How to prepare an emergency go-bag when disaster strikes

While natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes might not be something Wisconsinites fear, many of us have endured some pretty destructive storms and tornadoes recently.

Megan and Skylar Binnebose, residents of Ripon, put together “go-bags” before the storm that struck a couple weeks ago.

“We actually prepared them the night before, because we knew the storms were going to be bad,” said Skylar. “So we had our go-bags ready by the door, so then we woke up to our alerts on our phone, we were able to just grab our bags and run to the basement.“

Growing up, Megan’s family always made go-bags, packed with a water bottles, food, copies of important documents, batteries and other essentials.

“We both feel that it cut down the time of just scrambling to find important things that we might need,” said Megan. “And even just made us feel confident to be able to just up and leave when we need to.

The Binnebose’s go-bags are something that Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations all over the U.S. go over at least once a year.

“An emergency go-bag is something that probably 30 years ago, we didn’t really think much about it much of the country,” said Robert Hendriks III, spokesman for Jehovah’ Witnesses. “Maybe down in the south Florida, perhaps in the gulf coast, maybe in California, but now when you start seeing derechos in Iowa, we know that all of us need to prepare for disasters.“

Regardless of faith, the Binneboses want everyone in the community to learn from them and be prepared.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you,” said Skylar. “But once it does, it’s too late to prepare.“

If you want to put your own go-bag together, all you need to start is a good-sized backpack. recommends packing the following items:

  • Blankets, complete change of warm clothes, and sturdy shoes
  • Flashlight, radio (battery or windup), and spare batteries
  • First-aid kit and a whistle to signal for help
  • Eating utensils, can opener, pocket tool set, and waterproof matches
  • Dust masks, waterproof tape, and plastic sheeting for shelter
  • Toothbrushes, soap, towels, and toilet paper
  • Child-care supplies and special-needs items for seniors or the disabled
  • A waterproof container with needed medication, copies of prescriptions, and other important documents
  • List of emergency contacts and meeting places and a local map
  • Credit cards and cash
  • Extra set of house keys and car keys
  • Paper, pencils, books, and games for children

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