Keep enough wa­ter, food in case of dis­as­ter


I still have vivid mem­o­ries of help­ing friends who ex­pe­ri­enced heart­break­ing floods in our com­mu­nity sev­eral years ago. One es­pe­cially ex­haust­ing day of try­ing to sal­vage what we could from wa­ter-soaked lives was in­ter­rupted with the pre­cious sight of Red Cross vol­un­teers driv­ing through the neigh­bor­hood of­fer­ing sand­wiches and bev­er­ages. It was a meal I will never for­get.

We never know when we’ll be faced with un­ex­pected dis­as­ters. But one thing re­mains con­stant — our need for daily food and wa­ter. Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency and the Amer­i­can Red Cross, our homes need a two-week store of non­per­ish­able food and clean wa­ter for un­planned emer­gen­cies. Here’s a ba­sic list:

Wa­ter. While we can usu­ally sub­sist on half our usual food in­take, we can’t scrimp on wa­ter. Most hu­mans re­quire at least two quarts of flu­ids a day just to func­tion nor­mally. FEMA rec­om­mends we store at least one gal­lon of wa­ter per per­son per day for cook­ing and other needs. A fam­ily of four, for ex­am­ple, would re­quire 56 gal­lons for a two-week emer­gency.

Non­per­ish­able foods that re­quire no spe­cial prepa­ra­tion, re­frig­er­a­tion or cook­ing can be life­savers dur­ing crises, ex­perts say. But even foods that tend not to spoil need to be kept dry and stored prop­erly. Ro­tate foods in and out of your emer­gency stash be­fore they reach their “use by” date.

If stored in a cool, dark and dry area, these foods will keep for up to 6 months: dry milk, dried fruit, crack­ers, pota­toes.

Use these foods within a year or by the ex­pi­ra­tion date on the pack­age: canned meat, stews and soups, canned fruits, juices and veg­eta­bles, readyto-eat ce­real, peanut but­ter, jelly, honey, hard candy, canned nuts, vi­ta­mins.

Some foods can be prop­erly stored for a year or more. They in­clude canned veg­eta­bles and beans, dry pasta, rice, bouil­lon, in­stant cof­fee, tea and co­coa.

In a dis­as­ter, es­pe­cially when the elec­tric­ity is out, eat up your food sup­ply in or­der, FEMA ad­vises. Start with per­ish­able food you have on hand. Use foods from your freezer next. When the power goes off, frozen foods will last up to two days or as long as they still con­tain ice crys­tals in their cen­ters.

Re­sort to non­per­ish­able items last. Canned foods can be safely eaten out of the can, FEMA says. Re­mem­ber to pack a can opener and uten­sils in your emer­gency stash.

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