The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Preparedness. Totally free ways to get better prepared.

It is hard to decide what order to tackle my subject list! I decided to start with something we can all do given a few minutes here and there and things that are basically free to do (or VERY inexpensive in a few cases!)
When things are free to do it makes us wonder why we didn't already do them!  Hopefully there will be some ideas here that you can implement and they will add up to making you better prepared in many ways.

This is my list to get us started:

Make sure you know how to turn off the utilities in your house. If you don't know get someone to show you. This could save your house from all kinds of disasters i.e. if a water pipe bursts.

Take photos of all your valuables and each room and contents. If you have an insurance claim it is much easier when you have a bunch of photos. Plus they help you to remember things.

Have a printed list of all the phone numbers in your phone. People lose their phones and can't remember any of the numbers as we are all used to just pressing the persons name.  Have back ups and keep in a couple of places.

Organise your pantry so there is room to build it up. Mine contained a lot of things that had nothing to do with food!  A clean out created a lot of space I didn't know I had.

Consider your home. Vicky considered hers and realised she had a cellar virtually unused and last year worked and worked until it became another part of her pantry.

I also had a space I had never thought of using and just making the decision to clean it up and use this space made a big difference. Many of us have an unused or seldom used area.  It might be a spare room that is used rarely, a cupboard that is full of junk, bookshelves full of books we don't read, a shed full of old golf clubs... they could become major assets to you and during this series and over the course of the year you will have built up emergency supplies for your family.

This is part of Teri's pantry. 

Make a copy of your bank account numbers, drivers licence number, medical, passport and everything that has a number on it. If you lose your purse all these are usually lost.  I find it easiest just to sit all my cards on a photo copier and copy the lot. Or take a photo on your camera. Although I would not do this on any kind of media or store it on any cloud!

Fill drink bottles and jars with water. They may as well contain emergency water as sit empty.

Fill any gap in your freezer with a container or bottle of water. If the power goes out your freezer will stay solid and cold much longer if full. It is more economical to run if full as well. If the power is out for days at least after a few days you have nice cold drinking water. In a heat wave this could be the only cool drink you get.

Get some free apps on your phone i.e. first aid, weather alerts. Learn how to use them so they are familiar to you.

Increase your home security. There are lots of ways to do this for free and that's another post.

All over the internet the theme is decluttering. If you don't love it toss it out they say.  You might not love your winter coat, manual tools in the shed,  wooden blankets and your old camping gear. But you might really really love them in an extended blackout.  Hanging on to things that could be very useful is free.  And the fact that other people throw out so much is also an opportunity to get many amazing things for your household preparation very cheaply or free.
Similarly advocates enthuse that you can go to the shops everyday and to keep supplies is clutter.  Ignoring advice like this is free and could save your family from disaster. No you cannot go to the shops everyday. Even currently I know millions of people are in snow and ice storms and have to stay home. I hope they didn't listen to that advice as they will be regretting it about now.

Read up and learn skills. Revise your first aid training.

Consider your choices and expenses. I consider "swaps" a free way to be better prepared. In my first year I swapped my weekly coffee and cake for as many items I could get for that price to put in my pantry. It doesn't sound like much but boy did it add up over a year!
You could swap gym membership for gardening and grow food like Vicky does...

This is an interesting subject! Swaps can create time, money, space....

Put some useful things into your car. If you have a spare blanket, flash light, first aid items etc then set your car up well. Include flat shoes, a bottle of water, some cash...

Keep emergency cash in your purse. If the power is out how will you pay for anything if you don't have cash?
Do the same in your house. A power outage, computer glitch or natural disaster can mean no way to pay for anything unless you have actual cash.

Look up emergency numbers and put them into your phone and write them in the house. I keep these inside a pantry door. You do not want to be searching for these numbers in a crisis!

Learn how to cook outdoors on your BBQ, outdoor fire or on a gas burner.  Plan back ups to cook and boil water.

Get to know neighbours. There are times that helping each other would be so important.

Make a habit to always keep the fuel tank at least half full.
Similarly keep things reasonably charged, do not get down to the last few prescription tablets if you can avoid it at all.

Organise. Know the location of things and put flashlights where you can lay your hand on them in the dark. Know exactly where things are. Frantic searches in the dark or in a crisis are not going to help.

Plan a list of easy meals you can make from your pantry. You can even group items together into emergency meal packs.

Have an evacuation plan.

If you have emergency back ups practice using them, getting them started etc. I found out in a blackout I didn't know how to use something and reading the directions then was a nightmare!

Sign up for alerts and extreme weather reports.  There is a lot you can do with plenty of notice. You can plan ahead and not be on the roads for one.  Being watchful is free. Sailing along in oblivion is nice until you get a nasty surprise.  I think keep one ear to the ground and be watchful. This will give you the heads up to all sorts of things it would be wise to prepare for.

Write yourself an action plan. If you had warning that something massive is coming do you have a plan?  A warning is a huge opportunity to get prepared. If we have already thought about what actions to take then we can do a lot in a short time.  Grab the list and get going! Hopefully your plan has tasks for everyone to do. And that is what we are working on next week. Making your action plan.  Mine is inside my pantry cupboard door.

We will also have a post on how to build up your pantry for free.  I am doing some of that right now and I love it! Its called making hay while the sun shines!

What can you add to this list? What could you do for free at your place that would make you better prepared?  If you can implement some of them this week then that is a good start.
Mine is to better organise the first aid supplies. I have built them up. I know where it is all located. But it is kind of a jumble.  So I am getting it well and truly organised. This won't cost anything but will mean I can lay my hands on things faster and also see when any supplies get low or need replacing. Free but an improvement!

Have a wonderful week! xxx


  1. Excellent post.
    I never get rid of blankets, quilts or throws - no matter what shape they are in. They will keep us warm regardless (in an emergency) and they are good for our pets as well

    Remember to have provisions for pets as well.
    Thanks for your time on this.
    Have a good week.

    1. Dear Cheryl, That is a good point! I have all kinds of bird seeds stored up and almonds for our bird Ricky. He likes almonds...!
      One of the blogs I see on face book I quite like... but the other day she posted a picture of her linen cupboard. At first I thought oh wow how I would love my cupboard to look like that. Then on a closer look really it was basically empty. Hence it looked so "uncluttered". Further investigation I found out she had one set of linen for each person aside of what was on the beds. Well truly the cupboard looked wonderful but if you had sickness in the house, couldn't get washing dry or anything else then you would have to go buy more linen! When the kids were little I remember having to change the bed several times when they were sick. Imagine having now spare sets to change the sheets? So I opt to have spare sets to keep us going in a crisis like that and I guess my cupboard isn't ever going to look so "uncluttered". Whats more though was they were advocating getting rid of all your spare sets as you don't need them. Linen is expensive... they were just saying chuck it out. Anyway it is beyond me. lol
      I think warm blankets are a wonderful thing to have. Thanks Cheryl. With love

  2. Love all these ideas! i think I lack in the car preparation and hope to remedy that soon. Batteries are the number one thing I know we needed a lot of when our power went out. Those flashlights tend to take big ones. Great post!

  3. Dear Annabel,
    Excellent post on preparedness. I, often, wonder what those who are minimalists will do when they need supplies due to a disaster, war, job loss, etc. They seem to really hate having anything other than absolute necessities that are used daily around. Interesting....
    I need to do another survey of our supplies and update my notebook. I like to keep track of what is in stock and where it is located. That way, anyone in our home can find what they need.
    I, also, change all batteries in the LED candles once they start getting low. We buy batteries each time they are on sale at Sam's Club. We have a lot of real candles, but with pets, real candles can be dangerous as they can get knocked over easily, so I purchase the LED candles on sale and use those for both night lights and to have as an emergency.
    Thanks, Cheryl, for mentioning our four legged friends. I, recently, calculated how many 'treats' our dogs would need to get through one month. Pets won't be out running or walking if there is a true emergency or disaster, so please remember to have toys and other things to occupy them, so they aren't bored; much like children.
    One thing I would add to keeping cash on hand and in one's purse is to make sure the bills are in smaller denominations. If electricity goes down for an extended period of time with no backup options nothing will be functioning, so if a person needs to purchase a gallon of milk, don't expect change.
    We try to keep our vehicles full of gas. When they get to half a tank it is always time to fill them up. We want to be sure to have plenty of gas to go pick up grandchildren or our grown children if need be.
    Many of the ladies here are wonderful seamstresses, so a heavy duty tote bag, for grab and go, can be made from scrap fabric. We like to keep one for each member of the family and for our dogs. If you do this be sure to rotate the water and foodstuffs stored in them monthly.
    This is a wonderful and very useful series. Your post was full of ideas and good tips, Annabel.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      Thank you for the tip about small change and that getting big bills broken up and getting change might not be so easy. You are right! Having the right money or close to it would be very handy.
      Also your grab and go bags are an excellent tip. It is good to get thinking and amazing what we can do through planning and organisation that makes a lot of difference! Thank you Glenda! With love

  4. Over the last few weeks while my husband was in a coma I realized how little I knew about where our important papers were and the fact that a newer version of our will was not signed.

    1. Dear Lana, What an awful time! You are right.... we kind of discover everything we don't know and wish we did in a crisis!
      This is a good point, about papers and documents etc. Thank you! With love

  5. Dear Annabel,
    Thank you for another brilliant post , it is food for thought , I didn't realise there were so many free ways to be prepared and I also didn't realise how unprepared I was!. I will be making the effort to do at least one thing a week towards being prepared.. A lot of the things you mention are easy enough to do Annabel. I am more confident about the whole preparedness thing now I have read this post Annabel, thank you so much for doing this series this year, it really is a great topic. I hope everyone has a great week .Love Barb W

    1. Dear Barb,
      A lot of things make life much easier even in ordinary times they are good to have like copies of numbers you need etc. I am glad if you can tackle some as the weeks go on. I have found out I need to write down more than I thought too as I think I will remember everything then the other day I went to type in a password and completely forgot it! oops!
      Many thanks Barb, love

  6. Thanks Annabel, a good reminder as I have my pantry stocks in with other non food emergency items.Love Maria xx

  7. I'm not a hoarder, but I do think it's silly and financially unwise to rid your home of extras just because of a new fad. I think minimalism will go the way of other trends. For a while I wondered if it was me, but it's good to hear the voice of reason and know it's better to be safe than sorry and have provisions tucked aside. Thank you! Donna

    1. Dear Donna,
      Thank you! Well I felt the odd one out since I would see beautiful pictures of empty pantries and linen cupboards etc but I would think what if someone is sick and you only have one set of linen? What then? What if you have an uncluttered pantry and then cant go to the store for a week or more? etc. It seems weird to me to have no back up plan. It defies common sense. I like clean and tidy etc but I like a back up plan! thanks Donna, love

  8. What a great reminder that we can make some preparations without the excuse of having too little money to prepare!! There are always ways to become more self reliant and prepared for any emergency!

  9. Annabel,
    Excellent! Coupons and samples can yield some free supplies also. Getting ahead preparedness wise even just in a few areas can take us a long way in an emergency. Information is another free thing to take advantage of even if you can't afford something now having a good stash of information can help later. To each his own, but just as people think I'm crazy I think minimalists are nuts! Ooops! Pardon me!

  10. I have been thinking about ways to be better prepared. I used to think I was well ahead on this, then Bluey got sick. Without him I was left floundering. I wasn't drowning but I wasn't far off it. This event was a kick in the butt but one I am now using to my households benefit.
    So with all of my rethinking preparedness strategies, the first thing I did was visit my emergency box. I found in there my plan but found it no longer was a working plan for us. I have since gone to our state Govt preparedness site and have gone through what we have, what we need and what we need to do. Getting a list is a mental effort not a financial one.
    I want to increase my skills in making do and mending. For this I am going to visit the Library to study what other skills I can develop. Yes I have the internet but this is a cost and I am looking at free preparedness strategies. The Library is also air conditioned and lovely and cool. Yep that is going to be me in the cool learning new skills.
    I plan on getting my tricycle all serviced and ready to use if needed. I have a flat tyre that needs a patch and I was waiting for Bluey to do this. I am going to learn to do this for myself. A bike is going to be a wonderful way to get around if fuel becomes difficult to obtain. My trike has a large basket on the back so will be able to be used to transport bits and bobs. At the moment it has a cushion in it for our little old dog to get about in.
    So this week I plan on mending and servicing my trike and visiting the local Library for some skills development.
    I was thinking about minimalists and thinking about how I feel about them. As I did this my eyes wandered over a cabinet. On top of this I have things. Shock and horror for a minimalist. My things are a beautiful candelabra, and two vintage and fully operational oil lamps. Beautiful objects that have a practical use. Nope I wouldn't be a minimalist for all the world.
    Life is good.

    1. Dear Jane,
      I like what you said about "beautiful objects that have a practical use." I love this way of decorating. Oil lamps, candles, linens, etc. all look nice but are ready to use if need be. I have a collection of enamel coffee pots and kettles in different sizes and colors on one of my shelves. And we all know glass jars have hundreds of uses, both pretty and practical!
      Love, Kelsey

  11. Hi Annabel and ladies,
    great ideas on preparedness and my first thought was oh extra will be needed for the animals so next week instead of buying enough for just the week I think we will keep them up to 3 weeks ahead on their feed and treats. My lovely Dad god bless him, once said to me it costs the same amount for an half tank of petrol so why not keep it at half and above/?? light bulb moment for me and I have done it ever since when it gets to half I try to fill up and its usually when the prices are lower.
    long life milk is now purchased when we shop to go on the shelf for emergencies we started just adding one a week in October and will now start to rotate them monthly watching the use by dates - and the idea of the lists of numbers, I think I'll do two lists on for us and one sealed in an envelope at either Mums or my BFFs or in my desk at work. just in case for a "worst case scenario" its better to have one offsite.
    off now to check the supplies and start the lists.
    thanks again everyone for the ideas and getting my "Grey Matter" moving. Love Bevo xx

  12. Dear Annabel,

    This is a really good post, with some great tips.

    One can never be too prepared. The other day when the storm was due to hit, Phil went out and bought fuel for our generators. It turned out that we didn't need it but the fuel can still be used in our cars so it is not wasted. Remembering that fuel doesn't keep forever, it needs to be used :)

    Our lights are solar run, but we also have LED lights and lamps we can use for lighting. We also have rain water in storage.

    Wishing you a lovely week,


  13. Thank you for the list, Annabel - and, as this is my first time commenting after following for a while, and reading through your archives, thank you for the blog and all the time and effort you've put into it over the years, and into nurturing the community. Like many others have said in the past, I have no like minded friends nearby, so the support and fellowship of other women with a similar mindset is priceless to me.

    Just a small note of caution, if I may - as most of us reading here are women whose mission at this season in their lives is to nurture, grow roots and grow provisions and preparedness, it can be easy to forget that other people might be listening to a different call. There was a time in my life when I was prompted to travel light, and I was too scared to listen, and that didn't end too well! I learnt a lot from that experience, not least of which to listen when I'm spoken to ;o) The problem is when people follow trends just because they are trends, when they are not actually meant for them. The version of minimalism laid out in certain popular books aimed at young, single people that have fallen into a destructive cycle of mindless consumption, is not the version that will work for me - but I can still learn from it if I strip away the context and apply the principle.

    So, because I don't live in an overcrowded city with horrendously expensive real estate,but in a reasonably spacious house in the countryside, storing 80 rolls of loo paper bought on special is not madness for me, because they do not take up half my living space. In fact, not doing so would be rather foolish, seeing as any shopping trip requires a drive, therefore costing time and money.

    Incidentally, I am told by a Japanese friend that Marie Kondo's famous (or perhaps infamous) "spark joy" phrase is actually a mistranslationS, and that the original is closer to "resonate with". So my potato peeler may not spark joy... But if my family eats potatos, it will very much resonate with me when I come to prepare a dish of mashed potatoes!

    Ultimately, I believe that minimalism, at its core, is simply about getting rid of what doesn't matter to make room for what does. To some people that will mean getting rid of loo roll in order to gain space for uncrowded thought and spiritual growth. To others, getting rid of unworn clothing and outgrown children's toys in order to make room for books and music. And someone might send the books that languish unread and DVDs unwatched into the world to make room for a deeper pantry. None of these actions are wrong in themselves, but every one of them could be wrong if you are doing them just because everyone else is, not because they are right for you.

    There is also nothing wrong in surrounding yourself with things you love. I, for instance, love a well-stocked pantry :oD It only becomes wrong when you take someone else's word on what that is. Like filling shelves with books when you are not a reader, or collecting classical music when all you listen to is musical soundtracks. As for not loving your winter coat - yeah, just throwing it out and then shivering is silly. Accepting it's wrong for you and looking out for a replacement is wise. Then, when you've found one that is right for you, let the old one go, it might be an answer to someone else's prayer.

    To me, reading your blog will always be on the list of things that matter. Keep calm and carry on nesting, and making life meaningful...And beautiful!

    1. Dear Allegra, Thank you for your comment. Years ago I was moving house and I had a big garage sale and got rid of many things I once liked. I had a lot of knick knacks and ornaments and I basically got rid of them all. I still basically do not have ornaments. I like to have things that are beautiful and functional and I don't like clutter. It makes me anxious!
      So I surround myself with flowers and things I just love and I also like light... I don't like rooms to be dark or dim. I could go on and on lol
      So I understand what you are saying. But there seems to be an extension of the concept to getting rid of your pantry supplies, linen, and everything that having backs ups of is sensible. I think it could leave people very vulnerable indeed.
      I also believe in passing on things to others that we cannot use as it will bless them.
      So there is the sensible and the mad. We have to be wise about which is which! Then we can have a home that is lovely to us and take care of everyone as well.
      Thank you for the interesting discussion! With love

  14. Dear Annabel,
    I think I am going to start a preparedness binder and fill it with many of the things you mentioned. I can also use this for supply inventory.
    I agree with you about minimalism. It's a trap. The pictures we see look so appealing, but in reality, it's just not practical. I think all of the ladies here have experiences to share in which being prepared has seen them through difficult times. I know when my husband lost his job, having a well stocked pantry meant we didn't buy groceries for three months. He even thanked me for this. It does pay off.
    There are lots of good ideas here that I will need to write down. One thing to add is that you can't garden without seeds! Seeds are very inexpensive and only cost a few cents, and if you can save your own, they are free. Another thing is to have a seed sowing chart for your area that tells you when to plant different things. Our local nursery offers these for free.
    With a baby on the way, this adds a new dimension to preparedness. I will need to start planning good things to stock up on and have on hand. I can already think of things like cloth diapers, back up formula, a baby food mill, medications etc. This is a new area for me so any advice is very welcome!
    Annabel, what a lovely community you have created, where each blog post is like a conversation with friends. Thank you!
    With love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey,
      I remember when you went through that time and how much your pantry helped! That was wonderful. I totally understand what you are saying about how a baby totally changes your priorities and ideas about preparation. I feel the same now with Grandchildren. I think of them in all my preparations and when formula was in questionable supply I keep spare here at all times. You really have to plan ahead in a whole new way. It is very motivating that is for sure! Thank you for your tips they are excellent! With love

    2. Dear Kelsey, So nice to see your comments again!! I'm happy you are feeling better! A baby puts a new "spin" on preparedness, and I know you will do an excellent job preparing! Hugs, Teri

  15. Annabel, I agree with you whole-heartedly, and will add to tell your children, as soon as they are old enough, where certain things are kept and how to use them. While you're learning to shut off the water in case of a leak, teach the teenagers the same thing. Make sure they can operate the fire extinguisher. Be sure daughters as well as sons can handle some basics with the automobile and if they drive themselves to work or school, have bottled water, a blanket, or whatever supplies might be needed in the car in case they have engine trouble and must wait for help to arrive.
    (Can you tell I have a daughter who is just starting to drive...?)
    Blessings, Leigh

  16. Dear Annabel,
    I forgot to mention having a plan of escape, in case someone needs to evacuate their home! Not just weather evacuation, but if your house catches fire or someone breaks in, having a plan can save your life. I know this is not something we like to think about, but it is so important. I know everyone has different ideas about how to handle home invasion, for example. If self defense is your plan, know where your "tools" are and how to use them. If that is not possible or you don't like that method, think about what you would do if someone came in your front door. Perhaps you would sneak out the back door and run to your neighbor's house to call the police. Whatever you decide to do, have a plan!
    Along the same lines, think about how you would escape in case of fire. Make sure you and your family know fire safety, ie. don't throw water on an electrical fire, be sure your children don't hide under the bed if they see smoke, etc. Make sure you have a plan for getting every member out of the house, and that every single person knows what to do and where to go. This is free and it can save your life. These types of emergencies require a person to act fast, but you can be prepared if you have a plan!
    Love, Kelsey

    1. Following on from Kelsey's comment, have a plan to regularly check your fire alarms. Checking them regularly costs nothing and may save lives.

    2. Also be aware that if they go off, even in the dead of night people will ignore them.

      We have had faulty ones going off in the wee hours of the morning and even though we live in an area where there is no sound at night no one popped their heads out of the door to see what was going on.


    3. Yes Kelsy this is so important. I was not allowed to drive until I could change a tire. My daughter carries a devise to break out the window in her car after all the flooding.Our car has ER supplies. I would like to add small stuff animals for children in case of any disaster.We have the basics but it would be nice to help the little ones. We were in a
      rural area.We are now in a city. We have fire extinguisher up and down stairs. An emergency chain ladder upstairs in case of fire.
      So many good ideas.

  17. Dear Annabel,
    Lots of great tips from everyone. Usually in the summer I do more food dehydrating than canning so keeping a good supply of liquids to rehydrate the food is tops on my list.

    I'd like to add an item to the list as sometimes being outside to cook is not going to be doable. This can be made totally free with items you probably already have on hand. It's a good upcycling or recycling project, and very simple to make. You will need an empty tuna or cat food can, old crayons or candle stubs or candlesor even if you want you can purchase blocks of paraffin, a brown shipping box, scissors, and either a 3 lb. coffee can or a #10 can, a beer can opener and something that will cut through tin. It's called a Buddy-Burner stove, and if you've had any affiliation with scouting you've probably made one. Rather than describing the construction myself if you're interested in an alternate source of cooking and doing it indoors as well as outdoors, check out this link There's also info on youtube. I always have the heat source made up and store them instead of keeping Sterno. As you'll see on the link you can even create a small oven and control the heat. Food and water can be heated as well as using the top of the 3 lb. coffee can directly to cook eggs or burgers, etc.

    Wishing everyone a beautiful week. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie, Thanks for this. I have seen little emergency stoves like what you are talking about. I think the scouts and outdoor/camping stores have amazing things that are really brilliant in an emergency and the skills to make up something like this are really clever. Being able to cook and heat water are so important! Thanks for this! With love

  18. I am smiling about the comments about minimalism, as I actually love the concept. I think the original idea of minimalism was for us to take a closer look at our buying and spending habits, and how the constant bombardment of advertising effects our actions. It is more of a wake up call for us to question whether or not we need to purchase each new gadget, item of clothing, updated electronic, latest model car, larger home, etc. You can view it as 'want vs need'. We can make a choice as to purchase a new purse for example, or use that money to stock up on some food or needed supplies. Minimalism's purpose is also to question the usefulness of what we already have in our homes, and that will be different for everyone. The concept of minimalism has opened my eyes as to why I was motivated to buy what I bought. Did I purchase the item because of clever advertising and momentary feelings of boredom? It's all about choices in our lives---what choices do we want to make and should make that will ultimately improve our lives and help our family. Yes, there are a few fallacies when it comes to minimalism--such as the '20-20 rule'--that you can purchase anything you absolutely need within a 20 mile radius with $20. Not true! And it will be especially untrue during an emergency! We have the power to choose for ourselves our own personal comfort level when it comes to minimalism. I choose to have a full pantry and be prepared in other areas, but at the same time, I also choose to rid my home of items I do not need, are not useful, nor do I want them. I am not offended about the anti-minimalism comments, I just wanted to show a different side of the coin... Minimalism has been a paradigm shift in my life--I am working towards ridding myself of useless objects in my home and life--which in turn gives me more breathing room, less stress, more focus, and plenty of energy to give towards making preparations!

    1. Dear Joy, Yes I see the flip side of the coin. Getting rid of unneeded and useless stuff made room for more important things. I choose not to have anything in my home that I don't like and isn't useful and I hate clutter and mess. I also love beautiful things so I am sort of choosy what I have around me and what I don't as I feel it has an impact on how I feel. Also I don't keep things that I feel have bad memories etc. But what I am saying here is that the idea of purging things that would leave the cupboard bare in an emergency and the family vulnerable are not good and these ideas seem to have gained popularity... maybe as a more extreme concept that the original. I think I noticed this trend more recently too maybe the last year?
      The ultimate combination would be to turn unless clutter into assists via a garage sale or something like that. We have to be choosey and the smaller our home the more choosy we need to be as well probably.
      Interesting conversation thank you! Love

  19. Dear Annabel,

    Thank you for all of the good ideas you provided and those in the comments.

    A couple things I would add are having a list of any medications each family member takes, including dosages and frequency. My husband and I each carry a list in our billfolds and have another copy on the refrigerator. Remember to add medication that is only being taken for a short period of time. I ended up in the ER because of a reaction to an antibiotic part way through a 10 day dose. It was an antibiotic I had taken before with no problem.
    Not exactly preparation for a disaster, but if you make a copy of the front and back of insurance cards, credit cards,etc. you carry, you will have the information to call to cancel or get replacements.
    I keep a notebook with addresses and computer passwords. It not only helps me with not having to memorize each password, but was really helpful for my husband when I was in intensive care for a month and unable to help with bill paying and such.

    Have a good week!

  20. Hi Annabel and Bluebirds,

    Great post about becoming more prepared! We are still facing record-breaking weather for our area, and while I can drive everywhere, the sidewalks are completely impassable, so people without vehicles are homebound or reliant upon friends/family/public transportation. I would recommend stashing away some funds for public transportation as well as for maybe a taxi service (or uber). Just my 2 cents! Happy week everyone!! Teresa

    1. Dear Teresa, We have seen some images on the news and wow it looks frightening but I am not used to snow or ice at all!
      This is a really good suggestion... Thank you! I have not ever considered that sidewalks could be unusable. Much love

  21. Dear Annabel,
    Thankyou so much for this list. I need to do nearly every single thing on this list. I'm looking forward to slowly working on all this and like you said it won't cost anything to do which is great.
    You are right about too many people getting rid of too many things they may really need one day. We have recently done huge 'declutter' but it was things like all the baby toys my kids are now too old for, clothes that don't fit and general junk. I have 2 pantries full of food and a full linen cupboard. You can never have enough towels, sheets and blankets. Our decluttering also made room for preparedness things like stored water, first aid supplies etc. so it is a balance to get rid of useless things to make room for useful things.
    I think the main thing I need to work on is the points you mentioned of having everything in order and ready to use. Some of my supplies are unorganised and all over the house so really need to tidy up. Thankyou for the helpful post
    Marge xoxo

    1. Dear Marge, You have done exactly what I what have done. Passing things on to others that we don't need anymore is great and the things we can no longer use being passed on gives us room for the things we do need.
      I found a lot of room in my pantry this way. I had some odd things in there!
      I continually have to work on organisation and I think sorting is continuous and what was once useful eventually is not like as you say outgrown clothes, toys that are too young, hobbies that have passed and well many things! Stuff just comes in! You have done well and taken the sensible approach. Well done! And thank you! Love

  22. Annabel, this post is full of good practical, doable wisdom. I'm going to go down the list of things you've suggested and make sure all is in order here at our house! Love those pantry pictures!

  23. I love these ideas. I love the one of having a written copy of numbers. I have all my numbers stored in my phone. I also like the idea of having copies of your id and etc. My husband and I were just talking last week how we need to check our fire alarms and have ER items.

  24. One suggestion I can make is to make sure that everyone is conversant with how emergency numbers work - here in Australia we use 000 but when I was trying to teach my Brownies via roll play they would use numbers that they had heard on the TV.

    If you dial 000 here you may not get onto your local State emergency number -you need to be prepared that you are going to be asked a series of questions to enable you to be put onto the right service. You will be asked your address and nearest cross street - be aware that we have duplicate town names through out Australia so you need to be clear about the State.

    This is something that even children can be taught.

    Also if you have dead locks on your doors make sure that you have your keys handy. We have keyed our door locks the same so front door and back door we only need one key.

    Some people put a little hook behind the door with the key on, others have them in a certain place and it doesn't change. For older people who are on their own and may have a fall etc a lock box which can be fitted to the front of the house and needs a combination to access it is the perfect answer.

    My mother in law has one of those medi alert systems where she wears a pendant around her neck and she presses it if she needs an ambulance (ie. has a fall etc). The emergency services have the code to get into the lock box so they can gain access to the house using a set of keys from the box without her having to worry about how they are going to get in.

    If you have toddlers or older people who wander be aware that they can easily gain access to any keys that are left around, my mother insisted on putting a set of front door keys inside right beside the door. My uncle, who had taken to wandering was living there and he escaped one day - it was panic stations until they found him.

    As for smoke detectors - ours have battery back up should the power go out. We have had faulty ones and had them go off in the dead of night - no one popped their head out of the door or asked the next day if we had a problem.

    Some are so sensitive that even an insect can set them off.

    I am not a minimalist - I love good linen and there is always a use for it. Single fitted sheets make great table cloths when on a picnic or on outdoors tables. Flat sheets can become tents when draped over furniture, cut up and turned into cot sheets and the list goes on. I am often reminded of the western movies my father loved to watch and the women would lift their skirt up so high and rip the bottom of their petticoat off to stem blood flow or wipe a fevered brow.

    The pantry is one thing that I cannot go minimalist on - came in very handy when I had two sick children and I couldn't get to the shops.

    Now we live in an area that can be cut off by high waters (flood and king tides combined) I just love the fact that I do not have to go and try to find something to eat - it is all right there in my pantry.

    What I am after is a 3 wheeler like Jane - haven't seen one advertised for a number of years. We have 2 wheelers but my balance has gone and I am not comfortable using one anymore.

    Have a great week everyone


    1. Dear Lynette,
      Thank you for so many good points. You have reminded me of something I heard years ago... it was about children knowing their address. It sounds simple enough but a young teenage girl was looking after younger children and the house caught fire. She did the right thing and called the right number. However she didn't know the name of the street! They got her to go outside and look at the number on the house and to see if she could see a street sign but she couldn't. it was terrible and didn't end well. Yet you could see how it could happen. I always remembered it.
      Some things are so basic that they are overlooked. And so many things are free to do or implement! Many thanks Lynette, Love

    2. My mom had a file in a plastic case(could use a plastic bag) on the outside of her Frig. I think they called it a vile of life. It had all medications
      she was on. Allergies to medications. Her doctors names and phone numbers her er or ice contacts me and my sister. This was very helpful when the paramedics came. I thought this was a great idea. My daughter filled it out
      and it had a magnet to hold it to the frig.

    3. Patti, That is a really good tip! Thank you!

  25. Thank you everyone for your tips on free things we can do. This is quite a list now! We picked up some to implement right away.... dating our fuel for the generator and rotating it for one thanks to Tania.
    Writing the prescription list out thanks to Elaine.
    Jane made me think that a bike would be a really good idea. Thank you all!

    1. Annabel, our local Lions club put out a small booklet in a plastic pocket with magnets on the back - this is called Emergency Medical Information Book. It is about the size of the old bank books that we use to have many years ago - each individual in the house should have one. Looking at it I should be able to scan it and email it to you.

      One thing I forgot is to record any medications that you take - natural or prescribed by a GP/Specialist. Often when things happen you cannot remember all you take.


    2. I've had the same thought about having a bike, mine has a basket on the front, or a person could pull a cart of sorts to haul items. Great idea for transportation if gas pumps weren't working! We might end up going back to horse and buggy days!

  26. Very very interesting and helpful indeed.
    Thanks Lynette

  27. Dear Annabel, Such a great post and discussion! Thank you for sharing my canning picture! I will be making notes and getting many of these things done/updated. Having a pantry (even adding a few items each week-both food and non-food items)should be a way of life. I agree with you, Annabel and others, that if we have things in our home we no longer need/use, then passing them on or having a yard sale is a great way to help others plus give us space for pantry/supplies. But keeping extras-such as blankets, towels, sheets, etc. is of major importance!! More than once I have been asked if I had any extras to share with family members! We recently donated a huge bag of clothing items, all in great shape, to the woman's shelter in our "big" city. It not only helped us but we were able to help those who truly need a lift.
    I have been going through my craft supplies to start using up the things I have. I will donate those unneeded items and keep those I can use. I do have my list of things I want to make, and will have more time this year. I also have made a list of foods to bottle this year, and food gifts to make.
    Many thanks for the great ideas, Annabel and others. I have work to do!! Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri, Your pantry is wonderful and inspiring!
      I think you have the balance right. Having spares of vital things means we can help someone in need whether its food, clothes, a rug... something. Also I learned from both you and Patsy to count non food and food as pantry items and look at it quite differently now. Thank you! With love

  28. I finally got my hands on a 'goodie bag' from our local Council - this has been handed out at many of our stalls where we have been talking to the locals about our Disaster Management Group.

    I am now the proud owner of a hand crank torch/radio/telephone charger.

    The pack also included advice on how much food to store per person, storage of said food and life span of water. How long frozen goods are acceptable (under full or 1/2 full freezer conditions) and a lot of recipes for one pot cooking (most are things that we wouldn't eat due to the reliance on chilli for flavouring). Also a magnet with information on it - various entities numbers to contact including one for animals.

    This was put together following the major flooding we had in 2011 so not outdated as some information can be.


    1. That is really good Lynette. How helpful. I followed the QLD gov preparedness website and the week by week plan. It was really good and we have nothing like it here that I can find. They are way ahead there. I wonder if other QLD readers can get a pack like this? It would be excellent. Asking the local council would be the way to go I think. Thanks for mentioning this. xxx


  29. Hi Annabel and Bluebirders!!

    This has been an interesting read! The thing is that you are all intelligent, and are given the sense to suit your individual circumstances - just as people have the intelligence to drive cars and, for the most part, arrive safely at the individual destination.

    Having experienced forestry areas where mobile phone signals cannot be relied on in the best of times, my husband and I practise getting to know how each other thinks and acts in various circumstances. In this way, we manage to find each other if separated - without modern technology! Similarly, we do not wear watches outdoors, and it brings a familiarisation with getting a sense of the time by the position of the sun. One of us is actually pretty good at this! I am learning!!

    I do have a path of free preparedness tasks before me. Some include cutting up recyclable fabrics (& simmering them for sterilisation) as bandages, and keeping American Indian-style 'possible bags' - with, say, wet weather gear; CPR masks; bandages; and fire starting kit - all near the door, ready for quick use. I intend to turn ordinary clothing into waterproof clothing, and make tin cloth (being both water proof and fire retardant) bags and clothing items. I hope to complete my own homemade fire starting kit. I am learning about the properties of wild plants - particularly in terms of emergency use. I am learning to make do without money. I am knitting woollen socks for winter warmth. This is the path I am on!

    With very warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

  30. P.S. The photos from Vicky and Teri are inspiring! Good work, ladies!!


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