Saturday, October 14, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Little decisions, big results

This week I've been trying to put some thought into what small, easy on the budget things I can do to be more prepared for winter and emergencies.  The first thing I did, and you will laugh at its' simplicity, was to put a package of three boxes of new matches on my grocery list.

I hate to admit it but I have been frustrated by matches that do not light properly now for years.  Did you know that matches have a "Use By" date and they really do lose their ability to light, even when striking on the box?  I'm pretty sure all the matches in my house were at least fifteen years old, which was the last year we lived in a house with a fireplace and the last time I stocked up.

We don't use them as much as we did back then so they got... old.  (Don't we all eventually?)  I cannot tell you why it took so long.  It wasn't a budget problem because three boxes of matches cost less than $3.00.  It probably has more to do with my dislike of not using up something I stocked up on at one time... even if my reason for having a lot of matches (the fireplace) no longer exists.

So by purchasing the three-box package, I definitely have a new stock of fresh matches and one reason for being annoyed was easily resolved, the matches now light immediately.  I should have done it years ago.  It wouldn't hurt to purchase one more three-pack just to put back for real emergencies but for now, being able to light my Autumnal scented candle so easily was a very good thing.

After hearing interviews with people affected by hurricanes and forest fires, I decided there was a definite need to rethink and finish our "bug out bag".  For one thing, the bag I use is an old Land's End duffel bag that is almost as old as Christopher and received a lot of use over the years.  It is practically falling apart. 

So I decided to use instead the old Vera Bradley duffel I bought at Goodwill long ago for just a few dollars.  It mostly sits in the coat closet, anyway.  It just needs something added to the bottom of the bag to give it more structure.

I also decided it will not be an official "bug out bag", at least not yet.  If  you do an online search for "bug out bag", the suggested contents would require more of a complete set of luggage rather than a duffel bag.  Since the probability of our having to leave our house in an emergency is low (but still exists), my priority is not necessarily long term survival but taking what will make our life easier.

It is to be more a "grab and go" bag should we need to ummm... grab and go.  I was watching interviews of the people who escaped the forest fires in California and many of them had less than ten minutes to throw together what they were taking with them.  How much better it would be if they had such a bag to easily grab and add a few thought out items to on the way out.

I'm now adding items by priority as well as budget. I'm taking photocopies of important documents like birth certificates, a list of phone numbers (I couldn't tell you my daughter's phone number, I just press #3 on my cell phone), the front of our insurance policy, etc.  Like many recent printers, ours has a photocopy capability that we use only for a few items at a time (it uses a lot of ink) but this is one of those times.

I'll share more about what I put in when it is finished.  I know I will transfer what I already have put together and I need to replace two or three boxes of granola bars.  Should there come a time I do need to grab and go...  I can throw the insulin pens from the frig, required pen needles, and prescriptions in at the last minute. 

I'm still thinking through what I will include, there will be more items.  Of course, if I lived in an earthquake zone, a flood zone, or where forest fires are more possible than they are here, I would put together an actual bug out bag with more items for survival.

I understand what it is like to not think through what to take in an emergency.  When our house was hit by lightening, the last thing I thought of was that I would need our insurance information should the unthinkable happen and the house blew up (when the firemen had to return, it was because of a gas leak caused by the lightening strike).

Because I lived with an ADD husband and son, I have already set up good habits through the years that would make a quick exit possible.  Our keys are always in the same wooden bowl when not in use.  Our flip top cell phone is always next to it since I share that phone with my husband. So whoever is leaving home to run errands has a quick access to the cell phone.  I did keep our kitty carrier in the garage but it was used to carry Mr. Sebastian to his new home.  Note to self: ask for my kitty carrier back the next time the kids are coming to town.

Our emergency radio is always in the same place, my insulin pens and prescriptions are in the same place, etc.  So those would be easy to locate and throw in a bag if needed.  It would be a very good idea to type out a list of things you need to take that are located in other places so you do not forget anything if you need to use the grab and go bag.

I am convinced if most of us change the way we think of "bug out bags", we will be more likely to put something together that will make life much easier should we need to leave the house suddenly.  Perhaps for most a complete survival bag will not be necessary.  Just start with something simple like photocopying important documents (putting them in something like a gallon size Ziploc bag for protection), that extra flashlight (and extra batteries if you have them), etc.

The theme of this week's post is this... do something simple right now.  For me it was adding the new matches to this month's grocery list and deciding to change from a bug out bag (which was never completed) to just a "grab and go" bag (which can easily be completed and then added to over time).

Then, do something simple each week to prepare for an emergency situation.  Much like my "little at a time" house and lawn work, you are surprised how much can be accomplished.  

We have seen these past couple of months that life can be running along as usual one day and the next some kind of an emergency hits.  There was not even a storm over our home when lightening hit it. By preparing just a little, we are helping our future selves a great deal.

One of the men interviewed who just barely escaped the fires said they believed their neighborhood was safe from forest fires because they usually do not jump the large Interstates.  However, the conditions of this fire with the Santa Anna winds being so high made it possible for the fire to not only reach his neighborhood but do so within minutes of jumping the Interstate.

I will be revisiting this theme often in the next few months.  Everything done a little at a time will reap huge results eventually.

Image:  From The Sentinel, photo by John Lindsey


LeighAnn said...

Thanks for the reminder to do small steps and thereby reach the bigger goal. We have our important papers in a fireproof box but I never thought about making copies for the BOB. It's on my list to do next week!

Bess said...

Hi Brenda! I always enjoy your pantry posts (well, all of your posts!). I don't have a full bug-out bag, but for several years I've had what I've always called my "tornado bag". It's just a tote for the absolute essentials of items I wouldn't want to have to replace. In it I keep the actual originals of my SS card, my Will, the deed to my home, my life insurance policy, my burial plot deed, my birth certificate, my passwords, a small letter-sized envelope of my most prized family photos, my flash drives and memory cards, some writing I have yet to get into the computer, etc. Some might feel that the above should be in a bank box, but I feel safer knowing everything important is within arm's reach. (But then, I don't have as many "important" papers as some.)

I also keep my divorce papers in there, though that being nearly 25 years ago, I don't know that I'd ever need them. I do hope to track down my marriage certificate in case it's ever needed (that would be a SSA thing if my ex should pass before me). Copies of these items would be OK, but having been a paralegal, it is mighty inconvenient to get the originals replaced (having done so for clients).

And then, when the tornado watch is issued, in go my meds, my cellphone, charger- my mind is going blank. I move my purse and tornado bag to the kitchen (which is near the basement door), and when the sirens go off, and they do, I can grab them and down we go. By this time I already have portable oxygen tanks in the basement ready for my brother, some snacks, and we keep a good radio down there. (However, I think he's getting where he won't be able to go downstairs anymore, so this may be mostly moot.) Tornadoes are our #1 threat here on the central plains. (A ten minute warning is a long one. Some can be much shorter, thus the need to be super ready.) However, a fire or flood isn't out of the question.

But you and others have me thinking of a second bag, probably a backpack, for more of the long-term items one might need, in the event we had to evacuate by car or boat. Thank you for your informative and relevant posts. Just thought I'd share what I've been doing so far. Blessings! (And pets to Florentine.) Bess

lives in the woods said...

Such good points, Brenda! I never knew that matches expire. Every time one of my daughters in love was pregnant I had a grab and go bag, but it was never a ' My house might not be standing when I get back bag'.

You've given me a good project to work on. :)

Also, praying for the continued healing of your eye.

A while back you mentioned that you would be sharing some preparedness sites that you visit. I think that was before your eye injury. Looking forward to reading those sites when it is convenient for you to link to them. There are still many things in the world that cause concern. But I'm glad I know Who is really in charge!

Vee said...

That matches expire newsflash sure explains a lot! I once had a working control journal à la FlyLady, but it needs updating with all the changes of policies and phone numbers. I could plug away at that... Thanks for another timely post!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I did not know that matches have expiration dates! Wow! I also realized reading this that we've relied on lighters, and not matches, but that we should get some matches.

We have all our important documents in a small carry size safe, and that's ready to grab and go. I'll have to give some thought to what we'd need long term if we needed to quickly go. I really should do this too, as we live within a ten mile radius of a nuclear power plant.

Lots to think about, Brenda.


LauraC said...

I have a small backpack by the front door with a few things in it. We had a fire last Fall (very little damage except to our electrical system, thank God)and I grabbed my purse and phone, that's it. I now have in that bag the first page of our house insurance, some small water bottles (I was dying of thirst out in the yard), a few granola bars (you never know!), and a couple of the medical "equipment" that my husband wears and has to change twice a week. I am looking forward to what you put in yours.

Peggy said...

A checklist is very helpful. Years ago, we had to evacuate for a gas leak, and we completely forgot to take our cat with us! Fortunately nothing exploded, and the leak was quickly repaired.

Debbie said...

We keep my husband's briefcase, which is filled with all our legal documents and insurance papers, near the front door so we can grab and go if needed.

My Winter stock up list includes facial tissues, hot cocoa mix and a few other things.

tealady said...

Matches, of all things I never even gave them a thought. Well except for the opposite, I am on oxygen so I avoid all open flames as much as possible. I will have to get some. One of the things I do have ready is a week's worth of medication, I save my past months pill bottles and fill them up with one week of pills they get changed out weekly. I also have had a kidney transplant and have diabetes, I make sure I have insulin pens packed also because they are good for 30 days unrefrigerated. So many things to remember and to start out small is a great idea.