Thoughts to Consider

Grump toddler reacting to parent saying, "All of us now" GIF

It seems simple on paper, but we know from experience that putting together Go Bags is not an easy task for most people. Nearly half of all Americans don’t have emergency supplies. It turns out, living your life takes up a lot of time and energy. Getting through the day can feel like its own emergency, even during weeks full of awesome experiences. Life is a lot!

Take the Time and Make it Happen

Easier said than done? There’s a reason you got this far in the guide. You know you need to do this. Do it for Future You.

Stressing about emergency preparedness before you fall asleep is not getting you anywhere, so attack it in stages until you’re fully prepared. Do it every Saturday afternoon for as long as it takes. Eventually, you’ll have a set of Go Bags in a special location in your house, and you will feel calm and proud and ready.

Make it happen.

Rule of Thumb

If you’re reading this and you already finished your Go Bags, you are awesome. Now is a great time to get your friends excited about emergency preparedness. Get them on your level by telling them how you did it and offering your help. Everyone needs Go Bags and emergency plans!

The Spare Stuff Problem

Important things are important to you for a reason. If you want to take a certain set of clothes, but you also want to keep wearing it, now is the time to buy another set so you’re not tempted to take it out of your Go Bag. Messing around with your finished Go Bag is a great way to lose things from it.

Consider buying new underwear and socks. Maybe pick up an outfit from Goodwill that will be durable enough to withstand the fall of civilization and fashionable enough to impress the invading zombie hordes as you fight them off. And of course, make sure you choose less flammable materials like cotton, linen, wool, and hemp. Zombies will be impressed if your polyester jacket melts onto your flesh, but you probably won’t appreciate it.

Same goes for anything you’ve jammed into the bag because you already had it lying around the house. Your Go Bag should be a collection of items explicitly for emergencies. If it’s in your Go Bag, assume it’s off limits. No one may pilfer the extra batteries or lighters from the Go Bag. This is counterproductive to your survival.

A hand holding up a TV remote
I don’t care how dead the batteries in your remote are. Go to the corner store, lazy bones.

Feeling Sentimental?

“I want to bring EVERYTHING!!!”

I do, too. The best plan is to digitize what you can and store it in the cloud.

I definitely recommend including some treasured photos on the flash drive with your Important Documents. A photo of a loved one can be immensely helpful during hard times.

For physical items that you can’t live without, make sure your list of things to take is thorough and in order of importance. Make sure you know exactly where all your most favorite, treasured, precious, family heirloom jewels and/or your child’s staggeringly expensive Pokemon card collection are. If you have the time to grab extra things, make it easy on yourself by knowing exactly what you want to take and what will fit in your vehicle.

Some evacuation notices give you more than 30 minutes to pack, which will allow you to take many more things in addition to your Go Bags. Your prioritized list will allow you to easily fill your suitcases with beloved clothing, accessories, stuffies, LEGOs, valued artwork, and special snacks.


Always secure the snacks.

Don’t forget prescription medication!!

This is one of the major headaches of emergency planning. How likely are any of us to have an extra bottle of pills in case of an emergency? Keeping backups depends on all kinds of factors, from how seriously you depend on your prescriptions, to the cost of refilling, to your ability to stay on top of your errands.

While you’re making your Go Bags, do everything possible to secure extra bottles of key medications. It is a good idea, and we are all here trying to do the good-idea things we’ve been putting off. If there’s a break in the supply chain, a run on pharmaceuticals, or you need to bug out in the midst of an earthquake, you’ll be prepared.

Granted, with some medications it’s not possible to keep backups due to legal restrictions. Do what you can. Having three days’ worth of meds in your go-bag could be a lifesaver. Just remember to track the expiration dates in your calendar so you know when to switch those out – or make a habit of taking those each time you order refills.

Having extra prescriptions on hand in your house (rather than actually packed in the bag) is good as well, as long as they’re at the top of your priority list and you make a clear plan to take them with you.

Prescription medications
If you mix your pills, make sure you know exactly what’s what. Clear labels are always advised.

About comfort items and, a-hem… self-medicating…

“Did you suggest I put booze in my Go Bag?”

So here’s the thing… There’s an earthquake, a tsunami, or an evacuation order due to fires. Whatever it is, you’ve grabbed your go bag, your family (human or furred, feathered, finned, etc.), and you’ve GONE. You are now standing in front of your assigned cot in a hastily assembled shelter facility inside a giant conference center or somesuch. Wouldn’t a swig of brandy, or a deep inhale into your favorite lavender-filled pillow, be SUPER-comforting right now?

These small comforts are what we wish for you. Have something in your bag to help calm your nerves, when the adrenaline wears off and you are able to sit down again.

The shelter may even have extra supplies, like toothpaste, razors, and period-pads. But will they offer you a drink? Probably not. 

A deck of cards or other non-digital travel games are similar “nonessential” items that may turn out to be very essential for your family. Definitely plan for some entertainment, space permitting.

Earplugs and sleep mask will come in handy if you end up in a shelter, on a couch at a friend’s house, or anywhere that is noisy and bright compared to your own bedroom. Sleep heals you, so get that self-care where you can.

So there you have it.

We recommend that you buy pre-assembled emergency kits for the number of humans and animals in your household, get a fireproof and waterproof bag for your documents, and accumulate the necessary backup items listed above. Everything should go in the Go Bag! Place your bags in an easily accessible spot in your home and make sure your family knows they are for emergencies only. Keep a Go Bag in your car and one at work to attain the ultimate feeling of preparedness satisfaction.

Rest easier knowing that you have a plan and supplies, for when the zombies come.

Zombies walking around a public street
Don’t take any chances.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Professional worrier. Mom, entrepreneur. Lifetime student of brain science. Passionate about surviving what's coming (climate change, wtf) and staying as sane as possible. Determined to make the best of the end of the world.