Prepare

Freedom from fear

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Like it or not, we live in uncertainty.

* Climate change is bringing more freakish and extreme weather.
* Financial crisis has brought social stress, unemployment and may soon threaten the government safety net.
* Terrorism is a constant threat
* Energy security breeds  insecurity and conflict as we approach peak oil
* Deflation could become depression, which is a short trip from anarchy

Most people want nothing to do with this discussion, and are showing that with their disinterest. The vast majority of North Americans never worry about topping up their gas tanks, having a backup power source in the closet or a just-in-case box of stuff in the basement. Nine out of ten of your neighbours walk around without much cash in their pockets, with only enough food in the fridge for two days and no clue of what to do if the lights went out or the grocery store and bank shut.

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Fair enough. But these are abnormal times.

Ice storms, riots, power outages, bridge collapses and attacks don’t happen every day. Thank God. But neither do house fires – and yet virtually every homeowner carries insurance against that unlikely, but devastating, occurrence. The same with life insurance. I pay mine every month, and hope my wife never collects. My death at the moment is unlikely, but I take steps to mitigate against the consequences.

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If you believe the chances of a natural disaster, run on a bank or civil unrest happening in your lifetime are zero, then skip this section.

However, if you figure the odds are greater than 0%, then wouldn’t a prudent person take precautions? Isn’t that what insurance is all about – hedging risk? After all, having to live without power for two weeks during the winter could be catastrophic for unprepared families. Being without cash, when debit and credit cards don’t work during a financial crisis could mean hunger and misery. Having to flee your home on 20 minutes’ notice in a civic emergency could prove extreme – unless you had pre-packed bags of supplies to grab on the way out.

Freedom from fear is likely impossible in this time, in this place. But freedom from worry is not.

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Xurbia suggests the following:

Bad Day Box

Every home should have one, with supplies sufficient to care for the number of people living there. These are materials which are non-perishable, need never be replaced or rotated, and which could be desperately useful in difficult times. These are also items which you will not be able to get at Home Depot or Canadian Tire in times of emergency, simply because odds are those stores will be closed, or clogged with impenetrable, perhaps unruly, crowds.

Xurbia’s Bad Day Box offers materials of great potential use to a family of four. It does not include those items which are particular to your situation and which you must add. They include cash, sanitary items (personal hygiene, feminine supplies, prescriptions, extra eyeglasses, copies of ID, books and games), and household bleach (for purifying water). After you buy this product:

* ensure you immediately add the above items
* store it in a cool but very accessible location, along with
* at least one case of Meal Kits, and
* Casual, rugged, clean clothing – pants, boots, coats, sweats
* Water – the equivalent of one gallon per person per day for one week. Add in a gallon a day for a medium-sized dog.

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A sampling of the essentials contained in our Bad Day Box.

Xurbia Bad Day Box contents:

> Rugged, 12-gallon plastic container with watertight lid
> Wind-up, batteryless radio, AM-FM, with built-in alarm, flashlight, siren, emergency flashers and reading light
> Manual can opener
> Family-sized First Aid kit with instructions, includes bandages, gauze, antiseptic wound cleansers, tape, wet dressings etc.
> Heavy work gloves (2 pairs)
> Thermal, hi-tech lightweight blankets (4)
> Roll of heavy plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife for covering broken windows, making quick emergency shelter etc.
> AA and AAA batteries (2 packs)
> Matches (2 boxes)
> Package of emergency candles
> Sealable plastic bags for personal documents and keepsakes
> Dust masks (4)
> Emergency whistle to signal help
> Toe and hand warmers (8)
> Wind-up, batteryless flashlight

Xurbia price: $239.95

(sales tax and shipping extra)

Emergency Meal Kits

While the conventional wisdom is to store a week’s worth of food in your home, that wisdom is seriously flawed. If you lack the capacity to generate electricity, you’ll have a hard time preparing or cooking meals. Additionally, if you have to flee, then foods which are not ready-to-eat are useless, Finally, stockpiled emergency food supplies need to be tossed every six months or so, and replaced with fresh stock.

For these reasons, xurbia believes Meal Kits are a vastly better option. You should have one case for each person in your home.

This is the most advanced and secure food in the world. Our meal kits were developed by the US military, are used in the space program, by FEMA (US Federal Emergency Management Agency) and provide complete nutritional meals anywhere, anytime, and under any conditions. These also bear no relationship to the tasteless and monotonous “rations” consumed by troops decades ago, because they are not dehydrated, freeze-dried or laced with preservatives.

The meal kits xurbia sells have been inspected by the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency. They can be heated up without a flame source, and are designed to provide enough calories (about 950 per meal) to sustain an adult. These meal kits come in a case containing 12 meals, and each includes a fully-cooked entree, side dish, bread product, dessert, drink, condiments, plastic utensils and towelette.

Best of all, they have an indefinite shelf life. Buy a few boxes once, and forget about them for years – until a critical situation develops, in which case these MREs could save your life, or at least make the difference between hunger and hope.

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> A shelf life of at least 5 years, or up to 10 years when stored in a cool spot
> Each case contains 12 meals – 4 breakfast and 8 lunch/dinners
> Each case contains enough calories to feed an adult for 7 days
> Meals have entree, side dish, bread, drink, dessert
> Spoon, napkin and towelette included with each meal
> Pouches (called ‘retort’  packaging) are state-of-the-art – waterproof, rodent-proof, insect-proof
> No openers needed
> No heat source needed – flameless ration heater included which heats when two ounces of water added.
> Can be eaten hot or cold, right from the package
> Can be frozen. Meals contain no preservatives.
> All food is fully cooked and fully hydrated. There is nothing to add,
> High-tech packaging is sterile and seals in all flavour, yet strong enough to be air dropped or taken on to the battlefield
> Able to withstand extreme temperatures with no change in food quality
> Can also be warmed with body heat
> Case weighs 19 pounds
> Meal entrees include Penne with sausage, Chili with beans, Veggie lasagne, Cheese tortellini in tomato, Spaghetti with meat, Cheese omelette, Apple-rolled oatmeal.

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Sample meal.

Xurbia price: $129 Cdn per case

(case includes heater and 12 meals
Plus sales tax and shipping)

Bad Day Backup Power

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Jump-starting a vehicle with the Powerpack 200.

If you cannot afford a generator, or wisely want a mobile source of power in an emergency, the best choice is a backup power pack.

These devices stand ready at all times, then leap into action giving security and the ability to do a wide range of tasks, like jump-starting a vehicle, inflating tires, illuminating the darkness and providing a stream of useful household electricity – anywhere.

* Use one of them to backup computers during a grid failure.
* Put one in your trunk to use in a roadside emergency to jumper your battery, inflate a flat tire, set up a distress beacon or heat a meal.
* Grab one if you are evacuated, to give you power for lamps, microwave, TV, laptop or to charge up cell phones and Blackberries, wherever you might land.
* Take one outside to operate corded power tools

These power packs consist of advanced electronics connected to state-of-the-art sealed batteries. They charge up from either a household AC outlet, or the battery of your vehicle. They’re affordable, clean, quiet and maintenance-free. Best of all in an emergency situation, they are 100% job-ready and completely portable.

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XPower Powerpack 400R

This is a popular, low-cost versatile unit ideal for emergencies. Powered by a rechargeable battery, it provides 400 watts of AC power – enough to energize TVs, fans, computers, clock radios or power tools. It can jump start a car, truck or boat and also inflate tires and camping equipment. It has AC outlets for plug-and-play capability, and also operates DC products like PDAs. It also has an emergency light, jumper cables and flasher, as well as integrated AM/FM radio and digital alarm clock.
> Weighs just 23 pounds, making it ideal for transport.
> Runs household appliances anywhere.
> Built-in air compressor, and comes with nozzle adaptors for tires and sporting equipment
> Electronic display for monitoring battery
> Built-in AC charger – can be recharged at home from standard wall outlet or from your vehicle
> Comes with jumper cables, as well as AC and DC charging cables.
> Flashing amber light for emergencies.
> Built-in emergency light
> Accessory bag
> Six-month manufacturer’s warranty

Xurbia price: $178 Cdn

(plus sales tax and shipping)

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XPower Powerpack 600HD

This provides increased power, turning out 600 watts of useful household current. It also gives you three built-in AC outlets to run devices at the same time, like a lamp and laptop. AM/FM radio and digital alarm clock are built in, along with a powerful emergency light and jumper cables.
> Capable of jump-starting a car, truck, boat or RV.
> Three AC outlets are built in, allowing for multiple devices at the same time
> Also powers all DC devices like cell phones and Blackberries
> Built-in radio, alarm clock, emergency torch
> Display allows for easy battery power monitoring
> Recharge it from any standard wall socket, or from the cigarette lighter of your vehicle
> Jumper cables, AC charger and DC charging cables included
> 6-month manufacturer’s warranty
> Accessory bag included
> Powers emergency lights, TVs, laptops and charges cordless and cell phones

Xurbia price: $229 Cdn

(plus sales tax and shipping)

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1500-powerpack

XPower Powerpack 1500

A backup system which is a true alternative to an installed generator. It kicks out 1500 watts of household AC power – enough to run virtually any electronic product or appliance that you would normally connect to a standard wall outlet. Its advanced electronics converts energy stored in a sealer 12 volt battery into AC power instantly, feeding power from a built-in panel with two outlets for household power and another to charge DC products. This operates just like a generator, but without the need for any fuel, and without any noise, exhaust or maintenance. And all in a 57-pound package which comes on a set of wheels for easily mobility.
> Packs 1,500 watts of household electricity to power anything you’d normally plug into a wall socket
> Alternative to a generator at a fraction of the cost
> Completely mobile, wheeled unit, with sealed battery which will never leak
> Recharge it from a standard wall socket
> Runs silently without fuel, fumes or exhaust. Completely safe for indoor use, unlike conventional generators
> Can operate full-sized appliances like refrigerators or washing machines
> The ideal backup for computer installations in times of grid failure
> Digital battery level indicator
> Padded towing handle allows for easy moving. Side handles let you lift it simply into a trunk or a truck
> Two three-prong AC outlets built in
> Comes with AC charges and DC charger cable
> Rechargeable from a vehicle, or from your solar or wind power system
> Will run a TV for 14 hours, laptop for 27 hours, table lamp for 16 hours
> 12-month warranty

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Plugging a fridge into the Powerpack 1500.

Xurbia price: $398 Cdn

(plus sales tax and shipping)

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XPower Powerpack 300 Plus

A very affordable emergency backup which turns out 300 watts of household power as well as performing a number of vital functions. Silent, portable power provides security anytime, anywhere, in the home, on the road, in a shelter or in the bush. Weighing less than 20 pounds, it is portable, and includes a built-in fluorescent emergency light, jumper cables and integrated compressor for inflating tires and sports equipment.
> Built-in 300 watt inverter plus sealed, non-spillable rechargeable battery
> Recharge it at home from standard wall outlet or from a vehicle
> Bright, useful fluorescent emergency light
> Built-in compressor
> Capable of jump-starting vehicles. Jumper cables included.
> Also included are nozzle adaptors for the compressor, plus AC and DC charging cables
> Accessory bag included
> Battery level meter and battery alarm built in
> Inflates tires, starts cars, powers emergency lights and home security systems, as well as TVs and small appliances.

Xurbia price: $164

(plus sales tax and shipping)

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XPower Powerpack 200 Plus

This little workhorse has enough heart to jump-start a 4-cylinder and most 6-cylinder vehicles, power cell phones and PDAs and also gives 200 watts of household energy to electrify table lamps and run a laptop. All that in a device that weigh less than 12 pounds! It also has a built-in light and jumper cables, as well as an air compressor that will inflate tires and sporting and camping gear.
> Gives you household AC power anywhere in an emergency situation
> Also powers DC products (Blackberries, cell phones, iPods) in any location
> Sealed, non-spillable long-lasting battery
> Jumper cables built-in and stored within the Powerpack
> Built-in light perfect for dealing with power outage
> LED indicator tells you how much battery power is available
> Recharge this at home from a standard wall socket or from your vehicle
> AC charger and DC charging cable are both included
> Six-month manufacturer’s warranty
> Canadian-made

Xurbia price: $119 Cdn

(plus sales tax and shipping)

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Evacuations

Planning ahead: Go-bags

A Go-bag is an essential companion to your Bad Day Box. In a flood or a fire, you’d have to bail out, so why not get ready in advance? Put this stuff in a backpack and prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.
* Flashlight, preferably wind-up
* Radio – battery operated or wind-up
* Batteries
* Whistle
* Dust mask
* Pocket knife
* Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
* Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
* Local map
* Some water and food (use your Meal Kits packages)
* Permanent marker, paper and tape
* Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
* List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
* List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
* Copy of health insurance and identification cards
* Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
* Prescription meds and first aid supplies
* Toothbrush and toothpaste
* Extra keys to your house and vehicle


Caring for the animals

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In an emergency situation, do not abandon your animals. They are dependent on you.

* Keep a collar, current license and up-to date ID tags on your pet at all times. Consider having your pet micro-chipped.
* Make sure your pet is comfortable being in a crate, box, cage, or carrier for transport.
* Keep an updated list of trusted neighbors who could assist your animals in case of an emergency
* Remember that animals react differently under stress. Keep dogs securely leashed and transport cats in carriers or pillowcases.
* If your pet is lost, contact the nearest animal shelter to report your pet missing. When it is safe, return to your neighborhood to search and distribute “Lost Pet” posters; include a current picture of your pet.

Make a Go-bag for each pet. Include:

> Sturdy leashes and pet carriers. A pillowcase is a good option for transporting cats and other small animals. Muzzles for dogs. Food, potable water and medicine for at least one week
> Non-spill bowls, manual can opener and plastic lid
>Plastic bags, litter box and litter
> Recent photo of each pet
> Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters
> Copy of your pet’s vaccination history and any medical problems
> Portable fencing or baby gates

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If you must leave your pets behind:

> Inform animal rescue workers of your pets’ status: On your front door or in a highly visible window, use chalk, paint or marker to write the number and types of pets in your residence. Include their location in your home and the date that you evacuated.
> Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over.
> Leave plenty of food in timed feeders to prevent your pet from overeating.
> Do not tie up your pet in your home.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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