Monday, February 15, 2010

Stockpiling - the Why and the How - Focus on Emergency Stockpiling

Why build a stockpile?  Is it simply to save money?  Is it just to prepare for an emergency?  Is it hoarding?  Is it worth the time and upfront money?

The dictionary defines Stockpile as such:

Main Entry: 1stock·pile
Pronunciation: \ˈstäk-ˌpī(-ə)l\
Function: noun
Date: 1872
: a storage pile: as a : a reserve supply of something essential accumulated within a country for use during a shortage b : a gradually accumulated reserve of something
Building a stockpile actually has 2 main reasons.  The first, and foremost, is to be prepared in the case of an emergency.  The second is to cut grocery costs.  A tertiary reason is to be ready to bless others.  I will briefly touch on each in today's post and will expand on one today and will expand on the others in future posts.

This has been a rough winter for us - it's only halfway through the month and we are about to break a snowfall record for February.  We have had power outages.  We have had no water.  We have been snowed/iced in.  We've had to live on what we had in the house.  We learned first hand how important having an emergency stockpile is.

We have also had really tight finances since moving 18 months ago.  We are slowly making some headway and things are getting more comfortable, but to keep us moving in the right direction, I need to be a very savvy shopper and keep our grocery/household spending to a minimum.   One example is toothpaste. Each tube costs around $4.  I won't pay more than $.50 with most purchases being free. The two of us go through about 14 tubes a year.  Retail cost would be $56.  The MOST I would spend for a year supply is $7.  That's a savings of $49 for just one staple item.

Emergency Stockpiling

I am so thankful for our church.  About a year ago, they had a series on being prepared called "Getting Your House in Order" that focused on finding ways to be more aware, more prepared, and more able to live without modern conveniences.  There were classes offered in bread baking, gardening, preparing wild game, and all sorts of other things.  This series really got me thinking about how prepared we would be should something happen.  I'm not talking bomb-shelter prepared.  I'm talking being prepared for fairly normal emergencies such as power outages, flooding, and winter weather.  Thinking through the situations that may arise where we currently live (and keeping in mind the situations of previous homes in tornado alley and my brother's home in California), I realized that we weren't very prepared.  

I took what I learned from the church and spent a few months building up our stockpile.  Now, I DID work too quickly and not very efficiently.  I spent too much money and built our stockpile too quickly causing our budget to be extra tight for awhile.  Take your time!

Here are some basics of stockpiling for an emergency.  I have found that it helps to have everything organized in one area if possible for easy access when needed.  I do not separate my emergency stockpile from my regular one - they are intermixed and interchangeable.  I do keep some items near where they will be used if there is storage space.  For example, my diaper stockpile is in the top of Little Man's closet.  Since our basement gets large amounts of water from time to time, we've needed to keep items off the floor so they don't get ruined.

When stockpiling for emergencies, think through some important considerations before you begin purchasing items:
  1. What will you need to SURVIVE in an emergency?  Matches, lighter, candles, water, blankets are a few items to consider.
  2. What will you need to live if the power goes out? Matches, lighter, candle, water (if you have a pump-driven well), flashlights, batteries, heat source/blankets, food to eat cold or cooked on grill/gas range (lit by matches/lighter if electric ignition).
  3. What will you need to live if you have no water?  Jugs of water, food that requires little water to prepare.
Here is a basic list of items to consider adding to your stockpile.  Each situation is unique.  You may find other items that you would need and some on the list may be no help to you.  Remember that if the emergency is weather related, there is a good chance that stores may quickly sell out of staple items just before the storm hits.  Grocery stores only keep a couple days worth of food on hand and aren't equipped for a massive run on their stock.  By keeping many staples on hand, you will be less likely to run out before stores can catch up with demand.

  • Candles/matches/lighters
  • Jugs of water - plan 1 gallon per person per day (don't forget your pets!) and aim for a 3 day supply at first.
  • Medicine.  Don't let your prescriptions run completely out.  Most insurance plans will let you refill up to 6 days early.  Over time, you can end up with a few extra days worth.  
  • Baby food/formula/milk.  If you are breastfeeding, you may notice a dip in supply caused by decreased nutrition for mom or by stress.  Most dips won't require any supplementation - just offer the breast more often.  If baby is formula fed, make sure you have plenty of extra on hand plus the water needed to prepare (you may want to keep some ready-to-feed formula on hand as well as some disinfecting wipes to clean bottles - it would be a good idea to keep powdered formula on hand as well since you may not have a way to keep the ready to feed formula chilled once opened).  Gerber boxed milk and Pedia Sure are also good items to keep on hand for nutrition as well as hydration.
  • Milk - either powdered milk or the shelf-stable milk (such as Parmalat)
  • Emergency foods - canned goods (include a hand-held can opener as well!!! Remember, most cans of food can be warmed over a candle if need be.) granola/nutrition bars, other items your family enjoys that is high in nutrition and easy to prepare
  • First aid kits - one on each floor is a good idea
 Good to Have:
  • extra blankets/towels
  • baking supplies (flour, sugar, oil, yeast, etc) Put flour in the freezer for 24 hours before storing to reduce incidence of bugs.
  • canned meats/prepackaged meats
  • broth
  • peanut butter/jelly
  • dried rice/pasta/beans
  • canned tomato products 
  • canned soups
  • dried fruits/vegetables
  • toiletries (friends of mine have assured me that coffee filters will work as toilet paper in a pinch although they do not recommend it!)
  • snack foods
  • coffee/tea
  • batteries/flashlights/radio
What items would you add?  Subtract?  What am I forgetting?

Please let me know if you have any pictures or stories of your own stockpile!  I'd love to feature them on the blog!  penguinelk at yahoo dot com


Anonymous said...

Great info, Audra!

I have done a little stockpiling and need to do more.

I am so glad when I can use some of it when the budget is tight or I want to wait a bit to go shopping. I have learned to only buy what you would use normally or what you would be willing to donate to the soup kitchen when you need to rotate items.

At the beginning of the year, I donate stuff that will expire that year to the soup kitchen and restock. What I found, is that if I only stockpile what I really use, most of my stuff doesn't go bad because I am continually using and replacing as I go.

Also, for some reason, I think broth is like liquid gold. I figure if there is an emergency and I need to restrict my water usage, I can use the broth for making rice and pasta and then eat the broth as well. That is one thing I make sure I am never out of. As a result, I regularly make soups that are healthy and cheap! :)

-Jenn Lewis

Audra said...

Great ideas Jenn! I tend to do better on the non-food stockpiling but am working to do better on food! I love donating the surplus! It's so fun to bless others!

Lynnette said...

I've been building my stockpile mostly for savings. With this winter we've been having, I've been thinking about emergencies. Sure, I have plenty of meat in the freezer, but if I can't cook it, what good will it do us? I think I'll be looking for a propane powered stove to add to our camping supplies and double as an emergency backup!

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