If Santa were Tom Ridge, here's what he'd bring

Merry Xcess

December 23, 2003|By Annie Linskey

Just in time for Christmas, the Department of Homeland Security has elevated the country's terror alert to the second-highest level - Code Orange. And while it doesn't want anyone to panic, the department does recommend putting together an emergency kit in case of disaster.

So why not combine your emergency preparedness with some good old-fashioned holiday shopping? We've tracked down a few items not on the department's official list, but certainly useful if you really want to be ready for anything.

To ensure your cell phone will operate, why not pick up a Side Winder? This cell phone charger runs on elbow grease - really. You power your phone by winding it up. The manufacturer estimates 6 minutes of winding yields enough power for two minutes of yakking. Of course, you'll have to hope your cellular network is still up and running once you've put in all that exercise.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends including insurance policies and bank account records in an emergency kit. Expat World in Singapore goes a step further. It's offering Camouflage Passports. These official-looking documents portray you as a citizen of Zanzibar, the U.S.S.R, South Vietnam or one of a host of other nations that no longer exist, and are meant to be used only if you are in a hijack or similar situation. The theory: Terrorists are more likely to target U.S. citizens than those from (what Expat World calls) small, harmless countries.

It's a pretty pricey deception, though; the cost is just over $500. And there's a chance that just having one could get you in trouble with the Homeland Security people.

Finally, from the department of truly zealous vigilance, and per sonalsafetysite.com, there is the Super Scanner. Similar to the handheld detector you see at airports, this scanner will detect medium-sized pistols from a distance of 9 inches, large pocket knives, razor blades and other potential weapons from slightly shorter range.

Here's wishing these are presents no one ever needs to unwrap.

Side Winder, $24.95, available at www.911-kits.com. Camouflage Passport, $505, order form at www.expatworld.org/camo.html. Super Scanner, $199, available at www.personalsafetysite.com.

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