Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long.
You may not need to go out and buy foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. Be sure to check expiration dates and follow the practice of first-in, first-out.
PREPARING AN EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLY
As you stock food, take into account your family’s unique needs and tastes. Familiar foods are important. They lift morale and give a feeling of security in times of stress. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, water, special preparation, or cooking are best.
Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers, and the elderly. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices, and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people.
Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. Don’t forget nonperishable foods for your pets.
Use perishable food from the refrigerator, pantry, garden, etc.
Use the foods from the freezer. To limit the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least two days. Check to make sure the seal on your freezer door is still in good condition.
Begin to use non-perishable foods and staples.
HOW TO COOK IF THE POWER GOES OUT
For emergency cooking indoors, you can use a fireplace. A charcoal grill or camp stove can be used outdoors. You can keep cooked food hot by using candle warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots. Use only approved devices for warming food. Canned food can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label before heating. Always make sure to extinguish open flames before leaving the room.
WHEN FOOD SUPPLIES ARE LOW
If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period and without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women.
If your water supply is limited, don’t eat salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Instead, eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.
During and after a disaster, it is vital that you maintain your strength. Remember the following:
Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts (half gallon) of water each day. People in hot environments, children, nursing mothers, and ill people will require even more.
You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least one gallon per person, per day. Consider storing at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. If you are unable to store this quantity, store as much as you can.
If supplies run low, never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
HIDDEN WATER SOURCES IN YOUR HOME
Safe water sources in your home include the water in your hot- water tank, pipes, and ice cubes. You should not use water from toilet flush tanks or bowls, radiators, waterbeds, or swimming pools/spas.
You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, or if local officials advise you of a problem. To shut off incoming water, locate the main valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and other family members know beforehand how to perform this important procedure.
To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.
To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on a hot-water faucet. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.
WAYS TO TREAT WATER
The instructions below are for treating water of uncertain quality in rare emergency situations in the absence of instructions from local authorities when no other reliable clean water source is available and you have used all of your stored water. If you store enough water in advance, you will not need to treat water using these or other methods.
In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms (germs, bacteria, and viruses) that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis. You should treat all water of uncertain quality before using it for drinking, food preparation, or hygiene.
There are many ways to treat water, though none are perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods.
Boiling or chlorination will kill most microorganisms but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel, clean cloth, or coffee filter.
We hope that you respect water as we do so we can have it for the rest of our lives!