Is your family prepared for an emergency?

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 will mean you will not go hungry when transportation, weather, health, power outage or other problems prevent you from getting your usual grocery supplies. Preparing your household through self-confidence based on knowledge, preparation and practice can give your family a better chance for recovery during an emergency.

The American Red Cross recommends keeping a 3-day emergency food supply. Emergency foods are to be kept separate from regular groceries, so they are available when needed. An emergency food supply should be kept in a convenient location: in a clean, cool environment, away from extreme heat or cold. Extremely hot (over 100 degrees) and freezing temperatures are harmful to canned goods.

Select non-perishable foods, those that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking. Date the foods as you buy them. Check your emergency foods on a regular basis to keep expiration and use by dates current. Never use foods from leaking, rusty, bulging or badly dented cans. Inspect home preserved foods for 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 in your designated emergency food area 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.

Michigan State University Extension recommends following the “use-by” dates for best quality and replace with new groceries. Low-acid canned goods (meats, poultry, stew, soups, beans, carrots, corn, etc.) will last 2 to 5 years, unopened. High-acid canned goods (fruits, juices, pickles, tomato soup, etc.) will last 12-18 months, unopened.

Store at least 1 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.

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.

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