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Packing bag and ready-to-use kit checklist: take it with you during hurricanes and other disasters

man with a duffel bag

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Hurricane Idalia made landfall along the Gulf Coast of Florida. We are now in the middle of hurricane season. When a hurricane or other natural disasters, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security advises that you have a travel bag (also called a ready-to-go kit) containing essentials to take with you in case you need to leave the home in a hurry. Don’t wait for a major weather event: now is the time to prepare with a backpack for you and your family.

So what should you have in your backpack? And do these essentials literally have to be stowed in a bag?

The US Department of Homeland Security recommends placing your essentials in airtight plastic bags, then putting them in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as plastic trash cans or a duffel bag. When it comes to what to pack, there is an A and B list.

Here’s what’s most important:

Then there are additional emergency supplies that you might also want to have on hand. You can see the full list here.

Below are some items from the US Department of Homeland Security’s list that you can add to your cart right now.

Take it with you during hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Shop these ready-to-wear kit and travel essentials at Amazon and Walmart.

ReadyWise Freeze-Dried Food Emergency Supply

ReadyWise Emergency Freeze Dried Food Supply


This 72-hour freeze-dried emergency food kit is easy to throw in your bag. It offers 32 servings of food and has a shelf life of 25 years.

Find three entree options (mac and cheese, teriyaki rice, and tortilla soup), one breakfast option (brown sugar and maple multigrain), and one drink option (whey milk alternative). You can add hot or cold water.

“I’ve purchased many ReadyWise meals,” says an Amazon reviewer. “They are some of the best options of their kind on the market. They taste great. Easy to make. Reasonably priced.”

Why we love this food kit: This kit offers a solution for less than $40 and you don’t need hot water to prepare the food.

Sony Portable AM/FM Radio

Sony Portable AM/FM Radio


The US Department of Homeland Security recommends carrying a battery-powered radio in your backpack.

Stay up to date with news and weather forecasts with this portable, battery-powered option. This AM/FM radio from Sony has built-in speakers, an antenna and a headphone jack. It also has a wrist strap for easy carrying.

“[It has] strong reception and clear sound,” says a Walmart reviewer.[It’s] good for emergencies, camping or fun.

What we like about this radio: This relatively affordable radio keeps you informed in the event of a power outage.

Anker portable charger

Anker portable charger


A backup battery for your phone is also recommended.

A cell phone charger can keep your phone charged during a power outage. This one works for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and more. It provides more than five charges for iPhone XS, nearly five full charges for Samsung Galaxy S10, more than four charges for iPhone 11, and more than two and a half charges for iPad Mini 5.

This portable charger is available in two colors.

“I found it invaluable when I forgot to charge my phone because it fits easily in my pocket and is the same size as my phone,” says an Amazon reviewer. “Battery life is exceptional. It takes several hours to charge, but this battery lasts a very long time.”

What we like about this portable charger: This portable charger works for a variety of phones and other types of devices.

Coleman OneSource Rechargeable Camping Lights

Coleman OneSource Rechargeable Camping Lights


At a minimum, a flashlight is recommended, but these camping lights from Coleman are even more practical.

These LED camping lanterns run on rechargeable batteries and are dimmable. You can carry and hang them via a fabric cord. They run for eight hours on high power and 90 hours on low heat, and they’re also water resistant.

This lantern is on sale for $48, down from $55.

What we like about these camping lights: These camping lights are rechargeable and can be hung or carried.

Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Compact First Aid Kit

Johnson & Johnson Compact and Portable All-Purpose First Aid Kit


This compact first aid kit is intended for minor injuries. It includes 160 essential products such as cleansing wipes, gauze pads, assorted bandages, rolled gauze, antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream, acetaminophen caplets, instant cold compress and more.

“One aspect I like about this first aid kit is its compact size, which makes it easy to carry in a backpack, glove box, or travel bag,” says an Amazon reviewer. “Contents are well organized, ensuring quick access to needed supplies. Included items are of good quality and suitable for everyday mishaps.”

This first aid kit is on sale for $17, down from $23.

What we like about this first aid kit: This first aid kit is compact enough to fit in your travel bag, yet contains 160 essentials.

Amazon Basics Large Nylon Duffel Bag

Amazon Basics Large Nylon Duffel Bag


Don’t forget the go-bag itself. Get this affordable zippered duffel bag on Amazon. This 4.6-star rated duffel bag comes in two colors and has an interior of over 6,000 cubic inches.

This nylon duffel bag is lightweight and has a weight capacity of 50 pounds. It has interior zipped pockets and an exterior pocket. It offers both handles and a strap.

What we like about this duffel bag: This duffel bag is affordable and large enough to hold essentials recommended by the US Department of Homeland Security.

Related content from CBS Essentials


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