Preparedness 101 – the get home bag (GHB)
So you might wonder what a “get home bag” is. It’s just what it sounds like – a bag to get you home again. They’re quite similar to the BOBs (bug out bags). A GHB is usually a day pack filled with basic supplies and equipment that you’d need in case an emergency strikes while you’re away from your home. It’s a basic emergency preparedness item.
Unlike the BOBs, though, you want to keep your GHB with you. Many people keep them in their cars. That works great if your car is always with you. In our household, though, the car is with me part of the week and with the Hubster the other part of the week. If we kept the Hubster’s GHB in the car then he wouldn’t have access on the days he carpools to work.
So think about how you live and work and decide on a system that works best for you.
For us the answer is to have a kit that stays with the car and also have a pack that stays with the Hubster when he’s at work or away without our car.
So what should someone put in their GHB?
Like your BOBs, the GHB contents are going to vary depending upon your climate, your local weather emergencies, and other local conditions.
Some commonly included items are:
– emergency food. might include energy bars, electrolyte packets, peanut butter crackers, etc. the food should be ready to eat and not require any additional energy or hydration to use. Also include a spork – they don’t take up much space and are handy in case you need to eat other foods.
– water bottle or water bladder. we pack both water bottles and CamelBak style water bladders in our kits. depending upon your local water situation you might consider adding in a water filter (Katadynand Berkey make some good portable models) or water purification tablets.
– protection from the weather. here you’ll want a poncho or other rain gear, warm winter clothing (in season), extra socks, sensible walking/hiking shoes, perhaps an emergency blanket and/or tarp if you’ll need to shelter overnight.
– tools. commonly included tools are small knife, Leatherman multi-purpose tool, flashlight, signal mirror, whistle, small alcohol stove or hobo stove.
– fire starters. waterproof matches, butane lighter, cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly, steel wool and a 9v battery (pack separately), hand sanitizer (high alcohol content makes it a great dual purpose item for emergency packs)
– comfort and personal hygiene items. sunscreen, chapstick, soap, hand sanitizer, bug repellent, camping towel, and baby wipes.
– first aid supplies. bandages, steri-strips, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, moleskin (to prevent blisters), ibuprofen, anti-diarrheal medicine.
The most important things to consider when putting together your GHB are the weather conditions you’ll likely be exposed to and the distance you’ll likely need to travel. You also want to consider the route you’ll have to use and the conditions you’ll face on that route.
For me I also need to consider transporting children back home and their needs. The kit kept in the car includes a folding stroller and infant carrier to help transport our toddler and assist our five year old. For short periods of time both the Hubster and I can carry the toddler in a sling or mei tai style carrier. For longer distances the stroller becomes more important. If we need to return home on foot from the nearest big city we’re looking at 45 miles and that means an overnight stay because our kids can’t hike that in a day (and neither can I toting a 35 pound toddler on my back!). Our car kit also contains tarps and rope so we can assemble temporary shelters as well as lots of winter camping gear.
We tend to pack more food in the winter months (cold weather means more calories burned) and more water in the summer months. Our winter kit contains more heat generating materials like a hobo stove and candles than does our summer kit.
Here are some pictures showing you what the Hubster typically keeps in his GHB:
Do you have GHBs packed for your family members? If so, do you pack items other than the ones we mentioned?
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