Urban Disasters: Have These 20 Items On You If You Want to Make It Home

get home bag
From previous disasters, we find clarification and better ways to prepare. Urban disasters happen all the time leaving many stranded in the city. Consider for a moment what you would do if you found yourself in the midst of an emergency where you couldn’t get home using your vehicle. For example, after the terror attacks in New York, the country’s transportation system was shut down – including city transportation systems. Due to the destruction of this event, many commuters were left with no other option but to walk home. Another example occurred in Tokyo after a number of sizable earthquake tremors occurred, many commuters and students were stranded after railways were temporarily stopped. As a result, the majority of commuters who are unable to return home had to wait in facilities such as offices and stations until railway services resumed. Source Severe weather and car breakdowns can also be a reason for having to walk home.

Between work and commutes, most of us spend a majority of our time away from home. About 8% of workers in the USA have commutes of an hour or longer, and nearly 600,000 full-time workers endure “megacommutes” of at least an hour-and-a-half and 50 miles, according to new U.S. Census data on commuting. The national average, one-way daily commute is 25.5 minutes.

If an emergency occurred while you were at work, would you be equipped to handle the ordeal?

Have you considered what you would do if you had to walk back home? How many miles would it take for you to get home? If the average one-way commute is 25 miles, not many could make that in a single day. It could take on average 10-12 hours of straight walking at a fast pace – and that is only if you are in good shape and have no physical limitations. For the majority of us, it would be a multi-day journey to get home.

One of the biggest issues I see is preparedness experts loading up their get home bags and adding additional weight. To prepare for an urban disaster scenario, consider having a lightweight bag packed with the bare essential of gear to get home. This is not your fully loaded bug-out bag. The contents of a get home bag should be minimal and the items stored should be able carry you through the duration of getting home. Keep practicality and weight of the contents in mind when putting your gear together. If you are walking long distances, you do not want to be lugging around a pack with non-essential items.

20 Must-Have Items to Add to Your Get-Home

Depending on the area you live, you may want to consider using a small messenger bag or small hiking pack. If you live in an area where the bag wouldn’t draw too much attention, consider a duffle bag or a Maxpedition Versipak type bag. These are the perfect size for this type of get home bag and both have adequate space to add most of these lightweight items.

  1. Basic first aid kit with moleskins included
  2. Multi-tool
  3. Machete
  4. Flashlight and/or headlamp
  5. Lightsticks
  6. Bivvy sac or Mylar blanket
  7. Bandana or hat
  8. Bic lighter or matches
  9. Two-way radio with extra batteries
  10. Extra cell phone charger or charged energy pack
  11. Durable poncho
  12. Small sewing kit
  13. Package of hand wipes
  14. 6 energy bars or lightweight homemade MREs
  15. Water purifier container
  16. Map
  17. Compass
  18. Small roll of duct tape
  19. Pre-paid credit card or cash
  20. Hiking boots with extra pair of socks

A few additional considerations:

  • Put thought into how you plan on getting home. If you plan to trek home, have a path mapped out that avoids highways to travel on foot. Some have gone to the extreme of keeping a folded bicycle or collapsible walking stick in their vehicles to prepare for the possibility of trekking back home.
  • If you are in a densely populated area, consider the fact that thousands of commuters will be displaced and hotel rooms will quickly run out. If you are unable to shelter in the workplace, research beforehand where the shelters will be set up (Contact your local area Red Cross chapter, they usually know) or a local park. If the disaster occurs in the late afternoon, it may be worthwhile to walk to a shelter or park, sleep there for the night and start the journey to get back home first thing in the morning.
  • Keeping a weapon in your vehicle (provided you have a conceal carry permit) may also be beneficial if you feel the need for additional protection.

Emergencies happen all the time – even while we are at work. It takes a few minutes to gather these items together and create a dependable get home bag. We never know when the next emergency will hit and these 20 items could save your life.

What items do you keep in your bug out bag for work?


Additional Resources:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 24th, 2015
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7 Responses to Urban Disasters: Have These 20 Items On You If You Want to Make It Home

  1. aaron says:

    That seems like a lot of extra stuff, I would refer to dave canterbury 5 C’s
    *cutting tool
    *cover elements elements. Both clothing and shelter
    *combustion devices
    Remeber to pack multiples specially on cutting tools and the tools to maintain your items. IE whet stone needle needle.
    And maybe pack a sling shot or take down bow for hunting incases of extended treks which should be considered in every case of a disater.
    I would build you kit put everything you think you need in it then take a 2-3 day camping trip using only the stuff in you bag. Then adjust whats in it after wards.

    • Tess says:


      A get home bag is one that has your very bare necessities so that you can get home. All of these items, (with the exception of the sling shot) are great for bug out bags, but will only weigh you down in a get home bag. Think about it, if you are in the city and your home is 20 miles away, do you really need cordage? Do you really need a whet stone needle? And multiples? You are walking for 2 days! I certainly do not think you will run out of these items in two days. Further, I don’t think your knife will dull by then. Seriously consider the weight of all the items you will be trekking home with as these extra items can exhaust you.

  2. Caitlin says:

    This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and slowly working on. I appreciate this list! I have a backpack with a few things in my car now but have some things I’m looking for yet. I have a four way key to help me access water in an urban trek, an n95 mask and a pair of old nylons in my bag. Apparently the nylons are a military trick…they help prevent blisters when worn under socks and also can add warmth. I plan to get something for basic defence like pepper spay and I am looking for a razor scooter to toss in the trunk. With about a 15 mile journey I think the scooter would make it possible to get home in one day.

  3. Marty says:

    You’ve completely missed the point of a Get Home Bag mate, it’s the bare essentials to get you home in the event of an emergency. Your pack is too big/too heavy and for people in a city you expect them to carry a crossbow or a sling shot? You have no idea what you’re talking about. You said it was what you would bring on a 2-3 day camping trip which is what a Bug Out Bag is. A Get Home Bag is completely different.

  4. Ian Carson says:

    Forget collapsible walking sticks! Always keep trekking poles in your car.
    Given how cheap they are now consider getting an extra set that pack down small, make a carrying tube for them from lightweight material which is attached to your BOB and that way you’ll always have them with you.

  5. Dan1369 says:

    You don’t need a concealed carry permit to keep a firearm in your vehicle. Consult your state laws concerning how to legally keep a firearm in your vehicle.

  6. joseph keeney says:

    Good night & good luck.

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