Health & Safety

April 19, 2013

Prepare to survive: Food for thought

Robert Kaschak
452 AMW Emergency Management technician

As with any major earthquake, the damage will be substantial and the recovery process lengthy. Daily routines will be severely impacted; therefore, being able to sustain basic needs, such as maintaining food and water supplies, will become significant events, requiring managing by all survivors.

Now, would be a good time to examine what stored supplies have been set aside for use after a disaster has struck. Check to ensure on-hand supplies are appropriate for a survival situation. There is an abundance of information on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov) and United States Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov) websites.

Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils.

Here are some “food for thought,” or rather, “thoughts for food,” that should be considered when putting together emergency food supplies:
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;

  • Choose foods your family will eat
  • Remember to include special dietary needs
  • Avoid foods that will make you thirsty
  • Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content

In addition to the basics, here are more suggested food supplies:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables
  • Protein, fruit bars, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter
  • Dry cereal, granola, crackers
  • Canned juices, non-perishable pasteurized milk
  • Food for infants, comfort or stress foods

If the power goes out, ensure you keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. They should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, for proper food storage. It is also a good rule of thumb to have a refrigerator thermometer and know where dry ice can be purchased.

If needed, alternative cooking sources should be ready available, such as candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots or a fireplace. Charcoal grills and camp stoves are for outdoor use only.

When handling and maintaining food, consider the following:

  • Do not eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded
  • Never eat any food that looks or smells abnormal
  • Do not let garbage accumulate around food stores, for fire and sanitation reasons
  • Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals. To be safe, remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Members should be able to readily gauge where they are in the preparation stage and where they need to be. Remember, the items mentioned should not be taken verbatim, but should give ideas on what essentials should be stored for your family.

We cannot predict the amount of damage that will occur, or the recovery period resulting from a disaster; however, it is a safe to assume services will be severely limited for several days. So, for your security and that of your family, take a “bite” out of the preparedness phase by putting your own food supply together. Periodically, check it and rotate as needed.

Next week’s article will discuss water preparation.

Remember, not if a disaster happens, but when!




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