Disaster Food Supply
How would you feed your family if a disaster happened in your area today? Now may be the time to start planning your disaster food supply. A small supply of food can be critical to surviving a local disaster in relative comfort compared to those who didn’t plan for such a circumstance. Many people plan for a disaster food supply that takes into account the most often cited need for a 72 hour food supply on hand. The 72 hour figure takes into account the average time it takes to mobilize a response to a disaster. However, it may take much longer to restore basic services. Unless you want to stand in line for food and water, a better solution may be to plan on a 2 week to one month food supply for you and your family.
Planning your disaster food supply
Don’t panic right off the bat, but you’re going to have to do some simple math here in the initial planning stages. The estimated caloric intake for males per day is 2500. For females it’s 2000. For children it’s about half that, but a lot depends on the age and activity level of the child. To be safe add another 1000-1500 calories due to the fact that after a disaster you will most likely be expending additional calories. Additional supply is always a good thing because the last thing you need is to feel constantly hungry in addition to the stress of dealing with a disaster situation.
Now that you have an estimate of how many calories of food you’ll need, you also need to plan for a clean water supply. Remember if the power is out the pumps that get clean water to your house will not be functioning. The water supply may become contaminated as well in flood conditions. Plan on at least one gallon per day per person. Also consider if you will be using food products that need water for preparation, such as coffee, freeze dried foods, pasta, beans, rice, etc. This adds additional water needed in storage for cooking.
Stocking your disaster food supply
Now that you have an estimate of how many calories you’ll need per day to feed you or your family, it’s time to plan your food and water supply. You don’t have to stock everything at once. Just buy a few extra items and add them to your regular shopping lists. In no time you’ll have a fully stocked disaster food supply. Remember that you’ll want to stock items that have a long shelf like. Some suggested foods that are good for storage include:
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Dried rice or beans
- High protein and energy bars
- Canned meats such as SPAM or tuna
- Peanut Butter
- Spices for cooking
- Instant milk
- Cooking oil
- Nuts and granola mixes are great sources of protein
Freeze dried prepackaged food can be used and takes up less storage space. They are usually more expensive but can have up to a 25 year shelf life.
This list should get you started on your disaster food supply. Remember to add extra water into the supply for things like coffee, instant milk and cooking.
Managing your disaster food supply
Once you have your disaster food supply stocked, you don’t want to just walk away and forget it until it’s needed. You should get in the habit of checking expiration dates monthly, or at least at regular intervals. When you have items expiring just use them in your daily meals and replace them with new items. That way you don’t end up having a bunch of spoiled food if you ever need to tap into your disaster food supply. Be sure and rotate out the old water too.
How much food do I need to store?
Both the Red Cross and FEMA suggest a 2 week supply. If you double that estimate you should be able to eat well no matter what disaster you face. A 30 day supply will keep you and your family well fed and functioning at a healthy level as you go through the stress of getting your life back together. Consider portion sizes as you plan your supply.
Where should I store my supplies?
Where you store your supplies really depends on the space you have available. A basement is great because it doesn’t have the wild temperature swings a garage may have. Just be sure the basement won’t flood and ruin all your food. Planning where to store your supply can take as much thought as what you put into it. But don’t ignore this step because you also want easy access for checking expiration dates and rotating old stock out and new stock in.
Planning your disaster food supply is a great step toward helping your family survive in case disaster strikes your area. By being prepared you will have one less thing to worry about in the event you find yourself in a disaster situation.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.