Tuesday, 16 August 2011

On being prepared

OK, so last night turned out to be the acid test and we failed it abysmally. My sweetie thinks we did just fine and that I'm just being grumpy and negative; I beg to differ. Let me explain ...

I have been really enjoying the cold snap we've been experiencing these past two days, mostly because it is uncharacteristic but also because I know it is short lived and we're safe, warm and dry at home. I drove home from work through hail and squealed with delight at the white state around me, which was punctuated by some pretty impressive thunder. Cool!

The power was off when I got home but there was enough fading light left in the day to see things. The power came back on shortly afterwards and normality resumed. Apparently the outage lasted around 30 minutes. We warmed up by the heater (which is gas powered) and put off doing the supermarket shopping in the hail.

The streets were literally white as we drove to the supermarket; believe me, this just doesn't happen when you live so close to the sea. Thankfully, the weather conditions left the supermarket relatively empty during what is traditionally a very busy time of the day. All good. We unpacked our groceries and put dinner in the oven.

The power surged a few times as we watched the weather forecast, and we thought about reconnecting the UPS to protect our electronics, then it cut complete. The gas heater was still going strong and between us we managed to get some light from the torches on our keyrings and mobile phones. One good torch was sitting in pieces on the coffee table, waiting for fresh batteries. I'm a candle lover and I knew I had a bag of tea lights in the bedroom, but we weren't sure where a lighter was and had few containers to sit them on once lit. Another torch was sitting by the mirror and also waiting for new batteries. Dinner had stopped cooking. The kitten thought it was time to play ...

After everything that had been said about being prepared for an emergency, and despite my best intentions, I still hadn't got around to preparing an emergency kit at home. There had been a recent drive at work to assemble personal survival bags, and I'd got mine started by adding a few basic items, but only got as far as bringing the list of what we'd need home.

We soon found candles and a lighter and thankfully the gas heater was going strong, but a one hour power cut on a cold, stormy night left us twiddling our thumbs in the dark and running on battery power. (I drafted this blog post on my iPod touch.) It was a timely wakeup call that things wouldn't be so cosy after a disaster, when we'd likely be without any facilities like power, water, gas or sewerage.

Mark my words, I am going to sort out our emergency kit THIS WEEK and I urge you to do the same. (Yes, this is the pot calling the kettle black.) We're lucky to have been safe, warm and out of any danger; this won't be the case if disaster strikes. I'm probably more annoyed with myself for not being prepared than worried about how things could have been. Either way, the time to sort things is NOW.

Emergency survival kit

Here's what you need (from Get Thru):
  • torch with spare batteries or a self-charging torch
  • radio with spare batteries (and know which radio station/s to tune into)
  • wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats and strong outdoor shoes
  • first aid kit and essential medicines
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • pet supplies
  • toilet paper and large rubbish bags for your emergency toilet
  • face and dust masks
Check all batteries every three months. Battery powered lighting is the safest and easiest. Do not use candles as they can tip over in earthquake aftershocks or in a gust of wind. Do not use kerosene lamps, which require a great deal of ventilation and are not designed for indoor use.

Food and water for at least three days:
  • non-perishable food (canned or dried food)
  • food, formula and drinks for babies and small children
  • water for drinking - at least 3 litres per person, per day
  • water for washing and cooking
  • a primus or gas barbeque to cook on
  • a can opener
Check and replace food and water every twelve months. Consider stocking a two-week supply of food and water for prolonged emergencies such as a pandemic or earthquake.


liltoastfairy said...

if you have babies, need to remember extra water for them (formula etc) also with dried foods, don't have ones that need water to cook/eat them!
I allocate 5 litres per person for 5 days (it's about the only part of our emergency kit I have - our power company sent us a radio and batteries tho which is cool!) as we have young kids and I figure they use more, need more to drink in a day. Plus still have one in nappies, so that's extra handwashing right there....
Plus there are 8 of us in our family....that's a LOT of water. we keep it in the garage. And hope & pray that the garage in it's rusted state withstands a disaster! :O)

Alli said...

Torch? Oh man! We call them flashlights. :)

Hope you can get your kit together!

Kc said...

I started my 'be prepared' kit not long after the chch earthquake, I still need to get a few things though, I have the torch, batteries, matches, first aid kit, etc but in the way of food all I have is 3 chocolate pudding-cup things (There was 4, but I got hungry and ate one...hmmm...)



Anonymous said...

She IS being negative and grumpy, I have heaps of stuff I can set up in case of a emergency, this was only a power cut so there was no need to do much. I have solar panels and batteries in the garage, I have 2 first aid kits heaps of bottled water, A portable gas heater and BBQ with a large gas bottle, more torches and lighting in the garage that can run off 12v batteries (which I have)so my comment stands dear :-P and we did not fail and you panic to much :-P

Café Chick said...

Sweetie, there's no point posting as Anonymous when I know it's you. :-P