This weeks action step, as part of the disaster preparation series, is to start gathering emergency supplies for your home.
Last week we looked at putting together a grab and go bag for evacuation, this week we’ll look at preparing the home in case of loss of utilities or services.
I haven’t yet been directly affected by cyclone and flood (touch wood) but we have been cut off by flood, and supermarket shelves across South East Queensland (including Brisbane) soon emptied. Trucks had to wait for flood waters to recede before they could restock shelves. Food became scarce.
Last year, after (ex-tropical) cyclone Oswald passed through, nearly 300,000 homes were left without power across Queensland. We went without power for 2 days, some people had to wait weeks for power to be restored.
Disasters happen every year, all over the country. In the aftermath of a disaster, it’s a very real possibility that you will have to go days, possibly weeks without basic services.
How long could you survive at home if water supply ceased or was contaminated? If supermarket shelves were empty? If there was no electricity?
A few generations ago, people could get by quite well without the essential services we take for granted today. Nowadays, many of us shop week to week, without stocking basic supplies. We rely so totally and utterly on the industrial system that if it should fail, even for just a few days, many of us would not be able to cope at all.
This week is not only about preparing an emergency kit, it’s about building resilience by planning for alternate ways to get by, should our everyday services be disrupted.
The other day, when the little fella walked in the door from preschool, he spotted three ripe mangos sitting on on the kitchen bench.
“Mummy! Are mangos back in season?! Can we eat one now?”
It’s a proud moment when you know your children are absorbing the messages you try to impart on them.
Not long after, Nanna and Pa arrive, Pa bearing a gift.
Another ripe mango.
Pa knows how much the kids love their fruit and gets great joy out of bringing these surprises for them. And what a nice way for a grandparent to spoil a child!
Summer is a wonderful time of the year to eat seasonal produce fresh and raw. Fruit platters and salads are perfect on hot summer days. Raw food tastes best if the produce is fresh and seasonal.
A seasonal produce guide can help you choose produce at it’s freshest, although there will be local variations across Australia.
Tomatoes, for instance, peak a lot earlier in Queensland, than they do in the cooler climates down south.
If you haven’t already from previous years, you can download the Summer Seasonal Produce Guide (for Australia) here. I’ve given the old guide a bit of a fresh new look.
Here are some recipes from the blog that showcase summer produce. Stay tuned over summer for more seasonal recipes.
This article is part of a series on saving money on electricity.
This is the last article in the series on saving money on electricity around the home.
The final area of energy use to target is standby power.
While standby power uses the least amount of electricity in the home, turning off standby power is the easiest way to save money.
It’s simply a matter of flicking a switch.
Standby power accounts for around 3% to 10% of overall household electricity usage.
Assuming the average Australian daily usage of 20kWh, turning off standby power could reduce your power consumption by between 219kWh and 730kWh per year.
At 26c per kilowatt hour, that’s a saving of between $57 a year and $190 a year.
That’s easy money to keep in your pocket.
This weeks action step, as part of the disaster preparation series, is to put together a grab and go bag for each member of the family.
I was living in North Ryde (Sydney), right on the edge of Lane Cove National Park, during the Black Christmas bushfires in 2002.
We had spent the day in the city, blissfully unaware that the bushfires were anywhere near where we were living.
Getting on the bus to return home, the driver said, “Sorry, I’m not going that far. That area has been cut off by the bushfires.”
We walked the rest of the way home, relieved that our house was still standing despite the chaos around us. Only the motorway and the volunteer fire fighters stood between the bushfire and us.
We were told: “pack up your things quickly and be ready to evacuate on command.”
That night we stood vigil, hoping our building and the trees around wouldn’t catch alight as the embers blew across the motorway and rained down over us. We stood there with neighbours we hadn’t met, offering food and drink and rest to the fire fighters who were battling tirelessly to protect our homes. Some had lost their own homes only a few blocks away.
We were lucky that night. The bushfires were contained and our home was safe.
Now I live in coastal Queensland. Bushfires aren’t really a threat to us where we are, but cyclones and storms are.
It doesn’t matter where you live, even if you live in the middle of a big city, there’s always the possibility you may have to face a natural disaster or other emergency.
Are you prepared?
“It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.” Henry Van Dyke
A thoughtful gift is not an expensive one.
There is no correlation between value to the recipient and the cost to you. A gift can be free, and still be thoughtful.
A thoughtful gift is not one you’ve agonised over.
Spending hours looking for that perfect something does not make it a thoughtful gift. Because it’s not the gift that counts.
Gift giving should not be an obligatory chore.
It should not be a perfunctorily dispatched exchange of items of equal monetary value.
A thoughtful gift should be a joy, deliciously anticipated by both the receiver and the giver.
A thoughtful gift isn’t about the gift; it’s being thoughtful about the person you’re giving the gift to.
A thoughtful gift is one that your recipient wants, will like and will find joy in.
This article is part of series on saving money on electricity around the home.
I’ve written a lot about saving money on food. Today’s post covers saving money on the energy used to cook food at home.
Compared to eating out or take-away, it’s still cheaper to cook at home, even when factoring in the cost of electricity. The energy used when cooking very small.
On average, we’re talking around 20 cents of electricity per day, assuming an overall daily average of 20kWh @ 26 cents per kilowatt.
Still, that adds up to $73 a year, and that’s on top of all the other ways we consume electricity, so it pays to cook efficiently and save.
Some of the tips that follow will not only save you money on electricity, they will also save you time in the kitchen while you save you money on the groceries.
Sometimes, emergencies can happen quite suddenly. Flash flooding, storms and bushfires are instances when things can go from fine to dangerous in a very short time.
And when sudden emergencies occur, your family is not likely to be together at home. You’ll probably be at work and the kids will be at school.
What do you do then?
At these times it’s easy to panic. Especially if you’re a parent and you’re worried about your children’s safety.
Having an emergency plan that every member of the household is aware of will help keep each of you safe and you will be able to deal with a crisis in an efficient manner.
You may have already started making your Christmas gifts, but if not, it’s time to get your Christmas crafting on.
I’ve gathered just a few frugal DIY gift ideas from around the web. Make the gifts exactly as they are in each tutorial, or use them as a springboard for creating your own unique DIY gifts.
For instance, the DIY spice mixes may give you a great idea for a hamper, but you might create your own mixes, using the spices you already have in the pantry. Or you might make a bath salt blend using the essential oils you have on hand.
Combining different frugal gift ideas into one hamper is a nice way to make a substantial yet still frugal gift.
Buying a whole heap of materials for handmade gifts can add up. To reduce the cost of making gifts recycle containers and glass jars, use up scraps of material from other projects, make the most of items you have around the house and scour second-hand stores and discount stores for appropriate supplies. This post on saving money when crafting has further ideas on how to make wonderful presents without spending a fortune on materials.
This article is part of a series on saving money on electricity.
So far we’ve dealt with the big spenders on the electricity bill.
Now we’re getting down to the pointy end, where the changes that you make will save you money, but not as much as reducing your cooling costs or hot water heating costs.
Lighting accounts for around 7% of a household’s energy bill, but it can be significantly more if you have a house full of downlights!
If you’re still using the old incandescent light bulbs (for downlights or regular lights), then you can make big reductions in the lighting portion of your electricity bill by switching to CFL or LED globes.
These do cost more upfront, particularly the LEDs (although they are coming down in cost and improving in technology each year) and particularly if you’re replacing dozens of downlights (you may also need an electrician to retro fit the CFLs), but they do last longer and use less electricity, meaning you end up better off in the long run.
Here are some action steps to put in place to save money on lighting:
Today’s action step is to purchase a battery powered radio and spare batteries (or you may be able to get a wind up one), bookmark various disaster information services and double-check the types of emergencies that may affect you.
It can be frightening to shelter in your house without any idea of what’s going on around you, whether you’re in direct danger, whether you need to evacuate or even if it’s safe to leave.
It can be even worse if a disaster has struck and you had no idea it was coming.
And so it’s important to stay informed – to be aware of impending dangers and also to stay informed with up-to-date information during an emergency.
There are many ways to stay informed these days, but it’s still important to keep a battery operated radio in case you have a power outage or mobile phone networks and internet connections are damaged.
Connecting to local services now and investing in a radio will mean you can be informed prior to and during and emergency.