When Calamity Hits
There’s been an outpouring of concern for those who endured the “bomb cyclone” blizzard that hit our area and has now turned into flooding in much of the state.
The experience of watching ranchers brave screaming winds of snow to protect pregnant cows and those with newborn babies has been both heartwarming and heart-wrenching. In preparation for the predicted super storm, swaths of extra hay were spread on the ground to provide nourishment as well as warmth and comfort for their livestock. Tragically, many of our neighbors to the east were not as fortunate as they watched their livestock perish in devastating floods.
It takes a lot of energy to brave natural disasters…for humans and animals alike. And during such trying times, food can ease stress as well as hunger. A well-stocked emergency kit can supply both…and perhaps save lives.
Besides a flashlight, batteries, first aid kit and a battery-powered radio, here are the supplies experts at www.ready.gov recommend we have ready for extreme emergencies:
- Clean water: At least 3 gallons per person—enough to provide 1 gallon per person a day for three days
- Food: At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food such as ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables. (Don’t forget a can opener!) Also protein and fruit bars, dry cereal or granola, peanut butter, dried fruit and nut mixes, canned juice, and individual boxes of non-perishable pasteurized milk or other beverages that do not require refrigeration.
- Sanitation supplies: bleach wipes, towelettes, garbage bags with ties.
- Comfort/stress foods. Yes, just like a warm bed of hay, we do need foods that provide comfort as well as nutrition during times of severe calamity. For me, that would be peanut butter cookies.
Also, say emergency preparedness experts, keep all food in covered, water-proof containers. If cooking is not possible, commercially canned foods may be eaten out of a can without heating. And do not eat any food that has come in contact with contaminated flood water.
If the power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Refrigerated food will stay cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals.
Discard any perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers if the temperature in your fridge reaches higher than 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. And remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”
If you know a power outage is likely, stock up on dry ice. A 25-pound bag will keep food frozen in a 10-foot freezer for 3 to 4 days. Just remember to handle dry ice with heavy gloves and don’t let it come in direct contact with the food.
Stay safe and please continue to pray for our farmers and ranchers in the Heartland.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian nutritionist at Box Butte General Hospital. She is the author of Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.