We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images
out of California, where wildfires displaced
roughly 200,000 people. It’s a human tragedy
of epic proportions — and one that, if it
should hit your area, you can be prepared
In fact, the CIA can help make sure that you’re
Yes, the CIA generally does intelligence on
a foreign scale, but the nation’s top intelligence
bureau issued a guide which included FEMA
instructions on how to survive if you find
yourself in the midst of a tragedy like the
one we’re seeing in the Golden State.
“At CIA, we spend a lot of time discussing
emergency preparedness and planning with our
officers, who often find themselves working
in all kinds of remote — and sometimes dangerous
— places around the world. Often villages,
towns or even cities are ill-equipped to handle
major emergencies,” the CIA’s Molly Hale
said in a November entry on the intelligence
”What those emergencies might look like
(hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest, violent
uprisings or wildfires, etc.) can be hard
to predict, but a well thought-out emergency
plan, paired with regular drills and the right
equipment, can put you in a better position
to weather the storm, whatever form it takes.”
That includes a go-bag, sometimes referred
to as a bug-out bag. Not familiar with what
that is? Hale will fill you in.
“According to FEMA, people should be prepared
to take care of themselves and family members
for up to 72 hours, or three days, following
a disaster,” she wrote.
”To do this effectively you should collect
and consolidate the appropriate materials
at a well-known location in your home, work
or vehicle ahead of time. We recommend consolidating
the items into what we call a ’go-bag,’
so named because it is a tool that is intended
for use in ‘on-the-go’ situations, such
as a hasty evacuation.
“As some of our officers can attest, multiple
go-bags scattered throughout the house, vehicles
and your workplace might be the best solution.
You never know where you’ll be when disaster
strikes and having a go-bag within arm’s
reach can mean the difference between life
There are some basic items your go-bag should
First, you need the essentials. If you can
carry one gallon of water per day for your
use, that’s super. If not, purification
tablets may be a good supplementary option.
In addition to water, you’re going to need
food — specifically, food that doesn’t
spoil. Protein bars are one of the things
the CIA recommends.
A first aid kit is also going to be a necessity
in a situation like this, including your prescriptions.
Hygenic supplies are also a must. A light
source like a flashlight or glow sticks should
also be a part of your go-bag.
Batteries are one thing you’re going to
need to replenish regularly, as batteries
lose their capacity with age. A cell phone
with emergency numbers and a charger is also
going to be something you want at a minimum.
You’ll need a rechargeable power bank for
your phone, but remember that this needs to
be charged and monitored regularly to be effective.
Disaster plans should be kept in the bag.
Keep contact numbers there, as well, along
with a map that includes evacuation routes.
Cash and traveler’s checks are also something
you should have in your go-bag, as well as
copies of your passport and other documents
you might need. Keep a paper and pencil in
there, as you’ll never know when you’ll
You’ll need something to keep you warm as
you sleep. This is where a good blanket and
a few space blankets will come in handy. A
change of clothes with shoes is a must, but
make sure they’re not a flimsy pair of shoes.
A multi-tool with screwdriver, knife, tweezers
and the like will also be a necessity, as
will matches or another source that can start
These need to be kept in a waterproof case;
waterproof storage should also be a priority.
Finally, you’re going to need a way to to
repair stuff if things go wrong. FEMA and
the CIA recommend parachute cords, duct tape
and safety pins.
”This is by no means an exhaustive list,
but should serve as a reference as you build
a more personalized list based on your needs
and those of your family, as well as the specific
threats or challenges you are likely to face
in your part of the world,” Hale wrote.
”If, for instance, you live along the coastline,
you may want to put more time/effort into
waterproofing your go bag and its contents.
Those living or staying in areas of earthquake
activity should consider including temporary
shelters and focusing on communications, as
cellular towers could be impacted.”
This isn’t an exhaustive list in terms of
emergency preparedness, either.
The CIA recommends an emergency preparedness
plan, something Hale also discusses in her
However, a go-bag is a pretty good start.
It’s a way to ensure that you’re prepared
if one of these disasters ever befalls you.
With any luck, you’ll never have to use
That said, when a major hurricane like Dorian
is closing in, or when an earthquake or other
natural disaster hits, it’s too late to
assemble what you need.
A go-bag is a step you can take today to make
sure you and your family survive a disaster
— and it doesn’t take much effort or money.
We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images