Have you got a grab bag?

Published: 22 September 2023

Council's emergency management officer Jim Henderson.

Get Ready, with Emergency Management Officer Jim Henderson

I look forward to delving into our district’s natural hazards and how we’re preparing for them in future columns. However, this month, I wanted to promote one of the best emergency preparations you can have in place in the home, the “Grab Bag”.

Most of us should already know the importance of having a well-stocked emergency kit in the home, so you might be wondering why a grab bag would be required as well.

Every emergency is different and assuming your house is structurally sound, sheltering at home is often the best response. In a large disaster event, such as an Alpine Fault earthquake, your emergency kit will help you and your family get through the first week or two, until aid arrives to the region and services begin to be restored.

However, in other situations such as a flooding event, you may need to self-evacuate or be ordered to evacuate your home on short notice. If this occurs, you won’t have time to run around the house finding items or packing the car. A pre-prepared grab bag contains the essentials that will allow you to quickly get yourself and your family to a safe location.

You might find yourself having to live out of your “grab bag” for a few days until it’s safe to return home or emergency services are able to get to you.

So what should a grab bag contain?

  • Torches and batteries
  • Radio (solar, wind up or battery powered)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Copies of important documents (online or paper). You can do this by taking a photo or a scan of an important document on your smartphone
  • Walking shoes, warm clothes, raincoat and hat
  • First aid kit and prescription medicine
  • Water and snack food such as muesli bars (remember babies and pets too)
  • Chargers for your phone and any other devices you may need. If your car has a 12v power outlet or a cigarette lighter, consider including a USB phone charger which will plug in to it.

If you can, ensure that everyone has easy access to a grab bag at home and knows where it’s located. Many people choose to store a grab bag in the car so they’re never far from it (including when they’re at work).

If putting together a grab bag is out of reach right now, figure out what you’ve already got in your home, and know where these items are kept so you can grab them quickly. The items in your grab bag also count towards your stay-at-home emergency kit, so you don’t necessarily need to have multiple radios, first-aid kits etc.

For more advice around grab bags, emergency kits and being prepared, visit getready.govt.nz

This column was first published in the Ashburton Courier in August 2023

Woman packing emergency bag

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