Emergency preparedness question number 1 (or thereabouts) always seems to focus on food. How much, what kind, etc.? It’s an important question, since after shelter, food is what keeps us going. We should be clear at the outset that we’re talking about emergencies, temporary situations caused by nature or man. We’re talking about the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards and even serious black outs. We’re not talking about ongoing doomsday scenarios. That’s a topic for another type of blog.
The experts seem to be in agreement that what you need are supplies to get you and your family (and don’t forget pets!) going for the first 72 hours. In most cases, after that things will be either back to normal or help and other resources will be on the scene. You can either prepare your own food kit or purchase one from a company like 1800prepare.com. We think we offer a great, self-contained and easy to use product, but understand that it might be something you would want to either supplement or do yourself.
The key of course is stock non-perishable items that can stand alone and don’t call for any major, or really any, preparation. In most cases canned goods and supplies from camping supply stores will do the trick nicely. Dried goods will also work well. In all of those cases, just keep note of the expiration dates. Even non-perishable goods eventually perish. We had one question about gluten free items. Just shop for those the way you would normally. These days, you can easily find the gluten-free equivalents of many common food items.
Trail mix is a great addition item to have on hand. It will provide a boost of energy while you may be involved in clean up or recovery efforts. zin a pinch the protein and fats provided can even stand in for a meal. Most mixes pack a 450-500 calorie punch per 3 oz. serving. Packages should last in storage for 3-5 months. Similarly, protein bars are a great thing to have on hand. Others recommend peanut butter – no heating, no prep. Then, there are MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat). These packages are meant to be stored, and the fact that they’re not likely to be the most appetizing thing in your pantry, means that they’ll always be around in the case of a real emergency, unlike, say, protein bars or trail mix.
Then, there’s the question of water. How much do you need to keep on hand? You should have on hand one gallon of water per person and per pet for each day. You should have enough on hand to last three days. The CDC recommends drinking at least 2 quarts of water per day, 3-4 quarts a day in hot weather, if you are pregnant or a child. If supplies run low, do not ration water. Drink what you need to stay hydrated. The chances are that supplies will arrive before you run out.
Ideally you should use store bought, factory sealed water containers. If those are not available, you should by food grade quality water containers. You don’t want the chemicals used in the manufacture of lower grade containers to seep into your drinking water. If you use these containers they will need to be washed, sanitized and rinsed before use.
- Wash containers with dishwashing soap and rinse with water.
- Sanitize by swishing a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water on all interior surfaces of the container.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water before use.
If you are using tap water, it may have to be treated before storage. Check with your local utility or water provider to find out the best way to treat or store water from municipal sources. You will also want to change your water every six months.
Food is what will help you to make it through a difficult situation more comfortably and with more energy. It also provides peace of mind, knowing that you’re covered and don’t need to race around collecting items in the hours before disaster strikes, if there is any warning at all. You may never have to use your supplies, but it is difficult to attach a value to peace of mind.