This Disaster Kit Helps Me Feel Prepared for Anything Leave a comment

This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.

Just a week before a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic brought the world to a halt, I finished reading Ling Ma’s eerie Severance, a novel set in a world ravaged by a mysterious illness. The protagonist, a corporate cog in an alternate Manhattan, finds her world consumed by a global pandemic with an origin story in near-lockstep with actual current events. So my anxiety was already through the roof when the never-ending stream of news and social media about COVID-19 and our government’s slow, politicized response started up. Ma’s debut will indelibly survive in my head as “that apocalypse book I read right before the actual apocalypse.”

For weeks following, I couldn’t escape my mind’s hellscape of cataclysm and societal collapse. How would my husband and I survive? Should we shelter in place? Escape to somewhere less crowded like other people (despite advice to the contrary)? Could we survive an extended quarantine as if it were a medieval siege? Being prepared for the unknowable felt herculean and impossible.

I started to throw a somewhat random assortment of items into a duffle bag. Lots of the good snacks—jerky, dried nuts, packets of tuna and salmon—because the world may be ending, but I still have my taste buds. I also added water filtration straws, a solar-powered lamp, extra masks, matchbooks from beloved bars we could no longer frequent. It was paltry yet chaotic, but hey, at least I was doing something about my anxiety.

But as I researched detailed preparedness lists created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross, I realized my ad hoc disaster kit wasn’t quite up to their high standards. Then I met Judy.

The Mover Max

15% off when you buy two.

Judy isn’t a person, but a household kit for wannabe survivalists. As someone easily turned off by the ultramasculine bravado of prepper culture (seriously, Reddit forums are wild), to me, “Judy” evokes an image of a reliable, clearheaded friend you can trust in a pinch. Billed as a “ready for any scenario” supply cache, Judy offers four different options that accommodate families and groups of varying sizes. Each is stocked with emergency products that will help the user stay safe, warm, hydrated, and fed for up to 72 hours.

I opted for the Mover Max, which includes supplies for a family of four packed in a water-resistant knapsack in a highly visible shade of orange. Very “emergency.” Unlike my duffle bag, which I needed to sling over my shoulder like a tote, the Judy Mover Max features adjustable straps and is worn like a backpack, leaving your hands free to fiddle with a phone or tool, to climb or whatever else you need two hands for. Inside, all the supplies are neatly labeled and packed in cardboard boxes—first aid kit, handwarmers, a collapsible multi-tool, flashlight, energy bars, and even flat, Capri Sun–like packs of water. (NB: I would eat the vanilla-flavored energy bars if my life depended on it and under no other circumstances. Would it have been too much to stock, say, astronaut ice cream, instead?)

With my Judy Mover Max tucked into the hall closet, I felt my anxiety ease—but would this kit really sustain me along with my husband and our hedgehog son if disaster were to strike? “In an absolute emergency, when you’re grabbing something to run out the door, these kits have the basics for immediate first aid and survival,” says Jonathan Sury, a project director at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, “but emergency preparedness is not one-size-fits-all.”

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