Food Allergy Emergency and Disaster Preparedness
Whether an earthquake, hurricane or wildfire, events in recent years have demonstrated that natural disasters, in addition to man-made ones, can happen at any time, often with little notice.
Ensuring that your family is prepared for a natural disaster is key. The pillars of this preparation are:
1. Create a family emergency plan:
Do you and your family members know what do to, where to go, or who to contact in the event of an emergency? Take the following steps to ease your mind and ensure your family’s safety in an emergency.
- Designate a place to go within your home in the event of natural disaster.
- Identify at least two meeting places in different areas of town in case you cannot access your home.
- Make sure everyone knows where the emergency supplies and “Grab-and-Go Bag” are located.
- Select an emergency contact person who lives in a different town. Keep their contact information in writing so that it will be accessible even if your cell phone is not.
- Purchase labels of a certain color (e.g. red labels for all bags and bins) so that all emergency supplies are easily identified. Include the date the kit was assembled.
- Review your plan in detail with all family members now, and at least once a year for teens and adults. More often for young children.
2. Assemble an emergency supply kit:
Store emergency supplies in a place in your home not likely to be affected. Set a calendar alert and at least once per year, replace expired foods and medications.
Choose shelf-stable products in cans, boxes or plastic, preferably ones that do not require cooking or heating. Avoid glass containers and foods, and perishable items (e.g. bakery items) that have a short shelf life.
Stick to brands you know and trust. A crisis is never a time to experiment with a new food or product. Have food and water available for at least 72 hours, however if a disaster is imminent, plan for 7 – 10 days.
A few examples include:
- Water bottles (ideally one gallon per day per person)
- Rice or other alternative milk
- Juice boxes
- Allergy-friendly cereals
- Breakfast bars
- Shelf-stable boxed bacon
- Safe chips
- Canned chicken or tuna
- Canned beans
- Fruit or applesauce cups
- Nut-free crackers and cookies
- Soy nut or sunflower butter
- Jelly in squeeze bottle
- Safe chocolate, candy or treats
- Baby food and formula
- Disposable plates, cups and utensils
- Manual can opener
- Cash and coins (ATMs may not be accessible)
- Hand or baby wipes
- Allergy friendly personal care (e.g. soaps, shampoo, lip balm)
- Battery operated radio
- Pens, notebooks
- Toys, stuffed animals, crayons
- Baby (special food, formula, bottles, diapers)
- Pet supplies
- Pillow (feather and latex free)
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Battery operated candles
- Portable cell phone charger
If you arrive at a public shelter, be sure to identify yourself or your child as having severe food allergies. If severe weather (extreme heat or cold) is an issue, seek assistance in storing your labeled epinephrine in a safe, unlocked location.
- Medications. If possible, have multiple sets in different locations and keep them with you or your child. (e.g. purse, backpack or Grab-and-Go bag)
- Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care plan should always be kept with medications.
- Measuring cups or spoons for liquid medications.
- Basic first aid kit including latex free band-aids, pain relievers, anti-histamines and other trusted over-the-counter medications that may be needed.
- Hand or baby wipes
3. Print important documents and contact information:
Start with a notebook and record contact information for anyone you may need to reach. Include phone numbers for your family’s physicians and pharmacist. You or your child may need refills or require care from a physician who is unfamiliar with your family’s medical needs. You may also want to include:
- Copies of drivers license
- Local maps
- Hospitals in surrounding areas
- Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan
- Physician’s letter detailing how you or your child should be treated in the event of an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.
- Healthcare provider contact information (your phone may not work)
- Pharmacy phone number
- Written list of all medications
- Copy of insurance cards for all family members
- Additional written prescriptions or photo copies of prescriptions (in case medications need to be replaced)
- If in a clinical trial, have the principal investigator contact info and NCT trial number
In addition to your supply kit, consider stocking a “Grab-and-Go Bag” which is smaller version of your supply kit that includes essential food, medical supplies and documentation that you can easily carry or thrown into the car at a moments notice.
Regardless of where you live, having a disaster plan is essential. Taking the time now to assemble your emergency kit will give you peace of mind today, and should the unthinkable ever occur, in the future as well.
We were distraught and unsure how to make all of the changes needed to keep him safe. FARE has been our primary resource from the day of diagnosis and still is today, four years later.