Your personal Grab Bag

Each member of your family should have their own personal grab bag. 

This bag contains your stuff. Stuff can be helpful to ease the stress of evacuation, especially for the kids. At the end of this article we’ve included a fun activity for kids and grown-ups of all ages to take part in. Involving the kids in your emergency preparations will help them prepare mentally for stressful times and give them a better understanding of what is happening when it comes time to go. The grown ups might be a bit less scared too!

Meet the “Average” family

Take a peek inside their Grab Bags to give you an idea what you might need in yours.


John & Jan Average

John & Jan Average

As the responsible adults of the house they have a lot of packing to do.
As well as their own toiletries and every day essentials they need to make sure the important documents and keepsakes are in a safe, waterproof and easy to carry box or bag and they will also have to make sure there is a supply of food and water for everyone.
Packing for an emergency is a lot like packing for a long road trip.

  • Mobile phone and charger – stay in contact with family and find updates.
  • Cash and ATM cards – enough to cover a meal or two for the family or petrol for the car.
  • Medications and perscriptions.
  • Toiletries – Toothbrush, soap, face cloth.
  • Change of clothes and underwear.
  • Drinking water bottles (3L per person is enough for one day) – Staying hydrated is very important!
  • Muesli bars and fruit cups – Easy to eat, on the go snacks with a long shelf life. If you pack cans, don’t forget the can opener.
  • Something to read, something to occupy the kids. Colouring books don’t need batteries!
  • Baby food, nappies etc. for the littlest ones.
  • Certificates and resumes. These dates and details are often hard to track down and sometimes expensive to replace.
  • Back-up hard drive containing photos, scans of documents.
  • Consider saving photos and scans of important documents to an SD card to be kept off site or in a fire proof safe or upload to an online back up service.
  • Photo booklets of the family- so you can talk about happy times and also so they can show people what you all look like if you get separated.
  • Medals or family heirlooms – those few small things that are irreplaceable.



Jessie is a handful, with lots of energy. Encourage activities and games that he might like to play and favorite toys to help him feel at home where ever he goes. Let him choose a spare outfit and what snacks and toys he would like to pack. His bag also needs to have his spare undies and toothbrush.

iPads and tablets can keep most kids occupied for ages, make sure you pack the charger and work out how much data you can spare.



Jaz probably won’t know there is a problem until you tap her on the shoulder, a million miles away with her nose in a book listening to music you don’t understand. Encourage her to choose a few books, make sure the charger for her MP3 player, spare undies and toothbrush are packed.
Also being a little older, she is ready to take on some extra responsibilities. Ask her to get the pet’s essentials together.



Pupper is trying his best to help, he’ll take himself for an adventure any time if you let go of the lead so make sure he’s microchipped and has a lead with harness or collar with name and phone number tag. Pupper needs drinking water, some food and bowls or plastic containers to eat and drink from. Some bedding to lie on and feel secure. A favorite toy and some extra poop bags and a spare towel. Travel crates are good to keep smaller or nervous dogs safe too.



Kitty likes sleeping and eating, she’s skittish and won’t necessarily co-operate. Get kitty comfortable with her box or travel crate by encouraging her to spend time in it, place favorite bedding or treats inside and leave the door open for her to explore. The more comfortable she is with her travel crate the quicker and less stressful it will be for both of you when you need to get out in a hurry.
Pack Bedding, spare towel to swap with soiled bedding, food, water and bowls, litter, tray and poop bags. Make sure Kitty is microchipped as well and that your contact details are up to date.

We’ve got another page on pet care in emergencies that might help a little more, click here to have a look.



Nanna Judy lives next door. She’s not really Nanna but she’s considered part of the family. She doesn’t drive any more and is home most days except for bowling and bingo. You’ve offered to include her in your plans because she hasn’t got many transport options in emergencies. Make sure she has your mobile and work phone numbers and make sure you have hers too. Help her organise a box for keepsakes and important documents and a bag for spare clothes, undies and toiletries. Share your essentials list with Nanna Judy so she can check that she hasn’t left out important medications or the phone charger or spare hearing aid batteries.

FAMILY FUN: Time Attack

Gather the household. We’re going to see how long it will take you to fill your personal Grab Bags with everything you need. There’s nothing like a bit of competition to get the little kids (and big kids) involved.

See who remembers everything, see who gets the fastest time. It’s good practice for the real deal.

Then try and smash your record. Don’t forget the undies!

Try loading it all in to the car, make sure you have room for everyone.
You might find this part pretty difficult, so use these practice runs to help you pack more efficiently and leave out unnecessary items.


Well done! We’d love to hear who won! Head on over to our Facebook page and share your experience.

If you’ve not done it yet, build your Emergency Box for all the essentials you’ll need in an emergency big or small.