The 5-Minute Prepper #3: The Home Escape Bag

When a disaster strikes your home, you may be forced to evacuate within seconds or minutes. You have very little time to grab anything as you’re running for the door. Evacuation is even worse when you’re sleeping and have nothing but your sleep clothes to escape with.

Keeping a Home Escape Bag near your bed will allow you to grab it in the event of fire or other disaster where you need to evacuate quickly. It will provide for some basic things you will need immediately after, especially if your house burns down. Everyone should have one of these under their bed, including the kids!

You May Also Enjoy:

“The 5-Minute Prepper #1: How to Prepare for a House Fire”

“The 5-Minute Prepper #2: How to Disaster-Proof Your Important Documents”

Some things to consider keeping in your Home Escape Bag include:

  • Clothes
  • Jacket
  • Socks
  • Shoes or sandals (an old pair is fine)
  • Flashlight and chemlights
  • Copies of important documents (update as needed):
    • Insurance (health, auto, home, etc.)
    • Copies of your SSN cards
    • Copy of your bank account, credit card, and debit card statements
    • Marriage license
    • Birth and death certificates
    • Court papers
    • Copies of recent pay stubs
    • Copies of cell and utility bills (you’ll need to either pay these or stop service)
    • Titles and leases
    • Vehicle registrations
    • School records
    • Medical records, including shot records
    • Family pictures
  • Digital copies of the above on either a flash drive kept in the bag, or on a cloud service (like Dropbox)
  • Money (may need to spend night in hotel)
  • Spare keys (house, car, storage lockers, office, fire safes, etc.)
  • List of contacts (paper copy)
  • Medications needed
  • Toiletry bag (don’t need everything, just the essentials)
  • Spare checkbook
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • Anything else you would be hard-pressed to be without

If you don’t have duplicates already in your bag, you should also get in the habit of leaving your wallet, cellphone, and car keys on your nightstand, so you can quickly grab them.

And, if you have a baby in the home, make sure you plan an escape bag for the little one, too. You’ll need to update it every 3 months to rotate food and update sizes on clothes and diapers.


Rob Hanus is the author of “The Preparedness Capability Checklist: A Planning and Evaluation Tool for Becoming More Self-Reliant,” an easy-to-read book that offers the absolute best method for intelligent and deliberate prepping. Rob is also host of the Preparedness Podcast.


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This post was written by Marjory Wildcraft


  • Dave B says:

    Don’t forget to plan foe the pets! What will you do with the cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, etc.?

    I see many prep ideas for yourself and family but what about the family pets or livestock?

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thas coming up, stay tuned.

  • Mina says:

    Hello, just wanted to say, I loved this blog post. It was practical.
    Keep on posting!

  • Ralston Heath says:

    One other thing to have in the bag is a poncho. You can get them cheep at almost any store (about a dollar).
    If it is raining, your gonna love it. If it is cold, it will help cut the wind. If you are in your undies, it will help protect modesty. They are easy to use so even a toddler can put one on to stay dry/warm. They come in all colors, and did I mention you can get them really cheep?
    If you wanted to, you can spend more money and get a really good poncho, but for something that will sit in “storage” for a year at a time, I recommend just getting one of the cheep ones.

    Good article, Looking forward to the pet bag article.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Ralston, oh yes, good point! Cutting wind is super helpful on a cold night 🙂

  • MrMagneto says:

    I’m sorry to say that I didn’t rate this article. If a person is in a real tight spot I don’t feel like the kit you suggested is going to help them unless they have someone to go and stay with.

    Things you need in a your escape bag for a “SHTF” situation, not necessarily in order of importance:

    -A poncho
    -A bivvy bag
    -A change of clothes, two spare pairs of socks
    -Thermal layers (either in the form of a thermal blanket or thermal clothes)
    -A hatchet
    -A folding saw
    -A decent bush knife
    -Some dry foods/rations
    -Tinder box (with some dry scraps of wood and bark, if you have a tumble-drier, then the fluff from the filters is VERY flammable and makes incredible firelighter, only needs a spark and it’s instantly alight)
    -A flint and steel
    -A folding/portable stove (army surplus is good)
    -A mess tin for cooking in and eating out of (again, army surplus is good)
    -Paracord or strong twine
    -Snare wire (in case you’re out there for more than a day or two and want some meat)
    -A med kit
    -A folding shovel if you have one (for digging a fire pit and burying your waste)
    -A compass (if you know how to use it, otherwise why bother?)

    You’ll also want a small portable water filter in your kit if you don’t know what to use to make one on the go.

    Forget the documents. Paper is heavy. It would be better to leave documents and things of sentimental value (such as family pictures) in a safe location or burn them so you do not become a victim of identity theft. The same is true for your list of contacts, only take one if you can’t remember phone numbers of the most important contacts (like family, your best friend…most contacts simply aren’t going to be important when you’re up shit creek). The only paper I might consider taking is a book to identify edible vs poisonous plants in case I come across anything I am unsure of and want to eat.

    The toiletry bag can be reduced to a toothbrush, you can use carbon/ash to clean your teeth. You can also use ash to wash your hands, as it contains Lye (which is used with tallow to make soap). Sure, it’s not as pleasant as your favourite scented bar, but that’s a luxury not a necessity.

    Money is not for a night in a hotel and should be saved for essentials if you get into a tight spot…such as food, water or medication. With the right kit in your bag you’ll never need a hotel.

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