Emergency Food Preparation: How Is It Done?

After natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and snowstorms, safe food, and water supplies are a major concern. Knowing how to use food and water safety in the first few days after a disaster can help reduce stress, anxiety, and discomfort.


Emergency food is important for several reasons. In the event of a disaster such as a flood or a hurricane, these are important because they can guarantee the survival of the family until help arrives or the path to the family's food source is clear. Victims can survive for several days without food, but only for a short period of time without water. Water from rivers, lakes, and local water systems can be polluted. Therefore, it is best to store the water supply in a shelter.


Areas to consider:

  1. Water supply storage

  2. Food supply

  3. Food after the disaster

  4. Emergency food preparation and equipment

  5. Assembling an emergency food supply


Water Supply


Victims can survive for several days without food, but only for a short period of time without water. Water from rivers, lakes, and local water systems can be polluted. Therefore, it is best to store the water supply in a shelter.


Water can be purified in a variety of ways. Boiling is one of the safest and easiest ways to purify your drinking water. Filter the water and bring it to a boil for 3 minutes. You can improve the taste of boiling water by aeration by pouring water from a clean container into another container several times. However, the use of this cleaning method is restricted because heat is often not available in the affected areas.


Household 2% iodine tincture can be used to purify small amounts of water. You need to add 5 drops for every 1 liter of muddy water. Like chlorine, iodine and water need to be thoroughly mixed. Water purification tablets available in most sporting goods and drug stores are safe to use for water purification. Follow the package instructions.


Store the water supply in a clean container with a tight lid or a screw-down lid. A lightweight, shatterproof plastic container is ideal. If you use a glass jug or bottle, put a packing material such as newspaper to protect it from damage. Metal containers tend to give water an unpleasant taste and can rust.


Food Supply

After a power outage, first, use fresh food in the refrigerator. Food after a power outage is usually safe if the power outage is within 4-6 hours (depending on the kitchen temperature) and the internal temperature of the refrigerator is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and within 2 hours. The appliance thermometer helps to monitor the internal temperature of the refrigerator. To keep the temperature low, open the refrigerator door only when necessary. However, be especially careful when using foods that contain meat, chicken, milk, cream, sour cream, or soft cheese that is not turned on in the refrigerator.


Tip: If the freezer is not full at the time of power failure, group the packages to ensure low temperatures. On the tray, put the meat and chicken together on one side so that the juice does not contaminate other foods when you start thawing. Open the freezer compartment only as often as you need it, and work as soon as you open it.


If you live in a flood-prone area, place a cement block under the corner and be prepared to lift the refrigerator or freezer off the ground. Canned goods should be moved to higher shelves or storage locations. Special attention should be paid to food contaminated by floods. Floods carry dirt and diseased bacteria that pollute food and water and endanger consumption.


Discard the following if it has been in contact with floodwaters:

  • Meal, poultry, fish, and eggs

  • Fresh produce

  • Flour, sugar, coffee, cereals, and other staples in canisters

  • Opened containers and packages

  • Cans dented, leaking, bulging, or rusted

Keep foods that:

  • Have a long storage life

  • Require little or no cooking

  • Meet the needs of babies or other family members who are on special diets

  • Meet pet's needs

  • Avoid salty and spicy food to decrease the need of drinking water

How to store emergency food:

  • Check the expiration dates on canned foods and dry mixes. Home-canned food usually needs to be thrown out after a year.

  • Use and replace food before its expiration date.

  • Store foods away from ranges or refrigerator exhausts.

  • Store food away from petroleum products, such as gasoline, oil, paints, and solvents. Some food products absorb their smell.

  • Protect food from rodents and insects. Items stored in boxes or in paper cartons will keep longer if they are heavily wrapped or stored in waterproof, airtight containers.

Canned foods have an almost unlimited shelf life as long as they are not damaged, leaked, or bulged. However, for optimum quality, replace the canned food within 12-18 months. Store emergency supplies in a location protected from insects, rodents, and floods.

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