In order for your food storage plan to be a success, it is crucial to plan ahead. This means buying items when they are on sale and replacing items before they run out. Consider stocking up on a range of foods that store well. Some people like to buy emergency rations, put it in their garage, and forget about it. Others try to incorporate food into their everyday pantry in order to monitor the rotation of supplies. Both are great options, but an important key to remember is to buy foods that you like and know how to cook. Donít forget to check your expiration dates regularly.
The amount of food you will need will vary according to your age, health, and the number of people in your household. Plan for more calorie-dense foods, such as peanut butter, dried fruits, and cereal. A good Ďrule of thumbí is to have at least 3,000 calories available per day, per individual, (and donít forget your pets.) Remember, if you have extra food stored, you can always share.
The state recommends that you should be ď2 Weeks Ready,Ē which can quickly add up to a lot of food. So, how should you store it? Consider storing your food in more than one location. Maybe your garage is a suitable fit for many items, but a pantry, storage closet, and attic may be good for others. Having a variety of places to store your food not only allows you to have free space throughout your home, but it also is important in the event that a part of your home or garage is damaged in a disaster. This way, some food rations may be much easier to access then others.
Take steps to make sure food in your refrigerator and freezer will stay safe. During an extended power outage, temperatures in your fridge and freezer will begin to rise, even if the doors stay closed. As the temperature rises, harmful bacteria may begin to grow on your food.
If the temperature in your fridge stays above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four hours, perishable food items (milk, lunch meat, mayonnaise-based salads, poultry items, leftovers, etc.) may be unsafe to eat.
If the temperature in your freezer stays above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than one to two days, food may be unsafe to eat. Food that still contains ice crystals should be safe. Always check the color and odor of food, particularly meat when it is thawed. If it is questionable throw it out (make sure it is discarded where animals canít get to it).
Take steps now to make sure your perishable food remains as safe as possible:
Install a thermometer in your fridge and freezer.
If you anticipate a power outage, such as a winter storm, reduce the temperature of your fridge and freezer. The colder your food is the more time it takes to thaw.
Keep containers of ice in your freezer to keep the temperature down.
When the power goes out:
Cover the fridge or freezer in newspapers and blankets. Keep vents clear in case the freezer starts operating again.
Avoid opening the door to the fridge or freezer.
Use dry ice, if available. Identify a source for dry ice in advance and remember that if the power outage is widespread, there may be a lot of competition for this resource.
If you donít know the temperature of your fridge or if the fridge was off for more than four hours, the food should be discarded. Eating perishable food that has not been kept cold can cause food poisoning, even if it is refrozen or cooked. When in doubt, throw it out!
Finally, Some people are on special diets for health reasons. There can be serious effects if the right food is not available during a disaster. If you use special equipment, like a blender, food scale, or feeding tubes, make sure you take those with you. Think about keeping extra equipment at a friend or relativeís home in case you have to evacuate.
Talk to your healthcare provider or a nutritionist about non-perishable menu options that can be used if you canít get to a grocery store, or that can be prepared at an emergency shelter. Keep a description of your medical condition and the diet in your emergency kit.