So how did the civil defence challenge go for the Tilley/Tarawa precinct? In ‘intrepid reporter’ spirit, I have the following accounts to share from the frontline (ahem, actually Tina, Jason and Lesley kindly emailed me).
Thanks to everyone who took part in the challenge – no doubt you’ve all learned something, as I did. Last night at a meeting with GFM (Gavin/Fincham/Matai) residents, it was a hot topic of conversation as I left. I didn’t catch it all, but there were certainly resolutions to change stored drinking water more regularly (raintanks are great but having to boil drinking water quickly eats through your fuel) and more people intending to buy LOTS more candles – preferably big fat ones that are stable and burn for longer.
Over to you, Tarawa/Tilley….
Lesley Olsson and her family (4 ppl, including two pre-schoolers) went without running water on the weekend of 25 September.
Our CD challenge weekend using only water from the 200 litre storage tank went well [Lesley and her family borrowed a 200L rainwater tank from WREMO to trial]. Some of my observations were as follows:
- I assumed I had buckets to use for collecting/transferring the water but I soon discovered I only had dirty garden ones or ones with holes in, so ended up using jugs instead.
- Just out of interest, within the first 30 minutes of the challenge I found myself sourcing water for:
- Washing hands
- Filling nappy bucket
- Rinsing potty
- Rinsing utensils
- Flushing toilet (i.e. tipping bucket of water down it)
- Soaking 2yr olds burnt hand (she did this at 5.25pm!)
- Rinsing face cloth
I though I’d be in for a “long” weekend but we actually managed fine and didn’t use half the tank of water, i.e. less than 100L. But we didn’t do any baths or laundry so that saved obviously. [Note: the 200L tanks are designed to be sufficient for a family of four for 10 days, but only for drinking and basic hygiene. Given that Greater Wellington roughly estimate we use 210L per person per day, Lesley and her family did really well. But these figures give you an idea of the level of adjustment we’d need to make in the case of real water outage].
I found hand sanitiser and baby wipes useful over the weekend too – didn’t plan to have these in advance, just happened to have them which was helpful.
Tina Pope and her family (4ppl, including two school-age children) went without running water and limited their electricity for two weekends in a row.
We also used less water than we thought – about 100L – and again, didn’t shower or do washing. It certainly helped knowing it was coming up, so our water barrels were full.
We had the composting toilet, i.e. 2 buckets with a lovely ready-made slot-together 2-seater. We put up the tent and that worked well for us. We had one bucket for wees and one for poo, using garden mulch to cover the poo. This little wonder would be great to have in the shed – it slotted together so takes up little space.
We had a BBQ for cooking and a fire inside, so no electricity was a doddle. We did discover that we needed way more candles – will get some big fat ones for the emergency kit. Also need more batteries. We bought a phone charger to plug into the car – although with all the local petrol stations out in a power cut we would run out of fuel fast.
The hardest thing for the kids was no computer! Once the batteries were out on the laptop, that was it. Olive resorted to sitting in the car with my phone plugged in.
Jason Dykes and his partner did a part-challenge on the original weekend.
We decided we couldn’t do without Internet and we kept the whiteware on, but otherwise we conserved power, cooking outside on a gas camp stove and using wood for heating. We conserved water (incl flushing to septic tank) using water from the rain barrels I bought through Tina last year [some Paekakariki residents pooled together to bulk-buy DIY raintanks last year. The new WREMO systems are at least on par cost wise].
The Sunday (my birthday) was particularly stormy and ironically there were a couple of power cuts that day anyway. I brought out the equipment I put away after the ChCh earthquakes, including wind-up lighting and radio, and a solar powered charger (with attachments for all kinds of devices including phones). I discovered I had misplaced an essential connector, so no solar power.
At least the stove worked really well, even in the wind. We had some delicious soup made from garden vegetables, stock from the freezer, and canned beans that were about to expire (time to replace food items in the emergency kit). I had tried to get our small swimming pool cleaned up by that weekend but apparently it needs a new filter to get the water fit to use (could be useful once I do).
Definitely learned some lessons that will make a short-term emergency less troublesome.