Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Go bags

I love the concept of "go bags," also known as bug-out bags. The basic idea is to compile basic supplies in a single, easily and quickly accessible bag, that you could grab and go in seconds, in the event of an emergency.

I first became aware of them some years ago when a friend was undergoing cancer treatments. He would sometimes go see his oncologist for what he thought was a routine visit, and then be admitted to the hospital (a good hour-long drive from home) for anywhere from one night to a week. We created a Go Bag for him that contained the basics he'd need for an overnight stay, so no one would have to fetch them for him. It included things like an extra pair of socks and underwear, a light blanket, a pack of playing cards, non-perishable snacks (nuts, granola, raisins, crackers, hard candy), a book (or magazines and puzzles).

Their use isn't limited to emergencies and survivalist fears. I keep a Go Bag packed with the basics for traveling, like duplicates of favored toiletries and a few pairs of brand new underwear and a notebook for story ideas. When it's time to pack, I just throw the Go Bag into the suitcase, along with whatever stuff I need for that particular trip. If I traveled more, I'd keep a week's worth of my daily meds in a pill dispenser (it's definitely a good idea to have that prepared for an emergency type of Go Bag), but I travel so seldom that it's not worth the effort to remember to swap out the pills every few months.

The picture above is my Go Bag for little knitting projects. I can keep it packed and just grab it when I'm heading out for a doctor's appointment or anywhere else I might end up sitting and waiting, with nothing to do. Mostly I make chemo caps, so I customized this bag to be the right size (roughly 12" square) for enough yarn to make two or three caps (each cap takes several hours to knit, but I like having options for colors), plus the knitting needles, a ruler/gauge, print-out of the directions (in case of brain fog; I've made so many of these, I could recite the directions in my sleep, but sometimes I blank out on the lace pattern on the edge), and a pair of non-pointy scissors. Inside, there's a pocket that's just the right size to hold the double-pointed needles that are used toward the top of the hat, where the circumference is too small for the circular needle that's used on the rest. I hadn't planned on a handle until it dawned on me that it's a lot easier to grab the bag that way. By then, it was too late to put it at the top, so I just added it to the side. I kinda' like it there, actually, since it's out of the way when I'm zipping and unzipping the bag.

The little bit of yarn near the zipper pull is functional, not a random thing. I don't know why, but my cats like to run with finishing needles (which I suppose is better than running with scissors, but still not something I encourage). They don't do it with the knitting needles themselves, but if I don't hide the finishing needles or tie them down, they disappear within twenty-four hours of buying them. Even though the needle is three or four inches long, it's hard to find at the bottom of a bag, so for easy access, I thread a bit of left-over yarn through the needle, knot it at the end, and then loop it around the zipper pull's opening, and then stick the needle inside the bag.

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