Food preparations for a disaster are important to ensure that you and your family have enough safe and nutritious food and water to survive. Here are some tips on how to prepare food for a disaster:
- Stock up on non-perishable foods that have a long shelf life, such as canned foods, dried beans, white rice, pasta, whole grains, powdered milk, nuts, dried fruits, and granola bars. Choose low-sodium and low-sugar varieties if possible. Check the expiration dates and rotate your stock regularly.
- Store at least one gallon of water per day for each person and each pet in your household. You may need more water for hot climates, pregnant women, sick people, or cooking. Store water in clean and sealed containers and replace it every six months. You can also fill buckets or empty milk containers with water and freeze them to make ice.
- Have some basic utensils and equipment ready to prepare food safely, such as a manual can opener, knives, forks, spoons, paper plates, cups, towels, heavy-duty aluminium foil, a propane gas or charcoal grill (for outdoor use only), a camp stove (for outdoor use only), matches (in a waterproof container), fuel for cooking (such as charcoal or propane gas), and a first aid kit.
- After a disaster or emergency, check your food supply for any signs of spoilage or contamination. Throw away any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture; is moldy; has been in contact with floodwater or animals; has been thawed in the freezer; has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours; or has damaged or bulging cans. Do not taste food to determine its safety. When in doubt, throw it out.
- If you have no power or gas to cook food safely after a disaster or emergency you can eat canned foods cold (but not meat products); heat foods using candles (but be careful of fire hazards); rehydrate dried foods using bottled water; eat fresh fruits and vegetables that do not require refrigeration; make sandwiches using breads that do not need toasting; or use ready-to-eat meals such as MREs (meals ready-to-eat) if available.
Preparing food for a disaster can help you avoid hunger and illness during an emergency. Remember to store enough food and water for at least three days (or longer if possible) per person and pet in your household; keep your food supply fresh and safe by checking expiration dates and discarding spoiled items; have the necessary tools and equipment to cook food safely if possible; follow proper food safety practices after a disaster; and choose foods that are nutritious and easy to prepare.