Friday, 21 February 2020

What are the essentials?

If I was trapped in my bedroom because my ground floor was flooded following ‘Storm Denis’ what would I need?

Do I assume the toilet still flushes and I can have a wash? If the water is still on and the electricity is safe I can boil a kettle, make drinks, cuppa soups, couscous, use a microwave oven and fill hot water bottles. I can make toast and rely on helpful neighbours in boats to replenish my dwindling stocks of bread, milk and butter. 

Presumably I can’t do any washing as the machine is in a flooded kitchen.If the bathroom is functioning it might be possible to wash underwear and shirts but if the heating’s off where do they dry? 

If I have no cooking facilities how long could I last in a bedroom on take aways delivered by another helpful neighbour in another boat? Shouldn’t I be trying to get out into fresh air? What if I can’t find my wellies? And when do I start clearing out the filthy carpets and furnishings downstairs?

At a time like this the mobile phone is a boon, neighbours with boats or similar are life-savers and the emergency services are heroes. But ...

If there is no plumbing, no clean water, no electricity, no heating in my home I don’t think I could stay in a bedroom unable to flush the loo, make myself a drink nor have a wash. I couldn’t recharge my phone and couldn’t listen to a radio unless it’s battery operated. It would be impossible to stay in bed under the duvet with a full bladder and nowhere to relieve myself.

What are the essentials? If you are used to camping presumably you have LED lights, portable loos and gas burners for heat and cooking. But our last camping trip was many years ago and our portable loo is trapped somewhere unmentionable in the back of a shed which itself has seen better days. If the garden’s flooded presumably the shed would be too. 

How to prepare for a flood, then?
Have portable gas-fired heating at the ready? Have a gas camping stove, whistling kettle and camping saucepans and spoons to hand? Have water purification tablets and stocks of tinned foods and bottled water? Have tons of wet wipes to help maintain a modicum of self-cleanliness? Ensure my camping loo has sufficient cleaning solutions to keep it hygienic to use? Have a hot water bottle in a state of readiness? 

And if I could manage to be this prepared how would it affect me psychologically to have to live like this, cramped in one or two bedrooms with the smells of rotting carpets working their way up the stairs? 

My heart goes out to people suffering in the latest floods. But this crisis is going to be more commonplace. What are the essentials? How long could any of us cope - camping out in our bedrooms? 

And what about the victims of coronavirus trapped in their cabins on their cruise ship? This is not what they paid £3K for. They truly will suffer cabin fever. Presumably - although surrounded by water - the ship’s electrics, plumbing and kitchens are functioning. Travellers can wash, eat, use the loo, sleep in warm bunks and watch tv. But stuck in one  cabin with no end date in sight? How does that help their stressed states of mind? 

We are no longer, in the main, the generation that got through the war. We aren’t used to blackouts, hiding in shelters, waking up to a destroyed home or queueing for rations. Climate change and mass cruise travel can damage the environment. The weather is shifting, airplane travel is a pollutant but ferry travel seems greener. 

Time for us all to wake up and readjust to a less indulgent lifestyle. Alter our habits, adapt to wet winters, blazing summers and prepare for floods. Simplify our holidays and hope for the best but plan for the worst. What do we really need to do more than just survive? What are the essentials? 

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