When disaster strikes, it often disrupts essential services such as water and electricity supply. This can leave us without access to food and clean drinking water - essentials for survival. In such situations, being prepared can make all the difference. This article provides valuable guidance on effectively storing food and water as survival supplies for disaster preparedness.
Understanding the Importance of Food and Water Storage
Imagine the challenging situation of being without food or water for several days during a disaster. That's why it's crucial to prepare in advance by correctly storing ample food and water. This preparedness can make all the difference between life and death.
Determining Your Needs
Before you start storing, determine your family's needs. Consider each family member, including pets. A general rule of thumb is to keep at least a three-day food and water supply per person.
Calculating Water Needs
Each person needs about one gallon of water daily for drinking and sanitation. So, for a family of four, you must store at least 12 gallons of water for three days.
Assessing Food Requirements
For food, focus on non-perishable items that don't require refrigeration, cooking, or much water. Aim to balance proteins, fruits, vegetables, and comfort foods.
Methods of Storing Water
The easiest way to store water is by buying commercially bottled water. It's safe and, if unopened, can last for years.
Storing Tap Water
If you're storing tap water, use food-grade water storage containers. Before storing, treat water with water purification tablets or household bleach.
Things to Consider in Water Storage:
- Amount: It is recommended to store at least one gallon of water per person daily. For an average individual, at least half a gallon of water is required for drinking alone. The remaining half-gallon should be allocated for cooking and personal hygiene. Consider storing a two-week supply of water, provided you have enough space.
- Containers: Use food-grade water storage containers, which you can find at surplus or camping supplies stores. If you plan to use your storage containers, make sure they are cleaned and sanitized first. You can also use plastic bottles for soda or juice (thoroughly cleaned) but don't use milk cartons or glass containers.
- Treatment: If you choose to store tap water, it is essential to treat it beforehand to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Household bleach containing 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite suits this purpose. When treating stored water, avoiding using bleach that contains added cleaners or scents is essential. Add two drops of bleach per quart or liter of water to treat the water. Thoroughly stir the mixture and let it sit for approximately 30 minutes before using. The water should have a mild bleach odor.
- Store Safely: Store the water in a cool, dark place away from chemicals. Check it every six months. If it doesn't have a slight bleach smell, treat it again.
Food Storage Methods
Canned goods are an excellent choice for emergency preparedness due to their extended shelf life. Additionally, they are pre-cooked and ready to be consumed.
Dry foods such as rice, beans, or pasta should be stored in containers that provide an airtight seal. Keep these containers in a cool and dry location to maintain their quality and longevity.
Consider buying specialty preparedness foods, like freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. They are light, easy to store, and can last for years.
Maintaining Your Food and Water Supply
Check your food and water supplies regularly. Replace expired goods and update your stock based on changing dietary needs of family members.
Things to consider in Food Storage:
- Choose Long-lasting Foods: For disaster preparedness, select foods that are non-perishable, easy to prepare, and require no refrigeration, water, or special preparation. Good options include canned meats, fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, and stews. Also, consider dry goods like rice, pasta, powdered milk, granola, and oats.
- Consider Special Dietary Needs: If anyone in your household has specific dietary restrictions, allergies, or needs (such as baby formula or pet food), store these items.
- Store Properly: Keep food in a dry, excellent spot off the ground. Most canned foods can last at least two years, but check the expiration dates and replace items as necessary.
- Essential Items: Remember a manual can opener; if you have canned goods, consider utensils and dishware. Also, store some comfort foods if possible – familiarity can help improve morale in stressful situations.
- Rotate Your Supplies: Use and replace your food storage to keep it fresh. This is often called "FIFO" - first in, first out.
Being prepared is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. While it might seem tedious, the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're ready to face any disaster is priceless.
Common Questions About Water Storage
Q: How much water should I store for disaster preparedness?
A: You should aim to store at least one gallon of water per person daily, enough for at least three days.
Q: What kind of food is best for disaster preparedness?
A: Opt for non-perishable, easy-to-cook, or ready-to-eat food items.
Q: How often should I replace stored water?
A: Replace stored tap water every six months and follow the expiry date on commercially bottled water.
Q: What's the best way to store dry foods?
A: Store dry foods in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.
Q: Can I store food and water for my pets too?
A: Remember to store food and water for your pets too.