One of the things I’ve learned over the past decade is that you should always be prepared for anything, but this was not something I always knew. Growing up in a big city, I found that people relied blindly on services such as electricity and water, assuming stores would always have a continuous supply of everything and anything one could need.
Even in the ’70s, my parents did not stock up. Instead, they shopped for groceries every week, with nothing ever in reserve, because modern times meant store shelves were always stocked with imports from all over the world, almost anything you wanted. A home had electricity and heat, and no one ever thought the power might go out. Power grids and governments just handled all of that. You never talked about what might happen if it suddenly wasn’t there one day.
Now, having lived on an island, I can tell you how imperative it is to be prepared for anything. You know the saying: Plan for the worst, but hope for the best. People some have called conspiracy theorists have been warning everyone about supply chain breakdowns for nearly a year. This is kind of tongue in cheek, but when someone tells you to be prepared and that having at least a running thirty-day supply is smart, you want to listen to them. I’m not talking about hoarding, because that doesn’t help anyone. Believe it or not, there are people out there who hoard and then resell what they’ve hoarded at a ridiculous price. Remember the toilet paper shortage at the beginning of the so-called pandemic in 2020? Well, it wasn’t a shortage so much as people emptying store shelves.
Let’s get back to your necessities. What do you really need? Water is so important, and it’s a good idea to have some extra gallon jugs of water stored. Have a good thirty-day running supply of staple foods. A lot of people I know started canning again this year, and I was one of them, having learned from my grandmother. I actually spent some time this fall canning up veggies, jams, and relishes from my garden. Make sure you have candles and a secondary heat source. Just think of all those people with a woodstove or fireplace. Some of you may also have a generator, but you also need spare fuel to operate it. Think about it this way. If the power were taken out for a week and you couldn’t go to the store, what would you need? If you’re on a well, a well doesn’t operate without power. This brings me to the septic, which you need water to flush. You don’t have to go all total prepper, like the world is coming to an end, but you want to be prepared for anything uncertain as we come into winter.
It was Christmas three years ago when a big windstorm wiped out power on the islands for six days. We had no community officials or emergency personnel coming to check on us. No one even opened warming centers at the library or rec center for people who had no woodstoves to keep warm. We were on our own. What we had were our neighbors, a woodstove, a big water tank, and several five-gallon jugs of drinking water. Everything takes longer when you don’t have power, but we were well stocked, and our neighbor had prepped a decade earlier with solar panels and a rainwater collection system.
In some places, people are talking about empty shelves in the grocery stores, but if you can, buy local. Many farms around me sell produce, eggs, milk, bread, and meat. Someone in the community started a local co-op online where all the farms list their weekly food items. They deliver once a week, and there isn’t much I can’t get locally. Think back to your parents or grandparents, depending on how old you are, who may have shared stories about growing up during the Depression and how they survived. Many went hungry in the cities, but my mother was young then, and my grandparents had a farm with a garden, chickens, and turkeys. My grandfather raised pigs, and they had a cow for milk and butter. My grandmother canned everything. I remember that even after they sold the farm and moved to a small town, she still canned everything, even when she was in her eighties. She had a cold storage room with an abundance of jams, jellies, pickles, and vegetables. She even canned meat.
They bought local, and they were always prepared. At the same time, depending on where you live, it’s a good idea to look at what you would need if you had to go a week without power or a stocked grocery store where you could drive and pick up anything.
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