Monthly Archives: July 2013

Emergency Preparedness V; Extra thoughts

 

This title is rather redundant to the blog, after all, my main point of doing these postings is trying to make and keep everyone ready for almost any situation.

In the past few posts I have been discussing emergency preparedness, especially what to have on hand for power-outages. But having the supplies listed, (and the storage information), is just as useful in, say, a flu epidemic, (and believe me anytime more than one person in a house gets the flu, it seems like an epidemic!) There can be all sorts of emergencies that happen to a person, a family or a community.

Let me expound on a few ideas and topics that cropped up from the last postings:
One is laundry.
I had said to consider keeping your laundry done, and I maintain that. Think of a long-time power/water-outage or days of illness and how hard it would be with backed-up laundry or plain out of clean underwear and towels; you are going to create so much more. Please keep laundry detergent, fabric softener,(or sheets) and bleach on-hand .If there has been an outage and you are backed-up with laundry, you’d have to run out and get supplies…and so would everyone else around you, and the stores may run out. If you have been ill, you’ll only stress yourself having to run out and perhaps have a relapse.You may be tied-up for even longer if you were ill and when you are up and about, you can’t get out because you cannot leave others who are sick home alone.
And put clean laundry away. Don’t be guilty of letting it sit in the laundry room, in baskets or piled in a chair or on a dresser.(Even I had been guilty of that. No more.) You will know what you have and what you need.Don’t try to be looking in low light or when you are sick.

The second is more on cleaning supplies.
Other cleaners to find room for in laundry areas or under kitchen and bathroom sinks are basic spray cleaners, as basic and general as you can get. Even an extra spray bottle of window cleaner,(which is mostly ammonia ), will get you through a lot. Read your labels and NEVER MIX CLEANERS THAT HAVE AMMONIA TOGETHER WITH THOSE THAT CONTAIN CHLORINE BLEACH! When mixed, those chemicals create chlorine gas which can damage your mucus membranes, eyes, lungs and can even kill you if inhaled in large quantities. Antiseptic wipes are wonderful when water supplies are short, and are easy to store. Have them on-hand.

The third things that you may not have considered having: Rain gear. Even in what is usually a desert area, you can be hit with a downpour or a flood. Ladies, do you only have high-heeled boots? Everyone should have a real pair of rain boots. They have started to come in some pretty flashy colors the last few years. Do you have a heavy slicker or hooded raincoat? You never know when you would have to get out of your house in a storm. You can’t rely on an umbrella when your hands are full, you are dealing with children or pets or if it is windy.

Four:Know where your power boxes and water shut-offs are located.
The house I live in is basically a rectangle shape with doors on three sides. Guess where my power box is located? Outside, on the only side that does not have a door. I have no idea what the planners were thinking. It is a major pain to throw a circuit-breaker in the middle of the night, or during bad weather. You have no idea how awful it was when a faulty breaker was throwing our heating system off nearly daily/nightly in the middle of one cold winter, or before we made the effort to have a ‘bucket-brigade’ style chain going with all of us posted in and outside the house, shouting as to which lights were going out when which circuit breaker was thrown. They were not labeled when we moved in. Label yours, if they aren’t already done .If you don’t know where yours are, find out NOW.

Five: Keep gas in your car. I mean it. Never get much below a half of a tank. Easy for me to say? No, but if you have to get away fast. either in an evacuation or to pick someone up, to get to a friend or relative in an emergency, you may not have the time to stop and tank up.

Even if you live on very high land or hundreds of miles from any fault line or coast, you may still need to be evacuated at some point. We have no major forest to worry about wildfires, but I live in the Birthplace of Bourbon and shortly after I moved here, there was a horrendous fire at a distillery that exploded and made international news . We were not affected, but many others were. And consider this, railroads and truckers carry dangerous chemicals in gasses and liquid all day, every day and some carry radioactive materials. Not to scare you, but airplanes go over everywhere. You just never know when an emergency or spill will strike.
When accidents occur, you need to be able to get out. I had to evacuate one night due to a rupture in a natural gas main.

Idea # Six:You should have your most important documents in a single place, in a folder or folders in water-proof envelopes, if you have them in a safe. (There are fireproof portable safes, but they are heavy and would be hard to evacuate.) If you can’t get to them or anything you’d like quickly, leave them. People died in a wildfire a month ago trying to get things more things out at the last minute. Scan anything you don’t need originals of and put them on a flash drive. Put it in the envelope.

Seven: Keep your pets’ vaccinations up to date and have their licenses on their collars . I suggest having carriers for cats and smaller dogs, or at least harnesses, and have them where you can get to them. Cats are notorious for hating collars and getting out of them. The last thing you need is your pet getting lost. Spend a couple of dollars to have your name and number on a tag. Many facilities allow pets now, after the horrible things that happened during and after Hurricane Katrina. Which leads us to the next;

#Eight: It is even better if you have family or a friend that you can rely on to take you in temporarily during an emergency. Make a pact with someone now, if at all possible. Know where your local shelter would be, if that is impossible.

And Nine: Something that my son has been after me to remake is an emergency box with a change of clothes, basic personal needs, ready-to-eat non-perishable food ,(and pet food), and flashlight. I used to have one when they were younger. Make it big enough to hold everything,(don’t forget a can opener if needed), or make two mid-sized ones. I know where I can get my hands quickly on everything we would need if we needed to evacuate, but it is still a great idea.

My next post will be ideas on what to have ready for a personal emergency; it can also be a great gift idea.

I have heard from so many people about this series and I thank everyone who let me know how much I had helped them. If there is any point I have failed to make, or anything you’d like clarified, please let me know and I will address it here in the answers or in an upcoming post.

I pray that may you never have to use any of the advice from this series, but I believe in “the better safe than sorry” frame of mind. Something, some time, may well happen.Make yourself as safe and prepared as possible.

I hope that you will continue to read here and get ideas for your lives. My aim is to make everyone a little more confident and comfortable, in hosting and in life.

 

Emergency Preparedness IV; Storing supplies/Hosting

I have heard from a number of people, (some commented here), on how they had not realized how unprepared or vulnerable they are. We don’t need to panic or live in fear, I’d just like to see everyone be a little more comfortable in a power-outage, with or without extenuating problems,(extreme cold or heat, for example).And many of the extras I suggest can be very handy when you have guests.

I have practiced what I preached, as we had a major thunderstorm and tornado warning last week. It was dark and I was alone. I placed a large candle-in-a-glass in the middle of my table and a flashlight next to it. Twenty minutes later, when the lights went out, I could find my way to the flashlight, which led me to other candles,(see the previous post on candles and safety).I lit enough to allow myself to read until my husband came home 40 minutes later. When we retired, I left one candle in a jar burning in the bathroom, in front of the mirror to reflect and so, magnify, the light, on the porcelain, away from anything flammable,(and where the cats would not jump up).

I am going to suggest more things to have and put aside for such a possibility but the first questioning your mind may be where do I put it? Even though I suggest that all of the food and other items be what you do like and usually eat or use, you should put the ones that you store for emergencies where they are easily found, especially in low light. If you have room, you can dedicate a shelf or two in your kitchen cabinets, linen closet and/or utility room. OK, now that you have stopped laughing, we’ll find the room, even in a small apartment.(You wouldn’t believe how stocked I was in a tiny apartment we once had in a charming little Gingerbread-House, a converted farm building.)
Even though my kitchen cabinets here are crowded, I found room for small boxes in the back recesses. I don’t understand the people who built this house; there are deep corners where the cabinets fit in next to each other and those sections are useless except for storage. As a certified, (or certifiable), ‘foodie’, I have most of that space occupied with extras found on sale and things I don’t use very often. Perhaps you have a cabinet that is hard to get to, like over the refrigerator? That’s a good place for storage.

If you have little space in your cabinets, look up. Do you have an open area between the cabinets and ceiling? No, I don’t suggest that you stack up cans there, but you can find attractive, square baskets, fabric boxes or cover your own cardboard boxes with contact paper, fabric,(glue it), or decoupage them and store extras there. However, avoid putting your stored foods just above or next to your oven. Avoid heat when possible.
For small packages, boxes, tea candles, etc. I use these decoupaged cans; I have made larger boxes for storage in the same manner:decoupage cans

I also use them for pasta and grains, flours and nuts, tea and coffee, (those that come in packages, such as beans that I grind.) I store small holiday items in some, nightlight bulbs in another. I made some for my family. One has airplanes and I have small military items my son has stored from his Air National Guard service.
These are simple to make. I do them when watching TV or movies on the computer. Cut out pictures from catalogs, books, magazines, calendars or greeting cards, use simple white glue on the front and back of the papers. Overlap the pictures and allow them to dry. Spray them with clear spray paint and allow to dry. Spray the bottoms of the cans to stave-off rust. (You can use decoupage medium such as ModgePodge and/or spray the cans afterward with acrylic craft spray, but these are more expensive.

Storage boxes 006

How about your closets? I have small closets with even smaller doors. There are difficult recesses and they have space on the high shelves that can only be used for storage; you can store boxes there, but if it gets hot, store the food on the floor. If you get low boxes, you can even put your shoes on top of them. Put other essentials,(which I will talk about soon), on the shelves.

Have your essentials easy-to-find, but out-of-sight!

Have your essentials easy-to-find, but out-of-sight!

Mix and match boxes and baskets.If you buy any used, please make sure they can be thoroughly cleaned before you use them.

Consider low boxes that fit under your bed, or even under a sofa. (Make sure they slide out for cleaning purposes.) Consider using old, hard-sided suitcases. I have plastic ‘flats’ for plants that I have cleaned that slide under my beds. I use them for smaller boxes and shoes; they slide out easily.
Thin boxes can go behind doors. Better yet, thin cabinets or shelving can go behind doors and you can use the suggestions for over-the cabinet, pretty boxes to store there.

You can find inexpensive over-the-door canned goods shelving for utility rooms or that can go inside of closets. If you have a laundry room, or laundry area, think about where you can add a shelf, or standing shelves and bins. Again, look up. There is usually wasted space there before you reach the top.
Use medium to large plastic storage containers and stack them, even in plain sight. You may have a corner that you overlook every day, and you’d never miss the space.
If you don’t have shelving in your bathroom that goes over your toilet, you are cheating yourself. You should have a vanity under the sinks or put ‘skirts’ up around them to create storage…not for your food, but for a few extra cleaners, paper products, toiletries and first aid supplies.

an extra shelf in your bathroom can hold supplies

an extra shelf in your bathroom can hold supplies

Easy storage in my bathroom

Easy storage in my bathroom

 

You don’t need to set yourself up with a mini-clinic, but do keep first aid supplies in your home and make sure they don’t run out. Anyone can afford to stock up slowly at dollar-only markets, at your local, major discount store, or in your grocers with sales and coupons. Have adhesive bandages of several sizes, some gauze and medical tape. An ‘Ace’ bandage is a good idea, as well. Keep antibiotic ointment and another ointment, such as vitamin A&D ointment for soothing.(I have always had to keep them on hand as one of my sons is allergic to topical antibiotics), and an anti-itch cream,(like Lanacaine). Have a bottle of alcohol and I suggest, witch hazel. Rotate bottles of peroxide and iodine-based wound cleaners,(‘Betadine’-type), often and keep them out of sunlight as they both break down rather quickly, which is why peroxide comes in dark bottles. You probably know that water ‘s formula is H2O,( two hydrogen atoms, one oxygen atom). Hydrogen peroxide’s formula is H2O2, and it beaks down to water in short order when exposed to light and after a certain amount of time.
Have clean cotton and swabs on hand. Keep some antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, pain relief and aspirin. Antiseptic mouthwash,(‘Listerine’ and knock-offs), can double as wound cleaner.
Make sure you have plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, extra tooth brushes, deodorant, body powders, and anything else that you may use. This is always a good idea. Unexpected or unprepared, forgetful guests would be thrilled for you to be able to supply their needs, especially if their mistake isn’t spotted until it is very late or a very inconvenient time to rush out. I once found myself suddenly keeping 3 extra boys under 9, (plus my own two), for a weekend. Their mother, who had planned on them going with her, had packed their toothbrushes in with all the toiletries and took the bag with her. Fortunately, I had enough extras. Keep a few on hand; I have had other children come to stay overnight and boys are notorious for forgetting toothbrushes…and you or your guest could always drop yours in the toilet.
(I keep plastic shoe boxes with the extras in the bottom of my linen closet. They are neat and they stack.)
I know it is often difficult with insurance policies, but try to keep ahead of prescription medications and if you need other supplies,(like diabetic supplies), please don’t run low, you never know. The same must be said for feminine hygiene, incontinence supplies and disposable diapers.

Please consider always keeping extra pump-spray cleaners, disinfectant spray and wipes on hand. With low water supplies and a long wait for utilities to be restored, you will be grateful to have them.

You might take a moment to consider what would happen if you could not do your laundry for a few days. That reason alone makes me try never to let my hampers get too backed-up. I certainly never let anyone’s underwear supply get low!

Another thing I beg you to make room for is extra toilet paper and paper towels, and I suggest, some paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery. These can be stored up high,(they are light), or where it gets too warm to store food and medical supplies, (even in a crawlspace, attic, garage, outdoor storage that doesn’t leak.) You don’t need a lot, a little goes a long way in an emergency and to be without is…well, not good. And you don’t want to use up your possibly limited water supply by cleaning dishes. And keep extra heavy-duty trash bags to dispose of the used paper products. A little extra in the landfill because of an emergency will not ruin the planet.(Please use disposables responsibly at other times. Try never to use foam and I usually wash and reuse plastic cutlery.)

I hope you have zipped through my previous Emergency Preparedness posts and have gotten an idea or two. Please don’t be caught unaware and unprepared. You just never know.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Next time, we’ll talk about where to put extra guests!