Be Prepared for a Man-Made or Natural Emergency



A supply of food for three months is recommended for your family and pets. Most food items won't stay fresh, let alone edible, for that long. So, stock up on the items that can last a long time.


Most canned foods will store safely for several years, and more things come in cans than you may realize. This is a good way to have potatoes and other vegetables last nearly forever. Fruits are always in season when they come from a can. You can even find roast beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, corned beef, and more main-dish items in cans. Several types of chunky soups or canned stew make a hearty meal when served over rice or potatoes, or with bread or crackers.


You may have your own vegetable garden and so are not planning to store vegetables at all. One thing to remember is that water could become dearer to you than gold if a disaster strikes - would you want to use any of it to water a garden for food later when you need to have it to drink now? Some of your own "waste" water could be used for your garden if it isn't too soapy to kill the plants. This would be water that was used to boil eggs, potatoes or pasta, or liquid left over after cooking vegetables. If you have advance notice that an impending disaster will be a long one, you might want to plant some lettuce. If you are near a woodsy area, get yourself a good guidebook for picking wild salad greens. Don't pick from a flower garden where you have ever used fertilizer or bug killer, or where animals hang out.


Dry goods can be stored for a long time if they can be sealed air tight. If air can get in, so can bugs. Large buckets with good lids are great for keeping dry goods fresh and clean once their packages have been opened. Add a scoop for quick use. A measuring cup is a great scoop and a great way to keep the measuring cup clean and handy at all times. It is a good idea to have plastic containers with tight lids for storage of opened cereal, crackers, rice, etc. To help seal in more freshness and keep out bugs, put plastic wrap over the top of the container before you add the lid.


Dried jerky comes in beef, turkey and other varieties, and these will keep for a very long time. You can dry your own meat, fish, fruits and eggs in advance if you prefer. Drying can be done in the sun, in your oven, or with a store-bought dryer. And, you can purchase many food items already dried for you.


What about dairy products? Eggs can be found in powdered form. And, you could always keep one or two laying hens in the backyard. No, that isn't a joke. Eggs that are left in the refrigerator in their original carton can last up to two weeks longer than the sell-by date. The old-fashioned way of keeping eggs for a very long time is to put them in a barrel of salt and be sure that each egg is totally covered. Any method of keeping air out of the shell will work, including covering the egg shells with grease. The eggs should still be kept in a cool place. Milk is available in powdered form, and you can get condensed milk in cans for cooking. Remember to add to your water supply if you stock up on a large amount of foods that need water added to them. Many cheeses will keep for a very long time if they can be stored in a cool place. Cheese lasts even longer if you wrap it in waxed paper after the package is opened. This keeps away mold. The cheese may never get moldy if you don't touch the cheese with your hands. If a block of cheese does get moldy, you can cut that part off and still eat the rest. If some shredded cheese in a bag gets moldy, you must toss it all. You could even get a goat for an endless supply of milk and keep your lawn "mowed" at the same time if your zoning laws allow it. She needs water, powdered milk needs water - it's your choice.


Freeze-dried foods made for backpacking (lightweight and small), camping, our military, etc., are perfect for emergency food stock. You can cook them in the pouch or can so no pans are needed and there is no clean-up. You can get entrees, desserts, soups, and even bacon and eggs or omelettes. Freeze-dried foods are easy to prepare -- just add hot water ... wait 10 minutes ... and eat. If a heat source is not available, room temperature or cold water can be used. Because no cooking is needed, these foods require much less water and fuel than most fresh, frozen or dehydrated foods (further conserving these two precious commodities).

Many manufacturers offer prepared meals in a packet. Add a little water to turn the contents into breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. These packets are lightweight, don't take up much room, and can be stored for a long time.


It takes a lot of water to boil spaghetti, but you can buy it already cooked and ready to serve in cans or jars. Even though it is not as good as your homemade spaghetti, it will be edible two months down the road, sacrifices no precious water, and will taste better in an emergency situation than you can imagine now. If you know how to can and bottle your own food, make plenty of your favorite dishes now and put them aside.


Do not use trash bags or trash can liners for storage of any kind of food, medicines, vitamins, toothpaste, etc. (anything that you put in your mouth), because they are usually treated with bug killer before you buy them.


If you are able to get to a stream, river, lake or ocean, you should have fishing gear on hand. Take care that your fishing area was not contaminated during or after the disaster. A sporting goods store can help you pick out the size and type of gear appropriate for your location (ocean versus lake fishing, for example). Those in the country may be able to hunt some of their own food (deer, rabbit, quail, etc.). If hunting is new to you, be sure to get a good book on how to hunt safely and what to do with an animal that you have killed for food. Taking a training course in advance would be a great idea for you to learn, and for the safety of yourself and everyone around you.


During a long emergency, nutrition will be more important than ever. That should be one deciding factor when you are stocking up on food and supplements now.

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