By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Emergency food for the road

Once again, I’m thinking about preparing for emergencies of various types — this time, preparing car kits, against the possibility of breaking down somewhere far from home.

This requires some consideration of how one might get home, which, of course, would depend on the circumstances. In the ordinary course of things, a cell phone call to the tow truck company would do the trick, but there are scenarios in which you’re stuck walking out. In which case, you’ll need supplies. Ones you can carry with you, so they’ll need to be contained in something fairly easy to carry — a tote bag or backpack, for example.

Other useful supplies include: a first-aid kit, emergency blankets, a lightweight poncho or raincoat, flashlight with extra batteries, toilet paper (in a zip-lock bag, to keep dry), hand sanitizer, wet wipes, food, and water or water filtration device.

Water is really heavy. A water bottle or two and a filtration device might be the best bet. There are a few interesting types out there, such as a water bottle that filters as you drink, which I found at Bi-Mart. Camping supply stores would also be a good resource here. Water purification tablets are another possibility.

I also recommend an extra pair of warm socks, good walking shoes, a hat and some heavy leather gloves. A knife is a good idea, too, and a whistle. If you’re traveling with your pets, add some pet food for the trip.

But about the food part of the equation: This is a challenge to consider. A little Sterno camp stove and solid fuel will make it possible to have hot water and/or food — don’t forget the matches, or a fire striker — and a tin cup can provide a simple cooking container. Put a spoon in, too. Your heavy leather gloves can double as pot-holders.

This is the one time when I don’t consider homemade food. I put a handful of granola bars in our kits, and then added some instant oatmeal packets, because they’re lightweight and quick-cooking, but it felt a little silly. Until, that is, I went to a talk by a Search and Rescue team member at the recent county Preparedness Fair, who said he carries instant oatmeal packets for the same reason. Also instant hot chocolate and cider packets. I think I’ll add some of those, and a few tea bags. They even make coffee tea bags now; some of those went into my coffee-holic spouse’s pack.

It’s a good idea, the Search and Rescue expert said, to keep eating and drinking as you go; the calories will help you stay warm.

It’s good for morale, too. When you’re wet and cold and blistered of feet, a cup of hot chocolate may make a world of difference.

I also threw in a few packets of ramen noodles, considering them along the same lines as the oatmeal. Other possibilities include those instant cups of soup — I’ve even seen a cup of macaroni and cheese in the store aisles — or dehydrated meals meant for camping, although those are expensive.

Canned foods, or boxes of vacuum-packed soup would be heartier to eat but heavy to carry, although handy if you end up staying with the vehicle. Also, if you decide to include them, remember to take a can opener or pair of scissors.

Packages of nuts, nut butters, trail mix, protein bars, dried fruits or vegetables, flax seed crackers are all possibilities, along with anything meant to be prepared quickly and easily with hot water — even instant potatoes with cheese, or what have you. If you eat meat or fish, you could add some tuna or salmon in foil packages, or even canned meats. It’s a good idea to have both ready-to-eat foods and those that need a bit of preparation.

You may never need them — be sure to rotate your supplies occasionally — but if you do, they might literally save your life.

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