This last week was a big eye opener for my husband and I (and about 3 million other people, I am sure). A large area of the country, over 700 miles of it, was hit last Friday by what is known as a "Derecho storm" - a string of storm that combine intense lightning and rain with hurricane force gusts of wind. The storms completely wiped out electricity and water in tons of cities across the country and left people stranded without air conditioning, adequate water supplies or electricity for days, and a ton of damaged trees to clean up, while temperatures soared into the 100's. It was hot and miserable for a lot of people.
Joel and I have always wanted to be prepared for situations like this, and in truth we have a small stock of supplies in case of emergencies. Watching some of our favorites shows like "Jericho" or "The Walking Dead", have given us good ideas of things to keep on hand in case we need them, but we realized that we are woefully under prepared for an emergency! I mean, sure, we might have a suture kit and iodine tables (seriously, my husband is a doctor, what can I say?) but we kind of fell short on the water department. As in, we didn't have a single cup of drinkable water saved. And while the food community (and me included) is turning to all natural, un-processed foods, unless you live on a farm where supplies are readily available, in an emergency situation you kind of want a well stocked pantry!
After our electricity had been off for a mere two hours, our refrigerator/freezer started emitting a stream of melting water and a smell of sour food. Three days later and all my towels were hanging up to dry from all the ice melting and the kitchen stank. We lost everything - no eggs, milk, veggies or meat. The ice cream turned into a ridiculous mess. Almost every single thing had to be thrown out. My not very well well stocked pantry included bisquick, 5 cans of chicken noodle soup (that I don't even remember buying but were thankfully still within date), oatmeal, cereal and goldfish crackers. We did have a counter full of fruit, and luckily we have some amazing friends who we collaborated with for meals, so we actually ate really well compared to what could have happened.
It was also crazy to see how fast things turned crazy. Not even 24 hours into the black out and there were riots at the gas stations and looting at the grocery stores! Geez people, come on! The hospital was the only place serving food, and after serving 2,000 people 3 meals a day for 2 days, they ran out of food! The majority of the people were being nice and respectful, but it was shocking to see how many people were cussing out the lady at the cash register because she couldn't accept their credit cards. We even heard some gun fire one night!
While I am not quite ready to start giving my eggs a bath in mineral oil (apparently that is how you can preserve eggs to be shelf stable for up to a year!), or storing enough food to last us 10 years, I would like to be a little bit more prepared in case this ever happens again. Because I can only eat so many cheerios and goldfish in a week. I'm not 100% sure what I am going to do yet, but I will let you know as I get things accomplished!
So what do you need to be prepared?
- WATER. It is recommended you have 1 gallon of water per person per day!
- PANTRY SUPPLIES! If you have pasta, bread, canned veggies, beans, rice, etc, you can at least make something to eat besides cereal. Throw in a few cans of soup, stock, etc to keep for emergencies. Also keep some peanut butter, shortening, and powdered milk on hand. Nuts, granola bars and trail mixes aren't a bad idea, either.
- COOKING POWER. Get a grill or camp stove and make sure you have fuel! A pot that can go on the open flames and a dutch oven with a lid and you can cook just about anything you want! Get a percolator and you can even have coffee!
- SUPPLIES. Make sure you have extra dog food, diapers, toilet paper, etc available. I'm not talking about filling your basement with staples here, but maybe don't wait until you have 3 diapers left to buy a new package?
Are you prepared for an emergency? What preparations have you done to survive an extended black-out?