Preps for emergencies and daily use

We take comfort in the fact that our house has managed 96 years in this spot we’ve chosen to plant ourselves at. Especially when outside, the wind coils up like a turbo-charged hammer and we hear it roaring first through the trees to the east and south of us before it strikes our little piece of earth. The Douglas Fir trees surrounding us bow furiously away from the wind as needles and branches spin down, littering both yard and drive. Pine cones hit the mark from time to time, and we all – cats, dogs, humans and parrot – jump at their report.

We had a wicked storm in 2006, the Hanukkah Eve storm, which was our first year here and initiation to the ferocious weather that can spin out of typhoon remnants in the Pacific ocean. Power was out for nearly a week, but thanks to a kind neighbor and a generator on loan, we made it through in relative comfort.

The second week of this October 2016 had another storm bearing down from the remnants of Typhoon Songda and even though the weekend was supposed to be the worst, Friday the 14th is when it hit us hardest. The power went out sometime after noon that day and we expected it to stay down good a while, especially with another round of wind to follow Saturday.

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Image: NOAA/NASA

Needless to say over the years we’ve found a few inexpensive hacks that add some comfort during these tempests. Even if your preps budget is slim, there are some very simple items can be practical and lift spirits when it’s dark, dreary and your power is out for who knows how long.

One of our favorite finds was  the Eneloops rechargeable battery kit from Costco.  We just make sure we have ample pre-charged batteries from it when we hear the storm is on the way. These are useful for flashlights, radios, or whatever devices you may have in your home.

The Eneloops work great for one of my favorite inexpensive light sources, which is battery LED light strings with timers. You can get them a number of places, but we found a good selection at our local Michaels store. Also if your a procrastinator, a craft store isn’t generally being overrun by last minute panic buyers for prep items. I decided to grab a couple more strings on storm eve this last event, and found it was cricket noises at Michaels, while other stores with more typical prep items were packed with shoppers.

My favorite find this last visit was a tiny wire string of little stars that we placed around the bathroom mirror, and set to come on via timer in the afternoon. After the designated time they shut off, but while on, provide cheery illumination with minimal power use. We also have a brighter string for use in our chicken coop that lights up as it gets dark. Not only does it guide the chickens to their roost, it’s very handy for us two legs as well should we need to pop in the coop on these short winter days or when the power is out and we need some back up lighting.

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Another good thing to keep on hand is a set of small hand held radios for communication, especially should the storm be severe enough to take out cell service. We purchased some very basic Uniden radios for home use some years ago that still work fine today. The only thing we’ve done is replace the rechargeable battery pack. Newer models have greater range, NOAA weather alerts or other features, and prices are fairly reasonable. It’s nice to be able to quickly communicate even if just around the farmstead day to day and may be invaluable in an emergency.

Another handy Costco product was an 1100 lumen CAT brand rechargeable work light we came upon. This unit lasts up to 6 hours and can also charge peripheral devices via an outbound USB port. I’ve actually used it as an incredible handheld spotlight when checking on livestock or fence after dark. It’s a daily driver and another must have in emergencies.

We love our old fashion Dietz hurricane lanterns, but sometimes the odor, CO and fire danger make the modern rechargeable lights the better option. And when trying to act quickly in a crisis, having the quick to hand modern variety, without fumbling with matches or lighters can’t be overstated; whether it’s dealing with a Pacific hurricane or because the fence blew down and the cows are out.

Ready, even portable heat is also really awesome to have if needed. The portable Buddy heater we bought years ago has been useful in power outages as well as for heat when working in the shop. It’s even come in handy at a party when our bonfire was rained out, and we all huddled around it in the pole barn in our lawn chairs. The show must go on and it’s awesome to be able to ensure we can function no matter what comes our way.

No matter where you live, farm or apartment, on the coast or the high country, these days having things on hand for emergencies is essential, but don’t forget some things to add comfort as well.

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Keeping it local

Back in the 1990’s I once read a book called, Your Money or Your Life

Over the years, I’ve forgotten a great many of the finer details, so I’m certainly far from being a consistent follower. But a few things really stuck with me that I never forgot over the years after reading it.

One notion was, your money is your life energy converted into dollars. Looking at some shiny something at the mall you simply must have? Stop and calculate how many life hours that object truly costs you before you buy.

The first step in this is to figure out your true hourly wage though, taking in account the 8 hours or whatever your work a day happens to be, but then also calculating in all the other time and expenses your job truly incurs.

Do you spend 3 hours of your weekend ironing work clothes? Factor that in. Do you have to buy expensive or specialized clothing or tools for your job? Subtract that as well. Does getting to your job mean a 3 hour daily commute? Again include this in the hours spent at your job. And how about the cost of gas, parking or just commuting? Take all of this into account.

Once you have factored your other job related expenses, you may find your decent hourly wage has dwindled considerably.

Want!

This revised, often much smaller hourly amount, is what you must measure against that shiny object at the store that your reptilian brain says you cannot live without.

Let’s say what you want is a watch that costs $130.00, and your revised hourly wages with all the expense and time your job takes factored in, has gone from $18.00/hour to a sad $13.00/hour. Would you spend 10 hours of your life working so you could have that watch? Maybe the answer is a resounding, yes! I guess each individual must decide this themselves. But there have been a number of times where we have measured purchases this way and the answer became a resounding, no. It simply was not worth our life energy for some trinket or object.

This book had many other excellent concepts, and has been recently revised. Truth is I tracked it down myself at our local library and will be reading it again. I encourage others to check it out as well.

The other notion I’ve never forgotten was, “vote with your dollars”. Truth is that I can’t even remember this many years removed if it actually came from this same book. But it’s certainly not a far leap from equating the money you earn into hours of life expended, to next realizing that what you are buying is what you support or manifest on this earth with those hours. What do you want to spend the hours of your life creating, supporting, sustaining? This is what you are doing with every purchase you make, be it small or large.

Vote. With. Your. Dollars.

Our community thrives only when we support local businesses with those life energy/dollars. There is a lovely organization, Sustainable Connections that has been promoting this idea for a full decade now through their “buy local” movement.

Sustainable Connections lists the 10 reasons why we should “think local first” as:

  1. Buy Local — Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.(Click here to see summaries of a variety of economic impact studies; these include case studies showing that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base.)
  2. Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
  3. Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit.  “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust
  4. Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
  5. Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.
  6. Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.
  7. Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
  8. Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
  9. Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.  A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
  10. Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

It’s a good time to resolve to consider how much of your life you give up for the things you spend your dollars on as we approach the harried gift buying season. What exactly are you, “voting for” with your dollars. And how much does what you buy support your local community or help the people you share it with.

TL;DR

Money = your time/life energy. Where you spend that money is the businesses and behavior you sustain. This in mind you should “vote with your dollars”, and encourage those who share your vision. Start by: Thinking local first + Buying local when you can = Being a local! Protect your job, buy American made goods.