Food Storage for an Emergency

15 September, 2005 (09:50)


By Rae Udy

According to the American Red Cross, there are six basic categories you need to stock in your own home in case of disaster: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and special emergency items.
It is unlikely an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, but the Department of Homeland Security suggests you prepare a supply that will last that long. Select foods requiring no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and are compact and lightweight.
You don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of unfamiliar foods to prepare an emergency food supply. Buy the canned goods, dry mixes and the drinks you normally would. Make sure to keep a manual can opener with your supplies. The easiest way to develop a stockpile is to increase the amount of basic foods you normally buy.
Keep stored food dry and in a cool, dark spot. Label items with a marker to include the date you purchased them. Place new products at the back of the storage area and move the older items to the front. This will rotate your stored food and prevent spoilage. Try to pull food products for you regular meals from the disaster supplies and replace them so the food supplies are always fresh.
Many foods may be stored indefinitely in proper containers and conditions. Wheat, soybeans, dried corn, rice and pasta are great keepers but need extra water for cooking. Look for instant varieties of these foods to cut down on cooking time and water used.
Non-carbonated soft drinks, powdered milk bought in nitrogen-packed cans and instant coffee, tea and cocoa are important food storage items that have an indefinite shelf life. Bouillon cubes or packets will offer a hot cup of soup when you need it the most.
Canned goods will store for one year in the correct conditions. Canned beans, vegetables and soups add protein and hearty, filling meals during a disaster. Fruits canned in their own juices offer nutrition and great taste during an emergency. Fruit and vegetable juices should be in small containers because you may not have refrigeration after opening.
Peanut butter, jelly, hard candy and canned nuts will be good for one year and provide great variety to a survival diet. Ready-to-eat whole grain cereals are important additions to a home storage plan. Choose cereals high in fiber and store in tightly sealed plastic or metal containers.
Boxed powdered milk, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and potatoes will store for six months. High energy foods like granola bars and trail mix are also recommended for food storage. Look for “expiration date� or “best if used by date� on the product package to judge how long it will store.
Instant cups of noodles or cups of soup are a good addition but need water for reconstitution. Snack-sized canned fruits or prepackaged beverages in the foil packets or foil-lined boxes will keep for several months and are great to store, especially if you have children.
As you stock food, keep in mind your family’s needs and tastes. Include foods they are used to and enjoy. You may have family members with special diets or allergies who will need certain food items. Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements in your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition for members of your family. Medications needed should also be stored properly in waterproof containers.
Emergency cooking is a challenge. You can use a fireplace, charcoal grill or camp stove outdoors. You can also heat food with candles, chafing dishes and fondue pots indoors. Cans of Sterno with waterproof matches should be a must for any survival kit. If you heat food right in the can, remember to remove the label first and open the can before heating so it won’t explode.
It is important during and right after a disaster to maintain your strength. The National Terror Alert recommends healthy adults eat at least one well-balanced meal and drink two quarts of water each day.
Although these simple preparations may not have helped those caught in Katrina’s path they may help you in case of an emergency in your area.


Posted in Emergency Supplies

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