Saturday, November 03, 2012

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

Of course you know that Superstorm Sandy would be the subject of this week's pantry ponderings.   Because I have a lot to say about preparing for an emergency and due to the fact my brain is still fuzzy as I'm getting over the flu (not to mention getting older but we won't go there... will we), I'm calling this Post-Sandy Part 1 and next week (God willing and the creek don't rise at all) will be Post-Sandy... you guessed it... Part 2.

As with many of you, I've been watching the shock... then tears... and now anger of many residents of the worst stricken areas.  So far there has been no white knight with a FEMA logo on his armor riding down Time Square.

To be fair... government at its' best cannot be expected to solve our problems... and ours is not at its' best (insert unheard political rant here, use your imagination).  ;)

Do you remember I told you I started on the Internet writing for an emergency preparedness website in the 1990s?  It was the experiences I had and what I saw before and after Y2K that molded my preparedness thinking today.

For I found those who successfully prepared for emergencies were also those who lived what I call a Pantry Lifestyle rather than storing wheat and Spam for TEOTWAWKI.  I've written a lot about living a Pantry Lifestyle (links on the sidebar, scroll down to Deepening the Pantry links).

Today I want to revisit actually preparing for an emergency situation like a hurricane or storm.  The area I live in is most likely to suffer from a tornado outbreak or winter storm.  There isn't much I can do about a direct hit from a tornado, having no basement.  The last time we knew a twister was in our area, Christopher was still at home and the three of us hunkered under a mattress in the hallway taking turns holding onto Victoria (who was not happy about the situation).

But when there is a winter storm watch, I am one of those people you laugh at who goes to the grocery store immediately!  I don't wait for it to become a warning. I keep a list of emergency items to purchase (when I have the money!) such as bread, milk, eggs, and kitty kibble as well as making sure there are other necessities on the list.

I like to make certain the car is topped off with gas and when I have the funds available, I take cash out of the ATM machine, too.  It just makes good sense... and I'm not waiting in an hour long line as the snow starts falling and everyone else decides maybe they should buy milk.

Other things you can do to prepare for power outages when under a storm watch is... make certain your laundry is caught up and all your dishes washed before a storm would hit; fill your bathtub and other containers while the water is running.

It is a very good idea to make food ahead that can be eaten without cooking such as quick breads (which can be frozen), various salads (especially those without a mayonnaise base in case they have to stay at room temperature), and even items like cooked meatloaf can be made ahead and frozen.  What?  You've never had a meatloaf sandwich?

Speaking of which, it is also a good idea to make some sandwiches ahead of time and wrap in cling wrap, wash your fruit and salad ingredients, and be prepared already should the lights go out at night.

What do I consider the most important thing to do if there is a chance of a power outage?  Make a big pot of coffee and put it in a Thermos!

Remember also... if a storm is actually approaching then unplug those essential electronics and do not plug them back in if you lost power until after the lights come back on!  Power surges fry electronics.

If you are like me (who wants a TV on for local storm coverage) or you want your laptop handy, then make certain they are plugged into a really good surge protector.  Your desktop computers should always be plugged into surge protectors regardless of storms.   Surge protectors are not perfect but when we had the lightening hit, the TV that was plugged into one and the desktop computer survived.

Trust God but buy peanut butter... or whatever else stores well and can be eaten without cooking.  If you have a deep pantry, you probably have food on the shelves already that would work in a power outage.

However, if space is limited and/or you need to keep food back from power snackers... locate a place in the house to keep emergency food in a box and then check it every two or three months to rotate food when necessary.   Foods in boxes (such as crackers) and packages keep fresher when rotated often.

Remember water even if you have a well... um, you know we just had our own water emergency here so I know it can happen.   The easiest way to store water is to purchase some gallons of drinking water at the grocery store, of course.   But after last summer's drought, we're considering putting together a DIY rain catcher thingy.

For those living in small apartments and houses, there are also collapsible water containers available which can be filled with water when there is warning of an emergency.   Do not use milk containers which have been washed out because they are made to break down over time... don't ask me how I know.  A really good water filter is an excellent investment, too.

Bad things happen to good people so buy insurance... When Christopher was getting married and moving into Married Student Apartments, he had to see our insurance agent about his car insurance so I had him talk to her about rental insurance.  It's usually not expensive and we've all seen news reports of apartment fires and such.   (He did buy the insurance at a rate students can afford.)

We even have earthquake insurance, it's cheap where we live because we don't have big earthquakes.  However, we're close enough to the New Madrid Fault that should it shake even moderately the bricks on our house could be damaged!   Just saying...

If there is any chance of floods in your area, buy flood insurance if you can afford it.  It is very wise to talk to your insurance agent every couple of years and check to see if your policy is up to date with inflation and if any changes made to your property.  Believe me, we never expected to take a direct hit from lightening last year!

I have a relative who does not have any housing insurance at all and since their house is paid off, there is no legal requirement.  It's not that they cannot afford it (I'd certainly understand their decision if that were true because insurance is high in Florida) but they have money.  They have told me they will take their chances and hope no hurricanes hit Tampa.  Which brings me to...

Hoping and wishing does not prevent the need to prepare as I'm sure anyone who builds close to the ocean hopes they do not take a direct hit from a hurricane or who lives in California hopes there is no earthquake.

There seems to be an inherent human brain default which causes us to think if we prepare for an emergency then it will happen and if we go through life not thinking about possibilities then they will stay away.   Life shows us otherwise...

Budget for the Pantry Lifestyle and use what you own.  Oh, my friends... I'm preaching this to myself.   I'm pretty good about using extra income to help stock my pantry when it looks like Mother Hubbard lives here.

However, I still haven't put oil (that I have) in my oil lamps or checked in years to see if my emergency cook stove works.  I know my wind up emergency radio doesn't work.  I'd say there is some important pondering needed here, too.  This week I WILL fill those oil lamps!


I've promised more links and here are two you may be interested in.  Both are for free magazines (one read online, the other I believe is in a PDF format).  I have not read through them completely  and both are new to me... so buyer beware (even if they are free).

The Preparedness Review is brand new and available... here.

The Fall online issue of MinuteMom is... here.  It isn't a preparedness magazine as such but more a Pantry Lifestyle goes Libertarian theme.  So you know it is on the very conservative side of politics.

All Saturday Pantry Suggestions archives are... here.

See you next Saturday for Post-Sandy Part 2!

Picture:  Rooster and Four Chickens;


Jane said...

Good suggestions here!You've hit on some that we might not all think of - fill gas tanks & obtain cash, for example. Since we have 6 months of "Hurricane Season" here in Florida, we usually stock up on non-perishables early. A box of powdered milk could be helpful.

We've been most fortunate this year - so far - with no major hurricanes, but we did have two bad tropical storms, and the season's not over until the end of Nov.
I really feel for all those affected by Hurricane Sandy! Have been through a week without power - not fun at all! I hope and pray for their recovery from this devastation.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I learned my lesson when we had an ice storm (which are quite common in Georgia) about 10 years ago and we were without power for almost two weeks.

We just tested our kerosene heater to make sure it works this winter in case of a power outage (which we have frequently but the power usually goes back on in an hour or so). We also have a small generator that can power the freezer and a few other things (got it at HD).

I make sure I have plenty of water on hand (we also have water barrels hooked up to our downspouts). I always head the warnings and prepare.

If nothing happens great! If it does then at least I'm ready.

One thing I learned from Katrina - you can not rely on the government to help you. You just can't. They just don't have the manpower/resources to take care of everyone everywhere.

Have you seen that new TV show Revolution?

Vee said...

Just read Pat's good post on such matters at Mille Fiori Favoriti. She doesn't have all your tips and you don't have all hers. Lots of great info out there. I truly don't know if I'd make it in a big city if disaster struck. It just seems more tough and challenging all the way around.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
What a great post!! Sometimes we all think nothing will happen to us, only to others. But, of course it does come home to roost on occasion. I love being prepared for anything and look forward to Sandy Part 2 next Sat. Have a great day, and a Blessed Sunday. Love and Hugs, Nana.

mdoe37 said...

Thankyousoverymuch for the links for the e-mags!!! Those are wonderful!! Very helpful.

I have to admit that the last time we had a threat of a storm -- epic ice -- I went to the grocery store. I really didn't need anything. I went to observe. (naughty I know) I did buy some snacks as I thought the husband might be home and would appreciate some chips and whatnot. It was nice to be able to exhale knowing that I pretty much had my bases covered.

I do have a few 5 gal buckets of stuff, but mostly mine is regular ol' pantry items. As cash allows I might also add some freeze dried meals -- the chicken teriyaki from Mountain House is divine!

The last last power outage we had, I learned a lesson. I changed out my stove, water heater and have now added a propane wall heater (ugly but very functional). With our well going out, I also added a means to shower quickly with less water. I have a generator now as well, but don't have to rush to get it started because I have enough basis covered for short-term.

Posts like these are so helpful to folks. There's always a tidbit your might see that makes you think "Oh, do I have that covered?"

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions.
I've learned that it's a good idea to check out the emergency kit ahead of time when you know it may be needed.
Make sure the flashlights are still working and that noone has 'borrowed' the radio (grrr) and forgotten to put it back.

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Great reminder if the Sandy Storm didn't exercise it's own cautionary tale! Really enjoyed the motivation.
P.S. Love the "trust in God but buy peanut butter" true...I always say to my kids they should trust in God but tie up your horses/camels/lock your car etc. :)))

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Good stuff, Brenda.

The week before the hurricane hit, a surprise storm popped up with a surprise tornado in it. Came very close to where we live. We didn't even realize it but our power went out and I realized that I wasn't prepared for that. The oil lamps were nearly empty with no more oil on hand, the tub wasn't full etc.

Thankfully it was only out four hours, then it came back on. But I was very prepared for the hurricane.

I feel I am prepared because of reading posts like yours for the last 5 years!


Linda H said...

you had some excellent ideas. Everyone needs to have an emergency kit for their car, especially if they are out on the road quite a bit as my dh is. Warm blanket, gloves, heat packs, energy foods, water- rotated of course. If you are on med. take it with you daily as it shouldn't be stored in the car- make sure its in subscription bottles in case you get stopped. Battery operated radio, extra batteries, if you are on the road more than 1 day- a weather radio. I am sure there are other things too. Linda in IN

children of Eve said...

Oooh, if I had read this great post before Sandy I would have sent it to all my friends here in NY, some of whom are still without power tonight. Please continue with this important theme!