“Disaster Guy, you told me I should have a 72-hour survival kit in my truck, but all my chocolate melted last summer,” Red complained. “That’s a mess, and it’s your fault!”
“How hot did it get in your truck last summer, Red?” the Disaster Guy asked.
“I don’t know,” Red said. “It gets pretty hot sitting there in the summer sun with the windows closed.”
“How hot, Red?” the Disaster Guy asked.
“I really don’t know. The thermometer in the truck cab only goes to 120°,” Red said. “But it could be more than that.”
“So what you’re saying, Red, is that since chocolate melts at about 89°, your truck is too hot for chocolate to remain a solid,” the Disaster Guy said. “If you’re going to put food in your 72-hour survival kit, you have to consider what 120° heat will do to it during a Texas summer.”
“I suggest that your survival kit should not contain any food that has any fat in it,” he said. “No sausage, no meat, no milk products, and no chocolate. Fat can go rancid in the heat.”
“What about bread and cookies?” Red asked.
“Homemade bread and cookies will go stale,” the Disaster Guy said. “Store-bought bread and cookies have expiration dates days or weeks after purchase, but I think that’s for storage at room temperature, not 120°.”
“I don’t think you can count on bread or cookies to be edible after a summer in your truck,” he said. “Hardtack might work, though!”
“Well, what food can I put in my 72-hour truck survival kit?” Red asked. “No meat, no chocolate, no cookies!”
“I suggest crackers, dehydrated foods, very very dry jerky, white rice, and Ramen noodles,” the Disaster Guy said. “The flavor packet in the Ramen noodles might not make it, but the noodles should.”
“You could add some Ovaltine, some sugary drink mixes, and maybe some canned pears and Mandarin oranges in sugary syrup,” he said. “I mentioned sugary foods because sugar is a preservative.”
“Chocolate won’t work, but wrapped hard candies should be okay. Butterscotch candy ought to work, for example,” he said. “This isn’t a complete answer, but it’s enough for you to understand the principles and start trying foods you select yourself.”
“At least there’s something I could eat!” Red said. “But I’d have to cook some of that food.”
“True! You’d need a small propane camp stove and a pot to cook some items,” the Disaster Guy said. “There’s a bonus: If you boil some foods, the heat will kill the germs in the water if you get it to 150° to 160°F or higher for several minutes. That may make your bottled water last longer if other water is available.”
“Bottled water?” Red asked. “I can get a case or two of bottled water in plastic bottles.”
“That would work,” the Disaster Guy said. “They are easy to put in your truck, and they don’t break easily.”
“But I like glass containers because they don’t pick up a plastic taste,” the Disaster Guy said. “I also hate glass containers because they can break. I end up packing them in boxes with styrofoam peanuts for padding. For two people, 72 hours means a dozen ½ gallon bottles.”
“Everything comes in plastic bottles now,” Red said. “Where would you get big glass bottles?”
“A friendly bartender might be willing to save some empty liquor bottles for you,” the Disaster Guy said. “But regardless of what kind of bottle you use, you’ll need to pour the water into a partly empty container and shake it to oxygenate it before you drink it. Otherwise it tastes flat – but your Kool-Aid packets can fix that.”
“How can I tell if the water is too old?” Red asked.
“It doesn’t matter. Replace it when you replace the food,” the Disaster Guy said. “And add a couple drops of bleach containing sodium hypochlorite to each new bottle. Leave some air space in the bottle in case the bottle freezes in the winter.”
“How can I tell if the food is too old?” Red asked.
“Use a felt-tip pen to mark the date you put the food in your truck,” the Disaster Guy said. “When you replace the food with new food, you need to throw out all the old food.”
“Throw it all out?” Red asked.
“Sure! You can smell it or taste it to see if it spoiled,” the Disaster Guy said. “But that doesn’t mean you have to eat it!”
It takes some planning to have the food in your 72-hour kit survive a hot summer in your truck. You can find almost 160 emergency preparedness and disaster survival tips on his website, www.DisasterGuy.com. He’d welcome your comments on this article by e-mail.