How to prepare an emergency food supply for your family

You may not know when a disaster will strike, but keeping an emergency food supply will help you and your family better handle the situation.

Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere and sometimes without warning. Having an emergency food supply prepares you to avoid going hungry when transportation, weather, health, power outage or other problems prevent you from getting your usual grocery supplies.

The American Red Cross recommends keeping a 3-Day emergency food supply. Emergency foods are to be kept separate from regular groceries, so they aren’t consumed and are thus available when needed. An emergency food supply should be kept in a convenient location and in a clean, cool environment, away from extreme heat or cold. Extremely hot (over 100 ° F) and freezing temperatures are harmful to canned goods. Select non-perishable foods which require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking. Date the foods as you buy them. Never use foods from leaking, rusty, bulging or badly dented cans. Throw out jars that are cracked or with loose or bulging lids. Once seals have been broken oxygen can enter and cause contamination. NEVER TASTE such foods

Consider storing foods that can be eaten cold, such as small cans of fruit, juice boxes, cans of tuna or other canned meats, pudding cups, peanut butter, crackers and non-fat dry milk. Make sure you have a manual can opener, eating utensils and disposable dishes.

Follow the “Use-By” dates and replace with new groceries. Low-acid canned goods will last two to five years if unopened. Examples of low-acid canned goods include meats, poultry, stew, soups, beans, carrots and corn. High-acid canned goods will last 12-18 months, unopened. Common high-acid canned goods include fruits, juices, pickles and tomato soup.

Store at least one gallon of water per person per day. This is the minimum amount a person will need for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth. Keep at least a three day supply of clean water on hand per person. To ensure quality, replace stored water twice a year.

Preparing your household for an emergency through knowledge, preparation and practice can give your family self-confidence and a better chance for recovery during an urgent situation.

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