Preparing for Disasters With Emergency Food and Water

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What do you consider an emergency? A hurricane? An earthquake? Or, what about a mass power outage? While these emergencies come in varying degrees, the preparation for all is similar: have an emergency preparedness plan that includes food and water. When your home has no electricity and no running water, how do you prepare your food or stay hydrated? For these extreme instances, emergency food storage must be in your home and needs to be part of your lifestyle.

No human being can live without water. Along with food, water is the top tenant of emergency preparedness, and enough should be in supply to be used over cooking, drinking, and hygiene. For including water in your emergency food storage, two options are essentially available: buy it in a large quantity or accumulate it over time. For the former, cans of emergency water have a lifespan of 30 years. For the latter, invest in a rain barrel or water storage tank to build up your supply over time. While the latter approach may result in a greater supply in the long run, all water is in a raw, or undrinkable, state and must be filtered or purified before use.

Going hand-in-hand with water is a year’s supply of emergency food. Although having a foundation of basic items, such as rice, beans, salt, sugar, oil, powdered milk, and seeds, is recommended, a kit of freeze-dried and dehydrated items adds variety and rounds out your meal possibilities and calories. Available in pouches or #10 cans, freeze-dried emergency food kits cover entrees, breakfast, and individual vegetables, fruit, carbohydrates, dairy, and protein. To prepare any of these foods, all you need to do is add hot water and wait. After a few minutes, the food is rehydrated and ready to eat.

Although both emergency food and water are necessary for disasters, your home needs to have ideal storage conditions. Because freeze-dried food and water are both affected by light and moisture, the storage space – preferably a crawlspace or a closet – must be dry and dark. The space should be kept at a temperature of 50A�F to 60A�F and should not have any chemicals. Food should not be stored in a trash bag or liner and should not be kept in the ground.

While emergency food, with its lifespan of five 25-plus years, is designed for long-term use, an unopened can exposes the contents to light and oxygen. To keep the leftovers, the large #10 can must be resealed, or the contents kept in another airtight container. Although the leftovers can last a year, not storing them properly results in quicker decay. What are your options? To keep the can, use a commercial re-sealer to fully close it. Or, the leftovers can be frozen or stored in an airtight bag or container.

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