When emergency situations hit — hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods or civil unrest — the most basic of all human needs, shelter, becomes critically important. In the past, relief agencies have brought in hundreds or even thousands of mobile homes to house displaced people during emergencies, but a Santa Barbara, California–based company is now offering the ultimate in temporary shelter: an inflatable house.
The “Life Cube” arrives as a 4 foot by 4 foot heavy plastic cube, but inflates into a temporary shelter with a 12 foot ceiling, and featuring the same resilient construction found in those “bouncy houses” which are so popular at children’s birthday parties.
The goal of the Life Cube is simple: to provide immediate shelter and basic utilities following natural disasters or other emergencies. Because the cube arrives in such a compact package, hundreds or even thousands of the temporary homes can be transported quickly to the scene. The inflatable shelters feature a bed, a pantry of freeze-dried food, first aid kits, a radio, stove, water tank and even a sofa.
At a price tag just under $4000, the inflatable homes are far more cost-effective to purchase, deliver and set up than traditional mobile home units. And while the homes are not intended to be lived-in for longer periods of time (months or years), they could prove ideal for displaced individuals during the first week or two after an emergency situation.
Research shows that during any time of natural disaster, such as the devastating earthquake which struck Pakistan last year, it is common for more people to die of exposure after the actual emergency, than from the initial disaster itself. Because of their relatively compact size, it is conceivable that the inflatable homes could be airdropped into even hard to reach disaster areas, preventing needless fatalities.
Interestingly, survivalists could also be a big market for the inflatable homes. The company notes that wealthier individuals with survivalist leanings have also shown great interest in the Life Cube.
The homes themselves are made of a plastic polymer that is tough, but certainly not impenetrable. For example, it is unlikely that any wild animal would be able to break through the inflatable homes, but a hefty falling tree branch just might.
One of the life cube’s biggest selling points is that it is considered completely watertight. So while it might not be the sturdiest of structures, at least it will keep a family of four dry and out of the weather.