Friday, 9 March 2018

Get Home Bags

If any reasonably sane person starts to investigate get-home bags they will be stunned to see the recommendations that are put forward by the so-called experts in the preparation field. Bags that seem to include guns, large amounts of ammunition and seriously dangerous knives are all opened up and photographed by people who seem to think that the contents really will be of any use to anyone. Either that, or it is their idea of pornography.

That said, even though I have no real use for a get-home bag I will recommend that you keep one at work, if possible. I have no use for such a bag on account of the fact that I am retired, but for those who work away from home,  a get-home bag, kept at work, could very well turn out to be very useful indeed.

Just take it seriously, be British about it, and don't go off the wall by stocking everything in it. You are not trying to get home from the other side of the world since the vast majority of British people work within ten miles of their home. So you really don't need any of the junk that you will be recommended to have if you do a Google search for get-home bags.

On the 7th July 2005, London was subjected to a set of vicious terrorist attacks that left 52 people dead and a transport system that closed down completely whilst the state figured out just what exactly had hit the city. The buses outside the centre started to operate in the late afternoon, with some of the underground system starting up again the next morning.

In Edinburgh, during the mid-evening of the 28th February 2018, the snowstorm stopped all the buses and most of the taxis, with the bus service not restarting until the late morning of the 2nd March.

In both cities people found themselves stuck with no means of getting home, although it must be said that it was less of a problem in Edinburgh as the storm hit after most people had finished work and headed for home. In London, since the attacks came in the morning rush hour, tens of thousands of people found themselves trapped at work with no means of getting anywhere. 

Some walked, others took a hotel for the night, with very many other bedding themselves down in their offices until the chaos outside had calmed down.  It is for people in that situation that the idea of a get-home bag with three days supplies in it was thought up.

Do you really expect to be stuck for three days? Realistically, no, so the reason why you should have three days worth of supplies in the bag is that it is always better to be safe than sorry. Besides, you may end up helping out your less prepared workmates.

If you think that you may one day have to sleep at work then remember that any idiot can be uncomfortable, so try and plan to be as comfortable as possible. A sleeping mat does not cost very much and takes up hardly any space rolled up. A sleeping bag may be seen as an unnecessary expense, but cheap, summerweight bags can be had for a very reasonable price and they hardly take up any room in a bag. Given that you will be sleeping in a building, not out in the wilds, such a sleeping bag would be fine all year round.

If you are going to have to march ten miles home then a decent pair of walking shoes are just essential, as is comfortable clothing that you can walk in. Ladies, you may look great in your Armani suit with a pair of killer heels on your feet, but do you really want to be pounding the pavements like that?

If the crisis hits in the winter then you will probably be wearing outerwear for the elements, but for the summer months, a raincoat might be an idea for your bag. It may have been bright sunshine when you left the house, with the long-range forecast predicting weather like that all week, but this is the UK and we all know that weather forecasts are a work of fiction so tomorrow you could find yourself walking home in torrential rain.

Underwear, T-shirts, socks, that's where your three-day supplies start. The weight is minimal, but the need could very well turn out to be great.

Food should also be in the bag. Go for the energy and breakfast bars that you can find in any supermarket. Stick a load in the bag, along with anything else that is easy to transport and needs no cooking. Realistically, there will be plenty of cafes open, unless it is an unexpected snowstorm that hits you, in which case they probably won't be, so stock up and be sure of being safe rather than ever being sorry.

Water is a must, or rather a couple of plastic bottles that you can refill. We may only get scorching hot summers once in a while, but Sod's Law dictates that you will have to go on your long march on a day when the thermometer is in the 90s.

A mobile phone charger, because again Sod's Law will ensure that your mobile telephone runs out of juice, along with the power pack that you carry in your pocket at all times. You do carry such a power pack, don't you? Of course you do...

A few quid in small denomination notes and change will come in handy if the terminals stop working or you find yourself in a cash-only shop. The change means that you can use a payphone on the street if you can find one these days. In the hours after the 7/7 atrocities, pretty much all the mobile phone signals were out of action because everyone was trying to call home at the same time. The sensible thing would have been to send boring old texts which did get through, but people wanted to hear voices, or they didn't think, either way, the mobile network was swamped.

You might even want to keep a very cheap, very simple mobile phone that is only good for calls and texts in your bag. It might be an idea to have one that works on another network to your usual handset. That way if one network is swamped you have at least the chance of the other being free.

Finally, a small notebook with all your important people and their contact details written in it. Yes, I know that nobody remembers phone numbers these days and we all have them stored in the mobile's memory, so what happens if you lose the damned handset? I accept that this is unlikely to happen, but for the sake of a small amount of space, where's the harm in keeping those important details written down on paper?

The above are just suggestions, so obviously you can add or delete whatever you wish from your own bag, according to your own needs and priorities as you assess them to be.

What I would say is don't go overboard on this. Statistically, you only have to walk ten miles at most to get home. There will be plenty of people with you, all making the same journey and whenever a crisis hits people cooperate with each other. For instance, when my car got stuck in a snowdrift in early 2018, a man galloped off to his house to grab his snow shovel to help dig the car out of the drift so I could get on my way. The drivers of the other cars that were blocked in by my vehicle sat patiently until my car was freed and then when I managed to park up on the main road, they slowed down to check that I was alright.

So don't worry, as you are with your own people in your own country, and you can help each other.

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