02 December 2013

How Long Could You Survive?

Over on the Greening of Gavin blog there is a post called "Can you survive 72 hours on your own?" (and if you don't read Gavin's blog, it's worth having a look - his journey to sustainable living 6 years ago is very much like our journey to frugal living 19 years ago).

And that had me wondering: how long could you survive?

Having lived through a disaster, as well as under threat of being cut off by flood and having to rely on tank water, I aim to be prepared for whatever the future throws at us.

My pantry is stocked with up to twelve months of some staples (canned goods, cleaning supplies, toiletries) and up to six month of others. I buy them once a year between Christmas and New Year - the kids dread it because it's a huge shopping day.

I'm moving away from freezing fruit and veg and bottling or drying more simply because if the power goes out for longer than 3 - 4 days full freezers are an issue. I'd open them once, take out what we needed for the 72 hours and then close them tight, and wrap them in as many blankets and doonas as I could to keep them insulated.

I keep a six month supply of beans/lentils/flours/ that would fill the protein gap if the freezers full of meat, poultry and fish failed.

We also have a good supply of water on hand at all times - the suggested minimum is 10 litres per person per day, extreme rationing is 5 litres per person per day. It can be done - we "budget" the 5L/pp when we are camping/travelling - you quickly learn to not waste a drop.

We've built a solar cooker (I've put pictures and instructions in the January 2014 Journal - I know it's a few weeks off but with Christmas and the silly season I'm working ahead) and have the gas bbq and the gas camp stoves and bottles to fit. Also a good wood pile and the combustion heater/stove for heat, hot water and cooking if required.

I know how to use the camp oven for bread, cakes, dampers, stews, roasts, soups so I could prepare meals over a fire or on the barbecue or wood heater.  I also have a lot of kitchen utensils that rely solely on manual labour: an old fashioned grater, an egg beater (it was my mother's and is older than me - a genuine vintage item), whisks, good knives, strainers, wooden spoons, a Quick Shake, a bamboo steamer and a V-Slicer. Even my Fowlers Vacola is a stovetop model - no electricity required.

Straw broom, carpet sweeper (it was Mum's too), mop and bucket take care of the floors.

We'd drag out the solar shower for baths/showers and recycle the water (cleanest person first, dirtiest person last).

Washing is covered with our camp washer - a bucket with a lid. I fill it with water, add a teaspoon of washing powder, drop in the clothes, put the lid on and give it a few shakes. Let it soak for a half hour or so,  a few more shakes and it's time to rinse (same process with clean water). To "spin" the clothes I wrap them in a towel and twist the ends. You'd be surprised just how much excess water this gets out of them, they're almost dry when they come out. Shake and hang on the line to dry.

We all have bikes to ride - no need to use the car and waste fuel if it's scarce.

So we'd survive, and probably better than many of our neighbours, if we were stranded. 72 hours would be like a long weekend camping for us.

How would you survive? Would you have enough water? Could you prepare three meals a day for yourself and your family? Would you be able to keep your frozen food frozen? Is your garden big enough to feed you for a few days continuously? Would you have transport? How would you cook? Heat water? Wash clothes? Flush toilets? How would the kids cope - would they be able to amuse themselves without TV, iPods, computers, mobile phones etc.?

1 comment:

  1. Currently we are living in a caravan by choice and chose a second hand van that runs completely off grid. Our fridge and lighting are 12v only and we have two nine kilogram gas bottles and can carry up three hundred litres of water and could carry food for several weeks if needed. The gas would be used for cooking and hot water. The only downside of living in a van is not being able to have a vegetable patch though this week I found a patch of tomatoes growing wild about 100 metres from where are staying.


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