Survival of the prepared: ready for an emergency?

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

The recent hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico have left the people there who were totally unprepared for it in an even worse state. Five days before the Category Five hurricane hit the island, scientists were forecasting that it would be a devastating storm. 

Everyone in Puerto Rico had time to prepare for the onslaught. Even if one cannot afford to purchase bottled water, water could have been taken from the tap and stored in containers for the "just in case" moment. If someone had a bathtub, that too could be filled with water and if not used for drinking, it could be used to fill the toilet for flushing purposes. Dry staples like flour, sugar, beans, rice and pasta should have been in everyone's cupboard.

In the aftermath of a disaster, it is easy to start throwing around blame. But in the aftermath of Katrina, followed by other devastating storms that hit Texas and elsewhere, we cannot continue to put all the emphasis on government coming to save us. There has to come a time when personal responsibility has to factor in and people begin to prepare for events that are announced in advance.

We here in Chicago haven't had a natural disaster happen (other than a major snowfall which can hinder us temporarily). But if we did have one, how prepared are you should it occur? If you were give five days' notice that the event was about to happen, do you heed the warning or do you ignore it? Sadly, many of us have become so accustomed to having stores with what we need, we don't plan for the emergency situation. We pooh-pooh the warnings and then want to scream and holler that the rescue isn't taking place in our timeframe of just how fast it should happen. 

My pantry would have me eating for at least a month. I keep staples and replenish them as I use them. I'm old school, and I know that flour, water, lard (or a can of Crisco), salt and baking powder can make biscuits. There was a time that people made biscuits daily. It was a staple meal that was eaten with syrup or sausage gravy for breakfast, with fried bologna at lunch, and with whatever was made for dinner. I dislike Alaga syrup, but I know for many of the people I grew up with, that was a staple in their households. 

There are other staples, like canned broth, soups, vegetables and tomato sauce that can be combined to make a tasty meal in the event of an emergency. I am not a fan of canned meats, but canned tuna, Vienna sausages, and Spam are just some of the items that one can keep on hand in the event of a disaster. Even those darn Ramen Noodle Soups in the packages can be a lifesaver in a disaster.

 Our ancestors canned food to prepare for a time when it wasn't readily available. As technology and modern-day living has made us dependent on lifestyles that can be wiped out in a moment by a natural disaster, let's take the time to plan on how to survive without the modern-day conveniences. Learning to save ourselves can be the only way we survive in a world that is unconcerned about our well-being.

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