Will You Be Ready If Disaster Strikes?

by Jenny Hansen

In the event of an earthquake/tornado/hurricane/fire, WHAT do you grab before you run? This is the all-important question you must ask when you’re trying to get prepared for these sorts of things. I could do five posts on this subject and barely scratch the surface, but in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Sandy, the explosion in West, Texas and the tornado through Moore, Oklahoma, this topic bears some discussion and thought.

Picture this… You’re standing naked in the middle of your living room…you have 6 seconds to get out of your house. What do you grab?

It’s a simple question, and actually a little bit funny. But everything moves forward from this little “6 second” example.

The easiest answer? You grab your bag, which has everything already in it! If you’re a smart planner, you’ll have one of these bags at home, one at work and one in each car. If you have a storm shelter, put one there too.

I have a brother we call The Bag Whore who’s a little over the top on the survival front (he carries at least four firestarters on his person at any time). But he’s the guy you want on YOUR disaster team. I also married Mr. Disaster Recovery, and between the two of them, I’ve gathered some important survival tricks via osmosis.

[Note: My answer on what to grab before these guys would have been “my purse and my laptop.”]

So, what do you put in “the Go Bag?”

Bob Mayer, writer extraordinaire and ex-Green Beret, just did a post on this that’s excellent. He listed 27 items that he feels should be in what he calls the “Grab & Go Bag” (G&G for short).

The biggest question, as Bob points out, is “how much bag can you carry?” Perhaps if you have a bad back, your Go Bag is on wheels. Whatever. That’s the kind of thing you need to sort out in advance.


  • Will you be walking over urban or rugged terrain?
  • Do you need special kind of food like me? (I’m completely gluten intolerant.)
  • Do you have kids to take care of (home bag), or will you be on your own (work bag)?
  • What are the most common natural disasters in your area?
  • Have you scanned your pictures to a portable disk?
  • Do you have your passports and drivers licenses, or an electronic copy?
  • Are your e-copies on a secure drive?

My brother’s advice: “One is better than none, two is better than one, and three would always be better.” Keep that in mind when you’re packing your bag.

What most people don’t realize is, while you can survive up to a week without food, you can only last a few days without water. In either scenario (no food or no water), you’ll be pissed off and cranky, only without water you’ll also be dead. In most disaster scenarios, water is the first item to become scarce or contaminated.

So how much water to you actually need at home, and how do you store it?

The recommended amount is one gallon per person per day. Include your pets in this scenario, especially if you have a big dog.

Example: For a family of four with two dogs, you need to have 6 gallons a day stored. Three days or 72 hours is the minimum amount (which is 18 gallons) but the recommended amount of time you want to plan for is a week. That’s 42 gallons of water.

Available at REI for $17

Available at REI for $17

Here’s the water storage Hubby bought.

He likes the 7 gallon Reliance AquaTainers because they stack and he can carry one if necessary. Also, they have a spigot for easy filling of other bottles and containers.

Plus you need food and enough blankets and tarps to cover you in case the roof of your house blows off.

The reason why Bob Mayer recommends the G&G bag is so you have some basic shelter, food and clothing if you have to run from a flood or fire.

Again, water will always be a challenge and people rarely have enough. My man recommends you keep a case of water in your car if at all possible, but if you’re on foot you can only take what you can carry.EmergencyRadioEton

You’ll also need information, usually in the form of a battery-operated emergency radio. Hubby recommends this brand. Sometimes when a disaster hits, you often don’t even know what happened for several hours. Current information is crucial.

Have you ever thought about disaster preparedness? What measures have you put in place? Tweet me about your disaster prep with the #SocialIn hashtag.
~ Jenny


About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

© 2013 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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