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How to Prepare a Gluten-Free Disaster/ Emergency Kit 06/17/2008 - Water, water, everywhere! That is what I woke up to one day in August of 2007. It seems a big storm had lodged over a certain area of the Midwest – and I was in it. Wow, was I in it! A flash flood had raised the water level of a nearby lake to the point where it was in my town house–almost 3 feet of it. It happened overnight and we had to leave immediately. I was able to grab only a couple of things.

Eating out being gluten intolerant is quite difficult. Eating emergency food rations at a Red Cross Evacuation station is quite another. Fortunately, the local college food service took over the meals for the evacuees and I was able to eat gluten-free at that point. I learned a lot in those few days that I would like to share with anyone who has food intolerances.

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It is very important to have a food emergency kit that you can grab quickly on your way out the door. Natural disasters can happen anywhere–wouldn’t it be nice if you were prepared? This food may be a great source of comfort if you ever experience evacuation from that fine place you call home.

Please keep in mind that in a disaster you may not have personal transportation. You may also lack monetary resources or not be able to return to your home for days or weeks. Once allowed back into your home, you will be cleaning up in an unsanitary environment. The electricity may be off, or you may lack running water. The free meals dropped off at disaster sites usually have gluten in them. I relied on gluten-free meal replacement liquid in cans and gluten-free energy bars because of the sanitation issue.

Here is a list of ideas you may want to consider:

  1. Create a food emergency kit and store it up HIGH in a temperate place, like the upper shelf of a coat closet near your most used door.
  2. The kit should be small enough, and light enough, that with food you are able to carry it a good distance. A knapsack or small, light rolling duffle are some ideas.
  3. I use an inexpensive plastic pencil box (new, not used) to store plastic utensils, a paring knife, and a can opener. A box of disinfectant wipes or hand cleaner is essential. As are some sort of paper wipes in a plastic bag. Remember that everything in this kit may get wet at some point in an actual emergency, so pack items in airtight waterproof bags.
  4. Canned goods are heavy so limit them to items like gluten-free canned chicken, tuna, or meal replacement drinks. Dried gluten-free meats in airtight bags are very good.
  5. Stock a variety of gluten-free energy bars.
  6. Add dry mixes for soups, broth, etc. A plastic bag of dry milk replacement might be something you would like.
  7. An assortment of dried fruits and rollups; dried nuts (if tolerant).
  8. A small bag of first aid supplies.
  9. Essential vitamins and medications.
  10. And, if you think you have room, a small 3-cup rice cooker and rice. You can cook anything in a rice cooker - I practically lived off mine in temporary housing.
  11. Don’t forget, every 3-4 months change out everything in the kit. Refill your kit with fresh products. (Eat anything that is not expired.)  In an actual emergency, you will want good quality food to eat.
Until gluten-free dining becomes more commonplace, you do need to plan for unusual occurrences. Even with planning, there is no guarantee that you will be able to grab your food kit. If you can, it will be a great comfort in many different situations. It is my most sincere wish that you never have to use your emergency kit. Be well and happy in your gluten-free lifestyle. welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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13 Responses:

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said this on
30 Jun 2008 5:57:19 PM PDT
Bravo! This is a must read article. I have been saying that I need to make an emergency kit but haven't 'gotten around to it'.
This article has some very good suggestions and considering what is going on in the middle of our country and the wildfires in the west, something everyone, but especially anyone with celiac disease should have by their emergency exit. Thank you for the kick! I needed it as I'm sure others do too!

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said this on
30 Jun 2008 9:26:50 PM PDT
I kept my emergency rations in the basement, hadn't thought about not being able to get them on the way out!

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said this on
30 Jun 2008 11:51:09 PM PDT
I have an emergency kit for home and car. I didn't even think about putting a gluten-free one for my granddaughter.

Teresa Rutherford
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said this on
01 Jul 2008 4:56:26 AM PDT
Thank you.

Theresa Brandon
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said this on
01 Jul 2008 6:58:17 AM PDT
Your comments have very good intentions, but, just going through the worse flooding our city has ever experienced and still is, most of your grab and go bag is worthless, as I found out. I lived on sardines and packaged tuna for days. There was no water to drink or mix with other things, until FEMA and the National Guards could get them to us.
No electricity--some are still without going on 3 weeks now. Could be 6 months before they see electric and gas. So forget the rice cooker.
As for the soups and dry mixes, forget that, nothing to mix them with or cook them on. Forget the snacks also, as the packaging absorbs the moisture so fast, everything is ruined; even the things in plastic bags. And there is no ice to be found to keep anything cold, because the water is contaminated and we can not use it to make more ice or does anyone have electricity to do so if they could. Of course most of the time you do not want to eat as the stink from the city turns off the appetite.
Everything is contaminated from the flood waters; you can not believe how fast the mold and mildew can grow up the walls and into things you think are safe.
Sorry to be so negative, just stating the facts.

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said this on
01 Jul 2008 9:47:34 PM PDT
I see Theresa's point, and in her case, probably a can opener and crates of gluten-free liquid food replacement would be it--as it would be if we had a sudden tsunami here in HI, where we live on the low, flat plains next to the ocean. However, if we 'just' had another bad wind knock out the power for a while by toppling twenty or thirty poles, I could get by on bottled water and using the grill to cook items recommended in the article, so I found it useful. I also commend the idea of putting things where they are easily grabbed, if evacuation time permits--we are told that there are sirens to warn one of impending tsunami, and that we'd have time to get to high and dry ground with our supplies if we hurried (or in case of impending hurricane, etc). House would still be flooded, but we'd be above big concern has been that in addition to gluten-free, I am sugar-free and meat-free--and I suspect the Red Cross wouldn't have a clue, nor would I expect them to--so I have to be prepared. I usually have to take a my own food to every faculty luncheon, so why should a disaster be different?

Sandi Bowman
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said this on
26 Jul 2008 9:02:11 AM PDT
It might be better to have a couple of different containers of emergency supplies/foods just in case one gets away from you into the floodwater or crevasse or? At least you wouldn't be totally without supplies if that happened.

Consider having some kind of straps to attach it to you or? You often need at least one hand free to balance, grab an assist into a vehicle or boat, or grab a guide rope. A box requires two hands, generally.

Rob Brewer
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said this on
03 Jan 2010 3:18:13 PM PDT
An emergency kit is very personal. It will vary greatly from region to region, family to family, and person to person. It is up to you to decide what you need in your kit. Most lists suggest at least three days water (1 1/2 gallons) per person. Read many lists before making your own.

Thanks for the OP. My daughter has a gluten allergy (not Celiacs), and I've been wondering how to prepare for her in our kit. Very helpful info.

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said this on
05 Jul 2011 1:37:19 PM PDT
Must_have clean water, buy some 16 oz bottled, and add to your E-Kit. Package anything that would be ruined if wet into watertight zip bags. (I use Glad, they are stronger, more watertight.) Manual can opener, cans of tuna, salmon, chicken are essential. 1 a day to keep your health strength. Juice mixes for the water...can use sweetened kool-aid as a break. Instant coffee. tea bags. 2 lb package of WILL be worth having. 1 small pot with burner that uses bottled gas, and 1 bottled gas (avail at grocery stores). Packaged dehydrated soups, gluten free. Get a first aid kit, add Kotex pads and other first aid items: peroxide, alcohol, bandages (in waterproof baggies). Pads are good if you get cut/injured to absorb blood. Emergencies can be lethal..and you can be cut/injured. Butterfly bandages. band-aids, and some extra tape. Field guide: "3x4 inches" for poisonous plants if you are forced into a wilderness area, and are might find edible plants, and avoid poisonous ones. Inflatable plastic container to use to replenish water if you find potable water. Portable radio/extra batteries or a good crank up model. One of those super thin silver/gold blankets that are tiny, and open to 6x8, to stay warm. A thin rain-poncho for drenching storms. Bible - small. Finally, a good pair of comfortable shoes, with 3 pr socks. You won't believe how important that those shoes are...especially if you grab your E-kit while in heels or other shoes that are uncomfortable.

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said this on
20 Dec 2011 7:08:19 PM PDT
To keep things like food bars (Larabar, Kind, etc.) from getting water leached into the wrappers, try vacuum sealing 2-3 bars per bag, using a food vacuum sealing machine. You can also vacuum pack Ziploc bags, candles, matches, etc., to keep them from getting damp in case your grab-n-go kit gets wet from rain or flooding. They are handy to put leftovers in (like that opened non-resealable bag of gf jerky), and things you acquire along the way that you don't want rolling around loose in your bag or pack.

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said this on
10 Nov 2012 2:30:11 AM PDT
I know this is an old thread, but I thought I would share my findings with everyone. My wife is gluten intolerant, and I found an emergency food source recently that has a very long shelf life, and is also gluten-free. They are called "Survival Tabs." Unlike most other food rations, they have non-fat milk solids instead of wheat as their main ingredient. You can find their website by doing a simple search for the product name. They are also sold on Amazon. Hope someone else finds this useful.

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said this on
23 Apr 2014 5:55:50 PM PDT
Thank you. I appreciate the referral.

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said this on
08 Jul 2015 2:44:04 PM PDT
Thanks so much for the article. There are still loving thoughtful people in the world and you are one of them. Blessings

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All Activity Celiac Disease & Gluten-Free Diet Forum - All Activity

I've given up on all those processed gluten free foods out there and have stuck to eating a whole foods diet. I have noticed such a huge, massive, difference in my energy, mood, sleep, and well being. Needless to say I've been doing a lot of cooking but have been leaving sugar out because I don't know the safe brands. I tried using Stevia in the raw but keep getting horrible headaches when I use it. I saw that the first ingredient is Dextrose so it's not "raw". Anyway, what are the safe brands out there as far as white and brown sugars go? I made saurkraut and pork chops last night and would've loved potato salad. Also while I'm on here, what about Mayo? What's safe? I saw Sir Kennsington was gluten-free Certified.

My Celiac disease presented as yours did: anemia, unexplained weight loss, aches and pains (due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies from malabsorption), the abdominal burning (whether I ate or not), decreased appetite, itching, the works. Plus I had a mood like a gorgon, which wasn't helped by my friends telling me "how slender!" I looked. My bones were basically all that was holding me up. I've had the blood panel too, which has proven very informative. I had a follow-up celiac panel after I'd been on the diet for over a year and it showed the diet was working. I also went through an anger phase because my (now former) doc (who is also my dad's doc and knows he has celiac AND knows we're related...) just wrote me a prescription for antidepressants, whereas I might have been spared years of feeling crappy (my late 30s!) if he'd just ordered a CBC and found the anemia. I'm a woman and I feel like sometimes whatever you say to a doc (even female docs!), all they hear is "psych symptoms". It really made me mad. But I've always pooped like a champ so I didn't exactly have typical symptoms either. Then I thought about how long it took my poor dad to get diagnosed (decades), which was before there was all this awareness, and I feel grateful for the fact that it took comparatively far less time for me to get my diagnosis and start feeling better. Don't worry about not finding stuff you like to eat: since gluten-free has become "the new thing" there are so many choices and the price has come down considerably since my dad got diagnosed (over 12 years ago). If your doc confirms celiac, then you'll be back on the (albeit gluten-free!) mac and cheese in no time, this time actually absorbing some of the mac and cheesy goodness! Feel better and take care.

If you are worried about your glycemic levels, then you should test with a glucose meter. I have diabetes (insulin resistance/TD2) and rice and potatoes spike me like crazy! I might as well consume ice cream! But if you do not have diabetes, no worries!

Thanks to both of you for your replies. I wasn't so much concerned about the arsenic (although that is an additional consideration) as I was about the glycemic level. I don't bake enough to make blending my own flour blends worthwhile, so I will definitely check out the links you provided, Ennis_TX. So far I'm tolerating oats and my gastro doc says I can keep eating them as long as they're certified GT. I just looked at some crackers I have for hummus and noticed their main ingredient is rice. I should probably just eat the hummus with veggies!

I agree with Ennis. It sounds like she is getting access to gluten way too often to expect healing. I had some pretty severe patches of intestinal damage when I was diagnosed. Anemia was my symptom and I had no gut issues then. So, just because she injests gluten and does not have some major symptoms right away, does not mean she is not building up antibodies. Have those antibodies been re-tested to see if they are in the normal ranges now? Missing patches of damage in the small intestine is possible. Heck, the small intestine is the size of a tennis court (goggle it). So easy to miss. Also, your GI should have taken more than four samples? How many were taken? (Forgive me, if I have forgotten.) Cross contamination in your house is real, especially if you have kids in the house. Member Jebby, a preemie doctor who has celiac disease, was not getting well. Turns out her four small and adorable children were glutening her. She made her house gluten free. Just something to consider. You mentioned she had access to gluten at a party. So, does that mean she caves in and eats it? She needs to become a stakeholder in this diet.