a necessity. This allows you to grab water as you go. A liter bottle or a hydration pack is ultra-handy. On top of that having survival filters, water purifying tablets or drops, and the ability to boil water is a good idea.
As a veteran of several hurricanes and natural disasters, I can tell you that when things get rough people hoard. Be prepared beforehand and have a good store of food, and easily transportable high caloric food ready to go. I like the following for my bag.
- Cliff bars
- Peanut Butter and crackers
- Canned beans
- Beef Jerky
- Instant coffee
9 – Hygiene
Hygiene items are an often-overlooked in a go-bag. However, they are critical. Disease and infection will kill you during any emergency, and during a pandemic, they are an even bigger threat.
You’ll want to bring basic soap. I prefer bars of soap inside zip lock bags since they can’t spill inside your bag like body wash. Baby wipes are another big necessity. From wiping to doing military-style rat baths, they can be a real lifesaver in a pinch.
Feminine care products for women should be an essential part of a go-bag. They are invaluable and are another category of products that will disappear from shelves during such events. And don’t forget, even if you have to stay in a hospital its supplies may be drained.
8 – Medical
Medical preparation in a pandemic might be one of the most things you can do. In a pandemic, there is a high possibility that you or someone in your family will get sick. You want masks and gloves. The sick person should be wearing the mask, and during any interaction with them, you need gloves.
You’ll also want a healthy amount of common cold medications on hand in order to fight symptoms and create comfort. Fever reducers, pain meds, cough syrup, etc. are all great to have. They can help a sick person rest, which is crucial to recovery.
Without a doubt, you’ll also want whatever prescription medications you take to be current with a minimum of two weeks’ or, preferably, a month’s supply, if possible.
What you need to do right now is get your medical records. An electronic copy stored on a USB is great if you or a family member is checked into a hospital far from home. An overloaded medical industry may not be able to field those requests.
Last but not least, a medical or first aid kit can be invaluable. This can be a basic kit with bandages, gauze, and other small necessities to a real military-style IFAK. You’ll need something in that realm, and more can be better.
7 – Cleaning Gear
During a pandemic, every place may be a breeding ground for viruses and other bacteria, so you should be prepared to clean wherever you rest your head. So pack the supplies necessary for cleaning. I like having four things:
- A small container of pure bleach (will be diluted with water)
- A rag
- Sanitizing wipes for quick wipe downs
- Sanitizing sprays for coating beds, blankets, etc.
6 – Tools
You don’t need a toolbox, but having a few tools on hand will make travel and life a little easier. I keep it light because tools tend to be heavy. Here is what I suggest:
- A multitool (I’m a big fan of the SOG Baton.)
- A flashlight (Get a decent Streamlight, Surefire, or other high-quality light.)
- A can opener (It can be a P38 or a traditional can opener — you can’t eat canned foods without it.)
- Duct tape (I don’t need to explain this one, do I?)
5 – Chargers and a Portable Battery
We live in an electronic world, and having our devices juiced up can be quite valuable. A smartphone gives you access to 911, is a GPS, and a way to relax during a stressful time. It can also provide you with on-the-second updates regarding the pandemic and even give you how-to guides to care for the sick. Don’t overlook its value.
Therefore, a portable battery, or two, capable of filling up your phone is worthwhile. Just remember to periodically check its charge. Multiple chargers and wall plugs will allow you to charge batteries as well as a mobile device. A charger for a vehicle should also be tossed in the bag.
4 – Sleeping Gear
Having some simple sleeping gear can make a big difference. Even if you are sleeping in a truck, car, or a stranger’s home. Having your own gear makes it so much simpler. You could also be stuck in a hospital with a loved one and need to crash on a couch there.
Depending on the weather, you may change your sleeping gear throughout the year or just stick with the basics. I like a poncho liner because it’s super light but incredibly effective. The same goes for a small inflatable pillow. You may want to go with a small isomat, a sleeping bag, or something else — it’s up to you.
3 – Cash
Cash is king, and if things get bad, you may need some to buy your way to safety, to purchase supplies from others, or who knows what else? A few hundred dollars in small bills is another must-have item. I suggest keeping it in different places to reduce the impact of potential theft, and to avoid attracting attention when you purchase something: You don’t need to flash a wad of cash everywhere you go.
2 – Clothes
This goes along with hygiene. Being dirty makes you a breeding ground for germs, so you’ll want to change clothes eventually. Hopefully, you’ll be able to wash clothes and alternate. When it comes to packing clothes, I do suggest a lot of underwear and socks. These areas of the body can often be gross, and keeping them clean is a must for basic hygiene.
Having spare pants and shirts is a good idea, but due to their size and weight, it can be difficult to carry a week’s worth in a small bag.
On top of clothes, I also suggest a good sturdy pair of gloves. They protect your hands and allow you to put a shield up that’s tougher than latex in rough environments.
In order to clean clothes, you may be thinking that you can’t be carrying a lot of detergents. You’re right. But you can carry Tea tree oil. A small bottle can go a long way in cleaning clothes, and it’s easy to pack.
1 – Self Defense Items
This is the least important item to pack… Until it’s not. The likelihood of having to defend yourself is unlikely, but it’s more likely than usual in pandemic-type situations. I’m betting most people who read this carry every day anyway, but I should mention it nevertheless. Also, include a couple of reloads as well as batteries for any optics or lights on your gun.
I also suggest a less-lethal option like pepper spray, a stun gun, or even an impact weapon. A petty argument, for example over toilet paper, in a crowded environment presents a lot of issues with using a gun: You could hit an innocent person, the close-quarter nature presents retention issues, and it’s nasty all the way around.
A less-lethal weapon can end a fight quickly or give you just enough time to escape. Charmin ultra isn’t worth dying for, and it’s not worth killing for either.
People typically panic because they are unprepared. Their worlds are shattered, and they are lost. Don’t be that person. Be prepared and be ready.
You can’t make an appointment with a pandemic, so you might as well get at it today.
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