Health & Lifestyles
Emergency pantry staples: What you need to weather a storm
Those of us living in a hurricane-prone state can relate to the trauma a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy brings. It's a reminder that our hurricane season isn't over until the end of this month, and it never hurts to be prepared for any kind of disaster, especially when you may not have access to food or water for days. By taking time now to store emergency food and water supplies, you'll be able to sustain your entire family throughout any crisis. During a severe storm without power, having enough water is your first priority. A healthy, active person needs to drink two quarts of water per day, and very hot climates can double that requirement. So, storing one gallon of water per person per day is sensible. You can purchase gallon-size jugs of bottled water, or seal tap water in clean plastic containers, storing them in a cool, dry place. Powdered milk, juice boxes and sports drinks also can be handy during an emergency. When it comes to having shelf-stable food on hand, take into consideration what your family enjoys. In times of turmoil, little things, including familiar foods, can lift morale. Nut butters, dried and canned fruit, canned vegetables and beans, turkey or beef jerky, canned salmon, tuna and chili each provide energy and nutrition and are shelf stable for a long time.If you ever have to evacuate in a hurry, keeping your emergency pantry staples in a sturdy, plastic bin is a good idea. Just keep the bin in a cool, dry place and check it every six months, discarding what may have expired and replacing the items as necessary. Of course, the type of emergency kit you assemble will depend on your personal needs. In my personal "evacuation kit," I keep plastic spoons and forks and a bottle of multivitamins. If you have a cat, for example, be sure to pack a few cans of cat food and a lightweight bowl for your four-legged companion. By keeping your refrigerator door closed as much as possible during a blackout, perishables can last up to two hours. After that time, the food in your refrigerator will start deteriorating. Anything that's been in your refrigerator for more than two hours should be discarded. If your freezer is half full, food will remain safe for 24 hours; a completely full freezer will keep food safe for 48 hours. In addition to food and water, it's good to keep your kit packed with other essentials. This could include medicine you take on a regular basis, a small first-aid kit, a blanket, matches, candles, a portable radio, contact lenses or glasses, flashlights and batteries, a small knife, cutting board and hand sanitizer, a manual can opener, zip-top baggies, personal identification and some cash. Just a little bit of planning can provide a significant amount of relief, when you're suddenly found without the comforts of home.
Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., L.D., is a nutritionist in private practice. Her book, "The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet," is an Amazon bestseller. You can follow Tina on Twitter @Tina_Ruggiero. She blogs at www.voiceofreason.net.