Be Prepared: 5 must haves for any Emergency

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”
Bill Cosby

Japan is still, by and large, way up shit creek and nobody seems to know exactly where the paddle is.  The Kanto area is still getting small to medium size earthquakes everyday.  The situation with the Nuclear power plant in Fukushima has not improved and resources are depleted all over the country while aid workers and the military push on non-stop to find survivors and help the displaced in Northern Japan, the area most hard hit by the initial quake and tsunami.

What this means for normal people in Tokyo and other areas where radiation is or could potentially become a problem and the earth under our feet is still swaying and rolling is the onset of compounded stress, tension and anxiety.  It gets hard to sleep when, just before bed, everything starts rumbling.  When every news report in the world has a title that begins with the words “DIRE” or “POTENTIAL CATACLYSM” one loses the ole’ appetite.

But as in the iconic words of Cypress Hill: When the Shit goes down, you better be ready…when the shit goes down!

In situations like this, it is important to do two things.

First, you need to prepare for tough times if you haven’t already. Getting the essentials is a big step toward finding the second necessary point.  That secondary point is to RELAX.

It might sound like a tough thing to do, but you need to relax.  When you relax you can make decisions more fluidly, considering all the angles and options.  You can sift through the hype, which there are cargo planes full of, and find the straight facts.

One fantastic way to relax is to know that you’ve prepared as well as can be expected, the other way is to crack a smile and laugh.  These two points are what this list is all about.

5. Hydrate!

I can hear it now…

“Come on, all that booze just for you?”

No, although that’s not a bad idea really.

These are some of the empty bottles I had in my home.  Yes, several weeks of recycling left undone has come to good use.  Wine and Vodka bottles rinsed out and filled with clean water.  The bottles are fairly sturdy, not a single one broke during the big shake on Friday, and somehow I feel comforted by them being full and…wine bottles.  Although potential house guests might get the wrong idea, if the tap water goes out or gets murky I will remain fully hydrated and ready for action.

Point? You need water.

4.  People start screaming in the dark

People really DO start screaming in the dark.  I know, because I am one of them.  I have a beautiful, bass speaking voice that becomes distinctly shrieky and panic-inducing among small animals and certain children, when the lights go off whilst I am on the toilet.

With Power plants shutting down and roaming blackouts a reality, having easy access to light sources is essential.  A flashlight nearby is a good idea.  Candles are very useful, but due to the potentiality of further fun-fun earthquakes, it might be best for you to keep that lovely, 2 foot Gothic-black gargoyle candle you got yourself for Christmas in the closet and opt for smaller, survival style emergency candles.  Also, the small tin based candles one uses for aroma therapy are found in loads of shops and are essentially the same thing.

Point? You need light.

3. Chow

During a black out or say, the apocalypse, it’s unlikely that Dominoes will be delivering or that Kentucky Fried chicken will be open and serving piping hot 4 piece meals and ice-cold 40’s.  But you still need to eat.

Now, although Japan is the hometown of rice (Ninjas invented it), and most of my Japanese friends can exist on a diet of exclusively rice, seaweed and soup for decades on end, this is not the case for some of us.

Because I’m a maniac, I have a case, correct, yes a case, of military MRE’s or Meal Ready to Eat in my closet.  Each prepackaged meal has about 1200 calories.  Although some of them taste like standard microwave meals from 7/11, others taste more like prison rape.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to have food stuffs from other sources.

Although the markets and stores in Tokyo are largely out of bread, rice and instant noodles within minutes of opening at the moment, things like pasta, canned tuna fish and fresh fruits are still available. As are canned fruits, which are not so popular here.

If you avoid the bigger markets and look for corner family owned stores and back road discount markets, you’ll likely find much more variety.  I have been listening to Pavarotti and eating like I moved to the Tuscan coast, and have even had a couple of bottles of wine in order to make way for more water bottling.

Point? Get non perishable foods, and try to get a bit of a variety.

2. The Bug-out-Bag

Who the hell just said “Cute Purse…Homo.” ?!

This is my “Bug-out-Bag”.  The BoB as I like to call it, is a satchel type bag I have with two separate compartments.  Its pretty heavy-duty, won’t break if I pack it to the gills and the strap is also heavy-duty, allowing me to use it in the strangulation of flesh-eating zombies if that becomes part of this scenario.

Contents of the BoB are as follows:

  • 2 stripped down MREs.  Removed unnecessary packaging and junk to save room.  Both are the flavors and meals that I can hardly stomach.  This is a good way to insure you won’t eat them unless absolutely necessary.
  • My Passport.  In case you need to get into your embassy or just prove who you are in a foreign country.
  • My wallet, foreign registration card, bank cards etc.
  • Cash.  One envelope with some Yen, another with some USD incase I find myself on a US military base.
  • Immediate hygiene gear.  This is the stuff that you need to keep yourself from falling apart. For example I have low-level eczema.  If I can’t shower or wash properly it will crack and then bleed without lotion within a couple days.
  • Medication.  If you have a prescription make sure it is in the bag. I do not, but I have a bottle of Advil and some antibiotics just in case.
  • Cold weather gear.  It is very cold in Tokyo at night now and it gets worse the further north you are. Gloves, a beanie, thermal under shirt and another pair of good socks.
  • Lighters and waterproof matches. Also with these in a baggy, two tampons.  These are really handy for starting fires.  Don’t ask where I got these.
  • Flashlight. I have a mini-mag.
  • All purpose knife/tool. I have a leatherman. Multi-tool and knife.  This along with my cash, passport, wallet and the next item would go on my person once I am outside the building.
  • Cellphones and charger. I have two phones. One I leave fully charged, battery taped to the outside of the phone. This is my back up. I can switch my sim cards if my first phone dies out.
  • Water. I have two 500 millilitre bottles in the bag.

This Bug-out-Bag is not big and that is a conscious decision.  When I put it together I was thinking earthquake.  If I was displaced, I would have to almost immediately find more water as the two bottles in the bag are not enough when one is running for one’s life while nursing a hangover.

Weight is a consideration because you have to carry whatever you pack.  Keep it in mind when you put one together. Another good move is to waterproof the bag with a couple big zip-lock backs inside. Keep anything that might be affected by water in those bags and keep them closed up tight.  If you’re really motivated and have time, you can further re-enforce the zip-lock bags inside by layering the exterior of each bag in duct tape.  It helps protect the bags and hence your necessities by defending against punctures and tears in the plastic.

Point? Don’t forget your “Bob”.

1. Attitude

Two hours into the future: I have survived another big earthquake, grabbed my “Bob” and escaped two separate groups of zombies.  But as I walk down the road, cross-bow in hand, samurai sword lashed to my belt, Nike cross trains muddied from my travels and suffering, up rolls a group of anarchy spreading, cannibalistic, rape loving Mad-Max-type bikers.

My grip on my crossbow tightens, as the bikers fan out to form a line with their “easy riders” and side cars in front of me, blocking the road I am destined to travel.

The wind blows, one particularly ugly biker snarls, an ugly little woman in his side car snarls along with him.  Another one takes out a flask and guzzles from it greedily, wiping away the leakage onto his scruffy fat chin with the back of his gloved hand as he giggles in sick, high-pitched staccato.  All of them stare at me.

The wind blows again, a wolf in the distance howls and I pull back my hood and look up, revealing my ORIGINAL EDITION, THIS IS IT, MICHAEL JACKSON WORLD TOUR RED AND BLACK BALL CAP to them!


It says so much…without saying anything at all.

The bikers flinch, then look at each other, then look at me….then they all start-up their choppers, turn around and ride off.  I remain on the road motionless in the wind.  The wolf howls yet again. A solitary snowflake falls.

That’s Attitude.

See, that’s attitude.  You can’t buy that, not without an e-bay account anyway.  That is telling people you’re OK. The shit is going down right here, right now and you’re just fine with it. You aren’t laughing at death per se, but you’re aware that everyone has a time, and  you’re not laying down and curling up in a ball waiting for “The Nothing” to come eat you up.  You are prepared to stand tall, look tough times in the teeth, and smile a big “KISS MY ASS” type grin because guess what?

You can handle it.

I know most of you don’t have a REAL Michael Jackson tour cap like this to convey your badassery (and amazing fashion sense) with no words to aggresive biker gangs.  But, you can say a lot with your own actions and bearing.  How you remain calm and you support others around you with your composure and “can do” attitude.  When things slow down you can go back to being a whiny little fairy like I will, but during the tough times….


Point? Attitude.

0. Your Secret Weapon against shitty things.

As much as I wish it was, the secret weapon sadly isn’t necromancy.  And, it’s not this totally horrific mannequin standing in your upstairs window to scare looters away ala Zuzushii laboratory.

The secret weapon is a sense of humor.

I know a lot of people will read this and say that this is “inappropriate” or it is “callous” or it is “insane” or “deranged”.  But it’s none of those things.  These things might apply to me, but not to this post.

Sometimes, things get so bad, that all you can do is turn into the wind and cackle at the top of your crazy-god-damned lungs like a raving lunatic.  The most crucial thing for everyone to do now is support your loved ones, friends and neighbors.  Nothing will help other people more than seeing you smile and offer to lend a helping hand.

At the worst times in my life, the best things anyone have given me were jokes and good news.

When none of the latter is available, lay it on heavy with the former.

Laughing is medicine for your soul, particularly during the bad.

You can read more about the Earthquake in Japan in On Fidelity and 5 things the Earthquake in Japan taught me.