In the wake of September 11th, many of us are thinking about disaster preparations, things we can do to prepare ourselves for the unforeseen. Foremost in our minds at this time are terrorist attacks, of course, but there are other kinds of disasters, too. Many of us live in areas that are prone to earthquakes, forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, or lengthy power outages.
Are you prepared for any of these eventualities? Most of us aren’t, but we should be. It comes under the heading of “Being A Responsible Adult” in our owner’s manual.
Preparing for potential disaster does not indicate a pessimistic attitude, but rather an optimistic attitude laced somewhat liberally with pragmatism: “At some point in time something untoward is going to happen, and I am going to be ready for it, I am going to survive it, and I am going to help others survive it, too.”
So What Should We Do?
First of all, we should not run around like Chicken Little, wringing our hands (wings?) and moaning, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Panicking does not do anyone any good, least of all us. So the first thing we should do is stop, take a deep breath, and calm down. The world is not ending; it’s merely changing. We can and will change with it.
Think of today’s political and social changes as you would the birth of a baby. Labor is no fun at all, is it? (Anyone who says so is lying through their teeth.) But what do you get out of all that pain? That’s right – a beautiful baby and the unlimited potential of that child’s life. Think of the turmoil today as labor pains. It’s no fun at all, but we are in the process of birthing a new world, and there is unlimited potential in that new world. And that’s a good thing!
Sit Back And Relax
Find a quiet time when no one else is around. The presence of spouses and children is not helpful in the initial stages of this exercise. Sit down in a comfortable chair or the kitchen table with a pad of paper and a pencil. You’re allowed to have some nice music on, but turn the television off; it will only distract you.
All settled now? Good. Let’s get started.
Making A List And Checking It Twice
What exactly do we need to survive an emergency situation? That will vary somewhat from family to family and within the family from person to person. Some things (water, food, etc.) are important for everyone; other things are optional.
Water is not optional! It is of paramount importance in disaster preparations. Human beings can live quite a long time without food, but only three days or slightly longer without water. Water should be the first thing you stockpile, especially now when our water supply is at risk from possible terrorist attacks.
Officials say that we should always have a 3-day supply of water on hand for emergencies, but I’m not comfortable with that. A number of people who lived near the World Trade Center were without power and water for much longer than that, as have been people who have suffered through hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. I have stocked a 15-day supply of water for my family, and am considering increasing that to a 30-day supply in the future.
We need approximately 1 gallon of water a day for subsistence survival. This is the absolute minimum, including water for drinking and bathing, but does not include the extra amount of water most low carbers drink. For my personal preparations, I have used 1 gallon of water per person per day, but have added an additional gallon as a “spare” for me.
Water can be easily be bought in either bottles or gallon jugs. I have purchased some of both. Gallons are cheaper, but I want bottles, too, so that I can monitor everyone’s consumption to make sure that they are getting enough to drink. If we were to run out of bottled water, I would refill some of the bottles from the gallon containers.
I am also saving gallon milk jugs and 2-liter soda bottles, washing and rinsing them thoroughly, and filling them with sterilized water that I have boiled on the stove and then cooled, and then finally adding a couple of drops of household bleach to each jug or bottle. While it certainly will be safe to drink this water, I intend to use it primarily for washing kitchen utensils and bathing and not for drinking unless absolutely necessary.
To safely store water in gallon milk jugs, use a household bleach that contains a 5.25% solution of sodium hypclorite and that does not contain soap additives or phosphates. Do not use the new super-concentrated bleaches now available. Use about 1/8 teaspoon (5 to 8 drops) per gallon of water.
Please note that since the plastic in both purchased gallon jugs and milk jugs is now biodegradable, you will need to replace them every three to four months. If you don’t, you run the risk of the water leaking out. This would mean that not only would you not have the water if you should need it, but the water which has leaked out might damage other emergency supplies and/or your home.
The plastic used for 2-liter soda bottle appears to be somewhat sturdier than the plastic used for gallon jugs. I would use the expiration date printed on the label when deciding when to replace these bottles of water.
The bottled water I bought came in sturdier plastic containers, and it has an expiration date of September, 2002, printed on the cases. I bought 24 cases, which is somewhat more than a 15-day supply for my family of four. I plan to use 2 cases each month and replace them, so that I will have used them all up by the time the expiration date comes around.
There are also additional sources of water in the event of an emergency:
- Your hot water heater will have anywhere from 30 to 70 gallons of drinkable water in it. There is a valve at the bottom of the tank that you can use to access the water.
- You can fill your bathtub with water and instantly have an additional 30 gallons of water at your disposal. If you intend to use the bathtub water for drinking, though, you have to keep the bathtub clean by scrubbing and thoroughly rinsing it after each and every use. There’s always a catch. (Sigh.)
An emergency situation is not the time to try to establish new habits unless they are absolutely necessary. This is particularly true with children, who will be frightened and unsettled and need the “familiar” to help reassure them. If you have people in your family who are not water drinkers, it might very well be helpful to have instant powdered drinks like iced tea, Kool Aid, or Crystal Light on hand to encourage them to get enough liquids.
Food For Low Carbers
As low carbers, our food choices are always somewhat more limited than the food choices of non-low carbers. In emergency situations it is more limited still, since we will need to rely on canned and dried foods if we have lost power. (And we have to assume that we will lose power so that we are prepared for all contingencies.)
Some of the foods below will be familiar to you. Others won’t. Remember that it’s only prudent to know whether you actually like something before you run out and buy a case of it. Emergency rations do you no good at all if they make you gag. For example, I’ve tried Oysters Rockefeller once. I had to swallow the same darn oyster seven times before I could keep it down. Needless to say, while I have smoked oysters on the list below, I have not stocked up on them for myself.
Don’t just look at your local grocery store for your emergency supplies. Many of the items I found, particularly some of the protein sources, I found not at the grocery but at stores like Dollar General and Big Lots. Be inquisitive. Check everywhere you you.
Inventory what you buy for emergency supplies, and routinely use and replace them. When you purchase your supplies, look for the expiration date on the can, bag, or bottle and write it with indelible black marker somewhere on the product. It’s important to rotate your stock of emergency food. It would be a darn shame to survive an earthquake or terrorist attack and then succumb to food poisoning from outdated foods, don’t you think?
Meats and Seafood:
- Jerky (It can be either purchased or homemade)
- Canned tuna (If you like pickle relish in your tuna salad,you can get some of the “lunch kits” now available.)
- Canned salmon
- Canned chicken (I have found cans labeled generically as “chicken” and others labeled as “white meat chicken.)
- Canned turkey (This is a new and welcome addition to the canned meat selections. The brand I found was Hormel, but there may be other brands available.)
- Canned corned beef
- Canned roast beef (This is available with and without gravy.)
- Canned ham
- Canned mussels
- Canned mackerel
- Smoked oysters
- Canned clams (No, I could not choke these down cold,but “breaded” with unflavored protein powder and fried in my old cast iron skillet….. Yeah, I could do that. And, of course, I could always make clam chowder of a sort.)
- Jarred or packaged chipped beef
- Canned beef barbecue (This has a small amount of sugar in the barbecue sauce, but I picked up a few cans for variety’s sake anyway.)
- Canned crab (I found a great deal at Big Lots.)
- Canned shrimp (Again, I found a good deal at a close-out store.)
- SPAM (Nope. I’m not kidding. I’ve actually found a number of varieties of SPAM and SPAM-alikes while doing my research, and there are now a number of different flavors, including turkey and ham & bacon.)
- Canned sardines (These are available in olive oil, tomato sauce, and mustard. You can often find these at close-out stores for a terrifically low price.)
- Vienna sausages (These are now available in regular, smoked, barbecue, and hot & spicy flavors. I also found chicken and turkey-based Vienna sausages.)
- White meat chicken spread (I found the Underwood brand, but there are certainly others.)
- Potted meat product (This is now available in several flavor varieties under different brand names.
- Deviled ham (I found the Underwood brand, but there are other brands.)
- Liver pate (I found cans for only $1.79 at my local grocery store.)
- Eden black soybeans (These aren’t meat, obviously, but they are chock full of protein Add a little low carb BBQ sauce, heat them, and eat them like baked beans if you want to.)
- Tofu (Make sure you get the kind that does not make to be refrigerated.)
- Protein powders (They are available in egg, whey, and soy-based varieties.)
- Protein shake mixes (Again, they are available in egg,whey, and soy-based varieties
- Premade canned protein shakes. (These have the benefit of being very portable and are complete all by themselves.)
- Protein bars (They are available in a variety of flavors, and are very portable.)
- “Instant” omelets.
- Powdered eggs, either powdered whole eggs or products like “Just The Whites.)
- Nut butters (Don’t just grab peanut butter; let yourself enjoy some variety. There are a number of different nut butters available, from cashew to macadamia nut to soy nut to almond.)
Miscellaneous Protein Sources:
- Nuts (All varieties. Nuts are also a good source of fiber. I have a good stock of the more exotic varieties fromwww.nuts4u.com, and stocked up on peanuts (both regular and hot’n’spicy at Sam’s Club. You can sometimes find inexpensive nuts and odd varieties of nuts at discount stores like Dollar General. One of my subscribers found smoked macadamia nuts at Big Lots.)
- Seeds (Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, etc., will add both variety and fiber to your diet.)
- Canned chili (Get chili without beans, obviously, and double check the carb count. If you like beans in your chili, then add some of the Eden black soy beans.)
- Dried pepperoni rounds. (Dried until crisp in the microwave, these are a great snack! I have also dried smoked deli ham in the microwave successfully. Note, though, that this does not work with boiled or baked ham. And don’t try this with smoked turkey. Even the dog wouldn’t eat it.)
- Cheese crisps (You can buy these pre-made through CarbSmart.)
These are all available either canned, jarred, or dehydrated.
- Green beans
- Wax beans
- Crookneck squash
- Zucchini squash
- Dill pickles
- Tomatoes (Available as paste, whole, chopped or diced,pureed, crushed, etc.)
- Water Chestnuts
- Baby corn (I mean the immature corn on the cob that is used in Asian cooking.)
- Bean sprouts
- Bamboo shoots
- Roasted Peppers
- Chili Peppers (Obviously you wouldn’t eat these by themselves, but they would make a nice addition to other things for some variety.)
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Mixed greens
- Mixed greens with diced turnips
Sauces and Gravies
- Chicken gravy
- Pork gravy
- Beef gravy
- Turkey gravy
- Spaghetti sauce
- Alfredo sauce
- Marinara sauce
- Pizza sauce
- Ragu Double Cheddar Sauce
- Canned dip mixes (Check the carb count on the label!)
Canned/ Dried Soups
- Chicken broth
- Beef broth
- Dried soups (There are a few varieties of dried soups available: some soups are available from CarbSmart (soups.html) and a few of the dried soups available locally are low carb. Always check the carb count, though.
- Check other canned soups, and if you find some with a relatively low carb count, add a few cans for variety’s sake. Be sure that they are types of soup that your family likes, though, since unless you are caught in an emergency you probably won’t eat them.
Condiments & Staples
- Mayonnaise (If you can find boxes of individual packets, that’s best, since you might be without power and therefore refrigeration. If you can’t find them, it’s better to buy several small jars of mayonnaise rather than one big one.
- Low carb catsup
- Other spices of your choice
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oil
- not/Starch (Useful for thickening soups and sauces. If the world ends, I am going to be buried with my not/Starch!)
- Artificial sweetener
- Salad dressing (Even if you run out of fresh greens, salad dressing is good perking up tuna or chicken salad or for basting meat.)
- Coffee (If you’re still drinking coffee, make sure you have some instant on hand unless you have an old-fashioned percolator. )
- ExpertExtras Real Cream (Powdered cream for that coffee you’re still drinking)
- Powdered drink mixes (Things like Kool Aid, Crystal Light, etc. Be sure you’ve purchased enough artificial sweetener to sweeten them to your own personal taste.)
- Tea (This depends on your personal preference:powdered instant, tea bags, or loose leaf. The Laci LeBeau dieter’s teas are also gentle and effective laxatives. I don’t think in a real emergency situation I would want to use a “normal”laxative.)
- Sugar free flavored waters. (The cheapest are available at WalMart.)
- Diet soda
- Keto powdered fruit drinks (These come in orange juice, cranberry, grape, and lemonade.)
- Keto milk (This comes in both white and chocolate varieties.)
- Diet sugar free cocoa mixes
- Stevita powdered drink mixes (These are particularly helpful to those of us who cannot tolerate aspartame.They come in orange, grape, lemon, and cherry flavors.)
Low Carb Crackers
You may need something to spread your nut butter or canned meat spreads on!
- Cheeters Diet Treats crackers
- WASA Fiber Rye Crackers
- Bran-A-Crisp crackers
- Homemade low carb crackers (I often make my own with the KETO quick bread mixes by baking the bread as directed, then thinly slicing it and re baking it just as you would biscotti. I’ve tested their shelf life, and they they stay fresh for more than 3 months in a Zip Lock bag.)
- Carbolite 0-Carb Crackers
- Psyllie Snacks (Also a terrific source of fiber!)
Snacks and Treats
None of the items below are absolutely necessary, but sometimes, especially in times of great stress, we just need something to munch on. Any of these are certainly better for you than that two-year-old bag of M & M’s you just found under the front seat of the car.
- Low carb chocolate bars (If there was ever a time to indulge, a disaster is the time!)
- Low carb hard candies and/or mints (These might well be very helpful if there’s a lot of dust or debris is the air.)
- Keto Chips
- Carbolite Protein Chips
- Psyllie Snacks
- Keto Keeters Chips
If you have a fireplace, you can cook whether you have power or not. I have a fireplace, but I also have a propane grill, and I have just taken it in to be serviced so insure that it’s in good working order. I have also purchased a second propane canister.
If you have a charcoal grill, get it cleaned out and purchase some extra bags of charcoal before they disappear from the store shelves because the traditional grilling season is virtually over. Be sure to pick up some extra lighter fluid, too.
If you are an apartment dweller, I would suggest that you purchase a small camp stove or a habachi. The camp stove most probably will be fueled by propane, and you will need to check the propane cylinder to see how long it lasts and possibly purchase a couple of spares. If you go the habachi route, be sure to stock up on some charcoal and lighter fluid.
Always be sure you have adequate ventilation when using an alternative heat source to either keep you warm or to cook food!
If you use your good cookware on any of these appliances, you will probably ruin it. Now is the time to get out the old stuff that you were going to sell at your next yard sale and make sure that it’s clean and ready to use. If you don’t have any old stuff, look at yard sales or resale shops for some sturdy castoffs. I found a wonderful complete set of cast iron cookware on eBay earlier this summer, and was going to give it to my 16-year-old to use when he goes camping with his friends, but he’s not getting it now. It’s all mine.
For heaven’s sake don’t forget that you will need a non-electric can opener and a bottle opener! It helps to sit down in your kitchen with a pad of paper and look around you (including in your kitchen cabinets and drawers!) and think about what you routinely use that requires electricity. Then you can make a decision as to whether you need to find a non-electric substitute or would simply do without that appliance/gadget.
It can’t hurt to have some wooden kitchen matches and extra disposable lighters.
It’s also important to realize that with water possibly in short supply, you don’t want to waste any washing the dishes. Stock up on some paper or Styrofoam plates, cups (both plastic for cold drinks and Styrofoam for hot drinks, paper napkins, and plastic silverware. You still have to wash any pots and pans you use, but the tableware can just be pitched.
Medical And First Aid Supplies
Most importantly, you need to have an adequate supply of any prescription medications you take, including and especially insulin and/or heart medications.
I bought an extra month’s supply of the medications both I and my husband take. The insurance company wouldn’t cover the advanced doses, but it’s worth it for my peace of mind to have them on hand.
I got a few extra medication containers, and I have put a 3-day supply of all the prescription medications in each car and have also given my husband a 3-day supply to keep at work. (He thinks this is really unnecessary. Tough toenails.) The rest are stored at home.
Vitamins and Supplements:
I didn’t have to stock up on vitamins and supplements. I routinely keep at least a 3-month supply on hand simply because I only buy them when they’re on sale. I did place daily doses in snack-sized Zip Lock bags and put a 3-day supply in each car, though. (I can do this now because winter is coming and the weather is cooler. In the summer, though, the oil-based gel capsules will melt. I know this from personal experience.)
Since your diet may be lacking in the fiber you would usually consume with your salads, I do recommend that you get some encapsulated fiber. I like psyllium husk capsules, and use them all the time as an additional source of fiber.
First Aid Kits
You can either purchase first aid kits or you can make up your own. I bought first aid kits in nice backpack-type bags for both home and the cars, but I have added some additional things to them based on my knowledge of my own family.
Here’s my additions to the purchased first aid kits:
- Cold/cough/flu over-the-counter medications (I hit the jackpot last week. My local grocery had all their generic varieties at buy one/get one free.)
- Maxi pads (Not for the obvious reason. I got these because they make excellent bandages for bleeding wounds, and they are sterilized in individual packets.The downside to these is that I think my 16-year-old son would rather bleed to death than slap a maxi pad anywhere on his body.)
- Vitamins (I stocked a 3-day supply in each car and an extra month’s supply at home.)
- Prescription medications (I stocked a 3-day supply in each car and an extra month’s supply at home.)
- Pain relievers (Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. If you have children, remember to stock up on medications designed specifically for them. Don’t ever give someone under 18 aspirin!)
- Plastic bandages (My daughter subscribes to the theory that if one Band-Aid is good, 60 Band-Aids are better. If you have little ones, splurge on some with goofy cartoon characters on them.)
- Adhesive bandages
- Extra adhesive tape (Those maxi pads will use a lot of tape.)
- Extra-large plastic bandages
- Antiseptic towelettes (You can also use antibacterial baby wipes.)
- Antiseptic ointment
- Sterile eye wash
- Elastic bandages
- Eye pads
- Safety pins
- First aid cream
- Burn ointment
- Disposable latex gloves
- Disposable surgical masks (The cheapest I found were at Walgreens. I figure they would be particularly helpful as particle filtering masks. Remember all that dust and debris from the World Trade Center?)
Protection and Safety
There are some items you should keep on hand which will increase the safety of your home, workplace, and car.
- Flashlights (Each of us now has a flashlight beside the bed, and others are scattered throughout the house. Each car has one, too.)
- Battery operated radio
- Extra batteries (Don’t forget to get extra batteries for your children’s computer games! If they have something to do they will be much calmer.)
- Fire Extinguishers (You should not only have them at home, but in your cars, too.
- Heavy Duty Work Gloves (These are useful if you need to do cleanup or move objects which are obstructing your progress.)
- Box cutters (If they’re good enough for the terrorists,they’re good enough for me. And they’re cheap. Get extra blades)
The threat from anthrax in our current situation is overly dramatized, I believe. Anthrax is not communicable. You must actually breathe in the spores in order to contract the disease, and even then most people don’t get it. In the past 12 months 1 person has died from anthrax in the United States; 20,000 people died of the flu. If you’re really worried about dying, get a flu shot and stop being unduly terrified by anthrax. It is curable.
I do not advocate buying Cipro or any other antibiotic unless you have been diagnosed as having the spores in your system or actually having the disease. Cipro is extremely expensive, and in addition antibiotics have a short shelf life. Buy it now “just in case,” and it may not work if you need it months from now. Most importantly, you should not take it before you have been exposed, because prophylactic use can weaken the effect of the drug, and if you were to contract anthrax at a later date it might not work for you.
Cipro is not without side effects, and they can be serious. No one under the age of 18 should be given Cipro; it does not work for children who contract anthrax. Leave it in the pharmacy unless you have a positive diagnosis for anthrax!
I do not advocate the purchase of gas masks. You’d have to wear one 24 hours a day 7 days a week starting right now to be fully protected, and that is just not feasible. Save your money and buy more food. I do suggest getting either disposable sterile surgical masks or particle masks.
I do not advocate the purchase of chemical protection suits for the same reason I don’t recommend the purchase of gas masks. Anyway, they make everybody look fat.
I do not advocate the purchase of firearms unless you are already experienced with them. If you want to purchase a first-time firearm, take comprehensive lessons in its use first. Owning a gun is a serious commitment, so you need to be willing to take target practice frequently, clean the firearm often, and always store it safely. If you want more information about firearms, check out the National Rifle Association’s web site (http://www.nrahq.org).
Just For The Car
- Extra Gasoline (Do not carry extra gasoline in the car,and only purchase extra if you have a place to store it that is well away from your house. I have a shed 50 yards behind the house which is also not near any of my neighbor’s houses. I put some extra gasoline in approved gasoline containers out there.
- Extra oil (You don’t want the oil light to come on and have nothing to put in!)
- Funnel (To put the oil in.)
- Clean rags
- Paper towels (Because you just got your hands filthy putting in the oil.)
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- City and region road maps
- Windex (If there is a lot of dust and/or debris in the air, you may need to clean your windshield frequently.)
- Fire extinguisher
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Pillows (These are certainly not absolutely necessary, but will certainly make you more comfortable if you get stuck in the car overnight for some reason.)
- Extra clothing (I packed an extra set of clothes, including 2 extra pairs of socks, shoes, and both winter and work gloves for each member of the family in double-layered kitchen garbage bags. I sealed the garbage bags with duct tape to make them waterproof and labeled each one with the appropriate name. This is a great place to use those shoes which are worn and no longer fit to wear on an everyday basis.)
- Water (I have a case of bottled water in each car. I also have 2 gallons of water for the radiator.)
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste (Nothing makes you feel scummier than a dirty mouth, and nothing perks you up more quickly than brushing your teeth!)
- Rope (I bought 100 feet of sturdy rope for each car. I’m not sure exactly what it’s for, but is sounds good. If nothing else comes up, I’ll tie my kids to the hood if they get too cranky.)
- Emergency Rations (I have emergency rations for 3 days boxed in each car. They consist of only ready-to-eat items, plus a can opener and plastic silverware.
- Baby wipes
- Toilet paper (Even though I really don’t want to think about THAT.)