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To Make A Go-Bag On The Cheap, Start At The 99 Cents Store

Some signature items to keep in mind when preparing a "go-bag." (Lori Galarreta)
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By now you know that everyday is fire season. To prepare for a speedy getaway, urban survivalist Christopher Nyerges suggests making a list of things you'll need. He's been teaching preparedness in Los Angeles for 40 years and recommends that before you start buying gear for a "go bag" to check around your house. "You'd be surprised what you have in your garage or your kitchen drawers," he told us.

Here are some staples of many go-bags, that you might already have:

  • Water
  • Food
  • First-aid kit
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Clothes
  • Towel
  • Matches/lighter
  • Blanket
  • Batteries
  • Phone charger
  • Pocket knife
  • Toothbrush
  • Duct tape

(Also pack money, keys, phone numbers, medication, eyeglasses and insurance papers. Also also, are you traveling with pets or kids? Take that into account, too.)

For a budget-friendly approach to preparedness, Nyerges took us to the 99 Cents Only Store to find some go-bag goods on the cheap. But, he emphasized, "your skills and your experience are far more important than all the stuff in the world."

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First thing on the Nyerges stuff list: fire starters, like lighters. And, "when the butane is over and if you don't throw the thing away you can [use the spark to] ignite some dry tinder with the lighter."

You also need light. The 99 Cents Only store has cheap LED flashlights. Pack at least one. Two (or more) is better. If you don't want to worry about batteries, there's always hand crank flashlights (but not currently available at the 99 Cents Only Store).

"Here's something you absolutely need: toilet paper. You need at least one roll," said Nyerges. And hand wipes. "You definitely want hygiene material," he added.

But the real holy grail of any pack is duct tape. "I don't know what you'll need it for, but you will need it," said Nyergest. Duct tape is versatile, as is cord or rope. Get that too. Do you want to tie together a makeshift shelter? You will need it.

Depending on the material, you might also be able to buy some type of metal bowl for warming water and food. As for what to put in said bowl, "I know people will disagree with me on this but ... cup of soup," he said. ""For a dollar, you can feed two or three people."

And, just a reminder, this is but one survivalist's general suggestion list for budget preparedness. Cal Fire also has a list, and your needs may vary.

Editor's note: A version of this story also on the radio. Listen to it here on KPCC's Take Two.

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