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Extension Agent: Keep food, water stored for emergencies

By By Brenda Phipps
May 22, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

Brenda Phipps

This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Hurricane season in Texas officially runs June through November, and our region can be severely impacted by hurricanes and storms during this time. Plan ahead and prepare now to help save precious time when minutes count.

Keep in mind that during an emergency, you may not be able to leave your home, and you may not have electricity or running water. Some tips for preparing food and water supplies follow:

Maintaining hydration is a must. A person can live for weeks without adequate food, but death can occur in days without water or fluids. In summer months, plan for each family member to have two gallons of water per day for at least three days.

For example, if you have a family of four, you would need to store 24 gallons of water for emergencies. Whether you use bottled water or bottle your own water is up to you, but always store it in a cool, dry place and rotate your emergency water supply every six months.

For emergency food supply, you can buy pre-assembled kits or make your own. Keep in mind that you need enough food for each person for at least three days. Choose foods that can be stored for several months at a time and can be eaten cold if there is no way to heat them up.

Rotate food supplies every three to six months and check expiration dates. Suggested foods to include are: protein bars, cereal, crackers, dried or canned fruits, peanut butter, canned soups and meats, canned milk and foods for medical conditions.

Pack food supplies in an air-tight container to keep moisture and insects out and store the container in a cool, dry place off of the floor. During an emergency, use your food supplies wisely. Don't take a health risk by eating possibly contaminated food - if you aren't sure that food is safe to eat, don't eat it.

Besides basic survival supplies, like a first-aid kit, flashlights and extra clothing, don't forget to pack supplies and utensils you will need in order to eat. Remember to include a pan and heat source to heat canned foods, a manual can opener, paper towels, paper plates, plastic utensils, scissors, plastic storage bags and hand sanitizer.

If you lose power for an extended period of time, use foods in the refrigerator first to help stretch your emergency food supplies. If your freezer is full and the food is frozen solid, that food will stay frozen for up to two days (as long as you keep the freezer shut).

The most important thing to remember is to prepare your emergency kit and gather your emergency food supplies before an emergency or disaster hits.

Brenda Phipps is a Victoria County extension assistant.

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