Emergency Preparation

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In the wake of the unprecedented bushfires which ravaged most states of Australia last summer and the forecast of La Nina this summer, it would be very foolish to ignore the risks of natural disasters.

Last night GMan and I attended a Disaster Preparedness Seminar in our local town. It was presented by our regional Council and included some excellent information regarding the local resources that are available.

We regard ourselves as relatively well-prepared but there was plenty of new and enhanced information that has encouraged us to fine-tune our arrangements.

Here are a few points to remember:

Very few of us can think logically and quickly in an emergency situation. Therefore, It is important to have considered and planned your response to various scenarios.

A couple of resources to assist in planning.

You need to have both an evacuation kit (if you need to leave in a hurry) and an emergency kit (to be self-reliant for at least 3-7 days in your home) as emergency services and other resources may not be immediately available in the case of a major disaster.

Some useful items. Waterproof, hi-vis raincoat, a waterproof document pouch, USB drive for copies of documents, resources and information.

Services will be co-ordinated by local councils as well as possibly involving state and federal governments.

Your family, neighbours and local community will be integral to supporting each other in the first instance. Make sure your cultivate these networks.

Know your risks. Our local council has identified (in no particular order) the top 4 risks for our region as:

Bush/grass fires
Flooding
Heatwaves
Storms/cyclones

Yours may be different but the principle is the same – be prepared.

Stockpiling

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This blog post is copied from a post I wrote in another forum.  I am interested in your thoughts.

Is stockpiling a saving or ‘dead money’?

I do not stockpile to save money as such but I do have enough basic foods and essentials such as toothpaste and toilet paper to see us through a minimum of 4 weeks and in most instances, much longer. I am very confident that I could feed us for 3 months. There might be some odd meals but we would be fed.

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Why? It is generally acknowledged that supermarkets carry 3 days worth of stock and rely on ‘just in time’ deliveries. As we endure more severe and frequent weather events it is prudent to consider being independently responsible for your wellbeing during and immediately after these events. You will never find me queuing for fuel, buying bread or filling gas bottles as a cyclone approaches. It is already done as part of our day to day routine.

It can be something as simple as being unwell or busy at work and you can feed yourselves from what you have on hand. Some years ago I was snowed under at work and barely had time to do the basics so each week I would grab some fruit and veg and everything else came from the freezer or pantry. I did this for 7 consecutive weeks!

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By having enough on hand you will be less likely to pop into the shop and grab unnecessary items while you are there = savings.

Remember the mantra – “eat what you store and store what you eat”. In other words, do not store ‘special stuff’ for your stockpile. Do not keep 100 tins of baked beans if your family do not eat baked beans.

Whatever stock you have should be rotated. I keep 2 large tins of tuna in my pantry. When I use one I buy another. I always place the new can on the bottom of the pile.

Consider using a permanent marker to write the purchase date and month on bottles and cans eg: 10.16 for October 2016. This means that you can see at a glance what needs to be used first.

Keep track of what you have by doing a regular stocktake.

Make sure you have suitable storage containers and conditions. Food which deteriorates is a waste of money.

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My recommendation is to try to store enough food to feed your family for 2 weeks beyond your normal shopping cycle. Start small and add an extra can or packet as you can afford.

Stockpiling may save you a little money but in the long run, I think the time and sanity savings are far greater as well as the peace of mind of not being totally dependent on the vagaries of the supply chain.

Be Prepared

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Here we are in the third week of December and everyone’s thoughts are firmly focused on Christmas celebrations.

There are other things we should be thinking about at this time of the year as well.  The weather bureau is expecting a low pressure system which is south-east of Papua New Guinea to develop into the first cyclone of the season, probably within the next 48 hours.  You can see the details here.  While it is unlikely to directly affect Queensland in the immediate future, it is worth remembering that cyclones can be extremely unpredictable.

Regardless of where you live or what natural disasters are a threat to your region, you should have both an evacuation plan and arrangements which ensure that you can survive  in your home or current location without supplies or resources for at least 3 days (minimum).

Part of being organised is that it is easy to decide what to take if you have to leave in a hurry, or conversely, being able to function with what you have for at least a few days.  I have no intention of being in the queue for toilet paper and other basic necessities in the last 12 hours as a cyclone or flood approach.

What plans do you have in place in the event of a natural disaster?

Minimalist vs Survivalist

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I have never considered either minimalist or survivalist as terms I would use to describe myself but I have read a couple of things recently including this post from Kim at Extra Organized which have made me stop and think.

Over a period of months, even years I have been slowly but surely divesting myself of ‘stuff’ that does not add value to our lives.  I have made considerable progress but there is always more to be done.

However, at the same time I have created and maintained a well-stocked pantry.  I also keep back-up supplies of toiletries and general household needs such as batteries and light bulbs.  This may seem to be the complete antithesis of minimalism but I do not believe that is necessarily the case.  There is one basic principle which must be adhered to in order for a stockpile to work:

“Eat what you store and store what you eat”.

This is my stock cupboard in the kitchen.  On the other side of the refrigerator is my pantry (shown below).

The wire baskets under the shelves on the left-hand side hold spices and other small jars.

My pantry is where I keep the items for day-to-day use and I replenish as needed from the stock cupboard and also from the buckets of bulk dry goods (flour, cereals, dried fruit etc).  These are stored in a cupboard downstairs.

I do not hoard massive quantities of food but I work with a level of supply which I believe would easily feed us for 3 months and could probably be stretched to 6 months with some creative meals.  It means that I can shop when it is convenient for me and not have to shop every week or even every fortnight.  I am not dependent on the ‘just in time’ supply lines that supermarkets use nor will I be in the panic-buying queues in times of impending natural disaster such as flood or cyclone.

By having a relatively uncluttered house I have plenty of room to store extra food.  I also minimise the trips to the shops which in turn minimises petrol use and wear and tear on my vehicle.  Less time at the shops offers less temptation to spend on unnecessary items.

We usually but enough meat at once to last about 2 – 3 months.  This tends to be used up before we buy more, so in theory, depending on the timing of a disaster I could be caught with next to no meat but I do not see this as a major problem because we eat plenty of vegetarian meals now and that would just become the ‘norm’.

I also ‘shop’ from my garden and we always have eggs from the chickens.  Our menus are based on seasonal produce, either from our own garden or what we buy from the local markets.

I am not what anyone would truly describe as a minimalist, although I do have a lot less ‘stuff’ than many of my friends and colleagues.  On the other hand, I know I would not survive long-term if left to my own devices as I simply do not have the skills and knowledge to fend for myself completely without outside help and support.

I do know that I am happy and contented with my life as it is, my demands on the planet are relatively light and I have taken reasonable steps to be as self-reliant as possible.