Saturday, September 15, 2018
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - What each storms teaches us
I originally wrote this post just after Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf. I was searching through all my prep and pantry posts when I saw this post again. While it was not the one I was looking for, it speaks to the thoughts I had as we saw hundreds of people lined up at stores once again. As with Harvey, it looks like the unprecedented amount of rain is going to be the big story once this storm is also history.
Written just a year ago...
I watched the eclipse as it made its' way from Northwest to Southeast on the Weather Channel. From time to time, they left their eclipse coverage for weather updates and mentioned a little about Harvey. They weren't too concerned about it but like a physician when one is experiencing unusual symptoms, they decide to "keep an eye on it".
Here it is less than a week later and the same channel is giving live coverage to a Category 4 storm as it brings destructive wind and rain to Texas. I have a dear friend who lives in Corpus Christi and I was quite relieved to receive a message from her last night that they had evacuated but there was a chance they would have no home when they returned. (Note: They arrived home to find little damage!)
Harvey is reminding us today of how and why we should be prepared ahead of any disaster. Of course, we prepare just a little differently according to where we live. I don't need to put as much thought into a bug out bag as someone who deals with hurricanes has to do. However, I learned that we needed one when the house was hit by lightening and the only thing I grabbed was my purse and Victoria! (That was also when I learned to keep the kitty carrier where I could find it easily.)
We are again learning of the need to have water stocked as that seems to be an overriding need in all emergencies. We learned when a pipe broke and we were suddenly without water for two weeks (there is that suddenly again) that we needed both larger containers of water and individual water bottles when none was available. It also didn't take long to become very good at getting the most out of each drop of precious water.
Winter storms have taught me to fill up every container I have ahead of time with water, in addition to any we have stocked on shelves. Since we have a well and the well pump runs on electricity, when the power goes out so does our water supply. I fill pitchers full of filtered water to drink (keeping bottled water to use only if we must) and the dish pan gets filled with hot, sudsy water on one side of the sink with another dish pan full of clean water on the other side for rinsing. Other containers are filled with water and left in the bathtub for flushing the toilet (our tub is old and doesn't hold water itself).
I've learned to, when any storm is expected, get all my laundry caught up and the dishes washed ahead of time. I set disposable plates, bowls, drinking cups, and silverware on the kitchen counter to be ready. The less dishes to wash, the further the water lasts if the power goes out. I did all of this when the plumbers were here for two days putting in a new well pump. It was good that I didn't have to use everything but it was all ready.
Once again, we saw photos online of empty grocery shelves. I know there are many of us who have to stock a little at a time but by writing down our priorities, we can have enough to get by easily until most disasters are over. It is essential to have at least a few days worth of food that does not need to be cooked. Even a large city like Houston is telling their citizens not to use their water for anything without boiling it first today. That is with the power out for many people.
Although we should always stock what we actually eat all the time, I've suggested before just walking down the aisles of your grocery store once in awhile, checking for items that would not need to be cooked. For instance, we don't always think of canned fruit as an emergency item but it just needs to be opened and it provides liquid.
When we know a storm is approaching, we need to top off the gas tank in our vehicle AND top off our food and other supplies as soon as that storm is mentioned. That should insure you less lines and more of what you need being available. Not only bread and milk but disposal diapers and baby wipes! (Although I always tried to have one backup box at least when I had babies in the house.)
This is the time to check batteries for flashlights, lanterns, NOAA weather radios, etc. My weather radio needs to be charged so I plug it in to charge once in awhile. It does have a solar option if necessary in a disaster situation but it is very easy just to plug it in while there is power.
When a Watch comes... make sure every form of communication you have is plugged in and recharging! Also, have an emergency communication plan ahead of time with family and friends.With both of my kids now living in different cities, I feel relieved when I know all is well with them. Not to mention friends in hurricane zones!
When there is enough of a warning, it is the time to check with your pharmacy to see if you can get essential medications. Because of insurance restrictions, it isn't always possible but it's worth a try in an emergency situation to see if you can get a partial prescription refill.
Most disasters are not like a hurricane where the radar these days lets us know a few days ahead of time there will be a need for preparations. Many are SUDDEN! We need to have basic supplies on hand, at least a skeleton of a bug out bag prepared, either copies of important documents in the bug out bag and/or our documents in a container that can be quickly grabbed in an emergency, pet carriers in places where they are easy to grab (or like me, you will be holding a cat with back claws fighting you as firetrucks pull up!), and a way to communicate if at all possible.
We always think that emergency situations will not happen to us. It was sunny outside when our house was hit by lightening. I had no idea at all that within seconds, a lightening bolt would hit. We in the Midwest have tornado watches but we have had twisters close by with no weather watch at all. My friends in earthquake territory have no warnings of the upcoming shaking.
There is an old adage in the emergency preparedness community that I've found very true. People seem to think if they do not prepare for an emergency then it will never happen to them. We know that is not true.
So while we pray for the people dealing with Hurricane Harvey and help them all we can, let's learn what we can from each disaster. Praying all my blog friends in the path of Harvey are safe!
Image: Michael Gracyzk and Frank Bajak, Associated Press