Artist: Evstigneev Alexis 2005
One of the surprizes of doing first the radio program, and then this blog has been the number of interested listeners from Russia. This is especially an honor for me because I spent quite a bit of time in 2001-2002 in Russia, in both the Primorskiy Krai (Far Eastern Russia) and in Moscow. I also logged a lot of frequent flyer miles with Aeroflot. I found the Russian people to be fun and very generous, and we very much enjoyed our time in Russia. Generally, the Russians are very creative, innovative people. Americans used to be taught that Russians eat things that Americans wouldn't. However, I have to tell you, I fully enjoyed the food in Russia, and I frequently cook things I learned about there,including pelmeni, about thirty types of cole slaw and cabbage salads, and Chicken Kiev. In Vladivostok, they make some of the world's most delicious pizza.
For those of you who have not been, Russia is a tremendously large and diverse place. Depending upon where you are, there is ethnic diversity, cultural diversity, and while many of us know Russia for it's cities which are cultural meccas, rural places in Russia are astoundingly beautiful and wild. Some of the most imposing forests and lakes I have ever seen were in Far Eastern Russia. Many of us know Russia as a European city, yet forget that it stretches also into Asia. Asian Russia is also breathtaking.
The Russians have taken to capitalism like a duck to water, and there are many more opportunities to prepare for disasters in Russia than there used to be, yet still there remain interesting challenges which make it different from prepping in the United States. Russians have a decided advantage over Americans in preparedness though. The collapse of the Soviet Union was in the early 1990s, and therefore everyone but children recall well what financial collapse, and going to ones job without being paid, is like. They also recall what life with a marginally functioning government was like. For this reason, they may be better able to anticipate and imagine temporary collapses than Americans might.
Most Russians still rent an apartment of some sort. There are moves afoot for people to buy homes, which really are apartments most times, but there may be limited incentives as one becomes responsible for maintenence. Also, although Moscow has an incredible luxury market, most Russians are relegated to the same types of housing they had available as tenants. Apartment dwelling therefore limits somewhat how one might prep. Russia also does not have the abundance of "Do It Yourself" stores which are found in Europe, and so procurement of supplies for the home becomes a bit more challenging. When I was there, for example, smoke detectors and GPS units were illegal, and so, two of the things we take for granted in preparation, are not AS available to the average Russian.
However, the principles of preparedness in Russia are the same. Russians need to have a plan whereby they can evacuate their homes quickly in the event of a fire. They need to have an Evacuation Kit packed and ready to go, in the event that something triggered a need to evacuate. They need to have adequate funds for the entire family to depart using public transportation because not all Russians have their own vehicle. They need to have a plan as to where they would go in an emergency. The essentials of prepping are the same wherever you are. Where you go to purchase supplies and where you gather them, will vary. Many Russian foods can be found dried or canned, and so the Russians are no strangers to advance preparation and storage of food.
In some ways the Russians have an advantage over us in preparedness. Russian made antibiotics are available over the counter there.(Narcotics are prescription) Most Russians know well that the correct complement of bacteria in our intestines is essential to how we digest food and so they are reticent to use antibiotics unless clearly necessary. They may not have access to some of the more advanced antibiotics we make in the US, but they rarely need them, since antibiotics there are so rarely used. If one takes antibiotics in Russia following a disaster, be especially careful to eat yogurt or drink kefir afterward in order to help reseed those valuable bacteria in the gut.
The other important thing is to have some Oxfam Rehydration Packets (available at most pharmacies, yes, even in Vladivostok) in your survival preps. In Russia, many people hydrate themselves and children with tea. When someone has diarrhea, tea may actually pull more fluids away in urine than it provides. Therefore for adults and children with vomiting, one should boil water, and add the directed amount of electrolytes from the rehydration packet, and drink that, in order to balance the small amounts of salt and potassium essential for heart and muscle and other functions. Other brands of rehydration packets you get from a pharmacist will be alright, and some people flavor it for children with very little orange Fanta. (Watch sugar for children with diarrhea and vomiting because it can enhance diarrhea)
I am thrilled to have our Russian friends join us on our preparedness journey here.