Building an Emergency Food Supply - What You Need to Know
Preparing for emergencies and natural disasters is crucial, and having an emergency food supply is an essential part of being prepared. Not only can it help eliminate stress, worry, and inconvenience during an emergency, but it can also ensure that you and your family have enough to eat if access to food is limited.
In a recent survey by the British Red Cross, nearly two-thirds of UK adults (63%) expressed concern about how they would cope if an emergency, such as flooding, occurred in their area. However, over half of the British public (53%) admitted they don't have an emergency kit in their home. Don't let this be you - taking steps to prepare for an emergency now could make all the difference.
How Much Food Should You Store?
How much and what type of food you should store will depend on the members of your household, your preferences, special health conditions, your ability to use the food in an emergency, and the amount of storage space you have available. The UK government recommends that households should have enough food, water, and other essentials to last at least 72 hours in the event of an emergency. However, in some cases, it may be wise to consider storing more than this - for example, if you live in an area where power outages are common.
Preparing a Three-Day Emergency Supply
A three-day emergency preparedness kit will be useful for most disasters. Gathering the essential items that could be needed and putting them in one location will help you and your household through the worst days of an emergency. This short-term preparedness kit should of course include food in addition to water, personal hygiene items, torches, batteries, blankets, and other essentials recommended for emergencies.
When preparing your three-day emergency food supply, it's important to select non-perishable foods that require no refrigeration, minimal or no preparation or cooking, and little or no water. According to the CDC, households with emergency supplies were more likely to be prepared for disasters and had a higher likelihood of being able to evacuate quickly. Some great options to include in your three-day emergency food supply are ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables; canned juices, milk, and soup; high-energy foods like peanut butter, crackers, granola bars, and trail mix; and foods for infants, elderly persons, or persons on special diets.
Preparing a Two-Week Emergency Supply
Even though it is unlikely that most emergencies will cut off your food supply for two weeks, it's a good idea to have a two-week emergency supply of food on hand, especially if you live in an area where power outages are common. A study by the CDC in the USA (where preparedness is taken more seriously) found that households with an emergency supply were more likely to be prepared for disasters and had a higher likelihood of being able to evacuate quickly.
To build your two-week emergency food supply, start by increasing the amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves. Make a list of all family members by name, indicating any special needs, and list all staple foods on your shelves now. Indicate the amount available, date purchased, date opened, and use-by/replace date if known. Post this list near storage cabinets or closets and update it when changes occur.
When it comes to meals, plan food supplies so that at least one well-balanced meal can be eaten each day. Consider including dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, which are lightweight and take up little room. However, you will need to plan extra water supplies for rehydrating them for use. Some dehydrated foods, like fruits, can be eaten as is. If some foods in your kit will require cooking, be sure to also include some that are ready to eat. Fires or stoves for cooking may be available during some emergencies; sometimes you may not even have those available, or at least not all the time. Keep in mind that short-term emergency supplies need to emphasize survival, energy, and hydration (water), but planning ahead means that you can also plan nutritionally balanced meals.
Food Ideas That Keep on the Shelf
When selecting food items for your emergency supply, it's important to choose items that are non-perishable, require little or no preparation or cooking, and provide a good source of energy and nutrients. You should also consider the dietary needs and preferences of the members of your household when making your selections.