• November 28, 2023

This Disaster Kit Helps Me Feel Prepared for Anything

This is Highly recommended, a column devoted to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.

Just a week before a one-time pandemic brought the world to a standstill, I was reading Ling Ma’s eerily severance pay, a novel set in a world plagued by a mysterious disease. The protagonist, a corporate gear in an alternative Manhattan, finds her world of a global pandemic with an origin story in step with the actual current events. So my fear had already gone through the roof when the endless stream of news and social media about COVID-19 and the slow, politicized response from our government began. Ma’s debut will remain indelible in my mind as “the book about the apocalypse that I read just before the actual apocalypse”.

In the weeks that followed, I could not escape the hellish landscape of my mind of catastrophe and social collapse. How would my husband and I survive? Should we protect ourselves on the spot? Escape to a place that is less crowded than other people (despite advice to the contrary)? Could we survive a longer quarantine like it was a medieval siege? Being prepared for the unknowable felt Herculean and impossible.

I started throwing a somewhat random selection of items into a travel bag. Lots of the good snacks –jerky, dried nuts, Parcel of tuna and salmon– because the world may end, but I still have my taste buds. I also added Straws for water filtering, a solar-powered lamp, additional masks, matchbooks from popular bars that we could no longer visit. It was skimpy and yet chaotic, but hey, at least I did something about my fear.

But when I researched detailed on-call lists issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States National Coordination Unit for Disaster Relief, and the American Red Cross, I found that my ad hoc disaster kit wasn’t quite up to their high standards. Then I got to know each other Judy.

The Mover Max

15% discount when buying two.

Judy is not a person, but a household appliance for would-be survivalists. As someone easily put off by the ultra-masculine bravery of the prepper culture (seriously, Reddit forums are wild), “Judy” evokes the image of a reliable, lucid friend for me who can be trusted in an emergency. Judy is referred to as “ready for any scenario” and offers four different options for families and groups of different sizes. Each is stocked with emergency products to help the user stay safe, warm, hydrated and fed for up to 72 hours.

I chose that Mover max, which contains accessories for a family of four, packed in a waterproof backpack in a highly visible shade of orange. Very “emergency”. In contrast to my duffle bag, which I had to put over my shoulder like a tote bag, the Judy Mover Max has adjustable straps and is carried like a backpack, so you have your hands free to fiddle with a phone or tools climbing or whatever else you need two hands for. Inside, all supplies are neatly labeled and packed in cardboard boxes – first aid kit, hand warmers, a collapsible multitool, flashlight, energy bar and even flat, Capri-Sun-like water packs. (Note: I would eat the vanilla flavored energy bars if my life depended on it and under no other circumstances. Would it have been too much, for example Astronaut ice cream, instead?)

When my Judy Mover Max was stowed in the hall closet, I felt my fear subside – but would this kit, along with my husband, really support me? our hedgehog son when a disaster occurs? “In the absolute emergency, when you grab something to run out the door, these kits provide the basics for immediate first aid and survival,” said Jonathan Sury, project leader at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute at Columbia University University. “But emergency preparedness is not a one-size-fits-all.”

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