I must apologise for taking so long with this second Be Prepared post. David has been ill with a severe chest infection for the last two weeks, so I have been nursemaid to the poorly man. He is now well on the mend after some antibiotics that were so big, I was unsure how to administer them!
In this post the scenarios for preparedness (is that a word?) are a little less petty.
Are you prepared for a power cut that last a little longer than it takes to change a fuse or re-set a clock after a little surge trips out the power for few minutes, or that means that you miss an hours television?
What is the weather like where you live? Do you often have snow and below zero temperatures? Is flooding a common problem in your area or are you used to temperatures in the 90s for days on end (as if!) Different weather scenarios call for different needs and plans, but there are commonalities - you might be stuck in your home and you may lose power.
Much of that I wrote in my last post holds as a start. You need to build on this, expanding your preparedness in a sensible way. In the last post I didn't mention food as I assumed you had enough in for an hour or two! However, being without food for a few days up to a week when all the panic buying has taken place leaving the supermarket shelves empty (was that you?!) or you cannot get out to the shops anyway because you are snowed in, for example, can be a reality.
Wherever you live there is a minimum amount of food you should keep in to last you for a few days.
A well-thought out food cupboard would feed you for a few days if you got rid of any junk that might be lurking there, or re-thought your storage jars/tins.
Each person eats differently so I will share the staples that I keep in at all times and will serve to feed us several days without going to the shops and you can adjust to suit your tastes. I have just gone to the food cupboard to write down all I see and realise I could improve a little on the ingredients that provide protein and vitamins.
Dry goods - plain, and bread flour; baking powder; yeast; sugar; rice; pasta; lentils; dried peas; soya mince; polenta; milk powder. stock cubes; cocoa powder; oil. oats; cornflakes; dried fruit (dates, apricots, raisins) nuts; tea; coffee; salt; sealed pitta bread.
Tinned and jar food - Jam and honey; yeast extract; tinned potatoes, sweet corn; evaporated milk; uht milk; feta in oil; corned beef; various pickles; pickled eggs; tomatoes; beans - baked, kidney, butter and flagolet; vinegar; tinned fish in oil; cartons fruit juice; mandarin oranges; sliced peaches.
Firstly prepare for the most common scenario.. power loss. At a time like this, it might well be that you have no cooking facilities so you will need to consider foods that need no cooking. As a minimum I would store - UHT milk; sugar; cartons of fruit juice, tins of milk puddings, cereals; tins of corned beef; tins of fish ( I would suggest in oil which adds food value) dried fruit and nuts; vacuum sealed crackers and pitta breads and the like; olive and sunflower oil. Tins of potatoes, various beans and sweet corn (make good cold salads). I would love it if readers could add to this and offer suggestions for no-cook meals
This is a good time to suggest a small camping stove. Used sparingly this could help to lift your mood with a hot drink or tin of soup (it also adds a little heat to the room) My daughter and granddaughter who work for the Fire and Rescue service, will not forgive me if I don't add a word of caution about the use of camping stoves inside, so I must add that the room should be ventilated when this is in use and it should stand on a level metal surface (tea tray?) which should stand on something like a thick chopping board and never left unattended. Don't be tempted to use those charcoal BBQs in a tin. people have died when using those inside tents.
So you won't starve, but are you warm? If all your heating is electric (this could include an electric pump for another fuel source ) a few days without power can be a long time to shiver at best and life threatening at worst, especially for some vulnerable people.
When driving at night in the winter and looking through people's windows (don't you?!) I see laminate floors, minimal furniture, flimsy curtaining ( not closed obviously) and folk walking around in teashirts and shorts and probably in bare feet too. I can only assume that the heating is on pretty high and I can't help but think about the cost both financial and environmental. Oh yes, and light floods from every room and every unoccupied corner and kick board is spotlighted for dramatic effect.
When the power goes out you will need to abandon style and go survival.
You will need to build up warmth and exclude cold. Firstly close the curtains if it is cold, add a layer by hanging a blanket or another pair of curtains up at the windows. Don't forget that if you have doors with glass in these they should also be treated as windows too. Exclude draughts with "sausages" of paper or fabric, those old jeans you saved the zip from can be filled with crumpled paper or old towels or just roll up the towels. These sausages can be laid at (closed) doors - I note that the concept of a closed inner door can be a little new to some young people! If you are a family cosy up in the same room. As the children have no working television or computer in their rooms they might as well sit with you and borrow some warmth! If you have any spare blankets, quilts or throws you can use them to cover yourselves and them carry them upstairs to put on the beds. If you have limited space You can store this spare linen over chairs, sofas and the end of beds or in one of those plastic bags that you vacuum the air out of, under the bed. Now get some layers on. not so that your clothes feel tight, allow space for air to be trapped between each layer. Put on some socks and slippers if you have them and maybe a loose fitting woolly hat and then snuggle down under your blanket. you may not be a fashion god but who cares!
We have already discussed the power outage box in your kitchen drawer. If you are unsure how much battery you have left or will need or how long your candles will last, discuss how to stretch it out and what you might use it for. If you have the room, a tin of extra batteries and candles under the bed prepares you for a bad winter. Go to bed early and rise as it gets light to save power ( it's how it used to be done back in the day!) If you are lucky enough to have the facility to boil water (gas hobs?) half fill lemonade bottles with hot water, wrap them in a towel and take them to bed with you.
Hopefully you will add to this... I do hope so.
So here you are wrapped up as snug as bugs in rugs looking at each other - No TV, no computer, and very little light. What to do? You will probably be surprised to hear that those teens who you recognise from the top of their head and the tone of reply grunts can actually adapt very well if they have to. Most teens and all children I know enjoy a board game or a game of cards. Pencils and paper serve many a game or quiz and can also be used for lists, plans and ideas. Perhaps now is a good time to engage the family in your preparedness and plan for the future with them. Now might be the time to talk about what you might do as a family. etc You get the idea.. you have a captive audience.
At this point I'm going to suggest a little outlay. If you can afford it buy a good quality wind up/solar radio. Apart from the entertainment it enables you to keep in touch with what is going on outside.
I bet some of you are jumping up and down saying "what about water?" and yes, this is ESSENTIAL. You can go for some time without food, but not clean drinking water and there are several scenarios that could see you without water in your taps. I would suggest you buy a few items each week until you are happy with your stash. While you should buy large containers, say 3 x 10ltrs. if you have the space, you should also have in your stores smaller bottles to keep in the car, your disaster bag (more next post on this) and for a mashing of tea or the like. This ensures that the water keeps wholesome, as once opened it becomes less so. You should store this water away from daylight.
I shall close for now as this post is getting far too large. I shall probably think of all sorts of things I should have included in this part but hopefully you might comment with ideas. In the next part I will continue to write for those who live in built up areas with limited space, but will also start to include suggestions that could only really be for those in more rural areas.
Hope you can join me!
PS A very warm welcome to Anne Morrison and Lee Anne Dezera on the follower bar and Thelma ilcox and Julie Royston Ford on Bloglovin. Please join in with comments. xx
PPS Has David Cameron only got 48 hrs to pack all his belongings into a removal van and Teresa May the same amount of time to pack up and move into No 10 ?! Now that would take some organisation. Good News tho'... the cat is staying with Teresa!