Good artists borrow and great artists steal, they say. We’ll, I’m stealing from Jim Cobb who has written a shelf full of books on emergency preparedness. Start where you like. I started with Countdown to Preparedness: The Prepper’s 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness. Oddly, there’s more clear and useful information in this little paperback than there is in most urban emergency plans. Everybody needs an emergency plan. That’s especially true in tornado alley, on all coasts, in Alberta and Saskatchewan during recent forest fire evacuations, around the bog fire in Delta, British Colombia, and in the recent earthquake in Vancouver. Then there are ice storms, power outages, and regular winter weather that should motivate preparation. To be fair, there’s some good advice on personal preparedness in urban emergency plans — the first aid kit checklists in Guelph, with honorable mention to Birmingham, UK, Jacksonville, and Orlando. The “Go Bag” concept involves what to take with you, with compliments to St. Catharines, Ontario, and honorable mentions to Windsor, Milwaukee, Long Beach, Washington, and Melbourne and Sydney in Australia. St. Catharines and Guelph, Ontario, also have advice on a car kit — a little different kettle of fish. Author Jim Cobb is not a guy who just wants to be able to reach for a few band aids or have some supplies in the car for a trip out of the danger zone. He’s getting ready to survive for a long, long time by growing food, using solar power, having no sewage system, getting by without medical care, and on and on. He’s not kidding. The fact that he goes deeper and further than even the
good plans cited is to his credit and a bit of an embarrassment for
urban emergency planners.
Cobb’s idea is to do a little each week to get really, really prepared. He suggests saving cash, stocking up on water, what food to buy, and how often to replace supplies. That’s not a unique idea. Surrey, British Columbia, links to a document providing “26 steps” to preparedness. This gives family members some tasks and breaks down what seems like a daunting job into manageable bites. Long Beach, California, has a 21-week plan to achieve much the same. British Columbia has even taken preparedness to a whole other level — by introducing zombies into the equation. The idea being that we should be able to survive a future zombie apocalypse. If you can survive a fictional event, you can survive the real thing. It’s clever, and drew attention to survival. Now, back to Cobb. There are a few things that he may be able to call his own. First it’s when to use your stored drinking water in the bath — every six months. You bathe in the old water to get some use out of it, rather than just letting it run down the drain. The washing machine would be an equally good place. Cobb also writes about how to rotate food supplies in and out so that you’re not eating something that’s five years old with no nutritional value, just when you need nutrition the most.
He also advocates for “Get Home Bags.” There was once a reference on Charlotte, North Carolina’s website to how some folks might go home to assemble family members before evacuating, or they all might meet at work, or in the middle. But there isn’t much to suggest that anyone has done anything about this phenomenon. Cobb has. The simple idea is that when an emergency is declared or an
evacuation ordered, many of us, tens of thousands of us in cities, may have to get home safely before going anywhere else.
We’ll need a bag of supplies in case we have to walk, stay warm, keep dry, eat, drink, and so on. These are different needs than for long stays at home, or car trips to safety. So, we need supplies at the office, home, and car. If that Get Home Bag is what you have to take out of town because you can’t get home, you still have something useful that may save your life. And you will have me to thank, because I stole the idea from Jim Cobb.