personal responsibilty for survival in a crisis
John “jaQ” Andrews
The ongoing disaster in
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast got me thinking.
Am I prepared? I live
near the crest of a hill way above sea level, but floods and other
natural disasters can happen anywhere.
One thing that most
items appearing in this column have in common is electricity. Obviously,
the last thing on anyone’s mind in a catastrophe should be their DVD
player, but gadgets can have a role in survival as well — as long as
they don’t depend on a power grid. They should also be small, sturdy and
Two gadgets I found
should definitely be in your calamity backpack.
Hand Crank Radio &
I actually do own one
of these, so I’m half prepared. A radio has long been a standard
recommendation for survival kits, but packing extra batteries can weigh
you down — and worse, let you down. A dead battery benefits no one.
There are a number of
models these days that incorporate a flashlight and radio, so you can
listen for critical information and get light to find your way. My
particular model includes a hand crank and solar panels, both of which
charge the NiMH batteries inside. True, the batteries will not last as
long as heavy-duty alkalines, but they can be recharged many times, for
a much greater effective life. They won’t last forever, but can get you
through an extended period without civilization’s amenities.
I got my radio as a
gift, but at the time it was available at Christmas Tree Shops for less
than $20. Other places to look might include L.L. Bean, The Discovery
Channel Store, EMS and any other outdoor store.
More powerful radios
will be able to pull in more distant stations, but will be larger and
heavier and require more power, which means more hand cranking.
For a small and
eminently portable model, check out the $20 Kaito KA006. It boasts an
hour of listening time for every two minutes of cranking.
A more robust model is
the Eton Grundig FR250 for $50. It includes a full AM/FM radio, seven
international shortwave bands and a cell phone charger.
Both models are
available at www.ambientweather.com and elsewhere.
The problem in a flood
is not a lack of water, but a lack of drinkable water. Without a large
supply of clean water, you may need to make your own.
A water filter can
remove bacteria, but a purifier can remove both bacteria and viruses. In
a worst-case scenario, it’s better to spend a little more on a purifier.
Many models are
available at www.rei.com. Here are two.
The $93 First Need
Deluxe Water Purifier cleans up to 125 gallons per filter, and is the
only non-chemical water purifier certified to EPA Guide Standard for
microbiological purifiers against bacteria and viruses. You can pump
water through or use a gravity feed, and it backwashes for sanitary
The $75 MSR SweetWater
Purifier System requires a chemical additive for full purification. Its
filter is good for up to 200 gallons, while the included purification
solution is only good for 80 gallons.
Store extra filters
(and purification solution, if necessary) for extended periods. Bottles
to store your purified water are also necessary. The average adult needs
between one half and one gallon per day, so one filter can last a single
family a while, but extra filters can help others around you as well.