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Getting started in disaster relief

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First of all, if you have any interest in putting your tech skills to work during disaster recovery efforts, don't hesitate to sign up with the ITDRC. They are terrific about keeping you up-to-date about what's going on, they have a TERRIFIC community backend and they aren't pushy.. there's absolutely no obligation to get involved in the field until you're ready. 

During our disaster relief efforts, especially when we engaged in the Puerto Rico disaster relief effort, we learned quite a few things:

  • It's extremely difficult and dangerous to engage in disaster relief work directly without guidance. We would not recommend jumping in without experience. Let a group like ITDRC help you engage. 
  • If you want to engage, but aren't quite ready to jump into a disaster zone, it's often better to work through an experienced organization. We've gained some experience and can help as a coordinator for many efforts. For starters, we have a retail and non-profit account with Goal Zero, and get a massive discount, so donations go a long way. And again, ITDRC has options for those who wish to work remotely. 
  • Once victims have reached relative physical safety, water, power and communications are the most critical items in the short term. We have worked with Goal Zero, who provides world-class rugged solar gear, LifeStraw and Sawyer who make killer water filters and various manufacturers for short-range mobile communication. We put together a list (below) of items to consider.
  • You can't get lithium batteries > 100Wh on any airline without serious difficulty. Our Go Kit (below) is designed to be portable, hit all the major needs and be safe for airline checkin. Note that the Sherpa 100 Units should be removed from the kit, and carried on commercial flights. The rest of the kits can be checked as standard luggage. 

Our "Small Go Kit" can mostly be ordered through Amazon. Here is the entire Amazon list and here is the detailed list with notes:

If you're interested in what a larger deployment might look like, here's the master list of items we sent to Puerto Rico:

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