Food and Water
Food After an Emergency:
Consider the following things when putting together your emergency food supplies: Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- Remember any special dietary needs.
- Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.
- Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
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.
Keep food in covered containers.
Keep cooking and eating utensils clean.
Keep garbage in closed containers and dispose outside, burying garbage if necessary.
Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.
Discard any food that has come into contact with contaminated floodwater. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more. Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
Use ready-to-feed formula, if possible, for formula-fed infants. If using ready-to-feed formula is not possible, it is best to use bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. If bottled water is not available, use boiled water. Use treated water to prepare formula only if you do not have bottled or boiled water. Breastfed infants should continue breastfeeding.
Eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded, even though the product may look safe to eat.
Eat any food that looks or smells abnormal, even if the can looks normal. Let garbage accumulate inside, both for fire and sanitation reasons.
Note: Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still refrigerator cold. It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals. When in doubt throw it out.
- Have a refrigerator thermometer.
- Know where you can get dry ice.
- Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling.
When the Power Goes Out:
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. Refrigerators should be kept at 40° F or below for proper food storage.
Once the Power is Restored:
Check the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer.
If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40° F for two hours or more.
Using Dry Ice:
Under normal circumstances you should not keep dry ice in your freezer. If your freezer is functioning properly it will cause the unit to become too cold and your freezer may shut off. However, if you lose power for an extended period of time, dry ice is the best ways to keep things cold.
Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days.
If you use dry ice to keep your food cold, make sure it does not come in direct contact with the food.
Use care when handling dry ice, wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.
Keep food safe:
Use and store food carefully to prevent foodborne illness when power outages make refrigeration unavailable.
Use foods first that can spoil most rapidly.
Keep doors to refrigerators and freezers closed. Your refrigerator’s freezer will keep food frozen for up to a day. A separate fully-loaded freezer will keep food frozen for two days.
Use an ice chest packed with ice or snow to keep food cold. Buy dry ice to save frozen food. Do not handle dry ice with your bare hands. Use blocks or bags of ice to save refrigerator foods.
Use caution if storing food outside during winter to keep it cold. The outside temperature varies, especially in the sun. Frozen food may thaw and refrigerator food may become warm enough to grow bacteria. Food stored outside must be secured from contamination by animals.
If in doubt, throw it out. Throw out meat, seafood, dairy products and cooked food that does not feel cold.
Never taste suspect food. Even if food looks and smells fine, illness-causing bacteria may be present.
Water After an Emergency:
Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supplies kit. Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut-off or compromised through contamination. Prepare yourself by building a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs during an emergency.
Many people need even more than the average of one gallon per day. The individual amount needed depends on age, physical activity, physical condition and time of year.
Drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. Under no circumstances should a person drink less than one quart (four cups) of water each day. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
You should store at least one gallon of water per person for three days. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.
To determine your water needs, take the following into account:
One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation. Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
A medical emergency might require additional water.
If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.
It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water, in order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you eed to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date. Store in a cool, dark place.
Safe Sources of Water:
- Melted ice cubes.
- Liquids from canned goods such as fruit or vegetables.
- Water drained from the water pipes in your home. To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.
- Water drained from the water heater. To use water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot-water faucet. After you are notified that clean water has been restored, you will need to refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.
Unsafe Sources of Water:
- Radiators Hot water boilers (home heating systems).
- Water from the toilet bowl or flush tank.
- Water beds. Fungicides added to the water or chemicals in the vinyl may make water unsafe to use.
- Swimming pools and spas. Chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking but can be used for personal hygiene, cleaning and related uses.
Storing water safely:
The best source of drinking water during an emergency is water you have stored with your emergency supplies.
Store one gallon of water per person per day–enough for at least three days.
Store-bought, factory-sealed bottled water is best. Check for an expiration date and replace as needed.
If you choose to fill your own water containers:
Collect the water from a safe supply.
Store water in thoroughly washed plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
Seal water containers tightly, label with date, and store in a cool, dark place. Replace water every six months.
Never reuse a container that held toxic substances such as pesticides, chemicals or oil.
Purifying by boiling:
If your tap water is unsafe, boiling is the best method to kill disease-causing organisms. Caution: Many chemical pollutants will not be removed by boiling.
Cloudy water should be filtered before boiling. Filter cloudy water using coffee filters, paper towels, cheesecloth or a cotton plug in a funnel.
Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one full minute.
Let the water cool before drinking.
Add two drops of household bleach per gallon to maintain water quality while in storage. Purifying by adding liquid chlorine bleach
Treat water by adding liquid household bleach, such as Clorox or Purex.
Household bleach is typically between 5.25 percent and 8.25 percent chlorine. Read the label. Avoid using bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. Be sure to read the label. Cloudy water should be filtered before adding bleach.
Place the water in a clean container. Add the amount of bleach according to the table below. Mix thoroughly and let stand for at least 60 minutes before drinking.
Caution: Bleach will not kill some disease-causing organisms commonly found in surface water. Bleach will not remove chemical pollutants.