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Crucial Questions & Essential Information About Grab-and-Go Bags & Vehicle Preparedness – Revisited

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                                                 

It was a year ago that I posted this article, and as we once again approach winter and the possibility of severe weather you are encouraged to be serious and take action regarding the information and questions in this article!

To properly assemble an effective grab-and-go bag you must basically determine one or all of three possible destinations you are headed towards by foot, vehicle or horse: THE WOODS OR OUTDOORS – A SHELTER, HOTEL OR STRUCTURE – A RESIDENCE


October 2012:  As I write this post there are severe warnings concerning the weather conditions on the East Coast.  This “Frankenstorm” is considered to be catastrophic.  If this doesn’t motivate the population to seriously evaluate being prepared and taking effective action – What will it take?  Must we wait for an even greater disaster?

In light of the enormity of any pending disaster, I offer my suggestions on creating an emergency kit/grab-and-go bag and list once again items necessary for a vehicle preparedness kit.

When assembling your emergency kit/grab-and-go bag here are the crucial questions to answer if you must leave your home or business quickly:

  • If an evacuation has been declared, a severe weather event is imminent or a significant disaster has occurred, how will I know?
  • If I have to evacuate, will I be in a cozy government evacuation center with food, water, blankets and a bed, or will I be on my own in the elements, a crude shelter or a friend’s/relative’s house?
  • If specific government, church, community and friend’s sheltering options are not available, where do I go?  How far?  How do I get there?
  • What conditions can I expect to encounter – best scenario – worst scenario?
  • What are the weather conditions I am likely to encounter?  What is the season?
  • Will I be alone, or are others depending on me?  Family – children – elderly – pets?
  • Am I dependent on others?  Who?  Why?  Do I expect the government to take care of me?
  • What kind of support is likely to be available?
  • How long should I prepare for?
  • What if there is nothing left when I return?
  • Are my essentials, heirlooms, personal treasures, irreplaceable photographs, documents and financial assets secure if I leave with only my grab-and-go bag?
  • Do I have a reliable communication plan to contact family, friends and business associates at a moments notice?
  • What is the potential severity of the emergency I might experience?
  • Will I have transportation, or will I be on foot?
  • Do I have enough money on hand to pay for possible shelter, food or supplies if I am suddenly evacuated and away from home or business?
  • Am I truly prepared for the unexpected, a procrastinator or am I in denial?  Be honest!

To have a truly adequate emergency kit the above questions must be answered.  Your personal preparedness bag/kit contents will vary depending on numerous factors such as time, number of persons, locations involved, support available, season, comfort level desired and the degree of peace of mind you want.

Here is a list of the basic essentials for every kit.  Each category will have multiple options depending on how you answer the above crucial questions.

  1. Water/bottled/filter/containers
  2. Food/food preparation
  3. Medical Kit (quality)/prescriptions/glasses/essential medications/dental medic/safety pins
  4. Special Needs/medical/children/elderly/pets
  5. Tools/multi-tool/knife/wire/duct tape/rope/gloves/small axe/repair tools/super glue/aluminum foil/manual can opener (often on multi-tool)/bungee cords
  6. Communication/radio – hand crank – solar – battery/cell phone
  7. Fire Starter/lighter
  8. Signaling & Orienting/whistle/signal mirror/strobe light/compass/maps
  9. Lighting/Hand crank – solar – battery
  10. Batteries – Regular & Rechargeable/solar charger & power-pack for batteries & cell phone
  11. Shelter/tarp/tent – tube or larger/plastic sheeting
  12. Emergency Blankets/sleeping bags – emergency or larger or bivy
  13. Personal Hygiene/sanitary supplies/disinfectant
  14. Plastic Bags
  15. Personal Security/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear
  17. Identification and Essential Documents/Bible/compact survival handbook
  18. Spare Keys
  19. Phone Numbers and Addresses/ friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
  20. Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
  21. Cash/credit cards
  22. Pen and Paper
  23. Pre-configured compact emergency kit with basic essentials
  24. Carry Bag – Backpack – Duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

For a very detailed list go to: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

For further crucial questions that apply to preparedness in general go to: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

With winter approaching it is especially vital to be prepared while in your vehicle.  When you consider all the potential problems that might arise, not being equipped and ready for the unexpected can potentially lead to serious injury and worse.

I live in area that receives significant storms, snow and cold –  and contains many back roads which can be especially hazardous, and year round everyone who lives nearby may not be respectful to others particularly women.  When my 3 daughters and wife were driving, I always had emergency supplies in the vehicle they were driving.  The consequences of not being responsible and prepared in the event of an emergency while driving, are too difficult to consider.  Please, teach your children to change a tire, check vital fluids, escape if under water, signal for help, survive in a storm and any other essential information they need.

Here are suggestions for your vehicle emergency kit from my article: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s

These items are especially important for long trips, family outings, new younger drivers, inclement weather, remote areas and at night. 



  • Cell phone/smart phone/charger
  • Spare tire
  • Jack with tire iron and supporting tools
  • Tire inflation device – portable power and/or aerosol can inflator (for use only in an emergency as it will void the warrantee)
  • JB Weld/super adhesive
  • Jumper cables
  • Portable power unit for jump starting
  • Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening
  • Crowbar
  • Reflectors/flares
  • Hidden spare key
  • Device to break window and cut seat-belts from the inside in an emergency
  • Extra oil
  • Extra gas/funnel if appropriate
  • Siphon hose
  • Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts
  • Window scraper
  • Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
  • GPS device if appropriate

Additional critical items from the Essential Checklist to carry in your vehicle:

  • Tarps
  • Blankets/emergency sleeping bag
  • First Aid kit
  • Baby supplies
  • Food and water/water purification/containers if appropriate
  • Maps
  • Personal documents and photo ID
  • Gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Rope/wire
  • Repair tools
  • Plastic bags large and small
  • Emergency radio/hank crank radio
  • Emergency lighting
  • Rope/wire/bungees
  • Small solar/12 volt power packs for small electronics
  • Cash/credit card
  • Extra clothing in harsh and/or wet weather/hat
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Rain gear/rubber boots
  • Knife/multi-tool
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Shovel
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Matches/fire starter
  • Extra Batteries
  • Personal protection devices or items as appropriate/pepper spray

Check the “Essential Checklist” for other items relevant to your needs.

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