Monday, November 23, 2020

A Discussion of Aging Disaster Room Supplies




              I don't think that even a custom conventional canning storage system would have helped.


        I anticipated a number of the challenges we are experiencing as a nation now, and so, when we built our latest farm in about 2006, we took the time to design and have built a new disaster supply room in our newly constructed farm home.  We had the builder leave the large basement room sheetrocked, painted, but unfinished, so that we could take the time to plan, decorate, and stock the fairly large room, for its purpose, as we wanted.  Within a few weeks of having moved in, my husband placed lighting fixtures that better met our liking. He constructed solid wooden shelving systems around the room, built a locking closet for medications, placed a locking metal cabinet, etc.  This room was to be for medical supplies, long term food storage, emergency items such as sleeping bags, tents, go bags, medical evacuation kits, etcetera.   Weaponry would not be stored in this location.  For a time it had a safe which contained documents, also for evacuation.  We were well satisfied when the room was complete. Over six more months, I stocked it with all manner of emergency supplies including food. Most of it was conventional canned goods, although I did begin to stock some #10 cans of long term food supplies. The room was heated, cooled, and was an excellent quick way of locating anything from dressing materials for injuries to Apinol to steri-strips.  I maintained it with the occasional dusting, vacuuming, and we did use some of the food periodically, and then rotating such stock.  It also had a radio and communication and entertainment devices.

              In a sense, a disaster supply room is living working location. During periodic emergencies, such as hurricanes, I gave flat absorbent pads (chux), packages of gauze, gatorade and pedialyte packages to friends and neighbors, when needed. This working room did require both funding and maintenance. We realized that we were lucky to have a finished room in the house for this purpose.

              When the main barn here was built, a tack room went in, and most veterinary medications were moved to a shelving system in the tack room which was well insulated, finished, and heated in winter. This left space in the disaster supply room and it quickly filled with other supplies.  When the barn was complete, and the water was tied in from the house, my husband chose to plumb it to the house, rather than to hire a plumber.  One night, I heard the sound that is heard sometimes when someone is filling horse buckets in the barn, yet no one was. I got up to see what was going on. There were several inches of water in the finished basement of our home !   My husband had married a brass fixture with a plastic one, and at midnight, the connection in the basement had popped and fulled our tall basement with water.  Both of us and two of our sons spent the entire night, moving items from the water, sucking up water with two industrial vacuum cleaners that were wet/dry industrial vacs. We called Servpro, and asked for some guidance and they said they would be there in the morning. We lost about a thousand dollars worth of medical supplies that night. Once wet, sterile supplies must be thrown away. In the morning, Servpro arrived and removed the baseboards in the entire basement, poked holes in all the sheet rock below the baseboards, and then placed hoses that ran for hours drying the insides of walls in order to avoid mold.  Although we did speak with our homeowners carrier, we did not make a claim. Our homeowners insurance is high enough, and so we chose to pay the repairs ourselves rather than seeing a rise in our premiums.  A fifty pound bag of rice which had just been purchased to repack in buckets, had sucked up a lot of the water.  It took a considerable amount of time to repair this damage, although it was, and it was done so, immediately and attentively.  A plumber repaired the burst pipe issue.

           In 2011, our area endured a 5.8 earthquake.  We were very lucky. A neighboring county lost the high school and an elementary school. Our builder's home lost its foundation. A number of high end homes broke in half. Relatives of ours lost their home. Many area wells were destroyed. Many brick chimneys were destroyed and fell onto roofs damaging them also. There was damage to the University of Virginia, and to original buildings from Thomas Jefferson's time. There was damage to the National Cathedral and to the Lincoln Memorial in DC. Buildings were seen swaying as far away as Toronto, in Canada.  

    As I mentioned, we were lucky. An antique piece of cloisonne fell from the mantle to the hearth and was impressively dented on one side. A square plastic can of ketchup from Sam's Club, that I use to add sauce to meatloaf before cooking which had been sitting atop the frij, fell and ruptured, making the kitchen look like a crime scene. The water from the well was slightly muddy and so we had a well contractor out to survey the damage to it.  Within the kitchen pantry and the disaster supply room, it was as if cans had been thrown everywhere. Some glass containers of wine and sparkling cider had broken, and damaged other boxed food stored in the disaster supply room itself.  This time, we weren't so quick to clean it. We were busy and it was such a terrible mess. We cleaned up the wet messes, but did not reorganize as we had in the past.

      We also began to think that we needed to decentralize some of our emergency supplies. What would have happened had the house been damaged and we had not been able to gain entry for a time to our disaster supply room ?     Our focus then shifted to building another exterior building for emergency supplies that could be accessed after an emergency. We decided to have three abbreviated caches of supplies, rather than one very complete, but vulnerable, disaster supply room.  It took time, but we did this. Now, the time we have to spend, clean and rotate stock in the disaster supply room is fragmented.

       In the winter of 2015, I shrieked while in the disaster supply room. A mouse ran over my foot as I went to check for a six pack box of mandarin oranges from a shelf.  I hate mice !   My husband set traps immediately, and we believed we had averted a disaster.  Later that Spring, we found they had taken an entire package of cotton balls and used them for nesting. By 2016, the mice were gone, but we were about to find out why.......     I encountered a snake in the disaster supply room !   I ran from the room and didn't enter it for another month.  Cleaning and rotating supplies were left to my husband, as was the removal of the snake.

     By 2018, the small refrigerator we keep in the disaster supply room stopped working. We lost some prescription animal mediation,  and some insulin we were storing for emergencies for a family member.

We replaced it, and noticed that the floor in the room was curling as a probable result of our flood. 

      In 2019,  I went into the disaster supply room to get a shoulder splint for a friend, and I noticed that a couple of cans of pineapple had exploded !  What a terrible mess!  I generally don't buy Chinese canned goods, but these cans had seemed more solid than usual, and so I took the chance. About twelve cans squirted with juice, now black, had to be thrown away.  The wooden shelving was badly stained, and I was unsure as to how to completely clean it. Bleach and water did not clean it to its original condition.

    In 2020, it is time for a complete clean out and organization of the disaster supply room.  A great deal is expired, or hasn't aged as well as we'd hoped, even in a heated and cooled area.  It has been a terrible and protracted set of tasks.

      Here are some things I have learned that might help you.

1.    Unless you are regularly using them, limit the use of conventional canned foods. Although my parents used to keep many canned foods for ten years without any difficulties, the cans of today and much thinner, and are canned with less care. No less that seven to ten of our cans have leaked or exploded, making a terrible mess on the shelf or the cabinet in which they had been stored.  Keep canned foods in your regular pantry, and use them promptly.  For longer term storage, consider #10 freeze dried or some dehydrated cans. Store them in heated and cooled areas to ensure their lifespan.

2. I know that some faiths and families store seven years worth of food, and I think that inadvertently, I may have.  I am rethinking this amount.  I no longer have a large family living within our home. Half of our kids have left home, and two have their own homes and their own food storage. Be sure to adjust downward your stock as your family situation changes.

3. Make a schedule and maintain your disaster supply room.  It can't help you if you don't remember what is contained there.  It also might be wise to have mouse traps or devices to repel mice all the time, not just when you think there could be a problem.  Rotate your stock.

4. Consider rather than having one very large disaster supply room, placing medical supplies in one place, and long term food storage in another. Separating your stores might help to ensure that if one area is damaged or contaminated for some reason, that your other supplies remain pristine.

5. Emergencies will happen of one type or another as you move throughout life. Be flexible. Understand that some of your food may well be wasted due to one circumstance or another.

6. Interestingly, our medical supplies aged as expected.  Perhaps I was more attentive to rotation and discarding such supplies when needed.

#DisasterSupplyRoom    #DisasterSupplyRoomChallenges    #EmergencyFoodStores




Saturday, November 7, 2020

On Broad Failings and on Electoral Dysfunction

                I am declining from making any specific comments with regard to the recent and as yet incomplete attempts at a US election, and the egregious role the media has played in it.  Instead, I would like to direct your attention to the comments of my friend, an attorney, Michael Snyder.  I believe he can express most of my feelings in a reasoned manner.

May God help us all.

In addition, this is official information: