Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just In Case

Just In Case: How to be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens. Kathy Harrison. Highly Recommended.

I happened upon this book in the 'New Release' section of the library, and it seemed to good to pass up. September is National Preparedness Month, you know.

Many of the self-sufficiency books I have reviewed describe a lifestyle that is not practical for the ordinary citizen in the 21st century. For better or worse, most people are not going to leave the suburbs and set up a 5 acre homestead where they can provide nearly everything they need. Unfortunately, for those of us remaining in the city and 'burbs, unexpected events could disrupt the fragile web of support that we currently enjoy.

Obviously, we can all name big events that have affected large segments of the population: 9-11, Katrina, California's earthquakes & wildfires, etc. Even smaller localized events, like floods, thunderstorms and heavy snow can leave people to survive for several days without power, heat and/or shelter. Would you be ready for a 3 day outage? How about 3 weeks? It would seem that the network of modernity on which we rely is only becoming more fragile; and large natural disasters, terrorism, or pandemics could easily affect large portions of our nation in the future.

As I read the opening chapter, I quickly realized that I was fairly unprepared for any type of outage of basic service. As I read on, however, the author presented information that will help anyone get ready - just in case.

The first section lays out the author's OAR system for staying prepared. Organize, Acquire and Rotate are each integral tenets to ensuring everything is ready in a time of crisis. The book has many tips for maintaining efficiency in each of these categories.

Organize - It hardly matters if you have everything, if you cannot quickly locate it
Acquire - There are most likely several necessary items that you currently are without
Rotate - All food has a limited life, rotate canned goods into normal meals to maintain freshness

Part Two covers Preparedness, which consists of putting the OAR system into practice. Getting yourself, home, kids, pets and car prepared are all examined.

Part Three is titled Dealing With Disaster. Specific scenarios are studied, along with custom tailored advice on how to best prepare and survive. Everything from power loss to the pandemic flu are featured. (According to the author, Michael Jackson-type surgical masks are of little use)

Part Four is a foray into the arts of self-sufficiency. I did not see anything that struck me as novel in this section, except for perhaps recipes that feature "stored" food. The author recommended several other books for more reading, such as the Ball: Blue Book of Food Preservation.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. It provides easy to use advice that can be tailored to your specific situation. No one is immune from disaster, a few easy steps ahead of time could mean the difference between a slight inconvenience or major disruption...and perhaps even life and death.

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