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Must-Haves for Your Emergency Go Bag

Be Ready for Anything

According to the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control, the state's wildfire "season" typically takes place during peak summer months but now runs 78 days longer than in the 1970s, with Colorado experiencing larger fires every month of the year. In fact, the devastating Marshall Fire that swept through Boulder County last year started at the end of December, well outside of fire season.

With fires being so unpredictable these days, it's always best to be prepared by creating a plan and putting together an emergency kit or go bag. 

Because your family may not be together in case of a fire or other disaster, having a plan in place will help you contact one another and reunite at a specified location. Everyone should have each other's phone numbers, email addresses, and other pertinent information written on paper. If you have a child, look into their school's emergency plan, discuss it with your child, and let the know who will pick them up.

Other good numbers to have written down are your utility companies, insurance providers, medical providers, and other services—along with your account information. You may also designate someone who lives out of town to be an emergency contact for your household. It may be easier to call long distance rather than in-town.

You should also have multiple meeting areas—in your neighborhood, outside of your area, and even outside of your city. Once you get a plan figured out, be sure to talk it over with your family and practice it every couple of months. This will give you the opportunity to make adjustments and update any information that becomes outdated. 

What Goes in a Go Bag?

Put together your emergency kit, starting with FEMA’s checklist of basic supplies. This includes items needed for basic survival such as food, water, warmth, clean air, and necessary medications/medical equipment. You should be ready to be completely on your own for days, even weeks. And take into consideration that you may lose basic services like electricity, water and telephones. 

Use the list below as a jumping-off point, then customize it according to the specific needs of your family. And be sure to keep your go bag(s) in an easy-access spot, whether in your garage, entry closet, or in the trunk of your car.

  • Water, one gallon per person per day
  • Non-perishable food, 3-day supply for evacuating, 2-week supply for your home
  • Extra cell phone battery or charger
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio preferably) plus extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • A quality first aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air 
  • Plastic sheeting or tarps and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties 
  • Non-sparking wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener (if your kit contains canned food)
  • Printed local maps, contact numbers and family photos

Add these items based on your family's needs:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula, diapers, food and other needs
  • Pet food, water and supplies for your pet
  • Important documents in a waterproof container—copies of identification, insurance policies, medications, and bank account records
  • Cash, change, and/or checks
  • Reference material such as a first aid book and a copy of your emergency plan
  • Sleeping bags or blankets–update as needed for colder months 
  • Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Portable water filters and water purification tablets
  • Feminine supplies, personal hygiene items and hand sanitizer
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and disposable utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil, permanent marker to leave notes if needed
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
  • Appropriately sized go-bags for each family member

There's No Need to Break the Bank

While putting a kit together might seem like a big project, you don't need to tackle it all at once—or go out and buy a ton of stuff for it right away. First, shop at home for items like clothing, food, tools, flashlights and batteries. Then, when you go to the grocery store, you can pick up an extra item each time, especially if it's on sale. Just be sure to keep you go bag limited to the essentials so that you can move quickly in case you're actually faced with an emergency. 

Learn more at ready.gov.



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