Tuesday, 12 April 2011

An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

With the recent devastation/conflict/economic situations across the world, it has brought home to many of us the value of being prepared.  We certainly don't live in fear of an impending disaster ~ good grief, no!   It just makes sense to have a bit of food put away and some basic supplies stocked up IN CASE we can't get provisions for a period of time for whatever reason.  For us, being snowed/iced in for a few days to a week in winter is a very real possibility, as is tornado damage in summer.  Other issues that would make us glad to have things put away would be unexpected severe health problems, or a job loss.  Any of these things (and many others) could happen, and by being prepared, the negative effect doesn't have to be as severe.  Wherever you live, the potential risk for and type of "disaster" will be different.  Know what could happen and be prepared as best as you can be without worrying too much.  A great book that I am reading is Just In Case, How To Be Self Sufficient When The Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison.  It outlines some guidelines for specifically HOW to be prepared for certain times of need and is an EXCELLENT practical book to get your started on family/home/personal preparedness.

I am working on building up my stockpile of food in my basement pantry.  I stock up when things are on sale and when the garden is in full production this summer, I'll be canning and preserving as much of that harvest as I can manage.   Another reason why I like to stock up is that I really don't like shopping.  I'd rather be doing just about anything else :)   By stocking up on my shopping trips, over time, I'll be needing to shop less frequently.  At the moment, I do shop weekly (when I am already in town for another purpose) and I often hit 3 or 4 stores to quickly pick up their loss leaders/sale items.  These are the REALLY well priced items that stores often list on the cover pages of the their flyers.  If you plan the circuit well, it doesn't take very long, especially if you stick to your list and avoid browsing :)  Over time, you will build up a balanced stockpile of food as your stash evens out based on what's on sale in different seasons.   Even if you don't garden, you can easily build up a decent supply of fruits and veggies by buying produce cheaply in season either at the store, through farmer's markets or direct from a grower.  Can it or freeze it so that you have good quality food on hand in the off season for a far better price.

When you build up a good stash of basic foods/staples, it's wise to plan your meals around what you need to use up to keep things rotated and fresh.  Having 2 cases of tinned tomatoes on hand is great, but if they sit for a year without being touched, that's leading to waste and spoiled food.  Always stock your shelves from the rear, so that the fresher items are toward the front.   Same goes for the freezer (that one I find much harder to keep rotated due to us having chest freezers).  We have found some success using plastic dishpans to keep smaller items together in the freezer, and flattened cardboard placed vertically, keeps columns of things from toppling over.  Kelly's brilliant idea of putting food to be frozen in large ziplocks, then flattening them, makes it really easy to stack the food in the freezer.  Plus, they defrost much quicker than food in a tight ball/block.

Here are pictures of our growing basement pantry/stockpile.  Forgive the Kraft Dinner - a poor substitute for food, but the kids love it as a treat once in a while :)  I keep things like potatoes and onions on the floor which is colder than up on the shelves.  The shelf with the empty canning jars is getting rather full, as we use up our stash of jams and canned food from last year (it will fill again over the summer months if our garden produces what we hope for).  I keep our stash of wheat in the food grade plastic buckets as I am fairly paranoid about mice getting into it.  Living in the country that's an issue to consider.  Keeping light things like toilet paper and paper towels up high prevents injury from falling/dropped items.

                           Top shelves with light items

                          Middle shelves at eye level for easy reading of cans/contents

               Floor level has heavy sacks and items that benefit from colder temps.

                                       Wheat is in food grade buckets or sacks

Other than food, we like to keep the following on hand just in case:

batteries of all sizes
flashlights (including a solar powered rechargeable LED flashlight)
gas (three 25L cans as back up fuel for vehicles and our generator)
a well stocked first aid kit with a red cross emergency first aid treatment book
medications and a full homeopathic kit
candles (and a SAFE, STABLE vessel to burn them in)
bleach (for disinfecting water and other items as needed)
solar powered radio (hand crank as back up)
water (we have a 3700 gallon underground cistern as our back up water supply in case our well is down)
an old fashioned "plug in" land telephone as our cordless phone require electricity to operate
cell phone chargers for the cars in case we are without power for an extended period

As for heat - we are looking into installing a wood burning stove in our basement.   In our climate, having our furnace inoperable for more than a few hours is disastrous.  Our furnace needs both electricity and natural gas to run, so those odds have us wanting a reliable back up such as wood heat.  We cannot survive our winter temperatures without heat (-35 celsius), and our pipes would freeze solid causing major flooding and damage at thaw time.

Again, we don't live in fear and we hardly think about disasters or emergencies on a day to day basis.   We live in the moment and we enjoy life, but as that saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".  How true, indeed.

How have YOU prepared your family and your home for an emergency?


  1. Wow, what an exciting adventure you are on...I would love to have the land that you have...and do all that you do....truly inspiring...loved reading your whole blog...hope we can learn from each other along the way.

  2. Hi Nellymary :) You inspire ME, so back at you! I really enjoy your blog, I've learned so much from you. Thanks for the compliment - you are so sweet.