Hurricane Preparation Guide For Dye-Sensitive Families (And Everyone)
With “super storm” Hurricane Sandy threatening the Eastern Seabord of the United States, my thoughts are with those who are in the storm’s path. Having lived on or near the Gulf Coast for a majority of my life, I’ve seen many storms…but that was before I became a parent…much less a parent of an allergic kid. This post will focus on foods that families can stockpile in general, and some resources for dye-allergic kids in particular.
I received so much of my information through experienced friends in Mississippi and Florida, namely my favorite South Florida hurricane expert – Angel LeJeune. She humbly refers to herself as just another weather nerd, but I disagree. Girl’s got an eye for hurricanes and lots of storm stories to tell. (Jim Cantori, I hope you’re listening, dude, ’cause this lady’s the Real Deal. And she’s way cuter than you, too. So next time she’s up here visiting the cushy safety of non-tropical Atlanta, you should let her in the building. No really, you should. And then give her a job)…
I am also grateful to the many parents from the Feingold Association, who are seriously my greatest source of food-related knowledge and support. They never cease to amaze me with their ingenious ideas and resources. I recommend that anyone who wants to eat healthier – allergic or not – should take a look at the Feingold website for help, recipes, and a well-researched food brand shopping list.
Before the Storm:
Angel says you should get to know your surroundings. Such easy advice, and yet we forget to do this. Your world will look very different after the storm dissipates.
My childhood buddy’s brother, Rob, says to get to know your neighbors too, because your neighborhood will be leaning on each other for food and supplies a lot in the first 72 hours. Try combining lots of perishable meats and vegetables with your neighbors’ to make a soup that everyone can share (could be eaten hot or cold). Kinda like the old “Stone Soup” story, but for nice folks. My Feingold mama friends suggest that you bake muffins and breads, and cook meats for several meals, ahead of time. Try this no-cook high protein Energy Bites recipe from Gimme Some Oven, adding whatever you want to customize your taste.
Fill up old milk jugs, 2-liter bottles, ziploc bags, and single water bottles with water and freeze them to place into your freezer for power outages. Designate a separate cooler just for meats, to avoid contamination. Fill up your vehicles’ gas tanks; Test your generator; Bathe yourself, the kids, and pets; Scrub the tubs and fill them all with water; Eat what’s left in your refrigerator and freezer; Buy or make medic alert bracelets for each child with your address and telephone number on them; Make sure the pets have engraved tags with your address; Photograph or video-tape the family, the pets, and contents of your home; Write down emergency numbers for resources; Download local emergency services apps if available; Board up those windows; And stock up on the foods suggested below.
Check out this super useful Pinterest board called “P is for Preparation“, which includes tons of great emergency prep and storage ideas.
Angel realistically points out from experience that emergencies are not the easiest times to eat healthily. You get your protein and carbs where you can. I remember secretly enjoying all the high-calorie snacky foods, the Salvation Army deliveries, and that otherworldly sense of adventure while we ate al fresco. But, you can still use Deborah at Amazing Grace Learning Center’s FREE Feingold-friendly no-cook/low-cook emergency menu and shopping guide to give your family the best shot at coping with disaster without the added stress of food reactions. Sleep will be rare and tempers will be short enough already…no need to stack the deck against yourself.
Here is a very general list of non-perishable food ideas:
Bottled water (1 gallon per day, per person, for a minimum of 3 days), canned tuna/salmon/chicken, Spam, Gerber Graduates meat sticks, Summer sausages, baby formula, flour, sugar, local eggs that have not yet been refrigerated (they’ll keep fresh for a couple weeks without refrigeration), bread, string cheese/lunch meat/boiled eggs/yogurt for the cooler, whole fruits (unripened), nut butters, saltine crackers (use as bread), rice cakes, applesauce, pear sauce, canned pears in juice, canned pineapple in juice, canned vegetables, canned juice concentrates, canned evaporated milk, dry milk, canned coconut milk, cereal, oatmeal packets, dry pasta or couscous, boxed pasta and rice mixes, shelf stable boxed soups, broths, trail mix, granola bars, dried fruits and raisins, nuts/seeds, chips, pretzels, natural “pop tarts”, natural and organic cookies, juice boxes, marshmallows (without blue dye), natural lollipops (try Yummy Earth or Trader Joe’s), Jiffy-Pop popcorn, natural soft drinks, instant coffee, tea bags, small packets of mayo/mustard/ketchup from Costco/Sam’s/BJ’s (won’t require refrigeration), Molly McButter sprinkles, dips and salsa, syrup, honey or jelly, and Jiffy baking mix or a pancake mix made for water, not milk (use flaxseed meal as egg replacer – see below – or just skip the eggs). And don’t forget the wine and chocolate…
Some items that we may stock in our own home, based on our own allergies and the above-mentioned plan from Deborah’s guide would be:
Organic bananas/pears/carrots/potatoes, Rice Dream organic Original Classic rice milk in shelf-stable tetra packs with NO added vitamins, carrageenan, or preservatives (because we have dairy, MSG, and petroleum additive allergies), Eden or Whole Foods 365 Organic canned beans, Pacific Foods shelf stable boxed soups and broths, crackers without annatto (we react to annatto the same way we react to Red Dye 40), crackers or rice cakes without barley flour or barley malt (due to MSG sensitivity), fruit bowls of pineapple in juice, Maranatha organic peanut butter or Sunbutter, non-dairy soy protein powder, Whole Foods 365 Organic cookies (without malted barley wheat), canned Thai Kitchen organic coconut milk (great as a coffee creamer and in soups and sauces), Publix Greenwise or Whole Foods 365 Organic oatmeal packets (no caramel coloring, preservatives, or artificial flavors), sunflower seeds, golden raisins mixed with peanuts (no sulfur dioxide preservatives in the raisins), organic canned salmon (must be organic due to red dye), Whole Foods 365 Organic or Summertime Blues blue corn tortilla chips, Whole Foods 365 Organic mini pretzels twists, CLIF or Whole Foods 365 Organic snack bars, EnviroKidz or Whole Foods 365 Organic cereals, Whole Foods 365 Organic mashed potatoes mix (no yellow dye or preservatives), and drink mix packets like Emergen-C Kidz (be careful – it contains vitamins), TruLemon, TruOrange, Hanson’s, Stevita, and Flavrz. Here is a link to my Pinterest board showing dye-free foods and drinks that my family likes.
Here’s a tip about fresh eggs from Amy, who is a Feingold mom: If fresh eggs sink in water, you can use them. If the eggs float, they’ve gone bad – do not eat them. Remove them from the water immediately after testing.
And Feingold mom Carlena uses flaxseed meal as an egg replacer in baking (1 Tb flaxseed meal with 3 Tb water = 1 egg in baking).
Make sure canned tuna, fruits, vegetables and legumes do not contain any preservatives.
Check this link to the USDA page about general food safety guidelines.
And one more thing you may need, whether you consume it or not: Beer. No, really. Turns out it’s a great bartering tool. (Thanks to Angel for that tip, too). Assuming you are able to keep it on hand, beer stays drinkable for a long time. And, as I’m constantly reminded by my favorite beer nerds – brewed beer was a way for humans to consume enough liquid without the risk of bacteria, back when drinking water was iffy. Bonus – B vitamins!
This should be an easy one, right? Not when you have a dye-sensitive kid. You have to re-think the first aid kit to avoid any unnecessary reactions, and be ready to treat an unexpected reaction.
Your kit should include:
Medic Alert bracelet or dog tags, dye-free ointments, filled prescriptions, dye-free vitamins, bandages in many sizes, a roll of gauze, tape that you’re not allergic to, alcohol wipes, dye-free hand sanitizer (yep, even the clear looking stuff has dyes), dye-free contact lens fluid, baking soda (use a half teaspoon in honey to treat a reaction – sparingly and only when absolutely needed), dye-free children’s Benadryl liquid or tablets (read the dosing chart carefully, and watch out for fake flavorings), Epsom salts (to treat a reaction, let your child soak in a very warm bath with 1 cup of Epsom salts…but don’t let them drink the bath water, it’s a laxative), club soda (for a reaction), dye-free Tylenol tablets (careful to convert to a child’s dose), homeopathic arnica from Boiron or Hyland’s for pain and fever (watch out for potency and read all labels before attempting to dose a child!), dye-free bug repellent, dye-free sunscreen, and Dr. Bronner’s soap for body/hair/hands (dilute as needed).
And now, no hurricane preparedness post (prepared by a Southerner) would be complete without a list of general supplies that everyone should have.
One long-time Feingold parent, Markey, says just pretend you are going on a camping trip. Some items you may need are:
A grill, coals, lighter fluid, a camp coffee pot to use on the grill, a French press coffee pot, a generator (with gas and oil), gas cans filled up with gasoline, gas camp stove, propane cylinders and tanks, a crockpot (can be plugged into a generator), ICE, coolers, tarp, water filter, manual can opener, insulated thermos or carafe, sleeping bags and pillows, camp chairs, flashlights, unscented candles, lighters, matches, trash bags, ziploc baggies to keep dry foods from getting soaked, aluminum foil or plastic wrap, games and library books for kids, weather appropriate jackets, closed-toe shoes, clean clothes, batteries, tent, compass, flare gun, Sterno (use outside), fire extinguisher, paper plates and cups, disposable utensils, toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, Pull-ups trainers, and sanitary items for women.
The basics for any emergency also include CASH, baby formula, hearing aids, car chargers for cell phones, a bucket for flushing toilets from tubs filled with water, pet foods and pet carriers, medications, vitamins, wet wipes, a smart phone to post your status on Facebook or Twitter, pre-paid telephone cards, a battery powered radio or TV, a NOAA weather radio, battery powered fans, face masks and work gloves for debris clean-up, bleach, cleaning sprays, rags, duct tape, a tool kit with a wrench and pliers, fasteners like nails and screws, a whistle for each person, spare keys for the cars and house, paper and a pencil, and important family documents. Mary-Helen, another Feingold parent and New Orleans native, reminded us to put an axe in the attic, since you never know if your house will flood and you’ll need to break your way through to safety.
Keep your cell phones, gadgets, and laptop computers charged and bagged. I tend to forget to charge things the day before I really need them.
Here’s a good emergency preparedness list from Natural News, which was also shared by a Feingold mom, Larisa. (See? Aren’t they awesome?).
Are there any items you would add to this list? Please post your advice in a comment below, so we can archive this all in one place right here.
I am dedicating this post to Angel, the Feingold parents, and all of my friends up north as they buckle down for Hurricane Sandy. I’m sending lots of positive thoughts for strength, warmth, dry basements, and safe meals shared with neighbors.