Food Storage If You Have To Leave

Sharon March 26th, 2008

All these discussions of food storage are predicated on one assumption - that you are going to be in fairly stable place.  Either you are going to stay where you are, or move infrequently, with lots of horsepower to get you and your reserves where they need to be.

Now I don’t think this is a bad presumption, quite honestly.  The reality is that in a majority of crises you might face, the foods you store are an asset, not a liability - in a job loss, extended illness and host of other crises, having food matters. 

But what about if you have to evacuate?  Being able to leave in a hurry, and have some mobility is also essential for most of us.  Every region has the potential for different natural disasters - and some not so natural ones.  Whether chemical spill or a hurricane, earthquake or other disaster, all of us might have to leave home in a hurry. 

 Or we might have to leave in not so much of a hurry, but some of us may end up moving into a household already full of people - with family or friends because of an extended disaster like Katrina or a personal loss like a foreclosure.  Either way, moving hundreds of pounds of food storage may be tough.

On the other hand, sudden evacuations tend to leave people hanging for a time, and during that time people need to eat.  And arriving at someone’s house with multiple mouths to feed can also be a big burden?  How do you finess this?

 For the very short term, there’s the bug-out bag.  This is simply a light pack of urgent necessities - food (the kind that doesn’t require much, if any heat or cooking - this is the place for cup a soup, instant coffee, dried fruit and power bars), a change of clothing, essential documents, something to do with your hands and brain (light trashy novels, knitting, woodworking - once out of the immediate range of the disaster, they are usually pretty boring and involve a lot of waiting), water, toilet paper,  emergency supplies like matches, a space blanket, medications, small first aid kit and anything specially required for children or elders.  Kids can even pack their own bags, and choose a toy to go.

The idea is that while in transit, in a shelter or otherwise dealing with a crisis you’d be able to meet immediate, urgent needs.  The bags should be light enougt that you can carry them if necessary on foot or on a bike if roads are closed or you don’t have gas for a car. 

 But once you get to your destination, what do you do?  How do you descend with your family, pets and other needs on a family member who may also be struggling to make ends meet?  Family consolidations are likely to be the name of the game - I’ve written about that here:  How can you make your food storage help out, even if you have to leave home?

I can’t take any credit for figuring this one out - the answer was given to me by reader and new friend (met her in person at my food storage class) Catskillmamala.  She wrote me about this, and I thought it was absolutely wonderful.  She’s kindly given me permission to post it here.  Here’s what she wrote:

“…I  have an emergency bag containing all important family papers,
water filter, etc., and a plan to go to mother-in-laws house 1.5 hours west
of here if there is a need to bug out (such as a nuclear accident at Indian
Point).  I cannot show up at mother-in-laws house with 8 hungry mouths to
feed and no food.

So, this last weekend, I prepared a number of emergency food storage
buckets.  These are NOT part of my regular food storage plan.  Rather they
are packed for a period of time say 3 years and will be taken back and
redone at that time.  I have given these buckets to family members who
refuse to do any food storage for themselves.  For example, my parents joke
that have 3 days of food in their house.  In addition, I have given several
buckets to my mother-in-law in case I ever need to go to her house for an
emergency vacation.  Below is how I packed and what I packed…

The buckets contain:

White rice
Coffee or Tea
Freeze dried broccoli
Freeze dried carrots
Peanut butter
Dried fruit
Dried beans (lentil, kidney, garbanzo and black)
Sesame seeds
Yeast or baking powder
Powdered milk
Jello or pudding

The buckets are mylar storage bags, packed within 6 gallon buckets with
gamma or other good sealing lids, oxygen absorbers and a slice of bread for

Even better, she sent me a link to her new blog, complete with pictures!!!  I  think this is a great idea for a gift, but similar buckets could also be packed to be quickly loaded in a vehicle and taken along.  Catskillmamala tells me that while her MIL thought she was crazy, that her reaction to the gift was to feel more secure.

Not everyone has a car.  Not everyone can afford this.  But for those who can, I thought it was a wonderful solution!


4 Responses to “Food Storage If You Have To Leave”

  1. Ailsa Ekon 26 Mar 2008 at 10:52 am

    What a great idea! I’d been pondering something like that, and we have some plastic buckets coming soon, so I shall pack up one bucket just to store at in in-laws’ place. We’re even goign there for a visit soon, and FiL is already into prepping.

  2. Lisa Zon 26 Mar 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I’m going to make up some of these, too. Great idea!

  3. Maeveon 26 Mar 2008 at 4:52 pm

    People who do have pets they would be evacuating with the family, should ask potential “crash space” well ahead of time if their pets would be welcome in a time of emergency; and if so, if they should be prepared to bring food/bedding/kennel/etc.

    Some people have allergies, or a fear of a particular animal, or animals of their own that do not get along well with other animals, and many other reasons.

    If you haven’t gotten an “ok” ahead of time, don’t expect your pets to be welcomed.

  4. Heather Grayon 26 Mar 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Some good posts today Sharon, thanks!

    We’re currently serving as the bugout destination for some friends, so we’ve made some space for them to store some food and even a few sets of clothing, set of dishes (probably packed in with the clothing), etc.

    Since most of them are working on finding homes nearer to us, it also serves to free up a little space where they live now (especially important for the family who are working on fixing up their house to sell).

    It isn’t a lot of space, just 8′ wide by 3′ deep, but we stuck a strong table into the space so it’s easier to stack things both underneath and higher up.

    I’ll also be working on getting rid of more of our stuff (we packed in haste toward the end of moving last fall), and hopefully we’ll be able to take in some larger items then, to help facilitate their moves. I think it helps them to feel more secure, and helps me too — knowing some of my friends have definite plans in case of emergency is a good thing.

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