Happy Monday, my friends! As a follow up to last week’s post, my dear IRL friend Michelle, who blogs about life and food over at Rockin’ the Mom Role (she’s a terrific resource for gluten-free recipes too), has written about the importance of not just surviving, but thriving, in a crisis situation. Also on tap for this week: a real-life story about how a family survived without power for 10 days due to a weather catastrophe. Welcome, Michelle!
Many times we hear about ‘preppers’, and as was mentioned here in last week’s post, ‘prepping’ is not merely about a fictional zombie apocalypse. Preppers are people who gain the security and mental comfort from knowing they have a plan A AND a plan B in an unforeseen emergency. There is a correlation between those who merely survive an emergency, and those who survive and THRIVE.
So, how does one thrive in the face of adversity, emotional, and mental challenges?
Step 1: Have a mental attitude of preparedness.
For example: most people will think ahead to put an emergency kit in the trunk of their car. You can do a quick google to find out what is important to have in a car specific emergency kit. But have you thought beyond that? What if the roads are impassible? What if due to chaos and panic, cell phone lines are down or jammed? What if it’s night, or winter, or 120 degrees out? What would be your plan? Have you talked to your family to let them know your plan of action and how you would connect with them? Have you discussed this with your children? Have you made a plan for them? As a parent, I can understand the concern parents experience letting their children take off for the evening. But would that anxiety be lessened if you had a plan and contingency laid out for any possible scenario?
This idea of always thinking ahead should follow you in everything. What if there is no power? What if there was no emergency services? What if you are away from home, how do you even get home? What if the grocery stores were picked clean or shut down due to a power outage? What if you were injured and alone? What if you witnessed a catastrophe or emergency? What if your family is separated?
Stop thinking that when a fire happens you will all be home and in bed, and start thinking about the tornado that can hit while you are at work and the kids at school. Start thinking about what you would do if the power grid was knocked out or we experienced another large-scale terrorist attack like we did on 9/11. Think about human nature, and how people will behave during a crisis. Think about yourself: if all hell broke loose, and you needed to feed your children, wouldn’t you do whatever it took so that they didn’t go hungry? Think about Hurricane Katrina: government help was delayed in coming, and people were left with no source of water or food. If disaster strikes, you need to have a plan in place, not only for the safety and provision of your own family, but so you can be the calm in the storm. People will be looking toward the prepared survivor for direction and leadership. Be the leader, not the panicked and helpless.
Step 2: Plan for Plan B and C.
For example: As was mentioned in Laurie’s previous post, they did not plan on running out of propane and did not have their back up batteries charged. Well, that is a failure of Plan A. They planned for the situation of not having power, but only had one way of solving that problem. Never rely on one solution in the case it fails. Have a back up for Plan A. Along with battery back up, there should be Plan B, candles (along with safe ways to burn them), lighters, as well as oil lanterns. And then Plan C, glow sticks, solar charges to run electronic devices or even investing in a power generator. Do you have an extra 5 gallons of fuel stored safely in a fireproof gas can? Do you have extra wicks for the oil lanterns? Do you have the correct batteries for the devices you have? Do you have enough both batteries, candles and lighters?
Following this idea of thinking beyond the obvious power needs, do you have an emergency shovel? What if there is property destruction and you need to dig out? If you store water, that is great, but it does age. Do you have a water filtration system like a ‘life straw’ where you can drink from a puddle, stream or nearby lake if need be? Do you have an emergency medical kit? Is it one that contains blood clotting materials? In an emergency like an earthquake, tornado or hurricane, people can suffer severe injuries that might be helped by stopping the loss of bleeding. Do you have pain medications in case medical help cannot reach you? Do you have a basic knowledge of, or handbook on, how to treat basic injuries? All these expenses can be prioritized and planned out for purchase as your budget allows. As the old saying goes, Peace of mind is Priceless.
Step 3: Be prepared to THRIVE.
For example: There are many out there who have a fairly decent pantry, some have a freezer full of food, some canned goods, some dried/shelf stable goods. It’s easy to sit back on our laurels and think to ourselves ‘yeah, i’m ready!’. But are you really?
In the worst of circumstances, one can survive quite well on beans and rice. I have a friend who bought a 20# bag of rice and bags of beans and felt assured she was prepared for the worst of circumstances. But is she? Muddle on this a bit: What if power was out for over a week, and because of severe storms and overtaxed emergency services, you were stranded on you own for a week, maybe two? (**This actually happened while I was growing up in Oregon where we lived in the West Hills and there were ice storms that took out the power and stranded us for over a week one year.)
Could you survive on rice and beans? Well, if you have the means to cook it, yes. Personally, I have kept an old iron dutch oven with a long handle that can be used over a camp fire. Because of my preparedness thought process, if the situation arose I can rehydrate beans and cook them over a camp fire if I am left with no other alternatives. Sometimes, a crockpot is not available, nor a pressure cooker. Nor a stove.
But I encourage you to think even beyond the challenges of cooking the food. Think about….THRIVING, in adversity. Can you eat rice and beans, or cold canned tuna and instant potatoes? Yes, you can. But would you want to? For a week? Or two? I refuse to allow myself to be so unprepared that I and the ones I love are miserable for that period of time. I refuse to bow to adversity, or allowing it to prevent me from being a point of light for my family and others in a time of dark. One day we could be the embodiment of the old parable of the Grasshopper and the Ant and wouldn’t you rather be the ant, in charge of your own destiny, able to help others? I don’t want to be the grasshopper begging at the door, hoping and praying someone of good heart and charity will let me in because I was so foolish as to not plan.
So what are some suggestions for supplementing your basic food preparedness? Well, a 10# can or two of freeze dried meats will add savoriness to a simple soup or addition to a starch. Have various carb sources such as pancake mix, oats, instant potatoes, quinoa, chia. Know that rices like brown and wild will go rancid if not stored in a vacuum environment. Having some sweets around: I buy the costco bags of chocolate chips, vacuum seal them and store with a date on them. As long as they don’t oxidize and are kept cool, they will last a very long time. Chocolate always makes people happy and can be added to rice cooked with milk as a simple dessert. Dried fruits are wonderful and last a long time. To keep them fresh, vacuum seal or store in ziploc freezer bags. Write on the bags and on cans in a BOLD sharpie the date of expiration. It will be ‘good’ long after that date, but its helpful to rotate your inventory. Maple syrup and Cane Sugar. Honey, it keeps indefinitely. Yes, indefinitely! It also is a wonderful antibacterial and can be applied to wounds. Honey added to oatmeal is a treat, or better yet to hot milk with a sprinkle of nutmeg will help stressed children and adults alike sleep better.
Which brings me to spices: buy whole when possible. Penzeys is a good mail order source. Buying whole will stretch the shelf life to years instead of months. A cheap coffee grinder will grind it up nicely (this is where your solar charger comes in handy!) or you can do like those of previous, pre-electric generations did, grind with a mortar and pestle, another essential in your arsenal of survival. Spices will add flavor, and increase the THRIVE factor many-fold. There is a reason the spice trade made the world globally interconnected. Be sure to have spices in your pantry and emergency stores at all times. An added benefit is there are many proven therapeutic and mental benefits to spices. Ginger will settle a sour stomach. Nutmeg helps sleep. Garlic is an anti-bacterial. Cinnamon boosts the metabolism and aids digestion. Fennel can help with nausea. Do some spice and herbal education, and get it in your pantry. Remember to buy whole and grind as needed. It is the most cost effective way to purchase spices.
Remember fats. It is a good idea to invest in a small amount of canned fats. Do your own research on the quality and reviews of what is out there. I keep a small amount of canned butter on hand for long term storage, as well as oils. The oils I change out yearly. Lard can be pressure-canned and made shelf stable, which is an option if you have access to pork fat.
Don’t forget veggies. I keep freeze dried in my emergency storage. I have the 25-year kind that I can pull out on any occasion. Along with a nice variety of veggies, I make sure I have some fruit on hand. I have canned, but that has to be rotated on the shelf. Freeze dried (note: FREEZE dried, not simply dried) has all the nutrients of fresh, only prepped for long term, 25-yr, storage. In fact, I would venture they are more healthy than canned, because they have not been exposed to the denaturing effects of heat.
I hope this inspires you to think not just about living through adversity, but to think about living and thinking differently – to be prepared and have a plan at all times. It sounds so basic, and yet, so many people never think about those basics. But a simple tweaking of the way you think can be the difference between surviving a situation, and thriving through it.
My husband is an amateur prepper and it has gotten worse (or better) over the past year. That’s one of the reasons we’re trying our hand at growing our own food this year.
The more you get into it, Holly, I’m guessing the more you’ll like it. There’s immense satisfaction that comes with being able to depend solely on yourself. 🙂
We are certainly not prepared for an emergency. With living in an a very small apartment, we have absolutely no room for stockpiling, nor a way to garden! But we are stocked up on emergency supplies. We have candles (both electronic and real), batteries, blankets, etc.
We are trying to figure out a way to grow a little deck garden to make cucumbers and tomatoes. But with construction going on next door, we haven’t been able to make it happen this year. Hopefully soon though!
Michelle, under the bed is a great place to stockpile supplies – try it! 🙂
We lived through two natural disasters a few years back. One was a tornado that thankfully did not hit our home but left the area without power for almost a weak and the other was an ice storm that also disrupted power. We had a portable generator which kept the furnace and well pump running, as well as a couple of lights and the microwave. Having a portable generator requires cans of gasoline to be stored and some people don’t feel that is safe. Since that time, when we moved to a new place, we had a whole house stand-by generator installed that taps into our natural gas line and comes on 30 seconds after a power outage. The peace of mind is incalculable.
That was a smart move on your part, Kathy. I can imagine that the peace of mind you have now was well worth any cost to make sure you’re prepared. Thanks for sharing!
Nice post! We’ve gotten more into this over the past few years as we have stepped up our gardening game the last couple of years. We’re certainly not where we need to be, but we’re better off in this area than we were a few years ago.
Any progress is good progress, right? 🙂 We’re in the same place, John – slowing learning and growing in what we need to do and then doing it.
We are not well prepared for an emergency, but I know Wes would like us to be. We were actually recently asked if we wanted to join an “end of the world shelter” but that we needed to have more life skills first… Something that we need to work on!
Interesting about the “end of the world” shelter, Michelle. I agree about the skills too – it’s so interesting how things like basic boy scout skills and being in good physical shape can go such a long way in helping someone be more prepared to handle emergencies. This is one reason I’m so grateful for Rick constantly pounding good safety and medical advice into our heads. 🙂
It’s certainly wise to be prepared and we are for many contingencies. Planning can get out of hand though. I’m reading now about people building giant survival pods to survive apocalyptic events. That’s seems a bit over the top to me. We can’t be prepared for everything.
I agree, Brian. I’ve read about those pods, and although they’re super cool, I’m not sure we’d ever invest in one. That being said, you never know when a weather or other unforeseen catastrophe will hit and hit hard, and for those types of situations and reasons, it’s always smart to have a comprehensive plan in place.
I never really thought about this. I think if there was a loss of power for weeks or chaos, most people – including myself – wouldn’t be prepared. Probably a good idea to make sure we are prepared for an emergency like this.
Yes, it’s amazing how quickly things can go from order to disorder, as we’ve seen with all of the weather disasters the last few weeks. Thanks for weighing in – we appreciate it.
This is something I have never given any thought to! I go grocery shopping every Saturday, and by the Friday of the following week my pantry and fridge are bare. I would last until Monday in a dire situation. Thankfully, it’s extremely rare. I suspect that in my case, my neighbors would all get together and help each other out since I live in a high-rise. Very thought provoking post; it made me think and smile (two things I love) 🙂 .
Glad it made you think, and extra glad it made you smile, Natalie. 🙂 Yes, it is rare, but it seems that these types of events come most when no one’s expecting it, which is why preparedness is so important. 🙂
I guess one can never to too prepared. It’s always better to prepare for the worse and hope for the best!
I agree totally, David! Thanks for your comment. 🙂
I really like Aseop’s Fables and the Grasshopper and the Ant is one of my favorites. Definitely want to be the Ant working hard and being prepared. It’s hard living in an apartment, but we have a decent amount of supplies. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re prepared or we’re just hoarders =)
LOL, funny, Andrew. 🙂 I think anything a person does to be prepared in case of an emergency is definitely a step in the right direction. The fact that you guys at least have something done is terrific! Totally agree about Aseop too – fun stuff. 🙂
I’ve got to admit, I’m never too prepared. Heck, I’m usually not prepared enough. It’s a great thing my fiance prepares for everything! We even have 5 gallons of water and some canned food in the car just in case we get stuck in the snow on Mt. Hood. Which has happened…twice! Good thing I’ve got her!
LOL, you’d better marry that girl quick, Joshua – you need her. 😉
I know…we’re definitely working on it!
If I have too many meals in a row without some kind of fresh fruit or veggie I get very uneasy. I wish I had a space to garden. That’ll definitely be a priority when I leave the city. Though if there’s a natural disaster, it might get wiped out anyway.
That’s for sure, Stefanie. We’ve got a good amount of stuff canned and frozen, and if a storm takes it out, hopefully we’ll be able to salvage some stuff anyway. I agree about having too many meals without fresh fruits and veggies. We’ve been doing that the last few nights and it’s already getting to be too much!
I think we are prepped to survive but in all honestly probably not to thrive. Lots of great information and valuable points, but one that really stuck out to me as a Mom was the need to really discuss preparedness and back-up plans with your kids, which we don’t often do. We give them the basic plan but having them participate in building the plan and the back-up to the plan is key. When crisis and chaos strike, if it’s not drilled into them, it’s easy to panic and forget what we need to do. Thanks for that important reminder.
We need to be better about that too. I know Michelle is really great with her kids about saying “If this happens, here’s where we meet” or “stay at school and we’ll get to you” or whatever. We’ve been a bit slack about that and need to be better about having a plan in place for more situations. Like Michelle said, we can’t assume that a crisis will only happen when we’re all home/together.
I don’t have too many strategies for an unexpected emergency but I usually prepare for a weather emergency. I also think it’s important to stay tuned to the news and weather reports so you can get your shopping done way before the storm hits. I know people who never know when a big storm is coming. I guess they never watch the news. Our last emergency situation here in NJ was during Hurricane Sandy. No gas for a week! And many businesses and homes lost electricity for a week or more. It was a mess. When a storm is coming I fill up my gas tank and get some cash from the bank. You can never be too prepared.
Excellent point, Raquel. We do the same thing. If a storm is on its way, we head to the grocery store, fill up the tank, etc. We basically prepared to be stuck at home for a few days and have the gas tank full in case we do need to go somewhere. Now we just need to learn to get this whole propane/electricity thing in order. 🙂
You have to be ready to roll with the punches as they come….things are never going to happen just the way you imagined them. Adaptability and creativity is the key to making it through any challenging situation.
Great point, Travis!! Adaptability is crucial – those who make it through these types of emergencies have worked hard to embrace adaptability.
I really don’t have too much of a plan if a disaster strikes. You can only be prepared too much though before you kind of overdo it and become paranoid. 🙂 I know the places in my apartment I’d dive under in case of an earthquake, and I have a 3-day survival kit, but other than that my apt is really small and there is very little space to put things. That being said, I can step up my game just a little. I always thought though that if there was some kind of zombie apocalypse, meteor that crashed into earth, giant tidal wave, etc., I hope I’d be standing at ground zero and be the first to go. lol! I don’t want to live in a post-apocalyptic world! 🙂
I think the same thing! LA is the city that always gets hit by the meteor or aliens or zombies or whatever, so I figure it won’t really matter. LOL!
I should probably pick some good places to go if an earthquake happens. My go-to response is, what’s going on? Why is the room shaking. Is this a … and by then it’s done. When I lived in MN, my dad put together a car winter survival kit for me, but I need to step up my game and build an earthquake/end of the world one for me and Max.
LOL, funny! It’s interesting to me about earthquakes: some say they’re no biggie, and then others say they’re terrible, although I suppose it depends on the severity. I have it admit, though, the thought of the ground shaking to high heaven freaks me a bit. 🙂
LOL, yeah, Rick talks about that too. 🙂 That would be ideal, I suppose, but just in case, we’d better be prepared. 🙂
We have a decently stocked pantry and a fire circle with wood fuel in the back yard. I think we would be fine for a couple of weeks with our canned goods and dried goods. Protein would be a limited after a few days (once the fridge/freezer thawed out).
We have underground utilities near a substation and commercial areas so I imagine our power would be restored fairly quickly.
The grocery store and a lot of restaurants are also within a 5-10 minute walk. About day 4 of the zombie apocalypse I’d be raiding what’s left of the grocery store’s non perishables.
During my three decades of life, we have gone through multiple week-plus power outages from hurricanes and ice storms. Somehow we always made do. Some combo of rice, eggs, beans, corn, green beans, tomatoes, artichokes, tuna, spaghetti-o’s, tortillas, hot sauce, barbeque sauce, pasta and tomato sauce doesn’t sound too bad for a couple of weeks (just looking at what’s on hand today).
Smart thinking on your part, Justin! We need to get more of that fun food on hand, just in case. 🙂
After all the calamities that had just happened in our country from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake to a super strong typhoon Yolanda we really learned A LOT from it. Everything will happen just like an eye blink and finger snap, so we need to be ready everyday.
Wow, Marie – that must be pretty scary stuff! Best of luck to you as you prepare for any upcoming threats.
I think sometimes “prepping” gets a bad rap, but in all honesty the more prepared you can be the better because even if worst-case scenarios do NOT happen, you still are better off than before. I read a great prepper-related book and it really made me re-think my preparedness for even the most basic things like no access to clean water for an extended period of time, fires or flooding at home, and not having a heat source for an extended period of time (especially in the cold Minnesota winters!).
Agreed, DC. I think until you’ve been in a situation when your access to heat, clean water and food are compromised, many don’t realize the importance of being prepared. For instance, not having heat you can maybe go to a family member’s house, but then you can come home to frozen pipes and one heck of a spendy mess, whereas a back up heat source could have prevented that problem. It’s all about long-term thinking.
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