COLUMN: Perry Bergson — Dec. 10, 2012

Perry Bergson
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For some reason my best girl and I have been watching an endless procession of movies about either the end of the world or catastrophic storms.

It started with the 2009 Nicholas Cage movie Knowing, which involves his frantic search to solve a mystery that could save the planet.

I’m not sure if you need to call spoiler alert on a four-year-old movie, but here it is. (Things don’t ultimately go well.)

Strangely, a week later we watched the 2012 romantic drama Seeking A Friend At The End Of The World, which stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. They share a journey in what appears to be the final days of the world.

Meanwhile, The Watch was an action-comedy about a neighbourhood watch group (which includes Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn) doing battle with aliens to save the planet from space villains.

And on Sunday, we sat and watched the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow, starring Dennis Quaid and a young Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s a Canadian-made special effects movie that it is amazing to look at and simultaneously has some of the dumbest gaps in plot logic in movie-making history.

Let’s just agree that the world has ended a couple of times and nearly ended a couple of times in the last month at the Bergson house.

Lying in bed the other night, we began talking about our personal disaster plan.

We have a room with no windows that is partly under the stairs so it’s the natural spot to hunker down and wait out a storm.

With the concerns about water being in plastic containers for extended periods, we’ve never bought extra for an emergency. I guess we’re banking on having enough time to get a bunch out of the tap.

Other than my triathlon stash of energy bars and what’s in the freezer, we also don’t keep food in there.

We have a fire extinguisher in there but not a lot of other things that you might consider useful. (Although, if being neat is your priority, the washer and dryer are in there too.)

Eventually that led me to the Internet to discover what you should stock in your emergency room. Frankly, a few things surprised me.

Here’s what FEMA (the American Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommend for people to have in their disaster kit.

• Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.

• A three-day supply of non-perishable food

• A battery-powered radio and extra batteries.

• Flashlight and extra batteries.

• First aid kit.

• Whistle to signal for help.

• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

• Dust mask or cotton T-shirt, to help filter the air.

• Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.

• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

• Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).

I’m guilty of the same thing a lot of people are when I look at those supplies. I think it makes a world of sense yet I’ll never assemble it.

It’s a terrible combination of sloth, indifference, disbelief that I’ll need it and simple economics. The idea of buying batteries for them to die untouched in the basement a couple of years later doesn’t agree with me.

If it’s winter, the suggestions continue.

• A jacket or coat.

• Long pants.

• A long sleeve shirt.

• Sturdy shoes.

• A hat and gloves.

• A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.

I think most of that is common sense. If the heat is out and you’re going to be confined to your little area, it will probably occur to most of us that blankets and warm clothing could prove useful.

The family supply list also has a couple of oddball items.

• Rain gear.

• Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils.

• Cash or traveller's cheques, change.

• Paper towels.

• Fire extinguisher.

• Tent.

• Compass.

• Matches in a waterproof container.

• Signal flare.

• Paper, pencil.

• Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies.

• Disinfectant.

• Household chlorine bleach. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, colour safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

• Medicine dropper.

• Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.

An eye dropper? A tent I’ll never use otherwise? A signal flare?

I’m a little surprised that list didn’t include a baby hippo and a retired jazz musician because it has the rest.

A couple of those items might quietly end up being stored down there. Others I’ll keep in mind in case of disaster.

But now I have a new plan to make me feel better. I’m not going to watch any more movies about the end of the world.

Organizations: The Watch, Bergson house, FEMA American Federal Emergency Management Agency

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