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PRESS CONTACT INFO

ROBIN ERICKSON
Director of Communications

PHONE
(401) 831-7700 x101
E-MAIL
[email protected]

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
AMERICAN RED CROSS TIPS ON FOOD IN AN EMERGENCY

In a disaster, you might be cut off from food, water and electricity for days. By preparing emergency provisions, you can turn what could a life-threatening situation into a manageable problem. Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, you should prepare a supply that will last that long. The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to increase the amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves and store them.  Here are some tips from the American Red Cross of Rhode Island on planning what to do for your food supply before an emergency:

Storage Tips

  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot -- a dark area if possible.
  • Keep food covered at all times.
  • Open food boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them tightly after each use.
  • Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in tight containers.
  • Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or air-tight cans to protect them from pests.
  • Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use.
  • Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.

It is important to keep in mind the shelf-life of foods for storage and rotate when necessary. Foods like wheat, vegetable oils, soybeans, instant coffee, tea and cocoa, salt, white rice, dry pasta, and powdered milk in nitrogen-packed cans may be stored indefinitely in proper containers and conditions. Canned vegetable soups, peanut butter, jelly, ready-to-eat cereals, canned fruits, fruit juices, and vitamin C need to be used within one year. And foods like boxed powdered milk, dried fruit (in a metal container), crackers, and potatoes must be used within 6 months before replacing.

When Food Supplies Are Low...

 If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period and without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women. If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don't stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.

 You don't need to go out and buy unfamiliar foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned foods, dry mixes and other staples on your cupboard shelves. In fact, familiar foods are important. They can lift morale and give a feeling of security in times of stress.

Also, canned foods won't require cooking, water or special preparation. As you stock food, take into account your family's unique needs and tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are best.

Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers and elderly people. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people. Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. And don't forget nonperishable foods for your pets.

For more information regarding how individuals and families can prepare for disasters, visit www.riredcross.org.

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