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.]


“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. 

2 thoughts on “Be Prepared Month: Tonnes of readers’ advice

  1. Pingback: Be Prepared Month: Putting an emergency plan together | Open2view

  2. Pingback: Be Prepared Month: That’s a wrap (up) | Open2view

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