Monday, June 4, 2012

Safe Food in Troubled Times

On 4th September, 2010, Christchurch was violently shaken by a Magnitude 7.1 earthquake.  On 22nd February 2011, an M 6.1 shock destroyed much of the city centre and since that time, there have been about 3400 shocks of greater than M 3.

After the February earthquake, I expected to read of food and water related diseases spreading through the population - the water supplies were seriously damaged and sewer pipes were destroyed, while liquefaction of the ground allowed mixing of ground water and sewage to occur.  Contamination of water supplies by faecal bacteria and viruses was therefore a serious consideration.  People handling food for themselves and others would have to take great care with personal hygiene and cleaning of food preparation areas.

Amazingly, there were no major disease outbreaks.

New Zealand sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is sometimes called The Shaky Isles.  We are taught to look after ourselves during a shake and to make preparations to look after ourselves in the aftermath.  In my rumpus room out back, I have a cache of canned food and bottled water.  But how many of us expected the Christchurch earthquakes to go on for so long?  My cache would last for only a couple of days.  Some people in badly damaged areas had to cook in their gardens on barbeques and open fires for many days.

This set me thinking about security of food supplies after such disasters.  I guess that natural disasters are one thing; what must it be like when those waging civil war deliberately set out to destroy infrastructure?

We can expect that help might take a few days to arrive.  Local emergency services will be overwhelmed by the number of people requiring assistance and their own degraded response capabilities - roads will be damaged and may be impassable for emergency vehicles.  Stores and warehouses may be destroyed, power supplies will be interrupted and food may therefore be scarce, spoiled and possibly contaminated.

The first few days are therefore critical for the population to survive and begin rebuilding their lives.  A secure and safe supply of food and water is essential.  How does the average family prepare for their own and their neighbours' welfare?  Dried and canned foods provide a safe and stable basis for the emergency supply.

There are many websites that will help you plan.  Civil Defence in New Zealand provides lots of valuable information, such as lists of things you need in a survival kit; commercial organisations offer ready-made kits and meals that can be prepared with minimal resources. 

I don't endorse the following sites or products, but you may find them useful.

http://www.pcc.govt.nz/A-Z-Services/Emergency-Management/It-s-Easy---Get-prepared/Emergency-Food-Stores

http://www.prepare.co.nz/default.asp?c=11655

http://www.efoodsdirect.com/

http://whatscookingamerica.net/LeaSchneider/EmergencyFoodPantry.htm

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/food/

A quick search on one of the major search engines will provide you with many more links to valuable information.



If you want more information on the Christchurch earthquakes, see the following:


http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/

http://www.geonet.org.nz/var/storage/images/media/images/earthquake/aftershock_decay/58870-7-eng-GB/aftershock_decay.png

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