Hurricane season is officially among us here in Louisiana. Having an emergency supply of food and water is essential during this time. It is not uncommon for hurricane season to bring about bouts of heavy rainstorms and strong winds, these elements can potentially lead to power outages and flooding over a vast area. It is important during these natural disasters that you consider these things when planning your emergency supplies.
Try to have items on hand that do not require refrigeration and can be eaten cold or heated on the outdoor grill. We suggest the following items when selecting emergency food supplies. You may already have many of these on hand.
In the instance of a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Coolers are a great help for keeping food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours—have a couple on hand along with frozen gel packs. When your freezer is not full, keep items close together—this helps the food stay cold longer.
Also, keep in mind to throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water; perishable foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages; and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells, and tastes normal. When in doubt, throw it out.
Following a natural disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut-off or compromised through contamination. Prepare yourself by building a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs during an emergency. It is recommended that you store at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days. You should plan on using your stored water for drinking as well as for sanitation purposes. Be sure to store all of your store-bought water bottles in a dark, cool place. If you happen to run out of your supply of bottled water, treat all water of uncertain quality before using it for drinking, food washing or preparation, washing dishes, brushing teeth, or making ice. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms (germs) that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. The safest method to treat water would be to boil it. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.