Section 1: What Is in Your Go Bag?

 

Think about it: In addition to the physical supplies needed by individuals responding to disasters, what digital supplies could be valuable in their response efforts?

In this section, we will consider the use of a digital go bag for disaster preparedness and response.

Photo of items commonly found in disaster go bags, including safety items, communication tools, hygiene supplies, medical supplies, navigation devices, tools, food and water, and personal protective equipment

 

Typical Go Bag Items

People who may respond to disasters have "go bags"—bags packed and ready to go—to grab quickly if they are deployed. A go bag might contain items like:

  • Safety items
  • Communication tools
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Medical supplies
  • Navigation devices
  • Tools
  • Food and water

Think about it: This is not a complete list of items in a disaster response go bag, but it gives a sense of what might be included. What else is critical in disasters but is not included in the list above?

Photo of items commonly found in disaster go bags, including safety items, communication tools, hygiene supplies, medical supplies, navigation devices, tools, food and water, and personal protective equipment

Items found in a typical disaster go bag

 

The Missing Go Bag Essential

Information is consistently listed as an area that needs improvement in disaster response. People make decisions throughout the disaster cycle—preparedness, response, and recovery—based on the information they have.

Think about it: How is information used during an emergency? More specifically, how is information used in:

  • Preparedness
  • Decision making
  • Situational awareness
  • Informed response
  • Recovery
Circle diagram of the three disaster phases: preparedness, response, and recovery.

Disaster Cycle

 

Useful Information During Disasters

Types of information that might be needed in a disaster include:

  • Evidence-based public health information
  • Maps
  • Situation reports
  • Decision tools
  • Alerts and news
  • Social media and connectivity
  • Reference tools

 

Why a Digital Go Bag?

We have established the importance of information in disaster planning, response, and recovery. We have listed some types of information that are needed. Responders need this information in a portable format that they can access easily on demand, especially as Wi-Fi and cellular service can be unreliable in emergencies. Any information that can be downloaded ahead of time is especially valuable. Information on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) is a space-saver because those devices have large storage capacities relative to their small size. Mobile applications (apps) literally provide access to the information you need at your fingertips, right when you need it.

 

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a large number of people extensively downloaded and accessed emergency preparedness smartphone apps. The use of these apps helped responders and survivors access critical disaster-related information despite widespread power outages throughout the disaster areas.”

 

Source: Hurricane Sandy: Smartphone Applications Provide Critical Information to Sandy Responders and Survivors; with permission from LLIS.gov

 

This course primarily focuses on:

  1. What kinds of information tools the disaster workforce might want at hand
  2. Which apps might be most useful during a particular type of event

We strongly recommend that you practice using the apps presented in this course during the disaster preparation phase. Then, when a disaster occurs, you will already be familiar with them and know how to use them.

 

Key Points

In this section, we covered the following main points:

  • A digital go bag is made up of valuable, just-in-time information resources that can support individuals responding to disasters.