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The Nutella Earthquake Preparedness Kit: PSA of the Month

How to handle an emergency: duct tape, chocolate, a can opener
How to handle an emergency: duct tape, chocolate, a can opener
A. Scattergood

Last summer, we ran a post about what to pack in your Earthquake Preparedness Kit, chocolate being the first thing that some of us would grab, along with the dog and the children. Since April is Earthquake Preparedness Month, we thought we'd run it again. Why April? Not because the collective stress of tax day somehow translates into geologic stress, but because San Francisco's 1906 quake, the most destructive in California's history, happened in April. Also, according to a story in today's Los Angeles Times, Southern California is experiencing a surge in quake activity. A very good reason to pack your Nutella and your duct tape and get prepared.

If you live in Southern California, you should know what to do in the event of an earthquake, and what to pack ahead of time. The Red Cross advises that you get a kit, with at least 3 days of supplies, including: water (1 gallon per person per day) and food, flashlights and duct tape, and a small catalog of highly useful items. You can order an inexpensive kit from the Red Cross, or assemble your own. But disasters are personal as well as public, and preparedness can be a highly subjective state. If the world is going to take an abrupt Cormac McCarthy turn, some of us will need chocolate. Plastic jars of Nutella are unlikely to shatter, and they won't melt in the unrefrigerated heat the way bars of Valrhona or Michel Cluizel will.

You can also find small ration-size packets of the Italian chocolate-hazelnut spread, which come in handy if you can't yet locate your spoon. A few cookbooks would also be worth their weight, as you will only be able to last for so long chewing on the pressed wafers of wheat flour, vegetable shortening, sugar, coconut and salt that the Red Cross has perhaps furnished you with. Take the religious book of your choice; pack Dante, Shakespeare, the Twilight Saga.

But also toss in James Peterson's excellent how-to guide What's A Cook To Do? and Nancy Silverton's pantry-friendly A Twist of the Wrist. The first because you may need simple instructions on how to poach a fish or make an omelet; the second because cans will be your new best friends. And to the assembled cache of light sticks (fiat dinner candle) and radio batteries and plastic emergency tablecloths, do not forget to add a can opener. Just because the first soldiers to benefit from the invention of canned food had to use bayonets to open the cans (can openers were invented later), doesn't mean you should too.

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