Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stockpiling: yes / no / oh please

It's a month since the World Health Organisation declared that the swine flu situation had reached Stage Five, the point at which the Federal Government's 132-page manual on the subject (and I hate to think how late how many public servants worked for how long to get that together and out in such a prompt response) said that Australians should begin to stockpile supplies in preparation for an imminent pandemic.

While the End of the World as We Know It scenario has thus far failed to develop, it cannot have escaped anyone's notice that there are now almost a hundred confirmed cases in Australia, with a spike expected shortly in the stats.

Over against that, some immunologists and such are saying that swine flu is actually not that big a deal, little if at all worse than just another new strain of flu. But the bloke I saw being thus sanguinely quoted didn't volunteer an opinion as to what, if not swine flu, had killed all those Mexicans.

Anyway, the manual (see para 1) appears, in its list of provisions that one should stockpile, to anticipate the scale of disaster that would see water and power supplies cut. More, erm, power to them for being cautious, but I'm not quite up to there yet. In response to that May 1 news item I linked to above, however, I have over the last few weeks been casually buying extra tins and packets of this and that, and have therefore beefed up various supplies from a list based on a quick analysis of what I couldn't go 24 hours without, much less two weeks, if push came to shove. In the order in which they came to mind:

24 hours
longlife milk (a six-pack of 200 mil cartons)
cat food
cat litter
2 x prescription meds
toilet paper

2 weeks
tinned crushed tomatoes
tinned soups
olive oil
Nurofen Plus

Everything else is negotiable, but I find myself now with a freezer full of frozen green veg and a pantry full of canned beans, lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, sweetcorn and tuna, extra boxes of tissues and aspirin, a spare new battery for the big torch, plenty of matches, all the ice-cube trays kept full, and a serious-emergency token ten-litre cask of spring water. I figure if it gets really bad I can put on a mask and gloves and go next door to swap my neighbour some home-grown lemons, spinach and herbs for eggs from his chooks.

Is anybody else stocking up? What would you need to put and keep yourself in quarantine at home?


Henry said...

candles, matches, good red wine and a copy of Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'.

Anonymous said...

Milo. The kid's current favourite 'food' item, and the only thing that would make all that long life milk ok.

My partner was always scornful of my tendency to keep a stock of pasta supplies and frozen veg, but when the power went off several times over summer and our local supermarket started to look like Russia c. 1989 he saw my point. It also looks pretty bleak there after a public holiday, I try not to think how it would look during a pandemic.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

The longlife milk is strictly for coffee in case there really are power cuts -- otherwise, as a helpless cheese lover, I consume too much dairy as it is. Although I suppose it wouldn't hurt the cats to have a taste. I left out fruit juice, of which there are 6x230 mil boxes, heavy on the Vitamin C.

I've got a stack of about 20 books waiting patiently for me to have time to read them, including The Road. The fact that I didn't think of wine at all (and there's only about a centrimetre of Scotch left, too) reassures me that any tendencies I may once have had to drink more than was entirely seemly are now completely gorn, as that wonderful woman says in the UltraTune ad.

M-H said...

I read a list that included 2 weeks' supply of of water. Are they expecting that this virus will break the pipes? Or that so many staff at Sydney Water will catch it that their filtering stations and pumping whatevers are unpersoned? But I always try to keep a reasonable supply of tinned stuff (tomatoes, lentils, kidney beans etc) and also dried pulses and some frozen meat. Plenty of flour for bread or scones. Lots of coffee. My biggest horror would be having to do without fresh fruit - but I'm sure that some kind soul could be persuaded to leave some on the doorstep. Unless, of course, the virus is so widespread that shops are closed, in which case we're pretty stuffed.

cristy said...

I'm a stockpiler by nature. I blame my mother. We already have 10 kgs of soy beans (from which to make milk and tofu), 25 kgs of bread flour, 5 kgs of almonds, 10 kgs of oats, 10 kgs of coffee, dried pulses, grains (rice, couscous, quinoa etc), and pasta coming out of our ears, tins of tomatoes, and a freezer full of fruit.

All this is just because i loathe going to the supermarket and stock up big at the co-op i shudder to think what my pantry would look like after a real panic.

I'd miss fresh tomatoes, lemons and Asian greens though.

Ann ODyne said...

matches + candles for illumination of text, and for finishing that patchwork which has languished since i discovered Blogger.

multivitamin caps to compensate.
red wine.


no electricity means no internet.

Every time I read about the www evolving via the military need for communication after (an unspeakable world event)I always wonder how on earth (no pun) they thought it would be powered.

Greg said...

Toilet paper, tissues & analgesics certainly make sense of something to have on hand, as does pet supplies, supposing one has a pet, but the rest of it seems to suppose a general breakdown in society as a whole, in which case our troubles likely extend beyond whether you can go on as normal for a week or two.

lucy tartan said...

I've got almost exactly what Cristy's got and for much the same reasons. The only reason I don't have as much cat food on hand as human food is that i can't bear imagining what people think when I fill up the trolley with sixty or so tins of Marinated Trout Feast.

ThirdCat said...

I have a complete seige mentality. We've been in this place five months, and one of those months I was back in Australia, and you should see the cupboards and the freezer. Stockpiles? We haz it.

You don't know how much real, actual comfort I get from the knowledge that I own a very small house on an island hardly anyone's heard of, that is completely self-sufficient with rainwater tanks and solar power. I even thought of building a bunker there. Srsly.

I'll be my own episode of Criminal Minds one of these days.

ThirdCat said...

oh, just one more thing...given the high calibre of your word verifications, it's always a bit of a letdown when it is completely meaningless.

Like, torbi. I mean, what's that?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I'm not entirely sure what their spectrum of logic is, but I've been thinking more along the lines of voluntary (or otherwise) quarantine at home.

However, I'm assuming that they're assuming, as a worst-case scenario, a large-scale social infrastructural breakdown, and if not that then at least major interruptions of various services if enough people get sick. And if you think about it, that might produce a domino effect. For example, a couple of Adelaide schools were closed this week after students were diagnosed with it. Which would mean for every kid at the school either a parent staying home from work, or farming out the kid to someone else, a grandparent say, whose routine would in turn be disrupted. I can see this potentially happening with workplaces as well as schools. Then someone needs to look after the sick, thereby exposing themselves to it and perhaps neglecting their own work. Etc. Multiply that by pandemic numbers and you can see how disorder would spread exponentially.

Laura, I have been slipping the odd extra pouch of Dine Chicken and Tuna in Jelly or Whiskas Juicy Duck in Gravy into my (now compulsory in SA) non-plastic bag whenever I shop.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Torbi sounds like either a cat's name (perhaps a compound of tortoiseshell and Tobermory) or the brand name of a little power generator. For the island.

Zoe said...

You wouldn't believe the stockpiling here if I was game to tell you.


ThirdCat said...

so it does

Link said...

Fancy Feat Trout x 500 tins
Coffee, several kilos
Olives, several kilos
Rolled oats
Dried fruit
olive oil
horse feed x a coupla tonnes
tobacco (ditto above)
dark chocolate (same)
loo paper--the rough stuff
does yoghourt freeze?
does fetta freeze?

I'd be starting to feel a bit icky after I'd run out of apples, tomatoes and cucumbers--there's always watercress in the creek though.

rolly papers (tch)

lauredhel said...

We usually keep fairly stocked too, but we've made sure to keep supplies high of toilet paper, flour, sugar, coffee (we roast our own, have about 10 or 15 kg of greens in stock), yoghurt-making sachets, tinned fruit, vitamin pills, porridge, lentils, dried fruit, tinned beans and tomatoes and tuna, cheese, crackers & biscuits, frozen meat, pasta, rice, chocolate, muesli bars, UHT milk, longlife juice, 2 min noodles, and probably a few other things. There are a couple of slabs of home brew down, and a couple of cases of wine.

We're not prepping for massive power outages or anything as disastrous as that (though we do have water, wind-up torches, and a gas bottle for the BBQ); just for quarantine.

R.H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Petrol. To run the generator. Because you can feed the cat your frozen vegies when the power goes out for a week if you don't have a generator/something to run it on, and I'm speaking as someone who weeps every time the Royal commission get reported on the radio and who has tried to cook pasta on a barbecue after the microwave (the only appliance apart from the toaster that ran off the generator), ceased to do anything but light up and spin mid dinner attempt. Stockpile stuff you can eat raw/cold and/or stockpile fuel and have a cooking appliance that will run off it. Oh and pasta + bbq? Let's just say that sweet and hungry children will eat anything and smile if mummy seems about to flip out and daddy is out putting out a fire for the sixth night in a row.

fifi said...

I can barely organise my household in normal circumstances, let alone in an emergency.
I guess I will just have to starve to death.

I can barely lug a weeks worth a shopping up my stairs, let alone THREE lts, especially bloody tins. I will have to rally the troops to form a human chain, handing up tin after tin after tin of Whiskas and crushed tomatoes.(yum)

Deborah said...

I've been remarkably blase about the whole thing. Nothing stockpiled, not even coffee. But I'm about to do the Big.Weekly.Shop tomorrow, sans plastic bags, so maybe I might just grab a few extra things. I think we could get by for a week or so on what I have in the pantry anyway, but it might be worth topping up just a little. We do have a rainwater tank (full!), and a woodpile, so we are not quite as dependent on utilities as some people might be.

But w.r.t stockpiles and no plastic bags - despite them being banned in South Australia nearly a month ago, I still have two supermarket bags full of supermarket bags, hoarded.


Kathleen said...

@ natural word: Easiyo.

So our stockpile also includes kilos of milk powder (skim & full cream).

Meanwhile, I have now found people whose pantries are stocked identically to my own. You are the people buying me out of tinned tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, pasta, beans and rice at Aldi! Some of us still cook from staples! Hurrah!

(word verification: "lochl". Scottish dialect for all that porridge.)

Henry said...

I get a genuine thrill to see a sack of rice or dried beans. Stockpile away! If the swine don't kill us, the weevils will!

("coledne": a rare skin disease brought about by eating too much tinned tomatoes)

Prudence said...

The thing that really worries me is losing power for a more than a couple of days - all the food in the freezer then becomes a liability.

bernice said...

As well as the domino effect of people not turning up for work, numerous radio interviews of health officials over the last 24 hours indicate a significant level of concern about the health system being overwhelmed and the resultant 'poor health outcomes' (truly) for folk with chronic or life-threatening conditions.

As to stockpiling, have I enough tea?

Unknown said...

I'm with Fifi: totally unprepared. And also pretty unconcerned, actually.

And yes: you can all call me grasshopper...

librarygirl said...

The only thing I've deliberately bought as an extra in case of swine famine is yeast, because I have a 10kg sack of flour. Otherwise there is plenty of winter green stuff growing in the garden. Our cat, much to his joy, would be set free in the bush behind our house, to kill a bird or rat or something every day - he is currently an indoor boy.

Armagny said...

Pertaringa Shiraz and a copy of Ben Harper's latest album should see us through.

Deborah said...

Just unpacked the weekly shop, including some extra pasta and rice and canned toms and tuna, and I assessed my pantry. I think we would manage for a couple of weeks. It would get a bit dodgy after that.

Mindy said...

Don't know about the pantry but being quarantined with the kids for two weeks scares the bejesus out of me. The whinging would have me climbing the walls in minutes. I don't know what I'd do when we ran out of popcorn and monster noodles.

Elsewhere007 said...

I am bit lost on this, here in Alice. At least it's raining today, which is nice. I imagine they'll just sink another drill into the bore here, if there's a pandemic

I have a virus, possibly caught at Darwin airport, so I'm flirting with the idea that I have swine flu but otherwise using it as an excuse to spend quality time with the cats.

Remember the millenium? One of my best friends stocked up with catfood and her favourite hair colour in preparation. I don't know that the pandemic's going to get more serious than that.