Resilience is defined as elasticity — the ability to absorb energy or an event and return to the original form when the energy is removed or the event is over. The opposite of resilience is rigidity. Rigid things break when a force is applied — energy or a collision event. Wool has resilience. Its what makes it so desirable as clothing. It shapes itself to the wearer and then resumes its original shape when it is put off. Nice trait to have.
With the earthquakes, droughts, tsunamis, and riots that are going on in the world, plus the unsettled economy it seems that its only a matter of time before you will need to draw on your resilience quota. In 2010 our community was cut off for 5 days from the outside world due to avalanches that closed the highway from Alberta, the Okanagan, and Vancouver. In 2 days the grocery stores were short of fresh food and by the end of the ordeal many staples were missing from the shelves. Most in our community weren’t prepared.
This summer is a good time to prepare to weather any short term disruption in supplies or services. Here’s a dozen ways that you can become more resilient. Most don’t cost any extra money but will take some planning time. Others will cost you a bit more right now but over the year will save you money.
1. Have 1 month of food and medication in your house at all times
Buying in caselots rather than 1 or 2 cans at a time can save you money, too. If you use the pantry method of meal planning, you won’t ever need to run out to the store to get just one thing for a recipe, and you’ll save gas and time. Better yet, stock up this summer for next winter. Can your own food in glass jars. Dehydrate fruits and vegetables for winter soups and snacks. Don’t forget the olive oil and coconut oil — Cooking oil can make a difference between blah, boring dinners and exciting, gourmet dishes. These two oils keep without refrigeration and don’t go rancid in long term storage. My source for coconut oil is Tropical Traditions — I buy a 5 gallon bucket when they have a free shipping sale and have it delivered to my US post office box.
Its important when stocking up that you only purchase food that your family actually eats. Don’t buy case lots of 10 different sacks of dried beans if your family only eats kidney beans. Let your family preferences dictate your shopping list.
Plan for your animals, too. Have extra feed and a source of water.
Do you need to restock your first aid kit?
Do you need an extra order of prescription medicine? Plan ahead and you won’t be caught short.
2. Keep the car filled to above half a tank.
We use this rule in winter because you never know if you’ll get stuck on the side of the road and need the extra warmth that a half tank of gas might provide. In summer we usually let this slide. But we often see people in summer stranded on the side of the road just because they didn’t fill up in Osoyoos and the last 3 gas stations they passed were already closed.
3. Have a way to cook if the power goes out.
We have a wood cook stove, with a full oven. We cook on it all winter, while it heats our house. Before we had the cook stove, we would cook on our wood heater, if the power stopped. A propane stove, a barbecue, a Sterno camp stove will do in a pinch — if you stocked up on fuel before the emergency. Plan ahead and you won’t be eating dry ramen noodles with peanut butter for days on end.
4. Have a weeks supply of water stored.
Water is essential to life — for washing, drinking and cooking. Without electricity, homes that rely on a well/pump system will be without water. You need to store some — and replace the water in storage every 3 to 6 months so it stays fresh. Add some food grade hydrogen peroxide to the storage containers to keep bacteria from proliferating. If you have a gravity fed system, as we do, you’ll still have water if the power goes out, but even then its a good idea to have two or three days of water stored in the event of an emergency — pipes can break or freeze. Consider investing in a Berkey Water Filter, that doesn’t rely on electricity to filter water. A Berkey system can filter water from a creek to keep you in potable water in an emergency.
5. Stock up on wool blankets.
Wool is nontoxic. It absorbs toxins from the air, too, and lets you wash them out. In cold, damp weather there is no manmade fiber that can compare to wool’s insulating properties. I buy wool blankets at thrift stores. Wash them in the machine and put them on the beds in winter — both under the sheets and over top. I use them to block window drafts, too. We have wool throws around the sofa to snuggle in (handwoven, of course). In a power outage they can be used to insulate a freezer or refrigerator to keep in the cold. You can use them to insulate a rice pot, to allow the rice to continue cooking away from a power source, after boiling. Don’t try to substitute acrylic or polyester. In a situation where you need extra insulation wool can save lives.
6. Keep your heating oil or wood storage topped up.
Don’t wait until its gone before you fill it up. If you heat with wood, now is the time to bring home your winter wood supply. A wise move is to stock up for two years in July and August, giving it time to dry over the winter. Then each year thereafter you only need to bring home one year’s worth — you’ll always have dry wood. If you use home heating oil, keep the tank above 1/2 so that you can endure bad weather that might close your road to the fuel refill truck.
7. Keep spare parts on hand for items that you use regularly.
When you replace your pressure canner gaskets, buy two so that you have a spare. Have a spare bar, chain blade and bar oil for your chain saw. Eye glass screws, water filters, guitar strings, camera and flashlight batteries, you get the idea. And make sure that you know where you stored them, so you can find them when you need them.
8. Have an Amish Day, once a month, where you turn off the power to your house.
Cook as you would in an emergency, light your oil lamps or candles. Turn off the TV and read books, do hand crafts or play board games with your kids. This is good preparation for being resilient in an emergency. It also trains your family to see a power outage or other temporary inconvenience as a fun game, rather than a fearful experience. When the power goes out — we’re having an Amish Day. A good resource for unplugged convenience is Lehman’s. (no affiliation).
9. Develop an unplugged culture in your home.
Surround your family with good books, board games, craft supplies and musical instruments and develop an unplugged culture in your home. In a home where every second is spent with electronic media, going without can be stressful. But if you develop a home culture that values making music together, reading aloud, doing crafts, or playing board games, you cultivate the skills to feel comfortable without modern conveniences. Attitude is half the battle and whiny, fearful kids can kill Mom and Dad’s good attitudes fast. Plan ahead and you will find that you weather the storm with resilience and strength.
10. Get in the habit of hanging up your clothes to dry.
Have an indoor drying rack for inclement weather and use it. Keeping the electric dryer for emergencies. You’ll save money, your clothes will last longer and in winter you will increase the humidity in the air, beside your wood stove, minimizing static electricity. Clothing can be washed by hand and air dried if you’ve planned ahead — have water set aside for cleaning (a rain barrel, melted snow, a water reservoir attached to your wood stove), laundry soap, and a drying rack or indoor clothes line.
11. Cultivate an attitude of prayer and meditation.
Spend time every day in meditation and prayer. Learn to look beyond yourself for strength and help in every day circumstances, and you will have help when you need it to weather the emergency and be resilient in the storm.
12. Know your neighbours and work together now, so that you will have the relationships in place to help each other in a crisis.
Love your neighbour as yourself. To love your neighbour you need to know who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Be prepared to help them now and work together to prepare for future emergencies. Too many preparedness gurus advocate an “us and them” attitude — to the point of advising you to defend your food storage with guns. Get real! To survive any long term disruption, you will need your neighbours and they will need you. Work at developing strong neighbourhood relationship now and they will be there for you when you are in need.
What steps are you taking to be more resilient in an emergency? Can you share a tip that I missed? Leave a comment to help others.