When the chips are down

When the chips are down - Need Cash Sign

For many people this entry will come too late. They have already fallen victim to an outage relating to bank cards across Europe. For users and retailers the chips are down and they are unable to process bank card transactions.

Officially it is being described as a ‘service disruption’ however that is little consolation to those standing in queues to get the shop tills, only to find their cards will not work.

The Get Home Bag

Many people laugh at those people who practice self-reliance or preparedness. They throw the media stereotype at you of wild-eyed loners in bunkers or running off to the forest, but if people stopped and looked around them, especially during a ‘service disruption’ simple observations will reveal they are actually surrounded by these people, even in urban environments.

A self-reliance practitioner will not have had any problems getting home today at the end of day commute. They will have reached into their ‘Get Home Bag’ or GHB for short, and used the cash they already had available to them.

What exactly is a ‘Get Home Bag’?

Well obviously it is a bag. It could be a backpack, a holdall, a messenger bag or even just a small pouch. It’s purpose is to hold all the items you would need to get back to the place where you live. There is no particular set contents for a GHB because your personal circumstances are unique to you. Some items that may be included are:

  • A pen and notebook
  • Bus and train timetables
  • Map and compass (if you’re going to have to navigate to get home)
  • Spare socks (always look after your feet as you may need to walk an extended distance)
  • Spare ID documents
  • Walking boots or shoes (if you are a long way from home)
  • A pocket knife (ensure it is UK legal)
  • String
  • Bottled water
  • Food rich in energy (make sure it is non-perishable. You don’t want mush in the bottom of your bag.)
  • Any time sensitive medication you use (asthma inhalers, insulin for diabetics, epinephrine autoinjectors etc.) Remember seek professional advice from your doctor to ensure you store medications appropriately in your bag and ensure you check your medication expiration dates regularly to be sure it is within date and safe to use.
  • A torch with spare batteries
  • A waterproof jacket and spare clothing
  • Cash (in various denominations of notes and coins)

The list really could go on and on, but when deciding what should go into your GHB you need to consider where you may be and how to get back to where you live without using modern technology. That means, no phone, no bank cards, no tablet computer, no laptop. You will also find that people living in cities will have very different requirements for their GHB from those who live in the suburbs, towns and villages.

When bank cards with chips in them stop working, as they did today, having cash in your GHB will allow you to make purchases trouble-free.

The compromise

Remember the old phrase about ‘havin everything but the kitchen sink’? Whilst it would be nice to have, you have to consider that you will need to carry your GHB yourself, possibly over a long distance depending where you are, and need to return to. Whilst the Royal Marines and members of the Parachute Regiment carried huge weights during the liberation of the Falkland Islands, for us mere mortals, carrying a heavy bag over a long distance is not ideal. So you need to be selective. Ideally each item in your bag should have more than one use.

Plan and act

So make a list of what you think should go in your bag. There are no right or wrong answers as this is your bag and unique to you. Then consider what type of bag you will use. Are you able to keep all the items in a belt pouch? What about pockets within a laptop bag? Do you need an over-the-shoulder bag that sits on your hip? Would a small backpack suit your needs?

These are very personal choices. You have to find a bag that fits you, your workplace and your route home. Once you have decided on the bag type, then you can decide if you can fit all the items into it, but more importantly, can you carry all the items comfortably over an extended distance?

Then when the chips are down and people around you are panicking, you can calmly return home because you have what you need with you.

Of course you may also have to plan different routes to get home. Public transport, as well as devices with chips, can also be subject to cancellations and delays. So if  you have multiple ways of getting home you can be assured at least one route will be fine.

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