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Are you prepared?

I guess there’s something about this time of year that gets me thinking about disaster preparation, because I wrote about it last year in November too.  In summer in QLD we either have hot dry weather, perfect for bushfires, or wet weather, storms and floods. Either way, we are at risk of losing power for up to a week, being isolated, or being forced to evacuate. No wonder being prepared is on my mind as we come into summer!

The most important to thing is to be aware of your risk. I grew up in New Zealand, and I was very aware of the risk of earthquake, and most people there will be prepared with food, water and supplies to survive weeks without services. We don’t have an earthquake risk here, so our needs are different. Know what could happen in your area, and when it is likely, and from there you can figure out what you might need. This also dictates whether you would need to shelter in place or evacuate, or if both are a possibility for you.  Our state has a website called "Get Ready Queensland" which explains how to prepare for the main risks in our area.  Check if your state or local council has similar information available.

Next you need to gather supplies in an “emergency kit”. The amount that you need will depend on how long you may be isolated or away from home. I have seen three day’s supply recommended, but that is really a minimum, particularly in a rural area, where help may take some time to arrive. I would think aiming for enough to last a week or two would safer. Start by stockpiling water in large bottles, and collecting non-perishable food. Remember that you may not have electricity to heat up food, so unless you have access to gas or can light a fire outside, you will need to plan to eat cold food.

A first aid kit is essential, for everyday use, not just for disasters! I have a kit in each car and one in the house. The main thing is to remember to refill as you use things out of it. I also include matches, a small torch, and a pencil and paper in our car kits. It would be a good idea if at least one person in your household has basic first aid training. Although most of it is common sense, in an emergency, it helps to have some training to help you respond appropriately.

You will also need a number of torches for the house, and know where they are. The last you thing you want when the power goes out in the middle of a storm is everyone crashing around in the dark looking for torches. Candles are a good idea too. A battery powered radio will help you keep you updated with the situation. Remember in a disaster you may not be able to use your mobile phone (and the battery won’t last long either). Speaking of batteries, make sure you have a stockpile to keep the torches and radios going.

Cash is an important item that is often overlooked and many people I know don’t carry cash at all. In a disaster, the ATM won’t work and neither will EFTPOS or Paywave. You will have to pay cash, so it will help to have some tucked away with your emergency kit, just in case. Last time our power went out and we drove in to the service station to get more fuel for the generator, I was able to pay in cash because we always have cash in my bag (its more common to use it in rural areas) and other people had to keep driving because they only had cards. Of course, it would have been better to have the fuel prepared as well, that is something we need to work on! If you had a generator or know that you may need to evacuate, keep your car topped up (don’t drive until the empty light comes on!!) and keep fuel cans full as well.

This is the absolute basics, if you have particular medication needs, young children or elderly family members, you will need to consider additional items in your kit. You may also need to consider how you would care for animals. We had to plug the incubator into the inverter on our campervan solar panels to keep it running one night when we lost power. You need to have a back-up plan for all eventualities!

Ohio Farmgirl has some really good tips on her blog, mostly around storm preparation, but that it pretty extreme and can be adapted to most other natural disasters. And there some good information on Modern Homesteading too.

So are you prepared? What are you prepared for?


  1. Very good advice. Last time we had to use our generator, it was low on fuel so we had to syphon some. Lesson learned to keep it filled up!
    Our house relies on a bore pump for water and also a rain water pump. When power goes out we have nothing. I now keep a 10litre bottle of water in our pantry - our power last went out at 6am for 3 hours. We made coffee with boiled water in a saucepan on a gas burner and toasted toast too. We live on the outskirts of a small country town so we are not that remote and not really in a bushfire area as such, although the wider area has seen horrific bushfires in the past. Lots of things to keep in mind, thank you for making us aware.

    Cheers - Joolz xx

  2. Timely reminder. We use our gas barbeque when the power goes out, and have to make sure that it is filled before the cyclone season. Last time we were cut off I saved the power in my phone by only turning it on once a day and then sending a short text to a friend who would relay that info to family overseas.

  3. Even though we don't go camping, I do keep various camping gear on hand for emergencies. I have a gas burner (auto ignition) fuelled by butane cans which can be purchased in packs of 3 at the supermarket. I have a steel kettle to use on the burner for hot water. My daughter ate a lot of instant noodles (made with boiled water) during the 2011 floods. While I wouldn't recommend instant noodles as an everyday food, they can be an energy source during emergencies.

    We got rid of all our battery powered torches and only use the wind up ones now, or a lantern fuelled by the butane cans again. I also purchased a 6 in 1 commercial battery, which has a compressor for pumping tires, ports for charging through USB and even an inverter if you need to change voltages. It can also jump start a car. I bought mine for under $200, and use it a lot in the country. Flat tires get air without having to drive to the petrol station, and a lot of people tend to forget to check their spare tyres. Not a problem if you carry around your own battery powered compressor.

    We always keep a bag of sawdust for our guinea pigs, but I always make sure I have extra, because its invaluable if you loose power and can't flush the toilet. We made a compost toilet out of a commercial sized mayonnaise bucket, and using the sawdust. Came in handy during the floods. ;)

  4. Goodness, great advice people. I feel a little unprepared. Will make sure the gas tanks for bbq are full and that we stock up on lighting. My biggest fear would be losing the power to freezers and losing food.

  5. Thanks for this, very good to know as we are about to move to queensland in a couple of weeks, it will be a whole new experience for us. In sydney we are in a bushfire zone, so that was always on our mind, but now we have to consider flood risk too. Always good to be prepared.

  6. Great information. In our community last year we had major flooding and tornados in the one weekend. Many people were living in evacuation centres for an extended period. You just never know when it will happen. I too have a post coming out this month on being prepared for storm season. My understanding is that evacuation centres won’t allow pets. So as part of an evacuation plan it is good to work out what can be done for the household's pets to keep them safe. What sort of non-perishable food do you keep in your kit? My husband and I have a gas hotplate the type you use in camping and some gas cartridges which are useful in blackouts.

  7. I did a bit of blog hopping from your link and saw something which you can buy in Oz for water storage - a water bladder. They come in a variety of sizes for different applications.

    I dont know why this topic fascinates me so. I love prepping sites.

  8. Great blog Liz, I'm about to get on my soapbox about preparing for storm and bushfire season too. I think our community is becoming less resilient as the years go by and that's a real problem in am emergency situation. As a rural firefighter, I see too closely what the affects of fire can do to people's livelihoods and lives. But as the city meets the country more and more, there is a huge lack of understanding in these newer communities.


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