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Canning it: Food and water in an emergency

June 6, 2011 |  1:04 pm

Canning Rachael Narins

Even in densely populated areas there is no guarantee you will have access to food and water in the event of an emergency.  Here are some tips from the Los Angeles County Master Food Preservers on what you can do to be prepared.

  • It’s recommended you’re prepared for a three-day event at the least and two weeks if you have the storage space.
  • Water: You need potable water for drinking, cooking and hygiene. If you have pets, they will need water, too. Ideally you should store three gallons of water per person and a half gallon per pet for a three-day emergency. Replace stored bottles every six months, as it gets stale. 
  • Food: Imagine what you would eat if there was no refrigerator and the burners, toaster, oven and microwave didn’t turn on. It’s a bit shocking how dependent we are on these things.
  • The first foods you should eat if there is a power outage are the perishables. Arrange a blanket or emergency blanket over the refrigerator (avoiding the coils on the back) and open as infrequently as possible. Next use what is in the freezer. Only then should you move on to what’s in the cupboard.
  • The food you store in your emergency pantry should have high caloric and nutritional value (cookies are nice, but can you live on cookies? Actually, don’t answer that …). Try to include sports bars; dried fruit; nuts and nut butters and commercially canned meats, fish and vegetables.
  • If the emergency was a flood or involved sewage, you should not consume home-canned goods.  Otherwise, they are fine.
  • Remember to store food you like to eat and know how to prepare. If you can, invest in a small grill or a portable butane burner so you have the option of cooking. Also, have two can openers in case one breaks. When you're hungry, a cold can of soup is sad, a cold can of unopened soup could be devastating.

For more information, visit the American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency websites.
 
Los Angeles Master Food Preservers are trained and certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension as Food Safety Specialists. They are volunteers who provide information and technical assistance to home preservationists in L.A. County. The Master Food Preservers can be found on Facebook.

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-- Rachael Narins

Photo: Prepare emergency ration kits with water and food that doesn't necessarily need cooking by Rachael Narins

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