Natural catastrophes like storms, earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, as well as civil disruptions, are all reminders that an emergency supply kit is a good idea no matter where one lives. Emergency food supplies, as well as potable water and prescription medications, should be included on one's shopping list in case of disaster.
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Food for the First 72 Hours
The Federal Emergency Management Agency advises that in cases of natural catastrophe or other disasters that food, water and electricity may not be available for days or possibly even weeks. FEMA advises that a 72-hour "disaster supplies kit" be assembled in case evacuation is required. This kit should contain food, water and other necessities such as a flashlight, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, cash, first aid kit, sanitary supplies, clothing and blankets and prescription medications.
Emergency Food Supplies for Several Weeks
In addition to the 72-hour disaster supplies kit, emergency food, water and other supplies should be stored in case the disaster situation continues for a longer period of time. Food that does not need refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation is recommended. Some examples of food that can be stored indefinitely include wheat, soybeans, vegetable oil, baking powder, instant coffee and tea, salt, bouillon products, white rice, dry pasta and powdered milk in nitrogen-packed cans.
Guidelines for Consuming Emergency Foods
Foods that can be stored long-term (up to one year) include canned condensed meat and vegetable soups, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, canned nuts and vitamins. Use food before the expiration date on the label. Foods to consume within six months include powdered milk in boxes, dried fruit, crackers and potatoes. Emergency food supplies should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Canned goods should be thrown out if dented, swollen or corroded.
Unique Needs and Preparation Tools
Along with prescription medications, the specific food needs of each member of the household should be taken into account. This includes infant needs like formula, and the special dietary needs of toddlers, nursing mothers, the ill and the elderly and those with allergies. Pets also need their own supply of water and non-perishable foods. Make sure to have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. A fireplace can be used for indoor cooking, and a grill or camp stove can be used outdoors.
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