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Oct 14, 2017

Welcome to How You Can Save The World

My name is Barbara Edelman and this is THE TRANSCRIPT!!! of

Episode 22  Disaster Preparations for the disorganized  Environmentalist


Hello Everyone. 


I have been missing in action.  No two ways about it.  I had two family crisis hit —thankfully the major one resolved well, while the other one, resolved.  Lets leave it at that!   But…here I am.  AND while I HAVE THE FIRST CHEST COLD OF THE PRE-SCHOOL YEAR.    I  may sound a little bit odd….but  if you can stand my croaking I shall proceed.


Because, while I was fully absorbed in my crisis the world’s crises moved into high gear. Since we’ve last talked, three category 4 hurricane have slammed into the united states. (one of which I actually, unfortunately, got to experience a little of along with tornado warnings and much hiding in Tennessee basements)there was a horrific life shattering earthquake in Mexico, Puerto Rico is still both under sea water as well as without drinking water, and there have been dozens of forest and brush fires burning millions of acres across eight western states, just this past few days two new fires broke out in California spewing enormous volumes of smoke and ash into the atmosphere, devastating communities and creating hazardous breathing conditions all over the Pacific Northwest.


I don’t want to start to predict the end of times, but at least as far as the environment goes, we are in a terrible transitional state of affairs.


I suspect the increased earthquakes have less to do with the climate crisis, and more to do with all the nuclear testing and fracking going on.  But….I digress, from the point I was making about the big picture.  The big picture is that coming soon to a neighborhood near you…will definitely be..a crisis.


The point of this episode is about how to prepare yourself and your family for when disaster strikes.  Because, make no mistake, if you are a human living on the planet, a climate crisis event will effect you.  If you are a human living on the planet, you might also experience a cyber related act  of hostility.  (Power grids knocked out, along with banks and all other cellular data).  And if you are a human living on the planet, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.


NOW, I have not turned into a total prepper——though as I was researching this episode my husband has begun to look at me funny. Perhaps thats because of the huge amounts of supplies suddenly taking up residence  in the bedroom closet.


Because, lesson one.  It doesn’t do you any good to have —- wait.  Hold the phone.


I need to tell you that in addition to the copious show notes this episode will generate, with links to every product I have deemed useful, i am going to try to get the show transcribed, so you can actually print out the text for reference purposes.  So make sure to check today’s episode’s show notes.  Otherwise, you will listen to the show, think oh yes, I should do that…and if you are like me….forget ALL about it till the next catastrophe.


Back to our previously scheduled disaster prep conversation…..  It doesn’t do you any good to have stuff scattered around your house.  Meaning.  I had tons of bottled and what turned out to be expired, packets of Coast Guard approved water on a shelf in the laundry room.


I had my emergency radio in the battery drawer of the coffee table.


I had my solar lights in the bedroom on a bookcase, because I use one of them to let the dogs in and out the bedroom door at night.


And canned food? Well, obviously cans are in the kitchen cabinets.


My point is, it does you no good in a real emergency to have to go hunting all over the house to find and assemble your supplies.  Because during that 7.1 earthquake, the folks in Mexico didn’t have time to remember that they left the kids sleeping bags under the suitcase in the downstairs hallway.


So.  Fear not.  We are going to start at the beginning, and get you organized. If I did it.  Anyone can do it.  Being prepared won’t prevent the disaster, but it will make you calmer about facing it.


So.  Here we go.  Declare the dining room table your assembly area for your kit.  Or a corner.  I don’t care, just designate a place to put all this stuff before packing it up.  You will eventually need a duffle bag, or a big clear plastic wheeled tub to put this stuff in.  But first, lets get it all together.


  1. Here is a list of what FEMA says every disaster prep kit should have:  (  And the link to that list will along with everything else I’m referencing be on the show notes.


Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days,

for drinking and sanitation

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with

tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic

sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench, pliers, crowbar

Info about how to turn off utilities

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Local maps




FEMA adds that you might wish to include supplemental items of:


prescription drugs

spare pair of glasses

pet food and water if you have a pet

cash and change

emergency reference material  (you can download this and print it from if Trump hasn’t wiped that site clean yet)

a sleeping bag for each person.

a complete change of clothing for each person

Clorox and a medicine dropper.  When diluted 9 parts water to one part bleach you can use this as a disinfectant,.  I think in case of dire emergency, such as what is occurring in Puerto Rico, you can actually disinfect dirty drinking water 16 drops to a gallon of dirty water.

Fire Extinguisher

cooking stove

mess kits

feminine hygiene products  (good to pack wounds in case of emergency catastrophes as well as for their actual purpose)



Now, I personally have added the following items to my list:


I add to this, duct tape

a plastic tarp

a cell phone charger

extra medications

a roll of kitchen sized trashcan plastic bags for pooping purposes  I will provide link to a much more comprehensive poop situation.  It is called the two bucket bathroom system.  You will need to purchase 2 buckets and ideally two toilet seats to make this work.   I am not doing this. But…depending on where you live, you might want to at least read up on the thinking behind it.  Apparently the worst problems, odor and germ wise, come in mingling poop and pee.  So you have one bucket for pee, and one for poop.  Pee is sterile, and can be disposed of with less concerns. You can use it as nitrogen rich fertilizer, if it comes to that.  But…poop is another matter.  After The poop bucket is used, you are advised to toss into the bucket a handful of leaves and or dirt to cover the offending offering. Once your bucket is full of poop. (OH GOD is the emergency going to go on long enough to require me to dispose of an entire huge bucket of poop?) you can bury it someplace far from water supplies or, from food sources.   Anyway.  I say, toss a box of white kitchen trash can size plastic bags in your kit, use them to line a toilet in your house. Dispose of it as needed.


Lets hope we none of us need to think about this.


Back to my personal additional list of supplies:



3 or 4 solar powered lights (I like Luci Mpowered brand.)

solar battery rechargers

rechargeable batteries in different appropriate sizes

a bag of individually wrapped milky way bars (I feel that I will need one to sustain my mental health during the crisis, especially as I deal with those poop buckets)


Purchase a life straw from Earth  (   The LifeStraw personal water filter, a "Best Invention of the Year" (Time magazine) winner, enables users to drink water safely from most contaminated water sources.  Basically you can use it to filter out 99 percent of anything horrible from any water source.   


a solar oven





Its easier then it seems.  I dutifully started putting all this stuff on my dining room table, and as the mountain of supplies grew, I started to wonder where the hell I was going to put it all.


If and when the big earthquake comes, and my barely functional 1958 house comes tumbling down in a stack of twigs and a flurry of broken glass, I’m not sure what rooms will still be standing, and/or if I will have the time to be able to lug 500 pounds of emergency supplies out the door as my husband and I, screeching at each other hurtle into the abyss. Thus, I did what any sensible and/or lazy person might do.  I ordered 2 72 hour emergency backpacks from the Red Cross.  I keep one in my car, and one by the front door. 


Each of these backpacks has in it the basic supplies one person will need to survive any emergency for three solid days.


In each back pack is:


1 Waterproof AM/FM radio with batteries

1 Battery powered flashlight (2D cell batteries included)

4 AA cell batteries

1 Emergency blanket, 4.5′×7′

Moist towelettes (individually wrapped)

1 Pen light

Food packets, 2,400 calories total, 5 year shelf life (ingredients include wheat flour, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, salt, water and coconut flavoring)

Water pouches, total of 16 ounces, 5 year shelf life

Procedural breathing mask

Rain poncho (adult sized)

1 Roll of duct tape, 2" × 30 yds

1 Water container, holds 3.5 gallons

1 Whistle

1 Hygiene comfort kit, including toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, soap, deodorant, washcloth, comb, and mesh shower bag

1 45-piece First aid kit


The reason I keep one in the trunk of my car, is because I figure, the car is outside. And wherever I go, it will be right with me.  I keep one by the front door, because my husband keeps his car in the garage, and if there is a bad earthquake we mightn't be able to get into the garage. Also we will have to take my car as its a hybrid and uses practically no gas.


I have added to my backpack, a NOAA hand crank/solar chargeable emergency radio that can charge a cell phone.   That radio is also available on the Red Cross site. 


Two other items….one for each of our backpacks something called an emergency bivvy.  Its a rolled up teeny tiny packet that holds basically a sleeping bag.  If you're without heat, or if you're forced to spend the unexpected night outdoors, hop in the SOL Emergency Bivvy as soon as the temperature drops and instantly improve the odds in your favor.


Ultra-light, ultra-warm, full protection emergency shelter

Made from the same heat-reflective polyethylene as AMK's world-famous emergency blankets (reflecting 90% of your body heat back to you)

Fully sealed so that no wind, rain or snow can get inside


As I said, rolled up it is so tiny it fits in the palm of your hand. Unrolled it might just make wherever you are fleeing to, or even if all the power runs out…habitable.


So.  Ok. You can just stop right there.  I considered it.  I mean…its just me and my husband.  So…we have our two handy dandy backpacks, oh, and did I mention that you can also get a family of four sized 72 hour emergency pack from Red Cross too?  It’s on backorder because of the insane current level of demand, for obvious reasons. But if things calm down for 15 minutes and you are a family of four, you can order one of those.


Lets say you choose to follow my path and order your backpacks.   


You can, cheerfully, call it a day.  Or…you can go a step further.  I did that.  I went a step or two further.   Because….


Watching what is happening in Puerto Rico, and living in an Earthquake/fire zone I thought…hmm.  Can any of us trust that for the foreseeable future, the current Federal Government is going to rush to my aide, or my city’s aide?   So

That meant….


Re-examining those original lists.  And beginning once again to put together a big duffle bag of supplies for longer term bad situations.


One thing you must consider is how you will co ok something, even if its just a cup of tea, or a pot of ramen.

A cooking source is critical if you are in a long-haul catastrophe situation.  Gas lines will be disrupted.  Electrical power will be extremely unlikely.   And you are going to get tired of submitting on calorie bars. 


I think it’s worth considering purchasing a solar oven.  You can get an incredible easy to use one from Earth Easy.  Now this is a big ticket item.  It costs 359.00.  But it is completely portable and can cook anything just with sunlight.   If people had that in Puerto Rico they would have nothing to worry about in terms of boiling water, or cooking simple food. 


And you can take it camping if you are so inclined. Which I’m not.  (


I have several different cooking options that I purchased during previous EarthQuake prep attacks.  These are of course short term solutions.  meaning, only useful as long as the fuel source for them is available.   A solar oven will work as long as there is sunlight.   One of the crazy kits I ordered years ago came with teeny tiny little pots and pans for cooking.  Additionally  I have a candle stove, a few cans of sterno, and a little camping stove.  I also have squirreled away sterno heating up set ups from previous thanksgivings. But a solar oven trumps (forgive me) all of them, because unless we are sitting in a storm cloud from Nuclear fallout, the sun will shine and you will have all the energy and fuel you will need to make dinner. Or oatmeal.



Here is another item that I think every single house in America should have.  A portable solar power generator.


You may have read that Elon Musk is going to Puerto Rico to rebuild the power grid using solely solar?  The Tesla company has a VERY expensive item called a power wall, which basically is a bank of batteries you have in your garage, attached to solar cells on your rooftop.  This provides back up power for you to run your entire house when, as they say, the zombie apocalypse happens.  (Translation, Trump triggers North Korea).


But, A tesla power wall costs, just for the equipment, 6,200.  Were I rebuilding and I lived in a hurricane area, you bet I’d have one of these as part of my new home.  But…most of us cannot shell out (installed) between 7-10 thousand dollars just to prepare for a disaster we hope won’t come. Even if you have solar power already on your rooftop, that power is harvested by the power company who comps you the value.  It isn’t directly providing the electricity for your home.  This is the way the Power companies got to stave off the obvious switch from you buying power created by them burning fossil fuel and them charging you for it, to you simply running your home from free sunlight.  So those cells, if you have them, and I do, will not help you during a power outage.


Of course. this is so maddening.  How many times have I told you that all ALL the solutions to solving the climate crisis exist RIGHT NOW.  All the industries are set up to take off and save the day. We don’t have to kill the planet to run our coffeemaker.  But…that is a subject for another podcast.   


BUT today,…you can purchase from (  Goal Zero a portable solar charger.  Basically. Depending upon the size of the unit you buy,  Its a batter pack that will run cell phones, laptops, small televisions, lamps, even a small fridge.  The prices range from the smallest model for 600 to the largest one (that they say can run an AC, a Fridge, power tools water boilers etc.) for 1799.


You need to purchase in addition the portable solar panels as well.  My understanding is that you can charge these portable generators from plugging it into the wall as well as by using the solar cells.  The best set of solar cells for the larger station is 300. The panel for the smallest model costs 150.


If I lived anywhere I thought power loss was a real and/or dangerous possibility, I’d definitely splash out and buy one of these.  Afterall.  Even if there is a terrible storm, the sun will come out.  And you will have power.  If you have the solar oven, you will also have a cup of coffee.


All that said, full disclosure….I have not purchased a solar oven or a solar power generator.  I know I should.  I just haven’t done it yet.  But full disclosure, I think if you live in any kind of disaster area and you can afford it…these are important items to own.


But back to what I have done.


After I got the two 72 hour backpacks, and squirreled them away (Make sure you put your life straw into them as well as your bivvy)


I hauled everything out that I had put in various corners of my house.  The teeny tiny cook stoves.  The mess kits.  The lifetime supply of Coast Guard approved drinking packets which as I said I discovered HAD EXPIRED,( I guess the last time I had a disaster prep freak out was five years ago)—my bonus medical supplies, my solar lanterns, (Oh I am partial to Luci mPowered lanterns. They are waterproof, they are fully rechargeable in the sunlight, and they provide enough light to read by, to use as an emergency beacon, or as a flashlight to let the dogs out at night.)  I put one of those in each of the backpacks as well.  I also keep one in my big kit.  And one by the back door.


I found two sleeping bags from when the kids were theoretically camping, and put them in the pile.  I added my box of plastic kitchen trash bags, and a few bottles of vodka, and vinegar for emergency disinfectant and cleaning supplies.  It cant hurt to toss in a bar of soap. 


And then I packed everything up in a big plastic tupperware container with wheels and stored the whole mess in my bedroom closet.  As I suggested before, you need to think through the safest place in your house…and that is usually a hallway, or an easily accessible closet near the core of the house.  (away from windows and doors).


It is very important to have an emergency stash of cash on hand.   When disasters strike and power is out, the ATM machines don’t work.  Nor do credit cards.  And, fema suggests a copy of all your important documents should be in your backpacks..maybe a copy of your license/passport/bra size—-I mean it is hard to believe that the emergency will be so comprehensive that you will be needing to use a copy of your passport to survive, and if it is, hard to imagine what that kind of documentation will do for you. So. I have not done that.  I should have. I guess when I’m done with this episode I will.  For some reason I have an inherent reluctance to prepare for the worst case scenarios.  But thats what this episode is for, to encourage you and me to get with the program.


Now, onto food prep.   Boy, this is another thing I dragged my heels on.   I, kitchen, cabinets food.  Surely some of that stuff will still be accessible.  What more do I need? 



Again, I think a small carton you can haul out of your house full of non-perishable food is a pretty good idea.  You don’t know if you will BE in your house, or even if you will still HAVE a house.   So.  Make a small food go-carton. Obviously, check all expiration dates on the cans….and plan to review this box of stuff every year to make sure nothing has expired, or gone bad.  In this  box should go an extra manual can opener, and cans of food.  The kind that would be good in an emergency are—-things that can be heated up very quickly and consumed.  Cans of fruit are good too.  Nothing that needs work.  You could put in packets of ramen.   I also have tossed into the box a bag of uncooked black beans and a bag of rice.  While those things take water and time and heat to transform into edible food,  if any of us are faced with the nightmare now confronting Puerto Rico, having a bag of rice and a bag of beans along with a 10 pack of ramen noodles might make all the difference.  Of course also pack energy bars.  Cans of tuna fish.  Cans of ready made soups.  Oatmeal.   I will post a link to a Vegan woman who created a 72 hour food emergency bag for her family.   Everything is easily purchased.  But….I’m just going to go with the basics and hope for the best.   Because,honestly….there have to be limits.  Presumably in the dire emergency I am imagining, some of my canned food will still be rolling around my kitchen.   I should add that my husband has never met an odd can of food he hasn’t been sure we would get around to trying one day. So in my kitchen there are a lot of cans.  A lot of cans of things I normally would never even consider eating….but in a Puerto Rico sized emergency I will be profoundly grateful for every single can of Thai lemon grass stalks floating  in Coconut Milk. If the house is still standing, or if I am still standing, I will finally get a chance to eat some of his even odder shopping choices.


I also have a supplemental first add kit that I put together myself. Neo Sporin, non stick gauze bandages, 2 bottles of peroxide, and of rubbing alcohol (in my imagination I have to perform a splenectomy in the woods by the light of an led lantern)  But you get my drift.  If there is an emergency like ANY of the ones confronting fellow Americans this past month, people might be hurt, or bleeding and need help before you can actually get TO help. I’d toss in huge bottles of Tylenol and whatever other over the counter meds you find useful.  Pepcid might be good. The very thought of all this misery is giving me massive indigestion even as I try to come up with the list.



The deal is….in a real emergency will there be cell phones? Will there be food for fridges? What are the basics you will need to wait it out?  To survive comfortably until order restores itself? 


The main thing every site says is to develop a plan.  A plan means….where you will rendezvous should none of you be home during the emergency.  An out of state contact — local phone numbers may be unreachable, but if you have identified an out of state person, and you can all check in with that person you can know everyone is safe. 


There are now, and I hate to even say this, let alone think it, tons of sites with info on what to do in case of a nuclear attack.  Living in California this threat seems like something to take seriously.  More so if you live in Guam or Hawaii.  Obviously, in the event of a direct hit nothing will be of any use.  BUT, should you get warning of an imminent attack you must find a deep parking garage (pre-identify this) and get down to the lowest level you can.   Fall out is worse during the first 24 hours.  I started to think about all this, then decided that aside from identifying the closest basement or parking garage, there wasn’t much I was going to do but hope for the best.  So lets just draw a curtain over that dire possibility and plan for the panoply of miserable but survivable natural disasters spread out in front of us.


One last VERY IMPORTANT piece of advice I’d like to leave you with….is that you should read all the instruction manuals for all the handy dandy items you have ordered   BEFORE you store them away and forget about them.


In the beginning of the summer, we had a huge power outage due to heat wave induced blown power station.  And guess what? My cell phone was out of battery, and I couldn’t, in the dark find my solar/crank charging radio.  I couldn’t figure out where I’d left the extra solar lanterns— and all in all, I was bumbling around in the dark, trying to find this stuff, and read the teeny tiny print that came with the hand crank radio, and that was when I knew we were really not prepared for much of anything. 


I wish more then I can say that this kind of preparing weren’t necessary.  I wish more than I can bear that we lived in calmer times.  But we don’t.  So as good old Ben Franklin once said An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.


And lets be grateful to our community of enviro-activists and inventors.  Most of the very important items that I have put into my emergency prep bags and kit are solar powered.  All these inventions, inventions that could literally change the world, save the world ALREADY exist, and we could be using them not for the imagined horrific disaster someplace in our future, but to change the way we produce and consume energy right now, so those other disasters never come to pass.






I’ve been reading a lot lately. Averaging 3 or 4 books a week.  Mainly because I need to mentally escape from our current reality.  And I need to slow down.   I decided to include a segment in our broadcast devoted to whatever book I’ve just read that I think might salve your psychic wound, and also to get a conversation going about what you have read lately as well.  The rate I’m going I will need a lot of recommendations just to make it through the rest of the year.  So please…post your own new book discovered on our FB page.


So…last night I finished Wendell Berry’s masterpiece “Jayber Crow”.  I have long heard about Wendell Berry.  I have read his poems. Perhaps you are familiar with The Peace of Wild Things?  It has been circulated quite a bit recently on FB 


When despair grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.



No question about it that poem is both heart breaking as well as gorgeous. Thanks to a wonderful friend, Ginny Russell, I was introduced to his fiction.  And thank God.   If you  care about the earth, and you must, or why would you listen to this podcast?  If you are perplexed by how we got to this terrible time in our history, if you try desperately to see the big picture,  …Jayber Crow is the book  for you.  It’s a god’s eye view of humanity, seen through the eyes of a very plain man.  Jayber is a barber.  A wanderer.  An orphan.  He fetches up in the small Kentucky town of Port William, where he lives out his very small, very beautiful life.    It traces the whole mess. How we went from living as part of our earthly landscape, to being so severed from it….that we are willing kill it and not recognize that we are killing ourselves too.   Its all there.  Including the pathway out.  As Ginny said to me in an email last night, Berry leaves a trail of breadcrumbs back to sanity.


There have been many graduate thesis, and papers written about BErry’s work and particularly about Jayber Crow. I won’t add my two cents to the worlds’ analysis!  I will just say that what held me riveted were the underpinnings— the discussion Berry had about the earth, and about the ineffable laws governing its existence that mankind ignores at his own peril.  It also is about redemption, and how to find our way back.


If you are weary of the way we are, and if you are willing to slow down a little, and take the time to read this book, I promise you will be changed. Even more important, if everyone who read Berry’s books took his advice, the world would be changed back into something we might actually recognize as habitable.





Here is another handy dandy new segment.  Its the enviro product of the month.  Now, I make zero money off the podcast, and I get no kickbacks or incentives to like a product.  So, honestly, these are my true experiences and honest opinions. I long ago accepted that I am a bossy drawers and like to tell people what to read, and what to buy.  Think of the misery of being my younger sister?   One day she turned to me and said with richly deserved exasperation,  “I AM A 60 YEAR OLD WOMAN!  I think I can figure out how to get through the day without your expert advice.”


That said…here’s some expert advice!  Beth Terry, author of the book   Plastic Free—-and writer   of the  blog “My Plastic Free Life” recently posted about a new toilet paper “Who Gives a Crap”  she orders by the case.  Its made of bamboo.  ( and comes without any plastic packaging.


I confess I was intrigued.  Bamboo is a great alternative to wood pulp in the making of disposable paper products.   Bamboo is a quickly growing annually regenerating crop as compared to a carbon sequestering, oxygen producing tree that takes decades to grow.    I will provide a link in the show notes to Beth’s post detailing all the wonderful reasons to buy Bamboo Toilet Paper vs. Paper Toilet Paper, even recycled paper toilet paper.  Getting rid of single use plastics is her motivating goal, and you can order a case of Who Gives a Crap that has zero zip zilch plastic packaging to dispose of.  But there are many other eco benefits to using Bamboo.


But, what the hell is bamboo toilet paper?  I have long thought Scott Tissue as the only toilet paper that doesn’t destroy septic tanks or cause plumbing problems.  But..I saw a package of Who Gives A Crap at the local supermarket and thought….why not try it?  Have you ever thought of how much toilet paper one human is responsible fro using? How many trees were felled to produce it? How many gallons of chemicals were used to create it? How many gallons of bleach was all that pulp swished through to whiten it? 


I tried it.  Its great.  its fine.  It does the job well.  It doesn’t screw up the pipes or the plumbing and it doesn’t add one drop of plastic to the world.  And it doesn’t add tons of chemicals and toxins to the world. And it doesn’t destroy trees.  So. Win win win.   Plus, if you buy a case of 48 Rolls for $52 that comes out to 1.08 a roll.  You can, if you special order your toilet paper by the case from one of the usual sources get it cheaper.  But really, not that much cheaper. And this one saves the world.  Imagine that….you can save the world by changing your toilet paper brand.


Small steps people.