DIY Diva: The end of the world is near!!! (Making a good disaster preparedness kit)

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Heyo-the DIY Diva here. Last Friday I went to see Zombieland on a splurge night with some other broke-ass friends. It should be mentioned that Zombieland was the best zombie movie we’d seen since Shaun of the Dead. But, that is not what this column is about.

It’s about the previews we saw.

Specifically, it’s about the preview we saw for the movie 2012.

For those of you not in the know, 2012 is a “present day meme that catastrophic events will occur on December 21, 2012, because that is the date that the Mayan calendar cites as the end of the world.”  For some reason, Sony decided that it would be a good idea to make a movie starring John Cusack (better known as my future ex-husband) about what would happen if the predictions of global disaster on this date came true.

Now, John Cusack is a powerful, powerful endorphin for me… BUT NOT POWERFUL ENOUGH TO KEEP ME FROM FREAKING THE FUCK OUT DURING THE 2012 PREVIEW.

Sorry, anyone who lives in the Bay Area — hell, in all of California — has some little itchy corner of their brain which fears “the big one.”  I am not alone in this, I am sure.

Each year there are about 10,000 earthquakes in the state of California.  Most of these are not over a 3.0 on the Richter Scale and really, you kind of get used to it the longer you live here.  The last time there was an earthquake that I even felt was this past spring and it felt like a big-ass truck was driving by my apartment.  My lighting fixture shook for about three seconds and I was like, “Huh.  Earthquake.  Better call Mom and let her know I’m fine.”

(I was sure that CNN was reporting catastrophe in San Francisco.)

We have earthquakes.  Lots of them.  And, you just never know when the next “big one” is coming.

I’m sure that people attending Game 3 of the A’s vs. The Giants in the 1989 World Series weren’t anticipating the Loma Prieta earthquake… they were just thinking that they were going to spend a nice afternoon at Candlestick Park.  (Or, if they were in my family, they were cursing the f-ing Giants for triumphing over The Chicago Cubs in the NCLS and hoping the A’s would kick their San Francisco asses.)

Best to be prepared than be caught unawares.

In fact, San Francisco has a initiative for preparedness: www.72

It is really easy to scoff and take the stance “Pff, it’s not going to happen to me!”  But, if you do that you’re a f-ing lazy idiot.  Just go to the minimal effort to create the damn box.  After seeing the 2012 preview and having a bad-dream filled night of sleep I decided the time had come for me to do exactly that.

How-to make a basic disaster kit:
What you need:
-A box with a water-tight lid
-A packet of gallon sized Ziploc freezer bags
-A sharpie marker
-The stuff for your kit

Basically, you’re going to break apart things you have around your apartment, put them into the plastic Ziploc bags (to keep them dry) and label them with a marker as to what they are.

The bare essentials:
-Food (ideally food that doesn’t require water to prepare it)
-Water or something to treat water with so that it is drinkable. You need one gallon, per day for each member of your household. You should have enough to last at least three days.
-Scissors, a knife, a can opener or something else that will allow you to cut, open or puncture
-A first aid kit (duh).
-A backpack so you can make a “go bag” if you have to leave your apartment due to structural damage
-A flashlight and batteries
-Battery operated radio and batteries
-A blanket

For a more detailed list of items visit they have a great checklist to use in building your disaster boxes and “go bags.”

Sorry, he's not coming for you! Get ur shit together!

Ideally you should have a big disaster box for the whole house AND a “go bag” for each member of your household.  Here’s what is in mine:

Kate’s Go Bag:
-A journal
-Pack of pens
-Copies of important documents for myself and my dog
-A lighter
-One bottle of Pinot Noir
-A wine bottle opener

-A plastic cup and empty water bottle
-Dried trail mix and Power Bars
-Dog food in a coffee can
-A collapsing dog bowl
-A dog leash
-Prescription medications for myself and my dog (including Xanex)
-A sports bra, yoga pants, sneakers, a Chicago Cubs hat, a hoodie sweatshirt, two wife-beater tank tops, three pairs of boy shorts, gloves and a scarf
-Sunglasses and an extra pair of regular glasses
-Lip balm
-A pre-paid phone card
-A list of important phone numbers
-An umbrella
-Hand sanitizer, baby wipes and deodorant
-A pocket knife
-Two of VC Andrew’s books (good, easy, trashy, comforting reading from my past)
-My childhood stuffed animal (no way am I leaving that behind if there’s a fucking earthquake)!

And, yes it all fits in one damn backpack… I’m very good at packing.

You don’t want to count on John Cusack flying you out of California in a strangely pre-arranged Lear Jet waiting on the tarmac just in case… it’s just not gonna happen!

Some hints:

Do it little by little. If you try to put it all together at once you’re going to spend a ton of $$ and lose your f-ing mind.

Hoard free shit. Every time I travel I take the soaps, shampoos, sewing kits, etc. that I find in my hotel room. I also horde samples of OTC drugs, pet food and people food. PLUS I have a beautiful collection of mini-bar booze… all things which have found their way into my disaster box.

Keep it fresh!  Make sure to change out the food, pet food, water and medication once a year.

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Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler is a freelance writer and professional blogger. IRL she is a very nice person, regardless of what you might have read about her on the innerwebs. Kate lives in Berkeley with her dog, Max. You can follow her on Twitter @adorkablegrrl


  1. […] DIY Diva: The end is near!!! (Making a good disaster preparedness kit) […]

  2. Mary Sue
    October 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Best Broke A$$ article ever.

  3. October 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I love your article! I work for the Red Cross in San Francisco, and am currently concentrating on an initiative to get more young adults (21 – 35) involved as volunteers. If you fit that description I would like to invite you to our next meeting. They are all really fun, and mostly social. We set up drink specials at bars, go to live concerts, or sometimes to disaster movies. All the while we let you know about the free classes you need to take to be eligible for deployment to a large disaster scene. Bottom line; it’s fun! Please send me your email if interested at


  4. October 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Great post. The problem with the movie 2012 is that while it relies on special effects and pawns this off as entertainment, it lacks a reality that is far beyond important. There is a great deal more to the 2012 scenario than Hollywood would lead you to believe. Learn all that you can now because events will begin earlier than 2012. Its best to be prepared before it begins.

  5. Kate Kotler - DIY Diva
    October 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks Mary Sue and Graham!

    Graham, I’ll make sure to pass on the word about the Red Cross initiative!

    Real 2012 – thanks for the info, I’ll check it out!