Following weight loss surgery patients make a multitude of adjustments in their lives to accommodate the dietary and nutritional needs of an altered gastric digestive system. Even if weight loss has long been accomplished patients who have undergone gastric bypass, gastric banding or gastric sleeve surgical procedures must, for the rest of their life, maintain rigorous nutritional and dietary habits in order to be healthy. After time these adjustments feel like second nature to the patient and even those around them. But in preparing an emergency kit for use in the wake of a natural or national disaster it is essential that weight loss surgery patients treat themselves as “special needs” and ensure their nutritional and dietary needs are provided for in the event the emergency kit is put into service.
Flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice frequently jeopardize the health and safety of thousands of Americans each year. This year weather events and natural disasters have been particularly harsh throughout the world and many thousands have found themselves without food, shelter or warmth. While we cannot prevent natural or national disasters we can assemble emergency supply kits to improve our survivability when disaster strikes.
A well-prepared basic emergency supply kit will contain items to provide for the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends the following items be included in a basic emergency supply kit:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for a least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Personal hygiene items
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilitites
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers
Emergency readiness kits should provide water, food, clean air and warmth for 72 hours. Keeping that in mind a “special needs” weight loss surgery patient should consider including the following items in their personal readiness kit:
- Vitamins and supplements for three days. Additional dosages of vitamins B and C may be included to relieve stress and boost immunity.
- Non-NSAID over-the-counter pain relief medicine. Most surgical weight loss patients are discouraged from using NSAID medication for pain relief. Make sure acceptable OTC pain relief is included in the First aid kit.
- Vitamin fortified or protein fortified powder drink mixes in individual packages. These are useful in adding minerals and nutrients to the diet while stretching the water supply because when mixed with the water rations they provide hydration and vitamin and mineral nutrition.
- Ready-to-Drink (RTD) and Ready-to-Eat (RTE) protein drinks and protein bars. A weight loss surgery patient must have a minimum of 60 grams protein per day for best health. Provide at least 60 grams of dietary protein per day for three days of emergency use.
- Sugar free hard candy to supplement food intake and keep the mouth moist.
- Additional bedding or clothing for warmth. Body temperature regulation is difficult for those having lost body weight or body mass. Provide extra items for warmth in the event of a disaster that subjects the weight loss surgery patient to extreme cold or elements.
- Emergency response information for the treatment of a bariatric patient including contact numbers. Make this information readily available to first responders.
Gather items for the emergency preparedness kit in one location. Stow the items in a portable duffel bag or plastic bin that is accessible and labeled for easy access in the event of an emergency. Ideally each household member will have a kit tailored for their needs. Periodically check the kit and replenish items that have expired. Make certain all contact information is current. It is not easy to think about facing a disaster, but should the day come when the emergency kit is needed a little preparation will go a long way in making a bad situation better.