What Do I Put in my Earthquake Go Bag?

Emergency go bag checklist for survival kit back pack

A "Go Bag" is vital for families who need to make a quick getaway with little or no warning. It's useful for when a home is evacuated due to fire, flood, earthquake, mudslide, or any other natural disaster that strikes.

Here's a checklist you can use, built from a wealth of resources and past reports, to help you prepare your own "Go Bag." In bold are items that are absolutely essential:

  • Backpack (40 ml - 50 ml per person)
  • Water
  • Medications
  • Toiletries
  • First Aid
  • Food
  • Gear
  • Clothing
  • Pet care products
  • Documents and cash


In an emergency, being able to move quickly is important. When considering size, remember that larger bags will be tougher to grab in a hurry.

  • A 40-50ml bag (at most) is highly recommended
  • Each person needs their own go bag


  • Know how much you need to survive for 3 days and how much you can comfortably carry


  • Pack prescription medications good for a few weeks


  • Soap
  • Cleaning towels
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable tissues
  • Feminine towels
  • Lotion
  • Maxi pads (can also be used as a bandage if needed)
  • Moist towelettes
  • Razors
  • Sunscreen
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush


  • One decent, well-stocked kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Thermometer


  • Non-perishable food like energy bars work and take up little space


  • Hand crank and/or battery-powered flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio or television
  • Cell phone charger (one or two)
  • Whistle
    • Good for locating people in a crowd or at night
  • Can opener (manual)
  • Duct tape
  • Dust masks
  • Entertainment (deck of cards or small travel game)
  • Glow sticks
  • Goggles
  • Large trash bags
    • Can be used as a poncho or cut open to make a tent
  • Leather work gloves
  • Matches
  • Multi-use knife
  • Rope or rubber bands
  • Sticky pad, pencil and paper


  • Face coverings and masks
  • One set of clothing (think layers)
  • Underwear (three recommended)
  • Socks (three pairs recommended)
  • Comfortable, sturdy pair of shoes
  • Extra clothing (think layers)
  • Extra blankets, hand and feet warmers or thermal clothing to keep you warm
    • Consider a Mylar emergency blanket, which is lightweight and packs up small
  • Poncho


  • Food
  • Toys


  • Photocopies of important documents:
    • License or ID
    • Credit cards
    • Passport
    • Social security
    • Prescriptions
  • Emergency cash
    • Credit cards might not work
    • Consider having about $100-$200 with lots of ones (that way you never need change)
  • Emergency contact numbers written down
    • If your phone dies, you may not be able to remember the phone numbers of friends and loved ones
    • Include an out of state contact
  • Family photo of immediate family, children or pets -- crucial in case you get separated from your loved ones and need to help finding them
  • Paper street maps (GPS might go down)
  • Apps
    • MyShake
      • The State of California created an early warning system that can alert residents seconds before an earthquake strikes
    • Cal Alerts
      • ShakeAlerts are sent the moment USGS researches detect a quake over 5.0 magnitude

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