Preparing Food and Supplies for Emergencies
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One of the most unsettling things about our world is the increasing prevalence of natural disasters. Earthquakes, blizzards, and flooding have the potential to put you and your family out of contact with civilisation – and well-stocked supermarkets – for weeks at a time.
But forget scaremongering: here are some things you can do to prepare yourself and your loved ones as best as possible for a natural disaster. Follow our guidelines for preparing emergency food and supplies and make disaster preparation a priority in your household.
The volume of supplies versus the type of disaster
Firstly, undertake risk assessment. Different types of natural disasters include drought, famine, disease, volcanic eruptions, flash flooding, and tornadoes. Which natural disasters are most common in your geographical area? California, for instance, is more likely to experience earthquakes or wildfires than blizzards.
No matter what kind of disaster you see as the greatest risk, the minimum amount of food rations you should keep is 3 days’ worth. Severe weather may create power outages of up to a week or more, however, so stockpiling enough food and water for each member of the family (including pets) to live on for 7 days is an ideal target. Prepare for worst-case scenarios, and if you choose to store more of one thing than the other, opt for drinking water over food (1 gallon per person, per day).
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Variety of food
Look for products with a long shelf-life. Vacuum-packed, tinned, or treated foods are easy to obtain and store, and should form the basis of your backup supply. Tinned foods usually require no or very little cooking or chilling, which is great as natural disasters may put electrical appliances out of service
Consider avoiding foods which are overly salty or spicy: you need to conserve water in the event of an emergency, and these kinds of food products increase thirst unnecessarily.
Building an emergency store
Buying extra food and water to keep it in a trunk in the garage can seem counter-intuitive, especially if your food budget is already stretched. If you’re worried about how you will afford a comprehensive emergency kit, don’t try to put everything together at once. Cover your bases by setting out a weekly or monthly budget that will allow you to add a few dedicated items to your supply each week.
Maintaining emergency supplies
Many people forget that even tinned food expires, so if you consider yourself prepared but haven’t checked your disaster stores for expiry dates in a while, consider this your reminder! As a general rule, food that you’ve canned or bottled at home, such as homemade chutneys, jams, etc. is usually best used within a year, while manufactured long-life products can last a matter of years – check the label for the recommended storage date. A couple months before your tinned goods expire, replace them with newer ones. Eat the tinned food that you’ve been storing so you won’t need to waste any of it.
To help keep your goods in the best possible condition, store them in a cool, dry location such as your basement or garage. Keep an eye on your storage in the summer months to ensure that your chosen spot isn’t getting direct sunlight and ensure that your supplies are kept in an airtight, rodent-proof strongbox to protect them from external assault.
A shipping container can prove the ideal solution for all your emergency supply storage needs, particularly if you have a large family or group of people to provide for. Since shipping containers are made of steel, you can rest assured that your supplies are being kept at below the recommended 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use your instincts to survive
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a keen interest in home and lifestyle topics. You can read more of her work on her Tumblr page: Harper Reid.