March 12, 2011

Thinking about Japan—Food Security and Emergency Preparedness

DSC_9581 Whenever I see a natural disaster like the situation in Japan from this week, I think back to the sick in my stomach feeling that I felt with Katrina.  Many of my relatives live on the Gulf Coast and were affected by the disaster.  Many lost their homes, businesses, jobs, and in short way of life.  I remember sobbing when watching the television and seeing how people were stranded when the dams broke.  Even though the disasters in Japan occurred on the other side of the world, their pain is palpable.  I am praying for those affected, and I can only imagine how devastating it is for them.

When I encounter something like this, either personally or through learning about it on the news, it provides me and opportunity to take stock of our own degree of emergency preparedness and how well we are stocked in supplies. 

Background—Food Security is something that was drilled into me as a child.  With the Great Depression, the hard times of the war, and the inflation of the 70s fresh in the minds of my parents and grandparents, we were taught to make sure we had our pantries stocked.  I learned how to garden, preserve foods, and live frugally.  For me and my immediate family, stockpiling just made sense.  One never knows when someone will fall ill, when there will be a natural disaster, or when a job will be lost.

We had well stocked first aid kits, kerosene lanterns, flashlights in each room, a large wood pile, a back-up generator, and other supplies that seemed very normal to me when growing up.  We lived in a rural area of Tennessee and if the electricity went off, we were prepared to be able to heat the house and drink and eat for days or weeks. 

Because that way of life was so second nature to me, when I had my own family, I started making similar preparations.  We now live in a city and electrical outages do not occur as often or for as long as they did when I was younger, but I still feel much more secure knowing that we have supplies and food on hand if we need them for any reason.

As I talk to more people about this subject and as I have aged, I realize that being prepared and having a supply of food isn’t really the norm.  Sometimes I’m amazed that so many people I know do not even have the Red Cross recommendation of 3 days worth of food, water, and first aid supplies in their homes.

I urge you to use the situation in Japan to prompt you to start building your emergency stockpile of foods and supplies in the event that you one day need them.  If for no other reason having these supplies on hand makes life a little easier. When sick and not feeling well, it is nice to not have to go out and buy food and treatments. If you have a busy week or have an unexpected budgetary expense, it is nice to know that you have food in the pantry and freezer so that you don’t have to make a trip to the grocery. Stockpiling can save a great deal of money. If you can get free canned pineapple with a coupon and sale, why wouldn't you? "I don't eat canned pineapple" you say?? Well, what about donating it to all of the food pantries around the country who are in serious need of help?

This week, I plan to review our food storage--

  • What foods still need to be restocked after last month’s eat from the pantry challenge?
  • Are there any other items that need to be used up before they go bad or to make way for fresh fruits and vegetables that we’ll pick from the garden this year?
  • I plan to gather all canning jars together, inspect them for any cracks or chips, and take stock of how many and of what sizes I have.

I will review our emergency supplies--

  • Do any flashlights need batteries?
  • I’ll put the solar flashlights by the windows so that they will recharge.
  • I’ll add to my 72 hour kit as needed (this is a backpack that I have ready to go in the event that we need to evacuate from our home—many people who attended the coupon fair received green bags and instructions on how to start your own kit).
  • We’ll need to move the wood pile and cover it for the year, except for one or two fire’s worth of wood.  As the weather warms, we’re much less likely to build fires.
  • I need to restock my car kit, as just the other day I realized that it was low on bandages and other first aid supplies.  I’ll check the one that Hubby has in his car, too.
  • As it is daylight savings time, I’ll check the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries.  If you check these twice a year, the time change is a good reminder of when to do it.

What about you? Is your family well stocked in foods that you could eat if you didn’t have any electricity?  What about water?  How does your first aid kit look?  Do you have an emergency kit in your car?   What are your thoughts on emergency prep and food storage?

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