Sunday, July 29, 2012

Better Safe Than Sorry!

For those of you who live in Massachusetts, you probably remember the unusual weather we had last summer and fall. A lot of us were without electricity for quite a while, and some who lost their homes in the tornado had to go to shelters. Unlike other states that are prepared for this kind of weather, we in Massachusetts have not been trained in the same way. We do not have emergency supplies for bad weather stocked up in water proof boxes, and we don't always think to have any kind of emergency plan for things like tornadoes. If you have celiacs and went to a shelter, most of them did not have specific gluten free food put together, and might not be able to supply a group of people with celiacs. After all the things that happened in Massachusetts last year, it might be time to start considering these types of things. Here is some advice for preparing for living gluten free with no electricity or in a shelter.

Pack An Emergency Supply Box!

The Box:
First off, make sure that the box is waterproof. You don't want to be evacuating from your house in a storm and have a cardboard box fall apart in your hands. Also, make sure that it's a reasonable size. Each household will be slightly different due to population and needs. Make sure it's big enough to store the essentials you need, but not so big that you will have trouble leaving with it in a hurry. You want to make sure that it is airtight too as you will be storing some food in it.

Non Food Essential Items:
Flashlights and extra batteries are a must. When the power goes out, you want to make sure that these are easily available to you, and you know exactly where they are. If you lose power for a number of days, the extra batteries will definitely come in handy. I also packed an extra USB battery charger in my kit. It stores 12 hours of power for anything that can be charged via a USB port. This is great for your cell phone of you need the extra power. A first aid kit is certainly essential in this kit, as you never now what kind of situation you are going to run into. Make sure you have the ice packs that don't need to be kept cold, and plenty of bandages, gloves, cleaning materials, dust masks, pain killers, and anything you might need like an emergency inhaler or an epi pen. If you talk to your doctor about an emergency kit they are usually more than happy to prescribe you an extra epi pen or inhaler for your kit. Also make sure you have any personal sanitation items you may need packed. If you have an infant in the house, make sure that you have extra supplies packed in the kit for them, OR you make sure that there is a diaper bag ready to go with you with everything baby will need. Pack a whistle that is really loud, or some other item that can easily attract attention if you are in any danger. Having some cash in there is a good idea. If you are able to find a store that is open, but is only accepting cash, it will come in handy. Local maps are a good idea to have as GPS systems have a hard time communicating during the bad weather, and you want to make sure you can find where you are in an emergency. A battery powered radio is also key for listening for any weather alerts or other information you might need to know. And lastly, glow sticks, to make sure you and your love ones can be seen in the dark by any vehicles or emergency response teams. Glow bracelets are great for kids as they do not have to hold onto them for a long time and they stay right on the wrist.

Essential Food Items:
Like I mentioned above, if you are traveling to a shelter in an emergency, the shelter you arrive at might not be equipped with the supplies to provide a gluten free community. You need to take some initiative and have some food stored in your emergency supply box. In mine I have a box of gluten free granola bars, a box of gluten free cereal, a pack of gluten free crackers, gluten free cookies, peanut butter, and a few cans of easy-open gluten free soup. You need to keep in mind when packing your food in this box that things like gluten free easy mac will not do because if you have not power, you can't cook it, and there may not be someplace to prepare food at the shelter you are going to. Soups can sometimes be alright if you are ok eating them cold. They are a nice change of pace from eating crackers and granola bars. Just make sure the cans are easy open, or you have a can-opener in the supply box.Also make sure you have some plastic silverware packed in the kit so you can eat whatever you packed. Water bottles are essential. You want to make sure that you have a supply of water in case you don't have access to water for a little while. If you are traveling an evacuation route with everyone else in the county, it's going to take some time, and you want to make sure you keep well hydrated.

Non-Essential, But Very Handy Items

These things are not needed as vitally as the above items, but if you have the room in your kit, they cab become quite handy in an emergency situation. Some of these things can also be essential depending on who is in your household. Remember that this is a loose guide, and the needs of each household vary. Sweaters for each person in the house are good, especially if we get a freak snow storm in October that cuts the power like we did last year. I was quite grateful for my sweaters I had unpacked before the storm. If you have children in your home, you might want to consider packing some form of entertainment for them. handheld devices are one option, but they either need to be charged, or they will suck up your battery supply. If you choose to pack these things make sure you pack extra batteries specifically for the toy. Books are a great idea, or any kind of traveling game. I have a dice game that my friends and I love and it's stored in a cup and you don't need anything else to play! A deck of cards can be handy too for passing the time. A blanket or two can come in handy, and my mom keeps a battery powered lantern in our kit. It helped light up the area we were all in when we had no power. .

Things To Have At Home, But Not In Your Kit
We have a few things that we keep around the house that really came in handy when we had no power. We had little Sterno containers that we could light and cook a small amount of food in my old mess kit from girl scouts. This was good for heading up a can of spaghetti-o's or some water for some tea or coffee. These should not be stored for a long time though or in any place that they might be a danger. Make sure you read the warning labels on the can for proper storage instructions. We also have an emergency plan for our cats. I would never be able to leave my cat behind in an emergency. Make sure you do some research and see what your community's evacuation plan is for pets. Most of the time there is a designated shelter for the pets to go to where they can be safe, and be fed, and you can retrieve them safely from when the danger is over.

I hope that this inspires you to have a kit prepared for an emergency. You don't want to be caught off guard and end up in a bad situation!

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