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Emergency Food Supplies

PREPARE YOUR EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLY

If a disaster strikes your community, you may not be able to get food, water, or electricity for several days. Take steps now to stock up on long-lasting foods that don't spoil, so that you will be prepared if something happens.

STEP 1: GATHER YOUR EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLY

  • You will need at least a 3-day supply of food per family member, including pets. You may want to store more than this amount. Remember, it is better to have extra food that you can share than to run out of food during an emergency.
  • Choose foods that last a long time, do not need to be refrigerated, and are easy to make. Also, try to pick items that are high in calories and nutrition. Check out the box below for ideas of foods to use, and how long they last!
  • Try to use as many familiar foods as possible! These foods can help lift the mood, and provide comfort to your family during stressful times.
  • Plan ahead for family members with special diets and allergies, including babies and elderly people. Look for special canned foods, juices, and soups for them. Nursing mothers should have formula, in case they are unable to breastfeed during the emergency.
  • Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils.
  • Foods that last for about 6 months:

  • Boxed potatoes
  • Dried fruit
  • Dry, crisp crackers
  • Powdered milk
  • Foods that last for about 1 year:

  • Canned food like soups, fruits, vegetables
  • Canned fruit juices
  • Canned nuts
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals
  • In proper containers and conditions, these foods can last many years:

  • Bouillon products
  • Seasoning packets
  • Dried corn
  • Dry pasta
  • Instant coffee, tea, and cocoa
  • Rice

STEP 2: TAKE CARE OF YOUR EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLY

Image, set your clocks, check your stocks

Image courtesy of the American Public Health Association

  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot. If possible, choose an area out of the sun.
  • Check your food supply at least every 6 months.
  • Use foods before they expire, and replace them with fresh items.
  • Immediately throw away canned goods that look swollen, dented, or rusty.

STEP 3: EAT SAFELY, EAT STRATEGICALLY

Stay safe while you cook
  • Only use charcoal grills or camp stoves outside of your home to avoid smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Before heating food in a can, be sure to open the can and remove the labels. Otherwise, the can may be too hot to handle, the contents might explode, or the label may catch on fire.
  • Never leave open flames unattended. Always put out open flames before leaving the room.
Keep your hands clean
  • Remind your family to always clean their hands before preparing or eating food. This is an important step to keep from getting sick.
  • If soap and running water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gels or baby wipes to clean your hands.
Eat only safe foods
  • Eat strategically. If there's a power outage, eat the food in your home in the order that it will start to spoil. If the power has been out no more than 4 hours:
    • First, eat the food in the refrigerator,
    • Then, eat food from the freezer,
    • Then, start eating food from your emergency supply.
  • Throw out foods that go bad quickly and have been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Before eating, look at and smell food to make sure it has not started to spoil. Never taste foods to decide whether or not they are safe.
  • Inspect canned foods before eating. Throw away cans that that look swollen, dented, or rusty. They may have germs in them that can make you sick, even if you cook the food.
Visit foodsafety.gov for more specific information on when to save and when to throw out different kinds of food.

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