I have been struck by a couple of news stories about the grace with which the Japanese people are handling this crisis. I saw one story which showed men harvesting bamboo and slicing it into chopsticks while the woman made and delivered rice to the overwhelmed shelters. Many are sharing their own limited resources in spite of the reality of going without themselves. This made me wonder just how prepared I am to help in the event of a crisis. The answer is that it depends.

I have a good supply of boots, coats, hats and gloves in a variety of sizes. I never turn down a good deal on a down or wool jacket. I keep a lot of baby supplies around. I also have extra seeds and a few hand tools I could pass on.

I have a lot of food but not much of it would make good emergency rations. A bag of wheat is not what would be the most help to someone in need. I’ve been thinking that a good activity for a church group, scout troup or 4-H club would be to put together a few emergency bags. These could be handed out to people affected by house fires or an economic emergency as well as larger scale problems.

I have also been thinking about grab-and-go bags. I’ll bet that almost no one in the US has one in a handy spot in spite of the fact that we are all vulnerable to house fires if nothing worse. If I was forced into a shelter I would want several things like toiletries, a change of socks and underwear, and some small bags of raisins, nuts and some hard candies. I would want a small water filter, a set of dishes and a flashlight as well a pen and some note paper. I know I would want a deck of cards and a good book. I would certainly want any medications and copies of my most important papers like insurance numbers and copies of deeds. I keep one bag in my car and a second bag in my house. I keep all of my medications in a box right by the kitchen door. My bag is pretty well-stocked although not perfect.

This is a mighty scary time. I would urge you to limit the time you spend on-line or watching the news. It can be toxic to your mental health and prevent you from accomplishing what you need to do to work on your own resiliency. I’m heading out this morning to help friends who have had a basement flood and need many hands to assist in the clean-up. This is resiliency. It’s about relationships as much as it is about acquisition. It’s about breaking a sweat more than it is about the intellectual exercise of predicting collapse. It’s about living a life that works for you. That will look different for each of us. Peace. Kathy