Note From Our Founder: A Dad's Dilemma

How Preparation Concierge got it's start

The founder, Jason Harper, and his son Max in the Poconos; Sep. 2013

Everything changes when you have a kid, doesn’t it? It’s one of those things that puts everything in perspective. This is common for a first-time dad, but my first thought upon seeing my new baby boy: How am I supposed to protect this tiny human being?

Max arrived in 2012 just a few weeks before Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, and our apartment in downtown New York City was without electricity. Luckily we have a country house in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania, so we went out there. It didn't have any electricity either, but at least we had running water and a fireplace.

And that’s when the idea for Preparation Concierge was also born.

If I could only outfit both my NYC apartment and my Poconos house with the right gear — water, food, lighting, power — then perhaps the scary world wouldn’t be so scary. I would take back a measure of control, and help put an end to worrisome nights fretting over environmental calamities, terrorist attacks, and the failure of our national electrical grid. This is how I would protect my family.

If I could only outfit both my NYC apartment and my Poconos house with the right gear — water, food, lighting, power — then perhaps the scary world wouldn’t be so scary

So as a longtime magazine writer who once specialized in adventure travel and outdoors gear, I did what came naturally: I started researching.

What I found was dismaying. Nobody out there in the emergency preparedness world was talking to me. There were many strident, scary voices, many of them rattling on about liberals and guns. Few, if any, lived in an urban environment.

So I began acquiring food and gear on my own, testing them in my NYC apartment and out in the Poconos. I put dried beans in buckets, bought solar lanterns, and mapped routes from NYC to PA.

My wife made fun of me at first, but then one bad thing in the world followed another, with the U.S.’s own political instability, rampant fires in California, the devastation of Houston and Puerto Rico, and suddenly she was no longer kidding me about it.

Meanwhile I reached out and interviewed people who knew about these things: Fire fighters, Red Cross professionals, first responders, CDC workers, NGO personnel, cops, and wildfire experts.

The more I learned, the more amazing it seemed to me that I’d never worried about any of this stuff before. I grew up on a ranch and farm in northwestern New Mexico, where our family was once almost entirely self sufficient. My grandfather grew his own food, raised his own cattle, fixed his own tractors. I grew up at his knee, but didn’t necessarily transport that mentality with me to the East Coast.

It's strange that New Yorkers are so self sufficient about nearly everything, and yet are utterly unprepared for the exact kinds of things we’ve already suffered as a city.

Meanwhile, I’ve been in New York City for 25 years. In that time, I’ve lived through 9/11, the blackout of 2003, city-crippling blizzards, an apartment fire in Chelsea which nearly killed my wife, my cat, and me — and did kill two tenants who lived directly below us. (Thank you, FDNY!) Even Hurricane Irene should have been a louder wake-up call than it was.

NY Post article on our NYC apartment fire

It's odd how self sufficient we New Yorkers are about nearly everything, and yet are utterly unprepared for the exact kinds of things we’ve already suffered as a city. We are only one more storm, or attack, or electrical grid failure from really BIG trouble, and yet the vast majority of us don’t even have $1,000 in small bills stored away, or water, or food that doesn’t come from Seamless. Frankly, considering how much insurance we generally carry — health, apartment, life, pet! — we can’t be bothered with preparing for a real emergency.

Preparation Concierge was created to help rectify that. Our idea is to offer basic advice to get you going, even if you are a Swinging Single who lives in a studio and live on a tight budget (those Hampton weekends notwithstanding). We've figured out exactly what you need to learn and the stuff you should buy, so you don't have to. And since we don’t take advertising, we are totally unbiased. The same gear we recommend is the exact same gear we’ve got at our own houses.

Speaking of “us” and “we”: Preparation Concierge has both contributors and advisors from a number of worlds, from ex-military and police to outdoor media — who both contribute and advise us.

Finding rainbows and adventure (and testing gear) in the Gobi Desert; June 2018

You, as the user, don’t have to live in NYC (or Boston, or L.A. or…) to get something out of it. But hopefully we can be a voice in the urban wilderness, counseling that even a little emergency preparedness can go a LONG way. Put away at least some food and water and a go bag, and make a family disaster plan. Start today. It may seem silly, but then look around you at an increasingly worrisome world. To us, at least, it’s a way to take back a measure of control.

Jason H. Harper

Founder, Preparation Concierge


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