If an earthquake, hurricane, winter storm, or other disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, and electricity for days or even weeks. By taking some time now to store emergency food and water supplies, you can provide for your entire family.
Emergency Food Supplies
Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long. You may not need to go out and buy foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. Be sure to check expiration dates and follow the practice of first-in, first-out.
PREPARING AN EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLY
As you stock food, take into account your family’s unique needs and tastes. Familiar foods are important. They lift morale and give a feeling of security in times of stress. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, water, special preparation, or cooking are best.
Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers, and the elderly. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices, and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people. Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. Don’t forget nonperishable foods for your pets.
IF THE ELECTRICITY GOES OFF…
Use perishable food from the refrigerator, pantry, garden, etc.
Use the foods from the freezer. To limit the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least two days. Check to make sure the seal on your freezer door is still in good condition.
Begin to use non-perishable foods and staples.
HOW TO COOK IF THE POWER GOES OUT
For emergency cooking indoors, you can use a fireplace. A charcoal grill or camp stove can be used outdoors. You can keep cooked food hot by using candle warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots. Use only approved devices for warming food. Canned food can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label before heating. Always make sure to extinguish open flames before leaving the room.
WHEN FOOD SUPPLIES ARE LOW
If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period and without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women. If your water supply is limited, don’t eat salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Instead, eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.
During and after a disaster, it is vital that you maintain your strength. Remember the following: w Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day. w Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (two quarts or a half gallon per day). w Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work. w Include vitamin, mineral, and protein supplements in your stockpile to ensure adequate nutrition.
Emergency Water Supplies
Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts (half gallon) of water each day. People in hot environments, children, nursing mothers, and ill people will require even more. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least one gallon per person, per day. Consider storing at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. If you are unable to store this quantity, store as much as you can. If supplies run low, never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
PREPARE AND STORE AN EMERGENCY SUPPLY OF WATER
To prepare the safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, it is recommended that you purchase commercially bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container, and do not open it until you need to use it.
If You Are Preparing Your Own Containers of Water…
It is recommended to purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage. If you decide to re-use storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles — not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. The reason is that milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they are heavy and may break.