72 hours, hand crank flashlights, duct tape and elk pepperettes
As I compose this post I am finishing off the final bites of a key component of my emergency food supply: in this case, the last of a four-pack of spicy elk pepperettes.
The Government of Canada recommends you have at least enough food, water and medical supplies to sit tight for at least 72 hours, in case of an emergency.
If your power was out and the convenience store was shut down would you have enough food or water to last you a few days? What about a whistle, medical kit or deck of cards?
Sandra and Tristan Cater are the co-creators of www.72hourcanada.com basically a one-stop shopping website for some of the supplies that you would want or need during an emergency.
Their standard kit sells for $49 and holds about 80 items, with everything from glow sticks, candles and bandages to a multi-function tool and a deck of cards.
The London, Ont.-based couple (she is a teacher, he is a web developer) have two small children and have been running the website for about three years.
“Really we wanted people to start thinking about ‘what are the different disasters in my area and what should I do,’” she said.
Their kit is meant for home, but it is also designed to fit into a backpack - ideally also stuffed with some food and water, money, an extra key to your home and identification - if you need to quickly hit the road. "So having it all there in one place is piece of mind,” she said.
The couple were prompted to create their own stockpile of emergency supplies after watching a commercial during the federal government's Emergency Preparedness Week. The catch? Most of the things they wanted to include came in packs of 10 or more.
So they had enough for about 10 to 20 extra kits, said Cater. She mentioned them to her co-workers and they quickly sold out. The website launched shortly after that.
The couple also stock extra food and water and candles and recommend their customers do the same.
“It contains a pack of hot chocolate and a granola bar and a little note that says 'please make sure you store food and water separately,'” she said.
They sell the most kits in the months leading up to emergency preparedness weeks, with sales slow or non-existent in the spring and summer months. The majority of sales are to companies and government groups looking to promote emergency preparedness, they said.
But Cater said one thing they have noticed is during an emergency situation they get a sharp spike in hits on their website, but not a matching spike in sales.
Cater guesses that emergencies force people to think about being prepared, but after a bit of online research those same people tend to procrastinate like many people do.
She says she understands why people might be resistant to buying something that contains products or tools they might already have – like a flashlight or candles – but says when you really need all these items is when you will want them in one place. Especially if you need to leave quickly.
Not totally surprising: I have been window shopping for my own emergency supplies for years but have yet to pull it all together.
After the last blackout in my building – during which time I searched for my broken flashlight with the flickering light of my BlackBerry – I have a large supply of candles, matches and a maglight. There is also a decent supply of water and pickled green beans (great for spicy Caesars) but not much else. I have made several failed attempts to stock elk pepperettes, purchased at St. Lawrence Market, but they are too delicious.
This Sunday I’m going shopping for a medical kit, hand crank flashlight, duct tape, Snickers bars (who doesn’t love chocolate in a high stress situation?) and anything else I can fit into a mid-sized black backpack I intend to stuff in my closet.
Hardware and camping stores have long held a place in my heart, so I'm expecting it to be a fun trip.
P.S. To the strange Jan. 1 reveller who knocked at 3:30 a.m. and repeatedly offered me something quite a bit dirtier than a lap dance: my kit may also include bear repellent.
To everyone else Happy New Year, I hope 2011 is a magnificent year for you and everyone you love.