Get Home Bags: Everything you need to Safely Get Home During a Disaster

Most of you, especially if you have been following this site for a while, have probably heard of a Bug out Bag. In fact, go to almost any survival website and you are likely to read something about them; unfortunately, there is another bag that’s rarely talked about: The Get Home Bag.

Get Home Bag

A Get Home Bag, is basically another take on the bug out bag, but serves the opposite purpose. With a Bug Out Bag you are often packing for an evacuation; some sort of disaster that causes you to leave your primary residence. But when it comes to Get Home Bags, your main purpose is having the supplies you need to safely make it home during a crisis or disaster situation.

Do you really need both types of bags?

The fact is, many of us spend a large portion of our time away from home; and since there’s no good way to predict exactly when and where a disaster will hit, the need for something like a Get Home Bag just makes sense.

Each Member of your Family should have a Bag

In my opinion, everyone in your family should have a good Get Home Bag. Whether you work at an office, spend your time at school, or spend your time running around doing errands for your family, when disaster hits you need to be able to respond immediately.

Having emergency supplies with you can help you do just that.

Things to consider when building your Get Home Bag

  • What threats will you face when trying to make your way home during a disaster? Will you be walking or traveling through dangerous neighborhoods?
  • People may become one of your top threat considerations when trying to move from point A to point B. Do you have a plan to deal with those looking to target innocent victims?
  • How far do you normally travel from home on a daily basis? Are you physically fit enough to make it home if you have to walk?

Physical Fitness: Your first Get Home Preparedness Consideration

Physical Fitness Training

Article after article has been written on survival gear, evacuation planning, and pretty much any survival topic you can think of; but something that’s rarely talked about is physical fitness. In a disaster situation, one where you find yourself stuck miles away from home with no other option but to walk, physical fitness is quickly going to become one of the most important factors in whether or not you make it home in one piece.

Communication Gear: The Ability to Communicate and Gather Intel

Emergency Communication Gear

Another overlooked area when packing a Get Home Bag is often communication gear, something that is vitally important during any disaster situation. The ability to call out, and or gather real-time information relating to the threat is essential to your ability to safely make it home.

  • Cell Phones: A cell phone is an obvious first step, but it’s also something that’s likely to fail first during a large-scale disaster.
  • Police Scanner Apps: If you carry a smartphone, you should head over to your app store and find a good police scanner app. These apps can give you direct access to local police broadcasts, giving you the ability to stay away from danger zones.
  • Portable Radios: A small portable A.M. / Emergency radio with headphones is something that you should consider carrying. Keeping an ear on local news reports and emergency broadcasts can help you stay one step ahead of the threat, and will allow you to make changes on the fly.
  • 2 Meter Ham Radio: For localized disasters, where cell towers are down and traditional methods of communication have failed, there is no better tool than a good 2 Meter Radio. If you haven’t looked into the many survival benefits of Ham Radio, I advise you seriously considering the benefits.

Even more Important than the Gear you put in your Bag is Creating a Plan of Action

Survival Plan in the Ultimate Situational Survival Guide
Survival Plan from The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide

Having a bag full of emergency gear is great; but if you don’t have a plan, that bag might as well be filled with rocks.

You exact plan will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Type of disaster you’re preparing for.
  • your geographical location and environmental concerns.
  • medical needs, or supplies for younger children.
  • most likely threats or dangers you will face on your way home.
  • and a variety of other factors that are unique to your family and situation.

You need to have your routes planned out.

 Your plan should take into account how each member of your group or family will make it home during a disaster. This means having multiple routes, and contingency plans.

Don’t forget a way to buy yourself out of trouble.

Most Special Forces carry cash for the environment they’re working in. During a disaster, it just makes sense to have some emergency cash to help “buy your way out” of a sticky situation.

While carrying cash isn’t a substitute for having ready to go gear, it can help give you the:

  • Ability to purchase gas, extra supplies or food when electronic payments go down.
  • Ability to rent a hotel room, in case things don’t go as planned.
  • Ability to pay someone to give you a ride out.

What Specific Gear should be in your Get Home Bag?

Survival Gear in a Get Home Bag

When it comes to choosing gear, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That being said, there are some categories that everyone should have covered.

WATER: Water is probably one of the most important things you need to consider when packing an emergency get home bag. At the very least, you need to have a couple bottles of water. If you have the room, and can afford the extra weight, I advise carrying a couple steel canteens, as well as a small emergency water purifier or purification tablets.

FOOD: Depending on the disaster, you may have to do some walking. That means you’re going to need some extra energy. High protein, nutrient rich foods like trail mix, protein bars and nuts are all great items to stash away in your bag.

PERSONAL DEFENSE: During most disasters, there’s a certain segment of the population that loves to prey on the innocent. Disaster after disaster shows us how vitally important it is to be prepared to face these dangers. A firearm and other personal safety devices should be on the top of the list of gear considerations.

MAPS & ROUTE PLANS: A good detailed map including multiple routes home, areas to resupply, and areas to avoid is something that should be in everyone’s Get Home Bag. When traveling to new areas, make sure to update these plans.


  1. John McCann
    February 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Good to see I’m not the only one discussing Get Home Bags… Have been doing so for years…

  2. Me
    February 13, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    umm, if cellular service is out/overloaded then having a scanner app on your phone will do 0 good… You phone doesn’t have the hardware to pick up those signals itself so those types of apps will rely on a data connection to stream audio from a website, no cell service, no data, useless app… Something to consider…

    • OFFGRID Logo
      Off Grid Survival
      February 13, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Yep… as I stated in the article cell service will likely be the first thing to go out so keep that in mind when relying on anything that relies on a grid. Most of these apps are completely free though, so they are a good option to have. If it does go out no real lose. Also many 2 meter radios will pick up some emergency bands.

      • Bruce Forster
        July 5, 2015 at 8:55 am

        Please allow me to add something to this. The little Baofeng and Wouxon Radios are dual band, and will pick nearly ALL of the police, fire and medical frequencies and can often be had for $70.00 to $100.00. While you need a Ham license to legally transmit on them, they ARE legal to own and listen to. I’m not disputing two meter radios-but I AM saying that more and more public service/government entities are moving away from VHF to other parts of the spectrum. This demands having a newer radio with wider receiving options.

        • Eric
          August 22, 2016 at 7:50 pm


  3. Malakie
    February 13, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Actually android based cell phone and tablets WILL still work without the network online for some things. If an app requires cell service or wifi You won’t be able to call anyone but you can still run apps including mapping stuff. As long as GPS sats are still active those mapping programs will also still function in tracking mode.

  4. Goob
    February 15, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Been working on my bag for a couple of years, one thing about a scanner is look a ones that run at 800Mz with digital and portable, had mine for a long time and it goes everywhere with me.

  5. vlad
    February 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    The smart phone police scanners APS are not live.
    They are a few days old.
    It said real stream, not real transition.
    Many pd’s went encrypted
    Many repeaters have same back up power as cell phone towers.
    It the cells are overloaded 2 m will work. If power goes out learn local simplex fq’s

    • Tim
      March 18, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Not true about the scanner feed not being live. I had a family member involved in an incident and I was able to listen live from 400 miles away.

    • Steanson
      July 5, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Ditto what Tim said.
      I use 5.0 Radio to listen to the police and Fire/EMS when they are on calls in my complex. It is certainly real time.

  6. Mike
    February 23, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Kids at school will not be able to have ANY kid of weapon in their backpack… so make sure they know how to use pens and pencils as a defensive weapon.

  7. Choosetoshrug
    February 27, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    What kind of bag is that with the XDm? It kinda looks like a bi-fold pistol case but I can’t tell. Mind sharing the make/model?

  8. Ray
    August 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Even having a first aid kit at home helps a lot, even though having a preparedness kit handy should be first priority for people living in disaster zone

  9. Tim
    July 11, 2016 at 2:30 am

    I’d like to add, a small while very effective water filter. I carry the Sawyer Mini it’s a 1 micron filter and the cool part is you can screw it on to the top of about 80% of the plastic bottles out there for example a 2 liter Coke bottle so you just fill that up in the ditch screw this filter on the top and drink. it weighs don’t know maybe an ounce and it’s about 4 inches long I’ve got one and every one of my bags and in my everyday carry that way you don’t have to carry as much water and yes I have tested it by drinking out of mud puddles delicious crystal clear water Sawyer has a whole line that’s just one product

  10. Tim
    July 11, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Oh sorry, that filter is available at Walmart for $20, Sporting Goods section camping section it’s smaller than the LifeStraw which I used for years number one screws on the top of bottles number 2 and instead of being good for 250 gallons it’s good for 250000 gallons and can be back flushed

    • Human
      August 5, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      No, the Sawyer Mini is rated for 100,000 gallons.

  11. Oscar O'Malley
    February 5, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I like that you mentioned packing high-protein, nutrient-rich foods like trail mix and protein bars. I’m planning on going camping in a few weeks with my son, and I want to make sure we’re fully prepared. Thanks for the information!

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