Emergency Management Stakeholders Summit
Well, I made it up to DC this morning for the conference. I had my subway preparedness kit ready to go, but we had no problems. I did get a bit lost when I got off the Metro and wandered around for about 2.5 miles before finding the hotel where the conference was. Turns out it was only about 3 blocks from the Metro station. I guess I need to add a GPS to my urban preps.
The conference was mainly oriented to municipal emergency management, but I got some things out of it that are good for personal preparedness as well. Garry Briese, a former FEMA regional administrator (that's a very ominous job title, sounds very authoritarian) talked about the five traits that make up a successful emergency manager. One that is applicable to us is "Relationships." I won't go into details about what he said about it, other than having and keeping contacts are. I'll apply that to the personal preparedness line of thought.
If you have a cellphone, Rolodex, or business card scanner, keep track of people from all walks of life. If you meet a tree trimmer, get his card. Butchers, gun shop owners, pest control operators, HVAC repair, plumbers, the list goes on. You meet these people in day-to-day life, but how often do you remember how to get a hold of them if you need them? Build relationships with them. Send them an email after you meet them. Drop into their shop periodically. Refer them to friends and ask the friend to tell them that you refered them. If you need emergency help, and other folks do too, who do you think they'll be more likely to help?
Also get to know the emergency services people in your area. If it's a small town with a 4 officer police force and a volunteer fire station, you're probably related to half of them anyhow, but if it's much bigger, it will take more effort. Take a pie or a venison tenderloin to the firehouse. Get involved in the neighborhood watch or go through the "citizen's police academy." Trust me, most will appreciate it and remember you.
Like anything else worth doing, it will take time, and might not be easy if you are shy.
The other good topic from the conference was about social media, GIS, and emergency management. I need to do a bit of research on that, but I'll have something for you tomorrow or Thursday.
I need to answer some reader comments from yesterday.
Robin asked about vacuum sealing rice in mylar, and if it will keep it safe from bugs. That's really two different questions. Regarding bugs, sealing rice (or flour, etc...) will not keep it free from bugs. All staples like that have a certain amount of bugs, larvae or eggs already in them. Yep, pretty gross, but it's there, and the food inspectors allow some in everything we eat. We need to kill whatever is in it. I know of four ways that don't use poison. First - oxygen absorbers. I've never used them, but plan to soon. You need to be sure you use ones that are large enough for the container (needs to be air tight) you're using, and that they have not been compromised and rendered ineffective. Second - dry ice. Usually used with mylar bags. Put a small piece in the top, wait for it to dissapate, which indicates that it has displaced the oxygen and replaced it with carbon dioxide, and seal the bag. It's kind of a pain, and it's hard to keep dry ice to use, so you need to do a bunch at one time. You also need to use caution to be sure you don't let it stick to your skin. Third - diametaceous earth. This is a powdered natural substance that you mix into your food. It doesn't poison the bugs, it scrapes their skin and then gets inside and drys them out. I've used it successfully in 5 gallon buckets where I could really get in there and stir it together. In smaller containers, it might be harder to do. Finally, there is freezing. Before repackaging, put the food in the freezer for 5 or 6 days. That will kill anything inside. Then, package however you wish.
Regarding vacuum sealing rice, I don't think you'll be satisfied long term. I love my vacuum sealer, and am actually on my second one. But it works best with larger foods where the bags can mold around them. Rice, pasta, macaroni and similar foods tend to move around in the bags and prevent a true vacuum. They can even puncture the bag if they are moved around. If you are rotating and doing "eat what you store, store what you eat," then you really don't need to do a whole lot of prep work on these staples. They'll last just fine for a year or more of shelf life, and the most basic of storage efforts can really prolong that. My frozen plastic bottles of rice ought to be good for a couple of years, but I expect to eat them and constantly replenish. If you want long term, say 5+ years of storage life, I'd suggest either buying it from one of the major manufacturers (like Thrive), pay a visit to the local LDS cannery (I'm hoping to go this summer and I'll write about it), or use food grade 5 gallon buckets, heat sealed mylar bags, and dry ice or O2 absorbers.
Robin also let me know that she is an independent Thrive consultant. Thrive is unique in that they have a system of home sellers with parties and great deals for party hosts similar to Mary Kay, Amway, and others. I'm not sure what part of the country she is in, but check out her blog at http://www.str1ve-2-thr1ve.blogspot.com/ and see if she might be able to help you and your family. Thrive consultants usually have the best prices on the Shelf Reliance line.
Anonymous sent the correct link to the Lowe's chicken coop designs: www.lowescreativeideas.com/idea-library/projects/Fowl_Play_0511.aspx
RiverRider: wow, a 30 gallon barrel of rice and bugs? I can imagine how frustrating that was, and thank goodness you didn't need it for something major. That's a great reminder of the benefits of using smaller containers. It's easier to move, and if some goes bad, you won't lose it all.
Thanks to all of you for joining in the conversation!