Monday, February 28, 2011

Do me a favour

I know I have a few readers now; most within New Zealand, but also a number in various countries around the world. No doubt, wherever you are, you've seen footage of the earthquake and felt absolutely powerless to do anything.

Well, I'm sitting right here in Christchurch, not five kilometres from the ruins of the city centre, and I have something I'd like you all to do for me. Namely, make sure you are prepared for such an event happening to you.

Yes, I'm talking about emergency supplies: the same message you've been getting from that bloke on the TV for some years now. A while back, I put together some emergency supplies, hoping I'd never have to use them - and for a year or two, I didn't. But in the past week, I was very glad that I'd made the effort.

You can go all-out and put together a pre-packed kit that is ready to go in case of emergency evacuation, (just remember you'll have to regularly check and replace the contents so the food items don't expire) but even if you just make sure you have supplies somewhere in the house, it's a whole lot better than nothing.

I'm deviating from the usual theme of my blog in that this entry is entirely unrelated to any Edmonds recipe. But, keeping in mind the practical nature of the Edmonds book, I thought to myself, "If the Edmonds book had a page listing emergency survival items, what would be on it?" and came up with the list below. Most of it is the standard stuff, with a few other items I have found useful. It's based on a scenario in which you have  no power, no water, no sewage, and no ability to pop down to the shops. How well would you get by?


  • This is an absolute essential. You really don't know how much you use water for until you have to go without it. Even if you don't get anything else on this list, buy a few large bottles of water and stash them somewhere out of the way. Ignore the useby dates: if they're sealed, they'll keep indefinitely.
  • A large pot for boiling possibly tainted water is also useful, as is a thermos for keeping boiled water hot for drinks, and a funnel to help pour boiled water into bottles.

Alternative light sources:

  • Torches - plus spare batteries.  I also have a small solar-powered one which is great. Head torches are good for reading in the evening.
  • Candles and matches (not suitable post-earthquake because of aftershocks, but fine for other power outages if you're careful).

An alternative means of cooking:
  • Whether you usually cook with electricity or gas, a natural disaster could disrupt your usual cooking facilities. A single-burner gas cooker like mine costs about $25 from The Warehouse, and the propane canisters are about $3.50 each.
  • If you have a barbecue, that's another option you can rely on - as long as you have enough LPG in the bottle. If you run out, will you be able to refill it?

 Food items:
  • Canned food - try to collect a good variety of proteins, fruit and vegetables as well as the standard spaghetti and baked beans.
  • Carbs e.g rice, noodles or pasta (couscous is ideal as minimal liquid is required to cook it).
  • Liquid stock allows you to cook without using any of your precious drinking water. Keep an eye on those best before dates if you're buying it specially for your emergency kit though.
  • Materials for making hot drinks, e.g Milo, tea bags. You may have no shower or toilet, but you can at least have hot cuppa.
  • Milk - you can get long-life, but it only keeps for a few months. I made do with milk powder in my Milo, or condensed milk in a tube is also a good option.
  • Snack food e.g muesli bars or trail mix can give an added energy boost without the need for cooking.
  • If you're packing all this food into that 'get up and go' evacuation kit, don't forget a can opener and some kind of pot to cook in.

  • You need to have some means of receiving Civil Defence information and similar. Get a small radio and have plenty of batteries to power it. This is one thing I did not have before the quake; luckily I was able to borrow Mum and Dad's, or I would have had no idea what was going on. I'll be buying my own as soon as possible.
  • If phone lines are operational, you want to be able to use them. Have at least one analog phone in your house that does not require electricity to work.
  • Have a car charger for your mobile phone. There's no other way to charge it if you don't have power at home.

Sanitation requirements:
  • A bucket - you want one with a lid so you can keep the smell in and the flies out.
  • A spade to dig a hole for emptying your bucket.
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitiser

  • A well-stocked first aid kit
  • Spares of any pills you regularly take.
  • Baby wipes - hand sanitiser is all very well, but sometimes you need to clean your hands as well as sanitise them. Useful for all sorts of things, including wiping jam off kitchen surfaces.
  • Paper towels - remember if you use a dishcloth, you have no way of rinsing it out.
  • Bleach - dilute for general cleaning and sterilising. Can also be used to sterilise drinking water, but you should only use this method if boiling is not possible. Of course, adding a packet of water purification tablets to your supplies is another option.
  • Supplies for pets, i.e food, kitty litter and similar. Take your pet into account when you calculate how much water you'll need - they need to drink too!

These are the things that helped me get by, though bear in mind I was only without power and water for four days; you might have to make do for longer. This list is of course geared to my needs as a single person, but have a think about your own situation and the things you might need. If you have a baby in the house, for example, you'll need a heap of things that aren't on my list.

If you already have supplies of this sort, then well done. See if there's anything on my list you don't have, and suggest anything you think I should add. If you haven't, then please take a look at my list and put a few things together. It's not as difficult as you think, and it might just make all the difference sometime down the track.

1 comment:

  1. This is really well done. There is nothing quite tapping into the experience of others and as you say it might not be a recipe out of a book for food but a recipe for survival.c


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