Preparing for the Storm

Using today's pandemic to ready for tomorrow's disasters. By Jason H. Harper

NOTE: Did you come here from my Explorers Club speech? Good news, you're in the right place. You'll find a synopsis here, and a more detailed list of suggested equipment and gear.

[Want bespoke advice, book a speech for your group or organization. or just want to talk it out? Contact me @ Jason@PreparationConcierge.com]

So, you've finally found that pandemic groove, have you? Home schooling is rolling along, and you’ve nailed the whole Zoom work conference thing? Lucky you.

Know what would be a real bummer about now? If your internet went down. Along with your electricity. Or, if you lost your house due to a wildfire or massive storm or tornado.

Guess what? Those regular disasters we normally worry about aren't going away. They will only make the pandemic worse.

What to do with all that "extra" time you've got on your hands (between the Zoom conference calls and home schooling, of course)...? Use that time to get prepared to get ready for the NEXT disaster.

Things to think about:

  1. Getting into a preparedness mindset.

  2. Practical steps you can do TODAY.

  3. A list of suggested gear and supplies.

Get Your Mind Right

A preparedness mindset is as important as having the right supplies and equipment. For one, it likely means you actually bothered to unpack those emergency supplies from their plastic, put batteries in them, and put 'em somewhere you can actually find them when the lights go out.

In the middle of the pandemic, anything that goes wrong will feel like piling on. In fact, we're calling them “add on” disasters. And by the nature of nature, you won't be expecting them.

Three key ways to think about the preparedness mindset:

  • Look to the horizon. Assess threats critically. Just because your house has survived five hurricanes in previous years does NOT mean it will escape the next five.

  • Assemble a team of like-minded people around you. One of your greatest strengths in a disaster is a strong collective.

  • Don't equate having gear and supplies with the promise of success. The right mindset is more likely to bring success than a well-equipped go bag.

Let's talk about the pandemic. When all those signs of the seriousness of the virus came out of Wuhan some countries and cultures reacted immediately; others simply chose to wait and see.

Continuing to look to the horizon and assess threats, it seems clear that the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. And the longer it goes on, the more stressed systems become. Shipping, food suppliers, public utilities and those workers who take care of them — those are all systems that are likely to have issues, if not potentially outright fail.

Even if you can get all the pork ribs and berries and fresh produce at your grocery store today, it's worth remembering that all that might not be available tomorrow.

Let's Get Practical

First thing: Build a bunker! Okay, no. Not really. (Ha! I LOVE this illustration, though.) Simplicity rules the day. You don't need a bunker. You DO need to think about the likeliest disaster scenarios. And, in our eyes, that threat is the loss of the power grid.

As you think about mitigation efforts — the things you should be preparing for — run down this list. Come up with alternate ways to provide light and heat; store water; keep your foodstuffs cold or get food that won't go bad. And pull out at least $1,000 of cash in small bills.


Most disasters will result in you doing exactly what you're doing now during the pandemic... sheltering in place. But everyone in the family needs to get home or to the meeting place, and your cell phone and internet very likely may not work. So, you HAVE to figure out the plan for meeting places and the to-do list beforehand. You don't want to figure out who is picking up the kids AS the disaster goes down, trust us.

And then, PRACTICE those evacuation routes.


The essential needs are as follows:

  • Water.

  • Food & cooking solutions.

  • Light, heat, and methods to store energy.

  • Safety & sanitation items.

  • Evacuation and transit solutions

Note that it’s impossible to plan for everything. If you're also an A-type (like us), you'd like to prepare for EVERY eventuality, and have a backup plan for every eventuality. It ain't gonna happen, so little wonder we stall out when we want to formulate a plan. Instead, focus on acquiring the absolute essentials. Because no matter the disaster, many of the needs are the same.

The absolute easiest way to start is to refer to our Simple Disaster Plan. Identify which type of person you are, and go from there. Otherwise, read on!

1. Start with water. You'll need solutions to store water, first, and then the ability to turn dirty water into clean water. Our No. 1 storage solution for small spaces — like a studio apartment in Hong Kong or Manhattan — is the 8-pack WaterBrick system, on the far left, which stores 3.5 gallons each, and are stackable and perfect for placing under the bed.

If you've got more room for storage (lucky you!), consider a potable-water-appropriate, 55-gallon drum like the one from Augason Farms. And for making dirty water clean, look to LifeStraw products, from the personal-use LifeStraw Flex Multi-Function Water Filter System.

2. Next up is Food & Cooking. You'll want quick food — stuff like protein bars, peanut butter, and oatmeal pouches. You can find those suggestions here. But you'll want to get stores of food that will last years. Buckets of oatmeal are a great choice. You may later look to longterm food storage methods. Look in our food section for more advice, and our food for longterm storage section is pretty helpful.

3. You're gonna want some comfort items, so... Lights, Power & Warmth. America's electrical grid is in trouble. And more than any other single threat, the chance of sweeping and longterm blackouts should concern you most. You'll find solutions to keep your house lit, at least partially powered, and heated. And, if you aren't able to stay in your house, we've got the supplies to allow you to go afield with light, power, and warmth, too.

Look to personal lighting solutions like the Black Diamond Storm Headlamp, and solar lanterns for your house or apartment. Luci makes a range of really great solar lighting at great prices. When it comes to storing energy to recharge phones, lanterns, we like Goal Zero's battery packs. The Yeti 1400 is capable of running many parts of a home, especially when daisy-chained to other battery packs.

4. Security, health & sanitation. "Security, health and sanitation" isn't exactly sexy sounding, is it?  But we're guessing it's pretty easy to see the appeal of keeping your loved ones as safe as possible.Go over the section carefully and see what works best for your security and sanitation needs (for the former, Clorox and garbage bags are, um, important).

First-aid kits are essential. For a robust kit, see the Adventure Sportsman, and for an ultra-light and waterproof option for travel and a go bag, this one is what we carry. Please see our Medicines & First-Aid Supplements section to help round a medical kit.

5. If you should have to leave your house, you need to think ahead. So, to: Go bag, vehicle & evacuation. Deep dive into that section — you'll get LOTS of suggestions, and then choose what you need most. Build it up slowly. Our suggestions for a go-bag include actual backpacks themselves, like the female-specific Gregory Mountain Products Maven 55 Liter, to various food items we recommend, and even the best socks that you should leave in your bag. (There's nothing worse than cold, wet feet.)

6. If you’d prefer to just browse all the gear and filter by needs, please see our Full gear list, which has every single item we like.

Sane ways to deal with scary stuff