When considering disaster preparedness, supplies and equipment are important. Many of my columns have dealt with the issue of “Get A Kit, Make A Plan, Be Informed.” More important than stuff, is knowledge. But ultimately knowledge will take a backseat to attitude. Time after time those who found themselves in a survival situation did not make it even though they had all the equipment necessary. In the book Deep Survival: Who lives, who dies and why: true stories of miraculous endurance and sudden death, author Laurence Gonzales points out, “….experience, training, and modern equipment can betray you. The maddening thing for someone with a Western scientific turn of mind is that it’s not what’s in your pack that separates the quick from the dead. It’s not even what’s in your mind. Corny as it sounds, it’s what’s in your heart.”
My father’s family grew up in dryland Nebraska during the Great Depression. Often times they were forced to make do with what they had on hand. When I was 17 years old, my uncle took my cousin and me camping and deer hunting in a remote area northwest of Roseburg, Oregon. He had an old International pickup and it was a barebones camping trip. When we arrived at our campsite, we discovered we had no matches. This didn’t even faze Uncle Eddie. He pulled a greasy rag from behind the pickup seat, siphoned some gasoline onto the rag, shorted a wire across the battery terminals that tossed a spark on the rag and we had fire! I was amazed. He acted like he did this sort of thing everyday. There was no panic, no temper tantrum, just the attitude of “we’ll figure it out.”
The depression years taught “The Greatest Generation” they could make do with whatever they had at hand. I have learned that when I need something, I usually just make a trip to the store and get it. My father would encourage me to “skip the trip and make do with what I had on hand.”
During a catastrophe, we may be required to make do. This is not a matter of making sure we have an extra case of PVC fittings, although that can’t hurt. Nor is it a matter of storing up several cases of freeze dried food, another good idea. But it is the attitude of being able to conquer this challenge using baling wire, duct tape and zip ties and whatever else you happen to have on hand.
So start developing your ‘can-do’ skills. Next time you need a fastener for the garden gate, make one. Need a widget to store your nuts and bolts? Make one. You’ll save a few bucks and find that you really can “make do” successfully!
If you’ve managed to get by with what you’ve got on hand, I’d be interested in hearing about it. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns are posted on my blog at email@example.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.