Preparedness Now!

Google gave out earthquake emergency kits to their employees a little while back. This was particularly timely because I had just finished reading Preparedness Now!, a book about survival in emergency situations, natural or man-made. The Google emergency kit matches pretty closely the “grab-and-go” bags the book author recommends keeping close at hand.

Grab-and-go bag


  • 50 water purification tablets
  • 12 water boxes with straws
  • 5 emergency candles
  • 4 12-hour lightsticks
  • 4 ER food bars (3 days, 4 persons, 5 year shelf life)
  • 4 thermal blankets
  • 4 ponchos with hoods
  • 4 tissue packs
  • 4 dust masks
  • 1 pair work gloves
  • 1 52-piece first aid kit
  • 1 solar powered flashlight/radio (includes mobile phone adapter)
  • 1 tent
  • 1 swiss army knife
  • 1 military can opener
  • 1 box waterproof matches
  • 1 nylon cord (50 feet)
  • 1 roll duct tape (10 yards)
  • 1 gas valve wrench
  • 1 whistle

The book was a good read, and full of interesting information. On the other hand, I was left wondering if the author was for real. Here’s a guy who recommends women either don’t wear heels when they go out in case some disaster strikes or, if they must, suggests that they carry a pair of good walking shoes with them as well. He also recommends that subway riders carry a smoke/gas hood with them and claims to carry a smaller version of this survival kit on his person at all times.

Reading through this book left me occasionally wondering if the entire thing isn’t actually parody. The fact that the publisher, Process Media, is part of Feral House kind of supports this, but it also supports the theory that the author is completely serious and just a nutjob. But then, Process also published Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America which is really good (and another one to give you some good ideas).

All this aside, there’s some good information here, and a lot of it really got me thinking. San Francisco has a history of some pretty big disasters and I really had no idea what I would do if another 1906-sized earthquake hit or the city flooded. I still don’t know, but this book gave me some food for thought.


jodi wille says:

As the co-publisher of Preparedness Now! with Adam Parfrey, I will vouch that the book is not a parody.

While a few of Aton’s ideas may seem extreme to some, we had a great deal of respect for his years of hands-on experience in disaster situations that back up his methods. While his suggestions may seem eccentric or even over the top to some, we find them interesting to consider, whether you choose to put them to use or not. It’s stuff you definitely won’t hear from FEMA, and that’s what we liked about it.

If you were a woman and ever had to walk even a mile in high heels (it’s hideous), you’d see pretty quickly the wisdom of at least tossing a pair of old running shoes in your trunk “just in case.” I did it and those running shoes have already come in handy for other reasons.

And if you, like my friend, have ever been trapped in the subway during an underground fire (i.e. NYC last year) and felt the real danger and desperation in the situation, the notion of tossing a compact smokehood in your purse or backpack and leaving it there might not seem too strange after all. In fact, it might seem like an easy way to look out for yourself.

Stuff happens. Sometimes it takes experiencing an emergency directly to make people realize that preparedness ideas that sound like overkill aren’t as extreme as they seem. But in the meanwhile, maybe you can pull your own wisdom from Aton’s suggestions and customize them for yourself. That’s what we recommend.

Thanks for your comments about PN and Getting Out. Glad you enjoyed ‘em. Keep a lookout for the next volume in our Self-Reliance Series: The Urban Homestead, coming out in spring 2007.

Jodi Wille

Kenn Christ says:

Hi Jodi, thanks for your thoughts.

Regarding the shoes, I agree that there’s little reason to not keep an extra pair in your trunk for emergencies, just like you would a flashlight and roadside emergency kit. Not being used to driving when I go out, I wasn’t thinking about driving but rather about taking trains or buses, which makes carrying extra shoes a much bigger hassle.

It’s always interesting to hear the thoughts behind the books, so I appreciate your stopping by. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the next Process title.