Preparing for an Emergency
Having an emergency food supply on hand is essential to being prepared for any kind of emergency. Having the right supplies and food available can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. Having the right supplies and food can also help a family of four prepare for any potential situation.
Let's discuss how to prepare and what items to include in an emergency food supply:
Identify potential emergency scenarios
No one ever wants to be in a situation where they must rely on emergency food supplies, but it is important to be prepared in case of natural disasters or other unforeseen events. An emergency food supply plan should begin with identifying the potential emergency scenarios that could occur in your area, such as tornadoes, floods, earthquakes or electromagnetic pulses. Determine which types of emergencies are most likely to occur in your region and prepare accordingly; having supplies specific to those scenarios will ensure that you’ll have the necessary items when needed. It is also wise to consider general preparedness kits that may apply to any type of emergency situation.
When considering an emergency food supply for a family of four, it is important to remember that each family member will require different nutrition sources and amounts depending on their individual needs. Consider stocking up on high-calorie shelf stable foods such as peanut butter and other nut butters, instant oatmeal, hard candies, cans of tuna and beef jerky. Aim for at least three days worth of meals and snacks for each person; this should include enough food from all five essential food groups:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Milk alternatives
- Protein-rich items (such as beans)
- Nuts/seeds/dried fruit
In addition to concentrating on quantities per person, make sure the items can be stored safely without spoiling over long periods of time (e.g., potatoes will last many months if properly stored). Making a comprehensive list ahead of time can prevent missing critical items when shopping or unintentionally collecting too much of one item while shopping in bulk (e.g., two extra buckets of oats). Having an up-to-date food supply list will make the stress associated with an unexpected event easier during an already trying situation.
Create a family emergency plan
As important as having a food supply is for a family emergency, having an emergency plan is even more important. A good family emergency plan should include evacuation routes, communication protocols in case of separation, and financial resources that can help in the event of a disaster.
In addition to creating an emergency plan for your specific family needs, consider doing some research on the hazards that are most likely to occur in your area. Knowing what disasters are most likely to happen and how best to respond if they do is essential to any emergency preparedness program.
Once you have identified potential hazards and created a custom-tailored emergency plan for your family, consider printing out the plan (or saving it electronically) and placing it in an accessible location should you ever need to refer to it in an emergency situation. Then make sure each member of your family knows where it's located and how to properly use the plan without panicking. In addition, practice executing the list of steps with regular drills at least once per year so everyone knows how to respond if disaster strikes.
Finally, review insurance policies and options which could provide financial assistance after a disaster or add additional layers of protection from possible future damage – such as life insurance or investments in safety measures like storm shutters or fireplace dampers – to mitigate risks for both homeowners and renters alike. With all these elements in place, you can rest assured knowing that you’re prepared for whatever life may throw at you during an emergency situation.
Stockpile essential supplies
It is important to plan ahead and stockpile essential supplies in preparation for an emergency. Make sure your family has enough non-perishable food to last at least three days for a family of four. This should include items such as canned or dry goods like beans, lentils and rice as well as ready-to-eat items such as nuts, seeds, nut butters and snacks. Additionally, you may want to consider healthy packaged foods such as granola bars, jerky and energy bars for longer-term storage.
Additionally, you should ensure that you have adequate water stored, at least one gallon per day per person for up to three days. If possible store more by filling your bathtub and extra containers with water before the emergency strikes.
Finally it is critical that each member of the family has access to any medications they need in their emergency kit such as antibiotics or inhalers. Ensure they are well stocked with extras where possible so they do not run out of vital medications during an emergency situation.
Types of Emergency Food Supplies
Creating an emergency food supply for your family of four is an essential part of being prepared for any disaster. Knowing the types of food to include in your emergency food supply will help you to make sure that your family has all the nutrition they will need in the event of an emergency.
Let's take a look at the different types of food supplies that should be included in your emergency food supply:
When selecting perishable foods, the main thing to remember is that certain foods will spoil more quickly than others. However, stock up on non-perishables that can last for several months. Non-perishables include canned and boxed food, condiments and spices, energy drinks, and snack items. Also consider stocking up on freeze-dried meals as most of those only require water, which can be boiled or purified with a filter if necessary in the event of an emergency.
- Canned fruit and vegetables like corn, canned beans, peas and carrots
- Jars of peanut butter or jam
- Cereal boxes or oatmeal packets
- Shelf stable milk alternative beverages like almond milk
- Canned meats such as tuna or chicken
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds and cashews
- Crackers such as goldfish or graham crackers
- Dried fruit such as apricots or raisins pumpkin seeds
- Granola bars or other types of energy bars like protein bars
- Honey and sugar for baking
Canned food is a great addition to any emergency food supply. Canned foods are usually shelf-stable and non-perishable, making them a great option for long-term storage. Before building your food supply, take time to consider the specific needs of your family. Are there members with special dietary restrictions? Create a list of basic items you will need to store, as well as any additional items that may be necessary. Generally speaking, a good emergency food supply should include:
- Canned Foods: Canned meat such fruits and vegetables are an excellent choice for long-term storage. Choose high quality canned options to ensure they last until it’s time to use them. Examples include canned tuna, salmon, chicken, beef, peaches, green beans and peppers.
- Dried Foods: Dried foods last significantly longer than fresh products due to lower water content. Dried beans and lentils can be combined with canned tomatoes for a quick and easy meal with protein and vegetables all in one dish. Whole wheat pasta, couscous or quinoa are also easy options when combined with some frozen vegetables for fiber-rich dishes that can be easily reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Freeze Dried Foods: Freeze dried foods offer a longer shelf-life than fresh produce but retain more nutrition than many traditional canned items. This type of product is well suited for outdoor activities such as camping trips or extended stays away from home due their light weight design which makes transportation much easier compared to cans or traditional jars of food.
- Condiments: It’s always best to stock up on condiments before an emergency occurs but choosing some shelf stable condiments such as honey or jams can add variety and flavor when used in moderation in dishes like oatmeal or yogurt bowls breakfast bowls or stir fry dinners.
- Baking Ingredients: Baking ingredients like baking powder, yeast, white flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, graham crackers, mashed potato flakes can help turn simple meals into tasty indulgences that don’t require fresh ingredients. Not only is this fun but it also makes meals more enjoyable when there isn’t access to fresh produce.
Freeze-dried foods are an important part of any family’s emergency food supply. Ideal for long-term storage, these foods retain their flavor, nutrition and color for up to 25 years, making them a cost-effective and nutrient-rich option when it comes to stockpiling food. Essentially, freeze-dried items are vegetables, fruits and meats that have had almost all of the moisture removed from them through a process called sublimation. All the nutrients remain intact so that you can be sure your family has access to healthy foods during an emergency situation.
When selecting freeze-dried foods for your emergency food supplies, consider the variety of products available. A well rounded stock should include a selection of:
- Fruits (like strawberries, bananas and apples)
- Vegetables (such as beets, green beans and carrots)
- Proteins like beef and chicken.
When rehydrating these items before use it is important to note that freeze dried vegetables tend to need less cooking time than fresh produce while fruits and meats require more hydration time in order to reach “done” status – so plan accordingly! As with all food items you purchase for long term storage ensure that they are all stored correctly so that the nutritional value stays intact – usually this means packaging them in airtight containers such as Mylar bags or buckets with gamma lids. If properly stored, freeze dried foods could save your family during times of emergency!
MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are self-contained, individual field rations used by the military and other emergency personnel. They are designed to provide a nutritious and complete meal in tough conditions with an extended shelf life and minimal preparation. MREs are typically composed of an entrée, a side dish, crackers or bread, dessert, and a beverage mix such as coffee or lemonade. Common entrees includes chili with beans, spaghetti with meat sauce, teriyaki chicken and beef stew. It is important that each meal meets minimum nutritional requirements to ensure healthy sustenance.
MREs meet all of the regulatory requirements for providing ample calories and protein in a package small enough for convenient storage. It is important to note that MREs should not be eaten as a primary source of nutrition on an ongoing basis; they are intended only for temporary meals during emergency situations where no other food sources are available.
In addition to their compact size and long shelf life of up to five years, MREs do come with some drawbacks. Specifically, many people find that the flavor can be quite bland compared to fresh ingredients; in addition, they often contain high amounts sodium which could be problematic for people on sodium-restricted diets.
Calculating Food Needs
When preparing an emergency food supply for a family of 4, it is important to calculate your food needs properly. First you need to consider the number of meals you need to provide per day and the types of food you need to stock up on. Additionally, you want to make sure you get enough of the right types of food to cover all your nutritional needs.
Let's take a look at how you can figure out your food needs:
Estimate the number of calories needed
Understandably, accurately calculating the amount of food needed for a family of four during an emergency can be difficult. One way to estimate the number of calories needed is to look at the average calories per day per person. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, an adult female typically needs 2,000 – 2200 calories daily and an adult male needs 2,400 – 2600 calories daily. Depending on gender, size and activity level a child may need approximately 1,200-1,600 calories a day for optimal health.
When creating an emergency food supply plan it’s also important to consider any dietary requirements and preferences you or members of your family may have. When purchasing food to store for emergencies you should consider buying food that can sustain each member with foods they are accustomed to eating such as:
- Flour products
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Protein in form of dried beans or canned meats (tuna/salmon)
- Dairy items like canned and dried milk powder
- Condiments such as salt, sugar and oil
Calculate how much you need by determining the total number of days you'd like your emergency food supply to last: Divide each person's daily calorie needs by 3 meals (breakfast + lunch + dinner) then add up those totals for all family members:
Total # Family Members x Average Daily Calories x Number Of Days Equals