Every so often when a major storm is reminding Gulf Coast residents why they should consider relocating, you will find F.E.M.A. reminding people how to stock up. Here’s what F.E.M.A. says people should have on hand, in addition to a manual can opener, camp stove and sufficient water supply: (Even for those of us living in comfort on the Oregon Coast, or anywhere else for that matter!)
In the past experts recommended we store at least a three day supply of non-perishable food. Now those same experts are recommending folks have a fourteen day food supply on hand. Select foods that require no refrigeration, little preparation and little or no water. Choose food items that are compact and lightweight. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.
-Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
– Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
– Staples–sugar, salt, pepper
– High energy foods–peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
– Don’t forget food for infants, elderly persons or persons with special dietary needs
– Comfort/stress foods–cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags
Keeping Food Safe During Power Outages
If your power goes out for more than a few hours, here are some recommendations for keeping your food safe as long as possible:
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full, chest freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.
Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without power. Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below when checked with a food thermometer.
If the power has been out several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe to refreeze. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved.
Liberal doses of common sense are your best commodity, but staying informed, having your plan in place and getting your kit together can turn a potential disaster into “just another fire drill.”
As always send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer. Previous columns are on his blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.