Emergency Preparedness for Celiacs

The range of opinions on what will happen after the year turns to 2000 runs the gamut from "nothing" to "armagedon" with the most likely answer being somewhere in between. The fact is that, from opinionated curmudgeon to bona fide expert, no one really knows; but it pays to be prepared. Though my own opinion is that the inertia of human life will make everything move forward in a fairly normal style, with some eddies and tornadoes of SNAFU'd energies in one thing and another, I am nonetheless preparing for the worst because, well, because I should have done so a long time ago, even if Y2K were not an issue. All celiacs have a special situation when disaster strikes -- we can't eat most of the food Red Cross will be handing out -- and so it's important that we prepare in advance a kit that will get us through the worst of times (and hope we never have to use it).

Recently, on the St. John's list, Joany Janicki wrote a very detailed article on Y2K Preparedness especially for celiacs, and she has kindly given me permission to reprint it here.

Y2K Preparedness
by Joany Janicki

The recent hurricanes that have swept through our area and the ice storms this past winter that left many of us without power for several days have created unique challenges for those of us with celiac disease. Even without the impending disruptions that Y2K might bring forth, celiacs should be prepared for such natural disasters.

No one can really predict the extent of problems, if any, that might arise with the Y2K transition. In an emergency, however, preparation means everything. Most emergency planners suggest having enough supplies to last you and your family for three days to a week for weather-related events.

However, because of our dependence on special foods and foods that are imported from other countries, celiacs might want to plan for longer periods of time. Do you know where your tapioca or rice flour comes from? Experts are predicting that many third world countries might be significantly less prepared for Y2K than the United States and this might create longer term complications with international distributors.

It might be advantageous to stock up on your gluten free staples, or have a store of baked goods to last several months after Y2K problems are corrected. In addition, if Y2K creates disruption in the transportation of food products within our own country, our familiar, and confirmed, gluten free brands of non perishable items might not be available on our grocery store shelves.

If there is such a need to go to a Red Cross shelter, celiacs must bring their own food. The Red Cross suggests having a two week supply of specialized food on hand and not to depend on emergency relief food to see to our needs.

The following are just a few suggestions to help in making up a celiac disaster kit (food in the kit should be rotated every three to six months to ensure freshness). Note that this list pertains to our specialized needs only. Refer to the contact list for further information regarding the basics for disaster planning and more information on Y2K:

APPROXIMATE SHELF LIFE OF FOODS STORED AT 70F:
Item Shelf Life Information Source
Refined Flours 1 year Grain Process Enterprises Ltd. (800) 387-5292
Unrefined Flours 6 months Grain Process Enterprises Ltd. (800) 387-5292
White Rice 2 years Lundberg Family Farms (530) 882-4551
Brown Rice 6 months Lundberg Family Farms (530) 882-4551
Dry Beans 5 years Utah State Univ. Extension Services (801) 370-8460
Dry Corn 5 years Utah State Univ. Extension Services (801) 370-8460
Powdered Milk 2 years Utah State Univ. Extension Services (801) 370-8460
Canned Fruits, Veg., & meats 2-3 years Utah State Univ. Extension Services (801) 370-8460
Sugar/ Honey indefinitely Utah State Univ. Extension Services (801) 370-8460
Shortening 2 years Utah State Univ. Extension Services (801) 370-8460
Baking Powder, Baking Soda 1 year Utah State Univ. Extension Services (801) 370-8460
Xantham Gum indefinitely Ener-G Foods, Inc. (800) 331-5222
Yeast 1 year Red Star Yeast (800) 445-4746
Peanut Butter 1 year Skippy Peanut Butter (800) 338-8831
For more information on Y2K preparedness contact the following:
Presidents Council on Year 2000: 1-800-USA-4-Y2K, http://www.y2k.gov
The American Red Cross: 703-248-4222, http://www.redcross.org/disaster/safety/y2k.html
Federal Emergency Management Agency, http://www.fema.gov/y2k

Article "Y2K Preparedness" Copyright 1999 Joany Janicki All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Rest of the page and layout Copyright 1999 Linda Blanchard All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Date Added: October 23, 1999. Last Update: October 23, 1999.