Monday, September 12, 2011

What To Have On Hand For Emergencies--Food

The last several weeks have been filled with news about power outages. Between the power outages caused by Hurricane Irene on the East Coast, and the widespread power outage affecting several million homes in Southern California, Arizona, and Mexico, I got to thinking about how prepared we are for emergencies. In this series, I'm going to cover supplies and products that will make your life easier in case an emergency were to affect you and your family.

Q. Why should I prepare for an emergency or natural disaster?
A: Because it's called an emergency for one can't predict it. Planning helps to alleviate stress and create calmness if an emergency does occur.

Q: In case of emergency, I'll just go to the grocery store. Why should I store food?
A: Not necessarily. During the power outage in Southern California, gas stations were closed, and grocery stores had to turn away customers because they didn't have power to perform transactions. During Hurricane Irene, store shelves were cleared of food and water days before the storm was expected to hit. In addition, keeping up a stockpiling by purchasing during sales, you avoid having to pay full price in the future.

Q: How should I store food? I don't want to invest in food and end up throwing it away!
A: This kind of follows the rules of Stockpiling. You should have on hand a supply of non-perishables, which your family will use, and use them as you normally would. Just make sure to always replenish your stock, and use the oldest product first. This way, you will always have products on hand, but won't have to worry about wasting them.

Q: How is an emergency kit different than a survival kit?
A: I'm talking about emergency stockpiles right now, not survival stockpiles. Emergency kits should be sufficient to last your family a week or two after a natural disaster, when you know things like power, water, and natural gas will be restored soon. Survival kits are for worst case scenario, when your family may have to survive months or years without those luxuries.

Q: What kinds of food should I have on hand in case of natural disaster or power outage?
A: Assuming you do not have a generator keeping your refrigerator cold (though that may be a long-term investment you should consider if you live in regions that often have natural disasters), you will want to have items that are non-perishable, or don't have to be refrigerated. Remember that in case of a power outage, you need to keep the refrigerator door closed, to avoid food spoilage.
  • Some foods to have on hand include: 
    • Canned Tuna and individual mayonnaise packets (you won't be able to store an open jar of mayo safely.) 
    • Granola Bars and other non-perishable snack foods, such as crackers
    • Peanut Butter (doesn't need to be refrigerated, while other nut butters do.)
    • Canned or Jarred Fruit
    • Dried Fruit
    • Nuts or Trail Mix
    • Bottled Water
    • Juice Boxes
  • If you have a gas grill or camping stove, you should also include:
    • Dried Rice and Pasta (boil water on the grill or stove)
    • Canned Soups
    • Canned Beans
  • Other Supplies:
    • Paper plates (During emergencies, water is often under a "boiling order", which would make washing dishes very difficult.)
    • Plastic Utensils and Paper Napkins or Paper Towels
    • Plastic Cups
Next time, we'll discuss the household supplies you'll want to keep on hand in case of emergency.

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