Flashlights, bottles of water, a first aid kit, and ready-to-eat meal packs cover the Agatep family’s dining room table. The family isn't going camping — they're preparing for a disaster by putting together a “go bag.”
Preparing in advance with a disaster-ready kit has helped families nationwide through extreme and abnormal weather events, which experts warn are on the rise.
In Brawley, California, Felipe Agatep and his family know what it's like to live in an area where earthquakes can occur without warning. “We've lived in the Imperial Valley for decades, anticipating ‘The Big One’ to hit. Being able to find up-to-date information on jw.org for disaster preparedness and go bags has really helped our family to be prepared, not only physically, but also emotionally.”
“Having a personal preparedness plan increases your chances of staying safe,” according to a training program from the Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.
Jolted awake by a neighbor’s urgent knocking, Aaron and Jacqueline Pate were horrified to see the encroaching flames of the fast-moving Woolsey fire that had been miles away when they went to bed. It burned to within 100 feet of their Westlake Village home in 2018 as part of California’s deadliest wildfire season on record.
"Because we had go bags, we weren’t running around trying to pack things at the last minute,” said Jacqueline Pate. “We had the time we needed to comfort our kids and get everyone safely into the car.”
The Pates credited the disaster-preparedness help they received as Jehovah’s Witnesses, both through periodic reminders at their congregation meetings and from tips for putting together go bags on the organization’s website, www.jw.org.
"Life is precious, so we encourage all to heed the Bible’s advice to take practical steps to protect ourselves from danger,” said Robert Hendriks III, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States.
Go bags also have proven useful in the opposite circumstances as “stay bags.” Disaster-preparedness suggestions and tips for putting together a go bag are available from FEMA at ready.gov and from Jehovah’s Witnesses at http://www.jw.org/en/library/magazines/awake-no5-2017-october/disaster-steps-that-can-save-lives/