A jump bag, go bag, or grab bag is simply a duffle or gym bag that is packed with necessary items that we may need in case of a long incident or weather emergency. The bag can be stored either in our vehicles or close to the front door of our homes. There is no set standard for the items we place in the bag just be sure to pack accordingly for the weather season at the time.
Here are 5 must have items.
#1 – Undergarments (Socks, T-shirts, & Underwear)
It’s a given that we are going to get wet. One of the worst things we can do as firefighters is failing to take care of our feet. Having wet feet during the warmer months is not too concerning but having wet cold feet during the winter can cause hypothermia and just downright misery on the fireground. Our socks can be easily changed during rehabilitation.
As for our other undergarments, they are for extended operations. Changing these articles of clothing may seem like a waste of time but it will keep us in the game a little while longer and most importantly more comfortable.
#2 – Water
Hydration is the key to performing longer on the fireground. A few bottles of water will go a long way to ensure that we have access to fluids to replenish ourselves quickly without having to walk to the rehab area. In the summer seasons having a cooler on the apparatus will keep the water cold and fresh.
#3 – Granola/Protein Bars
Long incidents and weather standbys are going to happen. Having a little granola bar or protein bar to help hold off the hunger until further libations arrive will come in handy. Just like the candy bar commercial states, no one wants to deal with a diva.
#4 – Spare Cell Phone Charger
This item is crucial for communications. In today’s fire service everyone carries a cell phone with them and keeps it either in their pockets or on the rig. For that one time that you need to communicate with loved ones while you have down time operating at a scene, that’s when your battery will be dead!
#5 – Baby Wipes & Hand Sanitizer
It may seem funny to include these items in the jump bag but, trust me, you will be glad you packed them. There will be a time when nature calls and it’s usually at the most inconvenient time. If you fail to pack the wipes you will be glad you packed extra socks!
The hand sanitizer has become a convenient way to cleanse our hands and skin until we can properly wash up. This becomes even more important when dealing with EMS calls. The best way to keep the bottle from leaking all over your stuff is to store the bottle in a zip-lock bag.
These are just a few of the items I pack in my jump bag. Tell me what’s in your bag. I look forward to hearing your suggestions.
Photos courtesy of J. Dixon.