The UK Government Launches Preparedness Website: A Step in the Right Direction

Homes should be self-sufficient in case of events such as floods, power outages, cyber attacks or war

For over two decades, EVAQ8 has been at the forefront of emergency preparedness, diligently advising citizens on the importance of being ready for unforeseen events. We are pleased to see that the UK government has now taken a significant step in the same direction with the launch of their new preparedness website, Prepare Campaign Gov UK.

A Long-Overdue Initiative

The launch of the government’s preparedness website marks a pivotal moment in public safety. For many years, the need for such a resource has been evident, and its arrival is a positive development. The website provides essential guidance on stocking emergency items, creating emergency plans, and understanding the risks that could affect different parts of the UK. This initiative is a clear recognition of the importance of preparedness, something EVAQ8 has been passionately promoting since our inception in 2005.

What the Government’s Website Offers

The new preparedness website offers a comprehensive overview of how to prepare for emergencies, including:

  1. Stocking Emergency Items: The website provides a detailed list of items that every household should have on hand. This includes food, water, medications, first aid supplies, and other essential items.
  2. Creating a Plan: Instructions on how to create a family emergency plan, including how to communicate during an emergency and where to meet if you get separated.
  3. Understanding Risks: Information on the different types of emergencies that could occur, from natural disasters like floods and storms to other risks such as pandemics and power outages.

EVAQ8’s Longstanding Commitment

At EVAQ8, we have been advocating for these same principles for over 20 years. Our mission has always been to equip individuals, families and businesses with the knowledge and tools they need to stay safe during emergencies. We have consistently provided high-quality emergency supplies and expert advice, helping thousands of customers to prepare effectively.

We understand that preparing for emergencies can be daunting, and that’s why our team is dedicated to making the process as straightforward as possible. From ready-made emergency kits to bespoke solutions tailored to your specific needs, EVAQ8 has everything you need to be prepared.

Why Prepare?

Emergencies can happen anytime, and the best way to mitigate their impact is to be prepared. Being ready not only helps ensure your safety but also contributes to the overall resilience of your community. By having emergency supplies on hand and a solid plan in place, you can navigate through crises with greater confidence and stability.

Join Us in Staying Prepared

We encourage everyone to visit the new government preparedness website and take the advice to heart. At the same time, we invite you to explore the resources available at EVAQ8. Our website offers a wide range of products and information designed to help you stay prepared for any emergency.

As the UK government finally aligns its advice with what we’ve been advocating for years, there’s no better time to get prepared. Together, we can create a safer and more resilient community.

For more information on emergency preparedness and to browse our extensive range of emergency supplies, visit EVAQ8. Let’s be ready, together.

Stay safe and stay prepared!

The EVAQ8 Team

72-Hour Emergency Food Kit – Just Add Boiling Water

The Crucial Role of Emergency Grab Bags in Enhancing Venue Security: A Necessity in the Wake of Martyn’s Law

In the aftermath of the tragic 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, the United Kingdom has seen a pivotal shift towards bolstering public safety at venues across the nation. Martyn’s Law, a proposed legislative measure named in memory of Martyn Hett, one of the victims, is at the forefront of this transformation. It underscores the urgent need for venues to have comprehensive security plans, including the implementation of emergency grab bags. These bags are not just an additional safety measure but a fundamental component in ensuring a swift and efficient response in the face of unforeseen threats.

Emergency grab bags are designed to contain essential items that can aid venue staff and emergency responders during a crisis. Typically, these bags include first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, emergency contact lists, and basic survival items. However, their contents can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a venue, taking into account its size, capacity, and the nature of events hosted. The presence of these grab bags is a testament to a venue’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its patrons, enabling a rapid response that could potentially save lives.

The importance of these emergency resources cannot be overstated, especially in scenarios where every second counts. In the chaos that follows a security incident, accessing neatly organized, readily available emergency supplies can make a significant difference in managing the situation effectively. For instance, in the event of a lockdown or evacuation, staff equipped with grab bags can provide immediate assistance, manage crowds, and facilitate communication with emergency services, thereby minimizing panic and confusion among attendees.

Moreover, the incorporation of emergency grab bags into venue security protocols aligns with the broader objectives of Martyn’s Law, which advocates for meticulous preparedness and resilience against terrorist threats. By mandating venues to prepare and maintain these bags, the law emphasizes a proactive approach to security, encouraging venues to anticipate and mitigate risks before they escalate into full-blown crises.

In essence, emergency grab bags symbolize a critical layer of defense in the complex matrix of venue security. Their strategic placement and regular maintenance reflect a venue’s dedication to upholding the highest safety standards, in compliance with Martyn’s Law. It is a clear message that the safety of patrons and staff is not just a regulatory requirement but a moral imperative.

As the UK continues to navigate the challenges of public safety in an ever-evolving threat landscape, the adoption of emergency grab bags by venues is a practical, effective measure that resonates with the spirit of Martyn’s Law. It is a step towards creating safer spaces for everyone, ensuring that joy, entertainment, and community can thrive without being overshadowed by the fear of what might happen in the absence of preparedness. In honoring the legacy of Martyn Hett and all those affected by such tragedies, the implementation of emergency grab bags stands as a beacon of hope and resilience, a testament to the collective commitment to never let terror dictate the terms of our public life.

EVAQ8 produce a range of emergency grab bags, from the standard emergency grab bag for business to the 2 specific examples below; The Mass Casualty First Aid Kit and the Site Evacuation Kit,

Mass Casualty First Aid Kit for Bomb Blasts
Site Evacuation Kit 100 Persons

Freeze-Dried Food as a Backup in Data Centers and Essential Workplaces

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, data centers and essential workplaces (think power generation, water treatment plants, hospitals and healthcare facilities, fire stations) have become the backbone of our daily operations, whether it’s in the realms of communication, finance, health, or security. However, what happens when unforeseen circumstances, like natural disasters or pandemics, strike and disrupt the supply chain? This is where the strategic stocking of freeze-dried food comes into play, offering a reliable solution for maintaining operational continuity in critical environments.

What is Freeze-Dried Food?

Freeze-dried food is a form of dehydrated food where moisture is removed through a freezing process, leaving the food lightweight and with a significantly extended shelf life. It retains most of the original taste, nutrition, and texture of the food. This technology has been widely used in space missions and military operations, but its benefits are equally valuable in civilian sectors like data centers and essential workplaces.

Key Benefits of Freeze-Dried Food in Critical Work Environments

1. Long Shelf Life and Low Maintenance

Freeze-dried foods can last up to 25 years or more when properly stored. This long shelf life eliminates the need for frequent replacement, making it an ideal emergency food supply. They are also impervious to changes in temperature and humidity, making them suitable for storage in various environments.

2. Nutritional Integrity

In emergency situations, maintaining the health and well-being of the staff is paramount. Freeze-dried foods retain most of their nutritional value, providing essential vitamins and minerals necessary for maintaining energy levels and cognitive function during stressful situations.

3. Easy Preparation

During emergencies, access to cooking facilities might be limited. Freeze-dried foods are easy to prepare, often requiring just the addition of hot water. This ease of preparation ensures that staff can have a hot, comforting meal without the need for extensive cooking facilities.

4. Space Efficiency

In environments like data centers where space is at a premium, the compact nature of freeze-dried food is a significant advantage. They take up minimal space, making them easy to store in large quantities without compromising the operational area.

5. Diverse Options

Freeze-dried foods come in a variety of options, from full meals to fruits, vegetables, and desserts. This variety ensures that dietary preferences and restrictions can be accommodated, which is crucial for maintaining morale and inclusivity among staff during extended stays.

Implementing a Freeze-Dried Food Strategy

Assessing Needs and Capacity

The first step is to assess the potential duration of emergencies and the number of staff that might need to be supported. This assessment will guide the quantity and variety of freeze-dried food required.

Storage and Accessibility

Identify secure, but accessible, areas within the workplace for storing the freeze-dried food. Ensure that these areas are known to all staff and easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Regular Review and Rotation

While freeze-dried foods have a long shelf life, it’s important to periodically check their condition and rotate stock if necessary. Regular training and drills should include the process of preparing and accessing these emergency food supplies.

Employee Training

Educate employees on the importance of emergency preparedness, including how to access and prepare freeze-dried foods. This training can be part of broader emergency response training.


In conclusion, incorporating freeze-dried food into the emergency preparedness strategy of data centers and essential workplaces is not just a matter of convenience, but a critical step in ensuring resilience and continuity of operations. By preparing for the worst, we can ensure that our most critical infrastructures remain operational, no matter the circumstances, safeguarding the data and services that form the backbone of our modern society.

A box of jumbo-sized freeze dried food tins, just in case. See all Emergency Food Kits

Winter Car Kits: Your Essential Companion for Safe and Prepared Journeys in 2024

As the frosty fingers of winter extend across the UK, ensuring you are well-equipped for potential challenges on the road becomes paramount. In 2023, with unpredictable weather patterns and increasingly busy lifestyles, the importance of a comprehensive winter car kit has never been more significant. In this blog, we delve into what a winter car kit is and why every vehicle owner in the UK should consider having one.

What is a Winter Car Kit?

A winter car kit is a collection of essential items designed to aid drivers during the cold and often unpredictable winter months. This kit is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for safety and preparedness. With the ever-changing UK weather, ranging from icy roads to sudden snowfalls, a well-stocked winter car kit can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a perilous situation.

Essential Components of a Winter Car Kit in 2023/4

1. Ice Scraper and De-icer: A basic yet crucial tool. Ice scrapers and de-icer sprays are indispensable for maintaining visibility. With the UK’s frosty mornings, these tools help you clear your windshield and windows quickly and effectively.

2. Torch and Batteries: Power outages or night-time breakdowns are always a possibility. A durable torch, preferably LED for longer life, along with a spare set of batteries, can be a lifesaver.

3. Warm Clothing and Blankets: The UK’s winter can be unforgiving. Extra warm clothing, gloves, and blankets are essential, especially if you find yourself stranded or waiting for assistance.

4. First Aid Kit: Always useful in any situation, a well-stocked first aid kit is a must-have in your winter car kit.

5. Roadside Assistance Information: Ensure you have contact details for your roadside assistance provider. In 2023, many providers offer apps that can also be useful in emergencies.

6. Portable Phone Charger: With our reliance on smartphones for navigation and communication, a portable charger is crucial, particularly in cold weather which can drain battery life faster.

7. Non-perishable Snacks and Water: These are vital, particularly if you’re stuck for a prolonged period. High-energy snacks and bottled water can make a significant difference.

8. Shovel: A compact, foldable shovel can be a great asset if your vehicle gets stuck in snow.

9. Antifreeze: Keep your engine running smoothly with a supply of antifreeze, a necessity in freezing temperatures.

10. Traction Aids: Consider carrying sand, cat litter, or traction mats to help if your car becomes stuck in snow or ice.

Why You Need a Winter Car Kit in the UK

The UK’s winter weather can be unpredictable and often severe. Having a winter car kit ensures that you are prepared for any eventuality, from breakdowns to being stranded due to weather conditions. It’s not just about comfort; it’s about safety. Being prepared can reduce the risk of accidents and help you cope effectively if you encounter problems.

Updating Your Kit for the 2023/24 Season

Technology and products evolve, so updating your winter car kit is important. Check the expiry dates on any perishable items, replace used or outdated items, and consider the latest gadgets that can make your winter journey safer and more comfortable.


As we navigate the winter of 2023/24, let’s do so with safety and preparedness at the forefront. A well-prepared winter car kit is an investment in your well-being and peace of mind. It ensures that no matter what the UK winter throws your way, you are ready to face it head-on. Remember, it’s not just about having the kit; it’s about regularly checking and updating it to ensure everything is in working order. Stay safe and prepared this winter!

For more information and ideas on preparing for winter or to stock up on your winter car kit essentials. Stay ahead of the winter curve in 2024!

Winter Car Kit includes tools, long-life food and drink, as well as items for sheltering and warmth and

Winter breakdown kit for vans, SUVs and light commercial vehicles

World First Aid Day

Empowering Communities One Bandage at a Time

Every year on September 9th, World First Aid Day brings together individuals, communities, and organizations from around the globe to promote the importance of first aid education. Initiated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the day aims to make first aid accessible to all, empowering individuals to act promptly and efficiently in emergency situations. Let’s delve into the significance of this global observance, why first aid education is vital, and how you can get involved.

The Importance of First Aid: More Than Just a Skill

First aid is a set of simple yet effective life-saving techniques that can be administered by a layperson before professional medical assistance arrives. Knowing first aid is not merely a “nice-to-have” skill; it can make the difference between life and death, and it fosters a community that looks out for its own. It is especially vital in critical injuries, where timing is crucial. Adhering to recognized standards like the British Standard BS 8599-1:2019 ensures that first aiders are well-equipped and well-prepared to handle emergencies effectively.

Objectives of World First Aid Day

  1. Educational Awareness: The day seeks to educate the public about the importance of first aid training, as well as the basic techniques that everyone should know.
  2. Community Building: By organizing communal events, workshops, and educational programs, World First Aid Day aims to bring communities together to learn and share experiences.
  3. Highlighting Innovation: As technology and medical science advance, new methods and tools become available for first aid. World First Aid Day serves as a platform to showcase these innovations.
  4. Global Collaboration: The day is an opportunity for nations to share best practices and collaborate on educational resources.

Why is First Aid Education Vital?

Life-Saving Measures

Injuries and accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. The immediate actions taken within the first few minutes can often determine the extent of recovery. For example, applying a tourniquet correctly can prevent excessive blood loss in a critical injury, while knowing the Heimlich maneuver can save someone from choking.

Psychological Comfort

First aid isn’t just about physical intervention; it’s also about providing emotional support and comfort to the injured. This psychological aspect can have a significant impact on recovery.

Community Empowerment

Empowered individuals create empowered communities. When everyone knows basic first aid, the community as a whole becomes more resilient, better prepared for emergencies, and safer for all its members.

How You Can Get Involved

  1. Educate Yourself and Others: Take a first aid course, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  2. Organize or Attend Events: Look out for community workshops, webinars, or training sessions and make it a communal learning experience.
  3. Spread the Word: Use your social media platforms to spread awareness about the importance of first aid.
  4. Support Nonprofits: Many organizations offer free first aid training to communities. Financial or volunteer support to such organizations can make a real difference.
  5. Equip Your Home and Workplace: Invest in a quality first aid kit that adheres to recognized standards. Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.


World First Aid Day provides a golden opportunity for us to pause and recognize the importance of being prepared for medical emergencies. While we all hope never to find ourselves in such a situation, the truth is that accidents and emergencies are unpredictable. By promoting first aid awareness and education, this special day plays an invaluable role in saving lives and building stronger, more resilient communities. This September 9th, let’s pledge to make first aid a life skill that we all possess.

UK Critical Injury Kits: Understanding the Updated BS 8599-1:2019 Guidelines

The British Standards Institution (BSI) periodically reviews and updates its guidelines to ensure they continue to meet the changing requirements of society and technology. The BS 8599-1:2019 standard is the latest version of these guidelines, specifically designed for Workplace First Aid Kits including critical injury kits. This blog post aims to provide an overview of what the updated standard means for critical injury kits in the United Kingdom.

The Importance of British Standards

British Standards, including BS 8599-1, serve as guidelines to ensure that products meet minimum safety, reliability, and quality criteria. These standards are essential for consistency, ensuring that whether you’re at work, at a public event, or in an educational institution, you can expect a certain level of care and effectiveness from your first aid kit.

Changes Introduced in BS 8599-1:2019

The 2019 update to BS 8599-1 made several key changes to the contents and recommendations for workplace first aid kits, including those specifically designed for critical injuries. The changes were designed to meet the emerging needs of modern workplaces, which may involve newer types of risks compared to the past.

Key Components for Critical Injury Kits under BS 8599-1:2019

Critical injury kits, as defined by this standard, should contain specialized items that are geared towards dealing with life-threatening injuries. Some of these include:

  • Tourniquets: Important for controlling massive bleeding from limb injuries.
  • Chest Seals: To manage penetrating chest injuries.
  • Haemostatic Dressings: These dressings contain agents that promote rapid blood clotting.
  • Burn Dressings: Specifically formulated for more severe burn injuries.
  • Adhesive Tape: For securing dressings and other medical devices.
  • Resuscitation Face Shields: To aid in CPR procedures.
  • Trauma Dressings: For heavy-duty wound dressing needs.
  • Nitrile Gloves: For the first-aider to use, reducing the risk of bloodborne diseases.

Why Adherence to Updated Standards is Vital

  1. Comprehensive Care: The updated guidelines aim to ensure that the critical injury kits are equipped to handle a wider range of life-threatening scenarios, from severe bleeding to burns.
  2. Legal Compliance: Businesses and organizations are expected to comply with the latest standards to fulfill their obligation to ensure employee safety.
  3. Quality Assurance: Adhering to BS 8599-1:2019 ensures that each component of the kit meets rigorous quality and safety checks.
  4. Updated Based on Research: The new standard considers the latest medical research and practices, ensuring that the kits are as effective as possible.

Applications and Contexts

The critical injury kits based on BS 8599-1:2019 are ideal for a variety of settings:

  • Industrial Workplaces: Factories, construction sites, and other high-risk environments.
  • Educational Institutions: Schools and colleges where lab work or physical education activities take place.
  • Outdoor Activities: Camping, hiking, and sporting events.
  • Public Events: Concerts, festivals, and large gatherings where the risk of injury is higher.


BS 8599-1:2019 provides an updated, comprehensive guide for assembling a critical injury first aid kit that meets the complex needs of today’s workplaces and public spaces. By adhering to these standards, organizations can ensure they are well-prepared to offer immediate, effective care in life-threatening emergency situations, thereby potentially saving lives. Always remember that having a well-stocked, up-to-date critical injury kit is not just a box to tick off for compliance but a vital resource for safety and well-being.

LINKS: The latest from UK Police Force regarding First Aid Preparedness

Public Access Trauma First Aid Kits from ProtectUK Police

Trauma First Aid Kit for Forestry and other high-risk environments

Fire Warden/Marshal Grab Bags: A Necessity for Safety and Compliance

Fire wardens and marshals play an indispensable role in ensuring the safety and security of premises and their occupants. With the evolving guidelines and recommendations for fire safety, the UK mandates businesses and organisations to have in place an effective Fire Emergency Plan. Central to this is the accessibility and quality of Fire Warden/Marshal Grab Bags.

Mandatory Provisions for Fire Safety in the UK

All UK establishments, from schools to businesses, should adhere to the guidelines laid out for fire safety. This includes:

  • Developing and regularly updating a Fire Emergency Plan.
  • Ensuring the availability of Fire Warden/Marshal Grab Bags in key locations, stocked with essential tools and information.
  • Making sure that designated fire wardens or marshals are trained and aware of their responsibilities, including the use of the Grab Bag.

Understanding the Contents: Official Guidance vs. Our Fire Warden/Marshal Grab Bags

To provide a clearer understanding, below is a side-by-side comparison of the latest official fire safety guidance, a representative Fire Emergency Plan, and our offered Fire Warden/Marshal Grab Bags. We invite you to peruse the comparison image to ensure your establishment is not only compliant but also exceptionally prepared.

There are several additional items suggested in official guidelines that aren’t strictly mandatory.

Beyond the Minimum: Excellence in Fire Safety Preparedness

While the official guidelines detail the basic requirements, we understand the value of going above and beyond.

Why settle for the basics when fire safety is paramount? Our Fire Warden/Marshal Grab Bags are designed to be fully customisable. Whether you’re looking for a mobile response bag or an in-place fire emergency resource kit, we’ve got you covered. And if you need advice? Our seasoned and informed team is on hand to guide you. Browse through our Fire Safety section for both standard and bespoke kits.

The Importance of Comprehensive Fire Emergency Plans

Starting with a template might seem convenient, but it could leave dangerous gaps in your safety strategy. A poorly constructed fire plan might even expose responsible individuals to legal repercussions. This underlines the importance of having a meticulously crafted, custom Fire Emergency Plan for your establishment.

In the realm of fire safety, the motto is clear: Better Safe Than Sorry! Let’s work towards building a safer environment for everyone.


Please note: The availability and specifications of products may vary due to supplier changes.

Fire marshal supplies

The Grab Bag Debate: just how effective are Go Bags and Emergency Kits?

The short answer is: that depends on exactly what you mean by ‘effective’ and whether or not you differentiate Go Bags / Grab bags (evacuation) and disaster/emergency preparedness kits (shelter-in-place) – hint: you’ll want both, see why. But that answer is neither satisfying nor fun so let’s get stuck in just a little deeper for it’s actually a very good question and one I love to explore.

Welcome to this ‘special edition’ blog post for the 5th anniversary of the #30days30waysUK ‘September is Preparedness Month’ campaign.

Today is day 8 and yes, you’ve guessed it – the topic is Grab Bag! 🙂


So,  after this teaser visual ‘Grab Bags around the world’, let’s get right into the thick of the arguments with a quick summary of some of the most often discussed contentions:


Grab Bag – it’s a myth 

Nay-sayers tend to put forward any or all of the following handful of main critiques when debating the effectiveness of grab bags (72 hours or otherwise):

  1. 72 hour grab bags are outdated, ‘dinosaurish’, a remnant from the cold war days, especially in resource-rich environments (such as the UK)
  2. no consensus, range from 72 hour to 2 weeks self-sufficiency, items disputed
  3. inapplicable or out of reach for the most vulnerable in society
  4. no scientific evidence that grab bags / disaster kits save lives
  5. a bad metric to measure actual personal or household preparedness

… so let’s take a closer look at these in turn.

Grab Bag – it’s a reality

The United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 advocates an inclusive, all-of-society approach that recognises the importance of engagement in preparedness activities at all levels.

Household preparedness is one of the most fundamental components and a typical recommendation is for self-sufficiency during and after a disaster for at least three days. This varies, however, depending not only on where in the world you are but also your specific circumstances.

In an emergency or disaster, what usually is a ‘resource-rich’ environment may suffer quite badly quite quickly and response times of the emergency services may lag – sometimes considerably. Now what exactly ‘resource rich’ means also varies tremendously. Are we talking people as resources and/or ‘stuff’ as resources? For example, in the context of access to food, are we talking towns that have lots of shops full of produce or a rural village where food can be picked from the ground or bushes? Both may be impacted substantially in a major flood, extensive fires, earthquakes or severe storms.

Hawaii recently recognised this much more fully, recommending its population to aim for 2 weeks self-sufficiency:


Just as it is, in my view, nonsensical to assign a ‘standard’ time frame for a Grab Bag, Emergency Kit, Disaster Preparedness Kit, Emergency Preparedness Kit or simply Ready Kit as the varied terminology goes, so it makes little sense to try and standardise exact contents. People have different individual needs and preferences that are highly context dependent and change over time. Rather, it would make sense to perhaps look at ‘core areas’ that kit contents should cover. Somewhat tongue in cheek I’ve written about this earlier, I suggested five grab bag items categories, namely food & food preparation (which includes water purification), tools & personal protective items, shelter and warmth, light and communication, first aid and hygiene (more on this in a minute).

So, to refute myth 1 & 2: Grab Bags are neither ‘dinausaurish’ nor confusing. Quite the contrary: there is current international recognition for household preparedness and a ‘lack of  standards’ is a strength, able to accommodate local and personal needs that change over time.

Myth 3 on ‘out of reach of the most vulnerable’ in a UK context may apply to the extremely marginalised or those with special needs. Thankfully here, there are priority registers yet challenges undoubtedly remain (see ‘food for thought’ at the very end).

Preparing a grab bag / emergency supplies does incur some costs yet should be achievable even at minimal budget. Again, it is context dependent and highly personal. In the event of a sudden evacuation, UK authorities will provide basic shelter arrangements. Community resilience can be strong as recent events in Whaley Bridge show: many of the 1000+ evacuees were taken in by friends or family, found alternatives themselves while 40 people were comfortably accommodated (local news, Buxton Advertisier)  Clearly a Grab Bag for a High Peak resident looks different than in other parts of the world or indeed the UK.

As to lack of scientific evidence, it is true: quality studies providing empirical evidence are super hard to come by (if you find one let me know!).

How do we prove that grab bags save lives?

Correlation is not causation, yet absence of evidence is also not evidence of absence. There is a lot of ‘anecdotal evidence’, like the blog series here on the Yorkshire Model in a community preparedness/resilience context, captured in after-action reports of emergency managers and even in a recent USAID article where a woman during the deadly Nepal earthquake used a grab bag and discusses how the items helped her family survive (see above).

Grab Bags as a bad metric to ‘measure’ preparedness? Well, it’s been done and that’s lazy science because one thing is for certain: having a Grab Bag does not simply equate preparedness in and of itself, especially if you bought a ready-made one and did not personalise it. Personal preparedness is NOT a quick tick box exercise.

However, having a Grab Bag is a good INDICATOR of personal preparedness – one amongst many others (such as always having ½ tank gas/battery in your car, knowing how to shut off your utilities, have working fire alarms etc). Interesting would be to understand what people chose to put into their Grab Bags. Very few studies tackle this but back in 2013 Northamptonshire did a survey:  7.2% of 755 respondents had a Grab Bag which contained a variety of items. If I now break their findings down into the earlier suggested categories, overall this would look like this:

Food and Food Preparation: food (non-specified), chocolate, glucose sweets, cooking equipment, matches, mini gas stove, pet food, water

Tools & personal protective items: torch, spare keys, phone charger, power leads, batteries, toolkit, paper & pencil, maps, penknife, spare mobile phone,

Shelter and warmth: blankets, thermal blankets, sleeping bag, spare clothes

Light and communication: torch, tea lights, photos, copies of insurance & other important documents, emergency plan copy, contacts list

First aid and hygiene: medication, antiseptic cream, bandages, toiletries

Depending where you are the in the world, some Grab Bag categories may be more relevant than others. For example Singapore’s guidelines for a ‘Ready Bag’ only include food and water as optional yet recommend whistles and a N95 face mask as essential items. Indeed, worldwide there exist over 70 different recommended items lists, and counting!

Knowing whether or not Grab Bags exist in a geographical area with what categories of contents begins to provide deeper insight into household preparedness capabilities and capacities, a lack suggesting potential vulnerabilities and perhaps a need for better emergency risk communication.

So, Grab Bag effectiveness –  myth or reality?

I think, and the resources quoted bear me out, there is a very strong case for the effectiveness of Grab Bags, not least of all as a conversation starter to preparedness planning and action whether for 72 hours or two weeks personal preparedness or inspiring communities to resilience.

Which leaves me asking: do you have a Grab Bag? If so, what’s in it? If not, why don’t you have one? Follow today’s conversations and tips across social media under #30days30waysUK and explore for yourself.  Don’t miss day 20 ‘September is Preparedness Month’ 2019 which will further explore ‘Shelter-in-Place’ and will reveal an exciting surprise.



published 8/9/2019

edited 27Jan2020 to add example: EU handing over Grab Bags to Fiji Emergency Planners


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Brexit, personal preparedness and why being sensible actually rules the day

This post was originally published 15 January 2019 (re-instated here after a major site upgrade)

Brexit, personal preparedness and why being sensible actually rules the day … and that’s despite considerable media efforts to the contrary. Hello and welcome to another preparedness blog after a long period of quiet. I’ve been repeatedly asked to comment on Brexit and personal preparedness, e.g. this recent exchange on twitter

Now, official guidance on personal preparedness has not exactly been forthcoming.

This is a shame and a hugely missed opportunity, one that’s all too easily filled by those willing to exploit the fear and confusion of people such as Lynda, 61 from near Wakefield, quoted by the BBC as saying

“I’m not worried about Brexit, I’m worried about the aftermath”

In yesterday’s article titled Hundreds stock up over food supply fears. A few hours later, to my dismay, this was surpassed by the Guardian upping the ante with I don’t trust the government to look after me and my dog.

Such headlines are but the tip of a highly visible iceberg of months and months worth of articles, blogs, twitter and facebook feeds about Brexit and stockpiling – one gigantic project fear! Once again, as I’ve discussed in the Shelter-in-Place post back in 2016 written as a contribution for the #30days30waysUK campaign, the media hypes the issue without bothering to really look deeper or wider.

Yes, there may be hundreds (according to the BBC) or just a few (as reported in the Guardian) amongst a UK population of nearly 67 million people who are ‘prepping’ and good on them to have a few extra food and medical supplies they absolutely cannot live without for a certain amount of time.

From a personal preparedness point of view, Brexit is hardly on par with a disaster such as major and widespread flooding, an earthquake or an industrial accident which may paralyse or wipe out crucial infrastructure and systems.

I’m thoroughly disappointed once again in how approaches to better personal preparedness are being (mis-) represented, adding to the confusion rather than ameliorating it .

At least the BBC made one attempt at balance by speaking to Prof Tim Benton, an expert in food systems from the University of Leeds, who said he did

not foresee the UK running out of food but believed there could be “situations where we cannot reliably get what we expect to see on the shelves on a daily basis“.

I’ve added emphasis there because in my view this is exactly where the crux of the matter lies: it’s all about expectations.

What exactly is it that we are expecting here with Brexit? What are your assumptions? Just what are you personally preparing for and how?

Yes, there will be some delays and potentially shortages in certain areas for some time but the UK is certainly nowhere near facing a doomsday scenario. Yet, media interest is intense, so much so that for months, EVAQ8 have received continuous enquires from as far as Japan and Denmark, for example this TV2 clip (from 0:45 – yes they had a somewhat increased interest in long-shelf life nutrition products in the greater scheme of things) aired in November.

That’s why EVAQ8 keeps reiterating, e.g:

So, you may have seen this breaking news story that the UK Government is to tell citizens to start preparing for no-deal…

Posted by EVAQ8 on Tuesday, 18 December 2018


If you feel you must stockpile – whatever exactly that looks like and means to you personally and please (!!) assess your situation rather than jumping on a hyped bandwagon – then take a good look at blog Modern Emergency Food Storage especially if you are short of storage space and explore some of the links from there.

Personally, for many years and irrespective of where I live, a well stocked pantry is simply part of every-day life and not because I was brought up in Switzerland with a ‘bunker’ in the basement and lived in Egypt for many years almost entirely off grid.

If push came to shove, my family here in the UK (including a fussy cat) could probably live off what’s in the cupboard and freezer for about six weeks and that is just normal, irrespective of Brexit. Add to that some self-heating food and a tin or two of long-shelf life nutrition as well as a few other choice ‘prepper’ items if that’s what you want to call a comprehensive first aid kit with additional meds, some water purification products, sleeping bags (we camp) and head torches on top of our GoBags. Interesting then will be the dinner conversations, especially when everyone starts missing their favourite foods and treats; in the UK, we are all so very spoilt for choice often without fully realising it.

What do I expect? Personally, I expect change, to explore some products new to me rather than relying on what I regularly buy in the shops. What I do NOT expect is finding empty shelves for extended periods of time, nor massive power outages, nor drinking water issues, nor civil unrest… especially if everyone, including the media, can stop obsessing and the government steps up with much better public Emergency Risk Communication.


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Emergency Preparedness matters: heatwave, fire, storm and flooding – summer 2018

It’s been an amazing summer 2018, one that in the UK has been compared to the previous record-setting heatwave in 1976 such as in this BBC article . No matter how you draw the comparison (and the article has some interesting graphs) one change in the intervening 42 years is certain: global average temperatures have risen and this is set to continue.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense. They trigger serious air pollution alerts and are dangerous to human health. I’m not looking forward to this year’s figures being released but in the 2003 pan-European heatwave there were over 2000 excessive deaths in the UK alone as also mentioned in our UK preparedness awareness video. Public Health England has a useful blog on why some people suffer during heatwaves.    

Heatwaves also connect to fires and this year has been bad all around, terrifyingly illustrated in Wildfires around the world: the photos that explain the flames.

The UK also suffered massively and prevention is more than a fire service issue, research showing that informal local and national  partnerships are key.

Again, it’s about building capabilities and capacities at community and personal level and that starts with being cued in about personal fire safety preparedness. The heat eventually breaks with thunderstorms and torrential rain leading to localised flooding. This year, flooding in Europe was again common and with devastating consequences. A few examples illustrate the danger and devastation from France and my native Switzerland:

Luckily, so far the UK has gotten off relatively lightly – but then we’re only just about half way through August. The exception here is Northern Ireland. Read the next tweet slowly and let that number sink in, for it can happen anywhere with little or no warning

Thankfully, a flood relief scheme was activated for domestic properties but may not reach all affected. Small business are typically not covered either. This is why personal preparedness and insurance are so important. Most people are not adequately covered nor know enough about preparedness.And it is of course at this point I plug our emergency preparedness hub which links to lots of relevant and useful resources for you to check out. Also thankfully and as of 1st July 2018, the Met Office now issues official thunderstorm warnings, a first in its 164 year history! 

Brilliant! Early warning is key of course so make sure you are #weatheraware and tune in regularly. Another excellent way to do this is via the Met Office weather app. In addition you need a low-tech backup such as a trusty wind-up radio which should be standard kit in your emergency grab bag.  Want to know and do more? Then don’t miss this year’s September is Preparedness Month #30days30waysUK campaign.

Have a brilliant rest of August!


If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.

thank you for sharing!

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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