ONTARIO — The Mesta family prepares their go bags together at home in Ontario.
Flashlights, a water purifier, and a first-aid kit line the Mesta family’s living room floor. The family isn’t going camping — they’re preparing for disaster by putting together a “go bag.”
Alberto and Jessica Mesta have understood the importance of having a “go bag” for a number of years, but the wildfires, earthquake, power outages, and flooding around Oregon in 2020 have been a powerful reminder. They don’t want to leave anything to chance for them and their three children: 11-year-old son, Jeremiah, 6-year-old daughter, Emma, and 6-month-old son, Jonah.
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.
“You never know where disaster is going to strike,” Alberto cautioned. When a magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook Ontario last year on March 31, the family already had their go bags ready and were able to quickly move them to the door in case of aftershocks. Even their children know what is in the bags. Jeremiah can list supplies such as bottled water, non-perishable food, and medicine.
“We just grab them and go!” he said.
Eleuteria Mesta, Alberto’s mother, who is blind and lives with the family, agrees that being prepared is very important.
“If a disaster comes and you don’t have your bag prepared with the things you need, you’re going to suffer,” she said. “That’s why it’s necessary.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends collecting what everyone in the household needs to survive for several days along with important documents into an easy-to-carry kit, often called a go bag.
“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.
The Mestas are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and feel that they have benefited from their religion’s encouragement to prepare for possible natural disasters.
“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.