Health Care

How to Pack a “Go Bag” for the Emergency Room

A Mother Looks Over a First Aid Kit with Her Daughter on the Kitchen Table.

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No one wants to think about an emergency happening to them, and we hope it never does. But it’s always good to be prepared since accidents and unexpected illnesses can happen at any time.

When emergencies do come up, there isn’t time to pack a bag with essential needs, as everyone is scrambling to help and do what’s most important in the moment. That’s why having a small emergency “go bag” prepared and ready for any scenario is a good idea. While you’ll hopefully never have to use it, here are some ideas for packing one so it’s always on hand if need be.

List of Pertinent Medical Information

Consider keeping a list or information card in your go bag. Include the name and number of your primary care physician, a list of your medications, drug allergies and any advance directives you may have.


Pack an extra bottle of water in your go bag so you can stay hydrated, freshen your hands or face or clean up a mess. Chances are, you’ll use it.

Cell Phone Charger

If you end up at the hospital, whether for hours or days, you’ll need to charge your phone to stay in contact with your loved ones.

Non-Perishable Snacks

Have a healthy snack or two on hand and make sure they’re items that won’t spoil. Protein bars, nuts, crackers and trail mix are good options.

Change of Clothes

You don’t know if you’ll end up in the hospital overnight, so a change of clothes can make all the difference for your comfort. Go with something simple and comfortable like a T-shirt and a sweatshirt (so you have something for any time of year or temperature), sweatpants and underwear.

Don’t worry about socks when you visit our hospitals. At AdventHealth, we provide comfortable no-slip socks to keep you safe and warm.


Whatever you can afford to store in your go bag, whether it’s $5 or $25, can be used in vending machines or in a situation where you’re only able to use cash.

First Aid Kit

A good first aid kit typically includes a thermometer, Band-Aids, an ace bandage and clips, vinyl gloves, alcohol swabs, Neosporin, ibuprofen and an antihistamine. You may also want to include feminine products.

To make it easier on yourself, you can buy a self-contained, ready-made kit.

Something to Keep You Busy

Light entertainment during a long wait or stay can be so valuable. Ear buds so you can listen to music, and a coloring book and crayons for children can easily be slipped into your bag, and will be appreciated.

Comfort Item

Whether it’s a stuffed toy for a child, a photograph of a loved one or a prayer card, choose something small and meaningful that will bring you peace, comfort and hope during an emergency.

What Not to Bring to the ER

Please note that the hospital is not responsible for lost or damaged items. That’s why you shouldn’t bring electronic gadgets, laptops, tablets, jewelry or other valuables into the ER. We encourage you to send jewelry, credit cards, keys, important papers and large amounts of cash home with a family member for safekeeping. If you must bring valuables with you, please ask about having them placed in the hospital's safe during your visit or stay.

Don’t worry about bringing sleepwear or toiletries; we're happy to provide you with everything you need to make your stay more comfortable.

It’s also important to know that while you’re in the hospital, we are required by law to dispense all of your medications, so you can leave your prescriptions at home.

Whole-Person Care for Life’s Unexpected Emergencies

At AdventHealth, it’s not just the body that we attend to. It’s also your peace of mind and your spiritual health. Having a go bag on hand will help your stress levels in the case of an emergency.

Learn more about AdventHealth’s ER experience and a location near you here. You deserve to feel whole.

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