What's in our Go Bags? Emergency Preparedness

While I love to be prepared for anything, the idea of an emergency that would require using our Go Bags is intimidating.

We used to use Bug Out Bags for impromptu adventures, and they held our swim suits, a change of clothes, water shoes ... that sort of thing.

Our Go Bags are an entirely different matter.  They're not made for spontaneous outings and summer fun.  

Our Go Bags are designed to be used if we ever need to leave the house quickly, like if there's a fire, tornado, gas leak, or other emergency.

I live in Canada, and right now, forest fires are happening on both sides.  Emergency evacuation notices are being issued several times a day.  

If you don't have a Go Bag, this is your reminder to put one together.  Your province or state may actually have resources to help with putting together your emergency kit.  Ontario's is located here.

I started assembling our emergency kit-style Go Bags a couple of years ago, and I've been adding to them as the budget allowed, as well as rotating out food.

Packing an Emergency Kit Go Bag

1. Backpack

We use regular, durable but non-descript backpacks for our Go Bags.  They're on the small size, and intended to be manageable on foot.  Often the experts will suggest a hiking backpack, which is great if you're accustomed to carrying something so large.  But we want to be able to grab these easily and run, if needed.  These ones are the same size you would get to use as a child's backpack, but they have 3 separate zippered compartments.

Keeping them on the small side also enables us to make sure that everything that we pack is packed with a specific purpose, so that we're not packing alot of useless items.

We chose to use backpacks, rather than duffle bags or other containers, so that they can be worn hands-free, and if they catch on something, won't have the rest of trapping or strangling you (like a crossbody bag might).

We also made sure that our backpacks had mesh pockets on either side, for carrying water bottles while keeping them in reach.

We have one backpack for each member of our family.  They each have a different coloured key tag on the main zipper that corresponds with each person.  Dad gets green, Mom has orange, and the kids have blue, purple and yellow.  This allows us to not risk having names on the outside of the bag.

Each backpack is identical except for a few small differences.  The girls' backpacks have more hair ties and feminine necessities, and the parents' backpacks have solar crank radios.  Eventually as the budget allows, everyone will have a solar radio, but until then, we'll keep them in the parent backpacks.

2. Basic Supplies

In the front pocket of the backpack:

  • flip flops
  • work gloves
  • pen, pencil, marker & paper
  • disposable face masks

3. Water Purification, Tools, First Aid & Self-Care

In the middle pocket:

  • water filtration straw
  • foldable water bottle
  • foldable water container
  • shower curtain (to use as a shelter, rain cover, or any other number of uses)
  • water purification tablets & coffee filters for water filtration
  • deck of cards
  • whistle
  • gmrs radio (walkie talkie)
  • First Aid pouch (red)
  • Self-Care pouch (blue)
  • Tool pouch (green)

4. First Aid Pouch

  • disposable face masks
  • disposable non-latex gloves
  • moist wipes
  • Benadryl
  • Tylenol
  • wet wipes
  • antiseptic wipes
  • emergency blanket
  • band-aids
  • hand sanitizer
  • stomach upset tea

5. Self-Care Pouch

  • toothbrush & toothpaste
  • shampoo & conditioner
  • hand cream
  • hand sanitizer
  • hair elastics
  • lip balm
  • razor
  • foldable hairbrush & mirror
  • comb

6. Tool Pouch

  • lighter
  • tea lights (for light, heat, and cooking)
  • matches
  • multi-tool
  • pocket knife
  • glowstick
  • flashlight
  • batteries
  • charging block
  • charging cord

7. Food, Water, ID, Misc.

In the back (largest) compartment:

  • 3 day supply of food
  • 750 ml of water (2 bottles + 2 pouches)
  • metal cup (can be used for warming food or boiling water)
  • Ziplock bags
  • white garbage bags
  • kleenex
  • period pads
  • spare pair of glasses
  • rain poncho
  • ID (copies of driver's license, passport, etc.; also, photos of each family member & important contacts phone list)
  • solar-powered battery back up
  • stainless steel fork, knife & spoon (not pictured)
(also pictured: spare walkie talkie, just because we have an extra couple)

Each day's worth of food contains approximately 1200 calories.  
This is the absolute lowest recommended amount for adults.

8. Other Necessities on Our Wish List

We plan on increasing and improving our items in the future.  Here's what we'd like to have:
  • solar crank radio for each person
  • cash
  • self-defense spray
  • additional food items and/or emergency rations
  • additional water (although we do have lots stored that is easy to grab quickly if needed)

9. Other Considerations for your Emergency Kit:

Now that we have backyard chickens, we'll need to make a plan for them in case an evacuation order is given.  

You may have other items you'll need to pack too.  Things like:

  • prescriptions & medications
  • pet food, medications & other needs
  • medical equipment
  • special diet food items
  • specific electronic devices, hard drive, etc
  • cash, safe or other valuables
  • diapers, wipes, formula, baby food

GetPrepared.ca is a great website for information if you're just starting out in preparing your family for emergencies.  Download the info below, or visit GetPrepared.ca for more resources.

Anything I missed?  

What items would you include in a Go Bag Emergency Kit?


  1. This is great information. We are going into our fire season here as well and I too have a go bag packed and ready just incase it's ever needed.

  2. I need to pack a bag like this. You never know what can go on these days.

    1. Right, there are so many things that could happen!

  3. This is good info to know. I have an emergency bag and I need to update it.

  4. I think it's great to have an emergency bag. I keep forgetting to make one to have. I'm glad to have seen this. I'll have to start working on one.

  5. We have a few premade ICE kits, but I need to invest time into making one of these.

  6. It's so crucial to be prepared for unexpected situations, and this post provides such valuable insights on what essentials to include in our go bags.

  7. wow! You just gave me a very useful idea! I don't have anything like this right now. But you are right - it's a must have!

  8. We have a small emergency bag at home but I think I should add more to the items inside so that the bag can indeed be called a true emergency bag..

  9. This inspires me to get an emergency bag together. It's always good to be prepared!

  10. It must bit a bit frightening to have fires burning around you. Having a go back sounds like a really good idea. It's not something I've had to consider doing before.

  11. These look pretty on point for what we have packed in our go bags, we've always kept a few ready in our pantry just in case because we've always lived in places where hurricanes can be an issue.

  12. I have some of these things, but I should put together an emergency kit. Thanks for the guidance!

  13. I need to put an emergency kit together for my car. It would be handy yo have in case I needed items like bandaids, hair ties, flash light, etc

  14. I am loving this post and already bookmarked it so that we can make out own Go Bags in my household. Reminds me of when I had kids and had my hospital bag prepared....preparedness is everything! I hope all is well with you and those wildfires ;)


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