Friday, March 11, 2011

Food Allergies When Crisis Hits: Emergency Preparedness Is a Must

I had another post planned for today but the tsunami in Japan got me thinking about so many things. My heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by this tragedy, including those in the affected U.S. regions who must now wait out the oncoming storm. I hope they are all safe.

This incident reminded me of a post I did when we were hit with severe weather that caused lengthy power outages here in Chicago. Luckily, this was nothing like what they are facing in Japan or in other places where earthquakes have occured, thank goodness. However, when you've got food allergies in your family, more common weather emergencies like hurricanes, flooding, blizzards and tornadoes require a bit more preparation.

Weather disasters and other emergencies aren't pleasant to think about but since they don't happen when you expect them, it's best to be ready.

Here's a few tips for keeping on top of food allergies in an emergency:

1. Have a good stock of "safe," non-perishable food items that can be eaten by the entire family. Soy milk (if you can have it) doesn't require refrigeration and bottled water is always good to have on hand in case you can't use your tap water for any reason. I like to have cereal, crackers, pretzels and slow-spoiling fruits like apples and bananas on hand in case of a blackout. SunButter, if you can eat it, is also good to have as is non-refrigerated cheese and crackers (if you aren't allergic to dairy). Anything from Enjoy Life like trail mix and granola is safe for the Top 8 food allergens, gluten and sesame. These foods will keep well and give you much-needed energy if you are low on food and stressed.

2. Make sure all your prescriptions are up-to-date and well-stocked. Check to make sure that you have several epinephrine auto-injectors, a bottle of Benadryl and whatever asthma or seasonal allergies your child needs well before a crisis hits. In the event of extreme bad weather, you may not be able to renew these prescriptions in a timely manner, so get them now. Keep them in a plastic resealable bag so they don't get wet.

3. Keep a nice supply of cleaning wipes and antibacterial hand wipes. If the worst happens and you have to leave your home for any reason, you'll be able to remove allergenic residue from surfaces. In addition, hand and face wipes will come in handy for personal use.

4. Get the "Go Bag" ready. At a FAAN Conference I attended a couple of years ago (sign up now for the 2011 FAAN conferences coming up soon!), a dad who used to work with NYC on Emergency Preparedness discussed the need for a "Go Bag" that you have ready for your child in a convenient area of your home. This bag would contain up-to-date medications in addition to safe, unperishable foods and drinks.


conntess said...

Jenny, I'm glad you brought this up. I haven't thought about it before. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

A relative sent me this news clip. I just feel so angry and frustrated. Thought you might be interested in reviewing it.

Diane said...

Great post!

Beth Kevles said...

Great post! An emergency kit should include non-perishable foods for at least a week, since FEMA can take a long time to show up and even then won't have allergen-free foods. And you should assume the power will go out for a long time. The kit should also include in-date medications and epi-pens. If you have asthma, you'll need a battery-operated nebulizer and fresh batteries.

--Beth Kevles
Eating without Casein webmaster

(I found your blog by typing "emergency preparedness and food allergies" into Google.)