Preparing for the Unknown

Trudging through the mud at an adventure race!

By Tony B. Director of Research and Information

First off, the picture of me is a race and not an epic flood survival shot. However, I think it is a good reminder that anything can happen. In honor of National Preparedness Month and as a follow up to our Patient Education Call on the 25th, I wanted to keep with the monthly theme and write about what to include in an emergency diet. No, this isn’t when you find out that you have a last minute wedding to attend and need to fit into a tux or dress. This is for when an emergency happens and you can’t get your scheduled dialysis treatment.

The best preparedness kit is one that you never need to use. Emergencies happen every day, but many come with at least some warning. When was the last time it went from 80 degrees in the morning to a blizzard in the afternoon? To prepare in advance of an emergency to make sure you don’t need to miss any treatments you should take precautions such as:

• Learning or writing down your facilities emergency number and if they are a national company the national number
• Making sure your normal facility has your address and contact information so they can contact you
• Working with your team to find another local facility in case your facility loses power
• Securing a ride to and/or a place to stay near your emergency facility
• Writing down your medications including dosages and your dialysis modality and specifics for your new clinic or for emergency services
• Contacting your power, water or other emergency services such as snow removal in advance to get on priority lists
• Having at least a week’s supply of peritoneal dialysis supplies

Of course you can’t always avoid bad situations and this is where an emergency diet comes in handy. The purpose of the diet is to limit the amount of nutrients that dialysis would help your body process. The general rule of thumb is 40-50 grams of protein, 1500 mg of sodium, 1500 mg of potassium and 16 ounces of fluid per day. The other tricky part is finding foods that you can store easily and also pack for the road if necessary (think cans, bottles and boxes). I know that my own sad pantry mostly has leftover pumpkin pie filling, half packages of pasta, Girl Scout cookies and containers of protein powder. The good news is that many of the suggested items below are low cost and last a long time.

The following list of items is for a three day emergency diet adapted from Preparing for Emergencies: A guide for People on Dialysis

• 3 packages of dry milk or four 8-ounce cans of evaporated milk
• 1 to 2 gallons of distilled or bottled water
• 2 packages of powdered fruit flavored drink or one large bottle of pre-mixed fruit flavored drink
• 1 to 2 cans or bottles of soft drink (ginger ale, sprite)
• A six pack of 4-ounce cans or boxes of low potassium fruit juice (apple, grape, etc.)
• 6 boxes of single serving cereal (no raisin bran)
• 1 box of sugar, sugar packets or artificial sweetener
• 12 four-ounce cans of low potassium fruit or fruit bowls (peaches, pineapple, oranges, mixed fruit, applesauce or pears. No raisins.)
• 8 small cans of unsalted tuna, salmon, chicken or turkey
• 1 jar of peanut butter
• 1 small jar of grape jelly
• 1 small jar of honey
• 3 small jars of mayonnaise (hotel size) or 8-12 single serving foil wrapped packets
• 1 loaf of white bread (this can be stored in the freezer and replaced every 3 months until needed for emergency)
• 1 box of vanilla wafers or graham crackers
• 4 to 6 bags of hard candy (jelly beans, mints, sourballs, lollipops)
• 1 package of marshmallows

Also, additional dietary information can be found at our website in our classroom section called Nutrition for Kidney Disease Patients. Remember this diet isn’t an excuse to skip treatments! Please comment below and let us know what is in your emergency diet, and pictures of your kit are always welcome.


  1. […] Update 10/12/12: There’s a great bit of information on the DPC blogsite about Disaster Preparedness. […]

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