6 Ways Design Can Help You Weather A Natural Disaster

Folding boats, survival kits, and hurricane drones–check out these weather-related Co.Design stories, plus info on what you can do to help victims of Sandy.

With much of the East Coast struggling to get back on its feet today, it’s hard to focus on anything but the ongoing coverage of Hurricane Sandy’s wake. If you’re stuck behind the computer for the day, fret not: here’s a link to donate to Occupy Sandy efforts, while New Yorkers can sign up to volunteer on clean-up crews here. In the meantime, we’ve rounded up some of Co.Design’s coverage of weather events, ranging from survival kits to a new hurricane probe drone.


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The NOAA’s New GALE Hurricane Drone

Though our capabilities for predicting and tracking storms have improved exponentially over the past century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it’s not enough–especially considering the fact that we’re likely to see many more of them as a result of the changing climate. Last October, the NOAA unveiled its newest weapon, the GALE Drone. Each three-foot-long drone is designed to be launched from a mothership into a hurricane, sending back valuable data about the storm until it runs out of gas (or gets destroyed by the eyewall). At $30,000 each, the little drones are a relatively affordable way to glean insights into deadly storms that routinely cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Hikaru Imamura’s Heat Rescue Disaster Recovery

For his thesis project at Design Academy Eindhoven, Japanese-born Hikaru Imamura designed a deployable survival kit that can sustain 30 people for two days. The kit comes in an altered oil drum, which serves as a wood-burning stove, that contains “freeze-dried rice, bottled water, utensils, towels, work gloves, and 200 portions of pre-cooked food.” Imamura designed the kit in response to the 2011 Tsunami–his mother, who worked as a volunteer in the cleanup, helped him develop the project in direct response to her experiences on the ground.

Thibault Penven’s Deployable Backpack Boat

University of Art and Design Lausanne student Thibault Penven’s folding dinghy is less a response to disaster conditions and more an experiment with boat building–but it could definitely offer insights into building a lighter, cheaper rescue boat. His yellow plastic boat can be assembled in minutes, and folds neatly into a backpack, making it ideal for those who need to travel over rough terrain to get to the shoreline.

BioLite Stove

BioLite, a cookstove that makes wood burning cleaner and safer, won one of our Innovation By Design Awards this fall. But the company was in the news again during Sandy, when their engineers took to the streets with dozens of BioLite Stoves. The diminutive wood-burning devices generate a charge for mobile devices–much in demand, as Sandy wiped out power for thousands of New Yorkers this week.

Zippo’s 4-in-1 Camping Tool

Zippo’s multitool includes a 5-inch hatchet blade, 15-inch saw blade, a mallet head, and metal hook for pulling tent stakes. Though it’s meant for camping, this versatile tool would make a good addition to any “go bag,” given that it’s super lightweight.

And for good measure, here are a few more stories pertaining to extreme weather:


About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.