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What to Pack in a Disaster Evacuation Bag

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The last thing on anyone’s mind when traveling is an emergency evacuation.  But sometimes things happen. Whether it’s a fire, flood, earthquake or other disaster, you should be prepared and know what to pack in a disaster evacuation bag (go bag). These also come in handy when you have no power because PG&E or other electric company shuts off your power.

What to Pack in a Disaster Evacuation Bag

what you should pack in a disaster evacuation bag How to handle evacuations when traveling will be covered in another post. Nine fires in my immediate area have me and every other North San Diego resident preoccupied with evacuations and emergency preparedness. I put together a Go Bag list because several neighbors were asking what to pack in a disaster evacuation bag.

Go Bag Contents

A Go Bag is for when you have only minutes to evacuate.  If you pack your Go Bag in advance, you can literally grab it, go, and have everything you need. The best Go Bag is a waterproof backpack because it’s lightweight, can be easily carried, and leaves your hands free

Each family member should have their own Go Bag. If you want something more low profile, you can buy high quality inexpensive waterproof backpacks from Mountain Hardware. The only disadvantage of these backs is the single compartment. Which means you have to root around and waste time looking for stuff.

This sturdy, durable backpack with multiple compartments is my pick. It’s a great value for what you get and very reasonably priced. Plus there’s a spot for everything. Or you can spend a lot of money and get this military styled bag.

If you don’t want to put together your own disaster evacuation bag you can buy already made go bags that include water, food, and emergency supplies like this two-person emergency kit that includes some supplies or this more comprehensive survival kit for two people.

Pro-tip: Whether you buy a premade disaster kit or assemble your own, pay attention to expiration dates on water and food and replace when necessary.

What to pack in a disaster evacuation bag

Here’s what’s in my Go Bag.


Have enough cash for 4 to 5 days (in small bills) and 2 rolls of quarters. If the power is out, credit card machines and debit machines may not work. You’ll need cash for food, water, and transportation.


A disaster evacuation bag should have 3 days worth of water. These emergency water pouches, the same ones used by the US Coast Guard, are convenient, easy to use and there’s no BPA.

Cell Phone

You should have a cell phone (SIM card enabled) phone in your go bag.

Protein Bars

Protein bars or power bars are a good meal replacement and should be included in your evacuation kit.

First Aid Supplies

Your go bag should include First Aid supplies:


Have a set of clothes in your disaster evacuation bag. Avoid bulky clothes. Layers work best. Be sure to pack three pairs of underwear socks.

Running Shoes

Pack a pair of running shoes in your go bag.

Emergency Supplies

Your disaster evacuation go bag should include these emergency supplies:

Sharpie and Notepad

Having a Sharpie and notepad in your go bag is crucial. A Sharpie lets you write notes, make signs, and communicate. This is especially important if you can’t talk due to injury, weather conditions, or other reasons.


Your disaster bag should have copies of these documents:

  • Copies of prescription medications, eyeglasses, and contacts
  • Copies of children’s immunization records
  • Copies of medical, dental, and prescription cards
  • Copies of birth certificate, adoption certificate, marriage certificate
  • Copy of passports, Green cards, and visas
  • Copy of Social Security card and driver’s license
  • List of bank account numbers, loans, credit cards, and contact information
  • Copy of first two pages of last year’s federal and state income tax returns
  • External hard drive with latest computer backup
  • List of user names and passwords
  • Copy of deed to house and other property
  • Copy of title to house, car, and other property
  • Copy of wills and/or trust
  • Copy of durable power of attorney
  • Copy of healthcare directives
  • Copy of stock and bond certificates and investment statements

Printable Copy

You can download a pdf printable of my What to pack in an evacuation or Go Bag.

What’s in your go bag?

Pin this to your board: Fire, flood or other disaster can happen. Are you prepared? Click on the pin for a what to pack in a disaster evacuation bag printable checklist

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Leslie Blaine

Saturday 17th of May 2014

Copies of usernames and passwords is listed twice.

This is preparation for the apocalypse and roving bands of thugs. In that scenario you're going to need more weaponry than a Swiss Army knife.

Copies of most of that stuff are on file at your pharmacy, medical facility, county offices etc. It can all be located online as needed. In fact, if you use Lastpass or similar all you usernames and passwords are safely stored online.

These fires are in Southern California in 90 degree heat. You won't need chemical foot warmers. But you will need chapstick, soap, and sunscreen.

You forgot your toothbrush ...

Traveling Well For Less

Sunday 18th of May 2014

Hi Leslie,

Thanks, I removed the duplicates from the list.

My Go Bag list is a generic list for all evacuation situations (fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes) and not specific to Southern California or for fire evacuations.

Feel free to add what you want or need to your Go Bag.

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