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Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • Evacuating from Home in an Emergency

    Unfortunately, there are times when an emergency evacuation from your home is absolutely necessary. When the time to evacuate comes be sure to have your items ready-to-go and that you are prepared. Here are some questions and information regarding emergency evacuation.


    Question #1: Where should I go when I have to evacuate?

    A good family planning meeting to try to identify various destinations, depending upon what the emergency situation is, is a wise thing to do. If you live close to water and a hurricane is expected, remember that such storms tend to turn north and possibly east once they come ashore. Plan your route and try to flee southwestward, if possible. You will want a destination far enough away to provide protection but preferably reachable on one tank of gas. Experience teaches us that in times of emergency the lines at gas stations are notoriously long and in the worst case, no gas is available to purchase. One to two hundred miles is usually a good distance, but in a huge storm you may need to go farther. If at all possible, do not plan to rely on motels or hotels, as they fill up quickly and often in such circumstances do not honor reservations but operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have a friend or relative that you can descend upon and be welcomed, that would be best. Perhaps you could make a reciprocal arrangement with them so that they would also be welcomed at your home if they encountered a need to leave. If the weather is good enough, a spot in a campground would probably suffice, especially if it offers restrooms and showers. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a vacation cabin away from the danger area, that would be ideal. Some people prepare ahead of time by stashing extra supplies at such a place or in a closet storage unit close by. Bedding, clothing, and toiletries and extra drinking water are good items to store in such a place. Storing sleeping bags, blankets, seasonal clothing and pillows in vacuumed bags will allow much more to be stored in a small space, and have the additional advantage of being water and insect-proof. This is a good idea even if you store your gear at home, and you can grab it along with your emergency kit

    Question #2: What about a public shelter?

    Sometimes this may be your only choice, but if you must go to one, take some precautions, as you will be thrown together with strangers and in a high stress situation. Keep your children and belongings with you at all times. If there are two adults present, make sure one stays with the children while the other goes to the restroom. Take turns on watch duty, even during the night. Don’t flash your emergency supplies or money around where all can see. Keep your car locked. On the other hand, if you see a real need and can share, quietly do so. Try to team up with other families to form a mini-community, and watch out for each other. Be a good citizen. Try to keep your children quiet and occupied. Don’t play loud music or talk loudly. Keep your area neat and don’t take up other people’s space. Crises bring out both the best and the worst in people, and everyone will be stressed to one degree or another. Try to be a part of the solution rather than a problem. Only a few shelters accept pets, and if you have one with you, be extra sensitive to the needs of others and take responsibility for your animal. Try to keep him from barking, howling, meowing or walking freely. Take him out often enough when the weather permits and discourage other people’s children from overwhelming him with attention, especially if he is nervous around children or strangers. Keep smaller animals in their carriers except when on a leash for exercise. Make sure ahead of time that any pet is up-to-date on its vaccinations. A friend or relative who lives out of the danger area and who would keep your pet safe for a few days would be ideal.

    Question #3: How can I prepare my car for an evacuation?

    Your car may be your new home for a while. A few small things may make all the difference.

    Keep a detailed map of your area in your car. A GPS device can be a lifesaver, although it does run off your car’s electrical system, which could fail, so be sure to have a map. In the case of a mass evacuation, the main highways might be the most direct route to your chosen destination, but they may also be clogged with traffic, so if you are familiar with alternative back roads, they might be a better choice. Practice using these routes ahead of time so that you’ll be familiar with them—especially important if the weather is bad.

    Keep your car in good condition and with at least a half-tank of gas at all times. If you drive a truck or a large SUV, three-quarters of a tank would be better. Make sure your tires are in good condition and that any regular maintenance is taken care of on time. Have an emergency auto kit to handle both minor repairs and other emergency supplies. Also remember to be sure you have a spare tire and jack. If you know a storm is approaching and you may need to evacuate, park your car facing the street so that the back is available for quick loading and you’re poised to pull right out without having to back out into traffic and turn. Keep your keys in your pocket if evacuation seems likely and always have a "hid-a-key" in case you lose yours.

    Question #4: What mental and emotional preparations can I do now to help my family?

    A good idea if you have children is to hold evacuation drills—much like a fire drill except that everyone can leave by way of the door closest to the car and pick up their emergency or evacuation kit on the way. Another good habit to develop with each child is to make clearing a path to the bedroom door a part of the bedtime ritual along with brushing teeth, prayers, or stories, so that there will be no tripping hazards to slow anyone down in the dark. A pair of shoes and a flashlight, or a chemical light stick beside each bed is also a good precaution for every family member.

    Remember to review and update your emergency kit supplies regularly. April and October are good times to do this because for most people these months are just prior to major change in upcoming weather which would influence the kit’s contents.


    Question #5: What if the nature of the emergency requires evacuation to be on foot rather than by car?

    This is slow and more difficult, especially with children or the elderly, and you won’t be able to go as far, but if it’s your only choice, go with it. Bicycles for everyone might seem a solution, but bikes can present as many problems as they solve. If you must walk, it would be good to have some kind of wheeled carrier for small children or to help transport packs. A sturdy wagon, stroller, shopping or laundry cart, luggage carrier or a wheelchair could help in transporting your gear. For a small family, motorized bikes or scooters might be a good solution as they can maneuver around blockages and go quite far on a tank of gas. However, you would not be able to carry as much with you.

    Question #6: What else should I think about?

    It is essential to remember that if a possible evacuation is looming, be prepared ahead of time and leave as early as you possibly can to avoid the rush. Many people try to stay at home for as long as possible, hoping the need to leave will not really materialize, but if nothing else, Hurricane Katrina taught us the lack of wisdom in that approach. Be pro-active, prepare ahead of time and don’t lag behind, hoping to be rescued if things get really bad. If they do, emergency services will be overwhelmed and possibly unavailable for days or weeks. Organization and planning are the keys to a successful evacuation.

    Take some time to ponder and think about things that would be crucial to you should you have to be self reliant for a few days or a week. Ponder these things relative to individual family members: Water, food, warmth and shelter, extra clothing (shoes, hat, coat, gloves, rain gear, etc.), light sources, tools, first aid, medications, communication, personal sanitation, money, important papers, stress relievers and auto preparedness.

    By having a plan of action and your supplies ready you will be better able to survive an emergency. Remember what the former director of the National Hurricane Center, Max Mayfield, said: "Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy"

  • Textured Vegetable Protein . . . What is it?


    We all know that we have to cut down on fat and not eat quite so much red meat. But how can you convince your family to give up their favorite dishes like pizza, lasagna, and tacos? The good news is that you don't have to! My husband was a certified meat-lover who would turn up his nose at salads and meatless dishes. I thought it would be impossible to change his eating habits. Then we discovered textured vegetable protein.

    Made from soybeans, textured vegetable protein is a meat substitute that is used in a variety of foods. When cooked, it resembles ground beef or chicken. Sound too weird to try? Actually, you probably have already eaten textured vegetable protein! Most "bacon bits" that you use on salads and potatoes are made of textured vegetable protein. And textured vegetable protein is in most convenience foods and fast foods as a meat extender. Just check the label. If it says "texturized soy flour" then you know the food contains textured vegetable protein.

    Unlike a lot of vegetarian meals, textured vegetable protein resembles real meat, in flavor as well as texture. It's a by-product of soybean oil, so it's a natural food. And not only is textured vegetable protein a great meat substitute, there's some great side benefits to cooking with textured vegetable protein.

    Textured vegetable protein is more economical than meat. Even the cheapest cuts of meat are far more expensive than your average serving of textured vegetable protein. Depending on what area you live in, you could save as much as 86% over the cost of real hamburger. And remember, hamburger is not 100% beef. Up to 20% of beef fat is added to ground hamburger, depending on the grade of meat you buy. This means, after you’ve browned the meat, drained it, and rinsed the extra fat away, you end up with a lot less hamburger. With textured vegetable protein, none of that food value is lost in preparation.

    Textured vegetable protein is easy to prepare—even easier than real meat! I never liked the hassle of preparing ground beef. It's a lot of effort to defrost your hamburger, fry and drain the meat. And you have to deal with greasy pans afterward. With textured vegetable protein, it's so much simpler. Just simmer in water for ten minutes, and your textured vegetable protein is fully rehydrated. Keep in mind that textured vegetable protein should be handled just as you would raw meat. Make sure your cooking area is clean and you refrigerate rehydrated textured vegetable protein if you're not currently cooking with it.


    *tacos using textured vegetable protein. Looks the same as cooking with real meat!


    You don't even need to re-hydrate textured vegetable protein to cook with it! Just add it to whatever you're cooking and simmer for an extra ten minutes. You will have to add extra liquid to your recipe (see back of #10 can for details). For me, there's nothing easier than tossing a handful of beef textured vegetable protein while my spaghetti sauce simmers, then I can attend to other things.

    Plus, you don't have to learn new recipes to try textured vegetable protein! Many of the recipes that I've included here are adaptations of family favorites. If you have a recipe that calls for ground beef, diced chicken, or crumbled bacon, you can use that flavor of textured vegetable protein. Just make sure to add extra liquid when you add it dry to a recipe. And if you are making a dish with a mild flavor, you might want to add a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

    Textured vegetable protein is lower in fat than red meat. A lot lower, in fact. The average serving of textured vegetable protein contains usually about 5 grams of fat. That's the same as lean broiled chicken or fish. And the fat found in the soy of textured vegetable protein is vegetable fat, which is much healthier than animal fat.

    Still not convinced about textured vegetable protein? Try a little experiment with your family. The next time you cook hamburger, substitute beef textured vegetable protein for half of it. I'd be surprised if they notice the difference. Once I served lasagna made with textured vegetable protein (recipe included below) to several unsuspecting friends. They raved and finished off the whole lasagna!

    To get you started, I've included some recipes that my family asks for again and again.

    "Guiltless" Lasagna

    To make this lasagna really low-fat, use fat-free cottage cheese and low-fat or fat-free mozzarella cheese.

    1 cup Emergency Essentials beef textured vegetable protein

    10 oz. large lasagna noodles

    1 minced garlic clove

    1 Tbl. basil

    1 1/2 tsp. salt

    2 6-oz. cans tomato paste

    1/2 cup onion, minced


    Cheese Filling:

    3 cups cottage cheese

    1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

    2 Tbl parsley flakes

    1 tsp oregano

    2 beaten eggs

    2 tsp. salt

    1/2 tsp pepper

    Preheat oven to 375º F. In a large saucepan, add all ingredients except lasagna noodles and cheese filling ingredients. Fill tomato paste can with water 4 times and add to sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While "meat" sauce is cooking, cook lasagna noodles until tender. Mix cheese filling ingredients well, reserving 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese for the top. Spray pan with non-stick spray. Pour 1/3 of meat sauce on the bottom of the large pan. Next, lay a layer of 1/2 noodles, and 1/2 cheese filling. Repeat, ending up with meat sauce on the top. Use reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella to top lasagna. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 12 servings.

    Green Beans with Tangy Bacon Textured Vegetable Protein Dressing

    My family always makes these green beans disappear--I always have to make a double batch!

    1 pound green beans, fresh or frozen

    2 Tbl. Emergency Essentials bacon bits textured vegetable protein

    1/2 onion, minced

    1/4 cup vinegar

    salt and pepper to taste

    2 tsp. olive or other vegetable oil


    Cook beans in boiling, salted water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in fry pan. Sauté onions and bacon bits textured vegetable protein in oil until onion is translucent. Add vinegar. Heat to boiling. When beans are done, pour bacon bits and sauce over beans, season, and toss. Serves 4-5.

    Spicy Sloppy Joes

    This recipe gives a Southwestern twist to a summer favorite

    1 cup dry Emergency Essentials taco textured vegetable protein

    1 tsp. salt

    1/8 tsp. pepper

    2 Tbl. ketchup

    1 tsp. prepared mustard

    1 Tbl. brown sugar

    1 can (10 3/4 oz.) chicken gumbo soup

    1/2 cup salsa

    2 hamburger buns, split

    In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add taco textured vegetable protein, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, chicken gumbo soup, and salsa. Blend well. Heat until bubbly. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Spoon onto split buns.

    Pizzeria Pizza

    If you have teenagers, you know that pizza is considered a major food group. I got the idea for this sausage and bacon bits textured vegetable protein pizza from Rebecca Baldwin, a great young lady who makes a fantastic pizza.


    3 cups flour

    1 cup warm water

    1 package yeast

    1 tsp. sugar

    2 Tbl. oil



    8-10 oz. mozzarella cheese

    1 cup Emergency Essentials sausage textured vegetable protein

    10 oz. pizza sauce

    1 tsp oregano

    1 garlic clove, minced

    2 Tbl. Emergency Essentials bacon bits textured vegetable protein

    Grease bowl. Mix flour, yeast, and sugar in bowl. Add water, mixing with greased spoon until evenly moist. Add oil gradually. Knead dough on board for 5 minutes. Put back in bowl. Cover and let rise in warm, moist area until double in bulk--takes about 1 hour. While dough is rising, grate cheese, and reconstitute sausage textured vegetable protein. (To reconstitute sausage textured vegetable protein, simmer in 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Drain.)

    Preheat oven to 400º F. Spread dough evenly and flat on greased cookie sheet. Add sausage textured vegetable protein, sauce, oregano, garlic clove and cheese. Sprinkle bacon bits textured vegetable protein on top. Bake on second rack from the top until cheese browns, about 15-20 minutes.


    Broccoli-Rice Bake with Chicken Textured Vegetable Protein

    This casserole is a great way to use up leftover rice. And it's quick on those nights that you don't want to do a lot of cooking.

    1/4 cup butter or margarine

    1 diced medium onion

    1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped broccoli

    1 cup dry Emergency Essentials chicken textured vegetable protein

    1 can (10 1/2 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup

    1 jar of Cheez Whiz or 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

    2 cups cooked rice

    Cook broccoli according to directions on package. Drain. Preheat oven to 350º F. In small skillet, melt butter or margarine. Add onion and sauté until onion is clear, but not brown. Add cooked broccoli, soup, chicken textured vegetable protein and rice. Stir in Cheez Whiz or 1 cup cheese. Add 2 cups water. Bake in a buttered casserole dish until water has cooked out and casserole is bubbly, about 20-30 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


    Do you have a favorite food storage recipe that you'd like to share? Just e-mail it to social@beprepared.com and we'll include it in a future Insight Article. Also, if you have any questions or ideas for future articles, just drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you!

  • Food Dehydration

    When it comes to food storage, there are few things more satisfying than “putting up” your own food. Drying, or dehydrating, homegrown produce is one of the traditional ways of food preservation. This process involves removing moisture from food, while exposing it to temperature increases and moving air.

    Dried fruits provide an inexpensive and sweet alternative to sugary store-bought foods. Fruit leathers and jerky are two examples of snack replacements that you can produce at home for mere pennies.


    The three primary ways of home drying food today are sun-drying, oven-drying, and using a food dehydrator.


    drying is ideal for fruits such as apricots, peaches, grapes, and figs, although there are other foods suitable for this method. Sun-drying requires a number of hot (85 degrees or higher) days with relatively low humidity. Spread thin pieces of fruit evenly across a shallow pan and cover with cheesecloth to keep the food safe from bugs. Putting boxes in the back seat of a car and laying the tray on top, with full exposure to the sun through the back windshield is a creative and easy way to dry food. Others have used sunny porches, balconies, and even flat roofs to dry their food.


    drying involves drying food at temperatures between 130 and 150 degrees. (Some older ovens may not have temperature settings this low). As in sun-drying, distribute pieces of food in a shallow pan or dish. You may want to check the food periodically for adequate dehydration.

    If the temperature is too low or the humidity too high when sun or oven-drying, the food may dry too slowly or even spoil. When the temperature is too high it could cook the food and make it hard on the outside, while leaving the inside moist and vulnerable to molding or other forms of spoilage from microorganisms.

    Food Dehydrator

    Commercial food dehydrators offer the most controlled drying environment. They provide a constant ideal temperature combined with heated air that circulates via a blower or fan. Most food dehydrators also offer liners and trays for dehydrating fruit leather and small, sticky foods. Fruits, vegetables, and meats can dry while you are away at work, asleep, or doing your household chores with minimal worry or fuss.


    After drying the food, cool it to room temperature and loosely package in plastic bags, hard plastic containers, or glass jars. For longer-term preservation, pack in airtight containers. Foods that you dehydrate yourself are not only great for snacks at home but are useful when camping or backpacking since they do not require refrigeration.

    There are many good books on the market that specifically describe how to dry fruits, vegetables, and meats with delicious recipes included. We at Emergency Essentials often carry books on dehydrating. You may email us at sales@beprepared.com and we will help you find information.

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