Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
With all the talk these days about prepping for major events like earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, tornadoes and all the other wildness Mother Nature is throwing at us, there's something getting lost - and that's emergency planning for less dramatic occasions.
Bottom line - if you're prepping for major emergencies, you've probably got the minor ones covered, but if you haven't even started prepping yet, or all your preparation has been 'big picture', creating a level of domestic preparedness will definitely provide some peace of mind.
There are unexpected things that happen every day that at worst can be deadly (like a simple fall resulting in a serious head injury) and at minimum will put you into a stress response. And let's face it, you really don't need extra stress - we all know what it does to a body. And if you live in an isolated rural area, prepping for such events is even more important.
One recent morning, I was working happily at my home office, listening to the birds, building a new header for a client's website and updating my homesteading Facebook page. With a brilliant (or so I thought at the time) idea for a Twitter post, I headed out to the back porch to take a quick pic with my iPhone, shutting the door behind me to keep the chill out. Big mistake.
Somehow - and I still haven't figured out how it happened - the door locked.
So there I was, hair still wet from a shower, iPhone in hand, and a client meeting in 35 minutes, a 10 minute drive away. No cell service, no car keys, and not a soul around. At that moment, I was wishing I wasn't so security minded and had left a spare key somewhere by the front door.
- Walk 10 minutes up the hill to cell range and call my parents' house to ask them to bring the spare key I'd left with them - then call my clients and let them know I'd be late; or
- Figure out a way to break into the house.
I chose number 2.
Luckily, we'd left an upstairs window slightly open. 'No problem, I'll just climb in there'. Great idea, except the ladder was nowhere to be found. The only thing I could find that even resembled a ladder was a wooden rack for a shelf unit. But it was ladder-like enough for my purposes.
So up it went, and up I went, and thankfully, it got me close enough to allow a toehold on a very convenient exposed square log edge and I pulled myself into the window.
Lucky. If that window had been locked, my entire day would have been thrown off schedule - a stress I didn't really need. If I'd had a key hidden somewhere on the property, it would have solved my problem before it even started.
So yes, I've now got a key hidden.
Minor Medical Emergencies
Getting locked out isn't the only minor emergency you'll have living in the country, but it's one of the easiest to deal with. Some situations are a little more complex.
Late one evening in April 2010 I had an anxiety attack. It was terrifying. Alone with my son, in a cabin in the forest with no neighbours in sight, and I felt like I was dying. If you've never experienced a panic attack, pray you never do. It's awful. At the time, I was pretty relaxed, getting close to living a life I'd been dreaming about for years, enjoying a funny movie - 'anxious' is not a word I would have used to describe myself. Far from it. But years of intense stress and three massive life changes in 18 months had apparently taken their toll.
So there I was, 10:00 at night, my 6 year old son beside me, and my whole body feels like it's either going to take off or shut down. A very frightening feeling. Not one to ask for help unless absolutely necessary (gee, do you think that might have been the lesson here?), I actually debated whether or not I should call my parents to come drive me to the hospital emergency or 'wait and see'. But I did call, and ended up spending the entire night and into the morning under observation in the emergency ward. Of course, they found nothing physically wrong. All the tests confirmed it, including the cardiac tests they did a week later. But clearly there was something amiss - I just wasn't having a coronary event.
So what's the lesson here?
- If you live alone, or with children, in a rural area, make sure you have someone you can call on should you need emergency help.
- If you have children (or livestock!), have someone lined up who can look after them at the drop of a hat should your life be thrown up in the air temporarily. You don't want to have to worry about them when you need to be focussed on yourself.
- Look after yourself! For me, it turned out the years of intense stress had depleted my adrenals, which we addressed with herbal tinctures, magnesium supplementation and some energy work. For you it might be something else, but when you live miles from the nearest town, your best treatment is prevention and self-care.
- Make sure you've got a fully stocked first aid kit on hand and at least basic emergency medical training (there are even basic first aid iPhone apps!). This will bring you big peace of mind for most minor medical emergencies - and even some major ones.
- Assess the potential minor medical emergencies that could happen around your home and make sure you've got everything you need should something happen.
- Know that depending on where you live, without land line phone service, 911 staff can have a difficult time tracking your location. Your phone provider can provide you with all the information you need to make sure you're covered.
Part of the reason I wanted to move to a rural property was so that we could be more self-sufficient, which of course includes being able to function reasonably well without electricity.
- Here are some simple ideas to help you weather a short term power outage without being too inconvenienced: have a back-up system for boiling water and cooking food. For us, it's our woodstove (for winter) and a Kelly Kettle for year-round use. For you, it may be a propane-fired campstove, or a barbeque grill. Whatever method you choose, be sure to always have an extra supply of fuel on hand.
- If your water is pumped via electric pump like ours is, you'll want to have some drinking water stored on your property. If your water is gravity fed, you're golden, but it can't hurt to have a supply of drinking water for emergency purposes.
- If you work from home, have a back-up system, a laptop and a 'bug-out' location for being able to continue making a living during a power outage. My business mentor Sandi Krakowski has run scheduled training calls under tornado warning via a back-up phone when all other systems failed. We really shouldn't let a simple power outage stop us from serving clients.
- Keep your appliances, laptops and phones charged and ready at all times. That way you'll have some juice should the power crash and you need to keep working.
- If you have medical devices that require power, clearly you need some sort of generator to keep the power flowing. Everyone living on a rural property should have a small generator for short-term use anyway, but it's particularly important for anyone with a medical condition requiring powered equipment.
So there you have it - while the nightly news talks about major emergencies, it's the minor ones that can add to our daily stress on a regular basis. By being prepared for eventualities that are possible in your neck of the woods, you'll have some peace of mind. And that's priceless these days.
Do you have any tips or advice on prepping for minor emergencies? Maybe something has happened to you that might help others in the same situation? Please share in the comments below...