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    Retailers warn against bulk-buy as government launches campaign for emergency preparation

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    Retailers on Wednesday (22) warned the public not to bulk-buy items after the government issued guidelines on stockpiling tinned food, batteries and bottled water under a new campaign to encourage the public to prepare for emergencies.

    Oliver Dowden, deputy prime minister, unveiled a new website designed to help households mitigate potential harm from an array of risks, ranging from flooding and power outages to biosecurity crises such as another pandemic.

    According to media reports, Dowden insisted the measures are “about sensible safeguards, not stockpiling”.

    He said, “One thing that Covid made clear – and that remains clear – is that crises can hit us all in ways we might not be able to anticipate and that resilience requires us all to be ready. Who can forget the empty supermarket shelves in the early days of the pandemic? 

    “And how many of us have since acted so we’d be better prepared if it happened again? 

    The “Prepare” website calls on households to stock up on bottled water. It suggests a minimum supply of about three litres of drinking water per person per day, but recommends 10 litres per person per day — to aid basic cooking and hygiene needs — as a more comfortable level of supplies.

    It also urges people to buy and store non-perishable food that “doesn’t need cooking, such as ready-to-eat tinned meat, fruit or vegetables”, as well as a tin opener, plus baby supplies and pet food where relevant. Battery or wind-up torches and radios, a first aid kit, and wet wipes are among other emergency supplies detailed on the government checklist.

    Speaking at the London Defence Conference, Dowden will say “resilience begins at home” and cite polling by the conference showing that only 15 per cent of people have an emergency supply kit in their homes, while more than 40 per cent of people do not have three days’ supplies of non-perishable food and water.

    However, retailers on Wednesday warned the public not to bulk-buy items following the advice.

    Andrew Opie from the British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets and other retailers, said, “While it is sensible to have some additional food at home, most households will find they already have sufficient non-perishables sitting in the cupboard.”

    Government officials said the advice would bring Britain in line with nations such as Finland and Japan, which are regarded as leaders in citizen resilience.

    It follows research which shows that more than 40 per cent of people do not have three days’ supplies of non-perishable food and water. Just 15 per cent of people have a kit of essential supplies, according to the poll of 1,009 adults.

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