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30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 15

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 15

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two years ago I undertook to live on £1 per day for a week as part of Live Below The Line. It was a week that saw culinary creations such as egg fried rice with sausages and vegetable toad in the hole and where I discovered that mushy peas can be served with literally any meal!

It tested my inventiveness, but not quite as much as today’s 30 Days task. Joining forces with the Emergency Kit Cook Off campaign (which is brilliant!) players are challenged to rustle up something from the following ingredients:

  • Protein:  Chickpeas 
  • Fruit or Vegetable: Canned Pumpkin
  • Starch, grain or nut:  Instant Ramen Noodles
  • Beverage:  Almond Milk 
  • Comfort food:  Dark Chocolate

Live Below The Line was difficult, but as I could choose my ingredients for the week it was easier than having that choice taken away from me! I managed to use all of the listed ingredients, but I’m not sure my recipes will be featuring in any restaurants any time soon!

Chickpea and Pumpkin Patties with Chicken Noodles


I made it up as I was going, but I’d estimate that my recipe was as follows

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can unsweetened pumpkin (it turns out this is quite difficult to find in the UK)
  • 50g golden breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp garlic puree
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander

I mashed all the ingredients together (in hindsight I mashed it a little too much and would recommend some of the chickpea texture is preserved) and formed into patties. I coated in seasoned flour and fried in a little oil for several minutes. I served this with chicken instant noodles made to the packet instructions, but I also threw in some chopped spring onions (or scallions!) as I had some lying around.

Black Forest Smoothie

To follow my dinner, I used the almond milk and dark chocolate (and some poetic license) to create a smoothie. Given the choice I’d probably have them separately but that didn’t seem to be in the spirit of the challenge, but making the smoothie would be tricky if restricted to manual equipment only!

  • drink100ml almond milk
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 1/2 punnet of frozen cherries
  • 1 banana

It was difficult to get the chocolate chopped fine enough, which resulted in a somewhat lumpy smoothie, but it didn’t taste too bad!

So, there we have it, my creations for today’s task. I don’t think I;d rush to make either again, but I know that if that was all I had in the cupboard I wouldn’t starve!

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 14

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 14

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I blogged almost two years ago about how the rise of the smartphone has reduced our resilience in that most of us no longer commit phone numbers to memory. Yes, everything is backed up to the Cloud (which rings some brilliant advantages), but that’s not very helpful when your phone runs out of charge, or you’re away from internet access.

phone book

I have two phones (personal and work) and make sure that my key contacts are available on both devices, and I also stubbornly refuse to leave the ‘good old days’ of a paper phonebook, and although I expect most of the numbers in there are very out of date, it’s a starter for ten.

I can confirm for today’s 30 Days task that I have two out of area contact (my parents who live outside of London), and that I do know these numbers off by heart. To go one step beyond the challenge, I’ve also made sure that my local contacts have access to my out of area contacts so they can speak just in case I’m directly affected by an emergency.


30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 12

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 12

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Anybody that knows me will tell you that I can get pretty severe ‘cabin fever’, so I naturally do quite a lot of exploring of my local area. The task for today’s 30 Days challenge is to go for a short walk and identify local hazards and resources that could be useful in an emergency, with points allocated as follows:

1 Pt:  Identify what is within a 20 minute walk of your home, without being too specific…  Fire Stations, Churches, Grocery stores, resources that my be useful in an emergency.. etc. or take a virtual walk if you can’t physically.

2 Pts:   What Hazards are within that same 20 minute walk?  Bridges, Highways, Rail, Hazardous Materials? Don’t forget hidden hazards.. Pipelines, Earthquake Faults.

I decided I’d go for a quick stroll around where I work and put new app Hyperlapse to the test to give you a virtual tour of the local hazards (annotated in red) and resources (in green). I’ve probably missed lots, and would welcome anyone else’s suggestions, either from the video clip, or their own local knowledge of the area.

I think there is a lot of potential with Hyperlapse, however I noticed a couple of things

  • I should have shot the video in landscape rather than portrait
  • I need to work out how to refocus on the move
  • You need to have a lot of storage space. I’d intended it to be a 20 minute walk condensed into 2 minutes, however my phone ran out of space at 18 minutes!

I know my camera work isn’t exactly oscar worthy, but I’m quite impressed with how easy this was, and wonder if it could be a really useful tool for helping communicate risk.

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 11

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 11

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Eleventh task in the 30 Days 30 Ways challenge centres on crime prevention and local action.











1 Pt:  Share an idea or resource in how to keep your home and neighbourhood safe.

2 Pts:   We want you to do a little research. Do you know where to find “Crime Watch” information for your neighbourhood? Share what you find about where you live without sharing too much about where you live…Were you surprised?

Following a disaster, news media often cover stories of social disorder, panic and looting; a post-disaster response perpetuated by Hollywood. However, there is evidence which points to reduced crime after a major disaster.

The shared experience (both by those directly impacted and through being so visibly public) can reduce social divisions, bringing individuals and communities closer together. The visibility of suffering increases empathy, altruism and social cooperation, and whilst this is often fleeting, can also serve as the catalyst for longer-term social change.

The availability of targets, absence of guardians and presence of offenders presents an increased likelihood of acquisitive crime. However, contrary to this logic there is rarely strong evidence of looting. Similarly for more violent crime, whilst there are a handful of well-known exceptions, the general rule is for a decrease in crime rates.

So although I question the link between emergencies and crime, I do think that having strong, reciprocal relationships with neighbours can be useful techniques for reducing the likelihood of both. Having someone to watch over your home while you’re on holiday means that thieves are less likely to break in; it also means that should there be a major emergency, someone is able to contact you. There are also some very practical benefits to knowing your neighbours too, like not having to rearrange deliveries!

To get the 2 points, I think the best resource in the UK is which shows local crime mapping, and is very useful for people looking at moving to a new area. Neighbourhood Watch schemes in the UK, in my experience, seem to have stagnated, but there is growth in online localism (like NeighbourBlog), which could be another way of finding out about your local area.

Oh, and in case you don;t know the image for today;s post – it’s Michael Pain, the Nosey Neighbour from 90’s TV Sketch Show Harry Enfield and Chums, who definitely knew his neighbours well!

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 10

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 10

Reading Time: 2 minutes

At a meeting earlier this week we were talking about the distinction and overlap between emergency preparedness and general safety messages.









I feel that today’s 30 Days task, which centres around medication past it’s expiry date, is towards the general safety end of the spectrum. That’s not to say it’s not important, just that it doesn’t ignite my passion! Here’s how today’s points are allocated…

1 Pt:  Share a resource in how and where to dispose of old medications properly.

.2 Pts: Clean out your medicine cabinet and properly dispose of old medications.

BONUS:  Clean out your refrigerator while you are at it!

Being the vision of health, there isn’t much medication lying around my house…but I can confirm that all drugs are legal and in date! As I felt that was a bit of a cop out I forwarded the challenge to my parents, who rattle if you shake them!

Whilst waiting to hear back from them (after bagging a bonus point for throwing away what I think was a cucumber from my fridge) I had a quick google of what you’re supposed to do with medications which are no longer needed or out of date. The official guidance in the UK is that all medications should be returned to your local pharmacist (who, I found out, are also obliged to accept waste sharps). The reasons for this are listed as

  • Provides a simple accessible solution for the public
  • Reduces the volume of medicines stored in people’s homes, thus reducing the risk of accidental poisonings
  • Reduces risk of exposure to unwanted medicines disposed of by non-secure methods
  • Reduces the environmental damage

I then received confirmation that a 12 month out of date tube of Ibuleve has been appropriately disposed of.

Whilst I understand that encouraging day-to-day safety can help develop emergency resilience, I’m surprised that the focus of this task wasn’t more along the lines of making sure Grab Bags contain either a small supply or written details of any prescription medicines…hopefully we can get back to the Emergency end of the spectrum in the next task!

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 9

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 9

Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the things that I’m most interested in at the moment is risk perception, and analysing warning signs often reveals information into how perception influences both the communication and interpretation of the message. I’m therefore genuinely interested in the images being shared in today’s 30 Days task, which is as follows:

1 Pt:  Share a Funny Emergency Sign

1 Pt: If you found the sign and took the picture yourself.

3 Pts:  Are you willing to make yourself into an emergency sign or safety message… such as the “wear your life jacket to work”

The first part of that is relatively easy. A colleague and I jointly wrote a blog last year looking at warning signs around the world (you can check out the original post here but I’m reproducing some of the content below so you don’t have to click away).

My favourite was this example warning of SLOPPY slopes in Thailand (with credit to @Twickerman).

Pic8 However, as that one isn’t my picture I thought I’d also share the best one that I have personally found, literally just around the corner from my office. Whilst it’s not specifically an ’emergency’ warning sign, I think it could have potential applications in emergency situations!

Pic6Following yesterday’s post on the unusual item in my Grab Bag I’ve been challenged by a colleague on Twitter to take a #CBRNEselfie…maybe I’ll incorporate the third element of today’s challenge into that to gain those extra points! Stay tuned!

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 8

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 8

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’ve completed (or at least attempted) a whole week of America’s 30 Days 30 Ways emergency preparedness challenge. Some of the tasks have been simple, others have been much trickier!


Today’s challenge recognises a point that I made on Day 3, that if you do have a Grab Bag it should be tailored to your specific needs.

1 Pt:  Share with us the most unusual item in your kit and why its in your kit.

2 Pts:   Share with us an item in your kit with multiple uses.  Be sure to list all the uses for the item…

I don’t think there is a realistic use for the most unusual item in my kit; an Escape Hood. Essentially a bag that you can put on your head in the event of a chemical, biological or radiological incident. It’s not something I would have save for a former employer issuing them to staff. Whilst I can conceive of the situations where this would be useful, I doubt I’d have ready access to my grab bag, making it utterly pointless…I just can’t bring myself to throw it away, you know, just in case!

For the second part of the task, I have a standard ‘multi-purpose tool’ but that seems like a cop out!

The time difference between me and most of the people playing the game means that most people will submit their contributions overnight, but I’m really interested to see the suggestions of how people have personalised their grab bags.

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 7

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 7

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Growing up in the heart of suburbia we had a lot of neighbours; 4 who immediately bordered our house, but many other people who lived locally that either I or my parents knew well enough for them to watch our house when we went on holiday or vice versa.

Now I live in London and would struggle to pick my neighbours out of a line up.



Today’s 30 Days sets me the following challenge

1 Pt:   Do you know your neighbours?  If not introduce yourself to at least one neighbour around you.and tell them you are playing #30Days30Ways..

2 Pts:   Does your neighbourhood have an association or some sort of community connection?  Find out how to connect with your neighbours and check if you have some sort of neighbourhood call tree.

Out of my friends in London I’m fairly unusual in that I’ve lived in the same house for four years, so arguably I should know my neighbours comparatively well…let’s conduct an experiment…

  • Neighbour A – a French couple with a young baby who moved in about 4 months ago. Other than an exchange of passive-aggressive notes about bins we’ve not spoken.
  • Neighbour B – a flat of four people, I’ve met two of the current tenants, a brunette Scottish girl who I’d estimate was about 25, and a guy (that’s literally all I remember about him).
  • Neighbour C – in what I expect is a 6 bedroom house I’ve only ever seen a late-middle-aged man when I’ve been round to collect delivered parcels. I’ve seen him walking a dog but I’m not sure it’s theirs as I’ve never heard it at night.

I think we can probably agree that I don’t know them particularly well ( a conclusion I reached a year ago when I wrote a similar blog!) However, I do have a reason to speak to my neighbours at the moment, actually about a small emergency (leaky shower!), so I’ll report back in a few days about how my discussions develop!

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 6

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 6

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s a tricky one today, but I’m hoping that drawing on my adventures from this weekend will bag me at least one point in today’s 30 Days challenge.


We want you to find an event in your area, attending and tell them you are playing #30Days30Ways. 

2 Pt:   Share a photo of yourself at a Preparedness Event 

5 Pts:   Can’t find an event during the month of Sept in your area?  How about create your own?

Whilst I’m attending a whole host of work related events and meetings, they don’t really fit the bill of what this task requires. In fact, resilience occupies a position so far down the political agenda in the UK that I’m only aware of two community based events where it’s even been a consideration in the last 4 years! The notion of an emergency preparedness fair is something which hasn’t yet made the transition across the Atlantic (although I’m pitching London Flood Week to colleagues on Friday!)

What this boils down to is that I’ve bent the rules…

Yesterday I attended the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Annual Reunion – an event which brings together (primarily) dogs that have been re-homed by the charity which was founded in 1860. Whilst not specifically a preparedness event I mention it for two reasons

  1. It’s such a great cause
  2. Animals in emergencies are often overlooked so it’s a useful reminder to consider emergency plans for pets and assistance animals

Sadly I didn’t realise the task was to promote the campaign at an event or I would have mentioned it to some of the people I spoke to!

Also, here’s a photo of a dog that I loved – he looks like he’s pretty resilient!


30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 5

30 Days, 30 Ways: Day 5

Reading Time: 2 minutes

survival-skillsThe challenge for today’s 30 Days task is to summarise your own personal resilience, with points being allocated as follows:

1 Pt:  Share with us some of the ways you believe you and your family are resilient.  List or show us some clever ideas you have come up with.

3 Pts:   Don’t be afraid to share what you did if it could help someone else along the way also. Make a 30-60 Sec video demo to showing how you did it.

The prompts for the challenge included: Do you have a garden? Can your own foods? Have a cargo bike? Or have creative solutions for transportation, food and dealing with human waste?

For me though, it’s not so much about the gadgets, bunkers or survival skills. Sure, I wouldn’t refuse help from Bear Grylls if things got really bad, but does that mean I need to be him? The LEGO Movie had some sage advice for us all “Everything is cool when you’re part of a team” but not everyone in the team has to be the hunter gatherer!

Whilst I agree that some sensible steps like a grab bag and a couple of days of food can be handy, for me, personal resilience is more about

  • Information and Awareness – as a product of working in emergency management I have a very good understanding of both the risks and the planned responses, I therefore understand the risks that could impact me
  • Options – there are many options open to me, if there is a problem affecting my home I have friends I can stay with, if there is a problem affecting my work I have the ability to work from home, if there is a problem affecting the train I can get the bus…making more options available to more people increases their resilience
  • Cushioning – none of us can prevent emergencies from happening but we can reduce their impact. For that reason I checked my exposure to flood risk before moving into my house, I have insurance and a contingency fund, and I (try to) eat healthily.

The first two factors enable improvisation. The third element provides a time window where I can determine whether improvisation is required. Together the combination of all three means my focus isn’t just on responding once something bad does happen, but trying to mitigate potential impact in advance.

Maybe I’d feel differently if were exposed to more risk. Or maybe the rationale behind the gadgets and bunkers just hasn’t been clearly articulated to me. Either way, if I were to make a video about my own resilience, it wouldn’t be much of a ‘show and tell’.