emergency needs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This is a post I started a while ago, as Hurricane Irene was hitting the east coast of the United States.

Since the tsunami/nuclear accident in Japan, I have been thinking about how times of crisis suddenly make a population focus on bare necessities, and how some belongings suddenly shift value, becoming enormous advantages (ex: bottled water) or huge impediments (ex: high heels).
Suddenly the fact of being old / sick / living alone is more blatantly difficult than any other time, as having family and friends may define your chances of making it through.

For the sake of the exercise, here is a rough checklist (compiled from the internet) of things that turn out extremely valuable in such situations:

- drinking water (critics of plastic bottles: forget your fight just this once)
- clean water for washing and flushing
- non-perishable food (canned, dried)
- slow-perishable food not needing refrigeration (apples, carrots, green bananas)
- medicine
- first aid kits

- shoes that protect your feet from debris and allow you to run (sorry Jimmy Choo's)
- blankets and warm clothing

- filled batteries
- battery-powered radios
- flashlights
- cell-phones
- access to real-time, local information (tv or radio)
- a car filled with gas

- having a plan with your family (know how to contact everyone you care for, have an out-of-state common friend to call if you are separated)
- have evacuation routes in mind (and good maps too I presume)
- have a place to evacuate in mind (friends are priceless)

- know how to drive
- know how to shut down utilities

- a well constructed home, in accordance to building code

- insurance policies (on your home, belongings, office)
- photographs of your belongings (the less you possess, the easier the photographing)
- protection from flying objects (the less you possess, the easier the protection)

I like the fact that these requirements are solid arguments for fighting against the production and selling of junk - be they objects, food, buildings. In these cases, junk will hinder your chances of survival.
Also, it points to the futility of A LOT of life-accessories we surround ourselves with every day, even if they are well-made.

Lastly, it scares me to think how easily it is to be unprepared, and NOT have these very necessary items at hand. All it takes is a bit of lazyness, and a set of priorities dictated by fashion rather than need.

The Weather Channel
The Ready Store
Virgin Islands Information
University of Louisiana
New York Times blog

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