THE GET HOME BAG
Many of you have a survival kit or bug out bag in your home but do you have a Get Home Bag?
Imagine you are at work or miles away from home and disaster strikes or some sort of major event happens where streets are blocked, the city is i...n panic and you have to get home to your family. Are you prepared to make the walk home?
You might think that you only work 10 miles from your home and 10 miles is not a big deal but in a crisis situation the walk may not be all that simple. Generally speaking, most people walk 2 – 3 miles per hour so 10 miles would take you more than 3 hours. During a crisis your pace would probably quicken but you also have to consider that there will be obstacles in your way, which may slow you down.
If you were to put together a Get Home Bag, what would you put in it?
CLOTHING AND SHOES
First and foremost, you should assume that with your get home bag, you will be walking. The first thing you should have in your GHB is a pair of shoes or boots that are comfortable to walk in. If you always wear good shoes then skip this but if you wear high heels or dress shoes that hurt your feet by the end of the day, pack a pair of good walking shoes/boots with your bag. If you wear a dress or suit on a day to day basis, pack a change of clothes that are more appropriate.
A get home bag is slightly different than a Bug Out Bag or survival kit but not drastic. A BOB should be considered long term while a GHB is short term. So it should be small, light, and not too bulky so you can travel quickly. You should try to keep your GHB below 20 lbs, not including the clothes you will immediately change into. I would also choose a bag that blends in to your environment and won’t stand out to law enforcement. I have said it before and will say it again; I think a military camo bag is a bad idea in an urban environment. I carry a black Maxpedition Falcon II, which still has a tactical look but because it is black, (not OD green or camo), it is not as “threatening”. Black is still kind of iffy but I take the risk. Im not in it for the tactical look, I like the molle straps which allows me to attach other items to the pack. I choose Maxpedition because it is very durable and can take a beating. There are other color options for the pack I carry, like red, orange, yellow…etc. These colors might be better for an urban environment because they won’t stand out, even though they are bright. Hide in plain sight…
NAVIGATION and COMMUNICATION
With a GHB, I assume that you are within a reasonable walking distance to your home and will be traveling through urban or suburban environment. Unless you know the area very well, you should have a street level map and compass. A small weather radio with a hand crank cell phone charger is not necessary but is not a bad idea. If your cell phone battery dies, you can use this to recharge it. Also keep a handful of quarters so that you can use a pay phone if phone services are available.
If you are in an urban environment, I would assume that there is some sort of shelter but I would not count on it. Your GHB should have some sort of rain gear or poncho and a tarp to use for a shelter. Mylar emergency blankets are cheap and lightweight so having a few of these in you pack is a good idea. They also serve multiple purposes. I already touched on clothing but it is considered shelter. Other than your initial change of clothing you should have an extra pair of wool socks, a warm pair of gloves and hat. You should also have a hat that blocks the sun from your face and neck. Also carry a bandanna, sunscreen, lip balm and other clothing that suits your environment/weather. Chances are if its winter or rainy season, you already have heavy coat or jacket. Don’t go overboard on extra clothing in your GHB, just make sure you have something warm in case you get caught out at night or in undesirable weather.
I would also assume that you might face some sort of hostile aggression while traveling. With that in mind, your next item should be something for self defense. Not everyone can or wants to carry a firearm and if this is you then get yourself some heavy duty pepper spray and/or a stun gun. If you do carry a firearm it should be something that fits in your pack, that you can hide and pepper spray as backup wouldn’t be a bad idea. Self defense / personal safety - Firearm & ammo, pepper spray, knife, N95 Face Mask, rubber gloves. Extreme gear could be a gas mask, IOSTAT pills ( in case of teargas or radiation poisoning), baton and/or a tomahawk. I keep a tactical neck knife in my pack which I can hang around my neck when I'm out an about. I can conceal it easily. It’s not a big knife but it’s discrete and agile and someone will be unhappy if I have to use it. I also carry a Cold Steel San Mai III SRK in my pack. I would only use these as a last resort however and would either choose to evade people or stop them before they get close to me.
Your GHB should have a solid first aid kit. Don't skimp here as it is the first line of defense to save your life. You don't need a lot of bandaids, which many prefab first aid kits do, so look for a kit that has more "advanced" items. First Aid – Ace bandage, a few band-aides, gauze, tampons ( can be used for gunshot wounds), tape , tweezers, lip balm, medication, cold compress pack, QuickClot, tourniquet, possibly even a suture kit.
FOOD AND WATER
You really aren't going to have time to stop and cook if you are in an urban environment so you should pack food that is ready to eat. You should also have a water bottle and a water filter. I would keep at least a pint of water in your car and an empty Nalgene water bottle for gathering water. If you are going on a long road trip, bring at least a gallon of water. Food – ready to eat, (high calorie energy bars such as Clif bars or Powerbars, trail mix, beefy jerky etc… something that is easy to eat and doesn’t require cooking. I would carry at a minimum 3600 calories. Water –water bottle, water filter, canteen, Camelbak
Building a fire isn't always as easy as it looks and without the correct tools to build a fire, it is practically impossible. A few simple, lightweight items could save your life. Fire – lighter, matches, fire striker, cotton balls and Vaseline
Tools simply make survival easier. None of these are necessary but if you have the room in your pack and the strength to carry them, you should add them. Tools – Leatherman or similar pocket tool. I carry a SOG Power Multi Tool as that is the brand a carry in my store. Any quality pocket tool will do. Duct tape, flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries, Paracord, cash money, weather radio, whistle, handcuffs, flex cuffs or industrial zip ties.
Other items you may want to consider are toilet paper, soap, dental floss, toothbrush & paste, hand sanitizer and insect repellent.
And last but not least, IDENTIFICATION. Law enforcement may not let you pass through a neighborhood unless you belong there. You may want to avoid law enforcement at all costs but just in case, have your ID.
99% of the time your get home bag will be used because of weather situations because you got stuck in a snowstorm or something similar but some day that 1% could happen.
The most important tool of all is your brain. Be aware and keep your head on a swivel. Your first instinct may be to help people that you see injured. Before you rush in, assess the situation and determine why they need help. Don’t make things worse by getting injured yourself. If you see a bunch of people unconscious lying on the ground you need to determine why they are down. Did they walk into an area with poisonous gas and fall unconscious? Also, there could be a nut job out there shooting people? Don’t walk in and become a victim too. People don’t just fall down and go to sleep for no reason. Help when you can, but remember you have family at home that are counting on you.