Friday 1 July 2016

Be Prepared part I

Here we go!
I meant to say that in the spirit of this blog I will not be advocating the spending of large amounts of money and will always strive to help you spend as little as possible.
We can often be surprised and wrong-footed by the simplest difficulties. Those of us of a certain age have probably experienced many of these and learnt from them. Those setting out to live a more independent life might usefully take some time to assess if they are prepared for the niggly things that life can throw at you so that they can throw them right back!
In this part I am going to assume that you don't have a large house with lots of storage so that the ideas are achievable by all.
Let us start with "The Drawer" This is your go-to place to equip you to solve those little problems. Every living space should be able to give up a drawer, probably in the kitchen, for this and should contain -
1) A First Aid box - An ice cream carton will do for this with First Aid clearly written on the lid. As a basic list I would have plasters and plaster strip. pain killers, scissors, tweezers, safety pins, bandages and something that serves as a sling. I might add to this wound cleanser and anti-histamine cream (for stings) I also have some old clean tea towels and pillow slips in a clean plastic bag for mopping up or to be used a tourniquet . I rarely use creams on injuries and never on burns, but I do have an Aloe plant on both the kitchen and bathroom windowsills, which is excellent  - just cut through a leaf and squeeze the jelly onto the sore area
Skill to learn. Basic First Aid.
Snuggling next to your first aid box in your drawer should be your..
2) Mending Box ( empty biscuit tin ?) - In this, as a minimum I would have - Super Glue, PVA Glue, gaffer tape, safety pins, drawing pins, panel pins, heavy duty scissors, a craft knife, pliers, a hammer, screw drivers - cross and Philips. Save any string that comes your way and keep this in a polybag so that it doesn't get a life of it's own and spread all over the drawer.
In this box or possibly in a box of its own are the "power outage" items - Candles or night lights which dont fall over and lighters are a must. When we had a 6 day power cut some years ago my neighbour called to see if she could borrow a candle or two. This woman was all electric  for goodness sake! Not all outages are about power cuts. Learn how to check if your power has been tripped out by a faulty piece of equipment. It pays to look at all your electrical equipment to ascertain a) if it requires a battery and if so what power and 2) what fuse is needed in the plug. A selection of batteries and fuses will take little room, as would two small screwdrivers.
 I would recommend you have 2 torches. one in this tin or on a working surface easily to hand and one where you sleep.
Skill to learn - changing a fuse, wiring a plug, how a trip switch works
3) Sewing box (another biscuit tin or ice cream carton) I know people who throw out a shirt because it has lost a button or a hem has come down. I saw in the news a couple of days ago that 72% of young people questioned could not sew a button on!
In your sewing box you should have pins, a  card of mixed needles, these are to found in many pound and cheap shops. A minimum of three spools of thread - white, back and grey. A pair of scissors ( you could also use those from the first aid box, but you MUST put them back) It is important that these scissors are only used for fabric as using them for paper will spoil them. You might also add an unpicker, a tape measure and some iron-on hemming tape if you really want to push the boat out!
When old clothes really are past being worn even in the garden, cut off the buttons and thread them onto a piece of thread, this keeps matching buttons together for when you start making your own clothes (whoops jumping the gun here!) If you have a pair of jeans/ trousers beyond repair but with a working zip, remove the zip with your unpicker and put this into your box. I usually cut a few squares out of the legs of jeans for patches too. In time you will collect quite a selection of mending materials. Don't forget to recycle the remaining material into floor or dishcloths, patchwork or draught excluders.
Skill to learn - sewing a button, setting a zip, sewing a hem.

 When away from home
This will depend on your individual lifestyle, you may travel a lot or rarely, you may use a car or a bike. I will share what I do and you can adjust accordingly
Bag/briefcase -
Unless I'm just popping out for a short while I always check my bag for a few things that weigh little, take up little space and prepare me for those little hiccups that can spoil a day.
 I have a shopping bag made of that sort of parachute material. It takes up very little room, fitting easily into my handbag or the side pocket of my laptop case. So far, apart from shopping I have used it for carrying foraged wild fruits, pine cones for the fire, discarded outer clothes, library books etc. such a bag is a useful addition for your be-prepared bag (alternatively, a strong carrier bag folded will do as well)
.Have you ever had one of those little mending kits in a Christmas cracker? They are perfect for putting in your bag or briefcase. You can assemble one for yourself in a matchbox or something similar. I keep such a kit in the zipped pocket of my bag along with sachets of sugar, a strip of plaster, a strip of paracetamol, a spectacle cleaning cloth, a thin plastic "poncho" and a small pack of cleansing wipes. In the main body of my bag I carry a small notebook and pen, a little keyring torch,(yes I know I could use my mobile, but I need light to see what I need to do with the thing) said mobile, my purse and my keys ( the heaviest item)
In the car - We have a green box in the boot of the car. In this we carry our comprehensive first aid kit, high viz jackets, a foldable red triangle, bottles of water, waterproof jackets, foil blanket, those little gloves that stretch to fit anyone, a craft knife and a small box with salt vinegar and sugar. In the front of the car we always have a map book, even if using a sat-nav (we don't) you still need to be aware of where you are, what is around you and available alternative routes. We also keep a small pot of change for parking/tolls etc, some fuses for some stuff I don't understand (come on! cut me some slack!) and in the well under the seats we have jump leads, foot pump and the tools for changing a tyre. I'm sure you can add to this as a minimum.
Skills to learn - map reading, changing a tyre for a car or bike if you use one (and what those fuses are for!!)

I am sure there is much you can add to this and I will happily adjust this post accordingly.
You will see that I have suggested, in italics, skills to learn. Google and particularly u-tube is excellent for this. I have used tube for tutorials for all sorts of things from making mead to fitting a walking foot to my sewing machine. If you are looking to be prepared now is the time to start collecting books that you can learn from and refer to.The library is a good way to help you choose which books to invest in.
I think that is more than enough for now... a large post on "common sense"really.
Part II gets a little more "preppy" and builds on today's preparations and skills.
Welcome Sol to the follower bar, great to see you here


  1. I almost gave up at the beginning, as I misread "I assume you have a large house"! Then re-read the line.......
    So I feel it is important to re-read each bit lol!
    Thanks for common sense approach.

  2. Good post, I could tick that we have almost all those things not always gathered together though.
    Never been able to keep a tube of superglue in the house without it going solid!

    1. Sue - Store superglue in the freezer :) Just make sure the lid is closed properly.

    2. I'll have you on my team come the day Sue. even if you are glue-less!
      Dani demonstrates how blogland works to help us pool ideas across the miles.
      I'm with you Sue, so I will the freezer idea a whirl.
      Thanks Dani

    3. if you buy Gorilla Glue whilst it is a bit more expensive than the generic poundland superglue it is miles stronger and there is a pin inside the lid that stops it getting clogged so you really can use it again

  3. Gill - Many years ago my GP's wife told me to soak a "closed" (no break in the skin) burn in milk. I have always done that when I burn myself at home and it immediately reduces the pain, and 95% of the time, also prevents a blister from forming. Naturally a 2nd or 3rd degree burn should not be treated thus, but should immediately be taken to the nearest doctor / hospital.

    1. I hate to say this, but on my laptop your 'burn' looks like 'bum'. I wondered what on earth you were on about for a while!

    2. Thanks for that idea Dani. I have never heard of that.

    3. Cro. You have set me off trying to remember the name that cream we used to put on babies bums over 40 years ago!

  4. Hello, my friend who is a police man, told me to remove my high viz vests from the boot of the car and to put them in the pockets on the back of the front seats. you then dont have to get out of the car in the dark to search for them and you are already illuminated before you get out of the car.

    1. THANKS so much Sol. for that.. exactly the sort of comment I was hoping for. I have moved them today

  5. Sorry, I'm a few days late in reading this post. Everything you say is common sense really. Although I have read Survival Mom for a few years and have her book I haven't really done much to prepare for the unexpected, mainly I think due to her being American and we don't have the same disasters as they do, ie tornados, hurricanes etc.
    When we travel any distance in the car I take a carry-all with tissues, a small pouchette thing with plasters etc in and I also have a pencil case where I have other essentials for an emergency eg a whistle, folding scissors, eyeglass repair kit, a box of matches with two largish rubber bands around it, a couple of paper clips (different sizes), a small mirror, tape measure, a small knife to cut fruit (RNLI bought many years ago) and an imitation swiss army knife. I also have a Sharps toffee hammer that you used to be able to buy when the toffee was sold on a metal tray. I kept the hammer because I thought it would come in handy.
    I shall copy out the above post you wrote and get some more essentials together. It's better to be organised and prepared for anything than running around at the last minute.

    Joan (Wales)

  6. The cream you couldn't remember the name of, was it Drapolene? or Zinc and Castor oil?

  7. Loved the tip about keeping the hi-viz IN the car. I keep a stumpy, wide mouthed, plastic screw top jar in my car in case anyone needs to puke or whatever...and it has been used ;o) Rose x

  8. I'm just catching up on the blog now and as an avid prepper love this theme of posts. it seems people these days struggle to survive if they lose WiFi signal, let alone anything else. I remember growing up in a council house as a kid ad it would not be uncommon to have hours on end spent in the dark of powercuts, or spend a week getting powercuts intermittently so you didn't know if you'd have power or not. Not to mention we were on pay as you go meters and Mom was struggling to bring us all up on her own so you never knew when the money would run out and the meter would shut off! everything you have covered so far is exactly what everyone ought to have as a bare minimum, I can remember my Moms sewing tin full of butons, needles, pins, ribbons etc and my nans and even my great nans! why the latest generations have lost touch with basic life skills is beyond me but I will strive to ensure those lessons are not lost on my own kids