How To Feed Yourself After a Disaster

Just before the polar vortex struck Georgia, one of the most common sights on the news was footage of grocery store shoppers stocking up on food. Preparing food in expectation of severe weather is important, but in this case, many of the items in people’s carts didn’t seem ideal given the weather situation. Based on customer shopping trends, bread, milk and eggs appeared to be the “snack of choice” this week – and while those foods are fine to have, they’re not going to get you very far in an emergency. If your home loses power for a week, you’re probably not going to be reaching for the milk carton.

Instead of focusing on the ingredients for French toast, prioritize non-perishable items and water for your emergency supplies. You should be prepared to keep the members of your household supplied for at least 72 hours after an emergency. If you were stranded after an ice storm without power for that long, would you have enough food and water to survive?

Here’s a handy list of items to consider that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk
  • Vitamins
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods, like chips or chocolate

There are a variety of recipe ideas online for meals made of non-perishable foods that do not require electricity, including these from the American Public Health Association. Of course, you will want to factor in any special dietary needs for family members and pack food for your pets as well.

If you want to cook without power, remember that charcoal grills and camp stoves are for outdoor use only. The same goes for portable generators. If you plan on using a gasoline-powered generator to power kitchen appliances or other items, it’s absolutely critical to keep it outside, away from doors, windows and vents. Never use generators inside homes, garages, crawl spaces, or other partially enclosed areas, as this could lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home, which could be fatal. Click here for more information about generator safety.