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Prepare before you go to a shelter

Peak of Hurricane Season is September 10.  As the peak of hurricane season is coming, it is time to have everything ready. Is it likely you will have to go to a shelter if a hurricane comes your way?  Prepare before you go. There are some things to remember if you will have to go to a shelter. You will want to take items with you but there is not room for many extras. A shelter is not like going on a vacation and staying in a hotel. With covid this year, some people may stay in a hotel. But if the hotel loses power or if the windows start to leak, it will not be like a vacation. If you think that will not happen, believe me, it can.

What to Take    Many people have suggested you take your own pillow or your favorite blanket. Children should take a favorite toy. You will need all of your medicines and soaps, as if you were going camping. So pack your own towels and clothes. You will be sleeping in a big room with people you may not know. What will you want to have with you? Prepare before you go, so that you will have the items your need.

Food at Shelters   But what about food? If you are on a special diet due to a chronic disease, shelter food is not always the best.  They will try to get special meals for you but remember, once the storms come, people will not be coming and going to bring back food.

Since our office manages one of the shelters, we have found that the food will meet the basic need of preventing hunger. Some shelters have MREs (Meals Ready-to Eat). Others have donated items or a basic budget.  We have served donuts and other pre-packaged foods, coffee and juice for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. While the treats in picture above (no endorsement or criticism intended) may be a snack, they are not the most healthy food for breakfast.  It something that should not be eaten for a snack very often either. They is not all bad. It keeps people alive but people with nut allergies, blood sugar problems or other health issues may not do well with these foods.

Foods to Take   Since you need to bring your own medicine and other survival supplies, you may want to bring some food. Bring some healthy snacks or other foods to help you stay well as you wait for the storm to pass. Most ready to eat foods are high in carbohydrates, sugars, salts and fats. Sugar and salt helps keep the food safe. Dried foods are mostly carbohydrates.

So think about vegetables you might want to take with you. Small single serving vegetables can be eaten out of the can. (But remember a can opener if they do not have pull tabs). Shelf stable milk can provide protein without the salt in cheese and processed jerky. Hard boiled eggs that have been removed from the boiling water and air dried (be careful doing this), will keep several days without refrigeration.Meal replacement shakes may give you some extra vitamins and keep you hydrated. Fruit cups made in single serving sizes may be packed in their own juice. Whole grain crackers will provide needed fiber.

Think about the foods you might take on a camping trip. If you have a small cooler with ice, that can keep a few things cool. But do not rely on this for a long stay. And remember, there might not be room for a large cooler. Time at the shelter can be stressful and uncomfortable.  The last thing anyone wants is to get sick from their food. So plan now and pack some small items to take with you, if you need a shelter, you will be ready.

For more information, go to UF IFAS disaster prep web-page.  https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/hot_topics/disaster_prep/hurricane_prep_cd.shtml

 

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