How to Build a Get Home Bag for CBRN Disasters
What would it take to get home safe?
More and more Americans are acknowledging the genuine threat of nuclear war, chemical attacks, and after 2020, another dangerous pandemic. But how would you react if you were at work or away from home as an urgent disaster unfolded? In order to get back to your family safely, you'd need a few different resources, all of which can be contained in what we like to call a "get home bag."
And for your get home bag to meet the demands of a nuclear, biological, or chemical disaster, it must include very specific gear. Only the appropriately rated PPE can protect your airway, eyes, and even your skin from a world of potential threats.
You'll also have to consider decontamination when you finally make it home. There’s no point in traipsing home through a chemical spill just to bring it through the front door of your home, putting everyone you love at risk.
Luckily, building a get home bag is simple, and today we'll show you how to do it. Then we take a look at four unique scenarios and recommend the CBRN gear you need in your get home bag to deal with that scenario.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Get Home Plan
Get Home Bag Loadouts for CBRN Scenarios/Disasters
Scenario 1: Riots or Civil Unrest
Scenario 2: Chemical spill or burning fumes
Scenario 3: Nuclear Disaster or Attack
Scenario 4. Pandemic Outbreak
Get Home Plan
No one get home plan is the same. Since we don’t all work or attend schools the same distance from our home, we have different goals for our get home bags. For example, one person might drive 10 minutes to work in local traffic while another drives 30 minutes on the highway. Thus, they cover very different ground.
(Image source: Image Courtesy of Personal Defense Network)
The individual who drives 10 minutes to work in local traffic can easily walk home in an hour or so, which makes for a far more minimalist get home bag build versus someone having to hike 20 highway miles back home. A longer travel time means more resources and possible complications to consider along the way.
Your get home plan should also account for other family members. Will you go straight home in a disaster? What if you have children? You may need to make a stop to secure the rest of your family at the local school first.
Simply put, you must have an intimate understanding of the demands of your journey so that you can properly prepare.
Personal preference is a factor when it comes to the pack you choose. As a long time survival prepper, I will share some personal experience with packs I have used as a get home bag.
Outlaw Slinger 3V Gear
For the last 5 years, I’ve carried this as my EDC, and it has met every need and done everything I have asked of it. I am by no means easy on backpacks. In fact, there’s a good chance that my daily slinger is pushing 20 lbs.
(Image source: Image courtesy of 3V Gear)
This is the perfect get home bag for a short-distance operation. It has plenty of storage and organizational features, even housing a secret pocket for your firearm or precious items you want to keep hidden.
Condor 72 Hour Assault Pack
If you commute dozens of miles from home, this is a much better choice. The Condor Assault Pack is spacious enough to be a full-fledged bug out bag, making it more than enough to work for your get home bag contents.
(Image source: Image courtesy of Condor)
I’ve traveled nationwide with this pack, taken it on planes, and climbed with it to the tops of mountains. Despite all of this, I’ve rarely even filled it to capacity. This is probably more bag than most need for a get home option. However, should you need an uncompromising, heavy-duty survival bag, the Condor will hold everything you could possibly need.
Shield Redline 3V Gear
While the Condor is a very practical utility bag, it does visually stand out as appearing tactical and militaristic. In an everyday, civilian context, you may wish to blend in more with those around you.
(Image source: Image courtesy of 3V)
The 3V Shield is an inconspicuous bag option with tons of great features to accommodate a get-home journey. It lacks any of the military-style camouflage patterns and has no external MOLLE webbing, yet it is robust enough to function as an urban survival bag. The Shield has an excellent security pocket that sits at the small of your back, an external charging port for keeping your phone operational on a long walk home, and lots of organized storage.
It’s very comfortable to carry because of the way the storage is set up. It can do as much as a work bag as it can as a get home bag.
Most people don’t wear clothing or shoes to work that will serve them well during a get-home operation. In your trunk or get home bag, you should have a specific outfit or core pieces of active gear. This can include durable walking/running shoes for comfort, flexible and breathable pants, a jacket for warmth, and a baseball cap to keep the sun off, among others.
You can cover ground faster and more comfortably with the appropriate attire that is designed for physical activity.
Every get home bag should include PPE. There are three areas of your body that need protection:
Nose & mouth
(Image source: Image courtesy of Gunspot.com)
If you have protective gear for these vital points on the body, you’ll do much better in a disaster than the average person, even if it is not necessarily a CBRN disaster. Debris from crumbling buildings produces small and airborne particles that are harmful to your lungs. A full-face or even a half-face respirator can provide a great deal of protection while also being relatively easy to store in a bag.
Goggles for eye protection is another great option along with some durable tactical gloves to protect your hands.
A get-home plan should always focus on mobility. You need to cover ground fast to get back to your survival headquarters, so naturally, you’ll need a medical kit that can keep you on the move. However, on the other side of that equation, you’ll want to avoid carrying 30 lbs of medical gear on your back.
That could slow you down as much as a sprained ankle.
(Image source: Image courtesy of The Awesomer)
I opt for a large first aid pouch in the floor well of my car at all times, where it is always accessible. This pouch holds the following:
1 SWAT T
2 Ace bandages
1 SAM splint
Numerous bandages and ointments
It's neither a bleed-stop kit nor a specialty medical kit, but in most cases, it will do the job. Should the need arise, I can easily slip it into my EDC bag, thereby converting it into my get home bag.
The phone in your hand is the most advanced communications device on the planet. Buy a burner phone for an alternate network than your primary phone. This gives you an alternate communications method.
(Image source: Image courtesy of Trusted Reviews)
More important than how you communicate during a get-home situation is that your family knows the route you’re taking and that your plan is to get home. They’ll know to stay put and wait for you or take action after a certain amount of time.
If you are not qualified to use radios, then the worst thing you can do during an emergency is to stop and fool around with more complicated comms devices. If it takes more than the press of a button, just keep moving.
A heavy load of calories is how I prepare my emergency snacks in a get home bag. I favor those crumbly flour, sugar, and shortening bars by Datrax. They may not necessarily be the best kind of nutrition, but bear in mind, this is a sprint, not a marathon.
(Image source: Image courtesy of Healthline)
I want calories to keep the engine running. I have personally run marathons, where often times runners will ingest a terrifying amount of caffeine/carbohydrates during a race just to get calories to keep going.
Millenium Bars are a tasty option but hard to find these days. Alternatively, you could pack your favorite healthy granola bar. I prefer the Datrax in there due to its incredible shelf life as its able to last for years.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay hydrated. Depending on how far you are from home and on what the weather is, you may find yourself exerting loads of energy during your trek.
If you start your get-home journey dehydrated, you’ll have trouble right off the bat.
(Image source: Image courtesy of Sensible Digs)
My get home preparations are to have my 20-ounce water bottle full before I leave. Additionally, I also pack 3–5 packets of Liquid IV in my bag. The heavy dose of electrolytes is far superior at rejuvenating your body than drinking plain water.
Getting home in the calamity of a CBRN emergency could put you at odds with others. People may assume that disaster events are the opportune time to take advantage of you. In such instances, you may be forced to protect yourself.
(Image source: Image courtesy of Andrew IPSC)
Regardless of your personal views on life, every survivalist should have some kind of contingency to repel a potential attacker. While you might be quick to jump to firearms as the best solution, taking another person’s life could come back to haunt you.
Personally, I always carry a firearm. However, I also find that having less than lethal options, like an extendable baton or pepper spray, can provide adequate protection without resorting to extreme measures.
Tools that offer you access and restrict access are essential in a get-home bag. This is particularly true in urban and suburban survival.
Length of chain
As the seasons change, so should the contents of your bag. Be prepared for extreme weather in a get-home situation. Remember, we don’t get to pick the day disaster strikes and find ourselves walking 20 miles back home.
Get Home Bag Loadouts for CBRN Scenarios/Disasters
Now that you understand the basics of what should be in every get home bag, we can dial things in. Next, we present four common CBRN scenarios to consider.
Each scenario presents new challenges, and we give you the very best solution for dealing with those specific CBRN threats. Here at MIRA Safety, we have the equipment you need to turn your get home bag into a CBRN-ready tool for survival.
Scenario 1: Riots or civil unrest
During the summer of 2020, there was a low-hanging cloud of change over major American cities. We all watched with eyes open wide as protests filled the streets and quickly escalated into full-blown riots.
(Image source: Image courtesy of New York Times)
By night, a new cloud formed. Its active ingredient was 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, otherwise known as CS gas. In response to civil unrest, police nationwide used this chemical agent to keep people from setting fires, looting stores, and tearing the nation apart. However, as with any chaotic situation, many innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire.
Instances of riots can rapidly devolve into violent encounters, a harsh reality you may one day face as you attempt to make your way back home.
Get Home Bag Additions for Riots or Civil Unrest
CM-6M Gas Mask
The CM-6M Tactical Gas Mask is the perfect addition to any CBRN get home bag. When you don this respirator, you’ll likely be wearing the same equipment the police are using. The quality for the price point of a modern, brand new (non-surplus) professional-grade gas mask is unmatched.
The mask features a wide panoramic visor for an unobstructed, 180 degree view, which is vital for situational awareness. It is made of bromobutyl rubber, making it ideal for resisting chemical warfare agents from burning your face or compromising your lungs. The CM-6M also features an integrated hydration valve that can be used with the included canteen, allowing you to drink without having to take off the mask.
P-CAN Police Gas Mask Filter
There’s no better way to prepare for the rapid deployment of CS gas than with a powerful filter that has three times the activated carbon of its competitors and was specifically designed for riot police. The P-CAN filter is rated to filter out CS, CN, and OC gas.
With this filter in your get home bag, you’ll be well prepared to keep moving toward home, even if that means going through a cloud of residual tear gas.
Drop-Leg Military Pouch / Gas Mask Bag
A gas mask does no one any good if it lacks a convenient method to carry one. Luckily, MIRA Safety offers a drop-leg bag specifically for this occasion.
The drop-leg military pouch, as the name implies, allows you to strap your protective mask to your leg as well as to any duty style belt. No need to go rooting around for your mask, it’s right there on your person and ready to be thrown on in a hurry.
Having a gas mask when other people need one could make you a target. Those suffering the effects of tear gas might see your beautiful CM-6M as a means of relief and try to take it.
A simple black hoodie allows you to walk with your head down and be much less conspicuous, even with your mask on.
The black hood will make it harder for people to see your gas mask. This might also give you the ability to blend in with the crowd in a civil unrest situation. Work your way through the crowd by moving towards the outer edges of the group and then get out of the mob.
Avoid direct contact with police as they might assume you are a member of the group leading the riots.
During civil unrest, you might need to cross an area affected by CS gas and calamity. It’s likely to be a short trek but could be your quickest route home.
Being able to discreetly don a gas mask and make your way through a crowd might be the most critical part of your get-home mission. Arriving back home to your family and plotting the next course of action is the end goal.
Scenario 2: Chemical spill or burning fumes
On March 23rd, 2022, the Thatcher Chemical Plant in Williamson, NY caught fire, sparking fear of potential chemical exposure in the air. During the incident, 11 firefighters were hospitalized as they attempted to extinguish the flames.
(Image source: Image courtesy of C. Damien Arthur)
There are chemical plants nationwide, all of which have the potential to be compromised. If severe enough, plant fires can effectively spread toxic smoke and chemical fumes across entire city blocks.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, the right additions to your get home bag will help survive such an ordeal.
Get Home Bag Additions for Chemical Spills or Burning Fumes
NBC-77 SOF CBRN Gas Mask Filter
The NBC-77 SOF is the ideal filter for a wide range of chemical agents. It protects the user against fumes and vapors such as ammonias, acid gasses, mercury vapors, as well as organic and inorganic gasses. This top of the line filter can combat any toxic industrial chemicals that may arise from a plant.
MDG-1 Personal CBRN Decontamination Glove
Dangerous chemicals are not just harmful to your lungs, they can also be serious skin irritants. Some might even burn your skin. When you return home, you need to be able to decontaminate your skin to protect yourself and your family.
These MDG-1 Personal CBRN Decontamination Gloves are essential for cleansing yourself and your equipment from contaminants.
HAZ-SUIT PROTECTIVE CBRN HAZMAT SUIT
While gas masks offer the highest grade of protection for your face and respiratory system, the rest of your body should not be ignored. A quality HAZMAT suit is an essential piece of equipment for warding off hazardous chemicals on your skin. Our MIRA Safety’s HAZ-Suits are some of the best on the market and is the suit the choice of professionals and military personnel worldwide. These suits can also be purchased for kids as young as 4 years old.
Combine this with a pair of CBRN rated gloves and boots along with ChemTape, you’ll be covered head to toe.
For complete coverage and to use that NBC filter, you need a gas mask. You may see a recurring theme here, but including the CM-6M gas mask in your get home bag load-out will complement your suit.
If you might have to brave passing through an area that’s affected by some kind of chemical spill, you need to not only protect your respiratory system but also your skin.
Being able to protect your entire body and decontaminate when you get home is imperative so that you don’t bring the chemical contamination home to your family.
Scenario 3: Nuclear Disaster or Attack
Given the current state of affairs, you may be wondering what would happen if a nuclear weapon were detonated in an American city. Perhaps even in your own city.
(Image source: Image courtesy of National Museum of the United States Air Force)
As long as nations with massive nuclear arsenals are butting heads, we as concerned citizens have to stand ready for a potential nuclear attack. It goes without saying, there would be unimaginable chaos and death should such an event occur.
Consider also that if you live near a nuclear power plant, this nuclear disaster is now even more pressing. A survival plan is imperative.
Get Home Bag Additions for a Nuclear Disaster or Attack
Nuclear Survival Kit
We have just the kit for your get home bag. It's called the Nuclear Survival Kit, and it includes a selection of items that are perfect for your get home bag if you’re concerned about a nuclear disaster or attack. Currently this combo is not available but each of these individual items can be purchased separately. This is a great base line of gear for nuclear fallout survival.
Choice of MIRA CM-6M gas mask
Drop-leg gas mask pouch
NBC-77 SOF filter
Hydration system and canteen
After a nuclear attack, people will flood the roadways to get home or away from cities. If you’re at work when this happens, this kit gives you the gas mask and filter you need if you’re in an area affected by radiation or fallout. Otherwise, you’ll have the gas mask pouch to easily carry it.
An essential component here is the Thyrosafe Potassium Iodide Tablets. This FDA approved supplement will prevent your thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine, shielding you from harmful radioactive exposure.
Radiation can’t be smelled or seen. You need a way to measure the radiation to know when you need to don your protective mask.
A quality portable dosimeter will feature an integrated alarm, detect gamma radiation, and should be simple enough for a child to use. It should be sleek and be compact enough to fit right in your backpack or pocket.
Stay tuned as MIRA Safety will be offering a brand new product offering soon.
HAZ-SUIT PROTECTIVE CBRN HAZMAT SUIT
If you suddenly find yourself in an area affected by nuclear fallout or radiation, you need to protect your body against harmful effects, too. As mentioned before, the MIRA Safety HAZ-Suit suit provides total protection as you traverse this new hazardous landscape.
In a nuclear attack or disaster, you may even have to conduct a larger bug out operation upon arrival. Arriving home safely, decontaminating, gathering the family, and considering your next step could be the difference between life and death.
Scenario 4. Pandemic Outbreak
However your feelings may be concerning the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020, there is no denying that this was a wake up call for the country. A pandemic level threat requires very diligent use of your PPE and so you'll want the best tools for the job.
(Image source: Image courtesy of National Geographic Society)
The best get home bag for a pandemic contains the items you need not only to travel home but to avoid spreading harmful bacteria or viruses to your family upon arrival.
Tactical Air-Purifying Respirator (TAPR)
In an everyday carry context during a pandemic, a lightweight, half-face respirator is an ideal solution. Without committing to the bulkier and heavier full-face gas mask, the MIRA Safety Tactical Air-Purifying Respirator, or TAPR, comes in a very convenient and slim carrying case that could fit right into your get home bag.
ParticleMax P3 Virus Filter - 6 Pack
This mask, combined with an ultra light filter like our ParticleMax P3, can filter down 99.9995% of bacterial and viral particulates from the air. If there’s a virus out there, it won’t sneak past this filter.
80% Alcohol for Disinfection
This is the same alcohol recommended for killing the COVID-19 virus. Whether you carry a hand sanitizer or a disinfecting wipe, you should have some in your get home bag. The germs that you pick up on your hands often wind up making you sick.
Sanitizing your hands and common surfaces with your 80% alcohol gives you a quick and easy way to disinfect. This will also be helpful upon arriving home. While a hot shower decontamination should be your first step when you get home, disinfecting your hands will keep your door handles and other surfaces in your home germ free, too.
Glasses or Goggles for Eye Protection
When using a half-face respirator, it would be wise to also don a pair of protective goggles or glasses. You'll to avoid any direct exposure to your eyes from infection as much as possible.
Your rubber or nitrile gloves can keep your hands safe from germs on commonly used surfaces. However, they do not kill those germs. You are still picking them up, just on the gloves instead.
Touching your eyes, nose and mouth with gloves on is no safer than using your own hands if you have been touching exposed surfaces. The best practice is to change gloves entirely or decontaminate them after use to avoid spreading germs.
Decontamination is the name of the game when you arrive home during a pandemic. The good news is that you can pack a bar of antibacterial soap in your get home bag or have a family member leave soap outside for you.
Take off all your clothes and wash yourself from head to toe with the soap and a garden hose. You might even consider a short in-home quarantine depending on the specifics of the pandemic threat.
CBRN disasters and emergencies are much more common than you might think. The scenarios covered in this article, while not incredibly likely, have occurred in our history and there is nothing to say that they won't occur again.
Building the right get home bag requires careful considerations of your immediate needs, distance to home, training, appropriate equipment, and knowledge of various threats. But once you take the important step into building this bag, it will dramatically increase you odds of survival.
We highly recommend using the MIRA Safety Drop-Leg Pouch or, in the case of the TAPR, the included carrying bag.
Keeping high quality filters in a car in hot or freezing conditions will negatively affect the lifespan and efficacy of the filter. It’s best to store them at room temperature.
Keep the filter in a drawer or bag while you’re at work and then bring it home.
MIRA’s CM-6M and CM-7M are both complete gas masks that, when paired with the correct filter, will protect your face and respiratory system from the vast majority of CBRN attacks.
You may need further protection for your skin, but either of these masks will meet your needs.