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Ready, Set, Go(-Bag): Essentials When Emergency Arises

Don’t be a disaster in times of distress
by KC Calpo | Jul 14, 2017
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We all know we must be ready for everything, especially disasters, whether natural or man-made. Yet we usually take our time, and act only when something actually happens. Admit it, you’re not prepared at all! We aren’t, and we’re not proud of it.

As the MMDA and NDRRMC begin the four-day metro-wide Shake Drill today, we thought we should list down everything we need to have in our go-bags during emergency situations. A good rule of thumb: pack at least a three-day supply of everything. Preparedness and foresight will save your life and those of your loved ones, and help make sure you’re all right—or as okay as you can be—when the first responders arrive.

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BRB. We’re off to take our own advice.

(If you prefer buying assembled emergency packs, check out these go-bags from Life Pack. They offer packs with or without food supplies, and contain supplies from one person to four per pack.)

First-aid kit

There will be blood. And scratches, wounds, scrapes, broken bones, and basically every type of injury and bodily fluid imaginable during disasters. Pick up the basics at your pharmacy or grocery store: bandages, gauze, ointments, vitamins, painkillers, antibiotics, and disinfectants and dressings for wounds. Over-the-counter medication for cough, colds, flu, diarrhea and cramps; cooling packs for fever and high temperatures; and mosquito repellants (among other items) should also be in your kit.

If you’re with senior citizens and kids, and/or if anyone in your family has serious medical conditions, you must include their prescribed medication as well. Check your kit every few months to see if any of your medications and supplies are past their expiration/due dates.

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Drugstore chains like Mercury Drug have first-aid kits already assembled and ready for purchase. Mediplast also has a First-Aid Kit with the essentials bundled in.

Hygiene kit

Disasters aren’t an excuse for you to get all slobby! Even in dire times, it’s important for us to clean up and stay hygienic. Make ample space in your go-bags for personal-care items: shampoo, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, hand towels, wet wipes, a hairbrush, and a small bottle of alcohol or hand sanitizer.

If you’re making go-bags for your mom, sister(s), girlfriend or wife too, add sanitary napkins and/or tampons to your shopping list. Be grateful you’ll never know the torture of having a uterus and ovaries that wage a painful and bloody war every month. And for the elderly, be kind and pack some adult diapers in there, too.


Them papers

Get the originals and duplicates of all the legal documents and IDs you have! Gather your birth certificate, marriage certificate, or whatever government form you have at home. Add to the pile your current passport, bank documents, and land title(s).

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That money you set aside “for emergencies”? Well, if shit gets real, you’ll definitely need them, because ATMs and bank branches won’t always be available. Don’t ditch your cards, though; you’ll need them too.

Lastly, create a handwritten list of emergency contacts for you and your family, just in case.

Put all these in plastic/waterproof document folders, and place them in your go-bags where it’s easy to reach and pull out whenever you need it.

Food and drink

Your go-bags need to have food items that won’t expire quickly, and don’t require time-consuming prep work. This means easy-to-open canned goods, crackers, packaged snacks, and energy bars. And of course, you’ll need can openers, reusable utensils, and trash bags.

If you must cook, give collapsible cookware like Sea to Summit’s X-Pot, well, a go. The set won’t take up too much space in your bag, and we bet everyone would appreciate a hot bowl of instant soup to fill up.

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The most important go-bag item: water. Stock up on water! Again, make sure you have enough clean drinking water for at least three days. If you’re not sure about water quality (and even if you think you are), get water-purification tablets like those from Aquatabs.


Make room in that go-bag for at least one or two changes of clothes and underwear, a pair of sturdy shoes, and a jacket or parka that won’t take up too much space. Like in hygiene, you need to be ready for time spent away from home and outdoors.

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No, "side-a-side-b" is still not acceptable. We’re sure you’ll do it anyway, but you know, just saying.


First up: flashlights and head lamps. You’ll find plenty of flashlights over at supply stores like True Value and Ace Hardware. For head lamps, we’re thinking of this new waterproof, AAA battery-friendly Black Diamond ReVolt. It’s a bit pricey at US$59.95 (around PhP3,000 without shipping fees), but it gives you a whopping 300 lumens of light and lets you know how much power it has left. Inquire with the Primer Group regarding availability and local price.

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You can stock up on AA and AAA batteries, but you’ll also need a power bank for your gadgets to have a few more days of life. We’ve already made a list of worthwhile power banks back in March, but also consider Anker’s high-capacity PowerCore 26800mAh power bank. It juices up your phones, tablets, and even laptops faster; and gets powered up much faster as well. It’s available on the Anker US website for US$69.99 (around PhP3,500 without shipping fees), but you can also check with local distro NAVCO about local availability and price.

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And don’t even think about going on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for news and community updates! Chances are no one will even be able to go online during emergency situations. It’s best to go old-school, meaning AM and FM radio. Small radio sets like the Philips AE1120/00 portable radio will keep you up to speed, but also levels up with its built-in siren and flashlight, plus USB charging for your devices. The best part? This radio doesn’t rely on batteries—you wind it up to power up! Contact Philips Philippines for availability and price.

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Last, you’ll need a heavy-duty multitool, because anything can happen while you’re waiting for rescue or medical attention. We’ve long been fans of Leatherman for its Tread tool bracelet and different-sized multitools, but it’s the 21-tool Surge that would be perfect for severe emergencies. It includes a can and bottle opener, a knife, serrated knife, screwdrivers, files, and even wire cutters! Check with local distro Willi Hahn Enterprises for local price and availability.

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Small items

These would also be great to have in your go-bag: a whistle, rope, duct tape, and Ziplock bags (for when you don’t have waterproof casings for your things).

Additional stuff

If you want to add more items to your already heavy bag, use the checklists provided by the Philippine Red Cross, US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the International Red Cross.


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