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Responders: Are You Prepared?

The lifeblood of any disaster responder is their go-bag. It contains everything they need to get thru an initial deployment (1-3 days). Here at OIA we ask every one of our Scout Team volunteers to keep and maintain a go-bag, especially during storm season. We’ll eventually do a video showing our own, but with storm season upon us, we wanted to disseminate this information quickly. Here are the recommendations we have for our responder’s go-bags followed by some last minute prep thoughts (our budget-friendly recommendations are in links below the item):

1. A sturdy backpack. Preferably with multiple organizational pockets. Anything will do, but the more robust, yet lightweight (oxymoron, much?) the better.

2. A flashlight. Maglights are wonderful, but you don’t get points for weight here. Carry something lightweight and bright. LED’s are also easy on batteries.

3. A canteen or reusable water bottle. 9/10 times you have access to potable water. This will save disposable water bottles for the survivors and take up less space. We’re big proponents of Nalgene and Kleen Kanteens. With all steel bottles (with NO liner), you can even use them to boil water in a pinch. I always attach a carabiner to loop on my bottles. Hooking it to my bag on the outside saves space.

4. First aid kit. No brainer. Something light is best, but make sure it has the essentials – disinfectant, gauge strips, bandages (regular and butterfly), and Quickclot. Added points for tweezers, scissors and sewing supplies.

5. A good knife. One of the most valuable tools we carry. In a pinch a knife can be 10 different tools. This is not the place to skimp. Get yourself a good solid blade with a half-serrated edge, locking action and at least 3″ long. Solid metal is also a plus. If you want to carry a swiss army knife or leatherman, carry it in addition to a single blade. Keep this sharpened by carrying a mini diamond steel.

6. A bandana. This can protect your neck from the sun, filter out bad air, wipe sweat off, bandage a wound and more. Keep 1 or 2 handy.

7. Energy bars. Typically 5-6. The higher in calorie the better. Nothing meltable. Personally I like Nature Valley straight granola. No melting and if it crumbles I can still eat it. These will get you thru when the cook teams are nowhere in sight. Trail mix is also helpful.

8. Phone charger. You may need to charge on the go. I carry a USB cable for my iPhone with a wall and auto plug to be able to charge wherever I am. Bonus points for a battery pack.

9. Headlamp. Yes…you have a flashlight. You also need a headlamp. 2 sources of light are best and a headlamp is invaluable to free your hands. Make sure it uses the same type of batteries as your other flashlight and pack 6-8 spare batteries while you’re at it.

10. Pen and sharpie. Just trust me on this, you’ll need them.

12. Walkie radio. Most walkies pick up standard frequencies. In an emergency I guarantee someone will be on almost any channel. Bonus points for working on the same batteries as your lights.

13. Change of socks. I prefer moisture-wicking wool. Once your feet get wet, its all over. Keep your feet dry and you’ll prevent blisters, infection and even catching a cold.

15. Phone. Duh. No brainer. Make sure your pictures are backed up and cleared off. You may need that space and dont want to lose anything valuable.

16. Work gloves. I carry two pair – a leather pair and a mechanix style pair. When doing manual labor the leather are invaluable, but the alternate provide dexterity.

17. Safety glasses. Sunglasses work in a pinch, but not at night. Carry both.

18. A length of Para-cord. This is optional but highly useful.

19. Notepad. Something compact. You’ll use this to give people information – directions, phone numbers, email etc.

20. Deodorant. Yes, a spare stick. Trust me.


When storm season ramps up, I keep this go-bag by the bedroom door, sitting with the clothes I’ll throw on if I need to rush out quick. Those clothes are: a good pair of jeans or cargo pants, moisture wicking socks, a tshirt, belt, a long sleeve shirt, a ball cap, and a good pair of work boots.

I also keep the tools I’ll need for deployment sitting in my garage in one pile – Chainsaw, gas cans (filled), axe, shovel, hard hat, small cooler, rope, chain, etc. I’ve practiced this drill several times - I can be changed, loaded up and on the road in less than 10 minutes. We recommend you do the same. If you’re part of a scout or deployment team that hits the scene early on, we recommend you take inventory and begin preparing now.

If you haven’t joined a team yet, click on the JOIN link on our website and we’ll get you signed up. Thanks for all you do. See you on the road!

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