I remember Katrina well, even though I was living in California at the time. My sister-in-law and her family had a home in New Orleans and were severely impacted when that massive hurricane swept through Louisiana. It seems strange to me that my sister-in-law was completely unprepared for disaster even though hurricanes and storms are a normal, yearly occurrence in that area. She didn’t even have a flashlight, bottled water, or more than a few days worth of food. This meant she was entirely dependent upon food she could scrounge from the neighbors and whatever she could get from emergency centers. She survived the disaster but it would have been much easier with a little preparation.
It is very important to remember that even a small disaster may cause your utilities such as power, water, sewer service, trash collection and natural gas to fail. Part of your disaster preparation must include the assumption that your home or apartment is without power for several days or weeks. This is critical as it affects how you stockpile food. You can think of food as one of your most basic survival supplies because without it you could die.
If the power goes out and remains off for any length of time you are going to lose all of the food inside your refrigerator and your freezer (with the possible exception of horizontal, top-opening freezers). The problem with the refrigerator and freezer in your house is every time you open the door you lose cold air from inside. I’ve found that with the power out the food inside will last perhaps as long as a day or two as long as you don’t open the door.
This is important as you should not consider the food in your refrigerator and freezer as part of your emergency stockpile. Instead, you need to stockpile dry and canned goods; you want food that will not spoil rapidly when warm.
I have about two weeks of canned goods in my pantry. These include canned vegetables, meats, beans and so forth. A good mixture of protein and carbohydrates is essential. Most people will not survive well on a diet of candy bars and frosted flakes.
All food has an expiration date, and it is important to be aware of this as part of your stockpiling plan. There are some things to remember:
- You should use the stockpiled food as part of your day-to-day meals. Pull any food you use from the front.
- As you purchase replacement food, add it to the back of the supply.
- Once every six months or so, it’s a good idea to look over all the expiration dates of the items in your stockpile to ensure that no out-of-date items remain. Any food which goes out-of-date should be discarded. What I like to do is pull out food that is within a month or two of the expiration date and donate it to the local food bank.
What should be in your stockpile?
- Canned vegetables.
- Canned meats such as tuna, salmon, turkey and chicken.
- Canned beans or similar items for protein.
- Food bars high in protein, granola bars and power bars.
- Nuts and trail mixes
- Dried fruits
- Canned soups
- Bottled water (I keep four 5 gallon water bottles at all times)
- Spices and sugar, salt and pepper
Be sure you have at least one can opener available. It would be very frustrating to be unable to eat the food due to lack of a can opener.
Just be sure that everything in your stockpile is something you will include in your normal meals, or you will find yourself throwing out a lot of food as things expire.