Prepping In Malaysia Part 3


Update 1: Some 300,000 residents living in Cheras and Ampang will celebrate the New Year without water supply as it will take Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) up to one week to restore the service to their areas (source). Still think that we need a major disaster to happen before we start prepping? All it needs is a fault in the pump house and you are out of water for a week – that is a real case scenario right here in Malaysia.

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(Remember; when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed. — Steven Cyros)

Kuantan Flood

(Streets or rivers in Kuantan? Yes, it is a yearly affair for those who live along the East Coast but the West Coast has its share of flash floods too. We may not have killer hurricanes or earthquakes or volcanoes, unlike our nearest neighbours but we do have our share of natural disasters. And given the frailty of our infrastructure, maintenance and dirty politics, we are also exposed to possible blackouts and water supply disruptions. Are we ready for it? Image source: TheSun)

Welcome back, a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Just one more post on “2012” before the end of 2012 (please read Part 1 here and Part 2 here). The world as we know it did not end last week and we will likely to have a very smooth journey into 2013 but it did not deter me from prepping for unforeseeable disaster in the future. If you have been following up on this blog, I talked about Mayans and 2012 way back in 2007 (almost 5 years before the deadline on 21.12.2012) but I did nothing back then – no storerooms, no bug-out-bags, no canned food, no water storage, nothing. But then, counting down towards 21.12.2012 and as I realised the importance of preparing for emergencies, it has become a good excuse to be a prepper. Moving forward, the challenge would be to maintain the same prepper’s mindset beyond 21.12.2012.

Anyway, it was interesting to read the various comments in the net & mainstream media when the world as we know it did not end last week. Some were positive (especially from fellow preppers – they were determined more than ever) and some were not. Some even ridiculed the Mayans civilizations – an ancient civilization that had fully developed written language and a well developed understanding in art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy. What if we got the Mayan calendar all wrong and we are off the mark by couple of days or years? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Others ridiculed the fact that there are people prepping for doomsday. Was it a sign of people not believing in having Plan B or taking things for granted? – I don’t know but based on what I have read in the papers, there seems to be some misconceptions on prepping.

1. The world did not end on 21.12.2012 and nothing will happen in the near future.

Now if we analyse the hype of 21.12.2012, it merely mentions that the Mayan Long Calendar (by some extension and interpretation, the world) ends on 21.12.2012. The thing is Mayan had never predicated what would cause the end of the world (if one takes the end of the calendar to be the end of the world).

A number of possible disasters (both natural and man made) have been mentioned as the possible cause of the end of the world – major earthquakes, super volcanic eruptions, high possibility of a bull eye’s hit by large asteroids (or dark comets), ark floods, giant tsunamis, an all-out nuclear war (triggered by rouge countries or terrorists) and civil unrest, solar storms, drastic polar shift, ice age, break out of plagues, alien attacks, etc and even though we were lucky enough not to see it happening on 21.12.2012, some of it remains a major threat to mankind

Our rich history of mankind is dotted with incidents of major disasters that had wiped out thousands or millions in the past. We only need to turn to our history books and remind ourselves. Can we say for sure that nothing will ever happen in the future?

2. Prepping is a waste of time, resources and money – we can always get things from the hypermarket even on a bad day.

In the same manner we are grateful that we have a spare tire in our car when we hit a puncture in a dark lonely road or we had brought along the umbrella when it starts to rain, there is no harm coming up with a fall-back plan – a Plan B sort of. No doubt prepping takes time, resources and money but can we call it as waste?

Being in Malaysia where at the worst, our “disasters” are confined to flash floods, blackouts and water interruptions, we need not spend the time and money preparing for the worst. When disaster strikes, we simply wait for the Government to send help (in form of relief centres, financial aid and sundry items). Some may decide to spend time with relatives and friends until the time of disaster simply passes over. But what happens if we are to face a disaster that is not familiar to us – say solar storms and extended blackouts and water interruptions or a major plague (still remember H1N1? It’s almost end of 2012 and it is still here) and when it will some time before the Government can do something about it?

And don’t forget that we are also cursed with the usual mentality of doing things at the last moment. If we know that we need to hold-on on our own for a few days before we can rescued, rushing over to the hypermarket to stock up on food and water at the last minute could be overwhelming experience – not only we have fight our way to little food and water that may be left, buying things at the last moment could be expensive too (it’s a different story if one have been building up the storage over a longer period)

My grandmother was one of the earliest supporters in the family when it comes to prepping and she insists (to this day) that I am doing the right thing. She went through the Japanese occupation of Malaya and May 13 and she knows all too well the importance of storing up food, water and other essentials when disaster strikes and it is not safe to venture out.

3. Buying canned food as part of prepping is dumb as it does not last long and if nothing happens, it goes to the waste.

It’s a fact that canning is still one the best ways to preserve food and has a long shelf life, some with 2-3 years before it can be “unsafe” to eat. Canning has several advantages when it comes to storage too. It does not need refrigeration, easy to stack up, highly portable (great for bug-out-bags), completely sealed and well cooked during the canning process and this kills any bacteria that may be present and still keeps the nutrients intact.

My idea of prepping is to continue to store and keep something that we use and eat on a regular basis. Forget about keeping canned food for disasters – even normal days we still use canned food on a very regular basis and that includes sardines (and mackerel) which is great for curry or sambal and is a good source of protein, tuna spread (my son love it with bread for breakfast), baked beans and green peas. We simply decided to buy extra 5 cans instead of the usual 1-2 cans whenever we go for our shopping and over time, we would have stocked up enough cans that can be used for the future. So we did – we bought 5 cans, use up 2 cans for our usual cooking and keep the balance 3 cans in the storeroom and the cycle went on until we have a sizeable storage of canned food that can used in the event we cannot venture out to buy food.

All the canned food have been properly labelled and arranged based on expiry dates – the one with the longer dates are stacked up at the back whilst the one going to expire soon is stacked up at the front. And we only buy those canned food that we use on a regular basis (nothing exotic) – so this rotation of cans will make sure that we don’t end up having expired canned food and if nothing happens, we can still use it for our regular use (when I started prepping, my canned food was running out faster than I could store them).

4. All house water tanks are enough to last for 3 days (taking into consideration the 72 hours factor), so what is the big deal in storing more water?

We use water for drinking, cooking, the toilet and shower and perhaps to water the garden and wash the car. But when the taps goes dry, we need to conserve whatever water we have, primarily for drinking and cooking – we can only survive an average of three to five days without water.

When I talked about water storage for 3 days, I was talking about drinking water and for a family of 8 (5 adults and 2 children) and excluding whatever left in the house water tank. As recent as 2012, there are places in this country that had experienced water supply disruption lasting up to a week. My friend had water supply to his housing area disrupted for more than a week and after numerous complaints, they finally sent some water tankers for the residents but guess what, it was sent when most of them was away at work and it was not enough to cover all houses! That almost started a riot. And more recently there have been threats of water disruptions as well.

Ask yourself this question – will your house water tank last your family for at least a week? If yes, good for you but if it does not, what is your Plan B if you experience water disruption? Wait out for the Government water tankers who may or may not show up at your residential area or when you are away at work? Or rush over to your local sundry shop and buy crates of expensive mineral water (forget trying to replenish your water storage with the water kiosks in front of the shops – it may have gone dry too)? Or store up water upfront when you still had water in your taps and recycle them often so that the water in your storage remains fresh and safe? Which one is easier to do?

5. Preppers are people who are simply afraid to die (ya this was one of the more interesting one that I read). When it is time to go, nothing stops you from going.

Tell me one person who is not afraid of death? Suicide bombers perhaps. Yes, all of us have to “go” one day but does it mean we will leave it to our fate and go down without a fight? What about the people who have beaten the odds and survived from a near impossible situation? Still remember of those who crashed in the Andes and survived? The fact is no one wants to die and if you have people to take care (family, relatives or friends), you will do whatever it takes to keep breathing and survive. And you don’t have to be a prepper to do that – just ask anyone who have a family to take care of. So, it’s nonsense to link preppers to people who are afraid to die.

We are grateful that 21.12.2012 was not the end of the world but in the same juncture, it should be the start of prepping. The future is uncertain and we should not take things for granted. No one is forcing anyone to be a prepper but think about it, especially if you have small kids and elderly parents to take care of.

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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…