Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations 2


Read these first:-

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(Some of the quick steps taken the State Government when the state faced with serious water contamination and people’s anger over the matter got worse on daily basis. Image source: YB Hannah Yeoh)

Couple months ago (and the month before as well), a good number of households (including yours truly) in the good state of Selangor was hit by prolonged water supply disruption. The culprit was water contamination – earlier from a source in Selangor (which the state government took swift actions) and later from sources from other states. The disruption of water supply created havoc to our daily routine and we had to be on our toes when the SYABAS water tanker comes to the residential area. Thankfully to the quick work by the hard working people at SYABAS and other agencies related to water supply, the taps was running high again by afternoon of Deepavali and remained uninterrupted since then.

Inconvenience to the end users no doubt but then again, it is a wake call for the authorities & the state government to take notice and make plans for the future.

NST reported this at the start of the water supply crisis:-

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development chairman Gurmit Singh describes the water management system in the country as “fragmented”. “We are in this situation because we have badly managed our surface water resources. On top of that, we have the dichotomy between the federal and state governments.

“Most state governments have failed to protect and maintain their water catchment areas. This compromises and adversely affects our reservoirs and water supply. We rely on surface water, but much of it is being wasted through badly maintained and burst pipes.”

But, he says Malaysia has not reached the stage where it needs to resort to underground water sources. Gurmit calls for more efficient irrigation practices, as this will mean more water for consumers. He also suggests that industries be supplied with raw, not treated water. “They do not need high-quality water because they mainly use it for cooling purposes.”

(Source)

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(This was back in 2007 – do we have enough water catchment area protected and enforced in 2016 and beyond? The fact the water treatment closed down more often than usual due to water pollution seems to suggest that we are lacking the means to protect our natural resources. Image source: Google)

The Semenyih water treatment plant was shut down for numerous times this year despite the abundance supply of raw water (unlike 2 years, we were struggling to get raw water due to prolong hot season). Thus far, contamination of raw water have blamed and it had come to a point where the state government even began to get suspicious – is someone sabotaging the state government with the water issue?

Well, whether the suspicion turns out to be true or not, at the end of the day, it boils down to enforcement, enforcement and enforcement. Water contamination will not go away in the near future but addressing them before it gets worse and forces the shutdown of the water treatment systems is the key step here and it had to be done so consistently.

Back home, we had been prepping for water shortage and water rations way before 2014 when the level of water in the dams was dangerously low. What have changed in the years thereafter is information channels and the community coming together to assist each other in time of crisis.

The residents at my residential area belongs to the resident association who in turn created a group chat room. So one get the news of water disruption, this valuable information is quickly shared among the rest of the residents. Often it takes couple of hours from the time the water treatment plant shuts down and to the time the taps at home goes dry. So if one gets the information as early as possible, there is more than enough time to quickly save up water. That means the house water tank to be full to top as well as the 3 huge water buckets (one is kept at the porch for ease of filling up water from SYABAS water tankers). Then there is several smaller buckets and in addition to that several containers of clean water for drinking & cooking.

And as an additional measure, couple of cartons of 1.5 liter drinking bottles also kept in the “doomsday store room” – 12 bottles cost less than RM10 per carton (which is a good deal). The trick is to buy them upfront & store before the news gets leaked on the water disruption and there is a mad rush to buy drinking water. At one point, I even had to drive out to places where there is not water disruption to buy drinking water as the ones near my house had fully sold out (including those expense ones).

And we have been keeping sharp eyes on water leaks to ensure that in time of crisis and when water becomes precious, we don’t have hidden leaks that reduces our water storage. And in the past, major leaks had come from broken water tank and in the end, we had to make a whole water tank replacement (after several attempts to patch the holes in the old water tank). That replacement costed us almost RM1000 but it was worth it in the long run.

Keeping the water at the water tank aside, we set priority on which of the water containers we will use first so that when the water authorities sends their water tankers, we can get ready the empty containers and pots to be replenished fast. And there is a good reason for that. The water tankers do not come at scheduled time and sometimes by the time they passes by the road in front of the house, the water level in the tanker is very low (they will send another tanker full of water later but we won’t know when). There were once the water tanker came in the early mornings when it was raining heavily and everyone was fast asleep – at times, timing just sucks.

And big containers are not feasible to use when the water tankers come because it does not fit the hose of the tanker and when it is full, it will be difficult to carry them. So we empty the smaller containers into the bigger containers as and when the level of water comes down. We then arrange these smaller containers, buckets and pots nearer to the main door so that we don’t have to search for them later when the water tanker comes. And everyone in the family chips on the effort of collecting the water from water tankers and this includes the kids who can carry the smaller containers. And like a well oiled machine, we keep doing it until the big containers are full and thereafter the smaller containers as well (thanks to the SYABAS guys who wait patiently for the residents to get their supply of water)

In addition to the off-beat water tanker timing, we also did not forget about the natural source of water – the rainwater which we can use for dish washing and for the toilets. Thankfully it rains often in the evenings so there is no lack of opportunities. There is no high tech rainwater harvesting system in place yet but a rough, low tech system consisting of simple buckets and roof gutters does the job just effectively. But a proper rainwater harvesting system is still in the pipeline in the future.

In end, a good mix of quick information, plenty of upfront storage of water to last the whole family for couple of days, prioritizing the usage of water and ensuring ways to replenish the supply of water kept us in the “cool” until the water contamination issue resolved and the supply is back to normal. There are many people in this country still don’t have access to clean water for their daily use so it is important we manage the water resources effectively and conserve water as much as possible. Our water resources already under tremendous constraint to meet the ever growing population and industrial needs, so faster we act, the better we can manage in the future.

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Chennai Floods & Prepping


Read these first:-

I am still on hiatus, hopefully not for long

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(Image source: http://www.newindianexpress.com)

Let’s talk about prepping which is another key aspect of this blog (the other is how Malaysians drive on the road and of course politics) and on the recent disaster in Chennai, India.

The 2015 South Indian floods resulted from heavy rainfall during the annual northeast monsoon in November–December 2015. They affected the Coromandel Coast region of the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and the union territory of Puducherry, with Tamil Nadu and the city of Chennai particularly hard-hit.

More than 400 people were killed and over 1.8 million people were displaced. With estimates of damages and losses ranging from over ₹20000 crore (US$3 billion) to ₹100000 crore (US$15 billion), the floods are the costliest to have occurred in 2015, and are among the costliest natural disasters of the year. The flooding has been attributed to the El Niño phenomenon during the El Niño year of 2015.

(Source)

I have friends, colleagues and distant relatives who are working and staying in Chennai and I know they have been badly hit by the flood.

For past 3-4 days of flooding, they had no electricity, running water, access to cooked food & drinking water, access to ATM and petrol and in some serious cases, even a place to stay. There had been reports of scores of people who had made it to the high grounds with just the clothes that they had wearing. They lost everything. It was a wreck to see small kids among those camped out waiting for the flood water to recede. An ideal doomsday scenario. And it is not over yet, the massive cleanup and getting back to the daily routine before the tragedy will take time and a lot of money and resources.

One cannot deny that Malaysia too is facing similar scenario on a daily basis but where credit is due and perhaps because we have been dealing yearly flooding since day 1, the response time and pre-flood emergency preparations by Malaysian Government seems to be much better than of the Tamil Nadu State Government.

Several flood mitigation initiatives have been undertaken by the various agencies, particularly the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Among such projects are the construction of flood plains, cantilever walls, tidal barrages, tidal gates, river channels and levees, pumping stations, debris removal systems, monsoon drains, retention and detention ponds, and dams.

The most high-profile mega project was the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) in Kuala Lumpur. Several forecasting warning system also exist to predict flooding instances, such as flood maps, telemetric rainfall stations, telemetric water level stations, manual stick gauges, flood warning boards, flood sirens, weather radar, satellites, and real-time flood forecasting warning systems.

(Source : Centre for Public Policy Studies)

At the end of the day, it is all about preparation, preparation and preparation and a good sense of paranoia (yes believe in Murphy’s law)

And talking about prepping for flood, it is crucial to have a good pre-flood planning and there must be at least 1 bug-out-bag prepped upfront before the flood and be ready with all the essential items.

The American Red Cross suggest these items to be available – packed and ready to go in case one need to evacuate the home:-

Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
Flashlight
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
Extra batteries
First Aid kit
Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
Multi-purpose tool
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Cell phone with chargers
Family and emergency contact information
Extra cash
Emergency blanket
Map(s) of the area
Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
Tools/supplies for securing your home
Extra set of car keys and house keys
Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
Rain gear
Insect repellent and sunscreen
Camera for photos of damage

(Source)

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(Future of global flooding – it is not going to end there. Source)

And that had me thinking on how early prepping could have made some difference in the aftermath of the worst flooding that Chennai had faced. Let’s list out the immediate concerns of the Chennai flood victims and then go back and see what they could have done or rather need to do for the next on-slaught of a similar flooding in the coming years.

1. Lack of Shelter

If there is risk of flooding, the first rule of risk management recommends risk avoidance and if not possible, at least some sense of risk mitigation. If possible, ensure the house is sitting on high grounds (not necessarily be on top of hills) or at least the foundation is higher than the rest.

In Chennai, whilst it is not possible for someone to look for hills to build houses but the other option available is staying in multi storey building. However even though those who had more than 1 floor of occupied space spared better but without electricity and running water, staying out longer would not been feasible

2. Lack of Food & Drinking Water

With most shops flooded, no running water and access roads blocked, many have to make do with whatever food they managed to salvage. Interestingly there was a piece in the news where the flood victims had no water to drink but alcohol selling shops up and running and having a booming business. In times of dire, it was astounding to know that alcohol is readily available than drinking water which means the liquor sellers were far more efficient than the state government.

To make things worse, shops that had food and water for sale, started selling them for exorbitant price.

And that means in the future, the residents must get ready with their bug out bag stocked with drinking water for at least 48 hours.

3. Lack of Money / Access to ATM

When disaster strikes, resources will be scare and limited and there will be people will to kill others to get access to these limited resources. And those who have that limited resources – shelter, food, water, medicines, transportation, etc will definitely take advantage of the situation (and they did in Chennai, big time).

Having money at hand will be a big, big advantage

4. Lack of Clothes for Change

Imagine this – your house is flooded and you had to abandon it to high grounds. You only managed to grab a few items before it becomes too late. You make it to high ground and you are wet, tired and cold and it is dark outside. And it starts to rain again and it does so for the next 2-3 days.

Trust me, having a change of clean, dry clothes goes a long way to comfort you and somehow replenish you spiritually for days ahead.

5. Lost of Important Documents

One rule that I enforce in the house is that all import documents are properly filed with a plastic cover and when the time comes to leave the house due to an emergency, we know where the documents are and easier to grab and leave. Having important documents especially identification documents is crucial especially aftermath when one need to get back on the routine.

6. Lack of Means of Transportation

The key advise here is to keep track of the news & updates on the weather and the local happenings. This is one reason why I am religiously watch the news first thing in the morning and before going to bed and ensure I get updates from other sources.

I am not sure if early warning was given before it was too late to do anything.

There were reports of people not getting sufficient warning and they only had minutes before it was too late to do anything. Scores of tourists from Malaysia were stranded in Chennai and missed their flights out from the country. Another aspect of transportation is the lack of fuel for the car / motorcycle. With the flood, there is a complete shutdown of the petrol stations around the city and even if they are opened, they don’t have the supply replenished in time. It is time to ensure that there is enough fuel in the vehicles at any one time and workout the alternate route and mode of transportation when roads are closed.

7. Lack of Communication

Even if you have a working telecommunications line working, if your phone battery is dead, you are back to square one and you know how power hungry smartphones are. A dead phone may even end up dangerous option if you are unable to call for help. And with family members separated, it is important to inform others where you are now and whether you are safe or not and if you need any help. Spare battery and power banks are life savers in this modern age and some power banks even now comes with option to charge using solar energy.

Now Chennai is getting back on its feet and there is a massive clean up before things can go back to routine (of course with a lot of finger pointing politically). The same in Malaysia – until today victims of flood is the East Coast still struggling and have not gone back to home. But the reality of things is this – such massive flood is not going to end and with a drastic change in the global weather over the past years, it is only a start.

It is time for preparation – this is not the end of things for sure

Next Stop: The Red Planet?


Read these as well:-

Given the state of the country as at now, you can safely say that when we celebrate the year 2020, this country would not have achieved the status of a “developed country”. So Dr M’s Vision 2020 will remain a vision and will not become a reality, at least in 2020.

For one, religion had taken precedent in key areas of the country and have caused a mismatch of priorities. Instead of us busy with human resource development and preparing the country for a “developed” status, we are busy on which law to use and how holy or religious one must be. And I saw this in play when I went to a shopping complex one fine day and decided to drop by a bookstore as my son wanted to buy a science book. We walked around and realised that there was more books on religion than on science and mathematics. I was hardly surprised – there were more people at the religion book section than at the science & mathematics book section.

Vision 2020 is also doomed to be nothing but fancy slogan because we still place high importance on racial based policies (we still calling ourselves as Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc instead of Malaysian) and on cheap politics. But come year 2020, all is not all lost though. Year 2020 would mark the start of activities that would eventually place humans on the planet Mars by year 2026.

Imagine a human colony on another planet and we don’t have to look another 100 – 200 years for that. We will see that in the next 10 years and it is very exciting news indeed. The company that is taking the exploration one step ahead is Mars One – is a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands that has put forward plans to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2027.

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(It may not look much now but imagine a lot more people on the surface and with high end technology which allows them to come back to the Earth and back to Mars again? Image source: Mars One)

It may sound far fetching at first and Mars One have been on the receiving end of many as nothing but a scam. Some even question the USD6 billion budget of sending humans to Mars but remember India sent its spacecraft to Mars for mere USD73 million. But think of the feasibility. Think of the possibility.

Mars One lists out the mission feasibility of a human colony in Mars in the following manner:-

Permanent settlement

The Mars One crews consist of people that want to settle on Mars. Absence of a return mission reduces the mission infrastructure radically. No return vehicle, return propellant or the systems to produce the propellant locally are required. Permanent settlement also reduces the required technology development; vehicles that can take off from Mars and return to Earth are currently unavailable and untested. Since the vehicle returning to Earth and the accompanying systems are mission critical for a return mission, they will also require backups adding to the infrastructure that needs to be delivered to Mars. More importantly, to attain a somewhat acceptable risk level, the return mission would need to be tested in a complete unmanned return trip before the first crew even departs the Earth. Even after a full test of the return system is successfully performed, the risk for a crew that will ride the first return rocket would be very high: 126 rockets launched from Earth since 1990 failed to deliver their payloads in the correct orbit.

Permanent settlement also solved the challenge of the astronauts entering into Earth’s atmosphere after having spent about two years in reduced or zero gravity environments.

Use of In-Situ resources

Mars has resources that can be used for a sustainable settlement. Water is present in the soil and can be made available to the settlement for hygiene, drinking, and farming. It is also the source of oxygen generated through electrolysis. Nitrogen and Argon in the Martian atmosphere can be mined to be the inert part of the atmosphere inside the habitat. Martian soil will cover the outpost to block cosmic radiation. Carbon dioxide can be taken from the atmosphere if the plants take in more than the humans expel.
The systems to mine water from the soil and to mine Nitrogen, Argon, and Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have never been tested in space. Mars is however not space because there is gravity and a thin atmosphere. Additionally, the processes are all more than 100 years old. The water can be collected from the soil by breaking up the soil with a drill and harvesting the resulting debris. Argon and Nitrogen can be collected from the atmosphere by removing the Carbon dioxide through a phase change.

Solar panels

The Sun is a reliable, robust, and plentiful energy source. Using solar panels is the best choice for Mars One since it takes away the requirement to develop and launch a nuclear reactor, thereby saving time and money while avoiding the risks and concerns of the use of a nuclear power source.
Thin film solar (photovoltaic) panels will power the Mars One settlement. These are less efficient than those more commonly used in aerospace, but have the advantage of being extremely light, and are thus easily transportable. The first settlement will install approximately 3000 square meters of power generating surface area.

Existing technology

No new major developments or inventions are needed to make the mission plan a reality. Established suppliers can build each stage of Mars One mission plan. While most of the components required are not immediately available with the exact specifications, there is no need for radical modifications to the current component designs.

Every effort was made to design the mission with as little complexity as possible. The choice to send permanent settlers removes the need for a heavy lift launch vehicle, which does not currently exist. Permanent settlement makes the landing module small enough to land with current technology. A pressurized rover will not be sent to Mars until large enough rockets exists. No water recycling in the transit habitat will be present because the trip to Mars takes only 210 days. Instead, all required water is stored in tanks that also function as radiation shielding. Storage of waste that is not easily recycled is available in the settlement until more technology is available.

(Source)

And just look at the number of people who shown interest in the Mars One project:-

Mars One applicants come from over 140 countries; the largest numbers are from the United States (24%), India (10%), China (6%), Brazil (5%), Great Britain (4%), Canada (4%), Russia (4%), Mexico (4%), Philippines (2%), Spain (2%), Colombia (2%), Argentina (2%), Australia (1%), France (1%), Turkey (1%), Chile (1%), Ukraine (1%), Peru (1%), Germany (1%), Italy (1%) and Poland (1%).

(Source)

The first 3 nations are well known for their eagerness and competition in space exploration. Out of the three, US and India already have rovers and space crafts orbiting Mars. And I am pretty sure the Chinese will do so soon as well although these guys are busy exploring the moon (hmmm, they know something we don’t?). And Malaysia is involved in Mars One in 2 areas – our own Angkasawan, Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is an ambassador for Mars One and three brave explorers from Malaysia including a woman.

SPACE: India Mars mission

(It’s only cost USD70 million to launch a space craft to the Red Planet. Trim down the money spent on wars, religion conflict and corruption and you can send hundreds of the space craft to many part of the solar system. Image source: engtechmag.wordpress.com)

Mars One is an one way trip as there is no way (presently) to bring the space explorer back. The environment is harsh and there is no guarantee, despite the mission feasibility, that the colony will succeed, especially when the next human civilization is million kilometers away (230,000,000 km to be exact) and in case of emergency, one cannot simply dial up 999 and ask for help. Rescue mission if it is to be done, will take months to prepare and execute and by then, any rescue mission would have been redundant.

Mars One itself can go bankrupt and may not be able to bring the next set of explorers to add to the colony. Anything can happen. After all, it took a lot of research, time, risk and money to send man to the moon, so what more another planet and that too for one way trip. But there are good reasons to make this trio to Mars, namely:-

To give our kids new Hope, careers and Dreams — beyond merely surviving in a world of growing terrorism, more “police state” responses, with increasing resource and energy scarcity ultimately leading to endless global wars

By finally opening up unlimited solar system resources — be it exotic fuels, new planetary minerals or endless solar energy – dramatically alter the “have not” competition between the First and Third Worlds here on Earth … the ultimate source of increasing global terrorism

By greatly accelerating these radical technologies — from “black” energy systems and propulsion to autonomous robotics, from desktop “super computers” to their ultra-broad band communications (essential to conducting “routine operations” on the Moon and Beyond) – dramatically accelerate overall national and global productivity, with startling increases in GNP and GWP

By federally subsidizing the creation of a whole new generation of consumer industries — through pioneering a literal “Second age of Space” — dramatically increase the historical “return on investment” from past NASA spending … from 23 to one to more than 100-to-one; thus, for every billion dollars invested in this New Space Program, over a hundred billion will return to the national and world economy

By finally providing accessible new sources of raw materials and energy “off planet,” processed in lunar and orbital industrial facilities, naturally reverse over a century of planetary degradation and pollution … including global warming

By accelerating fundamental solar system exploration with human beings, return equally fundamental, radical scientific information – ranging from comparative planetary data which will assist preservation of the Earth’s environment through new space installations, to answers to the origin of the human race itself

(Source)

Yes, money and human resource is important but aren’t we been busy wasting them on wars, corruption and wastage as well. Save up on those and you will plenty for the science exploration, I am sure.

Many of us, including myself are from the generation that grew with science fiction movies like Star Wars and Star Trek. Still remember ” to boldly go where no man has gone before”? It is in our nature to explore and find new worlds and the more we explore, the more we will push the boundaries of technology, science and human endeavor. And there is the prospect of rich natural resources that could be mined for humans (there was even plan to start a mining colony in the moon).

For those reasons alone, Mars One mission should succeed.

Prepping in Malaysia Part 4


Now that the GE13 has ended and Pakatan had settled the issue of the Menteri Besar in Selangor rather peacefully (thank God!), probably it is a best time to go back to our daily routine and one of it would be on prepping.

Read these first:-

canned food

(The canned food in the storeroom. Having enough food and clean drinking water for the family draws the highest priority on my prepping list but of course looking for storage place without it is left on the open is fast becoming an issue – I blame this on housing developers not having basement as a standard house designs in this country. It’s time to be highly creative with storage)

The world did not end last year but it was not the end of prepping as we moved over to 2013. We still had sporadic water disruptions although it was not that bad at my residential area – the water supply resumes the same day although some of my colleagues still had water disruption for days. We have yet to hit the big one on natural disasters including solar storms and global wide pandemic. On the other side of the coin, the recent general elections went rather peaceful and things soon got into a routine just a few days after it had ended although politicians are keeping the fire up the wrong issues for their own political reasons (appointment of the “once banned, once running fugitive” Hindraf’s Waytha as a Deputy Minister and uninspiring Cabinet Ministers however could be good reason to be concerned). So the panic purchase of essential goods before the elections did not happen although I did see more people with extra rice bags in their shopping carts this time around.

There have not been that many changes to my own level of prepping at home other than rearranging some of the storage and cleaning out some of drawers to keep more things.

We now have at least two 10 kg bags of rice on “standby” – when we use one up and pour the load into a separate rice container (which holds about 15 kg of rice), this bag is quickly replaced with a new bag. We had stocked up more on salt, sugar & cooking oil (even since the local store ran out of sugar one day) – all that we use in our daily cooking and always in demand. Storage of the canned food now includes bottles of sauce for spaghetti (my wife nowadays cook them for dinner). I have also added couple bottles of honey – which will come handy if we run out of sugar and of course does not have any expiry date. Air-tight containers (recycled from long titbits containers) are a good way to store spices and other small items – containers are easily stacked up. Instant noodles remains one of the more essential items in the store-room and have a drawer on its own and we now 00include dry noodle packets – it’s cheaper and flexible enough when it comes to cooking them. We stick to the principle of “storing what we eat and eat what we store” – this is to ensure stored food does not expire and we always the “latest” food stored.

One key thing that has improved greatly compared to last year is the understanding among family members on the need for prepping – so they all help out whenever they can when it comes to prepping. Prepping is no longer “sounds Greek”. No more weird looks when I talk about prepping. Family members do their own sundry shopping and whenever possible, now adds to the number of items in the “prepping” storeroom. This of course puts more strain on the available space so we had to be more creative in storing. Despite the rearranging things in the storeroom, squeezing every little bit of space, it is clear that we are running out of storage fast – the renovation of my kitchen (we hoped to get plenty of storage space once done) had to be kept on hold as we have not finalised the contractor, design & the budget.

And when it comes to storage, we also have non-food items to content with – spare batteries, candles, water filters, toiletries, garbage bags and washing items. My son’s room had the space and with a large cabinet in one corner with some old clothes and non essential items taking up precious space, it was time for another round of house-keeping. We threw away 1-2 bags of old DVDs from my collection and at least 3 large bags of old clothes (this one will go into the neighbourhood recycle bin) – we had cleared enough space to store our bathroom essentials – packages of soap bars, tooth pastes, tooth brushes, shaving blades, etc. At another corner, washing essentials – floor cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, tiles cleaners – all kept in place with proper ventilation and far from reach of children. And just like anyone running a storeroom anywhere in the world, inventory checking is a must and we often do that before month end and before we prepare the next month’s shopping list. It also gives us the chance to check on the expiry dates, condition of the items in the storeroom, rotate or use them accordingly and work out the quantity in the storeroom.

Next on the item is drinking water. There is still no rainwater harvesting system in place but this year (thanks to the water leaking into the bedroom), we managed to fix the leaks up at the roof and the water tanks. We can now be assured that we will always have at least full water tank in place should the water supply disrupted without notice. The two 15 litres containers for drinking water remains unchanged – I thought of adding another container but space in the kitchen is at a premium. So I decided to maintain the large raw water drum in the storeroom with a planned replenish cycle of 6 months. There are no plans to add any new water drums / containers until perhaps after my kitchen have gone through the overdue renovation (I already can imagine one corner to stack up with water containers – actively used for drinking and cooking).

When it comes to prepping, one cannot run away from the concept of bug-out-bag or as some would call – “mobile prepping”. I thought I have a reasonable bug-out-bag which I bring along when I go out to work or on long distant journey. My version of the bug-out-bug is not extensive although I want it to be – most of the items are stored in the house instead of the bag. But the more I think about it and as more prepping is done at home, it is clear that my bug-out-bag still has a long way to go before it is considered a bug-out-bag is sufficient enough to sustain for the next 72 hours. So I decided to re-designate it as more of a “get-home” bag (with key things – food, water, utility knife and clothes) than a proper 72 hours bug-out-bag. Work on a proper bug-out-bag have to take a back seat for the time being although I have the right bag for it (tucked away somewhere).

There is still outstanding work to be done namely on improvement of safety and trying to grow own vegetables in our small garden to minimise costs. We tried it before with chillies and tomatoes but the vegetables that we grew did not do well after attacked by pests. We still have 7 months to go before end of the year, so there’s still time to get things done. Perhaps with a mini greenhouse for the plants. For those who have not think about prepping, there is always time and opportunity to start this. We should have “always be ready” mindset so that when the tough gets going, we should always have Plan B lying around somewhere.

To be continued and happy prepping…

Prepping in Malaysia Part 2


Read Part 1 here

Before we proceed further, here’s an interesting revelation on the Mayan calendar that I recently read in the internet:-

Many, many people have tried to work out why the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar ends in 2012. Relatively few people have investigated why it began in 3114 BC. This date is long before the existence of the Maya, and even the Olmec. So what sorts of things were happening around the date of 3114 BC?

In Egypt the Pharoanic age began with Narmer, (aka Menes – the Scorpion King), who became ruler at roughly 3100 BC. He unified Egypt. The current age of the Hindu religion, Kali Yuga, began in 3102 BC. 3100 BC is when the first stage of Stonehenge was constructed, as well as the first stage of Newgrange. And the Tarxien Temples of Malta were also built at the same time.

(Source)

Just an interesting thought that the Mayan calendar calculation started at about the same time as the start of Kali Yuga (considering that we are about to enter the last month of the year 2012).

(A must have for doomsday preppers or anyone who often misplaces the batteries – more durable LED lights without any batteries! Image source: Tesco)

My “doomsday” storeroom is going quite well with the number of my canned food increased and not “reducing” so drastically as before.

But it takes a good sum of money and time to properly stock with the necessary items (namely foodstuff) and presently a portion of that money is now channeled to my baby’s diapers and milk powder which we now buy upfront and in a larger package and stock up in the “doomsday” storeroom. But then, there are also other developments for the storeroom – a couple of boxes of charcoals (in smaller boxes that nicely fits the storeroom shelves) are recent new addition. And I also got a large packet of a good quality charcoal from Pasar Borong (for less than RM15) which I know will come in handy when our 2 LPG gas cylinders (1 in use, another is a spare and is in full capacity) goes empty (I already bought a large charcoal stove several months before).

It was time to kick-start the next stage – having a basic bug-out-bag when I am on the move. Most of us spent more time outside and far from the comfort & safety of our homes during the weekdays and we also need to consider the possible readiness that one can do if there is an emergency and it is not possible to drive back home. The roads that we often use may be flooded or severely damaged, the weather may be too severe to venture out, the integrated public transportation may break down and on a worst case scenario, violent riots may break up causing us to hole up at workplace as how many of the New Yorkers found out recently during Hurricane Sandy.

I started with looking for a bag big enough to keep enough items to last couple of hours assuming I have to make my way without driving or taking public transport back to the house. The suggested contents of a bug-out bag may contain the followings:-

  • Enough food and water to last for seventy two hours. This includes (4 litres (1 gallon) of water per person per day, for washing, drinking and cooking, non-perishable food, water purification supplies, cooking supplies & cutlery and cups/dishes).
  • A first aid kit. Fire starting tool (i.e. matches, ferro rod, lighter, etc.)
  • A disaster plan including location of emergency centers, rallying points, possible evacuation routes etc.
  • Professional emergency literature explaining what to do in various types of disaster studied and understood before the actual disaster but kept for reference.
  • Maps and travel information.
  • Standard camping equipment, including sanitation supplies.
  • Weather appropriate clothing (poncho, headwear, gloves, etc.)
  • Bedding items such as sleeping bags & blankets. Enough medicine to last an extended evacuation period.
  • Pet, child and elderly care needs.
  • Battery or crank operated Radio.
  • Lighting (battery or crank operated flashlight, glow sticks).
  • Crowbar (weapon, building and vehicle entry, etc.)
  • Cash and change, as electronic banking transactions may not be available during the initial period following an emergency or evacuation.
  • Fixed-blade or folding knife.

But that list above is for a bug-out-bag when one had to leave the comfort of the house in case of an emergency. I needed a “lighter” version of it and I decided for start, to have these items for the mobile bug-out-bag (wrap with plastic bag to keep the bag dry)

  • A change of dry, clean clothes
  • A crank operated flash light
  • A couple of cans of tuna (one with easy ring pull tab)
  • A multi-purpose Swiss knife
  • 2 bottles of water
  • A spare dry shoes and a pair of socks
  • First aid bag
  • A couple empty plastic bags

It does not take too much space in my car boot too and I know that I usually not that far from my car (which explains why my wife complains when I do not want to go to places where I have to park my car far), so that means I am not that far from my “mobile” bug-out-bag.  I need to stuff the bag with more items as and when I have the time to get them but still within the “light” version borderline.

To be continued…

Prepping in Malaysia Part 1


Oh no, another doomsday post before the weekends…!

(Still think that EMP or Electro Magnetic Pulse is a distinct threat? The above was captured a couple days ago and if the sun storms are threatening satellites flying couple hundreds of miles from the surface of the planet, just think of the risk if sun storms gets more violent in the coming months as predicted by some scientists? )

I always think that tomorrow would better than today but at the same time, I also believe in preparing for tomorrow, today. If you are thinking the same and you are actually doing something about it, you can call yourself a prepper.

If you had been watching the “Doomsday Preppers” over at Nat Geo Channel (if you have not, you should), you will discover how some people will go to the extreme to prepare for worst case scenario and some people have been “prepping” for many types of eventuality (hyperinflation, collapse of the economy, end of the world scenario, major power blackouts, natural disaster, etc) for more than 2 years now. In Malaysia, we have yet to go on such large scale when it comes to prepping. Perhaps since we do not face any natural disasters and our nearest hypermarkets always well stocked and cost of good have always been cheap, we are taking things for granted.

But we also must keep in mind that we are not completely safe from events that are happening around the world – events that could and would disrupt our daily activities and turn the world upside down for us. One such event in the horizon is this:-

A new respiratory illness similar to the Sars virus that spread globally in 2003 and killed hundreds of people has been identified in a man who is being treated in Britain. The 49-year-old man, who was transferred to a London hospital by air ambulance from Qatar, is the second person confirmed with the coronavirus. The first case was a patient in Saudi Arabia who has since died. Officials are still determining what threat the new virus may pose.

(Source)

Add the above to the list of known & unknown viruses that are flying around on a global sense on daily basis, a number of WW3 hotspots around the world and out of the norm natural disasters, it makes more sense that we need to have some kind of “Plan B” in our pockets.

You need not take extreme measures. If you want to prep for any emergencies, you will know that it is not easy to be a prepper in Malaysia. As such, it would be interesting to share ideas and read on how others do their prepping for emergencies in this country and mind you, not all are preparing for end of the world. I am preparing for an unusual blackouts expected due to the predicted solar storms in the next few months (the sun is undergoing it’s 11 years cycle and scientists had predicted it to peak year end).

Prepping has been a challenge for me too (and it still is) and the first thing before we proceeded to anything was to find the space for storing. The obvious choice was the small storeroom in the house but it was full of items (mostly junks) and it seemed a nightmare to even think of cleaning it. But as one would say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, after I had spent a considerable time to clear out the storeroom in the house (we did not realize how much unwanted things can take up so much space in the little storeroom and it does nothing but collect dusts. It took us almost 3 rounds of cleaning before we managed to clear them) and then get it painted and stocked it with proper shelves (it was on fire sale at Tesco, so I bought 5 at one go), it was easier to start on the actual prepping tasks.

The first things that we bought for our “doomsday” storeroom was canned food and the obvious one in our list was canned sardines. A whole lot of them! It was not really cheap (there were cheaper options but we have never about that particular brand) but expiry date was in 2014 (which meant at least 2 years of shelf life) and it is something that we had for dinner on a regular basis. And slowly we added other canned items – canned chicken curry, canned green peas, canned peas in tomato sauce and canned tuna. It is easier to store (just need to stack them up) and it is safe as well. We wrote down the expiry month and year on the cans and we stack them based on the expiry dates (the earlier dates at the front).

Two 15 litres water containers was the next item on our list and with another 3 other containers of boiled filtered water meant that we have about 75 litres of drinking water at given time of the day. Experts recommend about 1 gallon (about 3.8 litres) per day per person during emergency and at least for 3 days. At the current stage, the water storage is enough to last the family for 3 days but certainly this is not enough on a long term basis. The next stage would be to increase this water storage capacity and I am planning to purchase large water containers to hold raw tap water. Rainwater harvesting system is another option for a renewal source of water in case the taps goes dry but as I mentioned in my previous posts, this option is not feasible in Malaysia if you don’t have the space (most of us don’t). You cannot simply have a large ugly expensive containers lying on your porch. There is still some work to be done here.

We then refocus back on our storeroom prep and we knew that we needed more than canned food. An incident a couple of days before the Hari Raya holidays reminded us on the stark reality of things to come. We went to our usual hypermarket and after we have fill our shopping cart almost full, we headed towards the counter when my wife remembered that we need to buy cooking oil. We walked towards the area where they had the cooking oils stocked and what we saw was rather shocking, the whole shelf was empty. Not one oil cooking bottle was available other than the more premium non-palm cooking oil and we had no other choice but to buy the premium non-palm cooking oil. But what will happen if this goes empty too?

So we added cooking oil into our storeroom items (unfortunately cooking oil is have very short shelf life) so we have to consistently keep an eye on it. We also added packets of rice although it does not make a good item for “doomsday” store as it finishes rather quickly and we have yet to try keeping rice in vacuum sealed packets which would keep rice fresh for 20 years or more. Then the usual stuff was added on the list – packets of maggi instant mee, chilly sauce bottles and biscuits. The next plan would to add “MRE” like food (although it is quite tough to find them in Malaysia) and of course, more canned food.

To be continued…

2012 Updates: Doomsday Survival in Malaysia


Read these first:-

(The essentials for a bug out bag – How many of us have one similar in case we need to grab the essential items from the house and had to go out to somewhere safe and had to survive on our own without getting rescued? Image source: http://americansurvival101.blogspot.com)

We are almost half way there…

A question. How many of you think that we need to get prepared for the unexpected that may or may not happen in the next few months? Most of you? A handful of you? And mind you, I am not even asking you to think about the so-called end of the world prophecy by the Mayans. It is not necessarily have to be that particular scenario.

I read this a couple days ago:-

Leaders of the opposition party may resort to using prolonged violent demonstrations to win the 13th general election as the democratic approach would not yield them victory if general election results in the past is anything to go by, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

(Source)

In Malaysia, the politics of fear has remained the politicians strategy to ensure continued votes to keeps themselves and their cronies in preferable position and I am not saying this is something new. It may not even wrong to say these things out now as fear can be great motivator and make people think twice of the consequences. Violent demonstrations is one example of disruption to our daily routine – food & other essential items may be rationed if businesses are closed for longer terms.  The same goes to the belief that the world may come to an end on 21st December 2o12. Those who fear that the prophecies may come true have started to make preparation for doomsday survival (and there seems to be many of them).

Let’s take the worst case scenario for argument sake. Let’s assume that something will happen in December this year and how one survives that event depends on how one had prepared themselves.

If it comes to the country that you want to be to survive if the world comes to “an end” on 21st December 2012, Malaysia may not be the best choice out there. Don’t get me wrong, Malaysia is a great country and with very little natural disasters to contend with (we don’t have earthquakes now but it may change in the future), we have one less thing to worry about. But then again it may also prove to be our Achilles’ heels – we may feel safe here but being too safe means we get complacent on issue of readiness and survival actions.

Just consider some of these factors that any survivalists in this country have to contend with (in no particular order):-

1. Basement or attic is not a norm in this country.

Just check around – how many of the houses on sale in this country comes with a good size basement or attic? At the most, you have a pitiful size storeroom at the bottom of the staircase (like the one in my house) or a storeroom cum maid’s room in some of the bigger houses. Admittedly houses in Malaysia is still cheaper than some of the houses in the countries that I have travelled to in the last few years but land portion is still a premium – not even enough to build a small garden shed, basement or other structures.

As survivalists, we may not have basements or attics but we have small storerooms (or spare bedrooms) and unfortunately this is what we have to use as storage to build the all important emergency food & other necessity items. It is not enough to hold emergency water storage (those large water tanks) and any food stored in the pitiful sized storerooms would not be enough to last your family for a few days. And certainly without a good sheltered basement, it may not provide a good protection from harsh weather.

There seems to be only one solution for this – buy your own land and build your own disaster proof basement. In Malaysia, most of us can only dream about this.

2. There are not that many survivalist tools & equipment suppliers

Ask this simple question – how easy it is to buy say water purification tablets or well-stocked bug out bag. And our so-called hardware shops around the country is nothing to shout about – it is more accustomed to large scale constructions and if there is a DIY store anywhere, it is not really user-friendly (yes, some of them are well stocked and plenty of Santa’s helpers around to assist).

I know because I have been visiting them quite frequently lately (I am revamping my store-room to be a food & emergency items storage place) and I did not get some of the items on sale. First, the size of the store does not means it is well stocked – despite my high & low search; I have yet to find a float for my water containers. Secondly just how many of the DIY items comes with proper instructions? Not many and that could be a problem – we may not have the solution to all our problems. Thankfully there is one’s resourcefulness and the internet to get all that important guide.

(Yes, you can opt to keep that huge collection tank at ground level but it is not convenient and is not efficient. It has to be lower for gravity to work its wonders. Image source: http://www.constructionresources.com)

3. Rainwater harvesting system is new and only for a privilege few

I am not sure how the rainwater harvesting system in Malaysia really works but from what I have been reading on the net, for the rainwater harvesting system to really work, you need a proper basement. Then again, see the problem here? No basement means insufficient storage space for the rainwater collected (where else you want to keep your water tanks, the complex filtration system and the water pumps?)

It gets worse if you are living in high-rise apartments – you can only rely on one source of water.

You can try to create some kind of storage with the little space you have in your garden but expensive items laying around on the outside in this country may not be laying around for long. You would have spent thousands of ringgit and time to get that installed just to wake up the next morning to find someone with itchy hands had dismantle it for the scrapyards. Such system had to be inside the house where it does not take up space on the garden and it can be safe from unwanted attention.

4. Solar system is new and no framework to allow home users to utilise alternative energy source

It is the same situation as the case of the rainwater harvesting system – the technology is so new and it is only available for a privileged few (a few who have the space and money). And even with the proposed feed-in tariff (FiT) implementation, the energy generated by the solar panels on your property will not necessarily mean that you will be able to be self-sustain on the energy available.

5. It is not easy to get a gun in this country

I think this is crystal clear to all in this country – there are strict gun laws in this country. Well, it could be a good thing and also a bad thing. The good thing is that we can expect less people to be walking around with guns in their hands at doomsday. Consider this:-

The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in Malaysia is 370,000
The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,000

The rate of private gun ownership in Malaysia is 1.5 firearms per 100 people
The rate of private gun ownership in the United States is 88.8 firearms per 100 people

(Source)

So, how else we can defend ourselves and the family when lawlessness rules the day and enforcement agencies are out of commission? Perhaps I may have watched too many zombie movies but it would not wrong to be holding a powerful shotgun and start to clear a couple of crooks out to injure you and your family and grab whatever little resources that you may have. It is a nice to have scenario but perhaps only in the movies. Not in real life and certainly not in this country.

But having said that, it does not mean that Malaysia is the wrong country to be in – we also have other advantages compared to other countries – there’s plenty of sunshine and rain to keep surviving in bad times. It all depends on individuals on how they want to proceed from there. Let’s start with the easy ones – build proper food & water storage for the family and start growing own vegetables and fruits in whatever space we have (even if we are living in high rise buildings). If this is not possible, then at least equipped yourself with the right knowledge in survival, medicine and DIY skills.

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