Your Eco-Friendly, Healthy Emergency Go-Bag!

First of all, I want to say that our hearts go out to all of the families and communities in the Northeast that have been effected by Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts are with you!

All the recent dramatic aftermath of the hurricane here in New York really got us thinking about creating our own emergency go-bag, in the event that we need to evacuate, or in case of a power outage.  Luckily, we haven’t lost power or had any lasting effects in our area, but with crazy hurricanes hitting pretty much annually now, I figure better safe than sorry!

Though there are plenty of places where you can buy pre-made “green” emergency kits (Quake Ready Kit, Inc. makes good ones for 1-3 people), I really like the idea of personalizing our go-bag with healthy options and more eco-friendly alternatives to ensure the best quality possible. I know it might seem frivolous to be concerned about being green or healthy in an emergency situation, but it actually will keep you charged up longer to go battery-free (and green), and the healthier you are able to keep yourself and your family throughout the whole ordeal, the better you’ll be able to deal with whatever comes your way!

I’ve compiled a list of all the necessities your go-bag should be stocked with, emphasizing green and healthy versions of everything you need! With the proper preparation, you can ensure that your family still has access to healthy foods and the most efficient and eco-friendly options to stay safe and dry.

  • A solar-powered eco-friendly backpack.  In the event of a power outage, a backpack such as this one from Traveler’s Choice or this one from Sppark, is super roomy and features a large solar panel, so you can keep your cellphones, iPad’s and GPS devices charged.  Lining your backpack with a biodegradable trash bag will ensure that everything stays dry!  If you have a large family, it’s best to have a backpack for each member, to ensure that everyone has what they need.
  • Copies of your important documents (insurance cards, house deed, photo IDs, passport, bank information, physician contact information, family contact information) in a waterproof container or biodegradable ziplock bag.
  • Contact and meeting place information for your household, and a small map.
  • $50-$100 of cash, in small bills, in a ziplock bag.
  • A gallon of purified water, per person.  You can also include a water bottle with a built in filter, in a pinch.  Clear20 makes BPA-free, recyclable bottles with carbon filters.
  • Healthy non-perishable food items, like BPA-free canned beans (Eden Organics makes great ones) that can be eaten hot or cold, healthy granola bars or snack bars, healthy whole grain crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers is great!), almond butter, and dried fruit.  Don’t forget a can-opener!
  • Ziplock bags with your pet’s food.  In a pinch, pets can eat human food as well, as long as it doesn’t have any of the ingredients dangerous for them (check out 10 Most Dangerous Household Toxins for Pets).
  • Self-charging LED flashlights.  LED flashlights last up to 10 times longer, and the self-charging kind means you’ll never run out of juice!  I like this one from Dynamo, which also has an FM radio (see below).  This one from Freeplay Energy also has a radio, cell phone charger, and has self-crank, solar, or external charging options!
  • Self-charging FM radio.  A must-have for staying on top of evacuation instructions and updates, not to mention entertainment when the TV goes out!  See above for two self-charging flashlight-radio combos!
  • Lightweight, waterproof thermal blankets.  These recyclable Bencore blankets are great for staying dry and warm, are reflective, and are 100% recyclable, unlike the traditional Mylar version.
  • Matches or a fire-starter.  After watching my fair share of disaster movies, I have a pretty big fear of that whole last-match-in-the-box-gust-of-wind combo.  To avoid this, I recommend the more sustainable option of a magnesium emergency fire-starter, which can be used for a super long time without fear of running out!
  • A first-aid kit.  I like the Adventure Medical kits at REI, which you can get for 1-4 people with a variety of needs (the Women’s Edition Kit features OB feminine hygiene supplies and more!).  You can also assemble your own kit… Here’s a great guide to a natural first aid kit!  You’ll also want at least a few days supply of any medication you or your family members take, with dosage information.
  • Feminine and personal hygiene supplies.  I recommend a creating a variety pack of organic products (I like Natracare) in a variety of sizes.  As for your personal hygiene, a little dopp kit of your favorite necessary products in travel sizes works great.  In a pinch, you can buy a pre-assembled kit of multi-purpose products, like this one from Suki Organics (which includes face/body wash, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner, lip balm and a washcloth.  Don’t forget a miniature bottle of contact solution and lens case!
  • Child care supplies or other special care items, as needed.
  • A whistle, to signal for help.
  • A dust mask… preferably one made of organic cotton, like this one from Vogmask, to avoid inhaling all kinds of toxins.
  • Personal sanitation items like natural moist towelettes, garbage bags, and ties for if the water goes out.
  • If you don’t opt for a solar charging backpack or flashlight with built-in charger, make sure to include a solar charger for your cell phone.
  • A complete change of clothing, including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, sturdy shoes, and undergarments.

Stay safe, stay alert, and stay healthy!