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by Christopher Steffen
Assembling your own emergency food and water storage is a simple precaution to take when preparing for unexpected events. FEMA suggests that you consider trying to store 14 days' worth of supplies, but most professionals think a three-day supply can suffice for an immediate response kit. With a little bit of foresight and periodic maintenance, you can easily build and maintain a basic disaster supplies kit. Here is some information about which foods to choose and how best to store them.
Choose high-calorie foods that provide nutrition and do not require refrigeration. Dry foods like pasta, white rice, and beans have a long shelf life and supply many calories. For variety, dried fruits and nuts or protein bars make a great choice. Trail mix with chocolate candies may not be the most nutritious choice, but the little treat will help lift everyone's spirits a bit during a stressful emergency situation, and this is helpful especially if there are children in the house.
Store at least a gallon of water per person for each day. It can be advantageous to keep a water filter for convenient water cleaning. Two less convenient methods for cleaning the micro-organisms out of found water include boiling the water or adding 16 drops of regular household bleach per gallon to found water (avoid scented or color-safe bleaches). Commercially bottled water (kept sealed) is the best option. If you decide or need to reuse storage containers, choose 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles. Avoid reusing containers that stored milk or juice because residual bacteria can ferment in these containers.
Store your food and water in a cool, dry place that is dark. A basement is often a good place, as it is cooler and darker than most of the house, but make sure the spot is easy to access if there is damage to the house or if there is flooding in the basement. If you don't have a basement, use a closet that is in a central spot of the house, where support beams would support the roof best during an earthquake or serious storm. You will want to make sure all food items are sealed in airtight containers. Keep any loose packages of sugar, dried fruit, or nuts in airtight, sealable jars to protect the food from pests or from water damage.
Periodically check your storage for any items that are past expiration dates or cans that have become swollen. Follow the first-in, first-out method when choosing items to consume. This will help preserve those foodstuffs that last the longest. Most commercially packaged emergency food kits are labeled with the date they were packaged or the expiration date, but any other food will need to be marked with a permanent marker.
In addition to your 72-hour kit, make sure you have the right home insurance to help you deal with damage from natural disasters.