Preparing a go bag before an emergency is a vital part of disaster preparedness. Photo submitted

Get ready for the unexpected with a disaster go bag

Don’t think you need an emergency kit? Think again, say the families who discovered they needed one.

Flashlights, bottles of water, a first aid kit and ready-to-eat meal packs line the Chandler family’s living room table. The family isn’t going camping—they’re preparing for disaster by putting together a “go bag.”

Preparing in advance with a disaster-ready kit has helped families nationwide through extreme and abnormal weather events, which experts warn are on the rise.

Susanville residents Matt and Alicia Chandler have only lived in the area for a few years; but in that short time they have been affected by wildfires, flooding, severe winter weather and power outages.

“We have been grateful for the assistance and up-to-date information on the website about disaster preparedness and go bags,” said Matt.

“This has given us calmness and peace of mind during the stress of a disaster. Planning ahead has also allowed us the opportunity to be of assistance to others during times of disaster.”

“Having a personal preparedness plan increases your chances of staying safe,” according to a training program from the Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Jolted awake by a neighbor’s urgent knocking, Aaron and Jacqueline Pate were horrified to see the encroaching flames of the fast-moving Woolsey fire that had been miles away when they went to bed. It burned to within 100 feet of their Westlake Village home in 2018 as part of California’s deadliest wildfire season on record.

“Because we had go bags, we weren’t running around trying to pack things at the last minute,” said Jacqueline. “We had the time we needed to comfort our kids and get everyone safely into the car.”

The Pates credited the disaster-preparedness help they received as Jehovah’s Witnesses, both through periodic reminders at their congregation meetings and from tips for putting together go bags on the organization’s website,

“Life is precious, so we encourage all to heed the Bible’s advice to take practical steps to protect ourselves from danger,” said Robert Hendriks III, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States.

Go bags also have proven useful in the opposite circumstances as “stay bags.”

Disaster-preparedness suggestions and tips for putting together a go bag are available from FEMA at and from Jehovah’s Witnesses at