Disaster Planning

An OPSEC Get Home Bag by MorrisB, Editor-at-Large

Many articles have been written regarding Get Home bags (GHB) but for the sake of providing a different option I’ll share what I use. First-off, one must obviously have the bag accessible to be of any benefit if things suddenly start falling apart.

So, how do we have them accessible? Well, we carry them to work in the car or on the train or subway. After we arrive at work we leave the GHB in the trunk or carry it into our work area where we hang it up or place it in, or under our desk. So let’s review where we’re at, at this point.

In the car. Locked in the trunk. That’s where I used to store my GHB en route and while at work along with some good walking shoes, extra outerwear to accommodate the weather, extra food, a walking stick (to deter dogs and other undesirables), a firearm and ammo and other items I might need.

Problem. What if I can’t get to the car when that bad thing happens? I’m up the creek. So I carry it into work. You may have already surmised that I want to be as prepared as possible so I had a full back pack (day pack size) and filled up with as many emergency supplies a possible, remember two is one and one is none. The difficulty here is that you’re setting yourself up for co-workers to razz you about whether you’re getting ready to go camping in the middle of New York City or “What are you prepared for, the end of the world?” In any event you are standing out or profiling yourself when you don’t want to.

Further, and I am so lucky to live in New York State (Hi Chuckie Schumer, all those other liberals and high taxes, to boot) and have occasion to take a train into, or out of Grand Central Station. Whenever the stuff hits the fan that place is loaded with cops, state troopers and even, when they deem it appropriate, soldiers. Now imagine them on high alert for something and picture me trudging through there with an overloaded back pack jammed full of emergency supplies. Not good. Now, admittedly, many others also wear day packs but they always seem half full and are not anywhere near as conspicuous as mine.

Solution, at least for me. I have taken a neutral colored, un-insulated outdoor or photographers vest, the one’s with a hundred little pockets and filled them up with my multi-tool, powerful LED light, l/t raincoat and other appropriate gear. I fold it up and along with a couple bottles of water and sandwich bars, place them all in a computer carrying bag. It’s got a shoulder carrying strap should I want to keep my hands free at some point. It can be carried anywhere without attracting attention AND, when things starting falling apart I step off to the side, slip the vest on, but under my work or sport jacket and it becomes both unnoticeable and helps provide a little warmth if needed.

I then grab whatever extras I might need from my work area, hallway or cafeteria and stuff them in my now, almost empty computer bag and book out. I’ve accomplished my need for a carrier that I can have with me at all times, that doesn’t attract attention and meets my needs to enable me to get home safely. That firearm that you might want to have? That depends on your local laws.

Good luck.

[NOTE from millenniumfly: I’ve taken the liberty in assuming the type of vest MorrisB is referring to is shown below.]

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12 replies on “An OPSEC Get Home Bag by MorrisB, Editor-at-Large”

Bought a ‘travel’ vest for GF this Christmas. Started off looking at fishing/safari style vests. Found instead the ‘Scottvest’ which has all the pockets internal/has smooth tailored exterior. Designed for travelers to not draw attention from pickpockets. Have them for both men and women. Not cheap, but sounds like what you’re trying to do.

In most places, those vests are known as “shoot me first” vests. CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) license holders without extra training favor them. Cops know there’s usually a firearm underneath them. At a minimum, you’re going to get searched. A gym bag would be a less obtrusive alternative as would a smallish backpack. Avoid Khaki, any camouflage, black, and olive drab. Similarly, very bright colors like yellow, white, bright red, or fluorescent colors. Most police departments are trained to “key in” on those colors. Opt for navy blue, medium gray, burgundy, or something similar.

Good idea , and if you wear it around a lot at work or in public , you condition people into getting used to your attire . Its something that by itself is not unusual looking on the street .

What a great idea. Thank you so very much for finding something like this that makes someone less of a target and leaves your hands free. I hope I never have to use it.

What about gym bags? It’s been a while, so I don’t know if gyms are as popular as they used to be. A sweat suit, windbreaker, running shoes, gloves, energy drink, power bars… even if it got searched, looks completely innocent even if there is a pack of cigarettes and a lighter in it.

I guess that being a woman, I’m fortunate. No one thinks twice about a woman carrying a big purse. That being said, I have a get-home bag that lives at my office that has running shoes, a change of clothes in case I happen to wear a dress to work, and other stuff that would be hard to pack in my purse, and would be the bag I used in an emergency. It’s kinda girly-looking, but hey, whatever works. It would also be useful if I was forced to stay at work because going out of doors was unsafe.
Another get-home bag lives in my car with pretty much the same gear as my office bag and with it is my trunk box with tools and extra gear/water/food. My bug-out bag lives at home and it has a slightly different list of gear in it.
Having just one bag means if something happens to that bag, you’re screwed. Multiple options just make sense to me.

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