“If you’re prepared, you’re not freaking out, you’re taken care of, and you can help other people.” -Joshua Farrell

In the event of a disaster, help may come later than expected. Therefore, the question that holds the utmost importance now is: Are you prepared enough? As individuals and citizens, we hold the responsibility to be prepared. In this episode, Jennifer interviews Citizen Prepper, Joshua Farrell on how to be prepared for any type of disaster, Joshua shares tips and habits that could save your life one day. He also lets us in on an exciting bag raid! Tune in and find out what necessities are in Joshua’s to-go bag and discover essential things you can include in your disaster checklist.


  • 02:03: The Citizen Prepper
  • 08:11: A Wildfire Like No Other
  • 13:36: How to be Prepared
  • 24:14: Why be Prepared
  • 27:47: What to Put In Your To-Go Bag 
  • 37:53: Be a Citizen Prepper



  • 06:45: “Half a tank is an empty tank.” -Joshua Farrell
  • 13:43: “When you think you have time, you don’t necessarily have time. So it’s incredibly important that we all be prepared and take some personal responsibility.” -Jennifer Thompson
  • 25:57: “If you’re prepared, you’re not freaking out, you’re taken care of, and you can help other people.” -Joshua Farrell
  • 26:53: “While we can respect individual rights, there has to be a point where the safety of the herd has to override everything. When they tell you to go, you need to go.” -Jennifer Thompson
  • 38:23: “The government will do a lot for you, but they are never going to do everything. And so much of how a community responds to and recovers from a disaster is really dependent on how the citizens are prepared and able to even step up.” -Jennifer Thompson

Meet Josh: 

Joshua Farrell always makes sure that they have a to-go bag in case of emergency. But when he and his family moved to Sonoma, his preparedness was challenged to a serious degree. Today, he takes all the lessons learned from the 2017 wildfire to level up his game and be a Citizen Prepper, always ready for any disaster. 


Jennifer Gray Thompson: Welcome again to How To Disaster, a playbook to recover, rebuild and reimagine. Now, today, we have something a little bit different, like how do you prepare for a disaster. Most of the people that we talked to have been through a disaster. And what we talked about is how did they respond, recover and rebuild. But there is a really important role for each of us in how we actually prepare for a disaster so we can take care of our families. I’m really pleased today to introduce you to my good good friend, Josh Farrell. Now, Josh became a bit of a citizen prepper after he experienced the 2017 wildfires in our area. Josh happens to be one of my husband’s very best friends. I spent some time with him during the 2017 fires when he was at his, he came home from Los Angeles, and he actually helped ensure that his neighborhood and his mother’s house was safe. I really enjoy talking to Josh about these things. And I think that there’s actually a lot to learn. There’s some humor in there, and there are some really practical tips and things that each of us can do. So we’ve done something a little bit different this time, we are bringing the podcast with Josh in two parts. 

Part one is what I’m introducing to you right now. And I think you really enjoy hearing about his experience, but also what led him to become what I like to call a citizen prepper. He is just doing really what should be in many ways the bare minimum for many of us who are now in a sense, like climate refugees. As I sit here today, Texas is in a deep freeze, and many people who never expected to have snow in their area are not only without power, but they are also suffering the effects of climate change. Josh preparations could work for really any type of disaster. His is really specific to earthquakes and wildfires. But if you are in an area that is suffering super storms, or these kinds of wind, rain, freezing events, there’s also a lot to learn here. So I hope you enjoy this time with Josh. Thank you.

So thank you so much for joining us. This is a very good friend of mine, Josh Farrell. Josh was by my side for many days during the fires of 2017. He grew up here in Sonoma, and he was profoundly affected by that experience. I’m having him on today’s part of our How To Prepare For A Disaster As A Citizen. What are some of the basic things you can do? This seems like something that every person needs to think about. FEMA wants you to know that you are on your own for 72 hours minimum. It’s better to be prepared for even longer than that, but it’s really important that we take certain steps as citizens in the world for how we can care for ourselves. I’m so happy that you would spend this time with us, Josh. Just talk to us about, first, your experience and what led you to this moment. And then we’re going to go through some of the things that you have procured and some of your current ideas for how we can be even better prepared.

Josh Farrell: Yeah, sure. Well, Jen, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. I feel pretty passionate about this, given our situation a few years ago, almost coming up on three years with a fire in Sonoma, but that was kind of my impetus. Honestly, I was not prepared before that fire, really at all. I think I was prepared. I had like an old backpack for each, for [inaudible], my wife and I each had a backpack underneath the bed that had shoes, a pair of pants, underwear, socks and a shirt. And that was our kind of earthquake thing. You gotta get out of the house immediately because of a gas leak or whatever, and we’ve always had that. But when I went up to Sonoma, there’s a whole different ball game. I was like, Oh, I’m playing like little league, and you have to be really prepared because the Sonoma, I rolled into Sonoma probably a little over 24 hours after that fire hit. And the gas stations were out, the banks were out of money, like the ATMs, you always hear that, but you don’t think about it. And then it’s like, oh, okay, just that rolling into town and people panicking.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Maybe you can tell people who are not as familiar with what happened here, this situation with your family that your mom, you have an elderly mom who recently just passed away. Like, why would you jump in your car to come here and be of service, or to try to help your mom in the house and your family? What happened?

Josh Farrell: I called both my mom when it started in Napa, kind of kicked off at Atlas Peak area, there was a little concern, but Atlas Peak was kind of far away, in relative terms at that point. And within 24 hours, it looked like the fire was definitely moving west towards Sonoma over the Mayacamas Mountains. And that’s where I got freaked out. My mom who did just pass away lived a great 84 years. That point, she was 81 and did have a lot of lung issues, and CPLD had oxygen tanks in the house already for her breathing. So a big concern was smoke and mobility. And I contacted my Sonoma friends, and they were all leaving town all really quickly. Of course, I told my mom previously when there’s fires to have like a to-go bag and all those kinds of things to-go, as well as my brother, and they did not have those to-go, hence me driving 90 miles an hour up to five from Los Angeles. It’s interesting. When I got to Vallejo, I probably passed, again, why you should always have half a tank, an empty tank, because there were 10 miles of cars coming out of Sonoma, and I got from Vallejo to Sonoma. I think in 20 minutes, maybe 19 minutes, which is pretty fast because everyone was going one direction and no one was going into Sonoma. 

“Half a tank is an empty tank.” -Joshua Farrell

But I went in to get my mom out. And at that point, my sister had evacuated my mother. I got there, my brother and I started to get all kinds of expensive stuff in the house. Meaning just family pictures, albums, heirloom China, silver, whatever, wasn’t that much stuff, packed cars and headed over to Vallejo, which is where my sister lives. So we evacuated my mom to Vallejo, and tried to get as much stuff over there. And then my brother and I came back,and my sister came over from Petaluma, and we hunkered down, and we didn’t know it was gonna be five days. It turned into a really long five days with no power at certain points. We had a lot of batteries because my mother’s like a depression baby, so that ended up working out great. And there was a freezer with all this old food in it, because again, my mother who’s 81 doesn’t need a lot, had this whole freezer, so we were pretty prepared in that regard. We were able to hunker down, water the house, we had just two hoses. And that didn’t really come into play till a day or two later when the fire embers started falling on Sonoma.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Just to orient people again who are watching this from a different disaster area, what happened here is that we had the biggest, at that time, wildfire,. The biggest, fastest, scariest wildfire, top fire had ever seen. And now, it’s become much more of the norm. And as we’re recording this, you’re seeing that play out in parts of Oroville, parts of California, Oregon and Washington. This fire behavior is completely different. It’s so much faster and creates its own weather. It throws embers miles ahead, and an ember is not what you think about like a little Ember. And Ember can be as large as a car, I guess. It just throws it way ahead. And it’s very efficient in that way where you grew up, and where your mom, your family houses are actually right in downtown Sonoma. And that was an interesting experience, because I think that people don’t always know that we had 11 fires burning at once, and in Sonoma Valley because of where we sit. We were surrounded by fire because there was fire. We are in Napa County so it was a very different situation. And there was this moment on Wednesday or Thursday of that week, the fires actually burned for 23 days, but the scary is 10 days and you were in there in the middle of this. You were there in the worst 5 of those 10 days. It was really heavily, heavily impacted.

Josh Farrell: Right.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: But people don’t may not understand it. It was not, you didn’t have power. And if you’re down in the flatlands, it’s not like you’re, tell the audience, where does your family live, [inaudible] normally not think of that as being in what we call the Loui Wildland-Urban Interface.

Josh Farrell: For sure. I was under the impression, look, we’re like a block off the square. My parents moved there in 1964. But how many houses does this, I’m like, fires gotta burn through hundreds of houses to get to our house, right? That’s what I was thinking at the time. And I’m also thinking like, a lot of these houses have been built specially in the some new divisions and the outskirts, they’re all the codes. So in my brain I’m like, they’re built to code. They’re gonna stop the fire. We don’t need to worry about it. So I really was like, oh, the town’s kind of evacuating, I’m gonna watch over the house. If there’s a fire issue, I’m here. But like you said, that happens so fast. With the winds, I think they’re called devil, something winds. But it was nuts. I mean, within two days, we’re looking at a fire that was 1.2 miles away from downtown Sonoma. I mean, the power was out. The Sonoma cops and sheriffs all went, and I think that’s obviously part of their plan. That was pretty amazing to watch how well executed their plan was, because it felt like within 24 hours to Sonoma sheriff’s and the police who are awesome moved North to Kenwood in the areas of, where the fire was pressing because it was coming over that area heading towards Santa Rosa. And then we had Alameda and Oakland cops in less than 24 hours. It was like, it was so weird. But bought them coffee at 711 a couple of days in a row. I was super impressed with the plan that, no, we didn’t know what the plan was. You’re sitting there, we’ve never had a fire before. It was very well executed and probably why Sonoma didn’t burn, honestly.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: It’s completely wise, it didn’t burn. And it was also one of the things that I really love about that story is even though they never saw that fire behavior before, so many of the people who fought that fire. So first of all, just the police side had a ton of mutual aid, which was amazing. And that’s how when we had to evacuate areas, there were a lot of people who didn’t speak English. We were fortunate enough from Alameda to have a big contingency of bilingual Spanish speaking people who could have deputies who were then dispatched to go out to the springs evacuated. But one of the things I love most about artists, our fire story, so many of the firefighters grew up here, even from Cal Fire and even if they didn’t, they came home to fight this fire. And because there’s hills above in Sonoma, that’s where the fire was coming, it was encroaching, they knew all the party roads and they’re very bad. They knew where to take the dozers because they had such an intimate knowledge of Sonoma, and they were passionate about it.

Josh Farrell: Yeah, for sure. Sean Norman grew up on Level Valley Road. And he’s coming back from, I think he’s up in Placerville, but he’s with callfire. And he’s back, and Mike Brown’s over out of, I think he’s in American Canyon or Vallejo, and he’s in Sonoma fighting these fires. And you’re right, they know the area. All of our guys in Sonoma, a lot of them are locals so they know the quick routes. They can read the terrain really well, which is–

Jennifer Gray Thompson: There was actually, David, knew the fire history. So that is one of the reasons why the springs were more impacted because a retired CAL FIRE guy actually stole a dozer. And he spent two days doing a fire break up above the white barn.

Josh Farrell: I remember hearing that.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I love that story so much. That sort of orient people, like the degree to which when you think you have time, you don’t necessarily have time. So it’s incredibly important that we all be prepared and we take some personal responsibility, because the police and fire are actually busy doing other things. And the last thing we want to do is actually get in their way. We want to assist them by knowing how to take care of ourselves. When people ask me the number one thing that they can do, I always say to videotape your house on your phone every year. And that way, you always have an accurate up to date 10 to 15 minutes, I think ours is actually 13 minutes for our house. And if you do by chance lose your home, it will make all the difference in the world. When you go to do your contents replacement, you’ll be able to have a picture of it. It’s very different from a wind or rain event. In that case, usually you’re able to enter back into your home if it hasn’t been taken out by a tornado, and you can at least take pictures of the damage. But in fire, your three story home can be reduced to five inches of oily ash in under 5, 10 minutes. It just didn’t seem very quick. So you may not have time to load up all of your valuables to take them 20 minutes away. In that case, I want you to talk about, you have experienced this disaster, but there’s nothing like it until you have actually experienced it. And you are currently living in Los Angeles. We’re waiting for you not to be there anymore, and for you guys to move.

“When you think you have time, you don’t necessarily have time. So it’s incredibly important that we all be prepared and take some personal responsibility.” -Jennifer Thompson

Josh Farrell:  Talk to my wife about that.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I totally, I get it. So you’re [inaudible][ you’re driving home, and take us through your thought process, and then take us to your journey to where you are now because we want to see some of your stuff.

Josh Farrell: Yeah, for sure. One thing I just got to say on that note, my friend who lost his house the first night, one of my best friends who I go to spring training with every year, [inaudible]. He lost everything the first night over in Dunbar where they got completely wiped out. But he had not filmed everything in his house. And over the course of a year and a half, and I’m not kidding, it took a year and a half of him trying to figure out what model his TV was or what month because the questions on the insurance are extremely specific. It’s not just like I got a VIZIO TV from Costco, so pony up the money. It’s, what was the model number? When did you purchase it? How old was it? It’s an insurance company, and you’re obviously not going to do all that work, just in case. But you really should videotape everything. If you can videotape or take pictures of the back of some products, if you have time, and who doesn’t? If you’re listening, watching a ballgame or I don’t know, hanging around the house, just do it. Really, once is enough. But I agree with you, go through and do your general one once a year. For sure. Update that.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Oh, you told me another really helpful thing because we got, we had our go bags ready a couple of weeks ago because the fires were just very bad here in Sonoma County, and that was checks, voided checks.

Josh Farrell: Yes. This is probably the biggest thing that I thought of when I was coming back from the fire, and I did this immediately even before I got a to-go bag. I’m gonna look this up. I have it right here. There we go. So eyeballing this, I have an emergency folder. I thought about this on the way back because we didn’t really have the documents that we had from my mom, we’re like, Okay, we’re going through all this paperwork trying to pull stuff out of old files like house insurance and things that are important that I didn’t know at the time what was important and what was not. So when I came back, I did a bunch of research. I started to make electronic files to put on a USB drive. It’s really simple. Again, you can have the ball game on, obviously, I said ball games three times. So obviously, I’m a Giants fan. I’ve watched a lot of baseball. So baseball lends itself to having, you can multitask a lot. So you just start to copy some of this stuff onto a USB drive. That stuff, the FEMA check. super important. I didn’t know about this. If your house burns down and you don’t have all your bank information, maybe you don’t remember your routing number, maybe you don’t know your account number, the FEMA checks just a voided check. But you’re going to present that to FEMA, they’re usually on the spot pretty quickly. But if you don’t have that information, that’s going to create a lot of lag time before you can get the financial support that they offer. So that’s one of the many things I have on my USB drive. Do you want me to mention what I have on the USB drive?

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Sure. Yeah.

Josh Farrell: Yeah. It’s not overkill on it, I basically have our healthcare information. So copies of mine and my wife, Kirsten cards. Actually, when I get to the bags, that will be more important. But I have backup prescription glasses and our bags. But I do have our prescription information on our USB drive. But my wife likes, you think you’re going to go get new glasses in the middle of a disaster? Why would you have to have the prescription? So good point. I have those, I have copies of our licenses on the USB drive, our passports, just stuff that you may need. Our cat information, if you have a pet, pet things are pretty big. And I didn’t really realize any of this till after that disaster. My mom doesn’t have any pets, so we didn’t need to worry about that. But I’m having some kind of vaccination, proof of vaccination in California that has some pretty strict rules. Your cat can’t really go into a shelter in some situations if you don’t have the proper documentation. So just take that documentation that you get from your vet when you go there and make a copy and have it ready for your backup phone numbers? Big time. I can’t remember anyone’s phone number so I have those all backed up on a PDF. My mom’s number, my friend’s number, all emergency numbers separate on a USB drive in my bag.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: So one of my questions when [inaudible] and I talked about this, I was worried that I would have too much sensitive information on a USB drive. So do you have your password encoded? Or how do you think, if it falls into the wrong hands, Isn’t that a concern for you with all of your information on it?

Josh Farrell: Absolutely. To be honest, I looked into password protected USB drives. And at the time, I probably should spend the money. But I’m not gonna spend the money. So it is what it is. I have also what, how much information, obviously, if it falls into the hands of somebody who’s going to create my identity or recreate my identity, I don’t know the likelihood of that because that USB drive is in my to-go bag. So that’s in my house. So if somebody breaks into my house and they’re going to take my to-go bag, that other information is in my house elsewhere. So I’ll call Equifax and deal with it then. One thing I did do as a backup, we sent that USB drive out of town. So that is with a very, very good friend of mine as well, a copy. And that’s another thing. If the house burns down and I’m not here, all my stuff is dead. And I guess people could use the cloud and whatever, I’m a little, I just haven’t done that with the cloud, putting that sensitive information on there. Instead, I’ve left it with a family member that it feels secure with. So worst case scenario, if we lost everything, somebody does have that information.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Got it. Okay, good. So can you actually take us through what you have, we actually want to see the item. And please, do tell the story of going to a disaster fair, which my husband went to and your wife went. I was actually jealous because I would have loved it, but I would have been probably the only one in that vehicle with you would enjoy it.

Josh Farrell: Agreed. So they had this disaster fair,  and a guy I work with let me know about it. And we would, I’m not, again, you have like smoking food. I like to smoke food in my smoker, but I’m not the guy who’s gonna spend 48 hours smoking food. Like disaster, you can run into people and they’re like, yeah, I’m building a bunker. I’m not that guy. I’m more like, I got my bag. I got cover myself for three days. And then we’ll roll out from there.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Do you think it’s fair to say that amongst people, you are a bunker. Like, bunker is not out of the question.

Josh Farrell: I would say, yeah. I mean, I just got 255 gallon PPA plastic things for water on the property. So we do have that. So sometimes I’m like a slippery slope, but I feel like I’m pretty good so far. There’s some people who are like, I’m gonna stand my ground and protect my home. Really, we’re gonna go safety first. And I do recommend that to anyone, like you said previously, the firefighters and the police, we don’t have any idea what their master plan is. And they do have a plan, and they’re privy to information that we’re not. So you really need to take heed when they say that it’s time for you to roll, you gotta roll. And if you’re prepared, and you have a to-go bag, and all this stuff, you’re not going to be freaking out. So that’s why it’s better to be prepared. If you’re prepared, then you’re taken care of, and you can help other people. But you can also exit when the time is correct. And when they say go, you need to go there.

“If you’re prepared, you’re not freaking out, you’re taken care of, and you can help other people.” -Joshua Farrell

Jennifer Gray Thompson: So strongly, that if you spend time arguing with a public service person, either a fireman, or a fire woman, or a police person who is there to tell you to go it, the longer they have to deal with your arguments for as to why you shouldn’t have to leave, that’s like one less person they may be able to save. ASo many people in our case were saved person to person, to person, to person, to person. It was a fire, it was fire, and a lot of police officers, you had to go door to door to actually physically take people out, bring them to safety, go back up to get the next person if they weren’t able to be mobile on their own. And while we can respect individual rights, there has to become a point where the safety of the herd, it just has to override everything. In this case, they tell you to go, you really do just need to go.

“While we can respect individual rights, there has to be a point where the safety of the herd has to override everything. When they tell you to go, you need to go.” -Jennifer Thompson

Josh Farrell: Yeah, and there’s a strategy. They have a strategy.My friend Sean Norman, he’s been doing this since we were 14 years old. He started as a volunteer firefighter at Schell-Vista. And he’s been doing it for a long time. I think I’m smarter than my buddy Sean, and I can just Google it. And I’m like, Oh, I found out the information on Google. There’s a lot of armchair experts out there. I’m following the lead of the firefighters that have been doing this for a long time, and I really honestly think everybody should. They’re thinking, we’re playing chess, maybe two steps ahead. They’re playing chess, 10 steps ahead. So heed their advice and pay attention to what the law enforcement officers have to say,

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Oh, okay. Well, let’s see what you got.

Josh Farrell: Let’s get into my bag. All right, so I’m gonna move this a little bit just to show you my, can you see my backpacks? So there’s my bag, and it’s just a little, it’s kind of full, but it’s not that heavy. I’m not a bodybuilder by any means. This is Kirsten, this bag. So we, each have a bag to-go. Now initially, this bag started as, like I said, for an earthquake. If there’s an earthquake, obviously, there’s all the protocols you have for an earthquake in your house. If you smell gas, you need to exit the house, and a lot of people leave. So a traditional bag is just, have your toothbrush, toothpaste, whatever something t- go, you can go outside, and maybe you’ll get back in the next few days. My bag, I have added to, again, you don’t need to go spend $1,000 and buy everything brand new. I need to have the Louis Vuitton bag with all this great stuff in it for me to go to the homeless shelter or go to the shelter, excuse me, the emergency social shelter. So I’ve gotten stuff used. I’ve gotten stuff and a little bit here. An old construction guy told me once like, how’d you get so many tools? He’s like, because you just buy a little tool once a week. And then four years, you have a bunch of tools. You don’t go buy four years worth of tools, because no one can afford that. And the same with the bag. So slowly add to it as you go along. And disaster fairs are great for that because you can get a lot of free stuff to add to the bags. So in my bag, it’s really in no particular order that I have it in somewhat of order, but I’m just going to start picking stuff out. So this is called a Scorpion, and this is a solar powered radio.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I have to say the top of this that in no way does require you personally saying endorsing and nor are we endorsing any particular products, we’re endorsing the concept only of being prepared and what products you choose are truly up to you. Go ahead.

Josh Farrell: Absolutely. Hi, this is Scorpion, I am not a spokesperson for anyone but this is a little wind up. It has a flashlight on it, and it’s a solar powered radio which is good and handy for situations where there’s no power. Old medicine things, the pharmacy things, these are good for just storing stuff. This is my USB drive. So that’s in my bag in one of these just so it’s protected a little bit. But you have these laying around the house getting rid of it, use them for storage for certain things. I have a bunch of these in the bag, as you’ll see. Backup glasses, right? So I have a pair. Kirsten who doesn’t see as well as I do, she’s got a pair. And then in her bag, there’s also backup contact lenses. And just a little, again, I got this, it’s like a Leatherman, like a poor man’s Leatherman or whatever. I got this at a garage sale. It’s like, Oh, I could use one of those for my bag. So I’m not going and spending $30 on something I may not use. I spent like 3 bucks on it. I think I talked the guy down for less than that. See, it’s like Christmas.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I love it. I’m super, super excited. I may be the only person that Josh, besides whoever watches this, that’s very excited about seeing what’s in your bag.

Josh Farrell: I think that you probably are the only one that’s as excited as I am. So here we have a backup flashlight, a couple of backup flashlights. So something to remember too. I know I’m not going to use this stuff very often so I have packed the flashlight. But the batteries are separate. You don’t want the batteries inside because they could corrode. I also check this bag once every three months, it pops up on my calendar. I check my generator, I check my bags, I just kind of go through everything. Sometimes, I rotate the batteries. You’ll see that I have backup batteries, I rotate those on a regular basis.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: You only need to spend about 10 minutes quarterly to make sure that your go bag is where it should be.

Josh Farrell: Exactly. You’re just double checking everything.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: During baseball.

Josh Farrell: Yes, during baseball. When the Giants are just blowing out the Dodgers and I’m like, I feel good. I’ll double check my bag. This I think I found on sale somewhere, and it’s just a headlamp. And as you remember, I’m sure I wish I had a headlamp during the Sonoma fires, it was so smoky, it was dark most of the day. And obviously, I’m watering down a roof for four days, and taking care of stuff. So the headset really would have been handy. I was happy that we had a lighting period and a flashlight. But in retrospect, I saw a headlamp on sale and I grabbed it. So if you don’t have a car and you have to walk out of a situation or the freeways are packed and you have to exit with your backpack, this is a good option to have.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: And just so everybody knows, with the kinds of fires that we have now is not necessarily an unusual situation where you’d find yourself with just your bag and possibly not your car. Because if you would have to know how, in California, we now have a law that you have to have battery backup for every new garage door mechanism that’s installed. But a lot of people still don’t have that. And so you may not have your car, so you do need to think in terms of, if it’s really, In fact, just grab my go bag. It’s a dream vehicle and I have to run for my life, which did happen, does happen. Unfortunately, really terrible stories, having that headlamp is going to make a big difference for you.

Josh Farrell: Slowly, and just to be clear in our car to both of our cars, we have a little mini to-go bag. I got these ones, these are free, back to the disaster fair, they always just handed out a lot of free stuff. So we did too many bags because if I’m in a meeting in Santa Monica, and a meeting in Marina Del Rey, and something goes down my bags here at home, so I have a mini version change of clothes, water power bars. Hopefully, you won’t go break into our cars. If you do, you’ll get $100 cash each. But yeah, small bills, 100 bucks. You may need that $100 for gas, ATM’s could be out, gas station families take cash, you never know. It’s always good to have a little backup in the car. And we’ve actually used that–

Jennifer Gray Thompson: For you in that to that it’s not that, when there’s no power, then the ATM cannot work. And that means you’ve also cannot use your card in order to get an accept payment. So it may sound a little Armageddonish, but I want people to understand that you really just need enough money to get through about three days. We’ll be able to usually get to an ATM, but it has to be — specially as power and a lot of these places simultaneously with this giant fire disaster. Of course, the infrastructure often burns too, or they’ve turned the grid off to prevent future other fires.

Josh Farrell: Exactly. And that’s, again, why you have a full tank instead of a half tank. And it’s easier just to fill that up, always have a full tank. Do you want to wait in line? I don’t own a gas station, but I’m sure when the power’s out, the gas pumps can’t work. And you just have a lot of stuff to deal with in that situation. So you’re kind of better off on your way home from work and you see, top your gas tank off. You’re gonna spend the money and put it in the gas tank eventually anyway, so just take that little extra second, and you’ll be fine. On that note as well, that gas in that car is also a backup for our generator. So each gallon of gas in my car is eight hours of time for my generator at home. So to siphon that gas, and I have a siphon thing, doesn’t everyone know, it’s just like a little–

Jennifer Gray Thompson: It’s really smart, but it’s very–

Josh Farrell: To siphon gas out of the old beater car and put it in the carburetor to start it. But that is extra gas for the generator. So really, just take care of it. Next up, backup cords, have a backup charger. Again, you can find this stuff, my wife and I like thrifting and all that stuff. So this is just a little old Apple USB thing, and a phone charger, and the small little baby charger, which can be used for many different things. So I always have a backup, we still have our ones around the house. And hopefully, we’d have time to grab them. But in the event that we can’t, it’s in the bag and it’s ready to go.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Another thing that I did put in our go bag, this time was a power strip. Because you don’t know where you’re going to actually end up. Right now, we’re in the age of COVID and a pandemic. The other thing that we have is, I have to get the name of it but it’s a thing you can plug into your cigarette lighter in your car, if you still have whatever they’re calling, 12 volts, and it turns it into a regular cord or a regular three crowns plug.

Josh Farrell: Oh, very cool. Yeah. I have in here, we all have these old, again, it’s just a car one in the backup as well. That might be my car, it might be somebody else’s car. I don’t know where the situation is going to take me, but I do know that this is a source of power that is readily available because there’s car batteries everywhere. I’m gonna look into that one because that sounds actually pretty cool.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Well, you might just get it for Christmas. Because I got one for my in-laws, and I got them when they’re full power strips that they could just hook up to their cars.


Josh Farrell: Oh, love it. I might steal that from you. I won’t give you one because you already have them. But yeah, I’ll give them to family members.

“The government will do a lot for you, but they are never going to do everything. And so much of how a community responds to and recovers from a disaster is really dependent on how the citizens are prepared and able to even step up.” -Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I hope you’ve enjoyed this time listening to Josh and I talked about what happened here in Sonoma County in 2017. How he shifted his thinking and really made things different for himself and his wife. We’re now going to go into part two, which is the next podcast episode. And again, we chose to do this because the conversation went on for a long time, because there’s a lot to cover if you want to be prepared and resilient inside of your own home. Remember, the government will do a lot for you, but they are never going to do everything. And so much of how a community responds to and recovers from a disaster is really dependent on how the citizens are prepared and able to even step up. So I hope you’ll join us for part two. But thank you so much for spending this time with us in part one. We created the podcast How To Disaster to show you the breadth and depth of humanity in the midst of this really terrible thing that happens. We are bringing you humanity, that’s the greatest resource you’ll have in a disaster. And it’s something that you learn in a disaster is when everything else burns down, humanity doesn’t burn down. And this is going to be tough. It’s going to be hard, and it is entirely possible. So welcome to How To Disaster, and thank you for giving us your time.


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