As I write the The National Weather Service in Upton has issued a Blizzard Warning for the New York City area. Weather Underground advises:
A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely. This will lead to whiteout conditions… making travel extremely dangerous. Do not travel. If you must travel… have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded… stay with your vehicle.
But in looking through the various web-sites on disaster preparedness, there is an almost hilarious amount of wise-acreing. There are some good sites with honest people recommending good choices, but for the most part it is a burgoo of foolishness and hence you get my lengthy and somewhat indignant commentary on just how imbecilic and unconscionable this entire “Mad Max” industry is.
First of all, there is a bewildering array of options that virtually every site offers—who can sort through this nonsense? Kit after kit, with option after option. There is really no way someone who is unfamiliar with emergency preparedness can be reasonably expected to make intelligent choices and purchase those items they truly need and can use in the event of an emergency. And have they themselves tested each item in their kits? Do they know if what they are offering works in the situations they say they will?
Secondly, almost every site seems to be of the cheap, cheap, cheap mindset—289 piece socket set for $14.99, 6 hot-dogs for a buck, a sofa and dinette set with 12 chairs for $49.99–That’s the general drift … Numerous companies all offering 4 person, 72 hour preparedness kits for like under $75. Are you kidding me? A virtual plethora of hot-dog junk. They tout a “12-function, multi-purpose knife-tool that is an essential component to any emergency survival kit”–OK—a good multipurpose knife-tool (Leatherman, Swiss Army, Gerber, etc..) costs about at least one-quarter of what their total kit costs. And then they put everything in a “water-proof, sturdy 5 gallon bucket.” Great—they don’t tell you that by the time you get the stupid lid off that bucket 45 minutes later, you’ve ripped off four fingernails and broken two fingers in the process! And then that cheap-jack 12-function knife they give you probably isn’t even sharp enough to slash your wrists with—which is what you’ll probably want to be doing at that point.
Thirdly, this crowd is irresponsibly suggesting to you that you will be prepared for a disaster if you buy their ‘kits”. The first lesson any working person learns is that a bad tool is worse than no tool at all, because with a bad tool, you think you have something you can count on, and in fact you have nothing at all—but you think you do…a very dangerous situation.
To really, truly go through a disaster, you have to be really, truly prepared—and not with some screwball kit for 79.99—”No, wait! Special deal on risking your life and your family’s well-being for the one-time-only-price of $59.99! Order now and complete your illusion of security with 6 packages of inedible food-like cardboard!”
Finally, they are playing to what they think is economic reality, and, in my opinion, ignoring actual reality—which is that in being prepared for a disaster, or even an inconvenience, you need to realize that it is the safety and well-being of you and your family that is at stake. It is not the fact that you saved money here—it is the fact that you saved your life. It is preposterous that they would offer these “kits” as a disaster preparedness solution—they’re not…they’re a head-fake and an illusionary indulgence, at best—and at worst, an intentional spate of ignorant tom-foolery….
The Disaster Preparedness industry is vastly less complicated than a personal computer. My not-top-of-the-line Apple computer cost me $1400 and I gladly paid it because it works beautifully and simply for what I need it to do. The same should go for Emergency Preparedness. Why not make it clean, simple, understandable and useable to everyone? Yes, it might cost more, but it is a one-time investment in insuring safety and survival in the event of a hurricane, a flood, an epidemic, a terrorist attack, an oil embargo, an economic melt-down, a storm or even just a power outage.
Hence—the “Get Ready Room” We have developed a series of kits–for schools, vehicles, homes and businesses–with every single item personally tested by me, that are simple and contain the essential items you will need to get you through a disaster. The focus of the “Get Ready Room” is the immediate aftermath of a disaster, from the first 24 hours for up to a month, until that time when normal services are typically restored. The kits come in either waterproof bags, or, for the apartment dweller or homeowner, in a series of sturdy boxes—self-contained in one location and ready to use. They are easily transportable and contain the 7 things you will need in the event of any emergency: 1) A place for critical medications and first aid, 2) a source of heat and shelter,3) a source for water and water storage,4) communications and a source for charging your own communication devices, 5) edible and actually quite tasty food, 6) facilities for sanitation and solid waste disposal &7) lights. Actually, there are eight things you need, with the last one being Confidence.