Disaster Response: The ShelterBox Solution

ShelterBox’s Mike Mira brought in an actual ShelterBox for “show and tell” during our community engagement class today.  What a great (and fun) presentation!

These boxes originated out of a Rotary project in 2000 for people who need shelter and became such a hit that the company was created.  They have given out 150,000 boxes to date and strive to have 50,000 ready at all times.  Headquartered in England, they have offices all over the world including in Sarasota, FL.

Packed in a large crate/tub, boxes are used for disaster events including natural disasters and population movements resulting from famine.  There are basic boxes which include a large tent, sleeping mats, blankets, sheets, a water purifier, pots and pans and helpful tools among other things. The boxes can be adapted to climate needs and be made smaller without the tents.

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A team of ShelterBox experts go and assess the situation right after a disaster event and determine who should get the boxes and approximately how many are needed.  Challenges occur when trying to determine who most needs the boxes, how to transport them to the area they will be set up and getting them set up en mass.  Each box weighs approximately 130 pounds and cost $1000. When boxes are delivered, they are given directly to the client and not dropped off to keep them safe from theft.

Putting up and taking down the tent really enriched the learning experience.  It was clear how user friendly the tents are and I was surprised to feel how actually “cool” they are on the inside after assembled.

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I would love to be on a team who got to distribute these post disaster.  It is a huge need and so inclusive in all that is offered. It is a great service to offer. At the very least, it would be fun to assemble the boxes.  There is an option to put a tag on the box and then track it when it goes out to the person in need.  That would be awesome and an added bonus to know you really helped someone in need.

Written by: Jennifer Koselak, Undergraduate Public Health, University of South Florida

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