Preserving & Canning Food

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How to plan for an emergency

emergency preparedness Jun 09, 2024

We all know that we should plan for an emergency but it's something that most people put in the too hard basket and it never progresses from an idea in their head to an actual plan with all the pieces in place.

In our membership, The Preserver's Kitchen, we're going to be working through a fun challenge over the next month supporting our members to be more emergency prepared. We're going to be working through this in a very structured, step-by-step way so that it isn't overwhelming and so everyone can make progress regardless of their starting point. And, because we are all about preserving, we'll have a focus on incorporating that into our emergency planning.

I thought it would be useful to share the approach that Mike and I have used over the last few years. Our emergency preparedness was tested in 2023 with Cyclone Gabrielle so we've been able to reflect back on what worked, what didn't and other insights from that situation.

If you are just getting started with your emergency preparedness, I'd like you to consider approaching it in the following way with the view of you and your family being home when an emergency strikes:

  1. Assess the risks for you in your region. For me here in Gisborne, New Zealand, earthquakes and flooding are the highest risks. Additionally, because we are quite geographically isolated in Gisborne with all roads coming in and out being susceptible to significant erosion events, being isolated with electricity and communication cut off is a real risk (we experienced this during Cyclone Gabrielle). Your risks will be different, e.g., in certain parts of Australia, bush fires would be your biggest risk.
  2. Plan to leave the house on foot. In some situations, you'll need to leave the house by foot. This is where a grab-and-go bag is needed and this needs to be prepared well ahead of time. What would you need in that bag? Do you have a waterproof jacket and decent footwear for all household members in a convenient place to grab on the way out? What else would you want to take? What would you do with your pets? Do you need to have medications with you? Consider you only have 5-10 mins to leave the property, could you do it? And lastly, where would you be going? Prior organisation is key here!
  3. Plan to leave by car. If you are able to leave by car, what would you take with you? Blankets, food, water, cooking items, toiletries.... And, where would you go? This all needs to be thought through well ahead of time after considering your biggest risks and likely scenarios.
  4. Staying in your home. If, during an emergency, you were able to stay in your home but were cut off with no electricity, water and communication, what would you need to survive and be comfortable over that period of time. How would you cook? How might you avoid losing everything in your freezer? Could you keep your house warm? Could you keep your family safe?

This is the approach we took and worked through over about a six month period and this is the approach we will work through inside The Preserver's Kitchen too. We'll be focussing on a structured plan, implementing as much of that plan as possible and setting up some records so we know when important items need to be rotated out.

Once you work through the above, you'll also naturally consider how to manage this if you aren't all together (someone could be at work, kids could be at school or with friends) or if you are travelling at the time (do you have some basic provisions in your car if you got stuck somewhere overnight?). Emergency preparedness planning evolves over time but having a baseline to start from is important and allows you to layer in improvements as you are able to.

If you already are prepared, I'd encourage you to take this moment as a reminder to check what you've already prepared, check on your stored food and medications (if relevant) and to also check that clothing and footwear still fit (especially if you have growing children).

Whilst we all hope to never need to use what we've prepared, being prepared will give you huge piece of mind and make life a little bit easier in a tough situation.


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