For East Coasters that are bracing for what looks to be monster Hurricane Sandy, we thought this would be a swell time to remind you of what your pals on the left coast already know: Create a well-stocked emergency pantry for yourself.
What does that mean exactly? We looked to the American Red Cross for their best tips on how to make sure your family has enough to eat should a catastrophic event hit close to home. Their mantra: “Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be Informed.” keeps it simple. The Red Cross’ advice for kitchen preparedness comes in two categories: a three-day supply for evacuation needs, and a two-week supply for your home.
“While stocking your emergency kit and pantry, it’s important to think about what you need from shelf-to-mouth to consume each item. Make sure you have the appropriate utensils and kitchen equipment to open cans, and think about whether or not items can be consumed raw or will need to be heated,” says Red Cross spokesperson Attie Poirier.
What else to consider?
• Fresh water is number one on the list. Keep a minimum of one gallon of water per person, per day, and an extra stash for pets. “If stored water was bottled at home, we recommend replacing it every 6 months, and if it was commercially bottled, it should be replaced each year,” says Poirier.
• Sure, dried oatmeal keeps well in your pantry, but trying to make breakfast without hot water or electricity may be hard to do. Plus, you may be in a situation where you need to avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you’re sure it’s not contaminated. In that case, we think granola bars look better all the time, and bonus: You don’t need a bowl or spoon.
• Canned fruits and veggies keep for long periods of time, and many come with pop tops, in case your can opener is buried under rubble. Same goes for proteins like canned fish or meats.
• Nuts, dried fruits and meats can also be good sources of nutrition, but keep an eye on expiration dates as these items don’t keep forever.
• When stocking your emergency pantry, consider buying single-serve items. No, they’re not environmentally friendly thanks to all that packaging, but they are a better choice if you end up in an extended power outage and refrigeration is not an option.
• Also, in the case of a hurricane or other event where you may have time to prepare, turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep the doors closed for as long as possible.