Preparedness

First Aid for the Car

Are those of you in Colorado drying out yet?  Did you have to build an ark?

Last summer, back in Colorado, there was this week where Rick went out of town for work.  In fact he was in San Antonio.  We had some terrible thunderstorms that week, and the power went out in the middle of the night and I had a kiddo crying in bed with me, terrified.  All this happened during one of the worst wild fire seasons Colorado had ever seen.  And I had the thought… what if.

What if my house caught on fire and I was here by myself with the kids?  What if there was a flash flood (we lived in a flood plain) and we had to get out quick?  What would I do?  What would I grab?  How would I manage the kids?

I’m not a doomsday-er but those what-ifs stayed on my mind.

We taught the kids Stop, Drop and Roll as well as our phone numbers and address.  I mentally started writing lists of what I’d like our family’s emergency preparedness to look like.  And I started thinking about posts on preparedness.  I mentioned back in January that I’d like to write more about it.

Inventory your kit

Let me preface all this by saying, I’m not an expert on prepping, and I’m sure you can easily Google a billion-and-one sites on the subject.  These are just the small steps we are taking now.

We started simple.  The first-aid kit for the car.

I started with this because it was easy to put together, and didn’t feel too crazy, zombie-apocalypse, doomsday prepper.

The car first aid kit was especially easy because I started from a pre-assembled kit.

My first real job after high school was working for a masonry contractor as an estimator and project coordinator.  Sometimes the job required me to go out to job sites, and any vehicle on a job site had to have a first aid kit.  My boss gave me a kit for my truck.

I totally stole the kit, unintentionally keeping it after I left the job.  Sorry Gregg, if you’re reading this.  I honestly forgot it was there.  I stuck the kit under my seat when it was given to me and never touched it again until I sold the truck six years later.  And what did I do with it then?  Stuck it under the seat of the next car.

So when I pulled the kit out last month to check it over… well, let’s just say a few things had expired.

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Yeah – that’s pain-killer that expired ten years ago, and band-aids that are less than sterile.  The wrapper just shredded and flaked off when I tried to open one.

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So after taking inventory of the kit, I updated it.

I put in fresh band aids and pain-killer.  I kept the old, non-sterile band aids for my toddler to use up on all her imaginary owies.  ;)  I also added some chewable children’s pain-killer tablets.

It should be noted that most pain-killers says to store it under 85° because medications tend to lose efficacy after exposure to higher temps.  While this is a bigger concern for heart and thyroid medications, it’s a good general rule to not keep medication of any kind in the car during the summer.  For my family, I understand that and am choosing to keep the medicine in the car anyway.  I promise to change it out if it expires.  In my opinion, less effective pain-meds are better than no pain-meds, in an emergency.   

Rick has a slight allergy to wasp stings, à la Will Smith in Hitch.  Not enough to get an epi-pen (we asked the doctor for one, he said no), but enough to justify adding Benadryl to the kit and a sting kit to the glove-box.

I also put in tweezers.  I mean what’s a first aid kit without them?

With all of that, I stuck the updated kit back in the truck.  And I promise to take better care of it by keeping it up to date.

Restock your kit

But a first aid kit and sting kit aren’t really enough in the car.  Here is a short list of what else we keep in the back.

Rope and bungee cords
Tarp
Road Atlas
Flashlights
Emergency blankets (updated from one to multiple)
Jumper cables and basic tools, including vice grips
A good knife and a bone saw (this and the tarp made our road-kill elk a possibility)
Sunshade
Granola bars
A couple of jugs of water (those 3 gallon ones with the spouts fit nicely by the wheel well)

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Most of that stuff fits in the little side compartment in the back of the 4Runner.

I’m sure there are more things I could do to prepare the truck for an emergency, however, we are driving around with three kids and a dog and all the various gear that goes with that.  Plus we still need room for groceries.

This is a baby step.  There are a lot more things we can do to get prepared in case of an emergency.  But in the spirit of the old Independence Days Challenge, even small steps count towards the bigger picture.

What steps, big or small, have you taken to be ready for an emergency?

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Categories: Preparedness | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

When the Power Goes Out

All across the country this spring, there have been storms taking out power (and, of course far worse).  My cousin in Alabama was affected earlier this year.  Thankfully she is ok, and was able to drive to Nashville to stay with family for a few days until the power came back on.  This makes me think a lot about disaster preparedness, and I know I’m not the only one.  Sharon Astyk and Greenpa both commented on the CDC’s article about the impending zombie apocalypse last week.  Northwest Edible Life asked about balancing energy consumption and preparedness (which gave rise to this post for me).

We aren’t really in a great place yet as far as being prepared for a natural disaster.  We’re pretty good about preserving food in the summer, enough to get us through the winter, but really nothing long term.  While we’ve been living without a fridge now for the last four weeks, I know we couldn’t hack it without our freezer.  The ice to keep everything from spoiling is pretty crucial.  We keep the majority of our preserved food in there as well.  Without power, we’d be coming up short pretty quickly, especially in the summer time with regards to our meat.

Happily, here in Colorado, the most likely time for a prolonged power outage would be the winter, and that in it of itself mitigates some of the potential damage to the freezer-stored food.  In the case of a power outage that was not during the cold or not soon to be resolved, I really think this is a place where community can help.  Our neighbor, for example, has a couple of generators. But he is a bachelor and has no food stock piled what-so-ever (I’m pretty sure he buys food everyday for each meal). So we could really come to a mutually beneficial arrangement, wherein, his generators help keep our food from spoiling, and we feed him. Of course, generators are only temporary as well, and in the event of something extending past that, we’re pretty much screwed.

We could definitely dehydrate, but only if we do it ahead of time, as both our food dehydrator and oven are electric and power company dependent.  While we could prepare a lot of herbs and some veggies this way ahead of time, I’m not a huge fan of jerky.  So that still leaves most of our meat vulnerable.  We don’t have a pressure-canner either, and a boiling water bath is not enough to safely preserve meats.

One meat preservation option we’ve considered is the possibility of smoking meats. We’ve been on the hunt for an oak barrel that we can use to make a smoker in our yard, as I saw done at the local living history museum last summer. We watched them smoke two chickens in a barrel over bricks dug in the ground. It was super cool and we’ve been wanting to do it ever since. This could even be done in the winter, in an emergent situation, provided you already had the hole for the bricks dug.

This reminds me a lot of Little House in the Big Woods.  I love how detailed the descriptions Laura gives for how the Ingalls family preserves meats for the winter.  Smoking venison and hams, freezing sausages, and putting up salted pork in the attic.  This always makes me wonder what exactly salted pork is and how it tastes, and what the process is.

So I’d like to know what systems others have in place?  Are you prepared for a disaster, whether a short term one, like a weather related power outage, or a long term one, like peak oil or zombie apocalypse?  How are you preserving meat for long term storage?  Are you building community food systems, so that in the event of a disaster you have resources other than your own to draw from?  Is it practical to store meat in the summer time?  (The Ingalls family did not, all their meat storage was just for the winter.)  How else, besides freezing, are you storing food – canning, root cellars, dehydrating, salting, smoking????  Do you have recipes to share?

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Community, Food, Preparedness, Sustainability | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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