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11.7: Preparing for Disasters

https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf

Follow these steps to make sure you and your family have enough safe food and water (for drinking, cooking, bathing, etc.) available in the event of a disaster or emergency.

Prepare an Emergency Food Supply

Keep foods that:

  • Have a long storage life
  • Require little or no cooking, water, or refrigeration, in case utilities are disrupted
  • Meet the needs of babies or other family members who are on special diets
  • Meet pets' needs
  • Are not very salty or spicy, as these foods increase the need for drinking water, which may be in short supply

How To Store Emergency Food

  • A disaster can easily disrupt the food supply at any time, so plan to have at least a 3-day supply of food on hand.
  • When storing food, it is not necessary to buy dehydrated or other types of emergency food. Canned foods and dry mixes will remain fresh for about 2 years.
  • Certain storage conditions can enhance the shelf life of canned or dried foods. The ideal location is a cool, dry, dark place. The best temperature is 40 to 60°F. Keep foods away from ranges or refrigerator exhausts. Heat causes many foods to spoil more quickly.
  • Keep 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 airtight containers.
  • Date all food items. Use and replace food before it loses freshness.

Preparing Food

Preparing food after a disaster or emergency may be difficult due to damage to your home and loss of electricity, gas, and water. Having the following items available will help you to prepare meals safely:

  • Cooking utensils
  • Knives, forks, and spoons
  • Paper plates, cups, and towels
  • A manual can- and bottle-opener
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Gas or charcoal grill; camp stove
  • Fuel for cooking, such as charcoal. (CAUTION: Never burn charcoal indoors. The fumes are deadly when concentrated indoors.)

Prepare an Emergency Water Supply

  • Store at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and each pet. You should consider storing more water than this for hot climates, for pregnant women, and for persons who are sick.
  • Store at least a 3-day supply of water for each person and each pet (try to store a 2-week supply if possible).
  • Observe the expiration date for store-bought water; replace other stored water every six months.
  • Store a bottle of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to disinfect your water and to use for general cleaning and sanitizing.

Note: Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.

Contributors

  • US Government Center for Disease Control