Get-Out-The-Door Bag


Packed and ready . . .

Packed and ready with room left over

We recently asked readers what worried them the most. There was one clear winner (if that’s the right term for it):
“Not being prepared to evacuate.”

One person (Elizabeth!) had a very specific request regarding evacuation, and that’s what we’re addressing today.

“Can you please send us a SHORT list of what we need to have ready?” 

Here’s what goes into the . . .

Get Out The Door Bag.

This is the bag you need to have packed and available at all times, ready for that unexpected emergency.

This is the bag you grab when suddenly there’s a police officer banging at the door and yelling at you to get out, because . . . there’s been a train wreck, a chemical spill, some sort of terrorist attack, whatever. You have ONE MINUTE to get out! 

You pull this bag out from under the bed, scoop it out of the closet near the door, or maybe it’s already stored in the car when you scramble in.

And if it happens in the middle of the night, remember, you are in pajamas.

The Get Out The Door Bag is meant to get you to wherever you end up and give you a sense of confidence until the situation is straightened out, which may take minutes or hours.

This is not the 3-day or 72-hour kit that we talk about so often. Watch for THAT list later. It’s a longer list, so it doesn’t fit in this Advisory!

What 10 things go into the Get Out The Door Bag?

(If you look carefully, you’ll see all these in the image above!)

  1. Sturdy shoes and socks
  2. Long pants, long sleeved shirt (You might be in pajamas, remember?)
  3. Jacket
  4. Flashlight + extra batteries
  5. Emergency radio
  6. Cell phone and charger
  7. List of emergency contact names and numbers
  8. Toiletry kit including several days’ worth of medicines
  9. Extra glasses, sunglasses, contacts
  10. The one small thing you just can’t leave behind . . .

Everything 1-9 on the list will fit into an ordinary-sized backpack, depending on the size of your shoes! This was my list, and it all fit into my bag, with room left over!

As for that item #10 . . .

If you have extra room, or specific concerns, one or more of these might be your “one small thing you just can’t leave behind.”

  • Cash
  • Extra set of keys
  • Memory stick/flash drive with copies of your important documents including website/account passwords
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Favorite photo, book, etc.
  • Stuffed animal
  • Mylar space blanket/sleeping bag

Because Joe and I are such fans of walkie-talkies, we’d probably each have a hand-held radio, too. You may also have noticed the hard candies in the image above. I always gotta have something sweet!

Some suggestions about how to pack your Get Out The Door Bag.

Line your backpack with a big plastic bag to help keep everything dry.

To make this really work, you will have to “build” a second toiletries kit, just for the Bag. Get a small toothbrush, small sized deodorant, wipes. Pack a supply of pills in small plastic bags. (Get in the habit of replacing pills with a new supply every other week or so.)

Use another plastic bag to build a minimal first aid kit and tuck it into the toiletries bag, too.

And as for phone and charging cables, if you always plug in at the same place, you’ll be able to scoop everything up as you head out the door. Have a plastic bag or see-through packing cube for them, too.

Keep reading for more about plastic bags!

Specific recommendations to consider for your Get Out The Door Bag.

The Packable Jacket

While I was waiting in one of the endless lines at the airport last summer, I watched a young woman dig into her suitcase and pull out a wadded up piece of clothing.

She straightened it up, slipped it on and everybody standing around nodded and smiled in approval! Turns out this is an actual fashion: the PACKABLE jacket. These jackets look like a very light-weight, close-fitting down jacket. Some, of course, are filled with material other than down. The outer material also varies; some are weather resistant. Some have hoods. But all of them are very light, very crushable and would be the perfect item to pack in your Get Out The Door bag and/or have in the car all the time!

Here are a couple of examples from Amazon: prices for packable jackets start as low as $25 (though most are more), so check out several different brands.  (Click on the images below to go directly to Amazon to start your comparison shopping.)

Amazon Essentials Men’s Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Puffer Jacket, Charcoal Heather, Large
Amazon Essentials Women’s Lightweight Long-Sleeve Full-Zip Water-Resistant Packable Puffer Jacket, Black, X-Large

Plastic baggies

A second essential item for packing is something you may have at home, but maybe not – and that is a collection of different sized zip-lock or other plastic baggies! There’s nothing better for building that

  • Streamlined toiletries kit
  • A small first-aid kit
  • A sewing kit
  • Place to store your cell phone cords, charger, etc.
  • Last summer I spent about $2 I think to buy individual pill baggies. They are tiny – and perfect to hold a daily supply of a half-dozen pills!

I saw this collection at Amazon and it looked very convenient, with six different sizes. Get a couple of packs so everyone will have the sizes they need.

You know what plastic bags look like. Click the link to see this collection:

ShipGuard 600 Ziplock Bags 6 Assorted Sizes Clear 2MIL baggies1.5×2 2×2 2×3 3×3 3×4 3×5

Packing cubes

Here’s yet another packing idea. This one you should consider if you travel AT ALL!

They’re called “packing cubes.” The cubes are soft-sided rectangular-shaped  zipper containers that you pack tightly (fold or roll) and then stack in your suitcase. Put underwear in one, socks in another. PJs in another. All your little “kits” – toiletries, sewing, first aid– in another. The idea is to not have to paw through everything to get to the bottom of the case where these socks are hiding.

Obviously, our Get Out Of The House bag won’t have multiples of many items, but still, organizing in layers simply makes sense. Here’s one set that is bright red. Click on the image to get details.)

Amazon Basics Small Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set , Red – 4-Piece Set

Extra warmth

And finally, particularly for the Get Out The Door bag, pop in a couple of space blankets or even one of the space blanket mummy bags. These flexible sheets of Mylar aren’t too sturdy, but could add extra warmth in place of or even inside a sleeping bag. The shiny reflective side goes toward your body to capture heat, or turns outside to reflect the sun.

(I added  some duct tape to my kit. I could use it to tape my blanket into a bag.)

Bought singly they cost somewhere around $4-5 each; buy in bulk and you can get them for more like $1-2 each. We have space blankets in every survival kit we own.

EVERLIT Emergency Mylar Thermal Blanket (4 Pack) Space Blankets for First Aid Kit Camping Kit Hiking Outdoor

Here’s another Mylar product that’s been turned into an instant “sleeping bag” with its own fabric case, perfect for emergency shelter and/or camping:

Tact Bivvy 2.0 Emergency Sleeping Bag, Compact Ultra Lightweight, Waterproof, Thermal Bivy Sack Cover, Emergency Shelter Survival Kit – w/Stuff Sack, Carabiner, Survival Whistle + ParaTinder (Orange)

You don’t NEED any of these Amazon items to pack up your Get Out The Door bag. Still, having the right stuff will make the bag easier to pack, easier to carry and easier to manage when you need it.

Let me know when you’ve got YOURs all packed!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Ready to get an emergency radio — or another one? Check out our radio reviews. One of these small radios will fit in your Get Out The Door bag, just like my black and red one does.

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