A Go Bag is the bag you keep near your classroom door so that you have it handy at all times for a fire drill, evacuation, tornado, or other emergency. Go bags should be created with your specific students in mind, but here are some essentials for your emergency go bag for your special education class. Start creating your go bag today, so you’ll be ready.

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Get your FREE go bag checklist that goes along with the article so you can create your go bag with ease.

Quiet Essentials

1. Suckers

Sometimes during an emergency, it’s of critical importance for our students to stay quiet. But, that can be a really hard thing to do for some of our kids. Suckers help our students have something positive to keep their mouth occupied in a quiet way. Ring pops are especially fun. Your students will enjoy this clever way of being quiet, without even realizing that’s your goal. Get a 20 pack for your bag.

2. Visuals

You might already have visuals for your teacher lanyard, but it is a good idea to keep an extra copy of your essential visuals in your go bag. Include pictures like “Quiet,” “Wait,” and visuals that explain the position students should be in, whether they should be standing outside for a fire drill or doing duck and cover for a tornado drill. You might even want to include social narratives for drills your students are already familiar with.

You can learn more about how I teach emergency drill procedures in special education in my article. 

3. Headphones

For your students who are sound sensitive, the alarms during drills are very upsetting. Help your kids out by having enough noise canceling headphones for each student who will want one.

4. Fidget Essentials

Include fidgets as part of your go bag. If your student has a favorite fidget that works wonders for them, have a duplicate in your go bag. You won’t have time to grab it in an emergency. Save yourself some time and money by getting fidgets as a pack. You can split them up for regular classroom use and then also put a few in your emergency go bag.

Safety Essentials

5. Tourniquet

Last fall, I was grateful to get training in first aid. It included training in using a tourniquet. My district had made a point of having several available throughout the building. If you don’t have them available, you may want to consider getting one for your go bag and even for your car. While you’ll hopefully never need to use one, if you do, you will be eternally grateful you had it. They can save lives by keeping someone from bleeding out in an emergency. Make sure you have educated yourself on the proper use of them. They will not work if they are not used properly.

6. First Aid Kit

Hopefully your district will provide a first aid kit for you. If not, there are lots of great, portable options available.

7. Gloves

If your first aid kit doesn’t have gloves included, make sure you have gloves for safety. Your district should supply these for you.

8. Reinforcers

This is going to be very individual for each student you have. Edible reinforcers are easiest for a emergency go bag for special education, but you do need to make sure that they aren’t stale. Also, make sure that you update it frequently enough and have variety in your bag. Always remember, reinforcers for kids (and adults) change depending on the circumstance. Hot chocolate during a winter evening might be reinforcing, but it probably would sound gross on a hot summer day spent outside. Think about your reinforcers for each student about once a month in regards to your go bag and update appropriately.

Historically, I’ve found most kids love at least some of the following items:

  • Skittles
  • Mini M&Ms
  • Nerds
  • Pieces of Chips
  • Goldfish
  • Cheerios/Fruit Loops

9. Student Roster and Information

If an emergency happened while a sub was in your room, would they know who was supposed to be with them right then? Would they know who was in PE or at lunch? Include a student roster and your schedule inside the go bag. This information is vital to knowing if all students have been evacuated from a building safely in case of a fire.

10. The Go Bag

Your emergency go bag for special education should be noticeable for you, your paras, and subs. Hang it up right by the door. Bright, neon colors attract attention, making it more likely it will be remembered.