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

Ending The Year 2014


najib golf

(Not everyone can be the PM – very, very hard at “work” overseas. Some had said that there is nothing wrong for a leader to take a break. Well, that is correct but not when the country is seeing one of the worst floods around. The big mamma still on holiday, its so seems – no one had seen her wading through the high water in downtown Kota Bahru. Image source)

Before I go further, my deepest condolences to the family and friends on those were abroad the Air Asia Flight QZ8501 – the 3rd tragedy in the year that involves a Malaysian linked airline. I don’t know why Malaysians had to face this – not once or twice but three times in the same year. MH370 is still missing and MH17 just had to be at the wrong place, wrong time and QZ8501 must have met mother of all storms. One just hope that there will be some kind of closure in 2015.

Heartfelt prayers also goes to the flood victims in the East Coast (and also in the West Coast now) that saw one of the worst flooding since 1971. Prepping is no longer a joke – with such flooding is due to be a yearly affair, we need to look at prepping in a wider scope. Management of the rivers and coastal areas would be critical aspect of prepping from the Government. Citizens on the other hand should look into making their homes to be flood-proof or have an alternative place to stay and of course with proper stockpile of food and water. Stories piling up on instances of people running out of food and water and the situation looks hopelessly lost. Nonetheless it is a grave reminder of things to come. The more we put off prepping for such instances in the coming years, the more painful it is going to be. It is a reminder to me too as I have been focusing less on prepping in 2014.

My own 3 weeks break came and went without a blink and I will be soon be traveling again on work assignment. My flight back to Malaysia was scheduled to take off at about 8 plus in the morning and knowing that I need to be in the airport at least 2 hours before boarding and it is about 1 hour plus from the apartment to the airport, I booked a taxi to fetch me from the apartment at about 4 in the morning (that taxi driver came and waited for me since 3.30 am!). With the taxi booked and all luggage packed for the trip back home by 9 pm, I contemplated of taking a short nap. The night was still early and I was sure that I could woke up at 3 am. Just when I was to jump on the bed, I had a dreadful vision – the alarm ringing but I casually switching it off and going to bed, only to wake up at 10 am in the morning. I did not want to miss my flight, so I made a big pot of coffee and watched movie on TV. Good thing I was not feeling that sleepy and hours went off fast. A good shower in the wee morning ensure I was awake as I took the luggage down to the awaiting taxi.

I must have dozed off in the taxi – there was a bump and when I opened my eyes, we were just arriving at the airport. Another long wait for the airport for the check-in and breakfast but at least I was at the airport.

wolf

(Although I was disappointed on missing some of the titles that I saw in the previous year, this should be enough to last me until the next Big Bad Wolf Book sale)

When I came back home, instead of the usual nap I often take whenever I come back from overseas, I had to go off and do some work for the house (haircut however came first before anything else). My kids were excited to see me back, so they hardly allowed me to catch up on my sleep. Then at night, we went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sales and I spent almost RM300 on books (this time around, my choice of books was less compared to the stack that my son had). It was however worth the trip – RM300 bought us almost 3 boxes of new books.

We came back late and decided against driving off to north in the morning (you see, I had promised my son to take him to the water park in Ipoh for the holidays). We decided to go after lunch which was not so bad as the traffic by then was fine and we did not have to slow down in many areas. The only “funny” thing that happened was my car door automatically unlocks itself and locks again when I press the brakes. By the time, we reached the in-laws house to stay for the holidays, it was already evening and my relatives were coming back from work. We stayed up late again, chit-chatting and watching movie. I was already feeling like zombie when I finally went to the bed (I was given a room of my own) but had a very disruptive sleep because I had to wake up a few times at night going to the bathroom (had too much to drink).

In the morning, the weather was great but I had something to do first – go and fix my car central locking. Still remember when it unlocks and locks itself when I was driving? It became worse – I found the car unlock when I went to check on it in the morning. That means if I lock up the car, a few minutes later, it will unlock itself and that is all that was needed for a car jacker to have an easy access to my car. I called the service centre and good thing was they had few cars on service schedule in the morning. The mechanic “managed” to fix it within 30 minutes – loose wiring they said. Happily I took the car out and barely 100 meters from the service centre, the problem started again. I drove back and this time, the mechanic followed me in the car. It was apparent then, that he had not fixed the problem. He took it back to check and this time, it took him almost 2 hours (including replacing the whole central locking mechanism) to get it right. Almost half day had gone by then. I went back and seeing that it was too late to go to water park, I decided on something that I have been holding back for past few days – catching up on my sleep.

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(I think this is Kuala Kangsar after our lunch in Chemor – we made a pit stop here because there is a famous bakery here where we wanted to buy bread. Situation was not ideal to bring the kids out for the fun day at the water park)

The next day, when we suppose to go to the water park, it started to rain cats and dogs. The situation looked gloomy. Even my son did not want to go out as the weather was very bad. My father in law however decided that we go for a lunch at one place he knows in Chemor (very near to the water park that we wanted to go). It was raining when we left the house, it was raining when we were on the highway and it was getting even worse when we drove into Chemor town. After parking the car at the back of the a small restaurant (it looked quite old as well) and struggling with the umbrella in the heavy downpour, we managed to get the 2 car load of people in front of the restaurant. We walked in and the atmosphere immediately changed. Inside was very modern and roomier. Lunch was extraordinary with my son ordering spicy crab curry and a good load of crabs to go with it. It was still raining when we left the restaurant and decided to take the old road instead of the highway and drive through the places where my grandmother used to live.

The so-called break from work at my in-laws place ended up with a bang (literally). We head back home on a working day, hoping that the highway would be free (and it was indeed) and the ride would be more pleasant. Nearing KL, things started to slow as we caught with the on-going road works with 2 of the 3 lanes closed. The traffic started to move slower and at some places, it was almost bumper to bumper. It was just after lunch time too and things was getting were warm in the car (despite the air-cond high). That coupled with the crawling traffic started to show its ugly side – I was falling asleep.

Often there was enough space in between for me to recover and stop the car but this time, there was none. Just when I thought of stopping at the next R&R, I must have dozed off as the next thing I realised is that I have bumped into the car in front. For moment, I was blur on what had happened. The driver came out and started looking at his bumper. Fearing the worst, I came out from the car, expecting to confront an angry driver but instead the man looked at me and said that there was no damaged and extended his hands. I shook his hand, said sorry and went back to my car. Rest assured, I stayed wide awake the rest of the journey but I still stopped at the next R&R for a break (and also to check if there is any other hidden damage). Imagine if I had dozed off when the traffic was fast (and me traveling at 110 km/h) and rear-ended a truck instead. I must have done some good karma to walk away from this with nothing more than a word of “sorry” and an handshake.

2014 had not been a very good year but it has not been a very bad one too. I had good times catching up with my primary school mates – some not met for almost 30 plus years recently. Blogging had taken a very back seat this year with me hardly having the time (but not ideas – thanks to travels and good old Malaysian politicians) to blog. I traveled to a new country this year, met good friends there, enjoyed the food & culture and hope to go to another in 2015. Work compounded this year compared in 2013 but that was expected – when one moves up in the organization structure, there will be more responsibilities, tasks and plans.

Happy New Year everyone and I will see you next year!

Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations


water chart level

(More people means higher consumption and coupled with a longer run of the dry season causes a dangerous level at the water catchment areas. Image source: TheStar)

Here are some snippets on the on-going water ration that you may have or may not have read.

At first comes the disbelief and outrage of the whole idea of water rationing (understandably from those who need a constant supply of water for business) – after all, we never had water ration in the past before and it is a fact that Malaysia stacks at the middle of the tropics and is no stranger to heavy rain in the evenings makes water rationing almost an alien concept :-

Malaysians reacted with a mixture of disbelief and outrage over the announcement that even more water cuts would be headed their way beginning this Friday. Having been forced to change their lifestyles to weather the water crisis, residents and business owners alike were demanding that the authorities figure out a way to improve the situation fast.

(Source)

This year, water rationing has become a harsh reality and I am sure in the coming years, water rations would be a yearly event. And despite the disbelief & outrage that one may make on the water rations, this is reality and there is nothing anyone could do if we do not want to deplete the water so quickly. Water ration in the Klang Valley started with Phase 1 back in February 2014, subsequently Phases 2 & 3 was initiated and we have now come to Phase 4 which started last week and already there are talks of Phase 5 water rationing:-

Phase four of water rationing in the Klang Valley begins on Friday but talks on phase five are already taking place as water reserves at dams in Selangor continue to drop below critical levels. Insiders say if the water levels decrease and rain does not fall over the water catchments areas, rationing could continue until the end of the year.

(Source)

And for the record, even the wettest town in the country is facing the same problem and this should indicate the chaos in the climate system in the last few years:-

Water rationing in the country’s wettest town, Taiping, begins today and will last two weeks. Public utilities, infrastructure, energy and water committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin said the water rationing will affect 23,719 households in Taiping as well as several areas in Kamunting.

“Although there was heavy rainfall near the Air Kuning dam area over the weekend, we will still go ahead with rationing to control and maintain a healthy level of water supply in the district,” he said. He said this is the first time water rationing is being carried out in the state.

(Source)

It may get worse in the coming years. Water has always been one of the key priority at home when it comes prepping and readiness for unexpected long term water disruption. Now we are faced with actual water rations with some saying will last until July this year (or worse December), it was interesting to see what worked and what did not and what can be improved.

Rainwater harvesting system

Before I go further, for your information, there is no rainwater harvesting system in place yet. It is not that I have not given it’s due thought on this – no doubt, rainwater harvesting system will cut down the usage of treated water used for car washing, toilet and general cleaning and will save up on the water bills. One big problem is finding enough space for the rain water harvesting system. It is not a small piece that one can just plug and play. Presently there is only limited space on my porch and the only I could expand it is if I renovate the whole place (one day I will) by shifting the pillars to the side and tile up the whole area. For the time being, there is no time or budget for that.

But having said that, I wonder why there has not been a greater call for rain water harvesting system to be part of the standard facility for all new housing areas. House price is already at an insane level – a couple of more thousand does not make any much difference. This rain water harvesting system remains an illusive item to most of us and it is not because of the price or lack of suppliers in the country but rather it is due to a lack of the space.

I did try to set up a very rudimentary rainwater harvesting system – a simple pail set at where the rain water falls from the roof and the water then stored in a water drum that can be sealed and used for toilets. But this cannot be done all the time especially when sometimes there is a serious lack of rain and if it rains, it is not enough to fill up the pail.

Realigning water usage

Obviously with water rations in place with 2 days with water and 2 days without water, we had to change our lifestyle rather drastically.

The first one to be thrown out of the window was my weekly car wash. I also have decided not to visit the road side car wash – it is still good water down the drain (I wonder why road side care wash centers are not banned in time of water crisis). On the days when we don’t get water, we still use the washing machine for washing clothes as normal BUT not for the whole washing process. My wife hand pre-washes the clothes first using less water (assuming) and then put these clothes into the washing machine on SPIN mode which spins the clothes but does not use water. There’s less work for my wife too.

Long showers have been cut short too. These days we take enough to keep ourselves clean. This however does not apply for the kids – they still have to take a proper shower. Same goes for cooking at home (which also means dish washing). On the days when we don’t get water, we don’t cook. We opt to eat outside. However the negative side of this is that we have to spend more money to buy food from outside. Yes, we save water in a way but in the long run, it is not cost effective. Money that could be used for water bills ends up many fold over on outside food and drinks.

And last week, when the kitchen cabinet contractors finally came to start work on my new kitchen cabinet (yes, finally!), we had to schedule their work time with the day when we get the water. Thankfully the workers’ boss understood the situation and rescheduled the work schedule for us.

pailswatershortagelim0103

(Selling like hot cakes – plastic water storage. Image source: theStar)

Extra storage

The other aspect of water ration is water storage. With less water used on days when the water is rationed by realigning the use of treated water, there is an added comfort if you have that extra storage of water lying some where in the house, just in case the water ration is extended for another day or two. Water storage is very high on our priority list.

In addition to the house water tank located on the roof, we had to ensure that we had stored enough water for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and for use of toilet and this must be enough to last the whole household for at least 2 days or more. From the onset, as part of my prepping readiness, I had ensured that storage for drinking water is addressed first. We can go on without bathing for days but we cannot do the same when it comes to drinking water.

The 2 large 15 liters water containers was more than enough to sustain us for the 2 days (despite the water disruption and the warm weather making us to drink more water). Based on my calculation, it should last us for at least a week. And to be on the safe side, for my daughter’s use, we also bought 2 boxes of 1.5 liter drinking water bottles. Each box has about 1.5 liter 12 bottles – so in total we had about 66 liters of drinking water which is sufficient to meet the daily recommended water intake per person for 1 week. In addition to this, we had filled up 4 pots of raw tap water that can be easily boiled for drinking. That adds another 40 liters of drinking water. So drinking water was not a major problem.

For bath and toilet, we had bought 3 huge water containers (about 80 liters each) at about RM70 each (price jacked due to the water crisis, no doubt) and this is filled to the brim when we had water and kept this stored water unused until the house tank water goes dry.

Moving forward

Then the question that begs to be answered is whether with Phase 1, 2, 3 & 4 water rations in place, does it really saves up water? If you ask me, it does not – it seems like we still use the same amount water on an average basis. Dirty clothes still need to be washed. We still need to take shower and use the toilet. We may not cook at home but since we buy food from the outside, the restaurant still uses water. But this is something for the authorities to consider in the long run. As individual preppers, what is more important is storage and managing usage for greater sustainability.

This makes an interesting case study for prepping in Malaysia in the coming years and may inspire non-believers, those who had thought good things are here forever to be a prepper. Water rations could just be start of things to come. With more changes to the global climate, things will change and some will change drastically. At the end, it will fall on how ready we are to meet these changes.

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…

2013 – Expectations & Targets


book cabinet

(The overloaded book cabinet that is long due to get a “partner” – the sign was obvious when we started to see books all over the place. And we have targeted this year to get one and reorganise the area into a mini-library )

Happy New Year to all and welcome! So, what’s I am expecting in 2013?

We will have the big Boss’ 1st year birthday to celebrate this year and compared to the one we did for our son (the other Boss) many years ago (although we made it up for his 2nd birthday), we were thinking of doing it on a larger scale with friends and family and probably save the trouble of cooking for all by just engaging a proper caterer. The problem is to find the right place to have this celebrations – doing it in the house is the obvious option for now but it may not be enough to accommodate all if we are going to “formally” do this one (parking would be chaos too). And if we are going to do one for new Big Boss, we also need to do a similar one for the other big Boss, just to be fair (we might combine the two celebrations to cut cost & time and make it a lot easier for guests too). Anyway we still have a couple of months to decide and plan for this birthday bash – we just need to pull our resources to finalise them. I am sure we will get plenty of suggestions. And we can’t wait to share the new Boss’ experience of growing up in the same manner we had with our son (we still do and we are loving every moment of it).

My son has moved up into the “first class” this year and we are all well aware of the intense competition and high expectations (from the teachers) in that class for the top places. We are also well aware of the fact that if he did not do well this year, he will be moved out from the “first class” to other “lower class” next year. Actually we are not very concern with this “first class” – “lower class” issue. Education can come in all forms and manners and the status of class means nothing to any students who are hard-working, all rounders and well understands the subject matters. And we are more than happy if son gets good marks (to go to college) and the education that will be useful in his future. And we know that he can keep up with his friends in the same class if he wants to if he spends more on school books than on his comic books & games. So this year, a small change of strategy needed in making sure he spends more time on his writing, school books and homework and us spending more time to check on his school work and tutor him if we find any weaknesses.

For this year, we are also intending to add another book cabinet before end of the year and turn the small family area upstairs into a mini library (we already calling the existing book cabinet “the library” but it would be better if we can get the books more organised). My son has been stacking up more books in his room and because we don’t have enough space in our current book cabinet, it is taking up precious space at his cabinet where he is also keeping his school books. And it has come to a stage where we are now stacking up books in 2 rows and on top of each other in the book cabinet. So another book cabinet is a must before we have the 2013 Big Bad Wolf Book sales starts at end of the year (another event to look out for in 2013), otherwise my wife is going to see more books lying all over the place and I know how much she hates me making the house “dirty”. Creation of a mini library would also mean that we need to rearrange the prayer altar for the book cabinets & maybe a couple of soft sofas and work on better lighting to make the reading more pleasurable (to make it an ideal corner for reading).

prepper

(2012 may been the Mayan’s end of the calendar year which thankfully did not happen but hopefully this 2013 would be prepper’s year to be one notch better than last year. Picking up from the news report on last year’s doomsday excitement, it should not be the end of prepping and getting ready for disasters in the future)

2013 would also be my target year to be a complete prepper where I hoped that we will be self-sustaining on food, water and others (maybe with improvements on security as well) for at least couple of months. Think about it – we barely into 2013 and we already facing a serious disruption of water supply – a basic need for all living things and despite it has been raining cats & dogs for some of the days, there seems to be plenty of finger-pointing as to who to take the blame (in this case, the contention that Syabas should take the complete blame for poor maintenance of the pumps makes a lot of sense). I have a colleague who did not have running water in his housing area for the last 2 weeks and he has 2 school-going children to take care and things are not getting any better even now (the latest news reports states that this situation is going to last way in February – imagine the havoc on Chinese New Year celebrations and then we had warnings of typhoon Sonamu hitting the East Coast states with a possible spill-over to West Coast (so, another round of flash floods?). Anyone recall when was the last time we had major warning on the some tropical storms hitting our shores? And I am not talking about the yearly “musim tengkujuh” warning. Is it going to be sign of things to come? Would prepping be part and parcel of our normal routine in the coming months? With a constant threat of water disruption (and now the weather), perhaps we should start with prepping of water for a longer time period and that is what I am targeting for this year.

Oh yes, we will likely to see the general elections to be held this year and it will be interesting to see on whether Pakatan can still to hold on to the states of Selangor and Penang which BN lost back in 2008. After all, they have been pretty “busy” for the past years since 2008 campaigning Pakatan as a bad choice for Selangor instead working themselves to be better choice for the people. It will also be interesting to see whether BN can regain the lost two-third in the Parliament (a place where they have been kept on their toe by the increased and well coordinated oppositions). However the fact that the Selangor State Government resisted the implementation of AES in the state (with dumb politicians failing to see the bigger picture) is more than enough for me to turn to the dark side and vote for BN. The Pakatan fellows may have their merits in resisting the AES implementation but the longer they resist without a solution in sight meant lawlessness on Malaysian roads will continue with dire results. Whatever it is, we need to be prepared for face dirty politics as part of our daily life until and perhaps after the dust had settled after the general election (we saw the same thing in 2008 – remember the Perak fiasco? I hope you still remember it – it was a case of law of the jungle at the highest order).

One thing is certain at this point of time in 2013 – we will not be a developed country by 2020, not in the next short 7 years that we have (there are too many things to be undone and done and I don’t see the political will-power to take drastic actions), not when we don’t have broad minded politicians who can see the bigger picture (some still living in the Stone Age and insist on others to follow them too), not when we are still lack in areas of enforcement & management of resources and certainly not when we continue to segregate the people by race and religion (unless something drastic happens in this year). The ex-PM, Tun Dr M can go to his grave knowing that his vision 2020 remained as a vision and nothing more.

Counting down into the 8th year of blogging, it has been one a good way for me to relieve stress and provide a good mental exercise (another has been reading a good book). And speaking of stress, 2013 seems to be a good year to relook into the topic of health and well-being. It is something I started at the end of last year – eating less outside and bringing food from home. Since the birth of the baby and until the time is right for my wife to go back to work, (since she had to wake up in morning to make milk for the baby) she decided to prepare food for my daily lunch. Nothing special or difficult – last night leftovers and something simple & hot in the morning and with less oil, salt and carbohydrate and more protein. Money saved from daily lunch (and breakfast) is re-used to buy fresh vegetables and fish (which is not getting cheaper by the way), so in a way I am getting a bigger boost for health from the same amount of money. It is not about me going for dieting (it will not work) but rather eating more balanced, healthy food, something that sometimes is difficult to get in your local mamak stall. The other aspect of getting healthy is exercise and that is something I have not really planned on anything specific other than take up more time to play badminton with my son in the evening on weekends and do more housework (cleaning & painting the house).

Let’s see how things moving on as we proceed further in 2013…

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.

Back to the original post

(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.