Thoughts Akimbo

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In case of emergency, click ‘help me’

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I’m still trying to finish the latest Danielle Steel novel.

Have you visited the site Amazon.com lately? The purveyor of online books and records has branched out. They now sell, among other things, toys, clothes and very popular “emergency supplies.”

The driving force behind the Web site’s new inventory seems to be not our love of the written word, but our fear of starving to death in post-apocalyptic mayhem.

Worried about China (or Pakistan or Korea) launching The Big One? On Amazon.com, you can buy The Ark III Survival Kit ($17.95), with enough emergency rations for one person for three days (or a couple for 1.5 days, which means they’ll be pretty hungry and cranky that second night.)

A more elaborate version contains not just dehydrated rations but also fresh water with a 5-year shelf life (which sort of redefines “fresh”) and an emergency blanket. I’m guessing the blanket is a big sheet of silver mylar, because it’s heat-reflective, weighs almost nothing and can be folded to fit in your back pocket.

Plus you can use it to signal an airplane for help, or check your hair.

For $7 more, the super-deluxe version of The Ark throws in a first-aid kit, a disposable glow stick, a candle and some waterproof matches. In a power grid meltdown, you can use the glow stick to help you find your car keys, or at least your candle. Or to tell spooky stories. Like the one going on outside your house.

Another big seller for Web-surfing worry-warts is the packaged meal in its many incarnations. Amazon sells both Nutri System meals for the doomed-yet-weight-conscious and those Meals Ready to Eat familiar to veterans of the armed forces.

The emergency rations don’t promise to taste good, but will probably keep you alive, if you can also find a source of clean water (and in a real disaster what are the chances?)

Amazon has the answer to that: For $129, you can get a Fuji air purifier that will turn swampy slush into refreshing water – assuming you have a source of electricity to run it.

If you don’t, you can run the water purifier with a Kipor inverter generator ($899), which turns gasoline into electricity – if you can find gasoline. But sadly, that’s the first thing communities run out of during a disaster.

And that’s where we come to the end of the disaster-preparedness line. There’s nothing on Amazon to help you actually make gasoline.

You can buy a Beckson-Siphon Mate ($26.99), which could be used to, ah, appropriate gas from other sources.

And you also can buy a Stant Locking Gas Cap ($19.99) in case your neighbor has the Siphon Mate.

And while you’re huddled in your bunker trying to rehydrate that No. 10 can of mashed potato flakes using your last bottle of water and sheer determination, with a glow stick clenched in your teeth, you’ll want something to read.

I’m pretty sure Amazon still sells books, too.

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