Sunday, September 07, 2008

Have a crisis "Go bag"

PJs living within 500 miles of the Gulf or Atlantic coasts are most likely to cover hurricanes. It's best to read through this information now, and be ready when someone calls.

Here are the main posts I've already written:
Cover hurricanes
What's in the trunk?
How PJs deal with rain

The remainder of this post is a checklist of items PJs need before they head into a hurricane zone (or many other crisis zones). Many items are redundant to the items mentioned in the posts above, but this post can act as the final checklist before PJs run off to die into danger.

Prepare for hurricanes like a long camping trip, but make sure shots and life insurance policies are up to date.

"Go" bag
"Go" bags are called by various names, but they serve one purpose. With little notice, PJs can be out the door and headed into a news scene for a few days. It's best to duplicate many common-use items (like toothpaste) and leave them permanently in the go bag.

It might be wise to print this list and keep it in the go bag. Otherwise, it'll be an expensive or dangerous trip for an ill-prepared PJ.

The bags
Have three bags. They include a folding, reinforced, rolling suitcase; a Ranger ruck sack (it's larger than a standard ruck); and a waterproof bag.

The suitcase is the standard option. It works for most travel assignments through airports or to a state championship game. It's most useful when PJs have a place to stay (hotel or friend's floor in safe location).

The Ranger ruck is best for emergency use. These work for breaking news events because PJs don't know when or where they're going to sleep next. It allows PJs to keep everything in one place and move rapidly with little warning. Make sure to buy the frame, shoulder straps and padded waist strap.

The waterproof bag is somewhat misnamed. At least it's water resistant. It should permanently hold a sleeping bag, a small pillow, a clean sheet, two pairs of dry socks, underwear, swim trunks and a dry T-shirt. Keep the items in the bag and don't remove them (other than during use and to clean them upon return).

Personal items
Keep a travel kit with redundant personal items loaded and ready to go. These items include:
any regular prescription(s) (rotate frequently)
bar of soap (in plastic box)
cotton swabs
mini sewing kit
Tylenol (travel pack)
ibuprofen or similar muscle pain reliever
No Doze (travel pack)
biodegradable shampoo
comb / hair brush
disposable razors
female items (if needed)
contact solution (if needed)
Additional small personal items for easy access in the main bag include:
pocket packs of facial tissues and/or toilet paper
mouthwash (Listerine)
baby wipes
hand sanitizer (or Invisible Armor)
Aloe Vera gel
tooth gel (desensitiser)
insect repellent
emergency first aid kit for major cuts and burns

Bag items
The bag (suitcase or ruck) contains items used once per day. If there are external pockets on the bag, they can hold larger emergency items. However, the bag should contain the first/last items of the day and should be kept in a dry, secure location if possible.

This bag should contain clothes, spare towels, extra shoes and super emergency items (see below). Always pack one extra day's worth of clothes. The spare shoes should be sneakers or flip-flops and fold flat.

Super-emergency items can remain in the bag permanently. Replace any used super-emergency items immediately upon return or sooner in case they're needed again. The rest of the items can be added when an assignment is accepted. These items can be acquired over time like other camera equipment.
swim trunks/swimsuit
spare towel(s)
spare glasses (if needed)
spare shoes
garbage bags (for dirty/wet items)

Super-emergency items

unopened bottle of honey in sandwich bag
peroxide bottle (small)
military cravat and/or bandanna (arm sling)
field dressing (here's how to use it)
chemical lights
waterproof matches
halizone tablets (all non-bottled water is contaminated)
spare batteries (rotate frequently)
zipper sandwich bags
snake bite kit
spare pens/pencils
spare notepad
clothes line
tent spikes
latex gloves
hunting knife (don't take on airplanes)
sharpened entrenching tool and/or hatchet (don't take on airplanes)
cable saw (don't take on airplanes)
mini hammock (get off the ground or catch food)
small heavy-gage rope
several MREs
waterproof poncho
emergency signal
crank-style weather radio
tiny fishing tackle kit (although fish are probably toxic)
more insect repellent, toilet paper and sanitizer

In addition to all the items above, pack the following in an auto:

case of bottled water
canned food
local maps
duct tape
plastic sheeting
power inverter
spare tires
rain suit
camera rain protection
DC air compressor
waders and/or waterproof knee boots (steel insoles preferred)
ground tarp
small inflatable raft(s) (for gear)
disposable cups/flatware/plastic plates
instant coffee (if needed)
instant tea/drink mix
battery-powered lamp/flashlight
battery/DC -powered fan (trust me on this one)
police scanner
battery/DC -powered mini TV

If you can bring the following, life is better:
ATV with snorkel
cooler with sturdy food
small gas camp grill w/gas canister
cigarettes (good trade/access item)
several half-pints of vodka or Everclear (for trade, medicine, fuel and access)

Enough for now,


Creighton said...

These are some great packing ideas. I had a basic 'go' bag back when I was a civilian photojournalist. Your lists mirror most of the stuff I keep in my camera backpack and "Ranger" ruck.
I would add a couple things: SureFire tactical handheld flashlight and a cell phone that you can use as a modem.
As an Army photojournalist, I take my Ontario Knife Co's ASEK and I've picked up a couple "Israeli bandages" our medics carry. I've seen some really old field dressings and the Army is outfitting our troops with this better piece of equipment.
While I hope no one ever needs to use a field dressing, you can find the Israeli Bandage at:
Good luck and happy shooting!

Mark M. Hancock said...

Good info. Thanks for the update. :-)

CarmenSisson said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I haven't been able to get everything on this list, but I have what I feel to be a pretty good go kit at the moment -- far better than I had last week anyway. If I add a few things every week, I'll be in good shape.

It was wonderful to go to Wal-mart for party napkins (friend's birthday last night) and not have to be fighting with people for batteries and flashlights, to know that I had at least the basics, a few of the must haves, and a couple of "frills."

I hope all you guys made it through Ike ok, Mark.

Mark M. Hancock said...

Dallas was fine. The good folks in Southeast Texas need a lot of love for several weeks to come. They got hit hard.