I am sure that images of doomsday preppers just flashed through your mind as you thought of trying to plan for something that seems irrelevant and a little out there. While having an emergency kit may seem absurd, there are countless reasons why you should have a contingency plan.
For starters, our nation is still in a pandemic. This crisis may have gone to the back of your mind as more chaos and trauma enters the world, but the virus has not disappeared. While not highly probable, it is still possible to contract COVID-19 and spend a few days in the hospital. Across the nation, COVID patients are in isolated wings where they are unable to have visits from their friends and family. In this scenario, having a bag with essentials helps provide security and communication with the outside world.
The next thing to consider when trying to decide on putting together an Emergency Go Bag is your geographical location. We are located in Southern California, a place that experiences fires, earthquakes, mudslides, and other various catastrophes on an annual basis. The possibility of being evacuated on short notice due to a natural disaster is reason enough to put together this essential kit. A Go Bag acts as a contingency plan in the event of a tragedy.
Now that we have established the need for your Emergency Go Bag let’s discuss what you should pack! The best way to categorize it is with three C’s: Covered, Comforted, and Connected. Of course, before you begin packing, you must first have a bag that is well suited to your potential emergency needs. We recommend you use a medium-sized duffel bag or backpack. If you are unsure what size to get, ask yourself a few key questions: Can I store this bag in an accessible location? Is it light enough to carry without becoming a burden? Will this fit in my car along with my family’s Emergency Go Bags?
Once you select your bag, it’s time to start packing! We are going to start with the first C, Covered. In your Go Bag, you need to make sure that you have copies of your legal documents. You don’t want to put your originals in this bag as they should be kept in a secure location. These documents include your Financial Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Universal HIPAA Release. You should also make sure you have a list of your medications, doctor(s), and insurance information. If you end up in the hospital in unfortunate circumstances, these will be essential items for the hospital staff. Lastly, you should pack a first-aid kit, because you never know when you might need a bandage or pain relievers.
The next step is to pack items that will bring you the second C: Comfort. Comfort items are great for your mental and emotional health in the event you are kept in a hospital room or forced to evacuate your home on short notice. These items will likely vary from person to person, but here are a few things you might consider packing. First, consider packing a few family photos; these will bring you comfort if you are alone or separated from family. The next step is to grab a few small personal items such as a book, e-reader, sudoku, or supplies for your favorite hobby. You might consider packing a stuffed animal in your kids. Make sure you pack a pair of glasses if you need them and headphones to listen to music or podcasts. We also recommend you keep a water bottle, some non-perishable snacks, and a few basic toiletries. Another essential is a change of clothes and a pair of pajamas. While you cannot predict what will happen, it is nice to know you will not be stuck in the same outfit or hospital gown for days on end. Last but not least, pack a spare pillow and a blanket. Nothing too bulky or heavy, because you don’t want your bag to become cumbersome, but something to help you get by.
Finally, we must consider our last C: Connected. In a crisis, it is helpful to remain connected to people who are going to be empathetic, caring, and kind. In the event you are evacuated or kept in a hospital room, some things you will want to pack are a spare phone charger and a journal and pen. You should keep a list of phone numbers for your close family and friends in your bag as well. Having this list is helpful if you were to end up in a hospital, as it gives the staff contact information for your loved ones in the event you are unable to do so. Lastly, consider packing a couple of note cards or stationery of some kind so that you can write letters and notes to your friends and family.
You never know when or if tragedy will strike. Don’t wait to be caught off guard by catastrophe and left unprotected. The same principle applies to Estate Planning. Protect Your Tomorrows Today, by taking action and implementing necessary measures.
Let us know in the comments what you have in your Go Bag and contact our office for questions about Estate Planning and Protecting Your Legacy.