Saturday, January 25, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The mental aspect of being prepared

Grocery store shelves prior to the recent blizzard conditions
Christopher shared a news story on his Facebook page which went along with my own ponderings recently about being prepared mentally for an emergency.  In the midst of a shooting at a college, texts were sent out to thousands of students and staff warning them there was a shooter on campus, to stay where they were and take cover.

It seems there were many professors and instructors who disregarded the notice, students later said some were joking about it and went on with their lectures instead of locking the doors and turning off the lights as indicated by the emergency text... as a student lay dead on campus and police had no idea if the shooter acted alone.

For you see, the worst thing we can do is to think "it cannot happen here or to us". 

When we walked into the garage to find water shooting into the air from a broken pipe, my husband told me it took at least thirty seconds to mentally evaluate what was going on and how to turn off the water.  Even though he turns off the well pump every six months when he changes the filters in the crawl space.

He told me later it reminded him of the training soldiers are given to prepare for war.  It seems in an immediate crisis situation (such as being ambushed by the North Vietnamese), the brain actually freezes and if your training does does not kick in immediately, you are in deep trouble.

Which is why boot camp is so brutal and soldiers training for special services such as the Navy Seals go through hell-on-earth training before being sent out on missions.  It is why astronauts feel they have been in space before they leave the atmosphere.

I have found through the years there are a couple reasons people do not have even minimum emergency preps in their home. 

The first... that belief that it can never happen to me, us, here, at this time, in America, etc.

The second... that strange reasoning that if we do not prepare for any emergencies then they automatically will not happen to us.

Both ways of thinking kind of explain people who live near an earthquake fault line who have no bottled water, food, or first aid kit tucked away or who commute long distances in winter without an emergency car kit.

I find it easy to think through what type of emergency is most likely in my family.   That would include something as non-threatening (except financially) as a long term job loss that happened to us twice, something we deal with each year such as tornadoes, and even an event like an earthquake which has happened but is far from common (which is why our earthquake insurance is a few dollars a month).

If you have children, any preparations given will make it far easier should there be a crisis situation.  I wouldn't tell a five year old there is a threat of a terrorist exploding a dirty bomb if you live in New York City.  The thought of that would scare the bajeebies out of most adults.  But you can get on their level and teach with possibilities they are familiar with.

For instance, in my State the schools provide mandatory fire as well as tornado drills.  Even the children who do not attend school know when the sirens go off on the first Saturday of each month, they are testing to make certain they work correctly.  That Saturday morning provides an excellent time to go over family plans in case of an emergency.

What kind of questions should you ask yourself and/or your family?
I can't cover them all but here are a few to get your started.  Pull out a notebook and write as questions come to mind specific to your situation.

If the kids are separated from the parents when an emergency occurs (such as the tornado that hit Oklahoma last Spring), is there a plan in place to communicate? Is there a central location away from home that has been a planned meeting place for older kids and spouses?  Has a third person outside of the immediate family been assigned as a contact person for the family to communicate with?

Is there a flashlight stored where each member of the family can reach one?  Many people I know keep a flashlight in each bedroom and a couple heavy duty flashlights (or battery operated lanterns) in a central location.  Is there emergency lighting in a basement or garage should one be there when the electricity goes out.  These are often pitch black at that time and even a small flashlight will offer safety.  How about your car?

Should your house be hit by lightening (like what happened to us two years ago), do the adults know how to shut off the gas lines coming to your house?  Children should be taught to flee the house immediately, of course.

Does everyone old enough know how to shut off the water coming into the house?  My husband had to show me again how to shut the water pump off at the main electrical switch and to run the water in all faucets to reduce water pressure on the broken pipe.

If you own a cat (umm... or you are owned by a cat) or another small animal, do you know where your pet carrier is located?  I received some claw marks the first time we had to call the fire department after the lightening strike.  A few days later when we had to call them to come again for the gas leak (caused by the original lightening strike)... I had that kitty carrier in the garage instead of the garden shed!

Do you know where emergency supplies are located and are they easy to access?  I have found some items I've needed were not easily accessible, especially in a power outage.   This is one of my projects I plan on doing as soon as it gets warmer in the garage (you can freeze your giblets out there now!).

Has anyone in the family gone through basic first aid training?  Quite often it is free or at least at a nominal cost.

Have you put together a 72-hour emergency kit?  This would be a fun activity for kids to do if the adults in the house have prepared ahead.  A list can be brainstormed by the entire family, purchases made where necessary, and assembled together in an appropriate container for your area (shatterproof for earthquake zones, waterproof if you live in a flood zone, perhaps in one or more backpacks if your emergency may require leaving quickly such as a fire zone, etc.).

If you are empty nesters like us or you live alone... do you neglect putting together an emergency kit because after all... it is just you?  Slap yourself on the hand with a wet noodle right now and make out your list!  Look at what you have already and then add item/s as the budget permits.

Continue to deepen your pantry as possible with food your family actually eats.  Think about it.  Write it down.  Do you need more of the menu basics like canned tomatoes and pasta?  Is there food that can be eaten without cooking?   Think beyond the basics... you may always store plenty of peanut butter but would something like Nutella add to the pantry, too?

Read. Study. Listen. Be aware.  You cannot do it all but you can do something.  Even the smallest preparation can make a huge difference.

And always remember... the safest place to be is in the will of God.

Prepping on a Budget (this site is one of the oldest and most well known survivalist prepper websites)... here.

Putting together a 72 Hour Kit... here.  I'm not familiar with this website but when I googled "putting together a 72 hour kit" (hey, why reinvent the wheel so to speak?) this guy had a recent article with good information.

What a crisis might look like... here.  Food, gold, and weapons site but the kind that gives really good information that does not "beat around the bush".

Warning about 9V batteries... Everyone should watch this video... here.  It is not long.  It may save your life.  My husband told me he knew about this but now he will be certain to put duct tape over any battery we throw away or recycle.  HT:  Sallie at A Quiet Simple Life.


Mama Squirrel said...

Hi Brenda--I am hosting the Festival of Frugality this week--can I use this post? You don't have to re-submit it anywhere--just let me know if it's okay or if you have something else you'd rather put in. I'll check back before Monday night. Thanks!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

You can always use any post here on your wonderful blog!

mdoe37 said...

Guilty on the 72 hour kits. However, I did find a set of rolling suitcases at Goodwill :) for $9--all three--and another for a couple of dollars. That will be one for each of us, one for the dog and cat (food, liter box, water bowl etc) and one for extras.

I do have what I call a "Blackout Box" that sits in the pantry. It contains extra flashlights, candles, matches, wicks etc. You could put in your battery radio and the like. If the power goes out, everything is contained. The box of batteries is right next to it, as are the propane lanterns. I have a couple of the Energizer Weather Ready Compact Rechargeable LED Lights (amazon has them) plugged in and some LED lights that stand up on the nightstands ($5 at Tractor Supply)

And, hehe, I feel for your husband staring at the spraying pipe...been there, done that, and always at 2 a.m. lol I have a plumbing kit that contains various PVC fittings, cutter, and ALWAYS a can of fresh cement. Even if there is a half can of cement...Murphy's Law is that the half can will be stuck shut or solid in an emergency.

Heather said...

'...the safest place to be is in the will of God'
Can you believe I just had to send my hubby to the store for sugar - I thought my pantry was well supplied, but I'm pretty sure it needs a good inventory and re-stocking!
Good thoughts on preparedness - it's so very important. Our roof just started leaking and I called for a bucket and towel - both children sprang to action and took care of it. We need to keep teaching them more as they mature and are ready to handle more.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
What a wake up call for all of us!! I keep saying I will start to prepare for emergency's but never seem to do more than think about it. Will do a list of needed items, flashlights, battery radio and the like. What do you suggest to put in a food prep kit? Will also email this post to my granddaughter. Have a good weekend. Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

You might have the food stuffs stored and ready but how about the can opener? As i mentioned another time, they have said that the can tops that just pull off like cat cans can sometimes open themselves a bit. So little it is hard to detect. They are not the best for long term pantry storage. Especially when one can sits atop it putting extra pressure on it also. The edges of the opening line can open a hair and let in bacteria. I don't know how often this has happened but just that it has...or so I have read several times. Use these types of cans first for safety they said. Do you have a safe way to cook any foods you do keep? Remember gas lines may be opened in your neighborhood during a neighborhood emergency. Be careful with any fire or spark. How about enough water to cook those noodles you keep? :) Let alone waster to drink. Brenda you always get me to thinking and get on the ball again when I read your posts. Thanks so much!! I always learn something new and come away always glad I read your posts...Every day you write. Not just Saturdays!! :-) Sarah

Vee said...

I took off on a link and never made it back to say that you hit me on a number of levels. Will try to be more aware...that's the best to be hoped for with me. Ha!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Great post Brenda! Maybe it's being from NYC but I've never had the "it can't happen to me/here" attitude. When I first moved to the South so many of neighbors left their doors unlocked because nothing ever happens here like that. Well thing "like that" started happening. Anything can happen to anyone anywhere! Best to be prepared as much as you can be.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Good stuff! I think the kids and I will revisit some of this tomorrow for health and safety! It really helps them to be prepared. It gives confidence in an emergency.

Thanks for the links too. Heading to check them out!