Stockpile lessons learned from the long emergency

It happened to us, and it happened differently than I expected. We had a family emergency that pushed us into a situation where we had to use our stockpile. We are grateful that we had it, and we learned a lot from this experience (which isn’t exactly over). I found out that I’m going to have to make adjustments to the stockpile and to my thinking from now on, so I will share what I learned.

  1. I never counted on ME being taken out of the equation. I had considered what would happen to our family if there was an emergency of some sort – natural disaster, property destruction, loss of income, or loss of function, but in every scenario I prepared for, I did not think for a second that the one who would be plucked out of the situation was me. I just had not considered that. What an eye-opener. I had stocked everything with the idea in mind that I would be controlling things. Since I was the one out of commission for over 2 months (and limited for probably the next month), things were not set up to work that way. No one else in the family does what I do, or was trained to, so I could not have expected them to do things the way I would have done them. I really have to do some serious thinking and make some adjustments.
  2. You have to cross-train every family member to fill in for every other family member. Division of labor works most of the time, but if one family member is hurt, sick, or has to leave the area for some sort of emergency, everyone else has to fill in. Everyone is busy and has other interests, so you aren’t going to have time to teach everyone everything, but you can at least have contingency plans in place or maybe written instructions. As it turned out, while I was taking care of 2 different family emergencies outside my house, I left a lot of things undone and everyone else in the dark as to how I meant for things to be done.
  3. Should the main cooker/cleaner/shopper be out of commission or out of the household, you need to have ways to make it easier on everyone else. If you are the one who is used to making spaghetti sauce from scratch, so you have stocked up on seasonings and canned tomatoes, but no one else has your recipes or your desire to cook, you need to have convenient options so that they are not frustrated, deprived and wasteful while you are out.
  4. We totally ran out of convenience items while I was gone, because I never trained anyone on how to properly use these. We ran out of trash bags because when I use a trash bag, I fill it, then pull it out of the can, stuff things down and compact them, then walk around the house and empty all the trash cans into it. It is full to bursting before I throw out a trash bag, because as I’m sure you’ve found out, they aren’t free and you have to WORK to find the lowest price and pay the least you can. Just this one bit of knowledge I never shared with anyone, I guess because I was always the one handling this. So, while I was out, the rest of the family would just pull the trash bag out and tie it up and throw it out as soon as the trash in the can crested the top. They went through trash bags at triple the rate I ever did. My six-month supply was gone in about 2 months.
  5.  Repeat that for every convenience item – paper napkins (the cloth ones were used once, tossed to the laundry, never seen again), single serve sweetener packets, kleenex, freezer meals, single serve juice boxes/milk, anything easy to grab and single-use and convenient. I don’t have a huge supply on those because I buy a gallon of milk or juice and pour from that, and only have the single serve ones to grab and go for day trips. Kleenex and paper napkins, I’m not sure why those ran out so quickly, I just suspect they were used in place of paper towels (which are WAY CHEAPER) because they were in neat stacks and dispensers and easier to grab, but I can’t be sure. Single serve sweetener packets were used because no one probably knew that I have a whole container of the scoopable stuff and that’s much cheaper. I only had a few freezer meals because I keep those in the off chance I’m late or not going to be home for dinner, which never happens, I always make extra food at meals to save the leftovers. But without me to cook the meals and make the leftovers, the single-serve freezer meals were wiped out in a few days. All in all I just never explained any of this to anyone because these are all the things I usually watch and control myself. If no one knew where to find anything, they’d grab whatever looked reasonable and was closest, so that’s what happened.

My head is reeling with this new knowledge and responsibility and I have a lot to reconsider. I see I need to make adjustments not only in what I stock, but how I handle things in the pantry and kitchen and supplies closets.

I guess what I would recommend is for every family, think about each member of the family and what they contribute. Consider what would happen if that person was out of the home for an extended time or was unable to perform their duties. Share information, write things down, or teach each other what you do to make things work around the house.

I’m glad I had this chance to learn, I have a lot to adjust, and I’ll keep reporting how it is going. I hope you find this tip useful.

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