Goodbye, Irene. That seems to be the common phrase up and down the East Coast this week.
The earthquake that rattled the Washington, D.C., area was quickly washed away by the wind and rain of Irene. I’ve included this in my column before, but the need for being emergency prepared is ever present. The season is upon us now for sudden and severe storms, floods and tornados. Now is the time to give some thought as to how to best prepare food for your family in weather emergencies.
Collect at least a three-day supply of food for each family member. Consider each person’s needs and preferences, storage space and emergency cooking methods. Don’t forget baby food and formula for infants as well as food for your pets. Water is an important food item to have on reserve. A person can live several days without food, but only a few days without water. Stock up on bottled water, allowing at least two quarts per day for each family member.
The easiest way to plan a food reserve is to increase the amount of food you normally keep on the shelf or pantry. Rotate your supply every time the time changes, as you also change the batteries in your smoke detectors. It’s best to buy pre-packaged foods such as canned goods, juices, and no-freeze dinners in a vacuum-packed container. Canned foods don’t require cooking, water or special preparation. A variety of canned foods means your family can have reasonably well-balanced meals.
One important note: If there is no electricity; the electric can opener won’t work! Be sure to have a manual can opener in your box of supplies.
Store your food supplies in a cool area away from heat and light. If there are leftovers after opening a canned good, put the remaining contents in a screw-top jar or air-tight container to protect them from pests. Periodically inspect all food containers for spoilage and discard all dented containers or those with broken seals. Remember you can’t rely on appearance or odor to determine whether a food is safe to eat!
If the electricity goes off, use perishable foods in the refrigerator first, then foods in the freezer. Remember, each time you open the refrigerator or freezer door, it reduces the time food remains at a safe, nonperishable temperature. A refrigerator freezer will safely maintain foods for about two days. Frozen food with ice crystals in the center are safe to eat if properly cooked.
For more information on developing an emergency supply kit for your family, contact the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service at 744-4682 or visit the website at http://ces.ca.uky.edu/clark/
Jennifer Howard is the Clark County Extension Service agent for family and consumer sciences.