Thank you for your well wishes. Whatever virus that was has left and I'm feeling better.
Yet another reason to be prepared is making itself known as a Category 1 hurricane will soon make landfall in Louisiana. What it will lack in winds, it will make up for in rainfall. Because of a hurricane and last week's earthquake, I changed what I was going to write about today.
I had planned to cover baking supplies but instead I want to think about being prepared for an immediate emergency or if you must leave home quickly. Options are for hunkering down at home and leaving home should that become a necessity.
What to do as soon as you know of an impending emergency situation
If there is a watch or warning, it gives you precious time that will make your life much easier should an emergency arrive. Fill all the available clean containers you have with water for drinking and cooking (if you have access to a way to cook).
Fill your bath tub with water if that is possible to give you water for flushing toilets. Of course, buckets that may not be food clean can be used for this purpose, too.
Boil water, rinse out all thermoses you have with hot tap water and let the hot water warm it up a bit. Just like you would your finest teapot. Then pour in the very slightly cooled boiled water. (I lost a favorite thermos because I didn't do this!) I also like to brew a pot of coffee and pour it into a prepared thermos if there is a chance of a power outage. This is the only time my husband does not complain about my collection of thermoses! ;)
You will be very happy you took the time to do this. Not only for your coffee/tea addiction but if you need boiling water for something like Mountain House pouches and you do not have a way to boil water.
Something my daughter has done when they are under a Hurricane Watch in New England is to catch up on laundry as much as possible. I've followed that advice for Winter Storm Warnings since then. It is especially important for them, being a family of seven. It costs nothing but time and laundry detergent.
If you are on medications, make sure all of them are filled and assemble them in one place. If you take insulin, this is where the quick pens are lifesavers since they can be unrefrigerated for quite awhile. Leave them in the refrigerator until absolutely necessary. Do not forget the needles that screw onto the pens.
Charge your phones, tablet, Kindle, and anything else that will charge like an emergency radio or emergency lighting. If you have access to Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. then download a couple favorite movies, TV show episodes, etc. to your devices. I have both a very small Amazon Fire and the next size up that my children gifted me last birthday. I have media downloaded on both of them at all times since we have had power outages this year due to high winds.
Either keep cash on hand (I know that is hard to do in my home!) or take some available cash out of an ATM but if at all possible, have cash on hand since should the worst happen, using your debit or credit card may not be an option.
You should have all of your important documents, passports (if you have them), and papers in one file or container. I used the old metal file box that my parents used for a very long time until we replaced it with another similar file box. This box should also contain your insurance information and any medical information one may need. Keep it in a secure place where it will also be easy to grab and go if necessary.
It is a good idea, although I haven't done this and I should, to make copies of important documents and keep them with a reliable (and I emphasize reliable) relative or friend who will protect the information and provide you with backup information if needed.
Should you put together a grab and go bag and keep it handy, it could contain copies of documents or you can place the originals in that bag when a possible emergency is to happen. Obviously, if you live in areas that are prone to earthquakes, fires, etc. then it is better to have such a bag ready at all times.
You can google grab and go bags for lists of things to put in it but honestly, only use such lists as inspiration for your own ideas or you will not have a grab and go bag... you will look like you are planning to tour Europe for a year.
I use an old duffel bag to keep filled with things one would need if they leave home quickly. Some items you may not think of like TP, baby wipes (or similar item), as well as items I rotate such as granola bars. It is handy to throw items into at the last minute.
Because of chronic illness, I would leave home only if it were required. In our area, it probably would only be something like a forest fire. Otherwise, people with chronic health situations are usually better off when they can remain in a home.
It is also a good idea to have a travel container for your pet (although ours now resides with our grand kitty). Believe me, I have held onto a cat in an emergency situation when the fire department was at our house and it was not easy or practical. Some shelters allow pets but they prefer them in a container or dogs on a leash. Remember their food and water, too.
A reminder that as we prepare for a short term or a long term emergency... job loss, natural disaster, wars and rumors of war, etc... we are mostly stocking more of what we have in our day to day pantry. The exception will be freeze dried food but as I have mentioned before, I have been known to get one out of my emergency stash once in awhile.
It is really not that hard to find non-cook options, most of which do not require refrigeration. Every once in awhile, I take the time at the grocery store to look for food I may not think of right now. Out of the box thinking helps my creativity.
I have found very good advice in camping articles, too. Even though I haven't camped out in ages. I have also learned a lot from reading books by people who climb mountains and hike trails. These are people who must eat what they take with them and travel light. It was from such a book that I learned about Mountain House products.*
I mentioned how my interest in preparedness started with reading How to Prepare for the Coming Bad Years long (long) ago. One thing I started doing after reading his account of hearing about what would become known as the Cuban Missile Crisis on the radio was to keep a written list of items I would want to shop for in an emergency. Otherwise... and I have done this before a winter storm... one comes home from the grocery store with items they do not really need while forgetting essentials.
Now, for food ideas... as with all pantry preparedness, it is best to have in your pantry what you already eat. I will get to the one exception in a moment. These are only lists of ideas I have but I am certain you can think of options for your own family.
Some non-cook items I have in my pantry off and on are:
Fruit in cans and jars
Pork and beans
Baked beans (at room temperature they are fine!)
Velveeta (hey, in an emergency it isn't bad with crackers)
Trail mix (homemade with nuts, dried fruit, and M&Ms or chocolate chips)
Granola and/or energy bars
Some types of canned meat and fish
Those cute bags of tuna with Charlie the Tuna on them
Beef jerky (my son loved this stuff)
Pepperoni, sausage, cheese, etc. packaged for gift use without refrigeration (these are often half price after Christmas)
Bags of sliced pepperoni
Nut butters (we go through the natural stuff fast so I don't refrigerate)
Jelly (requires no refrigeration if it is made with sugar)
Other condiments not needing refrigeration
Bags of various chips and pre-popped popcorn
Etc. (just to get your creative list a start)
If you have access to boiling water:
Mac and Cheese boxes - or - elbow macaroni and something like Velveeta
Instant or Quick Cook oatmeal (you can turn Old Fashioned oatmeal into an instant version by pulsing it a few times in your food processor.)
Other instant grains that will cook quickly
Ramen noodles (I live in a college town where these are sold by the case.)
Freeze dried meals and snacks
Quick cooking pasta like orzo
Coffee... instant or with a nonelectric way of brewing it.
Tea (you can make sun tea in a glass jar if desired)
Whatever sugar, Splenda, creamer, etc. is required
True Lemon packets... which can be used in a lot more ways than just tea
Etc. (I'm sure you can think of other options.)
If at home, you may already have:
Items in the refrigerator or freezer that need to be used first should you lose power.
Remember, in an emergency you may have to stay at home for awhile and you do not want to have to leave to buy an item that could have easily been purchased ahead of time.
Since I don't always have extra cash, I make certain I stock these items a little at a time. Also, I rarely use disposable items like paper plates, bowls, etc. but I have been in a situation where I was extremely happy to have them available. I keep them in a large Rubbermaid style container in the garage.
Disposable Bowls (you would be shocked how handy these can be)
Items like forks, spoons, etc.
Thick garbage bags
Diapers if you have a baby
Matches or a lighter
Etc. (I'm sure you can add to this list.)
On the subject of freeze dried food!
The one area of the pantry where I have changed my mind in the past couple of years is having freeze dried food buckets or pouches on hand. That is because with modern technology, this stuff is tasty and will most likely be consumed even in non-emergency situations. Quite unlike the dehydrated food once available. No, it doesn't taste like grandma made it but for what it is... it is very good.
While most products have a 20 to 30 year shelf life due to the way they are prepared and packaged, it is a good idea to open some varieties to see what you like. If your family has an emergency preparedness weekend where you try to live as if in an emergency, you will easily use up some buckets. For individuals and couples... you may do better with pouches since once a bucket has been opened, it needs to be used within a reasonable time.
I have read of many people in earthquake zones that purchase Mountain House buckets to keep in a safe place like a closet. Of course, back packers opt for the two different kinds of pouches. One is larger for ease in adding boiling water and letting it set the required time. The other "pouch" has been prepared to make it easier for climbing to higher elevations. Which I do not plan to do. Ever.
Should you choose to keep some freeze dried food on hand, you will need to store water or have a water source and a way to purify it if necessary. While you do not have to heat the water, the food is a hundred times tastier if that option is available. More about water storage later.
Next week I will be back to deepening the pantry for a long term emergency. Stay safe!
Mentioned in this blog post:
True Lemon packets... here. (Pure lemon dehydrated crystals that tastes great and has a good shelf life.)
Some of my favorite Mountain House products
Chicken Breast and Mashed Potatoes... here.
Beef Stew... here.
Chicken and Dumplings with Vegetables... here.**
Beef Stroganoff with Noodles... here.
Biscuits and Gravy... here.**
Breakfast Skillet... here. (Some campers like to mix these two pouches together into one meal that serves two or three people.)
Mountain House can be just a little pricey but you usually save money buying in cases of six when that option is available. I purchased individual pouches at first to see if I would like a product. I don't have a lot of the pouches stored for an emergency but they are a priority when I have extra Amazon credit. Perfect for people with low energy levels.
I haven't tried any Augason Farms products although I do have a couple in my pantry. I've heard mixed reviews, some think they are great and others not so much. Most seem to prefer Mountain House and like I have written before, I like Mountain House because they are not so much an emergency preparedness food but are widely used by campers, hikers, etc.
This is what I do have in my pantry that I could only find through Augason Farms:
Banana Chips... here. Great for a food to snack on in an emergency. Highly glycemic but if you are in a situation with little food, you will need carbs if you are on insulin.
Gluten Free Black Bean Burger Mix... here.
*Braving It: A Father, A Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild by James Campbell... here. (I reviewed it a few years ago, loved it!)
**Do not let the boiled water set too long in any pouch that has a bread product or they get mushy, otherwise... yum. I let pouches with rice and noodles set a couple minutes longer than suggested while I check pouches with biscuits or dumplings a couple minutes before the suggested time. That is why it is good to try the food before an emergency.
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