Saturday, January 11, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Facing the truth about being prepared

This past week has been quite an experience as we went through actual temps of -20 and wind chills of -45 locally.  Add to that blizzard conditions which left us with too much snow to handle easily and the learning curve went far beyond what was expected, much less desired.

It was the polar vortex making its' way through the Midwest that caused us the most problems. Our area of the country gets very cold in winter but not Siberia cold.  Did you know one day this week it was colder in Chicago than it was in Siberia?

 Just when we thought we were okay and after I had poured out all the water I had collected... we awoke Thursday morning to the sound of raging water coming from the general area of our garage.  A pipe had broken there, completely taking us by surprise (because we had assumed those pipes were warm enough being in the garage) and  we were now in the single digit temperatures at night.

We were wrong.

Another "side affect" of the storm is that the transmission burned out on the van.  It was a combination of old van, extreme cold weather, and heavy snow.  Sigh... it seems so much takes us to the need for prayer!

If there is one good thing that comes from going through such a crisis, it is that we always learn something.  The most important thing I have learned?  Face the truth even if I don't like it.  Weather patterns have become more unpredictable and extreme.  It doesn't matter if it is global warming, sun activity, or whatever... the weather is wacky.

So we really need to be prepared.  I plan to write more about preps in the next few week.  And I must admit, I'm probably more prepared than the average person and I was still totally not ready for this one-two punch from nature.

This weather crisis certainly showed me again the importance of having as deep a pantry as one can afford and keep organized.  See the photo above?  I would give credit if I could find it but it was on a few different sites with no photo credits added.  That is a shelf at one of the big grocery stores the day BEFORE the snowstorm was to hit.

We were at the grocery store two days before the storm, it was busy and some shelves were picked over (like the bread area) but there was plenty of everything.   By the next day the same Kroger store was out of a lot of basics.   I read that locally Aldi's sold more in twenty-four hours than they usually do in a week.

The evening newscast showed a woman crying when she went out in the storm because there was not even cereal or milk to feed her kids. 

Which is why it is vitally important for each family to have a reserve of food, water, and emergency items before any watch or warning is broadcast.  Not to mention the many emergencies which come with no warning.

We would have been fine with a couple exceptions.  One was that the storm hit when I only had a week of long term insulin left.  But at the moment there is not a lot I can do about stocking up on it.  And we were fortunate that our Social Security check came in on a day when we could "top off" our groceries and such two days before the storm was to hit.

While we would have been okay without the extra groceries, it would have been a more challenging experience.  The purchases we made certainly added to our comfort level during the storm.

You know what I did forget?  That I had a "topping off" grocery list!

You may remember that I talked about the importance of a list to have on hand should one need to make a quick trip to the grocery store in an emergency situation?  Well, I have one in my files but I don't keep it in a pocket in my purse like I once did.  So when we were at the grocery store, I kept wondering what it was I forgot.

Fortunately we were at the check out line when my husband remembered something important and purchased it separately.  So a priority this week is to write a list of "topping off the groceries" essentials and tucking it in my purse instead of leaving it neatly filed away.

Some other truths learned this week that I will write about post-crisis?
  1. Do not assume anything (like your pipes in a cold garage cannot freeze).
  2. It is not over until it is all over (as in do not throw out your reserve water too quickly).
  3. You probably will need a lot more water than you think you will.
  4. Skills can be just as important as items stored, sometimes even more so.
  5. You need to know where your emergency items are stored and how to use them already.
  6. You may not have enough paper plates, cups, etc. put back should there be a prolonged lack of water available.
  7. Do not think it cannot happen to you!

Last year we had record heat and drought.  This year we have had record rains, cold, and a record setting autumn tornado outbreak.

It is time to look Reality in the face.  Whatever you do to prepare for emergencies... given budget, time, etc. will make your life more comfortable if it happens and just may save a life.

Where are we now?  Hubby finished fixing the broken pipe late this morning (written Friday) so... let there be water!  The van is not worth what it would take to repair (as the transmission is completely shot) so Mr. and Mrs. Christopher are loaning us their second car for the next two weeks while we consider where to go from here.

We now have heavy rain predicted tonight with major flooding possible.  How does one go from -20 (wind chill of -45) one day and within the same week the temperatures turn above normal?  I don't know but it is happening.

Join me here on Saturdays as my ponderings about preparing for and living through emergency situations make it from my brain to my fingers to the keyboard.  No matter how slow the process.  :)


Jennyr said...

Great post! Before y2k we were as prepared as reasonably possible. Since then, we have become more lax in our emergency preparedness. We moved and have simply not organized our emergencies supplies the way it is necessary. When our power went out during this cold snap, we realized that many of the things needed were located in an outdoor shed. This meant opening doors to retrieve them and losing the heat we did have. Getting organized and updating our supplies is a high priority for us over the next few months. I hope that things work out for you quickly.i enjoy reading your blog.

Nanna said...

we get snow once in a blue moon here & when the first snowflake falls people panic, this last week we've had the coldest tempts Ala's had in years, I like your title,LIving The Pantry Lifestyle, it reminds me of a few years ago I thought hey we have nothing to eat & did an inventory of all the groc in the pantry as well as the freezer & made meals around that list, boy was I surprised when I came up with over a weeks worth of meals lol! well here I am again looking in the pantry making another list lol!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

We didn't have such low temps or a blizzard but we did have record lows for our area on Tuesday and Wednesday and now this weekend we are having record warm temperatures for November. It is crazy. I am going to link to your post, in the hopes that it will help others to be prepared!

Glad that things are working out. I'll be praying about your car situation.


Vee said...

Oh good night nurse. I can not believe that all of this has been going on in the span of a week. It's enough to try the soul. I have less going on and am in more of a "state." The weather is bizarre. A sign of the times? Perhaps.

Hang tough. Saying a prayer and sending love.

Unknown said...

I learned from my mom to always keep stocked up. I do so, because we live in the country and just can't bop to the store to pick up this and that for a recipe. I have 2 shelving units in my basement that I keep stocked with cereals, canned goods, and baking items. I have a 3 shelf overflowing with garden produce that I canned. We also have two chest freezers full of game and garden produce. Thankfully we did not lose our power in this storm! But, when we do if need be we fire up our generator to keep the freezers going. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Life DOES keep us on our toes, doesn't it?!?

During OUR experiences, I kept thinking how glad I was that it was only us two adults I had to be concerned about. How much more challenging it would have been with children!

Sorry to hear about your van. I know (from experience) the inconveniences associated with this.....

Scrappy quilter said...

Even in Canada, we had record lows and wicked winds. Love this post.

Anonymous said...

Your post was spot on! I always try to prep ahead, with the idea that I can always do more. Can't wait to read your future post on prepping.


Vintage Gal said...

Wonderful post. We are having the same weather here in Ontario. We went from -39 F to 36 F in 24 hours. The snow is melting and there is a flash flood watch out right now. I DO have a pantry with necessary food items. We buy canned goods when they are on sale and stock up. We also have a deep freezer full of meat, which again, we purchase when it is on sale. This is the way we budget our money and it's also a great way to always be prepared.

tpals said...

Another weird week indeed. On Tuesday we were commenting how good 3 degrees could feel and now its a balmy 30 degrees. The wires going to my car door snapped from the cold. Just got that replaced at $600!

Insulin is tricky just because it's so terribly expensive. About the only hope is finding a sympathetic doctor who will write a larger prescription so you can build up a supply over time.

Echoes From the Hill said...

Regarding the transmission in the van, can you look for a transmission at a junk yard and have a mechanic put it in the van?

In the past, when I needed a part for my car, and was a single mom, I spoke to a mechanic who told me to go on line and find the part at a salvage yard. He didn't have time to go get the part. I found the part in a town about 30 miles away and bought it, and got it to the mechanic. If you have towing insurance, you could have the car towed to the mechanic. Your car might not be worth much, but the price of another vehicle, would probably be more.

I'm so sorry you are having more problems. Life is never dull!


Anonymous said...

Great advice! I've never seen the store shelves empty like in the photo you included, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen here. The weather really Is getting wackier lately! We are having a powerful wind storm, along with pouring rain today, so I prepared for a possible power outage. Hubby is watching the Seahawks game and is hoping the power stays on at least for that! LOL!
Looking forward to your future posts on deepening the pantry. Would love if you could also include recipes, if possible, or refer to where to find some interesting ways to use the foods stored. Variety is the spice of life, as they say!
So sorry about your van! Our vehicles always seem to develop problems during the winter months! Praying you are able to find an affordable and reliable replacement soon!
Take care.
Laura C. from WA

Debby said...

Thank you for this post. I try to be prepared for whatever mother nature, job loss, illness or whatever comes our way but your post has reminded me it's time to do inventory!! Love the idea of keeping a list in your purse. I have mine in a notebook which wouldn't do much good if I am in a hurry. We broke 130 year record cold this past week in NC, it was CRAZY cold and now flooding rains. So sorry to hear of your pipes and car. You are so lucky to have a hubby who could make the repairs a plumber would have cost and arm and leg!

Debby said...

Thank you for this post. I try to be prepared for whatever mother nature, job loss, illness or whatever comes our way but your post has reminded me it's time to do inventory!! Love the idea of keeping a list in your purse. I have mine in a notebook which wouldn't do much good if I am in a hurry. We broke 130 year record cold this past week in NC, it was CRAZY cold and now flooding rains. So sorry to hear of your pipes and car. You are so lucky to have a hubby who could make the repairs a plumber would have cost and arm and leg!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sorry about your van. We don't have a car but we live in a city, so can get around by bus and use a taxi for grocery shopping trips. Is that an option where you live?

Thank heavens you had some insulin on hand and groceries.

The weather is completely weird lately. and we have to be ready for anything. It's the "new reality" I guess.

mdoe37 said...

Oh no, car issues. Bleh. The day after Christmas the husband was on his way to work. A guy pulled out of his driveway and slide a bit into the husband's lane. Of course, you attempt to move over and around...which turned into a sledding expedition cross country, into a power pole. There he sat with electrical lines hanging on the car like used tinsel. Oh, the other guy did not stop and, of course, since the husband avoided hitting him, I guess he didn't have to. While the car had a lot of miles on it, it had never had any major repairs. Its totaled and I now have a car payment. I'm going to send down good thoughts hoping for a reasonable fix for your situation.

Listen to Brenda when she talks about having stuff put aside of illness...I didn't. Well I had some, of course no 7Up. Apparently I came down with the flu on 12/16 and finally headed to the med center the day after Christmas...and just over a week later ... and yesterday morning too. Now very slow to resolve bronchitis. Oh and the husband contracted pneumonia during his sledding trip. eh-hmm.

What did save me was that I do have some things tucked away..a few boxes of mac and cheese, a few cans of soup, a box of helper. And while we almost never eat these things, I was able to weave to the kitchen and at least cook something that resembled a meal.

And I'll now be stocking 7Up.

(Oh and you should have seen South Haven during that blizzard!!)