Allergy Friendly Emergency Preparedness

Photo by Michael Jasmund on Unsplash.

Every day we strive to be prepared to prevent allergic reactions. This can be a challenge even when we’re in our own home. Constantly we are in the mindset of making special preparations for our day at work or school and when we go out of town. We never know when we may be in harm’s way as the result of a natural or man-made disaster. Just imagine the food allergy challenges you could experience if you had to evacuate your home for a minimum of 3 days!

If our food allergy has taught us anything, it is how to strategically think ahead. Mindfully creating your own allergy friendly emergency preparedness kit, overtime, will better equip you to be prepared and not have to worry about making special preparations or forgetting something should you need to quickly evaluate your home because of a disaster.
Maralin Hoff, aka the “Earthquake Lady,” conducts emergency preparedness presentations throughout the state of Utah and encourages attendees to “train your brain.” As humans, our primal reaction to a stressful situation is fight or flight. Yet, when you “train your brain” by already having a family communication plan and your custom allergy friendly preparedness kit, you don’t have to come up with spur of the moment solutions. 

Growing up in Utah along the Wasatch Mountains where multiple faults exist, I’ve been conditioned to be prepared for the forecasted 7+ magnitude earthquake. When diagnosed with my own nickel food allergy as an adult, I had to modify my emergency preparedness kit to meet my new allergy needs.

Various US governmental agencies recommend having at least a 72 hour kit that includes sufficient food, water, clothing and first aid. Many of the commercially created emergency food kits use stainless steel cans or contain soy or soy lecithin to preserve the food for longer periods. Both stainless steel and soy/soy lecithin are high in nickel. 

While those of us with food allergies may be able to use the non-food emergency preparedness kits, they can cost hundreds of dollars. So much of our lives already requires customization, I’m a firm believer in creating your own emergency preparedness kit over time, so you’re not burden with the upfront costs of gathering everything at once. Also the benefit of making your own kit is that you’ll know that what’s in your kit will work for you if you do have an emergency, which provides me peace of mind.

To contain my personalized allergy friendly emergency kit, I use two Rubbermaid storage containers. An avid camper, one of the totes contains camping supplies that doubles for emergency provisions and the other includes my emergency supplies. My camping tote includes a propane camping stove, plastic cooking utensils and the other tote includes non-food items. In addition, both of my family’s personal vehicles have a backpack in them with an old pair of tennis shoes and clothing, should we be caught on the road in an emergency. My portable air inflator was invaluable one very cold day in March when I got a flat tire outside of Torrey, Utah. Freezing outside, I used my winter coat and an emergency blanket to stay warm, while I waited over an hour for help. AAA couldn’t tow my car, so we had to inflate the tire enough to drive it to a nearby parking lot before replacing it. Luckily I was prepared and safe.

Since my nickel food allergy isn’t life threatening, I’ve personally decided to include some MREs and freeze dried food that does contain soy or is stored in a metal can. My spouse can eat them and in a pinch I’d eat them. You might not want to make a similar choice, but the choice is yours.  Alternatively I’ve considered investing in a dehydrator and/or freeze dryer for everyday use and to create my own low nickel freeze dried goods.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign, the US Center for Disease Control, The American Red Cross and several other organizations have websites with fantastic tools, checklists, in person events and  specific information on how to prepare for unforeseen hazardous events.  Mindfully creating an emergency preparedness kit is essential, I recommend customizing your emergency kit. Basic supplies I’ve added to my own kit includes:

  • Cetaphil lotion.
  • Aquaphor lip lotion.
  • Polysporin, because I am allergic to Neosporin.
  • Benadryl & Claritin with the active ingredient loradine.
  • Personal prescriptions – I use the steroid cream Desonide. You may want to include an epi-pen.
  • An old spare pair of my eye glasses.
  • Feminine hygiene products.
  • Cash.

Since many of the goods and products we use have expiration dates and our own needs change overtime, it’s recommended to evaluate your emergency kit every six months and re-stock expired goods. I like to do this in the summer and winter.

If you have any insight into creating your own emergency kit or tips to add, please make a comment in the section below!

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