SCD Emergency Kit
Preparations for those on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for emergency situations, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, major snowstorms, etc. are more complex than for others. That is because those on SCD are very limited with regard to commercially prepared foods. We need to do more than buy a dozen cans of ravioli and canned vegetables for the emergency cupboard. See the section below on Foods Possibilities.
One of the biggest and longest lasting disaster situations was Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast of the United States. Marilyn is a very experienced SCd'er, a long time resident of New Orleans, a veteran of many hurricanes and lived through Katrina. Below, she offers some practical advice for disaster preparedness, particularly in a hot climate. Wendy adds a New England winter perspective.
Pray for what Marilyn calls "fish storms," which are those which go up the middle of the Atlantic or some other ocean, do not come on land and leave us alone.
Physical Items to Have on Hand
The usual problem with natural disasters is the temporary loss of electricity. No electricity means: no lights, no heat, no air conditioning, no refrigeration and for some, no water. While some water systems are fed by gravity and do not need electricity, for many others, their water supply depends on electricity to power their well pump or the towns water pumps. No running water means no water in the tank for toilet flushing. Even if water is flowing through the tap, drinking water supplies can become contaminated with storm water run off, especially if there is flooding.
Stock up on Fuel
If the power outage is wide spread, having no electricity may mean that gas stations cannot operate. The stations may have gasoline but they need electric pumps to move the gas into your car. Storm disrupt deliveries so there may be shortages of gas. Also, if there is an evacuation order, with everyone going for gas at the same time, there can be shortages and long lines.
Before every storm, as early as is feasible, it is a good idea to fill up the gas tank of your car. Be sure your refillable propane tanks are full and buy extras of the small non-refillable tanks.
- Bottled water - Store lots of bottled water for drinking and cooking. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need even more. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store a total of at least one gallon of drinking (potable) water per person, per day. You should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family.
- Filtered Water - If you do a lot of back packing, you may have your hiking water filters on hand that are suitable for getting drinking water from in lakes and streams. Have replacement cartridges on hand. These filters may be used to create potable water if you have captured fairly clean water such as roof run off rain.
Water for Bathing and Flushing Toilets
- Storing Non-drinkable water - Large, clean trash cans which can be filled with non-potable (non drinkable) water which can be used for taking sponge baths and for refilling toilet tanks. Conserve water by only flushing toilets when you have to (after B M's). Pouring water directly into the toilet bowl will also cause flushing.
- Saving Clean Water in the Bathtub -Some people clean and then fill their bathtub before a storm. They can use the water for cooking and washing. If you have working gas appliances, you can boil it and then the clean bath water can also be used for drinking.
Information and Communication
- A battery powered radio is useful to receive emergency broadcast information.
- Smart phones or cell phones - Top off the batteries before the storm. Have a charger that can plug into your car so you can recharge it with the car if needed. Smart phones also have internet access. Conserve the battery and limit to emergency use: requesting help, getting news or checking in on family members.
- Ipads and Battery operated Laptop Computers - Top off the batteries before the storm. Have a charger that can plug into your car so you can recharge it with the car if needed. Conserve the battery and limit use to emergency use: requesting help, getting news or checking in on family members.
- Flashlights or battery operated lanterns. Battery powered devices are much safer than candles or alcohol or kerosene lamps. Keep all open flame sources away from children. Be sure there is adequate ventilation, especially kerosene lamps. Candles and kerosene lamps are fire hazards if not handled properly and kept away from flammable items.
- Batteries - Stock up (calculate double the battery life running time you expect to need)
- Gas stove - If just the electric power goes out, and you have a gas stove, you can cook as usual. Those with electric stoves will need other methods.
- Small propane portable stove for cooking and an extra bottle of propane. (Marilyn helped feed ten people from one following Hurricane Katrina.)
- Outdoor barbeque - Handy for cooking after the storm but before the electricity comes back.
Preserving Frozen Food or Food in the Refrigerator
- Foam coolers - With blue ice, and/or plenty of bags of ice. As the ice melts, if it is kept clean, it can be added to the potable water supply. If not, the melted ice can be used for cooking, washing or added to the non-potable supply.
- Preparing the Refrigerator and Freezer - This is key for those on SCD since we rely on fresh or frozen foods that are not commercially prepared. Marilyn's usual preparation for a hurricane is to fill plastic bags and/or containers with water the day before. She tucks the bags and containers into every nook and cranny of the refrigerator and freezer to provide chilling mass. Extra bags of frozen vegetables will also work a added cold mass.
With the maximum cold mass inside, if one does not open these appliances (except for the absolute minimum needed to extract something) while the power is off, the perishable food should stay cold enough to not spoil for anywhere from 5-7 days. Marilyn and Harry did this and successfully preserved their food supply during Hurricanes Cindy and Dennis in 2005. (While they were prepared as above for Katrina, they were without power for 6 weeks and what they could use in seven days was lost.) Fortunately, most disaster situations do not last six weeks.
If you have some food on hand that is highly perishable such as chopped meat or fresh fish, it might be a good idea to use it for the very first meal. If that is not done, the meat or fish will last much longer if it is cooked. Ground beef and can be used later as part of in a stew.
Specific Useful Items
- Wenzel fan and light combination. http://www.wenzelstore.com/led-light-fan.html. Runs off AA batteries. Good for providing room light and at least stirring the entirely too hot air while one is waiting for the power to come back on. (Marilyn used 3 of these after Hurricane Katrina.)
- O2-Cool Model 1054 10" Indoor/Outdoor Fan. http://www.amazon.com/O2-Cool-Model-1054-Indoor-Outdoor/dp/B000I4L15Q/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1337724937&sr=8-4 Runs off D batteries, and one set lasts about 24 hours. (One used in a power outage.)
- Cabela's 12-LED Lantern with Remote. http://tinyurl.com/dynbroj Runs on 4 D batteries and lasts a long time. (Two used during power outages.)
- Three-LED book lights - The Deluxe triple LED model. Some kits have an AC adapter, but Marilyn and Harry got them without. Works great as a hands-free flashlight because you can clip it to your shirt. Marilyn has several of these located strategically around the house so that if the power goes out, she finds the piece of furniture she know she attached the book light to, runs her hand up, and presto, there is light. (They have one in each car, too.)
Biking and hiking LED "miner type" lights that are mounted on a headband provide hand light for hands free food preparation.
Lights used for camp offer a wide variety of battery powered lights that are useful in black-outs.
- Tuna in water is fine: just make sure what you get doesn't have "vegetable broth" added -- that "broth" is full of non permissible ingredients. Salmon, shrimp, and crab meat in cans may also be okay but check the ingredients. Watch out for "natural flavors." Look for low sodium brands -- they are less likely to have junk in them. Sometimes packed in oil is safer.
- Fruits packed in their own juice, in the smallest cans you can find so the remainder doesn't have to be thrown out if you do not eat it all. This is hard to find. With pineapple, be sure that it is packed "in it's own juice" (which is allowable) but not "in pineapple juice," which is NOT the same thing.
- Look for small bottles of the permissible Welch's grape juice, permissible Dole pineapple juice and the Knudsen "Just Juice" line, as that can give you some variety to drink.
- Staying hydrated is critical, especially in hot weather. See Beverages for allowable beverages.
- It is important to keep the electrolytes balanced. It is useful to keep a bottle of E-lyte on hand http://www.bodybio.com. E-lyte is a concentrate which you dilute with water. If you are out of E-lyte, you can make your own electrolyte drink with the SCD home recipe. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a quart of boiled water. Add about a cup of Knudsen's permissible juice in it. If you don't have fruit juice on hand, you can also use 2 tablespoons of honey. Most folks do better with the fruit juices. (Warning -- honey and baking soda will fizz when mixed and this is not a problem). This mixture should be kept as cold as possible and discarded after 24 hours.
- If you tolerate nut flours, Sue's crackers are great to make a supply of before the storm as they do not need refrigeration. http://www.uclbs.org/recipes/bmc/suecrackers.php
- If you have a dehydrator, you can make a supply of food beforehand that do not need refrigeration. Meat sticks and/or jerky, dried vegetables and fruits, but keep in mind that you will need extra water to either rehydrate for use or to rehydrate YOU if you eat them dry.
- You can also make meat sticks and jerky in the oven if yours goes down to 150°F (65°C).
- Cheese Crisps, made of baked and dehydrated cheese, don't require refrigeration.
- Hard boiled eggs and hard cheese keep well in a cooler and provide breakfast and lunch.
- Before the storm, one pot meals can be prepared in snap-top boxes and frozen solid. Some of these can be moved to one's cooler as a storm approaches.
- In an ideal world, one would know how to can fruits, vegetables, and various meat stews so one could have these foods on hand and not have to worry about refrigerating them.
- With a dehydrator, one can prepare several weeks of dried meals the way Melanie Black (http://myhoneypie66.blogspot.com/) did for her son Jacob's camping trips. Note than many of the foods on her list are very advanced.
- A supply of bananas is handy.
- Bear in mind that the more safe foods that do not need refrigeration that you have, the better as you will have to take them with you if you are forced to evacuate. Emergency food found in shelters or distributed by the Red Cross is not going to be SCD compliant. While normally we encourage the whole family to eat SCD food, in the case of an emergency, SCD safe foods should be reserved if possible for the person who absolutely needs it for the duration of the emergency.
The Winter Storm
Winter storms have different opportunities and need some additional precautions. All the precautions and techniques discussed above apply, but you could probably pass on the battery powered fans. Since travel is almost impossible in a blizzard, evacuations are rare but one has to think of being self sufficient and stuck in place for a few days.
Typical of a winter storm is that the snow and wind knocks down branches and old trees which fall on power lines and telephone poles knocking out power and sometimes also telephone and cable. Restoration of power is dependent on the ability of the crews to gain access to the snow covered junction and the difficulty of traveling on snow filled roads.
Wendy recommends Marilyn's technique of filling the refrigerator and freezer with water and/or frozen vegetables; however, food spoilage is not as bad of a problem as in the summer or in warmer areas. In winter, the temperature outside is close to or below freezing. Perishables can also be stored outside or on an unheated porch or garage for a while.
One has to expect that it will take a few days after the storm for food and other supplies to be restocked in stores. Parking is usually difficult in the early days as piles of snow take up some of the parking spaces until the snow can be trucked away.
Those on SCD with electric stoves, might want to consider installing a gas stove or a small backup, gas powered cooking appliance.
If you have electric cooking appliances, Wendy finds that the best way to cope for a few days is to stock up on groceries, pre-cook as much as possible and plan to just heat it up. Barbequing is impossible during a winter storm. After the storm, the propane powered barbeque (if you can find it) can be used. It is easier to heat things up than cook from scratch outside and who wants to linger on the outdoor patio when it is below freezing.
A portable propane gas stove can easily heat up pre-cooked food. Having things pre-cooked minimizes the use of propane fuel and uses fewer burners.
Do not barbeque in the house as the fumes are dangerous.
Lack of heat
To prevent pipe freeze ups, turn a faucet on and let the water drip ever so slowly. That will usually keep the water running just enough so that the pipes will not freeze.
The winter house is closed up tight and fumes from alternative sources are a major problem.
Do not try to heat the house by lighting the gas oven and leaving the door open.
If you use a wood stove, be sure that the flu and all vents are working properly. Do not leave it unattended.
Use camping gear such as sleeping bags can help at night to supplement the bed covers. Wear your ski underwear, and ski hat inside to stay warm. A large fraction of body heat is lost through the head.
It is a misnomer that fireplaces heat the house. the fireplaces seen today were designed to be more picturesque than useful. The fireplaces is the old days were wide, shallow and tended to constantly. Overall, the fireplaces of today cool the house. The flu has to be opened creating an updraft. The fire draws in cold air from the outside and creates drafts throughout the house. The chimney flu has to be left open long after the fire is out.
People generate heat and dressed warmly with a little indoor aerobics can help keep people warm.
Do not warm up the car in the garage. Back it out.
Before starting the car be sure that the car's exhaust pipe is clear of snow or debris. Car fumes could back up into the car bringing deadly carbon monoxide. This includes the times when you go out to the car to just to warm it up to circulate the oil or to recharge a smart phone, iPad or laptop computer.
Of particular interest in cold climates is maintaining the electric controls for the oil or gas fired furnace in a power outage (and the electric water pump if needed). For all users of SCD, powering the refrigerator and freezer, with our vital supply of special foods is key.
Gasoline operated generators, frequently used by contractors, must be operated outside and well ventilated. They also require frequent refilling with gasoline which in a natural disaster can be in short supply.
Natural gas powered generators for home use are becoming more popular. They are more expensive, permanent installations but they have much more capacity. They have an underground, unlimited fuel supply, automatic controls and can power the entire house.