Since this is an ongoing monthly program, I will begin with a quick description of Do 1 Thing.
The mission of Do 1 Thing is to “move individuals, families, businesses and communities to prepare for all hazards and become disaster resilient.”
You can read more about them at their website: http://do1thing.com/
Each month you are encouraged to focus on one “thing” that is a preparedness topic.
Do 1 Thing offers three suggestions each month.
If you stick with the program all year, by the end of 2015 you will be far better prepared to handle disasters.
VAI holds monthly sessions related to the monthly topics.
This is part of VAI’s focus on preparedness within the community of people with disabilities.
April’s focus for Do 1 Thing is food.
Slide 2- Disasters impact your ability to get food.
We’ve all heard stories about people descending on grocery stores when a bad storm is announced, and stripping the shelves bare of bread, milk, and eggs.
The quip is: “What are they going to do, make French toast?”
Whatever the motivation, if you wait until an emergency is imminent, or worse, after it has already occurred, you may not be able to shop for food.
The goal of April’s Do 1 Thing is that we will all have a 3-day supply of food in our homes at all times to meet our household needs.
This emergency food supply doesn’t have to be locked away in a basement storage area.
It can be part of the food you cook each week.
The key is to be sure you always have a 3-day supply on hand.
Keep rotating your stored goods, so they don’t go bad.
Replace items before they run out.
Just make sure you have enough for everyone in your household so they will have what they need when the next disaster strikes.
Slide 3- (1) Keep food in refrigerator and freezer safe.
This is the first April “thing” recommended by Do 1 Thing.
Disasters may impact your ability to use perishable food you have stored.
If your power goes out, temperatures in your refrigerator and freezer will begin to rise, even if the doors stay closed.
With increasing temperatures, harmful bacteria on food may begin to grow and make it unsafe to eat.
The magic temperature is 41 degrees F. That is 5 degrees C.
If the temperature in the refrigerator stays above 41oF for over 4 hours, perishable food becomes unsafe.
Throw out the following: milk, cheeses, eggs, mayonnaise and mayonnaise-based salads, poultry, fish, lunchmeat, left-overs of all sorts.
These perishable items are most prone to the growth of food poisoning bacteria.
If the temperature in the freezer stays above 41oF for over a day or two, all the food in the freezer probably is unsafe.
If the thawed food still contains ice crystals, it could still be safe. It can be cooked or refrozen.
The food quality may be reduced, but it still should be safe to eat.
You will want to evaluate each item individually.
Always check the color and odor of frozen food that has become thawed, especially meats.
“If in doubt, throw it out.”
And be sure to discard it where animals won’t eat it and become ill.
But don’t trust your sense of smell! Food may be spoiled even if it doesn’t smell bad.
Remember: eating perishable foods that have not been kept properly cold can result in food poisoning, even if they are cooked, or refrozen.
Slide 4- Steps to take
Here’s what to do now to keep food in your refrigerator and freezer safe during a power outage:
• Purchase one digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometer for the refrigerator and one for the freezer.
Check the temperature occasionally before the emergency, to be sure the appliance is at the proper setting.
Following a power outage, the thermometer will let you know if it is still safe to eat the food after the power comes back on.
• Keep the freezer full. Use empty milk jugs filled with water if you need to fill up space.
• If there is advance warning of an emergency that may result in loss of electric power, lower the temperatures in both refrigerator and freezer.
The colder your food is when the power goes out, the longer it will take to spoil.
• Put dry ice in the freezer, if available, when the power is off for more than 4 hours.
Dry ice is not frozen water; it’s solidified carbon dioxide. It gets much colder than water ice.
Identify a nearby source where you can purchase dry ice in advance.
But realize that this is a scarce resource and there may be a lot of competition for it during a disaster.
25 pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer’s temperature below freezing for 3-4 days.
A warning: Dry ice is dangerous if handled improperly.
Always wear dry heavy gloves to avoid damage to your skin.
When you lose electricity, here’s what to do to keep the food in your refrigerator or freezer safe:
• Insulate the appliance.
Cover with newspapers or blankets.
But be sure to keep the appliance plugged in and vents cleared, in case it starts operating again when the power comes back one.
• Avoid opening the doors to the refrigerator or freezer. Keep as much cold inside as possible.
An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold 2-4 hours.
Full freezers will hold their temperatures about 48 hours. A half-full freezer will hold its temperature about 24 hours.
That is a good reason to fill empty spaces in the freezer with milk jugs filled with water.
(In addition, that ice becomes an emergency source of water if needed.)
Of course these time estimates will vary depending on the age of the appliance, the temperature setting, the amount and type of food contained, and the condition of door seals.
Slide 5- (2) Consider special needs.
This is the second April “thing” you could do.
There can be serious health effects if the proper food is not available during an emergency.
Make sure you can meet any special dietary needs in your household.
Some people need special types of foods.
This could be infants who need formula, or babies or toddlers who need baby food or other food that the rest of the family doesn’t eat.
Some people are on special diets for health reasons.
This would include those who are diabetic, on liquid or reduced-calorie diets, allergic to particular ingredients, vegetarian or vegan, or gluten-sensitive.
Some people have different caloric needs, such as the elderly or pregnant women.
Some people have special equipment needs for preparing or ingesting food. This equipment might be a blender, food scale, or feeding tube.
If you have to evacuate, be sure these special food equipment items go along with you. Emergency shelters may not have access to such specialized equipment.
Think about keeping extra equipment at a friend’s or relative’s house in case you can’t take what is in your own home.
Talk to your healthcare provider or a nutritionist about non-perishable menu options that can be used if you can’t get to a grocery store, or that can be prepared at an emergency shelter.
Keep a description of your medical condition and your specialized diet in your Go Bag or emergency kit.
And of course our pets have their own food needs to be considered during emergencies.
Slide 6- How much food do you need to store?
Most power outages are short.
A 3-day supply of dry food and canned goods will get you through most power blackouts.
Remember that April’s goal is to always have a 3-day supply of food for all household members.
Let’s see what that might mean.
Slide 7- Store this much per person:
This list is per person, for 3 days.
First the basics:
• Canned protein source- 3 8-oz cans protein-containing veggies (e.g., beans or corn) OR 3 3.25-oz cans tuna or chicken OR equivalent
• Canned soup/stew/chili- 3 cans
• Canned fruit (e.g., peaches, fruit cocktail)- 3 8-oz cans
• Peanut butter- 1 12-oz jar
• Crackers- 8-oz or larger box
Now some high-energy food sources:
• Dried fruit (e.g., raisins, prunes)- 2 12-oz packages
• Mixed nuts- 1 package or jar
• Trail mix- 8-oz package
And of course liquids are important:
• Canned juice- 1 6-pack of 6-oz containers
• Powdered drinks (e.g., tea, coffee, powdered milk, powdered drink mix)- 1 box of 16 tea bags; 1 2-oz jar instant coffee
Don’t forget water! We talked about this back in February.
Figure about one gallon of water per person per day.
And since much of this stored food is canned goods, be sure to include a hand-operated can opener.
Slide 8- Calculate for your household.
See if you can use the amounts given in the previous slide to calculate what your household should store for a 3-day emergency.
List all family members and others in your household (including caregivers) and note any special dietary needs.
Remember to include your pets as well.
I’ll let you think through what must be stored for a few minutes.
Ready to move on?
Of course, if you have more than one person to stock for, combining necessary quantities in larger containers will save on the unit cost.
For example, buy a big jar of peanut butter instead of several small ones.
However, sometimes packages of smaller quantities can still be useful, like small drink servings.
You don’t waste as much.
Slide 9- (3) Maintain a 3-day supply.
This is the third option for April’s Do 1 Thing.
What you are aiming for is a constant stock of food that can be used during an emergency.
This food can be specially set aside and stored, or it can be food that you use for normal meals and replace on a regular basis.
Just be sure you never have bare shelves.
Follow the BUS rule to help you plan your emergency supply.
B stands for Balance.
You probably already prepare meals that provide a balanced menu.
This may be especially important (and perhaps challenging) for those who need specialized diets.
During times of stress such as emergencies, there is a greater need for high-energy foods (such as nuts or protein bars)
and comfort food (graham crackers, hard candy, sweetened cereals, or chocolate).
Variety is important. It prevents boredom and balances your diet.
U stands for usability.
There is a convenience factor here. You want things that can be stored without cooling, and prepared without heating or adding a lot of additional water.
S stands for shelf life.
We are considering non-perishable foods.
But non-perishable doesn’t mean it will last in perfect condition forever.
Most food packages have an expiration date listed. Look for it!
You will want to rotate out and use, then replace, items in your emergency supplies that are near the end of their shelf life.
Slide 10- Check your pantry.
You probably already have a lot of non-perishable items in your pantry that would become part of your 3-day emergency supply. Most pantry items have long expiration periods.
What are these items? Let’s take a peek.
• Canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, or turkey)
Canned meats generally last at least two years in the pantry, and they provide essential protein.
Vacuum-packed pouches have a shorter shelf life but will last at least six months.
• Canned vegetables (corn, beans, peas, greens, tomatoes, carrots)
When fresh vegetables are not an option, canned vegetables can provide essential nutrients.
Look for veggies packed with low sodium liquids.
• Canned soups, broths and chili
Soups and chili can be eaten straight out of the can, unheated.
They provide a variety of nutrients.
Look for low-sodium options if available.
• Canned fruits
Again, try for variety.
Use fruits packed in fruit juice rather than in high-sugar syrup.
You want to store fruits that have a high liquid content.
Question: Do home-canned veggies, soups, and fruits count?
Answer: Yes, of course.
But remember that if the pantry is flooded, you must discard home-canned items.
The seals are not as impervious as those on commercial cans.
• Peanut butter
Peanut butter is a great source of energy and is also full of healthful fats and protein.
Unless the jar indicates otherwise, you don’t have to refrigerate it after opening.
• Whole-grain crackers or melba toast
Crackers are a good replacement for bread and are a reasonable substitute for making sandwiches.
Because of their higher fat content, whole-wheat or whole-grain crackers have a shorter shelf life than their plain counterparts. (Check the box for expiration dates,)
However, the extra fiber of whole grains pays off when you’re really hungry.
Look for low-sodium or salt-free crackers.
Avoid packages of crackers combined with cheese or meat, as those would need to be refrigerated after opening if not eaten at one sitting.
• Dried fruits (apples, apricots, prunes, raisins)
When fresh fruit is not available, these healthy snacks offer potassium and dietary fiber.
They are also good sources of nutrients and calories.
• Nuts and trail mixes
Stock up on these high-energy foods. They can be healthful and are convenient for snacking.
Look for vacuum-packed containers of nuts, which prevent the nuts from oxidizing and losing their freshness.
• Granola bars and power bars
Another thing to stock up on, these portable snacks usually stay fresh for at least six months.
They can be healthy, and are generally filling.
Also, they’re an excellent source of carbohydrates, which can provide energy when you need it.
• Dry, ready-to-eat cereal and granola
For long term storage, choose individually packaged multigrain cereals so they don’t become stale after opening a big box.
• Bottled water
Don’t forget water. That was February’s Do 1 Thing, remember?
You need at least one gallon per person per day.
• Shelf-stable boxed juices
You can even find shelf-stable non-perishable boxes of pasteurized cows and goats milk, and of various nut or seed milks.
• Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, not energy drinks)
We don’t all use these.
Electrolytes and carbohydrates in sports drinks will rehydrate and replenish fluid when water is scarce.
• Powdered milk
Almost all liquid dairy products require refrigeration.
Keep this substitute for an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D when fresh milk isn’t available.
Slide 11- Proper storage is important.
Where should you keep your emergency food stores?
• Find the right place
If you live in a small home or apartment, finding a place to store your emergency food supply can be a challenge if it is not regular pantry items.
You may have to get creative.
You can store canned goods under beds, or way up high in closets (where you can add an extra shelf).
Boxed items can go under dressers or sofas.
Sturdy boxes of emergency food supplies can form the supports of bookshelves or desks.
The garage is NOT a good place for emergency food storage, because temperatures fluctuate.
Storing less-often-used items such as a spiral peeler, canning kettles, and large roaster pans in the garage will leave more room for you to store your emergency food inside your main living area where the ambient room temperature is stable.
A large duffle bag or plastic tub with a lid makes a great storage place for a portable emergency food supply.
In addition to finding space, pay attention to storage conditions.
The six enemies of food storage are temperature, moisture, oxygen, light, pests, and time.
Optimum storage temperature for canned goods is 65oF.
Most canned goods can be stored up to 1 year under optimum temperature.
Canned citrus fruits, fruit juices, pickles, peppers, sauerkraut, green beans, asparagus, beets, and all tomato products should be used within 6 months at optimum temperature.
Storage temperatures above 75oF can reduce shelf-life of canned goods up to 50%.
In general, foods canned in well-sealed glass jars have a longer shelf-life than those in metal cans.
However, glass jars must be stored in a cool, dry, dark environment.
Light can accelerate some natural chemical reactions, breaking down proteins and vitamins, and causing discoloration or spoilage.
Examine cellophane, plastic, and boxed packages to be sure they are not punctured or torn.
Once the seal has been penetrated, moisture, oxygen, and pests can enter, and the healthfulness of the package contents is at risk.
PS- Pests can include family members who snack on any food visible to them.
Be sure household members know which items are part of the emergency food supply if kept in the kitchen pantry rather than in a designated area.
Plainly mark the cans or boxes with Emergency Use Only.
• Keep track
You will want to establish a method for keeping track of your emergency food stores.
It does not matter whether you use a spiral notebook, a computer spreadsheet, or a pad of paper on a clipboard.
Start by writing down your entire list of everything you plan to keep as emergency food stores.
Update your inventory with the date of purchase or expiration date of each item as it goes into storage.
It is a good idea to use a marker to circle the expiration date on the package label.
If there is no date, write the purchase date on the item.
Or use a colored sticker for the month the item should be rotated out.
Follow the FIFO rule for food rotation. FIFO means First In, First Out.
Re-mark the date on packages that have been opened but not completely used.
Mark items off your tracking list as you use them or rotate them out.
And be sure to add items you used or rotated to your shopping list for rapid replacement.
• Note expiration dates.
Did you know that date-marking foods is not required by US federal law, with the exception of infant formula and baby foods which must be withdrawn from sale by their expiration date?
For all other foods (except dairy products in some states), freshness dating is strictly voluntary on the part of manufacturers.
Also, stores are not legally required to remove outdated products from their shelves.
So, it’s “Buyer beware.” Always read the label.
But even that can be confusing, with so many different terms. Let’s look at a few now.
• “Expiration date”
If you haven’t used the product by this date, toss it out.
Other date-mark terms are used as a basic guideline, but this one means what it says.
• “Best if used by” and “use-by date”
This means the product should retain maximum freshness, flavor and texture if used by the stated date.
It is not a purchase-by or safety date.
Beyond this date, the product begins to lose quality, although it may still be perfectly edible.
• “Sell-by” or “pull-by date”
This date is used by manufacturers to tell grocers when to remove the product from grocery shelves.
However, there is generally still some leeway for home usage.
For example, milk containers often have a sell-by date stamp, but the milk will usually still be good for at least a week beyond that date if properly refrigerated.
• “Guaranteed fresh”
This date-mark is often used for perishable baked goods.
Beyond this date, freshness is no longer guaranteed, although the product may still be edible.
Once opened, many of the date-marks on packages become obsolete since the contents now become perishable.
It is advisable to use products as quickly as possible after opening the container.
• Rotate out, replenish in
Nothing lasts forever. Take a tip from grocers and rotate your stock at home.
Put the oldest items in the front of your shelves.
You will want to look through your emergency supplies every 6 months or so.
Take out and use (or discard) any item that is past or nearing its expiration date.
One thing to always have on hand: a hand-operated can opener!
All your stored food won’t be any use if you can’t open it.
Make sure your family, including pets, will have what they need when disaster strikes.
Slide 12- How to stock up on a budget
Remember, the goal for April is to have an emergency food supply that will meet the needs of your household for three days without outside help.
But that doesn’t mean you need to rush off to the grocery store as soon as we are done here.
You’re looking for a quick, easy way to get an emergency food stock.
Some necessary items will already be in your pantry.
You may have to go buy some things, though.
And you will constantly be replacing emergency stored rations when you use them or rotate them out.
How do you stock up on a budget?
• Go slow.
First warning: Take your time. Go slow. There’s probably no urgency at this point.
You can add to your emergency supplies a bit at a time.
It is OK to pick up a few extra cans on each weekly shopping trip until you have your full list. You don’t need to do this all at once.
I’ll share some resources at the end that help you plan how to stock up a little at a time.
• Spend wisely.
One way to curtail expense is to buy items when they are on sale.
Check store circulars for specials and coupons. Try to shop on “double coupon” days.
Warehouse clubs (e.g., Sams, Costco) have coupons too. Don’t overlook those booklets they send out monthly. Often the savings offered are huge.
If you do not belong to a warehouse club, perhaps you can tag along with a friend who does.
Or call and see if they will give you a one-day shopping pass. Many will do that.
Don’t forget the ubiquitous Dollar Stores and Big Bin Stores which offer many bargains, including food items.
Often grocery stores will have a small special clearance section in the rear where they sell outdated, seasonal, or unpopular items.
You may even find bargains on food items at the back of a local pharmacy.
Regardless of their expiration date, do not take a chance on any cans that are bulging or oozing from the seam. Dented cans should also be avoided.
Always check expiration dates before purchase, and mark expiration or purchase dates on the packages once you get them home.
• Stick to basics.
Bulk foods such as dry beans, rice, oatmeal and powdered milk are staples in the survival food pantry.
Relatively speaking, they are all (with the exception, perhaps of the milk) inexpensive.
Yes, these are basic foods. But if you are just getting started, why not begin with the food your family eats?
Notice what your household members eat for a week and use that as a guideline for getting started with emergency foods.
Try to write it all down so that you don’t have to rely on your memory.
The advantage of doing this is that you will learn what your family really likes. Stock food you will all want to eat.
Just because Papa Peter Piper likes pickled peppers, that doesn’t mean you need to stock them if nobody else will touch them.
Don’t shun convenience foods.
Particularly for the short term (3 days isn’t that long), it’ll be easier on you if you can just open a can and heat your meal, or eat something that’s good cold.
Slide 13- Buy these before a predicted emergency.
If you know ahead of time that a hurricane or blizzard is headed your way, there may be time to run to the store and pick up some fresh produce or other items with shorter shelf lives.
Most of these foods will last a week after purchase.
If you can buy local produce from a farmer’s market, it may last longer because it is fresher.
Fresh foods provide an alternative to packaged foods in your emergency storage stash or pantry.
Consider the following if you have time for a quick grocery store run:
Apples generally last up to three months when stored in a cool, dry area.
Always store apples away from more perishable fruits (like bananas), which emit a gas that causes the apples to ripen more quickly.
• Citrus fruits
Popular varieties include oranges and grapefruits.
Because of their high acid content and thick, sturdy skins, citrus fruits can last for up to two weeks without refrigeration.
You can extend their shelf life by buying them when they’re not fully ripe.
Citrus fruits contain lots of vitamin C and will keep you hydrated.
If you buy an unripe, firm avocado, it will last outside the refrigerator for at least a week.
Keep it out of direct sunlight.
Avocados are one of the super foods that Katta has told us about.
If you buy them unripe, tomatoes will last several days at room temperature.
Keep unripe green tomatoes, stem side down, in a paper bag or in a cardboard box in a single layer, in a cool area.
Red ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature on a counter away from sunlight.
Keep ripe tomatoes in a single layer, not touching one another, and stem side up to avoid bruising their shoulders.
• Cucumbers and summer squash
These vegetables will last a few days outside of refrigeration.
You can eat them raw.
• Winter squash
Examples of winter squashes include acorn squash, pumpkins, and spaghetti squash.
While most types of winter squash are inedible uncooked, they are great keepers, lasting up to a few months.
If you’ll be able to cook during the emergency, stockpile some hard-shelled squashes.
• Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams
These root vegetables are good keepers as well.
If you have access to a way to cook them, they can be comfort food.
All types of potatoes will last about a month stored in a cool, dark area.
• Packaged hard, dry sausages
You can’t eat Spam and canned tuna forever.
Try stocking up on a few packages of dry-cured salamis like sopressata or pepperoni.
Unopened, they will keep for up to six weeks in the pantry.
Slide 14- Resources
Yes, a natural or manmade disaster could happen at any time.
But the reality is that we should be prepared for far more than these emergencies.
A sudden illness or injury, unemployment, and even expensive appliance or car repairs could all show the wisdom of having an emergency stock of food and supplies.
Where can you find out more about emergency food storage?
Federal, state, and local governments offer numerous online resources:
The Extension Service for your state is a good place to look for information on food safety and food storage.
Here’s a couple I like:
Two resources you might not expect which are good sources of information about emergency food storage are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and preppers/survivalists.
You’ll find tons of information just by Googling.
Here’s a few nice resources that will help you gradually become more prepared while respecting your budget.
Follow the buttons here to get a PDF of a 5-month calendar for setting up a complete emergency kit:
http://www.ncdhd.ne.gov/comm_health_improvement.html# -> programs & services -> emergency preparedness -> emergency preparedness 5 month shopping list
And here’s one from a survivalist.
Thank you for your attention.