Everyone needs a go bag

What is a go bag? Why have one? What is the purpose of a go bag? What goes in a go bag? Well, the Newton County Emergency Management team is here to help.

“We encourage everyone to have at least one emergency preparedness bag either in their safe room/shelter, car, or on their person, in the event that they would need it,” said Charla Geller, Newton County Emergency Management director.

“Disaster can take on many forms. Pandemic, tornados, emergencies, and terrorism, so you can never be too prepared.”

The idea of a go bag — or an emergency prepardness bag — is to be able to survive, and pick up and go if needed.

“We have a saying… the first 72 are on you. Meaning the first 72 hours are your responsibility to be able to survive until responders can reach you,” said Geller.

“So, everything in your bag should be things that can keep you sustainable for that long, and if needed, establish yourself someplace else.”

The emergency management team has put together a list of things that should belong in a bag.

“If someone just takes 30 minutes to sit down and think of what they need to survive, that’s all it takes,” said Geller.

There are several different types of go bags. There are vehicle kit bags, bags to go in a basement pantry or safe room, and some that are carried at all times.

“Our list is a combination of everything that you would need to pack for different types of bags,” said Geller.

“We understand that not everyone is going to pack multiple bags, but we do encourage people to have at least one bag for emergencies.”

Some items to pack include:

• Basic prescription medication and glasses.

• Documents in a waterproof container (zip-loc type bag and/or flash drive), including: ID/driver’s license, insurance(medical/vehicle/home), deed to house, will, passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and immunization records.

• Cash.

• Emergency radio/flashlight (crank or battery).

• Batteries.

• Solar chargers (phone or batteries).

• Utility tool/knife.

• Matches in waterproof container.

• Bleach.

• Eye-dropper.

• Non-perishable food (MREs).

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• Water filtration device, purifying tablets.

• Can opener.

• First aid kit.

• Hygiene supplies.

• Extra clothing.

• Pet supplies.

• Whistle.

• Moist towelettes.

• Local maps, pencil.

• Compass.

• Trash bags (leaf-size).

• Rope.

• Foil blankets.

“There are so many things that could be packed in an emergency preparedness bag, but the main thing to keep in mind is to pack things to survive for the first 72,” said Geller.

“You can also think ‘what do I need to establish myself someplace else,’ and that will also help.”

After a bag is packed, Geller advises to store it someplace not easily accessible by children.

“Once you have your bag packed, you should put it away either in your car, or safe room so it is ready to be used,” said Geller.

“You also need to be mindful to rotate some of the things in your bag as needed, like clothes when the seasons change or medications as they change, etc.”

The purpose of a go bag is to be able to actually go with the bag, and be portable. So the packed bag should be in something that one can carry.

“The idea is to be able to travel with your bag if needed, so putting it in something easy to carry is always best,” said Geller.

“We also really encourage that there is one bag per person.”

For more information about packing any kind of go bag, call the Newton County Emergency Management Office at (417) 451-4357.

“We can’t make everyone have an emergency preparedness bag, but highly encourage everyone to have something packed in the case of a disaster,” said Geller.

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