Designing for Disaster: 15 Ideas for Preparedness & Response

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Aesthetics may not be the first consideration when it comes to emergency items like survival kits, post-disaster housing and relief supplies, but good design can make the difference between clunky, inefficient objects that hamper adequate response and the items that save as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible. Often created after designers witnessed disasters close to home, many of these solutions attempt to build preparedness into our daily lives, making it easy to grab a minimalist kit by the door or pack up a panicked pet at the last minute.

Pet Earthquake Emergency Bag

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Have you thought about what you’d do with your cat or small dog if a disaster hit and you had to flee on foot? Transporting them in a standard pet carrier would be cumbersome and maybe even impossible. Enter the Pet Earthquake Bag Kit, created in response to the last major earthquake in Japan. Special pockets and straps make it possible to carry up to two household pets. It come sin two sizes and includes a human/pet emergency kit with water, treats, bandages and calming oils.

Minim-Aid Emergency Kit
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This slim and minimalist stainless steel tube kit by Nendo takes up very little space hanging in a closet or on a hook by the door, but contains a raincoat, radio with gadget charger, lantern, drinking water and whistle. Waterproof and capable of floating, it would be easy to grab and carry at the last minute.

Reaction Housing System Flat-Pack Emergency Shelters
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Stackable and easy to ship, the Reaction Housing System is made up of two easy-to-assemble pieces that can be used alone for a single unit or connected to multiple units. Each one can be configured as a living space or office and contain single beds that fold down from the wall and portable power generators. Twenty of them can be stacked on one semi-truck or C-130 Hercules plane, and 1,940 could be moved across the country on a freight train to house 7,760 survivors as quickly as possible. At $5K each, they’re far cheaper than most other solutions, like the ones FEMA currently uses.

Life Desk
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The Life Desk was developed after a number of students were seriously injured or killed by the tables they were hiding under during earthquakes in China. The heavy duty high-strength-steel and nylon desk provides a long-lasting work surface for students and can be quickly folded for shelter in an emergency.

PATCH Urban Survival Kit
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Looking like a small thermos on a key fob, PATCH is an urban survival kit designed specifically for city dwellers in the 21st century, containing all the core elements of a first-aid kit and adding a phone charger, multi-tool, zip ties, emergency blanket and other items you’d be likely to need if some kind of disaster made your surroundings unsafe.