Just In Case!
Exclusive Author Interview and Giveaway!
My mom looked her dead in the eye and replied with a sigh, "You have no idea. It's an uphill battle.." And put her sunglasses back on.
We all broke out laughing. And I made sure all the bags got to our room.
As the weekend went on, I got to talk to Kathy more and more, learn about her life and books. She's a mother, a homeschooler, and a serious homesteader. She gardens, puts up most of her own food (1,000 canning jars loaded in the pantry!), heats with wood, and wrote the best seller Just In Case, a few years ago. It's a new guide for families about basic preparedness for weather events (hurricanes, blizzards, storms, etc) and social events (pandemics, economic collapse, power grid failure, etc). It is a beacon of honest hope for coming emergencies. I bought the book and read it. It's conversational and engaging without making you want to buy MRES and stock your basement with bullets and composting toilets. It's not some scary end-of-days book, but a guide on how you and yours can ride out any storm, in the country or city, safely and in comfort. Common Sense and clever writing guide you home.
I asked Kathy if she would mind doing an interview on CAF about basic preparedness. With winter coming, this is the perfect time for all of us to get ready for coming storms, blackouts, or any sort of trouble. Read this exclusive interview below and then write a comment about it to be entered in a giveaway for a copy of Just In Case. I'll give out three copies to readers who share their own thoughts (any and all welcome) on the topic. Enjoy the interview, check out her wonderful blog, and enter to win a free book!
1. Your book Just In Case, helps families prepare for possible disaster and hardships (weather events, blackouts, etc). But I also know you are an active homesteader and gardener, who puts up most of her own food in a house heated by wood with an active community of like minds. Why do you think self-sufficiency and community is so important in the 21st century when so few people have much of either?
I think the idea of self-reliance is misnamed. We are interdependent and we each have an obligation to contribute to a wider community and that means learning how to do the real work of living a more sustainable and productive life. If we really don't have time to stick a shovel in the dirt or volunteer for the fire department or bake a loaf of bread or something, anything that isn't about consuming or being electronically entertained then we need to make some serious changes in our lives. For me, the whole idea of preparedness is not about a stash of #10 cans of dried food. It's about recognizing that the way of life we consider "normal", the life with water and power and healthcare and food available 24/7 and requiring nothing from us but cash is a very new phenomenon and it's only here because we have cheap energy and a functioning infrastructure. We are all one ecological disaster, one geo-political event, one natural disaster, one terrorist attack from being hungry. Most of us can't imagine what life was like 150 years ago. That life is nothing more than a piece of fiction in a history book or something Hollywood imagines for our entertainment. It was a very real place in history.
2. In your experience, are people generally prepared for even the most mundane problems, such as multi-day power outages or broken down cars?
Preparedness for most people means grabbing some canned ravioli, bottled water and batteries on the way home from work because you hear a storm is coming. The belief has been that the "they" we hear about will come rescue us before things get really uncomfortable. "They" will fix the lines or plow the snow or repair the bridge or bring us food. But we have all seen examples, and we see more each year, of when "they" are confronted with events so big and so overwhelming that it can take weeks before things return to even a semblance of normal. I think it's irresponsible to be so dependent on any "they" At the bare minimum, you should be able to remain home and provide yourself with a way to stay warm, lighting, food, water and basic medical care for at least a month. Longer is better but a month is easy to do and a good start.
3. What items should we have on hand to be prepared for the short-term? Do you think people should have GOOD (Get Out of Dodge) bags ready? Or focus more on making their homes prepared?
I keep a combination evacuation pack/car kit in the back of my car. I travel on back roads in bad weather a lot and a bit of food, some water and foul weather gear, as well as some tools and a way to communicate distress is a good idea. I don't go overboard but I sure don't want to be stuck in a blizzard with nothing for my feet but a pair of divine little heels. (Not that I wear a lot of heels but you get my point.) I don't go crazy with GOOD bags. My house is in a good spot and pretty self-contained. My goal is to stay out of a shelter so, unless the place burns to the ground, I'm staying put.
4. What items should our homes have to be prepared for more serious problems?
When I talk to people about preparedness, I urge them to think in terms of systems and the plan for likely events. It makes little sense for me to invest in digging a deep well and a hand pump when a year-round river borders our land. It makes more sense to have a means to purify the available water and a way to easily transport it and put my money somewhere else. It did seem wise to have my chimneys rebuilt so I can safely heat the whole house with wood. For lighting, I have a large cache of kerosene lamps and a closet full of lamp oil. I have several hundred candles (I buy them by the case) and I store lots of wooden matches. It didn't put up a solar array because I wanted to use my cash to put in the permaculture garden with fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and perennial vegetables. I don't have much purchased food but I have 1000 canning jars, reusable lids and all of the non-electric equipment for preserving and preparing food. If I lived in the city I would be planning differently. At a minimum, I hope folks have one month of food, a can opener, matches, a camp stove and some way to stay warm. If you rely on municipal water to flush, you need to have a way to manage your waste. I also think getting a hand-crank radio is critical. Information is very good thing. There's a big difference between a car taking down a pole and leaving you in the dark for a few hours and region-wide grid failure that might last for weeks. Have a way to keep entertained and don't forget animal needs. We keep a couple of extra bags of chicken and rabbit food around. It sucks to sit around in the dark and batteries run low pretty quickly. Get some lamps and lamp oil and have them ready to go before the lights go out.
5. Where can people go to learn more about serious issues that might give reason for some personal preparedness? Such as peak oil, economic collapse, or climate-related issues?
There a a number of great documentaries out there and some fabulous writers who will inform you about the real issues of resource depletion, climate instability and economic issues. Anything by Richard Heinberg is good. I like James Howard Kunstler too. Sharon Astyk is probably my favorite for giving facts, responses and hope. I think The End OF Surbubia is a terrific look at Peak Oil. The web site, Nature Bats Last is very good. Once you go to one web site you will find links to other sites. Just don't let the information consume or overwhelm you to the point that reading the blogs is all you do. Balance is good. I keep informed but we also play a lot of music, prepare and eat fabulous food, dance and have cider pressing parties. I plan for a very different future in an energy constrained world. I don't expect any economic recovery. I plan on having less money. But different doesn't necessarily mean worse. It's just different. It's our response that determines our happiness and our comfort. People were happy without big-screen TVs and cars for their teenagers. They were comfortable without AC and on demand hot water. They managed without Ipods and Ipads and 24 hour news and trips to Disney. We make our happy and we make our place.
7. Lastly, Do you feel that such issues are over-hyped and making people unnecessarily fearful? Or do you think the general public ignores such issues as much as possible?
That's it in a very small nutshell. Go to the Nature Bats Last site. I really like Guy McPhearson and he knows his stuff. He has video of a talk he recently gave and I think it sums up our predicament really well. We are putting our plans in high gear based on the climate economic models.