How to Prepare for Disasters: A Guide to Emergency Food Supplies

Disasters can happen at any time, so it's important to be prepared with a food supply that can last at least three days. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that households store emergency food that family members are familiar with and that they eat easily, take into account special dietary needs, and avoid foods that make them thirsty. Storing your food supply in a cool, dry, and dark place will ensure the best shelf life. Freeze-dried foods have a higher initial cost, but extended shelf life can provide long-term savings.

Hot water is used to prepare freeze-dried foods; room temperature water also works, but will take longer to reconstitute. FEMA and Washington's Emergency Management Division recommend two weeks of supplies to prepare for an emergency, compared to the 72 hours of emergency supplies recommended in the past. Adding additional foods to your regular inventory, especially canned foods, can be an effective way to increase your emergency food supply while minimizing waste and excessive costs. Poor handling of fresh food can also change the safe storage time of food, regardless of packaging dates.

Keeping your inventory in a cool, dry and dark place is essential to maximizing the lifespan of your emergency food supply. Food, especially canned foods, can become quite heavy, so smaller boxes or bags can make it easier to transport emergency food, as well as easier to pack in the trunk of a car, in case you need to evacuate or move somewhere else. Emergency food supplies can be addressed in many ways, such as adding additional food to your pantry or reserving a food supply specifically for disasters and rotating it periodically, or through a combination of methods. To prepare for most disasters, start by maintaining a minimum three-day supply of emergency food that doesn't require refrigeration, cooking, or plenty of water to prepare.A website called Sally Strackbein's Emergency Kitchen breaks down exactly how much food needs to be stored for two people for two weeks.

Planning for short-term emergency food needs can be as simple as increasing the quantities of some basic, non-perishable foods that you would normally use. The amount and type of food you store will depend on the members of your household, their preferences, special health conditions, ability to use food in an emergency, and storage space.