25 January 2013

Are You Prepared?

We are having an ice storm today. In this area, that could mean downed trees, no power, (or water for those who are on wells), and it could be days before electricity is restored. North Carolinian's are also notoriously bad drivers in inclement weather, so we will be staying off the roads... Actually there will be little reason for us to be on the roads. After Hurricane Hugo destroyed our cottage and we lived in the shell of the house for 6 months, (starting in Sept. so we spent the winter in it), I decided to never, never, never, be unprepared for an emergency again.

Hugo blew into Waxhaw, (180 miles inland), with 110 mile an hour winds, it sat over our area for hours. The winds from the hurricane were bad enough, but the storm also spawned tornadoes, at least one of which tore across our property, twisting the tops of the trees off 18 feet up the trunk and ripping our roof and siding to pieces, throwing most of it into the woods. Fortunately, we were staying with my brother that night, or we may have lost more than our house.

Extensive damage done to the power lines all over North Carolina left us with no power,(and no water), for 3 weeks. Then the day they restored power to our area, there was an accident while clearing pieces of our destroyed roof, which caused our power service to fall to the ground. An electrical crew working down the road came to help and ended up cutting the power at the pole. We were unable to get our power back until after our electrical inspection 6 months later. This meant that most of the reconstruction was done without on site power. We borrowed a generator from a neighbor when he wasn't using it, another neighbor put an extension cord over the fence for us to use, and we worked by propane lantern, using hand tools when it was necessary. With just the two of us working, (and an infant and 7 yr old that needed tending), it took us a long time to get finished enough to get inspections.

 During all this time we were living in the only room in the house that wasn't exposed to the outdoors. We all slept there, my husband, our 7 year old son and I slept in sleeping bags on the floor. The baby, who was 4 months old when the hurricane hit, slept in his crib, swaddled in snow suit, and covered in a goose down comforter. We had an old Franklin Stove that we could use to warm our hands by during the day, and I used it for cooking, but it had draw problems due to damage done to the chimney, so it smoked terribly, and wasn't safe to burn while we were sleeping. It was a long winter and an uncommonly cold one, but we managed, and I'll just say to make a long story shorter, that we all survived. We got the house closed in and had power by late April. But it still took more than 5 years before we could really say we were finished.

After that experience, it became one of my missions in life to research and procure all the things we would need to live comfortably and safely through whatever life threw at us. We now have multiple ways to heat, heat pump, propane wall units, and a wood stove. We have enough water in 55 gallon drums, treated, sealed and sheltered from the elements, to last 3 people for a month. We also have a hand-held water purifier, that will purify water from a mud puddle if necessary. A "bug out bag" is packed and ready at all times. Our camping gear is kept close at hand with lanterns, propane cook stove, sub zero sleeping bags, light weight tents, backpacks and everything we would need to set up housekeeping away from home if need be. We have a "working" pantry for daily use, a 3 month pantry, which has enough food to feed four people for 3 months, and a long term storage pantry that contains enough to feed 6 people for a year. We keep these pantries up to date and rotated and we use what we store and store what we use.

In the near future I will be doing a weekly post on Pantry Keeping and Preparedness. I will start from the beginning and outline how to get started and what to do first, from there I will have tutorials on canning, dehydrating, emergency nutrition, natural medicine, first aid, wilderness survival, foraging, non electric cooking,  packing your own food for long term storage and more.
Part of our 3 month pantry which includes freezer, canned, bottled and dehydrated foods as well as bulk medicinal herbs, staples like pasta, rice and dried beans and comfort foods like tea and organic sugar.

The world as we know it doesn't have to come to and end or manure hit the fan, for an emergency preparation plan to make good sense. Natural disasters, economic hiccups, personal financial problems, loss of a job or illness can all be very difficult to deal with if you aren't prepared both practically and financially. But if you are like the ants who put away all summer to see themselves through the winter, you can find yourself well equipped to face difficult times, without worrying about how to shelter and feed your family. Are you prepared?

Blog Hops that this post is linked to: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/ , http://frugallysustainable.com/

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