If you had told me six weeks ago, when I began researching about emergency preparedness, that I would be shopping around for a hazmat suit, I’d have laughed heartily. Some of my co-workers certainly did. How paranoid do you have to be? Well, it starts incrementally, with small things, like the notion of tying down your lawn furniture because, in a strong wind, it can blow around and hurt someone or fly through a window. Then you find out what a good idea it is to secure large furniture to the wall (for when the earth moves, but not in a good way), or what a bad idea it is to drive into a foot of water during a storm. For me, the concept of the Go-Bag was a turning point in my revelations. Previously, my perception of such a thing was derived from movies in which various con-men, hit-men or undercover federal agents had to leave town in a hurry and invariably took a moment to grab and check the Go-Bag, usually filled with fake passports from various countries, several weapons, a burner phone and wads of cash. There would also be a nearby leather jacket or a hoodie and a pair of rugged boots to don before heading out on the lam.
Do I need a Go-Bag?
In the real world, a Go-Bag is essentially an emergency kit, filled with far more practical items than passports to Eastern European countries – although the hoodie and hardy boots are not far off the mark. Most emergencies, at their peak, require urgent evacuation, and it makes sense to be ready. Previous to my recent immersion in the world of crisis preparation and management, I might have been one of the many unprepared souls at loose ends, scurrying around the house at the last minute (where are those car keys?) grabbing the dog but not the leash, forgetting to turn off the AC (do you need it during a flood?) and leaving the phone charger behind. The Go-Bag saves you from the last-minute muddle. If you’ve done it right, it is stocked with everything you and your family need to survive for the next three days, including food, dog food, First Aid kit, spare car keys, cell phone battery pack, hygiene wipes … and so much more. Chances are if you’ve thought about a Go-Bag, you’ve also thought about a few other things, like where to meet if you get separated from your family, how to help the elderly woman in a wheelchair next door and whether or not to turn off the gas.
When the zombie apocalypse happens, you want to be ready
My research led me through the protocols responding to various natural and man-made disasters: floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis (head inland, fast!), mass transit accidents (leave your bike behind!), contagious diseases, terrorist attacks and biological warfare. By the time I was finished writing, I was not only packing a Go-Bag, I was seriously considering the benefits of stocking a hazmat (antibacterial) suit and gas mask. The nature of any emergency is that it happens without warning, and therefore requires you to think and act quickly. No matter how fast your brain works, it is impossible to surmise at the last minute, amidst the chaos of a crisis, what to do first, what to do next, where to go and what to bring before the flood waters surround you and carry you away to the avalanche down the road. The survival and well-being of you and your family depends almost entirely on those first few minutes after an emergency strikes. When you think about it that way, the hazmat suit does not seem so crazy. But you don’t have to go that far; even stocking a few power bars and a battery pack puts you one step ahead on the road to survival in a crisis.