The Ultimate Grab Bag!

Do you have Incident Grab Bags?  How many?  Where?  What’s in them?  Why do you have them?  And does anyone ever remove them from the building when there’s a fire drill?

Many business continuity planners are fans of grab bags; bags containing items essential to continuing critical business on the move or in an alternative location.  Of course, for the business continuity planners themselves, this often means running an incident response with the contents of the bag; for other departments it means having the vital tools to continue whatever they normally do.  But what is a grab bag, what’s in it, and how useful are they?

What’s a Grab Bag?

We ought to come clean that we prefer the term ‘grab bag’ to ‘battle box’ (as they are also sometimes known).  ’Battle box’ is a phrase stolen from the military but, as we don’t often ask our staff to get involved in battle and we must ensure they aren’t delayed in their evacuation by trying to work out how to carry a box, we prefer ‘grab bag’.

Either way, the grab bag is a utility pack containing the items essential to recovering or continuing critical business.  A typical grab bag receptacle is small rucksack, messenger bag or duffel bag that is:

  • easy to carry
  • easy to identify
  • situated en route to the nearest fire exit
  • unencumbered by anything that might cause an individual delay to their safe exit
(If you’re particularly pro-active, you might even obtain specially marked incident bags like those we’ve created for those of you who shop online in/from the UK or US.)

What’s in a Grab Bag?

Simply, the items you cannot begin to recover or continue critical tasks without should be included in your grab bag.  Of course, you may need to take time to prune the items down to a manageable, easily carried level.  A grab bag isn’t for big items of machinery or entire offices, it’s for the bare essentials that will keep you going until you reach the place from where you will continue to work during the incident.  At the bare minimum this is likely to include:

  • An emergency checklist (ideally no more than one page)
  • A map and directions to the recovery location
  • A copy of the business continuity plan
  • A robust contact list
  • A very secure data stick with copies of any other plans/documentation required
  • Pen and paper (for taking notes/keeping a log)
Other items you may wish to consider, depending on your own needs and the available space in the bag, include:
And if you’re really going to town and have the budget and space, some people like:
  • Wifi laptop (charged)
  • Satellite phone
  • Company credit card
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Keys to pool car
  • Fuel card
  • Change/card for payphone
How Useful are They?
Grab bags can be incredibly useful.  There are a few things to bear in mind though, such as:
  • Someone actually has to pick it up on the way out
  • It’s only intended to be useful until you get to the next recovery locationNot every event will happen during office hours
  • Removing the grab bag must not delay safe exit from the building
  • Uncharged power-hungry items are useless during an incident
  • The person who picks it up should be a person who can act with it
Based on your feedback, Continuity In Business has arranged for a small range of incident bags to be available for purchase.  You can buy them as they are, or choose a different colour and change the text.  We’ve organised this through the highly reputable Spreadshirt organisation which operates in many countries across the globe. Click for:
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