In case you hadn't noticed... we are now dealing with a global pandemic of COVID-19. As countries are gradually closing boarders and restricting gatherings, the magnitude of the situation seems to be affecting people in different ways. Here are some actions you can take if you are not a prepper.
I have been watching the behaviour of people around me and...
I think there are three groups
1. people who are prepared (preppers) - these people don't need to panic buy
2. people who are not prepared but are now panicking (and buying all the toilet paper)
3. people who are not prepared and don't care (the fact that group 3 exists at all does amaze me, but I know several people in this group!)
Personally I fall between 1 and 2. Pete and I have been prepping, but our main concern has been floods and fires. I honestly hadn't thought to prepare for a pandemic. Our focus has been on having electricity, food and water to last a couple of months, and an evacuation plan. I have written more here about our plans. And generally why we are sort of prepping here.
If you've spent any time watching Doomsday Preppers, you will know that every real prepper has their "pet" disaster that they are planning for, whether is a coronal mass ejection or a zombie apocalypse. Fortunately, some amount of prepping is better than nothing, and there is plenty of overlap.
The pandemic situation is a little different to the disasters that we were prepping for, as there is more time to plan (it has been increasing gradually) and we are more likely to need to stay isolated than to evacuate. We will likely need more medical supplies than we currently have. And the whole thing could go on longer than we expected.
Unlike a sudden disaster, in this case, there is still some time for people in Group 2 to get their shit together. OK you might have left it too late to stock up on food or toilet paper right now, but here are some ideas.
Actions you can still work on
1. get yourself some cash - not as critical as other disasters that result in loss of power, but it could still be an issue (whether its the banks or the power system) and you have time to organise this, so make sure you have at least $1000 in cash stashed away in case you need it.
2. stock up on fuel - in a crisis it can be difficult to get fuel, again, this is not so critical right now, but things are changing quickly. Fill up your vehicles, your machinery and your jerry cans now, just in case. Considering we are coming into winter in Australia, if you have a woodstove, order firewood early if possible.
3. plan for food restocking - ok its tricky to bulk buy right now, but when supplies get back to normal (or at least better than they are now), start gradually increasing your pantry supplies. As usual, I was shocked by the misguided panic buying! Toilet paper is not a staple! Neither is coffee, milk (unless you have a young child), bread or baked beans. What you are actually going to need to survive: tinned/dried beans, meat and vegetables. Make a list and prioritise what you need now.
4. plan for food growing - what a great time to start a garden! Unfortunately a few people are already on to this idea and you might find it difficult to BUY seeds, however if you ask around and pool resources you may find you can work together as a community (while keeping a social distance), doesn't everyone have a few old packets of seed in the cupboard? Consider whether you can keep any animals or help someone who has animals in exchange for meat/eggs.
5. plan for food storage - what is holding you back from storing more food? is it pantry space? freezer space? a dehydrator? What could you save up/buy now that could help you store more food?
6. learn new skills - what do you need to learn to help you survive? You can see right now what you can't buy, is it something you could learn to make/grow/build? Especially if you are self-isolating, what a great time to read a book or do an online course!
Are we prepared?
While we have done a fair bit of work towards our food, water and energy plans, I still feel like we are not as prepared as we should be. I would have liked to have our solar panels organised by now (I was waiting for a particular inverter that will only be available in April 2020 - and now probably later than that). I've only just restarted our vege garden, so its not as productive as I'd like and I'm not growing as many herbs as previously (might be needed if medical supplies are short). Our food forest is completely immature and won't produce much for a few years.
We have plenty of meat in the freezer. We are not milking the house cows, but they have calves and we could milk them. We have got out of the habit of hatching our own chickens and our current flock of eight hens is old and stopping laying for the winter, so we will be trying to buy a few more as soon as possible.
When all the panic buying started I dropped into the supermarket and got some painkillers, disinfectant and batteries (and chocolate). We have plenty of water and firewood... and toilet paper.
I probably know enough to know what we need and be worried about what we don't have, but also enough to get us by for a while. We're definitely better off than those people who don't even know there is a problem and think that "the government" or someone else is going to look after them.
Are you prepared?
I don't want to make any of the panic preps worse than they are already, but it is not too late to plan and take a targeted approach over the next few weeks to put yourself in a better position. The best thing you can do right now is get to know your neighbours and find out what resources you can pool to help all of you through this pandemic.
Are you prepared? What have I missed?
Those links again: