Be Prepared Month: That’s a wrap (up)

Before penning the thrilling conclusion to Be Prepared Month, I’d like to say a little bit about Christchurch.

When your author flew there at the end of June, I was pretty shocked by the amount and extent of the damage I saw. Television really is no substitute for the real thing.

What stood out equally, but for happier reasons, was the new Cashel Mall. (As always, click on the image for a larger one.)

  Cashel Mall containers in Christchurch

A classic example of Kiwis thinking outside the square, Cashel Mall has transformed itself into container city. Go inside one of the new shops and you wouldn’t know you were standing inside a shipping container rather than an actual building. They’re light, bright and a godsend to those businesses shut down by the February quake. I had arrived the day after a noticeable aftershock and one shop employee told me how much safer she felt in a container than one of the old, since demolished, buildings.

  

Yesterday saw the announcement of the blueprint for the new CBD. It’s going to feature plenty of greenery, and a new 35,000 seat covered stadium just a few minutes walk from the city centre. It has gained support across the political spectrum – no mean feat. There is still the issue of what will happen in the suburbs but this announcement was always about the CBD, an area that has to be done right in order to attract people and business back south.

I for one am excited; no offence to my newly adopted home town of Hamilton, but the Christchurch V2.0 could potentially be New Zealand’s most liveable city.

Check out the CCDU’s video presentation below:

If you’re avoiding Christchurch for whatever reason, stop. Come down, check out the city – definitely visit Cashel Mall – and give them your support.

And now, the wrap up.

Over the last 31 days we’ve posted five articles on how and why you should be prepared for an emergency or a disaster. Statistics New Zealand’s research shows just 18 percent of us are ‘basically prepared’ for a disaster – that is, they have three days of food and water along with a household emergency plan. Your author is a mean mathematician himself and has figured this means 82 percent of New Zealanders are unprepared, and thus more vulnerable than most.

Our goal for Be Prepared Month was simple: change these numbers. Let you know what the risks are and how you can get yourselves ready to deal with them best you can. If you haven’t seen our handy guides yet, or if you want a refresher, check out these links:

Getting the basics sorted: Our guide to putting together a kit with three days worth of food, water, and other essentials. Special celebrity guest: Fat MacGyver.

Tonnes of readers’ advice: We were swamped with some great tips, especially from our Christchurch readers, so we put the best of it together for easy referral. Special celebrity guests: Stephen J. Cannell and Scrooge McDuck.

Putting an emergency plan together: What is involved in drawing up a Household Emergency Plan? Special celebrity guests: The A Team.

What are the odds? We analyse our earthquake habits and ask: is New Zealand getting shakier? No special celebrity guests but a bunch of cool graphs.

What are the odds 2 – More crystal ball gazing: A look at our land’s (if not our people’s) love of floods, tsunami and volcanoes. Special celebrity guest: Hulk Hogan.

Also over the past month we’ve helped prepare 26 lucky people by giving away some great looking emergency food buckets on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

These buckets from Wise Company contain 84 servings each, which would feed a family of four for a week, or an eligible bachelor/bachelorette for a month. The response from you all has been fantastic – both online, and when our photographers have been showing them off to agents and vendors. We also snapped photos of a couple of happy winners.

  

So what, if nothing else, should you remember from this month?

–       At least three days worth of food should be stored safely away. Stick to dried and canned food as well as nuts and crackers.

–       You’ll need three litres of water per person per day. Put a few drops of bleach in each bottle – that’ll teach them. Actually it’ll help keep the water fresh. Put away three extra litres per day for washing, dishes and cooking.

–       Print off this Household Emergency Plan form and fill it out.

–       Other very useful things to pack include a wind up radio, a little gas stove, baby wipes, and your essential documents in an easy to reach place.

And, most of all, don’t worry too much. Sounds like a weird thing to say – but if you’re well stocked, and have a game plan in place, you really don’t need to panic. If and when something happens, you and your loved ones will be ready.

So there you go, our epic month-long guide to being prepared. We really hope you’ve not only found it useful but enjoyable too. Thank you to those great sources of knowledge we’ve borrowed from, especially GeoNet and Get Thru, and to all of you who have read, shared our posts or touched base with us.

But on the off chance you read through all of this and thought “duh, I knew all of that already”, here’s a parting gift. Bet you didn’t know you could do this!

Be Prepared Month: What are the odds part two (or “More crystal ball gazing”)

In the last episode, we asked if New Zealand was becoming more vulnerable to earthquakes. There was a bit of debate on this on our Facebook page, but looking at 12 years of data our answer is “probably not”.

And, as if their ears were burning, GeoNet posted this helpful tweet on Monday:

None of this, of course, means there’s no risk – events in Canterbury have proven that beyond doubt. It is however one of several challenges this beautiful little island nation potentially faces. Here’s a few more to be prepared for:

 

Tsunami

Last weekend, Christchurch tried out its new tsunami warning system. 22 sirens, costing $550,000 each, went off at 11am. Chances are you didn’t know about this, because not many people heard them.

Local man struggles in vain to hear tsunami sirens.

There may be up to 79 more sirens set up along the entire coast. Hopefully, with the 101 sirens combined, people will notice and act accordingly. Incidentally, your author has a similar set up in his bedroom using alarm clocks.

This all stems from 2004’s massive global tsunami, after which our government decided to find out what would happen had the wave hit us too.

The subsequent report contained a surprise for many: we have had 40 tsunamis since 1840. So clearly it’s the Treaty’s fault, right? No, actually, they worked out most of the causes too:

  • 14 were triggered by global/distant earthquakes (regions outside the South Pacific),
  • Seven were from regional earthquakes (the South Pacific region and south of New Zealand),
  • Nine were from local earthquakes (self-explanatory),
  • Four were from local earthquakes accompanied by coastal landslides,
  • One was a spontaneous landslide,
  • Eight others were from unknown sources, one of which was possibly a submarine landslide.

Our one tsunami-related death in this period came in 1868, from a 10+ metre high wave triggered by a South American shake.

Since then, of course, there has been a great deal more population growth and coastal development. A similar tsunami today would equal more damage and more fatalities.

So what are the chances? I found the following diagnosis on page 104:

“The ongoing risk from tsunami in New Zealand is significant, possibly rather higher than many people may realise… the damage to property from tsunami is about twice what we expect from earthquakes… and the deaths and injuries are many times more. A caveat here is that the projected deaths and injuries numbers will drop if it is felt appropriate to assume an effective warning system exists for tsunami of distant origin, but they will still be substantially greater than for earthquakes in places such as Wellington where the major threat is from locally generated tsunami.”

So that warning system in Christchurch will be a big help once beefed up, right? Says the local Council website, “the sirens will not be used for a local source tsunami as there will not be sufficient time before the tsunami reaches land.” Well, fiddlesticks.

 

Volcano eruption

In last Friday’s blog we politely asked New Zealand not to have any volcano eruptions at least until this blog was published.

“Challenge accepted” said Mt Tongariro, and promptly upped its seismic activity. Whereas the area was lucky to have two small earthquakes a year, last week saw at least twenty of them, and GNS accordingly upgraded its alert level to one. There has also been reports of volcanic gases being detected.

Realistically a level of one means little more than “we’re keeping an eye on things”. Ruapehu and White Island, our most restless cones, have been sitting at one for a few years now. The alert system defines this as showing signs of possible unrest, with no eruption threat at this time.

Mt Tongariro

Quiet, you. That’s not a challenge.

Ruapehu’s most recent eruption was a seven-minute outburst in 2007, which spewed ash, rocks and lahar over the summit and Whakapapa ski field. The worst we’ve seen in modern times was the 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption. This event started the great kiwi tradition of terrace desecration, which reached its peak during the 1999 Super 12 final at Carisbrook.

Other than the occasional rush to the head by Ruapehu and White Island, the other area of focus is Auckland and its approximately 53 volcanoes. The good news is, they’re not planning on blowing their top again for a long while.  On average, according to the Auckland Museum, Auckland has a problem every 2500 years – and the last big eruption was Rangitoto 600 years ago.

This doesn’t mean they won’t surprise us, mind you. What we do know is, whether Auckland blows early or Tongariro decides it’s not all talk, our best science people are monitoring the situation all the time, and Get Thru has a list of what to do if, or when, an eruption happens.

 

Flooding

This is an easy one. Floods happen in New Zealand all. The. Time.

In just the past week we’ve seen roads closed in the Waikato and Coromandel and 30 Levin residents cut off by a rain-induced landslide. Earlier this month flash floods caused havoc in Auckland. Heck, last Christmas even the sunshine capital of New Zealand got swamped, with over 200 slips and more than 100 homes red-stickered.

Flash flooding on the North Shore.

So if you’re going to mentally and physically prepare yourselves for anything, do it for this. Now, aren’t you glad you read all the way to the conclusion?

 

Conclusion

What I’ve learned in the last hour is this: predicting what the earth will do next is almost as hard as writing a conclusion. With the former we suggest you stock your kits, draw up a plan and live your life without worry, knowing you’re as well prepared as you can be for something so unpredictable.

As we said last time, “It might be that you’ll never need your emergency kit or plan; alternatively it might be the smartest thing you ever did.” So stop reading this and go get prepared. Or if you’d rather stick around, how about leaving us a comment below or on our Facebook page? We’d love to read your thoughts.

Be Prepared Month: What are the odds?

Our ‘Be Prepared Month’ project is all about helping you get yourselves ready for anything. It might be that you’ll never need your emergency kit or plan; alternatively it might be the smartest thing you ever did.

So what are the chances of us needing to break out the emergency kits? It’s a question that might have been considered hypothetical just a couple of years ago; of course since then we’ve learned that big disasters are not just events that happen to other people.

This particular blog is running the risk of becoming novel-sized, so your author is breaking this up into two parts. Today, we take a close look at our most recent nemesis and ask, is the earth really becoming more violent?

Earthquakes

We know too well the damage earthquakes inflict. The 2011 Canterbury quake claimed 185 lives, trashed our second largest city and, for a time, brought the entire country to a standstill. And yet it wasn’t the deadliest earthquake we’ve had; 256 people were lost in the magnitude 7.8 that destroyed Napier and Hastings in 1931.

RiskScape, a joint venture between GNS Science and NIWA, rates New Zealand’s seismic activity as varying “regionally from moderate to very high”. It certainly feels like our corner of the earth is getting more peeved recently, but what do the numbers say?

The GeoNet website lets you construct your own graphs and maps based on the info you plug in. It’s interesting fun: tell their programme what you want to know and let it do the hard work. I decided to have a play with it on 17 July, hence the cutting off of each year on the 16th.  (If we can have midwinter Christmas, why not midwinter New Year too?)

EQNZ earthquakes

So nothing out of the ordinary really, other than that big spike in 2010-11 and… wait a minute, why is the figure so low for the year just gone?? This time I asked a real person at GeoNet and her prompt response was they’re still processing all those smaller quakes, so the number should rise a bit. Fair enough.

She also sent this useful link. If you’re looking for an earthquake rule of thumb, it goes like this: expect a magnitude 4-4.9 every day, two 5-5.9 a month, two 6-6.9 a year and one 7-7.9 every three years.

So we’re not necessarily having more quakes – in fact after last year we’re probably having fewer. Are they getting any more violent? Well, just a little.

The median magnitude rose from 2.31 three years ago to 2.65 last year – a number still barely noticeable to most. (Quick stats note: I consider the median more representative because, unlike the average/mean, it is less vulnerable to being influenced by wacky outliers.)

So what about all those recent biggies? The 7.1 that hit Christchurch in September 2010 wasn’t actually the biggest we’ve seen in the past decade:

What made it, and February’s 6.3, more destructive was their location. We have seen six quakes measuring seven or more since 2001 – but they were usually out at sea, very deep, or in sparsely populated areas. In this regard, as bad as things have been, they could have been even worse. After all, that 7.8 that hit Fiordland in 2009 was the same magnitude as the Hawkes Bay quake of 1931.

It would be fair to say the earth is about as angry round these parts as it’s ever been – maybe just a little more so in the last few years. Earthquakes, in short, are what they’ve always been – a very real possibility, very hard to predict (even by harnessing the power of the moon and the stars), and definitely something to be prepared for.

Having nearly exhausted my quota of pretty pictures and graphs for today, we’ll explore the next few sections next week. Try not to have any tsunamis, floods, or volcano eruptions in the meantime ok? Or if you do, be prepared first!

UPDATE: Of course: there was one very important factor in Christchurch’s February quake your author forgot. As Andrew commented:

You’re forgetting ground acceleration. It wasn’t just the proximity to the centre of Christchurch of the Feb 22nd quake, it was the ground acceleration.

The 2.2 Gs of vertical earth acceleration EQUALED THE WORLD RECORD for recorded violent ground movement during earthquakes.

Yes indeed. The vertical acceleration far exceeded the horizontal, which caused, from accounts, buildings and people to be ‘tossed up’ into the air.

The 2.2g figure, by the way, means the ground moved at 2.2 times the acceleration of gravity. For perspective compare this to the September 2010 quake, which peaked at 1.26g, and the 7.0 that devastated Haiti, which was estimated at 0.5g, and you can see this was clearly no ordinary 6.3. Thanks Andrew for steering us in the right direction!

UPDATE 2: Here’s a cheap plug for part two, which is online now.

Be Prepared Month: Putting an emergency plan together

You read our post on storing three days of food and water. You checked out our readers’ suggestions. You then stocked up on non-perishable food and delicious, bleach-infused water. Well done; you’re on your way to being what Civil Defence and Statistics New Zealand call “basically prepared” for a disaster.

But you can’t complete the puzzle with only two thirds of the puzzle. The All Blacks, for example, need their water and halftime oranges for energy – but without a game plan they would resemble, well, the All Blacks under John Mitchell.

No, you and your housemates need to work together. As a team.

A Team

To ensure your team is adequately prepared, you need a comprehensive emergency plan. To this end, we would recommend two resources.

The back of your Yellow Pages has plenty of tips and reminders on what should be done before disaster strikes. Read this before disaster strikes. Some of the advice is common sense: going to higher ground in response to a tsumani warning is of course the sensible thing to do. Some people, however, need a serious dose of reminding (warning: link contains suicidal nudists.)

The second resource is more important still. Whereas helping people be prepared is something we do when not taking gorgeous real estate photos, Get Thru is a government-run initiative that exists solely to equip people for the big one.

The A Team, emergency plan

On their site you will find a very important and comprehensive document entitled ‘Household Emergency Plan’. Please open it and print it off. You’re now going to go through it and, in conjunction with everyone living under your roof – be they family or flatmates – fill out every relevant box, including:

–       Names and number of those in your household (heck everyone has a cell phone these days)

–       A meeting point if you’re not all at home or can’t reach each other (because cell phones are hopeless when the network’s overloaded)

–       Details of friends and neighbours who can help you, or may need help themselves

–       Who’s in charge of picking kids up from school, maintaining the emergency kit etc

–       Important numbers (water supplier, council emergency line, insurance company and more)

And on the back, there’s a big list of stuff you need, much of which we have covered in our last two posts.

Does it sound dull and like hard work? Yeah, perhaps. But think about this: most mistakes tend to be made when under immense pressure. A disaster that endangers you and your loved ones is such a time. If you’re unprepared, and have no idea what to do, the odds of making a critical error become that much bigger.

Here’s another way of looking at it. Businesses write plans to ensure they survive and grow. Sports teams make game plans to help them win. In each case, formulating and following through on these helps them gel as a team and achieve their goals. Why wouldn’t you, Mr or Ms Householder, want the same for your team?

You tell them, B.A.

Having a great product/star player/essential supplies is important, but it’s ultimately useless if you’re operating without any direction.

A plan has to cover all sorts of contingencies. What if you’re not at home when things go pear-shaped? What if someone in your household has a disability? If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?

Our advice is to sit everyone down and nut it out together. Delegate areas of responsibility so it’s not all left to one person. Be sure everyone knows what to do – this, if it were me, would involve having everyone fill out a copy of the Plan. It’s all well and good to photocopy it, but people often remember things better by writing them down. At the minimum ensure everyone has a copy, and they know what they have to do.

And of course, explain carefully to young ones and other vulnerable members of the household what is going on, what they will need to do, and most of all not to panic.

Just 29 percent of New Zealanders have an emergency plan filled out. Do this, and get three days supply of food and water, and you qualify in the eyes of Statistics New Zealand as “basically prepared” – a category only one in five Kiwis currently sit in.

If we can point a few people in the right direction, and get those numbers higher, then mission accomplished.

What do you think – have we covered all the basics? Is there anything important we’ve forgotten about? Let us know below or over on Facebook!

Be Prepared Month: Tonnes of readers’ advice

One of the many readers who sent in advice.

Inundated. That’s the word we keep coming back to – first to fix the spelling, then because it’s the best way to describe the reaction to last week’s blog piece.

We received plenty of comments here, by email and on Facebook, many of them full of fantastic advice. Some points expanded on what we had written; many other raised topics we hadn’t even thought of. There were invaluable accounts too, from our Christchurch-based readers, on practical difficulties encountered following the big earthquakes.

Thank you all. In the interests of sharing these snippets of advice to a wider audience we’ve collated the best of it below, and because it’s kinda long we’ve sought to categorise it for easy referral. Any extra comments from us have been put in handy square brackets that look a lot like [these]. If you want to add to these go for it – either in the comments, or hit us up on Facebook.


Water, water, not quite everywhere

“We had to get to water stations to collect water for weeks after Feb quake. Water containers are heavy- people were trying to walk home with saucepans of water to last days… the tanks may not be anywhere near your home, so prepare for a long walk home with your containers, if road is too munted to drive or your car gets buggered by driving into a massive liquefaction covered pot hole.”

“Do people realise that you have up to 9 litres of water in your toilet cistern, as long as you haven’t put those blue thingys in them.”

[Yes indeed – in fact after a disaster hits one thing that should be done pretty quickly is to fill up any containers you can, using the taps before the water supply goes kaput.]


Getting from Point A to B

“What I found good was a pushbike and saddlebags, you can fit a few coke bottles in them to get water and a couple in green shopping bags over the handle bars as well, make sure you’re balanced though cos that helps too! Bike was the safest way to travel just cos of the state of the roads here in Christchurch.”


Do you accept… cash?

“Don’t expect ATM bank machines to be operating. Have a money tin stocked up too, because there will be no power to operate them to get money out.”


Freezers are cool

“I have soda drink bottles filled with water in the bottom of my freezer. It serves two purposes, 1. it is water to be used in an emergency, 2. it keeps the freezer cold as the water slowly thaws.”

“Remember the power will be off, but if the house isn’t damaged, you can keep your fridge and freezer closed and eat the fridge stuff first, and the freezer stuff second. That will save your dried and tinned things, and last you for quite a few days.”


Only three days huh?

“Flag the “3 day” nonsense! Christchurch experience shows much more needed… Get a month’s worth of water.”

“I live in quake-affected Christchurch and we found out the hard way, you really need to have at least 4-6 weeks of supplies as a emergency.

You are really on your own for at least 3-4 weeks as we found out here. There was and is a lot of people who were and are running around here like headless chooks. Not everyone was given a handout, so you really have to defend for yourselves.”

[Very fair points from those who have been there. The minimum recommended by Civil Defence to prepare for is three days, but Christchurch has shown that it pays to have extra, because sometimes the ‘powers that be’ are too stretched. Ultimately, the one person you can rely on above anyone else is yourself.]


Hygiene

“Nobody has mentioned toilet facilities. A shovel or spade, rubbish bin with a plastic rubbish bag inner (you can use the bin as an emergency storage container in the meantime) and a tarp to place around area for privacy. This is for a start.”

“The other thing is baby wipes, after 3 days being able to clean your skin with baby wipes when there are no showers is a godsend.”


Don’t forget the pets

“Don’t forget pet food! Canned isn’t that great and contributes to stinky dog farts but it lasts and is fine for an emergency!”
Batteries not included

“The 2 things I would suggest is those wind-up torches that are also radios, because you can use them as much as you like and don’t have to worry about batteries.”

[Absolutely. These torch/radios often also come with cell phone chargers and retail from around $40-55. If you do have radios and torches that require batteries, be sure to have spares packed away in your kit.]


Wrap up warm

“Basic things like blankets but it would be better if they were sleeping bags with one cover for each against the cold.”


Everybody needs good neighbours

Kylie Minogue and other Neighbours cast

“Get to know your neighbours as well, some people are too busy with their days to even know their neighbours’ names but come on people need to get real cos you never know when you will need them or they may need you!”

“Love the idea of being prepared, wonder how it is for our low income members of community who are living hand to mouth day to day week to week and wonder if there are any constructive tips that could assist this sector to become prepared.”

[Good call. We touched on that issue in our last blog; our suggestion was to do the water part first and aim to get a little bit for the food kit every week or so. An extra can or two with each shopping trip adds up over time.]


Skinny MacGyver would be proud

“Something a lot of people neglect is tools, an axe, a hand saw, shovel and spade, things like that are a big help. Also plenty of lightweight cord or rope, a tarp isn’t much good as a shelter unless you can keep it in place and cord definitely helps there. With just a few simple tools you can makes basic furniture, cots to sleep on, stools to sit on, a platform to put your gas stove on, all easily made without needing anything more than a bit of cord, some wood and something to cut it.”

“In an EQ you may have or want to camp outside, but be able to use lots of stuff from your house, like toilet rolls, bottles of wine!”

[Good advice – except perhaps save the wine for later!]


Bases covered

“Got a tank full of water, veges in the garden, lots of wild rabbits, ducks, and possums if desperate, chooks and eggs, and a wood burner for warmth and cooking, I think ill be fine…the only thing missing would be chatting with friends on FB!!”

[We know where we’ll be going to stay should the big one hit!]

So that for us wraps up the food/water/shelter part of the equation. If you follow even half the advice provided in the last two blogs, you’re going to do pretty well.

In the next episode we’ll look at the next essential part of being prepared: how to draw up an emergency plan. 

Be Prepared Month: Getting the basics sorted

As part of Be Prepared Month Open2view is bringing you some useful hints for how to get ready for an emergency. I had another introduction written for this, but after the madcap events of Tuesday I threw it out. After all, what could be a more unsubtle nudge to get prepared than flash flooding in Auckland, followed by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake felt over most of the country?

Auckland flooding

In light of all this I posed this question on Facebook: ‘Have you stored away at least three days of food and water in case of an emergency?’ At last count, with nearly 500 responses, nearly 42% reckon they’re prepared. Nearly 30% have some stuff but not three days worth, 13% are planning to get onto it tomorrow, and a further 16% don’t need to because they’re “like MacGyver”. To these people, I’d like to point out that even MacGyver has the occasional off-day.

MacGyver can't fix car

The great thing about Facebook polls is, other than the fact they’re so totally scientific, is people can elaborate on their answers. One guy mentioned he has 8000 litres of water and a ‘genie’ to filter it. At the other end of the spectrum, one of our mulletless MacGyvers plans to “just go fishing”.

The rest of us should all definitely check out the official Civil Defence site and their ‘Get Thru’ campaign.  You’ve probably seen the ads on TV, where Peter “Rex Redfern” Elliott pushes the need to survive on your own for at least three days after a disaster.

The official stats suggest we’re not prepared yet. If Tuesday’s quake had been a lot less deep, four out of five of us wouldn’t have had enough stored away to get through to Friday. Which is not to say we’d all be dead – but we’ll have enough to deal with without being hungry, thirsty and malnourished.

To qualify as ‘basically prepared’, in the eyes of Statistics New Zealand, you need three days worth of water and food, and an emergency plan written down. Let’s look at the fuel side today.

Water

The water should be the easiest part, as it’s, well, water. Get Thru recommends storing three litres of water per person per day. So that’s six sterilised 1.5 litre Coke bottles per person.

Of course water’s not just for drinking. You also (and I hope you’re sitting down for this) need it for washing and cooking. Civil Defence says to have another three litres of water per day – one for cooking and cleaning food, one for dishwashing, and one more for human-washing.

If you’re filling a bottle rather than buying bottled water, sterilising your water supply should help keep it safe for a few years. Clean your bottles with hot water and fill them to overflowing. Then add bleach. No joke. Five drops of bleach per litre of water will do the trick. Don’t drink the water within 30 minutes of bleaching. I’m sure you’ll resist. Check the bottles every 12 months, and if they’re no longer clear then throw them out and start again.

If you get tired of plain water, you can always dilute it. No, just kidding. You can however pack some other things (to supplement, not replace) in your kit including powdered milk, juice boxes and electrolyte drinks.

Food 

Right, now who’s hungry? You’re going to need a bit of food to get through/thru. Clearly this won’t involve fresh meat and produce – you need stuff that’s going to last a while. A friend likes to check out those daily deal websites and buy things like beef jerky when they’re going cheap. Just check the use-by date before clicking ‘buy’.

Searching the web and surveying other friends found the following good food suggestions:

Canned food – fish, meat, vegetables and fruit – all cover the three main meals nicely. Canned tuna and salmon are good for protein and omega-3. Also, pack a can opener. Use these within a year, or by the best before.

Dried food such as fruits (such as raisins and dates), and meat like the aforementioned, and delicious, beef jerky.

Nuts, crackers and granola/muesli bars are filling and have important nutrients. Cereals can last up to a year also, as can peanut butter, which goes well on crackers. A few things that will last for pretty much forever include soybeans, instant coffee, white rice and dried pasta.

Final notes

Multivitamins can fill in the gaps left by missing nutrients.

Once you’ve worked out how much food you’re going to need, pack a bit more. You’re going to burn through the calories so don’t leave yourself short.

Chances are you’re not going to have any electricity for a bit, so get a small camp stove for cooking. The Warehouse has them pretty cheap.

Speaking of cheap – putting all this together doesn’t have to cost the earth. Do the water first, as that’s the most important and very low cost, and every time you do the shopping chuck in a couple of extra cans for the kit.

Finally, if you haven’t entered our competition for an emergency food kit, go for it – we’ve given away four and there’s still plenty more here in the office. (Update July 2013: no there isn’t. This competition was SO 2012. But you can buy some from our friends at efoods at a fairly decent price.) 

June’s NZ Property Report in short

Cat styled calendar June 2012

July the first. A date famous for the invention of sunglasses in 1200 – thanks China – and the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1979. In 2012, it will be known as the day Realestate.co.nz released its NZ Property Report for the month of June.

And what an interesting month it was for real estate. The winter months are not always a popular time to list, yet vendors made a mockery of that theory in May. June, however, saw a big reversal: the national inventory is now at a four-year low. Basically, if there were no more listings, we’d be out of houses for sale in just under 30 weeks.

Better news on the asking price if you’re a home buyer: the mean has dropped over $11,000 from May to now sit at $424,315. Across the regions house prices mostly dropped or stayed steady, which is weird considering the lack of supply. Overall, when seasonally adjusted, the last 18 months has seen a steady, rather than rocketing, price rise – although there are cases of some of our properties selling for far above the asking price.

To the main centres, as Jim Hickey would say:

Auckland’s asking price, at $555,594, is down 4% from last month but 2% up on this time last year. People are still nervous about listing as inventory stands at 18.1 weeks – up on last month but still down 31% on May 2011. Wellington and Canterbury are seeing their respective asking prices remains steady, while listings are not enough to increase inventory.

Unconditional has all the tables and graphs you could possibly want. Definitely check them out for the full report.

Something else from the weekend: Olly Newland, over at interest.co.nz, is predicting rising house prices and suggests first home buyers should “borrow till it hurts” to get into the good suburbs.

Not sure if anything should be done until it hurts too much, but with super low mortgage rates still available it’s a great time for first timers to get on the ladder. It doesn’t have to be in the exclusive suburbs, have views of Everest or contain 23 bathrooms either. It’s called a ‘property ladder’ because it’s meant to be climbed.

We certainly agree it’s a good time to buy as well as list, so pop on over to Open2view.com (now with new improved front page!) and see what’s on offer.

UPDATE: I wrote all this on Monday and – as is the way – some more info was released this morning on housing affordability.

The latest Roost Home Loan Affordability Report reckons it now takes a little bit more to pay the mortgage, due to a $4000 increase in the median house price. It now takes 53.6% of a single after tax income “to service an 80 per cent mortgage on a median house”, up from 53.1%. So it’s slight, really. And with interest rates still low, we agree with the Herald that “affordability for young working couples remained near its best levels in almost eight years.”

UPDATE 2: Oh yes, July the first was notable for something else – the launch of Open2view’s Be Prepared Month. If you haven’t entered our competition for an emergency Grab and Go Food Kit, head to our Facebook page and go for it!