Ready to feed, no matter what

From power outages to natural disasters, preparing for an emergency is a smart idea for everyone. Having the right supplies on hand can make a stressful situation more manageable, so you’re less likely to panic in the moment. But when you or a loved one has a feeding tube, being ready for the unexpected is essential to ensure nourishment isn't disrupted.

The Oley Foundation recommends following these three simple steps to care for your tube-fed loved one in an emergency:1

Have a plan.

Gather emergency supplies.

Don't panic.

1. Have a plan

Developing a solid plan is two-fold: thinking ahead to possible scenarios, then making it actionable. What would you do if the electricity goes out? Consider your options if clean water isn’t accessible. What if deliveries can’t be made to your home? Your plan should cover a variety of emergencies.

Action tips:

  • Develop an emergency contact list. This should include your home care provider, physician, pharmacist and other parties that are important to your loved one’s care.
  • Create a health emergency document. Printed or digital, it should detail your loved one’s feeding needs, blood type, allergies (food and medication), equipment needs and medication list (including dose and frequency). Be sure to include a copy of their current nutrition prescription.
  • Contact your utility companies. Tell them somebody in your household has a medical condition, so you need your services turned on first when power is restored. If a medical letter is required, contact your physician.
  • Outline record-keeping information. Your plan should detail your evacuation plans, family communications, insurance and vital record information, medications and supply inventory needs.

2. Gather emergeny supplies

In an emergency, you never know what resources you’ll have available, and what you’ll need to do without, so it’s best to gather your supplies now. We recommend having 1-2 weeks worth on hand. When you’re not under the pressure of an urgent situation, you can think more clearly and methodically, checking off your list and accounting for a variety of scenarios.

Action tips:

  • Stock up on blenderized meals. Kitchen Blends® offer whole, balanced nutrition in a choice of three recipes developed by the dietitians at Medline. An ideal option for an emergency or everyday use, Kitchen Blends are shelf-stable and ready to use for bolus or continuous tube feeding.
  • Account for a water shortage. Pack extra bags or syringes in case clean water isn’t accessible to wash them out. Also include bottled water for water flushes.  
  • Use hand sanitizer. If running water isn’t available and you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good alternative to keep them properly cleaned for feedings.
  • Check your flashlights. Some flashlights only have a three-month life expectancy, so check them often. As an alternative, have battery-operated candles handy to scatter around the house for hands-free lighting.

3. Don't panic

If you make a plan of action and have the necessary supplies on hand, remind yourself that there’s no reason to panic. You’re well prepared to get through this emergency while keeping your loved one well-fed and healthy. For additional peace of mind, consider purchasing a generator if you lose power often. This will allow you to keep essential appliances and services running, such as your refrigerator, furnace, and important lights and outlets. 

Good to go: Create a G-tube emergency kit

If you need to pack up and leave quickly, you don’t want to search for the right supplies and accidentally forget something essential. That’s why it’s helpful to have a feeding tube emergency kit stocked and ready to go. The Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation recommends having two kits:2

Mini G-tube emergency kit

You could toss this simple version in your diaper bag, for example, with the supplies you need to handle minor emergencies while you’re away from home. It should include:

An extra extension set
If possible, an extra tube or button kit.

Main G-tube emergency kit

To prepare for all emergencies, your kit should be more extensive. Consider including all of the following:

2 extension sets
Tube or button replacement kit (tube, lube, tape, syringe)
Stoma care supplies
An NG-tube or foley catheter to hold the stoma open if the tube falls out
A few days worth of medications
60 mL syringe for feeding or venting; more if you feed with syringes
2 smaller syringes that fit into the tube for tube problems or medications
2 pump feeding bags if you use them
2 cans of formula or pre-packaged blend
1 bottle with cap for mixing and storing extra formula
1 change of clothing
4 diapers if necessary
A package of travel wipes
Basic care instructions, including a list of medications, feeding schedule, phone numbers for doctors and other medical professionals, emergency medical forms, and any other pertinent information

With the right supplies ready to go, and a calm and focused mindset, you can handle any emergency situation to keep your tube-fed loved one safe and well nourished.

RESOURCES. 1. Emergency Preparedness. The Oley Foundation: 2. Preparedness for Feeding Tubes. The Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation: