Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Preparedness Principles... (no, it's not boring!)
By Shirley Bahlmann
It’s been several years (my oldest was six, now he’s 29) and many household moves since I’ve written a serious list for storage items. Back then I remember feeling, I don’t know, like Noah, as I built up stores against a possibly disastrous future. But another couple of moves depleted my storage and lost my list.
Now it’s a new era. My oldest grandson is six. I’m selling my cute red PT Cruiser with leather interior because I can’t stand the rising price of gasoline. I’d rather eat than sit in the driver’s seat of a fun car with an empty gas tank. I truly look forward to stocking my shelves with necessaries, and Salsbury’s book has captured my imagination as surely as the best mystery novel Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote.
Salsbury knows her stuff, especially since she’s experienced her own disasters. She comes to the subject with a dose of practicality (don’t go in debt to get your survival supplies!) as well as humor (“Nature’s best 100 percent natural polyester blanket. Made from hand-fed, organically grown polyesters…”)
There is no generic storage list here. Salsbury offers bare-bones basics suggestions, but she emphasizes the final list should be yours. I also like that she includes attitude as a bare-bones basic.
(Alright, readers, here’s a spontaneous bit of review for you: I just walked out onto the porch to find every single gallon of factory-sealed spring water I’d hauled from the car in preparation to carry down to the basement with the LIDS OFF. “Who took the lids off the water?” I yelled.
My nine-year-old covered his face with his hands before confessing.
“Why would you do that?” I asked, admittedly a little louder than necessary.
“Because it’s just water,” he said, peeking at me through his fingers. “I didn’t know.”
It’s true. He didn’t know. I often buy water for our fish tank. So I shut my mouth and went for a bike ride. Now I’m back, feeling much better after a cool, refreshing drink of bottled spring water.)
Regretfully, I have yet to make the time to get all the way through Salsbury’s book. I’m reading a little each day, like a hummingbird returning to bright flowers to suck up the delicious nectar. The layout is very reader friendly, with boxes of helpful hints, charts, planning sheets, and diagrams of how to build several types of shelves and mini-gardens in the appendix section. I was so excited by Salsbury’s encouraging words that I showed the book to my husband, Bob. He flipped to the Index, then riffled through the pages. “I don’t see anything in here on guns and ammo,” he said. So, if you’re planning to survive with the use of firearms, you’ll need to supplement your reading. Just so you know.
I’ve got my pencil sharpened and my notebook out as I scan Salsbury’s hefty 364 page 8” x 11” book. (Hm. If all else fails, I can eat the pages for roughage.) I’ve already hauled half the stuff out of our small 1900’s furnace-filled basement to make room for more important storage than toy plastic pompoms and an orange crate full of funny hats.
It’s great to have a plan. I really hope the floods don’t reach me until next year, because by then, I plan to be able to float.
Shirley: Hoo-boy, Barbara, I hope I wore enough anti-perspirant! In your opinion, what are the three most important things to bring when you meet a crazy lady who wants to interview you in the desert?
Barbara: Desert? Dang I thought this was a video set for freeze-dried ice cream. Now if you had planned ahead and gone to the sale in February you would have plenty of deodorant.
Shirley: Does preparedness run in your family? Did your grandmother have crocks of molasses stored under her bed?
Barbara: I know that preparedness is in my DNA. I had one of those new tests done to trace your roots, but the peanut butter kept clogging the machine. No, the family pets, the dust bunnies lived under the bed.
Shirley: (fanning face) Hey, do you mind if we sit in the shade? Oh. You’re already in the shade. Good thinking. I didn’t see anything about hats in your book, but admittedly, I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Do you have any advice about hats?
Barbara: Of course! Do I have any advice!? You plant some of that wheat you have stored under you bed. Let it grow nice and very tall. Then you pluck it carefully at the roots and weave it into your new hat. Then if a disaster really should come your way, you eat your hat. And that's where that old fashioned saying comes from. :]
Shirley: Okay, this is just too funny. I was going to ask you a silly question about dehydrated water, but as I was fanning myself with your book, here, I actually saw a reference to dehydrated water on page 258. What survival items have improved the most since you started preparing for emergencies?
Barbara: I invented dehydrated water. In fact I sell bottles of the little blue tablets. You simple get a gallon jar or a bucket for a larger amount. Drop the tablet into the container and add sufficient water to fill the container. Don't overfill or you will waste the power of the tablet. New items? Hmmmm. Probably all of the dehydrated items you are supposed to cram into a tiny back pack for evacuation survival.
Shirley: I’m just going to sit down in the shade of this cact… ow! Ow! I think I sat on a cactus!
Barbara: Stand for a while, it may be less painful ... or not.
Shirley: You’re remarkably cool in the face of cacti spines and lack of civilization. What is the worst disaster you’ve been through?
Barbara: Reality and truthfulness here would indicate that I should tell you all about the terrible earthquake, or losing our business and not having money so many times ... but probably the very worst was the day that I discovered that my son had discovered the ten pound block of Ghirardelli chocolate that I had carefully disguised in my pantry. Now that was enough to make me cry.
Shirley: Your biography says you were the personal preparedness consultant for San Francisco, California, and are currently one for Sandy, Utah. Who do you consult with? In a nutshell, what does a preparedness consultant do?
Barbara:I try to convince all of the citizens that I am not a nutcake and they really do need to assume some responsibility for themselves. I have just written A Personal Preparedness disaster Planner for the city of Sandy. It will be sent to every household. I teach workshops for community groups in the city as well.
Shirley: Your book makes a great seat, by the way. Keeps out cactus spines and heat from the sand. How does this book differ from your previous best-sellers?
Barbara: It hasn't sold as many copies yet :] (Sorry I couldn't resist) It is the most comprehensive book that I have written. The others were written to a smaller area, such as grocery shopping buying power, or how to use dehydrated foods. This one covers the entire gauntlet of personal preparedness, so much more than just "food storage."
Shirley: Hey. I think I hear something. It sounds like… bells. Hm. Maybe I need a drink of water. Oh… thank you. You’re so prepared. I admire your organizational skills. Your book is so reader-friendly. How do you organize your information so well?
Barbara: It only took fifteen year of research and three years of constant writing. The organization just happens when I eat my chocolate. Actually it has become a habit, I start with file folders, constantly (I mean constantly) carry a pen and a pad of paper or notebook with me to jot thoughts and ideas on and then they are dropped into the category where they will fit ...or not.
Shirley: (looking side to side) I know I hear bells! They’re playing a tune! It’s getting louder… can you hear it? It’s very annoying, but familiar somehow… da-de-datity-da-dede…Look! Coming over that sand dune! (I stand up and shade my eyes to see better. Barbara is prepared with a wide brimmed shade hat, so she’s good.) It is! An ice cream truck! We’re saved! We can buy a Casco! (I stick my hands in my pockets and turn out empty liners.) Oh, no. I don’t have any money. I should have paid attention to Section One, Chapter Three, “Money Matters.” Who would have guessed I’d need money in a barren desert? What’s that shiny thing you’re holding? Money? You have enough for two? Aw, that’s great! I’m so glad you believe in sharing.
Barbara: I know I’m delusional now. I just heard the funniest word…sharing. (snicker, snicker.)
Shirley: Hey, I’ll tell you what… I’ll spring for hot chocolate when we meet in the tundra, okay?
Barbara: THANKS! I LOVE IT. Of course this may change people’s views of how serious a writer I am.
Shirley: It’s a deal, then.
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort Inc. (August 1, 2006)
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #328,423 in Books
CLICK TO PURCHASE BOOK