After Hurricane Katrina I received a box in the mail from a sender I didn't recognize. It was too big to be a book some publicist was pushing. Was it a gift? I was excited.
I tore through the tape and dug deep into the packing peanuts, a touch disappointed that the item wasn't in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is a gift that keeps on giving.
What I found at the bottom of the box was an electric orange backpack, the color orange that crossing guards wear. It said "Ready Kit" and was filled with emergency supplies -- a flashlight, batteries, water. OK.
But it also had duct tape, plastic sheeting, military rations and a face mask. It all felt very fifties. Very "duck and cover." It also gave me a nasty flashback to 9/11 and the hysteria that followed.
Since 9/11, literally hundreds of people have gone online purporting to be emergency preparedness experts, most wanting to sell you a "Go Bag" or a "Ready Bag" or a "Bug Out Bag" filled with stuff you will never, ever use. Not that any of the products themselves are bad -- this bright orange kit I got is actually good quality. I just know that I would never have the time or patience to deal with duct tape no matter what form the rapture may take.
That said, the concept of a Go Bag is a great one. One location for every essential item you absolutely must have with you if there is a disaster. But what should go in that bag? I recommend checking out three excellent websites for that information. First, The Red Cross has a "Be Prepared" page that walks you through preparedness at home, school and office.
The Department of Homeland Security has a website, too, called Ready.gov. It's certainly detailed but it's a bit doomsday. Let's face it-if there's a nuclear attack I'll be too busy running like a monkey to hang plastic sheeting.
The best one I have found, and one that I insist you check out, is 72hours.org. This website is run by the San Francisco Office of Emergency Services and has a very user friendly guide to gathering everything you need. For example -- if your child needs medicine for allergies or asthma, you'll need that in your bag.
Today on the show -- more on the approach of Hurricane Wilma. We will talk to the mayor of Naples, Fla., about his preparations for the storm. We'll also talk about Tom Delay's latest photo op-not one he would have scheduled if he had a choice. He's being arraigned today and his mugshot got circulated yesterday.
Tune in, and keep the emails coming. Maciulis@msnbc.com