Have emergency food kits prepared before disaster strikes
By Beth Brink
Sept. 12, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.
Faced with the imminent danger of Hurricane Harvey, many people in the affected areas chose to leave for safety. My thoughts turn to those who remained and their need of nutrition throughout the aftermath of the storm. This need is further heightened for individuals with special dietetic needs. Knowing that stores will likely be closed for a minimum of a few days, depending on the damage, how can we be more prepared the next time a disaster occurs?
We are told countless times through emergency preparedness campaigns and even online articles and blog posts to remember to pack clothes and take the important identification papers with us in an emergency. Something most people do not consider is a balanced emergency food kit that is stocked with good sources of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in order to keep up our energy. A kit could be made for such purposes that would consist of nonperishable foods, or foods with a longer shelf life.
Good sources of protein would be dried meats, such as beef, venison or turkey jerky, canned tuna or salmon, canned chicken, canned beans or peanut butter. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews and pecans have protein, as well as fiber and healthy fat.
Good sources of carbohydrates that have a longer shelf life would include whole grain crackers, packaged crackers with peanut butter or cheese or dry cereal.
To get servings of vegetables, have a few cans of green beans, beets, carrots, peas or other vegetables. For fruits, you can use single-serving 100 percent juice boxes, canned fruit in its own juices, applesauce or perhaps even dry fruit.
Having enough food in your emergency kit for at least three days, per family member, would allow time to locate another source of food.
For diabetics, this kind of preparation is particularly important, and checking the serving sizes and counting carbohydrates to maintain stable blood glucose levels during the emergency is a critical part of preparedness.
For those on a low-salt or heart-healthy diet, I would recommend forgoing the dried meats, as they are high in salt. You can also drain and rinse canned vegetables to remove some of the salt used in the canning process.
It is necessary for these people to read food labels and make sure the foods they have in their kit are low in salt to keep from retaining unnecessary fluid in their body.
Have bottles of water to drink in the emergency kit. Put a can opener in the bag. People with diabetes, especially, could benefit from having a couple of kits - one in their home and one in their car in case they are stranded in traffic and need to eat.
Check the contents of the emergency food kit every few months to make sure that none of the foods have expired. The food kits could be stored in a canvas bag or a backpack for quick portability.
Following these simple suggestions can help you be more prepared and eliminate your stress as a victim of a disaster or in a position where food will be hard to come by for an undetermined length of time.
Beth Brink, dietetic intern from Texas A&M Kingsville.