Thursday 04/01/18

Prepping is a subject that gets more than its fair share of bad press; for no other reason than the pursuit of ratings (for “reality” television shows). Unfortunately, mainstream media has portrayed preppers as gun-toting lunatics with fortified mountain retreats, eagerly awaiting the next extinction-level event. The average person, not bothering to question the accuracy of such dishonest representations, accepts this depiction as gospel and shuns the topic of prepping entirely.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing mysterious or dangerous about prepping. Prepping has nothing to do with wearing military fatigues or owning a truckload of guns. In its simplest form; prepping is being prepared for future events, mundane or disastrous. Prepping can, and should, be done by everyone.

You may not think of yourself as a prepper; but in many small ways, you probably are (the fact you are reading my blog indicates you are). Do you have a First Aid kit in the house? Do you know how to perform basic First Aid? Do you keep more than one spare lightbulb, and a stash of spare batteries? What about an extra box of laundry powder? If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then congratulations, you are already on your way to becoming a prepper!

Yes, it will cost you a few dollars to gather the basic supplies you need for a basic food stash, but not as much as you think. You don’t need a cupboard full of expensive long-life food, your regular groceries will do the job. You just need to buy a few more of the things you already eat.

I prefer tinned food because it requires no preparation and can be eaten from the can without being heated-up. The food you already eat is perfect: baked beans, spaghetti, tuna, stew, beef, ham, fruit. For a basic stash, you only need enough of it to feed each person in your household for seventy-two hours. And at least two litres of bottled water, per person, per day. To keep your supply from going out of date, regularly exchange the food in your stash for the new groceries from your weekly shopping.

Most importantly, keep this extra food in a plastic tub (or in a couple of sports bags – one per person), away from your pantry. This prevents your emergency supplies from accidently being eaten, then not being replaced.

And there you have it; there’s nothing scary or difficult about prepping. A small outlay of a couple of dollars will buy a few extra groceries that will keep you and your family out of trouble during the next blackout or flood. If you know someone who could benefit from the information in tonight’s blog, please share it with them on your social media account.

Thursday 07/12/17

Summer is upon us, and so is the Bushfire season.

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I took these pictures yesterday and today after work. The bushfire is six and a half kilometres away, and on the other side of the river. Thick black smoke filled the sky, blanketing my neighbourhood with hot, teaspoon-sized debris. The fire couldn’t cross the river, but spot-fires were still a risk, as they could be started by airborne embers (especially if you don’t regularly clean the leaves from your gutters).

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Despite my distance from the fire, I was grateful I had my Bug Out Bag, and a supply of food and water ready to go if the fire somehow managed to jump the river.

Everyone needs a Bug Out Bag. Yes; even if you live in the city. You might not have to worry about bushfires, but what about other natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, pyroclastic flows, landslides, cyclones, hurricanes, or floods? In the current political climate, you also have to consider the possibility of acts of terrorism. Every single one of these situations may require you to leave your home with only a few moment's notice. You won’t have time to ‘pack a few essentials’ when you’re being herded toward your local evacuation centre.

I have covered Bug Out Bags in one of my earlier blogs; but for those of you who arrived late to the party, here’s a summary of what you’ll need:

• A backpack. You don’t need a huge, metal framed backpack. Your backpack only needs to be big enough to carry your essential equipment. A 30-litre daypack should be sufficient.
• A fixed-blade, full tang knife.
• Good quality multi-tool.
• 2 x one litre stainless steel water-bottles with a wide opening and a screw-top lid.
• Lensatic compass.
• Fire steel.
• Matches in weatherproof container.
• Chemical glow-stick.
• Signalling mirror.
• Space blanket.
• Plastic storm whistle.
• Waterproof marker pen.
• Military can opener.
• 10 metres of green para-cord.
• Small LED torch with spare batteries.
• Small bottle of hand sanitizer.
• Small bottle of sunscreen.
• Roll-on bottle of insect repellent
• Roll of duct tape.
• A floppy bucket hat. (This can be folded to fit in your pack).
• Socks x 2 pair.
• Jumper/Sweater (Lightweight).
• Protein bar/chocolate bar/trail mix; enough for three days.
• Tinned food (eg baked beans/spaghetti/tuna/processed meat); enough for three days.
• A deck of cards. (Card games can help pass the time if you are stranded).

Yes, these items are going to cost you a few dollars, and you may even resent spending the money if you never have to use your Bug Out Bag. But think of it as insurance. Aren’t you better off having insurance and not needing it; than needing it but not having it?

That’s me done for the year, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Thank you for coming back month after month to read my blog. I’ll see you all again in 2018.

Thursday 02/11/17

Travelling in your own car is convenient, because you know (if you’ve been following the advice in my previous blogs), that your vehicle has the necessary supplies to deal with any inconveniences or minor emergencies you might encounter. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for other people’s cars. Accepting a lift from a friend, family member, colleague, or a complete stranger can leave you at the fickle whim of Lady Luck.

Over the years I’ve ridden in vehicles that ranged from ‘show room empty’, through to cars that looked like the inside of a garbage truck, and everything in-between. If your trip goes smoothly, none of this will matter. Unfortunately, trips don’t always go according to plan.

However, you can tip the odds in your favour by making sure you take four simple items with you every time you travel. Not when you remember, not most of the time, every time.

What are these mystical items, and how can I acquire them’, I hear you ask.

These items are common, and you already own most, if not all of them.

  • Mobile Phone: Ok, not everyone has a mobile phone, but you could class them as an essential travel item. You don’t need the latest, greatest phone to travel. A cheap pre-paid phone will suffice. The only thing you need this phone to do is call emergency services, and the auto club (assuming the owner of the car is a member). Failing that, you can call friends or family for help. And make sure it is fully charged. I am astounded by the number of people I know that leave their house in the morning with a phone that has no more than an hour or two of battery left.
  • A bottle of water: Essential for travel, especially if you break down. Help could be many hours away. A bottle of water can help you prevent heat stroke if you are travelling during summer.
  • A packet of tissues: ‘I have a hankie. Why would I need a packet of tissues?’ you ask. You’ll thank me when you’re squatting beside the road, using the car doors as privacy screens.
  • A $20 note. Fold this up and stash it in your wallet or purse, behind some rarely used loyalty cards..... then forget you have it. If you run out of fuel in a remote location, and are lucky enough to encounter a fellow traveller with a jerry can full of petrol, or run into a farmer on a nearby property, offering to pay them for fuel is going to go a long way. They won’t completely refill your tank, but they will give you enough to get you to the nearest petrol station. Trust me, giving them $20 for a couple of litres of petrol is far better than spending several hours hiking to the nearest service station.

And there you have it; nothing mysterious or exotic to ponder. Four everyday items that will save you from a lot of grief when travelling. If you know someone who could benefit from the information in tonight’s blog, please share it with them on your social media account.