Be Prepared…but Don’t Panic!

Zombie apocalypse movies are perennially popular. Human beings love to imagine how we might survive after a global disaster.

Recent flooding and the coronavirus have prompted an interest in ‘prepping’, as in ‘prepping for disaster’. Preppers have historically been cast alongside conspiracy theorists, and American survivalists, who build bunkers, live ‘off-grid’ and are scarier than any imaginary zombie.

As flooding and extreme weather become ‘normal’ events in the UK, and every year seems to bring a new pandemic threat it’s easy to see why people feel helpless, and why ‘prepping’ becomes seductive. Should we prepare for imminent disaster?

The answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no. In this country we are fortunate that food is plentiful. However, food is supplied on a ‘just-in-time’ basis, using predictions based on the public’s past shopping habits. If everyone shops normally, supply and demand remain balanced, but if large numbers of people suddenly panic-buy more than usual to stockpile food, shelves are stripped bare pretty quickly.

It makes sense to be aware of this and to think about how we might manage if there was a temporary hiccup in our own food supply chain, perhaps because poor weather or flooding prevents us from accessing shops, or because we’re confined to our home through illness or quarantine.

It does no harm to plan how we might be more self-reliant for a week or so, and to make sure that we have a basic emergency store cupboard. I would advise against specialist emergency food packs you see advertised. They are expensive, and freeze-dried food tastes like garden mulch. A few extra tins in your weekly shop is easy for most people to achieve. Remember, in most instances you will already have food in, which can be used up first.

Useful items for an emergency store cupboard: tinned meats, tinned vegetables, tinned beans, pulses and chickpeas, tinned soups and packet soups, tinned fruit, a large bag of rice, a large bag of porridge oats, cooking oil, salt, honey, long-life milk, long-life orange juice, packs of cereal, cereal and protein bars, dried fruit. If you live in an area where flooding and therefore water contamination is likely allow 2 litres of bottled water per person per day for drinking and cooking.

A simple emergency store cupboard can be built up over a couple of months quite easily by adding a few extras into your weekly shop.

A can opener is essential. Torches, batteries, and a camping stove insure against loss of electricity, and loo roll, bleach, hand sanitiser, paracetamol, ibuprofen, plasters and disinfectant are useful health and medical items.

If you live in a flood zone, make sure your supplies are stored high up. Use a vermin-proof storage box in the coolest place possible, and every so often move items out into your regular cupboards, and replace them, to make sure that nothing goes beyond its sell-by date.

One last thing. We all have important documents filed away such as birth certificates, passports, insurance documents and house deeds. Ideally these should be stored in a fire and waterproof deed box to protect them.

A little thought and preparation goes a long way. No bunker required!