Earthquake Emergency Preparedness at Home

 It is a bit of a running joke amongst members of my family when they visit our home…”Nobody gonna go hungry in this house any time soon!”  I don’t know how often I have heard my parents mutter this phrase over the years.
Well, in my defense, I do feed upwards of 10-12 people over the course of a given day, and my experience is that those said people like when there is food in the house!  However, it could also be said that I could feed the whole neighbourhood for a week if I had to.
So, when I began to prepare my “Emergency Preparedness Plan” for Daycare (all licensed facilities in BC are required to prepare and maintain both a full emergency kit as outlined by the BC government and a full facilitiy Emergency Plan for a variety of Situations), the food part was easy!  As was much of the “kit”, due to the fact that as a family we do our share of camping and therefore have things like a camp stove and fuel, a large selection of flashlights, wind-up radios and flashlights, extra blankets, first aid, water and so on (visit Canada’s emergency preparedness website for a full list of items both necessary and suggested, www.getprepared.gc.ca ).
But last Friday, in the wake of the horrific events unfolding in Japan, and then a Tsunami alert announced for much of Vancouver Island, as well as just about all of the Coastal areas of the Pacific Ocean, I spent a good part of the day and into the weekend, thinking about our emergency kit and plans, and went looking for holes.  I discovered that I only knew for certain where one flashlight was (without going into the emergency kit in the Trailer or the shed); that there were no toothbrushes in the “to-go” bags, and that it was time to replace the water (12 litres each for 10 people!).  The next thing I did (which might sound strange to some folks) was start making a list of what we would eat as we worked our way through three days stuck in the house.  I plan to stick a copy of this list into the emergency kit as well as tape one to the shelf in the crawl space where we keep much of our bulk pantry items. 
One of the things to remember, if you are in a situation where you can cook (either on your gas bbq outside or over a camping stove), begin by using the food in your fridge or your freezer.  The first day, the food in your fridge will still be good, but you will need to cook it that day.  The next day, the food in your freezer (as long as you have not been opening the door of the freezer) will still be good, but again, you will have to ensure that you can cook it!  Just remember that any food that would need to be refridgerated after cooking (so those leftovers you would normally use for lunches!) need to be eated up that same day.  By the second morning, you will be ready to move on to your dry goods, as well as any bread or baking that is in your freezer.
Some suggetions for Emergency meals at home that don’t require heat (for when you run out of gas for the bbq or the camp stove, or if you don’t have access to either of those items): Dry cereal with tetra pak milk or canned milk, or powdered milk if you have that much water.  If it is the first day, you may have some yogurt to use up in your fridge.  Eat the fresh produce you have in the house like bananas or berries, save apples for the end as they have a much longer shelf life.  Use up any lettuces you might have on that first day, and have a salad with canned tuna or sardines, and some cheese.  Canned, ready-to-eat soups can be eaten cold, and if you are feeding more than one person, it is great to lower the sodium of these items by using no-salt-added canned tomatoes, to the soups to stretch them to feed a group of four or six.  Canned fruit is a great way to get vitamin c and fibre into everyone, so keep things like canned pineapple, mandarins, applesauce and fruit cocktail in your emergency food kit.  Dried fruit, like raisins and cranberries or apricots are great sources of fibre.  Canned or bottled 100% juice is good too.  Be sure and add some low or no-salt canned vegetables to your kit.  Things like canned peas, corn and beets are full of nutrition and can be eaten cold as long as you remember to include a manual can opener.  Packaged oatmeal cookies or granola bars are great if you are stuck in the house, but also if you get told you have to leave, these are things that can travel well to your next destination.  Energy bars are good too, but often need to be eaten with water or juice.
Something else to think of when you are preparing your emergency food kit, include some candy or chocolate bars (altho these need to be eaten up about every 3 o 4 months as they don’t have a long shelf life).  Fruit gummies are great for the kids, and (as will the colouring books and crayons and story books) will help them feel like things are sort of normal (unless of course, you never give them those!), just like when you tell them to go and brush their teeth after they have eaten them ! (because you remembered to include toothbrushes and toothpaste in your emergency kit!)

Thanks for stopping by!
Happy Packing!

http://www.pep.bc.ca/hazard_preparedness/prepare_now/prepare.html

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