72 Hour Survival Kits: The Reason Why You Would NOT Eat Just Anything, Even In An Emergency
Like any good mom, I have a 72 Hour Survival Kit for each member of my family, which I typically update every Spring with fresh food. Last spring I felt I was “too busy” and skimped on this, only replacing the oatmeal and granola bars that I knew had gone stale and throwing in a few “healthy” dried fruits for my kit. Fast forward eleven months to now. Remembering I had slacked off last year, I knew it was time for a full 72 hour survival kit overhaul. I dumped everything out on the table, shoved the old snacks off to one side, put the old canned food in a box and began re-stocking our bags with new food.
Now in our house Kit Day is a lot of fun because it means you get to eat the old snacks and candy that come out when they are replaced by the new snacks & candy you weren’t allowed to have after we bought them at the store. Everything is up for grabs (except for a package of really old Yogos I found shoved in a cup under the eating utensils in my son’s kit). I helped myself to one of the individually wrapped Prunes I had tucked in my kit eleven months earlier, not suspecting anything because the prune tasted fine, the packaging was intact and it wasn’t bulging or growing mold. By all appearances – and according to the info on the new package I had just bought that advised a year and a half use-by date – the prunes were fine! Forty five minutes later I am suffering from one of the worst headaches of my life. I could hardly stand up, let alone walk very far or safely drive a car. I didn’t feel sick to my stomach but I was as dizzy as if I’d been on an amusement park ride for days. That misery lasted for five long hours, giving me ample time to think about what mistakes I had made.
1. I should not have been lazy last year.
Sure, I’d added the prunes fresh last year and that is what made me sick this year but I KNEW in my heart I should have researched prunes and raisins before storing them. Worse, the canned items I had neglected to replace last year were now 2 years old and they were at or past their expiration date as well.The food I had intended to keep my family safe was more dangerous to our health than going without food. I should not have been lazy and never, ever again in the future will I let our survival kits go 12 months without replenishing them with properly stored food. It was a painful lesson learned.
2. You *THINK* you will eat anything in an emergency but I am here to tell you that is not true.
In the throes of a migraine there was NO WAY I would have eaten another bite of food from that kit. Now imagine being struck with food poisoning as you try to flee a hurricane, under immense stress with a car full of frightened children. Now imagine a car full of frightened and sick children to add to the calamity. See what I mean about going hungry being better than becoming ill and THEN going hungry because you’re not sure if you can safely eat anything else? You won’t eat it unless you’re certain it is fresh. Every year, make certain your survival kit is FRESH!
3. An emergency is no time to have your preparations fail – the food in your 72 hour survival kit is to sustain life and you must store foods that will keep safely.
Food poisoning is real and botulism is real. I opted for “healthy” moist dried fruit in my kit while my husband’s kit had mini Oreos…that I didn’t change out last year, I just added newer snacks to them. When he ate them last night (2 years after I had packed them) he said the Oreos were fine while I moaned in pain on the couch. So unfair! Of course you need to pack your kits with whatever your family will eat, but for us the ideal balance is food that provides good nutrition and lasting energy. Our kits are now stocked with wholesome, low moisture foods that will keep reliably but will still be rotated out yearly. Low moisture is the key! Freeze dried fruits and veggies are a great alternative if you’re concerned about moisture content.
My headache went away and I never threw up but I learned a valuable lesson: Laziness is Foolishness. Even if you think you have done enough to prepare your family it is not sufficient if you have stored the wrong kinds of foods and if you don’t rotate that food properly. Research the foods you are storing. You can be wise and healthy at the same time, it just takes discipline and a commitment to doing what is necessary, even if you don’t feel like it. I sure learned my lesson the hard way and I hope that in sharing this I can spare another family the inconvenience!