Preparing for New England Emergencies: Go-Bag

Hurricane of 1938, Cape Cod Canal, Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Pack a Go-Kit/ Go-Bag

As you know, hurricanes and other types of severe weather events can spell disaster for you and your family. But so can other emergency events from fires to chemical leaks. How prepared are you if you’re ordered to evacuate or if you have to take off at a moment’s notice?

No one wants to think about this but everyone needs a go-kit/ go-bag in the event of an emergency. A go-kit is a bag of items you’d take with you if you had to flee your home with little warning.

This list is by no means comprehensive. It’s simply designed to get you thinking about what you’d need. If you have to shelter-in-place or stay in your home without power or running water, or if you have a person with unique medical needs, has further information to help you prepare.

Here are a few rules:

1. Plan

Spend an hour or two working on your kits and engage the entire family. Talk about what you’d do if something happened and you had to leave quickly. Make sure you can easily access your wallet and cell phone at all times.

2. Everyone in your house should have their own go-kit/ go-bag and they should be able to carry the bag themselves.

Backpacks are best because you’re arms are free if you have to get out of a difficult situation. However, a bag on wheels can also be helpful, so long as the wheels are sturdy and the crisis isn’t a flood. Some back packs that also have wheels so you get the best of both worlds.

3. You may want a small go-kit/ go-bag for your pet with food and medication.

Otherwise, they have nothing.

4. You’ll need a second modified kit/bag for your car.

What if you were driving down the road and there was an explosion and you couldn’t get home? Would you have what you need?

5. You’ll need a modified kit/bag for your office.

What happens if you get stuck at work for days? (Yes, awful but it happens). Would you have what you’d need?

6. Update your kits/bags seasonally.

Your needs in New England will be different in July vs. February.

Here are a few essential items you’ll want to consider putting in your go-kit/ go-bag:

Emergency Protection

Might include masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, plastic bags, and duct tape.

Scanned documents

Scan your important documents including drivers license, birth, passport, social security card, insurance information, car registration, mortgage information, wills, powers of attorney, adoption papers, deeds to property, prescription information, diplomas, passwords onto a durable usb drive. Put it inside a water-proof container and add it to your go-kit. If everything is destroyed, it will be difficult to prove who you are, get reimbursements or other help without id. You could also put this information into a secure cloud space or in a secure folder on your phone, but keep in mind – it’s hackable.

Phone numbers and emergency shelter locations

Write out all of the important phone numbers you’ll think you might need from family, to kid’s school to physicians. Yes, write it out – don’t assume your electronics will work. Call your town and find out where the emergency shelters are in the event of emergency. Put it with your usb drive in the water-proof container.


You will need to have cash. Period. Also bring a few checks, atm and credit cards. Everything inside the waterproof container. Also throw in pens and paper.

Health Items and prescription medication

If you have life-sustaining or important medication, make sure you have extra and pack it in case you can’t get to a pharmacy for a while. It’s also a good idea to pack additional items such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, birth control, antibiotic ointment, antacids, laxatives as well as bandaids, gauze and tape, toilet paper, lotion, petroleum jelly, alcohol swabs, paper towels, sterile gloves, pre-moistened towelettes, feminine hygiene products etc. as well as an extra pair of eye glasses if you need them. Also bring medical alert information. If you have kids, you’re going to need diapers, formula, etc.

Change of clothes

You’ll need to pack this for obvious reasons along with extra underwear and sox. Make sure the clothes are practical, especially in New England. Consider scarfs, gloves, and hat for winter. Make sure your shoes & everything you pack is practical.

Flashlight, rope, knife, scissors, water-proof matches and batteries

Because you never know.

A whistle

In case you need to signal for help.

Mylar blanket and rain gear

A mylar blanket is a thin, thermal sheath that can help protect you and keep you warm. You’ll need an umbrella and rain ponchos as well.

A charger for electronic devices

The last thing you want is to have your mobile phone die in an emergency.


Consider getting a battery powered or hand-cranked radio for emergency information. If you have the money, you can splurge on a satellite phone.

Food and water

Pack whatever you can fit in your bag and make sure it’s well-sealed. They sell emergency freeze-dried meals on-line. If you pack anything in a can, make sure you pack a can-opener. Whatever you pack, make sure it’s shelf-stable.


Pack something that is comforting to you. A photograph, chocolate or even a deck of cards can make you feel better in a crisis.

Of course, no one likes to think about emergency events but it’s much better to be prepared than be caught off-guard. Think. Discuss. Prepare.

Stay safe everyone!

Hurricane 1938, Providence, Courtesy of The Boston Public Library



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