Shopping for the Apocalypse: How I Learned to Love Buying Emergency Supplies

Walt’s alarm about “double-dipping disasters” spurred his desire to “shop for the apocalypse.” Here are 10 things he bought, and why.

Reviewed in this post: specific, excellent products within categories suggested by Ready.gov for inclusion in an emergency supply kit, with Amazon affiliate links for easy browsing, buying.

Weather radio: RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand-Crank Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp and SOS Alarm [check current price]

Light: Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Battery Operated Whetstone Lantern With 4 Ways to Power [check current price]

First aid kit: Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, 140 piece [check current price]

Water: BOTTLED JOY 1 Gallon Water Bottle, BPA Free Large Water Bottle Hydration with Motivational Time Marker Reminder [check current price]

Can opener: Stainless steel can can opener with easy, big turn-knob and ergonomic, anti-slip handles

Food: Amy’s Organic Black Bean Vegetable Soup, Low Fat, Vegan, 14.5-Ounce (Pack of 12)

Masks: Cameleon Cover – Made in USA – Fashion Face Mask Covering Washable Cotton Double Layer – 3 Pack

And more! Keep reading for further list and reviews.

In early March, 2020, when I realized Covid-19 was materializing in the United States with alarming ferocity, I did what every good American does in times of crisis.

I went shopping.

Can you buy your way out of a global pandemic? Of ­course not. But there was a method to my retail madness.

My sudden, energizing goal was to assemble a Basic Disaster Supply Kit, something our household was lacking. I know a virus can’t be tamed with a flashlight, gallons of water, or a weather radio. My motivation to assemble was spurred by this question: what if, as Spring unfolds, we get hit by another type of disaster during the pandemic, concurrent with the pandemic? I call them:

Double dipping disasters.

For example: let’s say Midweste­rn thunderstorms knock our power out for days, as they have done multiple times in recent years. In the past, when the lights blinked out – and stayed out – I would move my home-office-based freelance business to a nearby motel, camp out for days, and keep working at the speed of thought, which was what the job required.

But during the first, dazed days of a lockdown, going to a hotel – or even a friend’s house – is somewhere between ludicrous and impossible. Staying home, staying safe and staying fed becomes the job.

That’s where having a Basic Disaster Supply Kit comes in.

First, I went to ready.gov, the official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and studied its list of recommended supplies. Then:

I started buying.

Here are items from the DHS list, what I bought in response, with Amazon affiliate links (and Amazon’s own pics) to help you do the same.

1. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert

Well, I got both of those things and then some when I purchased the…

RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand-Crank Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp and SOS Alarm

and it is now one of my Top Ten Favorite Things I Own. Human civilization and technology came together to build this marvel. Plus, it’s red. The best thing about it is the hand-cranked power, enabling lights, radio – and USB-connected phone charger. The ability to charge a phone without the availability of powered outlets seems fundamental. In a previous St. Louis power outage, phone draining, I walked to a nearby hospital – powered by generators – and sat on the floor of a deserted corridor, phone plugged into wall. In a pandemic, I will not wander into a hospital. I’ll stay away or be carried in.

Dialing into a NOAA weather station was a breeze, pun intended, and the comforting, mechanical voice of the weather A.I. – “showers will be moving out of the area after 6 p.m.” – wonderfully free of bad news. For the moment. I tuned the AM/FM radio to my beloved NPR. Only bad news there, alas. But the multi-setting, LED lights are crazy bright. Let’s shine our way out of this.

2. Flashlight

I thought bigger. I went lantern.

Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Battery Operated Whetstone Lantern With 4 Ways to Power

The previously mentioned weather-radio-flashlight provides beams of light. But I want the ability to light a room, or at least a dining room table, for the important business of Scrabble. (We have the deluxe Amazon edition.) This well-reviewed beauty has four sources of power, and I see that I am currently using none of them. So here I go, plugging into AC power, plugging into computer USB port, and hand-cranking. There. That should do it.

There’s a lovely solar panel on top, so why am I storing this in a drawer? Next to my office window it goes. As for luminescence, imagine very bright little disco lights, in three settings. They don’t flash. Except in my imagination. All it needs is a little Donna Summer.

3. First Aid Kit

I scored not one but two of the

Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, 140 pieces

This well-organized, well-labelled kit is in itself reassuring. It’s grab and go. Plus, it’s red. It’s from Johnson & Johnson, a corporation needing more of our money, I’m sure, but well done is well done. I bought one for each car. That’s where I think a First Aid Kit could be of the most value, I think. On a getaway. During an Earthquake. During a pandemic. Coming soon to a theatre near you.

Includes: bandages, Neosporin, Tylenol, Bengay, cleansing wipes, gauze pads, rolled gauze, antibiotic cream, itch cream, cold pack, two pairs of gloves, and a durable, plastic box to keep items organized. I’m needing all those things right now, and I’ve only been gardening. [Rimshot]

4. Water

I was thirsty to buy the…

BOTTLED JOY 1 Gallon Water Bottle, BPA Free Large Water Bottle Hydration with Motivational Time Marker Reminder

What’s more fundamental than water? We are created by water, I say. Or perhaps we are water’s mechanism for moving itself around. Either way, we’re 60% of it. Give your water some love, and keep it coming throughout the day. Bottled Joy’s spiffy, BPA-free gallon container has a motivational time marker to monitor consumption, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Presumably you need no water after 7 p.m. Too many trips to the bathroom?)

Though I have ordinary containers of tap water in the basement, for use in a bath or toilet in a disaster that might mean no water service (earthquake? yikes,) we’re using Bottled Joy on adventures by car. It could conceivably go in a backpack; haven’t tried that yet. The 1.5’’ wide-mouth opening accommodates ice cubes, the flip-top lid is built for easy filling and refilling, and the handle makes it easy to haul to the socially distant beach. Have some water and get in the water. Feel the water inside you and around you. Be the water.

5. Manual can opener for food.

I bought the…

Stainless steel can can opener with easy, big turn-knob and ergonomic, anti-slip handles

Get a grip. Get this can opener. The description on Amazon says the non-slip handles are “so soft, like your lover’s hand.” *ahem* I wouldn’t go that far. It also says the device allows you to “enjoy the aroma of canned foods.” Yeah, I wouldn’t go that far, either. But let the copywriter have fun and acknowledge this well-done, sturdy opener with a big handle that’s “so soft, so big.”

Here’s why that’s a deal. I’m a senior. I have arthritis in my hands. This device really is easier to turn, and the sharp blade really makes opening even the toughest can “can-tastic.” See? I was a copywriter, too, once. Bonus: built-in bottle opener for long-neck fans. And little handles for hanging up if you have one of those kitchens where you can hang things up. If you do, I admire you.

What cans are we opening? How about cans of…

6. Food

Have to use that cool can opener on something. How about…

Amy’s Organic Black Bean Vegetable Soup, Low Fat, Vegan, 14.5-Ounce (Pack of 12)

We’ve been eating a lot of beans in the pandemic. Red, black, white, cranberry, green; dried, cooked, baked, reheated, repurposed and beloved. There are 2.6 grams of protein in pinto, as in most of the others, and they satisfy hunger on a fundamental level. Randy soaks the dried ones overnight before cooking, reducing the possibility toot-toot-tootsie, goodbye.

Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable is a nice change of pace. Let Amy do the work of getting the bean/spice ratio just right, and enjoy its savory goodness. The 12-pack belongs in a kitchen or basement survival shelter, and why, yes, I am building such a thing. Stay safe, everyone. And eat more beans.

7. Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)

Duh.

As I mentioned above, when I was first searching ready.gov in March, there was no mention of the coronavirus. But “dust mask” was already on the list of emergency supplies, “to help filter contaminated air.” Good. Little did the site know just how contaminated the air was about to get. We now know masks to be an indispensable part of daily life. My wife sews many for our family, upcycling old t-shirts, but on Amazon, I like…

Cameleon Cover – Made in USA – Fashion Face Mask Covering Washable Cotton Double Layer – 3 Pack

I cannot mask my enthusiasm for this 4-pack of double-layer, doubled-sided, 100% Lycra masks. Oh sure, the white inside is 100% cotton. Oh sure, the 13-inch, earloop-to-earloop length will stretch to 17. Oh sure, they’re breathable, comfortable, and made in the U.S.A.

But what caught my eye and triggered my shopping cart were the colors – Chameleon Cover’s Summer Collection: Neon Yellow, Neon Pink, Neon Orange, Neon Blue. I’m too manly for the pink, but I wear all the other three proudly. My previous black masks were somehow menacing. “I know I look like I want to rob you, but I just want to pay for this juice.” A socially distant summer concert calls for that orange, I think. I socially distant hike along the mountain ridge, the yellow. Listening to the Blues, the blue.

Masks. Our future. Make peace with them. Think colors.

8. Extra batteries

Energizer AA Batteries (48 Count), Double A Max Alkaline Battery

I’m an Energizer loyalist. They work, they last, and the drum-beating bunny is wearing sunglasses. Keep going.

But wait, there’s more.

And as bonus 9th and 10th basic supplies, I am going to recommend two important items not on the DHS Emergency Kit list, but are on mine. And now in my possession. First, you should seriously consider getting a…

9. Camping stove

Coleman Gas Camping Stove | Classic Propane Stove, 2 Burner

I was firing on both burners when the obvious hit me: if we have to stay home due to combination of a pandemic and a power outage lasting days, we’ll need to cook. Or at least heat. The Classic Coleman Propane Stove served my family well when I was a kid – we would camp for weeks at a time, and my parents made three hot meals a day on it. My goals are no longer so epic: I just want to heat a pot of tea on our patio. Or cook some beans.

This reliable, wind-blocking baby can run up to one hour on high on one 16.4 oz. propane cylinder (sold separately.) I have no need to cook anything that long. On the other hand, I might have to use it to fill a hot bath some night, so. (Thinking ahead.) Set-up is easy, learning curve is low. Is a camping stove a bridge too far for disaster thinking? Well, the next time there’s a power outage, and you want a hot cup of tea: see me.

10. Backpack

How to wrap this all up? (Not this article, though there is that.) How to wrap your kit up? How to encapsulate and preserve the emergency supply kit you have so wonderfully assembled? For ease of “we-gotta-get-out-of-here-now” portability, I recommend a backpack. In fact, I recommend this one.

SwissGear 5358 USB ScanSmart Laptop Backpack. Abrasion-Resistant & Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack Exclusive Bundle with Lock

SwissGear packs have adorned my backs since college. They are wonderfully designed and almost indestructible. The version I currently use for my business ­– back when I went places for my business – has bells and whistles inside the bells and whistles. Putting most of your supplies (minus the stove, natch) in a ridiculously sturdy, lacked backpack like the 5358 means you are guaranteeing its safety. And yours.

“Abrasion resistant,” the Amazon page for it says. That’s absolutely true. I’ve shoved my SwissGear packs under airplane seats and rental car trunks and every nook and cranny imaginable. They bear no wear. Oh, to be a SwissGear pack so I, too, could show no wear.

We’ll be okay, I say. These sturdy supplies help us face the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to.

And help us abide their abrasions.

Walt

2020 Update: Additional Emergency Supplies Recommended by the Department of Homeland Security

In April, 2020, the DHS added to its website this list of additional emergency supplies and tips on maintaining your kit. I repeat them here as a public service.

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  1. Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
  2. Prescription medications
  3. Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  4. Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  5. Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
  6. Pet food and extra water for your pet
  7. Cash or traveler’s checks
  8. Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  9. Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  10. Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  11. Fire extinguisher
  12. Matches in a waterproof container
  13. Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  14. Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  15. Paper and pencil
  16. Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  1. Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  2. Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
  3. Replace expired items as needed.
  4. Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.

  1. Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  2. Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  3. Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.

More at ready.gov

Okay, America. Get ready. To get prepared.

Reviews

waltjaschek-showing-gratitude

Walt Jaschek has an attitude of gratitude: for many things (like the view from Bryce Canyon, Utah, above,) but especially for the kind recommendations for his copywriting and brainstorming services, as provided on LinkedIn.  Leave your own review there or in the comments below. Thanks!

Ramona Kristmann
Creative Director

When I have a client who REALLY needs to differentiate, I call on Walt Jaschek. He’s my “Go To” brand strategist/copywriter. Walt is masterful at helping to position brands and writing copy that communicates a brand or client company’s strategic difference.

Walt writes straight and powerful copy, that’s simple to read. He’s has a knack for making the complex seem simple.

Walt forces you to look at marketing communication through the eyes of a cartoon avatar, who represents your target audience. Then, he invites this cartoon avatar to join your meeting. Soon, you find they are actually sitting right there with you, as you discuss whether a marketing message is resonating. That’s the magic of Walt Jaschek. And, that’s why I partner with him whenever I can.

Bob Mogley
Sales & Marketing Professional

Walt Jaschek is the “Woody Allen of Advertising.” The guy’s in a league of his own. He gets it – and does it all. No matter whether you’ve known him for five years or five minutes: You’ll Want Walt.

Why? Because he gives your message meaning, he gets results and he genuinely loves what he does.

The man pours an incredible amount of passion, wit, creativity and direction into every project he touches…and it shows.

His work stretches across the country and I am no longer taken aback when I run into clients and associates who have either worked with Walt or know his work.

Meet with Walt and you will want him working with you, too.

Mike Whitney
Owner, Whitney Design Works LLC

Walt Jaschek is an extremely thoughtful and creative person. I’ve enjoyed working with him on freelance projects from the Arbor Group, but I’ve actually gotten to know him better through personal channels. He believes in starting at the beginning, which is almost always the best place to start. He feels that a tagline, if handled properly, is the “kernel” or “nugget” of the advertising message. According to him, if you have a great tagline, you’re well on your way to success. I would heartily recommend him for any project that requires a strong tagline, excellent writing, and/or great ideas. He is also a very ethical person, as well as totally likable.

Angie Lawing
Marketing Executive, Film/Video Producer

Walt Jaschek is an imaginative and dedicated storyteller with a keen eye (and hand) for writing comedy. He shared numerous scripts for a short film concept, and gave us plenty of humor in a variety of forms. Once we settled on one of his scripts, Walt helped champion the project in a collaborative, respectful and enthusiastic manner, from storyboards to filming and editing. He is generous with his time and sharp with his wit.

Mike Sneden
Owner, The Arbor Group

Walt Jaschek is a first rate, creative writer providing copy and concepts that are unique but spot-on to strategy. His word craft is second to none and he is a true collaborative spirit. I just wish I had enough projects to employ him continuously.

Mike Behr
Entrepreneur, Strategist, Innovator, Senior Marketing Executive

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Walt Jaschek for several years and on dozens of branding and marketing initiatives. Walt is brilliant as both a brand strategist and copywriter. He can quickly understand a client’s needs and value and package that succinctly into headlines, copy and brand statements.

Whether you need help with developing or better defining your brand, concepting a campaign, creating copy for broadcast, print or web, a sit down with Walt is the best place to start.

Doug Brooks
Owner, Marketing Management Group

I have used Walt Jaschek several times as a creative catalyst when our creative projects needed a spark. Our last project required us to turnaround creative concepts and final copy in two days. Walt was in our office for a brainstorm within 24 hours of my call. His ideas and execution wowed our client and ultimately helped earn us a new account and ongoing creative business. He was constantly available throughout the process and his work was outstanding. A true professional!

Dan Klein
Partner, Spoke Marketing

Simply put, when I grow up I want to be like Walt. Walt Jaschek is an idea guy… whatever you are thinking, he can turn it upside down and bring something new. Unlike a lot of idea guys though, he is organized… grounded in process… he is able to facilitate any discussion and bring it to a place you can act on the idea. Then – he can act. He will write it up and deliver it on time. If I could use Walt on every project… every project would be better for it.

David Meyer
Partner, Spoke Marketing

WARNING: do not hire Walt Jaschek unless you feel comfortable saying “Damn! I wish I’d thought of that!” While I do miss the mustache, Walt is passionate, creative and brings energy to every meeting; no exceptions.

The only thing I like better than working with Walt…is taking credit for his ideas.

Kristy “Tucc” (Bauer) Tucciarone, Ph.D
Program Chair and Professor, Lindenwood University

Hands down, Walt Jaschek gave the BEST presentation about Advertising Copywriting; In fact, he was the more informative speaker we have had all semester…heck, all year,” shared advertising students at UMSL. As the Professor of Advertising I constantly seek ad professionals who can tap the potential in students and make it come alive. Walt did exactly that. I recommend his presentation “Let Loose the Large” to all students studying advertising!! His work is engaging, fun, and effective.

Julie Taylor
Principal, Taylor Management Group

Walt Jaschek has a unique ability to bring a brand to life. Through the creative process, he uses his ability to bring together many seemingly disparate views into a brand story that creates awareness and increases client revenues.

Gabe Lozano
Founder and CEO, LockerDome

Walt Jaschek is one of top creatives in the marketing industry; he’s clever, original, and a true professional. It’s impossible to turn down a cup of coffee with this guy, as it’s simply fascinating to see his mind go to work.

Rod Patershuk
Owner, Noble Business Development

I recently signed up for the “Perfect Your Pitch” workshop with Walt Jaschek and Mike Behr. Our business is complicated for the common layman or even for the sophisticated investor; so we’ve had trouble switching audiences. Being heavily technical in nature our success has been fair with people who already have a knowledge base in our area. But we wanted more; to be better understood.

First and foremost Walt and Mike are professionals that understand the process. Through a deep conversation that flowed easily, they helped us get to the root of our issue. It wasn’t painful in the least and provided a great deal of clarity. There was no talking down to, or jargon; no preconceived notions or boxes to be put in. They provide a structured format, that’s flexible and can adapt to our needs. Both Mike and Walt are easy to talk to and very bright. They proved to be good listeners that really understand getting to the next steps. They have plenty of skill in taking difficult concepts and relaying them in way that’s more easily understood.

In the end we definitely got more than we bargained for and had a good time getting there. I’d highly recommend spending time with them to help you get to your goals faster.

Jeane Vogel
Executive Director, Webster Community Arts Foundation
Artist, Jeane Vogel Studios

Walt Jaschek is, by far, the most talented person I know. But talent comes at price. Sometimes it’s moodiness or quirkiness or just being hard to work with. The cost of working with Walt? Well, you have to contend with his amazing good humor, dry wit, exceptional creative mind and amazing results. Worst of all, you don’t get want you asked for: you get better!

Walt says: Thank you all, very, very much. I am sincerely grateful for your kind words and recommendations. If you want to add to them, I’ll graciously accept.

And I work every day to be worthy of them.

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