Hospital room or hotel suite? An emergency “go bag” stocked with essentials is handy when you need to leave your house in a hurry. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Hospital room or hotel suite? An emergency “go bag” stocked with essentials is handy when you need to leave your house in a hurry. (Jennifer Bardsley)

In case of emerency: Why you should pack yourself a go bag

If you needed to leave your house in a hurry, could you do it?

Could you leave your house at a moment’s notice? That’s a difficult question to answer, especially if you’re the type of person who struggles to find your keys. Sometimes just making it to work on time requires a Herculean effort. But what if you had to leave your house in a hurry because of emergency — could you do it?

A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of Snowmageddon, I received a horrible phone call. Imagine an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” and mix in “Days of Our Lives” for added drama. I had to leave my house fast and drive to Providence in Everett in the middle of a snowstorm.

The roads were crusted with snow and ice. Getting out of my unplowed neighborhood in Edmonds was treacherous, especially at the intersection where a woman from my church died a few years ago when her car slid off the ice and down an embankment. The streets in Lynnwood were only slightly better, but the interstate was clear. I tried not to be freaked out by the abandoned cars I saw on the side of I-5.

The next 48 hours were intense, but the employees at Providence were exemplary, from the registered nurses who took wonderful care of my loved one, to the imaging staff doing MRIs, the security guards manning the emergency room and the massive crew of people shoveling snow out of the parking lot.

But the biggest blessing of all — for me, at least, was my go bag. When I raced out of my house, I brought a small bag with me that was pre-packed with essentials. I had a change of clothes, toiletries, prescription medicine, a cellphone charging cord, my reading glasses, a notebook and pen, a pack of gum and my toothbrush.

When I frantically texted friends and relatives updates, I didn’t worry about my phone running out of battery. That night, when I curled up in a recliner and tried to sleep the best I could, I took my medicine like normal. In the morning, I brushed my teeth and washed my face. After I put on a fresh shirt and clean socks, I felt like a new woman. I could have survived as a hospital-visitor-lounge-rat for days.

I wish I could say that I was always this organized, but the truth is that the only reason I had a go bag packed was because our whole family was supposed to go on a Valentine’s Day trip together. Now, that trip was in jeopardy, and it didn’t even matter.

The happy ending is that my loved one got better, and a few days later we did go on that family vacation. When we returned home, I restocked my go bag and tucked it away in my closet. I don’t know what life might throw at me next, but I’m certain that being prepared for anything is worth it.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at

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