The Untrained Housewife’s Guide to Getting Prepared: Surviving Emergencies Without Stress
By Robin Egerton and Angela England
Everyone remembers the Y2K scare. I can recall numerous individuals who stockpiled toilet paper, ammo, dehydrated carrots, and TVP in a state of panic and fear. Some even went so far as to move to the sticks to avoid the impending chaos that was sure to come. Anyone who didn’t share their view was heckled. And yet, on January 1, 2000; life went on pretty much the same. No one apologized for the heckling, and the dehydrated carrots and TVP were quietly sent on to the missionaries.
This has been my past experience with prepping. And since I was one of those who was heckled, and later the missionary who received the TVP by the caseload, “prepping” doesn’t really get me very excited.
But having lived through the Tulsa ice storm of 2007 where I spent a miserable three days (we were among the lucky ones) in the cold and dark, and currently living in the heart of tornado alley where we had our first big storm last week; I have come to realize that prepping isn’t necessarily a doomsday sort of thing. It is just being sufficiently prepared to face whatever might come your way; whether it be unemployment, a major storm, or even unexpected company.
Because we live in a rural area off the beaten path, being prepared has been a main focus for us. We don’t live completely off grid, but we have a strategy to survive in the event the grid goes down. I had therefore seen us as a couple who is “prepared”.
Recently however, I had the opportunity to read the new release of Getting Prepared by Robin Egerton and Angela England; and through this simple, straightforward, and yet detailed guide I was made aware of some areas in our strategy that could use some improvement.
Before listing those though, I just wanted to say that often times the terms “prepper” and “survivalist” and the connotations in which they can be used ie. disaster, economic collapse, terrorist attack; are very frightening. I tend to run when I encounter them. One thing that I really appreciated about this book was the absence of fear. The motivation is simply to analyze where you live and be prepared to survive up to 30 days in any situation you could realistically face. For us that would be a tornado, a drought, or an ice storm. With that approach, I was able to read through, even enjoy the suggestions given by the authors.
So here is my to do list for getting prepared prompted by the guide:
1. A 72 hour emergency kit and a safe place
A storm cellar has been on my radar for some time and I had seen and heard about the need for these kits out and about in the world of emergency preparedness. But honestly, they had seemed to me like a superfluous pain in the rear…until the first tornado warning in the very wee hours of last Thursday morning. We stood in the living room looking at each other while the storm blazed outside. Where do we go? A radio report indicated a tornado touch down several miles west of us that had torn off the roof of a building. If that had been us, what would we have done? Husbie said to me, “I think we really do need a kit. One for each of us, and one for the dogs to include their food and water.” Fortunately one whole chapter of the book is devoted to what should be in your kit.
2. Purchase and learn to use an alternate cooking source
While we do have a propane stove, the starter is electric. Even though we may be able to work around that by lighting the stove with a match, having an alternate source for cooking and the skills and know-how to prepare a meal without a stove wouldn’t hurt. One of the suggestions in chapter 3 on Kitchen Supplies was a Dutch Oven along with detailed instructions on how to get one started. Since we enjoy cooking and love to cook outdoors, this is a new skill we’d like to learn. Other suggestions included a stockpile of charcoal for the grill, as that is one of the top items to disappear in an emergency.
3. Refine our foraging skills
We’ve already given this a try by foraging for dandelion greens and plantain, but there are several other sources of free food available for the taking if we could learn to identify them. The book includes several photos for identifications, and I loved the suggestion to actually cultivate some weeds in the garden. With plantain voluntarily springing up between our lettuces, this is something we should be able to accomplish effortlessly.
4. Put together a basic first aid kit
I know. Having this as an item on a “to-do” list instead of in a box in my bathroom cabinet is a no-no, and really should be #1 on my list. In addition to the obvious necessities suggested for the kit, the authors have also included a list of herbal preparations and essential oils for those of us who are of the crunchier variety. I appreciated that and look forward to putting together some natural alternatives.
While I would highly recommend the manual as a resource for those getting started with emergency preparedness, I feel the need to gently point out that some of the canning tips and procedures presented had me concerned.
Suggesting that lids do not need to be prepared prior to processing or that processed jars can be left in the canner to cool were just a few of the tips I disagreed with and which prevent me from being able to recommend this as a canning guide. While some of the recipes are helpful, they should be cross referenced with a reliable source such as The Complete Guide to Canning and Preserving published by the USDA or The Ball Blue book.
What sorts of things do you prepare for and how?
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for the review but the thoughts and opinions are all my own.
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