Panic buying has always been something of an amusing sport to me. Anytime there is news of an approaching hurricane or any significant storm, stories begin to circulate of people running into stores to stock up on groceries.
Multiple friends of mine said they went shopping this weekend for their usual weekly groceries only to find most of what they needed had been completely sold out.
Two of the most sought-after items, as they always seem to be in these situations, were bread and milk.
Why is it always bread and milk?
In the event of a true emergency where there is no electricity, how long is milk expected to last? Unless you have a generator you can continuously run until power is restored, you can be sure those items in your fridge will ruin.
Like someone on Facebook said after a frustrating trip to Walmart on Sunday, “If we lose power, all that milk is going to be buttermilk by the time it comes back on.”
Panic buying is often done with good intentions, but with a lack of proper knowledge and planning.
Creating a stockpile is a smart idea, but you should be filling your shopping cart with nonperishable items, such as grains, dried and canned beans, nuts and seeds, dried fruit and veggies, canned fish and poultry, canned and dried soups, jerky and granola bars.
Many stores and websites even sell emergency food kits filled with similar items and freeze-dried meals that can last for several years.
You’ll never see me or my husband making a mad dash for the store because we are already prepared with a food supply kit that has a shelf life of 25 years. That bucket, which is kept in the very back of our pantry, gives us an added peace of mind that we will be ready should an emergency ever arise.
Once you have compiled a food supply that is capable of lasting everyone in your family a minimum of three days, you should then compile an emergency preparedness kit of non-food items.
In a real emergency, people will not have time to scramble around their home looking for necessities, and they’re likely to forget many key items in the midst of feeling panicked and stressed.
Get a durable backpack or duffel bag to keep in a designated space that everyone in your home is aware of should that time ever arise. I know some people who even have two survival kits — one for their home and one for their vehicle.
Items inside this survival bag should include a flashlight and plenty of extra batteries, waterproof matches, a complete first-aid kit including an Epipen, a hand crank emergency radio, a multi-tool, flint, duct tape, blanket, hygiene products, hand sanitizer, change of clothes, compass, tent, map, tourniquet, portable water filter, tea light candles, pen and paper, rain ponchos, rope, an emergency whistle, and a deck of cards for downtime.
The list may seem excessive, and I’ve seen far more extensive ones, but these are tools meant to help you negotiate your way through an unexpected event. The overall point is, you never know what you may need until you need it.
Not only should you own the tools necessary for survival, but you also need the knowledge to know how to use them properly.
Survival preparedness is something I grew up learning. My family went on numerous camping trips growing up and every year between the ages of 12 and 18, I was sent to summer camp where survival rules were constantly instilled in us. I am grateful to know the basic skills of building a fire, creating a shelter, and tying knots. Everyone should.
If you don’t know how to do some of those things, there are plenty of books and videos online that will teach you.
Once you have your own emergency supply kits at home, you’ll never feel the need to panic buy the next time a storm is heading to town.
As the Boy Scouts say, be prepared.
Catherine Kirk is managing editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.