When disaster strikes it may take some time for rescue personnel to get to you. If there are large power outages, because of damaged power lines and the likes, it could be quite some time before you are able to hit the grocery store again. For those times, it is crucial to have enough food and water stored, to get through the tough times.
Access to clean drinking water should be your first priority. Keep a supply of at least one gallon of water per family member per day on hand. At the very minimum you want to have a three day supply on hand along with a water filtration system that allow you to turn unsafe or potentially contaminated water sources into drinking water. While water has a fairly long shelf-life it’s a good idea to replace it regularly. Use the water as needed throughout your regular family life and replace it with fresh water. Keeping a few clean plastic or glass gallon jugs around and regularly refilling them with fresh water is a good idea. You can use the unused emergency drinking water to water plants or cook with.
Next it’s time to think about food. FEMA recommends a supply to last for up to two weeks if you’re preparing for a natural disaster. At first glance, this may seem like a lot of food, but most of it should consist of items you use regularly. Consider building up a well-stocked pantry and storing additional food supplies in your freezer. You will continue to use these foods and replenish them, working on the first in, first out system. Dry rice, canned or dry beans, and various canned goods are good staple items with long shelf lives to keep around.
If two weeks’ worth of food sounds too overwhelming or isn’t possible because you simply don’t have the room to store the food, start building up a supply that will last you three to five days. Hopefully emergency services will be able to reach you by then with basic water and food rations.
When disaster strikes and the power goes out, you want to start by consuming any fresh food in the fridge. Start eating anything that you know will spoil quickly. Don’t open your freezer at this point. Food will safely stay frozen and cold in a closed freezer for at least three days. Once you’ve consumed everything from your fridge start eating what’s in the freezer. Save shelf-stable foods for last.
It is also helpful to have tools and strategies in place to cook food during a power outage. Camping and grilling gear will come in very handy here. Make sure you have all the supplies you need and your equipment is in good condition. Don’t forget about pots, pans and other cooking utensils you may need. As a last resort the things you picked up in your Boy Scout and/or Girl Scout days about cooking over a fire may come in handy as well.