Preparing for the Apocalypse with Playing Cards, Fish Guts

I am not an alarmist by nature. I do not fear using public restrooms or flying on an airplane. I’m actually fairly good at responding in a time of crisis. I do not overreact or allow my emotions to control everything. Although I can be emotional, especially when it comes to my children, my husband’s obsession with fantasy football, or certain shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (watching families collapsing in tears at the big reveal gets me every time).

But this year, I have experienced an earthquake, a hurricane, and something called a Derecho – all while living in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Apparently, unexpected natural disasters should be included in the list of reasons to fear living near our nation’s Capital. I thought I only had to worry about terrorists and politicians texting naked pictures of themselves.

After the Derecho incident on June 29, 2012, I realized how unprepared I was for losing electricity and being a survivalist. I also developed a growing leeriness that the Mayans may have some real intent behind ending their calendar on December 21. On top of this, I watched the movie “Contagion” and I am starting to rethink my lack of fear of using public restrooms and touching doorknobs.

Regardless of my motivations, I decided to err on the side of caution and gather some supplies in a disaster preparedness kit. I even wrote about my desire to prepare an emergency kit in a blog post. What I didn’t expect was the gift that was delivered to me shortly after posting.

My father, who should be the poster boy for emergency preparedness, lovingly responded to my light-hearted post about not having my matches in the right place or working batteries in my flashlights by sending me a survival kit for six. I do not know why I was surprised, considering he has built-in hurricane shutters, a generator, a water filtration system (in case he needs to convert sea water into drinking water), gear to live off the land, and other various hardcore albeit slightly embarrassing supplies. No he is not one of those overly paranoid hermits living in the woods (although he does own a cabin in the mountains – just in case).

The survival kit came in two heavy duty duffle bags so we can grab it and go (I just have to do a better job of refilling my gas tank before the gas light comes on). The kits have everything you might need – think “Book of Eli” with Denzel Washington or a Boy Scout backpack on steroids.

My husband and I slowly and meticulously removed each item. It was absolutely intense (I expect no less from my father). My favorite items were the foldable camping stove, the tube tent, the fish gutting knife, the sleeping pouches which help you retain heat, and most importantly a deck of playing cards (???).

The survival kit my father purchased online and had delivered by express mail started me thinking about other survival kits and the kind of money to be made.

As a mother of four, I immediately thought “New Mom Survival Kit.” So, I googled it. And I was irritated to find some obnoxious and demeaning kits out there on the market. One such new mom survival kit packaged the following items – lip balm, breath freshener, dental floss, emery board, clear elastics, earring backs, mending kit, stain remover, deodorant towelette, pain reliever, caffeine gum, facial tissue, adhesive bandages, hand sanitizing towelette, thermometer, crayons, and playing cards (what is it with cards? Did I not get this memo?). The description says “Stash this life-saver in a clutch, glove compartment, or carry-on bag and easily maintain your Super Mom reputation.”

Seriously? Is this the best someone can come up with? Do new moms really care about emery boards and earring backs when their breasts involuntarily leak and they smell like rotten milk?

A real new mom survival kit would include vouchers for a cleaning service, nutritious warm meals delivered right as the baby starts the witching hour, and wine that does not affect your milk supply.

My next idea for a survival kit was for college students. As you can imagine, a google search came up with tons of Ramen noodles, Red Bull, and some collegiate posters. I was thinking more about creating a kit to combat against the “Freshman 15” and some “do over” vouchers to erase embarrassing episodes, including worshiping the porcelain goddess or making other poor choices I need not detail.

Since I was feeling creative, I thought about creating a survival kit for wives of sports-obsessed fantasy football playing husbands. I didn’t even bother googling this because I feared being exposed to any more sites dedicated to encouraging grown men to devote their energy and time on a pretend (you know, the fantasy part) game that makes you believe you have some semblance of control on the outcome.

For this survival kit, I would include vouchers for massages every Sunday during football season, tickets to the theatre, and guarantees that any winnings are handed over without question to be used as deemed fit (remember, I said I was emotional about this subject and have written on it before).

Regardless of the survival kit(s) you piece together or purchase in its entirety, I do think it is important to think ahead and consider the consequences of not being prepared. I, for one, am more confident than ever about my family’s chance of surviving anything. I just have to figure out how to cook on the camping stove, gut a fish, and put together my tube tent (at least I know how to play gin rummy) because you never know what could happen next, like a zombie apocalypse (do wooden stakes and holy water only work on vampires?).

Are you prepared for a major disaster? Please share by leaving a comment or joining the discussion on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page.


Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




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