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, especially in tornado alley, on all coasts, in Alberta and Saskatchewan during recent forest fires and evacuations, and even people around the bog fire in Delta, and the recent earthquake in Vancouver. Then there are ice storms, power outages and regular winter weather.
It’s remarkable how poor our urban emergency plans are. There’s some good advice on personal preparedness. I like the first aid kit checklists in Guelph, with honourable mention to Birmingham, UK, Jacksonville, and Orlando. The “Go Bag” concept involves what to take with you and I like the thinking in St. Catharines, with honourable mentions for Windsor, Milwaukee, Long Beach, Washington, and Melbourne and Sydney in Australia. St. Catharines and Guelph also have advice on a car kit—a little different kettle of fish.
Author Jim Cobb is not just a guy who 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 farther than even the good plans I’ve 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 has a 21 week plan to achieve much the same. These are all good ideas.
But here are a few things that Cobb may be able to call his own. First it’s when to use your stored drinking water in the bath—every six months. It’s also 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 during an emergency. He also advocates for “Get Home Bags.” There was once a reference on Charlotte’s website about how some folks might go home to assemble family members before evacuating, or they all might meet at work, or in the middle. But I don’t think 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.