If a major disaster strikes, do you have enough food, water, and supplies to last at least 2 weeks? Do you have a whistle to call for help, and a first aid kit? Do you know how to open your garage if the power’s out, or what to do if a power line falls on your car? Hopefully you’ll never face a disaster, but if you do, being prepared could save your life. So stop procrastinating and let’s do this!
Why make an emergency worse by stockpiling inedible “food?” Get rid of the powdered meals and canned vegetables and put together a healthy, organic stash of emergency food you actually want to eat.
BEFORE YOU START
Life won’t be normal during an emergency, so think through what you’ll need. Do you want to eat canned chicken everyday? If not, buy a variety of food, and enough to last at least 2 weeks. You may want to include food that’s portable and easy to eat. Salty foods (like potato chips) taste great, but they are really dehydrating, which is something to limit when fresh water isn’t readily available. Beans are a good source of protein, but they can cause gas, diarrhea and bloating. You don’t want to create a crisis of your own, especially if the plumbing isn’t working!
FISH Canned Sardines
Before you turn your nose up and scream “NO WAY!” it’s important to know that these little buggers are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, packed with vitamins and minerals, are sustainably caught and are probably the least contaminated fish in the sea. A single can provides 23 grams of protein. Some have called sardines the “Healthiest Food in the World.” Buy sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil (not canola or soybean oil) and if you feel queasy about eating them, buy the ones that are skinless and boneless. Cole’s, Vital Choice, Wild Planet and Angelo Parodi are all good options. If you really want the best try Conservas de Cambados Tiny Sardines In Olive Oil, but try not to freak out when you see the price.
Canned Alaskan pink, sockeye or red, wild-caught salmon – try Vital Choice, Wild Planet Wild Sockeye Salmon, or Deming’s Red Sockeye Salmon.
Tuna – avoid tuna because it’s high in Mercury.
Organic Canned Chicken– Pacific Chicken Breast or Thigh Meat in Stock, and Wild Planet Organic Roasted Chicken Breast are a few good options.
While it may not taste great cold, you can eat soups and chili right out of the can. Try Amy’s organic chili or soup.
OTHER SOURCES OF PROTEIN
Organic almond butter – Windy City Organics or VivaPura Raw Organic Sprouted Almond Butter.
Organic peanut butter – Once Again or Santa Cruz organic peanut butter.
Organic Nuts (no salt) – walnuts, filbert/hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts.
Organic Seeds – sunflower (no salt), pumpkin, and/or chia seeds.
Eden Foods makes an assortment of high quality organic beans. You don’t have to eat them straight out of the can. Mix different varieties together and add herbs and/or spices to keep it interesting.
Protein bars aren’t the healthiest food you can put in your emergency stash because they tend to be loaded with sugar, but they are portable and easy to eat. Make sure the first ingredient is a healthy protein. Avoid bars that have too much brown rice, tapioca syrup, agave, coconut or cane sugar.
Core Walnut Banana + Whey
A good portable option if you tolerate whey, which is derived from cow’s milk. These bars are perishable and must be stored in the freezer, but will last up to a week once defrosted.
It’s always best to get protein from food, but in a pinch you can mix protein powder with water.
Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Plant-Based Organic Protein
Nutiva Hemp Protein Organic
Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens Organic
Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein
Earth’s Best Organic Baby Food – no, baby food is not just for babies. Baby food is an easy, portable way to get your daily supply of fruit during an emergency. Earth’s Best is organic, vegan, unsweetened and contains no artificial flavors or colors. You can buy variety packs, which include an assortment of fruit combinations.
Apples & Apricots
Apples & Blueberries
Apples & Plums
Bananas, Peach & Raspberries
Pears & Mangos
Pears & Raspberries
Organic fruit juice
Organic dried fruit such as apricots, pineapple, banana or raisins
Organic frozen fruit – if the power goes out, it will last a few days
Earth’s Best Organic baby food
Zucchini Broccoli Medley (contains wheat)
Corn & Butternut Squash
Pickles (most pickles are high in sodium so choose the low sodium option)
Kimchi or Sauerkraut (a natural source of probiotics)
Organic Artichoke Hearts
Organic almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk or powdered milk. Avoid carrageenan, which is used as a thickening or binding agent, because it can cause stomach inflammation.
Organic flax or seed crackers (watch the sodium)
Organic cereal (watch the sugar)
Organic veggie, beet, kale or potato chips (no salt or lightly salted)
BoomChickaPop organic popcorn (no salt or lightly salted)
Organic fiber supplement
A few treats – add something that will make you happy. A little dark chocolate never hurt anyone in an emergency!
Check food labels and replace or rotate with food from your kitchen periodically.
KEEP ADDING FOOD
When you’re at the farmers market, co-op or health food store, keep your eyes peeled for foods that will store well and continue adding to your stockpile.
You’ll need 1 gallon per person, per day of water. If you’re storing enough for 2 weeks, that’s 14 gallons. If you have pets, don’t forget about them. They’ll need water too. Water’s not just for drinking, you’ll use it to wash your face, teeth, body and dishes, so make sure you have enough for your needs.
A cracked water pipe could allow contaminates into tap water. Contaminates you can’t see. It’s important not to drink tap water during an emergency unless it’s been properly filtered. Consider a compact purification tube. They can remove 99.99% of bacteria from your water. You can buy them for as little as $20.00.LifeStraw makes a good one.
If you don’t have a way to purify your water, you can use regular unscented chlorine bleach. These instructions from the CDC explain how.
EMERGENCY SUPPLIES CHECK LIST
Have an empty cooler available to store food from your fridge and freezer if the power goes out. Keep ice packs in your freezer and add them to the bottom of the cooler to keep your food from spoiling. Remember to eat your perishable food first.
Tubs are a great way to store your emergency essentials because they keep everything in one place and are easily accessible. Buy tubs in bright colors like orange (here’s one option), label them on all sides and use strong tape.
If you live in an area prone to flooding, store your food tub on a high, but accessible shelf. You may want to line the inside of the tub with a large plastic bag and tie it off securely before you close and duck tape the lid. Keep food tubs away from rodents, bugs and pests.
TUB 1 – FOOD
If you need to store a lot of food, buy a garbage can instead of a tub. Make sure it has wheels so you can move it quickly and easily. Be sure to bubble wrap food in glass bottles and jars and label them. In addition to food, include:
Salt, pepper and spices
A manual can opener
Plastic forks, spoons and knives
Plastic mixing bowls
A cutting board
Empty storage bowls with lids
Extra virgin olive oil
TUB 2 – EMPTY
After the emergency hits, take an inventory of your pantry and put all clean and edible food in an empty tub or garbage can with wheels.
TUB 3 – EMERGENCY SUPPLIES
A first aid kit – Red Cross First Aid Kit
An extra pair of reading glasses
A magnifying glass
A whistle to call for help
Disposable dust mask/surgical mask
Essential medication, including painkillers
Gloves (you may have to pick up shards of glass)
Extra batteries in every size
A portable cellphone charger
A solar powered radio
A solar powered cell phone charger
A battery operated fan, radio and candle(s)
A rain poncho & umbrella
A hard hat
A pair of scissors
Extra set of car/house keys
Matches (in a waterproof container)
Paper and pencil/pen
Trash bags (line your toilet with them if there’s no plumbing)
$100 in small bills
Maxi pads (they can be used to absorb blood anywhere on the body)
Tampons (they can be used for a bloody nose)
Soap, baby wipes and/or hand sanitizers
Local maps in case you need to find authorities or shelters
Include copies of your important documents such as IDs, proof of address, utility bills, insurance policies, deed/lease, and important phone numbers, including loved ones, city services, and insurance companies. Be sure to put them in a waterproof bag.
TUB 4 – BABY/CHILDREN
Headphones (blocks out loud sounds)
A disposable dust mask (protects against dust, smoke and harmful fumes)
A portable baby crib
TUB 5 – PET SUPPLIES
Store enough pet food and water for at least 2 weeks, include:
A pet blanket
Medication (including flea, pain and anti anxiety medication)
An extra collar with ID tag
A leash (include one for your cat too)
Lids or caps for your pet food
A pet dish
A pet first aid kit
Have an easily accessible carrying case for your dog and/or cat stored near your pet emergency tub. If your house isn’t habitable, you’ll want a portable place to keep your pet(s) safe. There could be glass on the ground, downed power lines and other animals. It’s not safe for pets to roam outside during an emergency.
You never know when a catastrophe might strike, so have emergency supplies in your car. If you can’t get to your trunk from inside your car, put the tub in your back seat, include:
An AAA emergency road kit
A first aide kit
Money ($20 – $100 in small bills for food, water, supplies or for a ride)
Prescription glasses or contact lens solution
Disposable dust mask/surgical mask
A battery operated radio
A phone charger
A flare or light stick
A hard hat
WARNING: if a downed power line is touching your car, stay in your vehicle unless it’s on fire. Call 911 and wait for help. Keep your hands in your lap and do not touch the frame of your car. Watch this video to learn how to exit your car safely in case of a fire.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO OPEN THE GARAGE WITHOUT POWER?
If you’re planning to store emergency tubs in the garage, this video will teach you how to open the garage door if the power isn’t working. Keep a wedge and a wire hanger in the house so you can unhook the emergency latch in your garage.
FLASHLIGHT/BATTERY OPERATED CANDLES
Candles can be dangerous in an earthquake prone area. Battered operated candles (this is a good one) can be a great option if you don’t have power at night. Many come with timers, which will automatically go on and turn off after 5 hours.
It’s wise to have an ABC fire extinguisher in your kitchen and garage.
UNDER THE BED
Keep a small tub under your bed, include:
A first aide kit
A whistle to call for help
A durable pair shoes or boots
Gloves you can use to move broken glass
Prescription glasses or contact solution
If you live in a 2 or 3-story home or apartment, you may want to have a portable fire escape ladder. The city of Seattle has put together some information about how to choose a good one.
A tent & sleeping bag in case you need to sleep outside
A safety vest
A solar generator for power
Outdoor grill & all necessary equipment
A battery operated fan or heating unit
HAVE A PLAN
If you’re separated, do you know where to meet the people you love in an emergency? Set a place, tell everyone, and remind each other at least twice a year.
It may be difficult to contact someone in your city during an emergency. Plan to call a friend or family member out of state. If you and you’re loved one aren’t together, this person can let each of you know that the other is safe. Need help making a plan? Ready.gov – “Make A Plan”
TAKE A CLASS
If you want to know more about how to protect yourself and the ones you love during an emergency, take a class. Many fire departments offer free emergency preparedness and first aid classes.
Feature image CSA images @iStock
The Plastic Ocean
A staggering and almost incomprehensible amount of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year. Current estimates put the number around eight million tons. By 2050, researchers expect that there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Given that astonishing fact, it shouldn’t surprise us that about half of the marine mammals in the sea have plastic in their guts. Almost 90 percent of seabirds are eating plastic on a regular basis.
Indian Long-billed Dowitcher. These birds are struggling to survive due to pollution in their feeding ground. Gaurav_gadani – iStock
WHAT CAN YOU DO
1. Rethink “single-use packaging” like straws, plastic bags, and those ubiquitous plastic water bottles.
2. Buy glass water bottles instead of plastic, reuse and recycle them.
3. Use glass or steel straws, not plastic.
4. Invest in a home filtration system that purifies tap water, so you can free yourself from the plastic bottle.
5. Buy a reusable to-go cup for coffee and water.
6. Use stainless steel lunch boxes rather than sandwich bags.
7. Bring bags made from natural fibers like cotton with you to the grocery store.
8. Cut up the plastic rings that hold soda cans together and make sure you throw them away.
9. Don’t liter, especially near bodies of water.
10. Organize a trash cleanup day.
WEAR NATURAL FIBERS
Buy clothes made from natural fibers like cotton. Textiles made from synthetic fibers such as polyester and acrylic are polluting the world’s oceans.
When washed synthetic fabrics release small microfibers that look like fuzz. One load of laundry can release more than 700,000 microplastic fibers.
The fibers get washed down the drain and end up at wastewater treatment plants. Most plants don’t have filters small enough to catch the fibers, so they end up in the ocean. Fish mistake them for food, eat them, and the fish wind up on our dinner table.
“In one study, 1 in 4 fish that researchers purchased from fish markets in Indonesia and the United States during the second half of 2014 were found to have plastic in their guts.” Other studies have found microplastic in oysters, mussels and lobsters.
MPCA Photos on Flickr @Creative Commons
Avoid products that contain “microbeads,” or tiny granules added to toothpastes, facial scrubs and cosmetics. They get flushed down the drain and end up in the ocean.
“Microbeads cannot be completely filtered out by [preliminary] wastewater treatment,” Greenpeace’s senior campaigner Kate Lin Pui-yin said. “Once in the ocean, they do not decompose easily … and before you know it, they end up in our dinner.”- South China Morning Post
Microparticles of plastic have been found in sea salt from all over the world, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.
“Plastic debris is an entanglement and ingestion hazard for many species, [it] creates a physical barrier on beaches to animals such as sea turtles, and lowers the diversity of shoreline invertebrates.” – Dr. Jennifer Lavers, researcher, IMAS (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies)
PLASTIC BAGS IN A WHALE’S STOMACH
A beached whale found on Norway’s coast this February had 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in its stomach. The whale was visibly sick and had to be euthanized. Dr. Terje Lislevand, a zoologist who studied the whale said its intestines were probably blocked by plastic, causing severe pain.
Tarutao national park, Thailand- Utopia_88 iStock
When we imagine a remote far away island, the last thing we picture is a shoreline full of plastic, but that’s what researchers are finding on the small, uninhabited South Pacific island of Henderson. Its shores are littered with over 37 million pieces of plastic debris, more than anywhere else in the world. The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile and is situated at the edge of a vortex of ocean currents, which may explain why so much plastic ends up there.
The island of Henderson is a UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site because of its rare ecology. Dr. Jennifer Laver, a research scientist with the Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, examined plastic on the island. Her study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Based on our sampling at five sites we estimated that more than 17 tonnes of plastic debris has been deposited on the island, with more than 3570 new pieces of litter washing up each day on one beach alone.”
Dr. Laver finds the situation “truly alarming” and says it represents the “highest density of plastic I’ve really seen in the whole of my career.”
Plastic is finding it’s way to the Arctic Ocean as well. According to the LA Times, researchers found hundreds of tons of plastic including plastic fragments, foam, fishing line, microbeads, and microplastics in the Arctic waters.
“The range of marine plastic size is so wide that any organism, from plankton to whales, could ingest plastic debris.” – Andres Cozar, an ecologist at the University of Cadiz in Spain who conducted a study of plastic in the Arctic Ocean
These folks are finding ways to free us of our plastic dependence.
Prince Charles of Whales is lending his support to a 2 million dollar competition to find a solution to what he calls the “escalating ecological and human disaster” that is marine liter. The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize is split into two categories. One million goes toward finding new ways to create single-use products like straws, wrappers and coffee lids without using plastic. The other million will reward someone who can figure out a way to make plastic recyclable.
A 22-year-old just raised $21.7 million to sweep the plastic out of the Pacific Ocean. Bryan Slat is the CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup project, which has developed a technology using ocean currents to help capture plastic in the ocean. The first test run is expected to happen late this year.
The Skipping Rocks Lab, a sustainable packaging start-up based in London, has designed a water bottle made from “an extract of brown seaweed.” The Ooho, as it’s called, is eatable and will degrade in about four weeks.
Even if the sea weren’t at risk from exposure to plastic, the chemicals in plastic aren’t healthy for our bodies.
“The nightmare scenario is that we one day find out that a lot more of our current disorders, including infertility and cancer, may be due to bisphenol A [a chemical in plastic] and only show up after cumulative exposure. But by then, we all have accumulated so much expose that it’s too late to reverse the effects.” Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology Karin
According to EcoWatch, “93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA.”