In the wake of the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Harvey and now Irma, I have had several moments of reflection this past week and a half. I lived in Houston for close to 2 years in my early 20s. As a result, Houston holds a near and dear place in my heart. The realization that where I lived when I was there is now likely destroyed from severe flooding is a little mind-boggling. The pictures of water-laden roads on the news, now congested with boats for rescue instead of cars, does not even begin to scratch the surface of the extent of Harvey’s damage. Beyond the structural damage alone from the hurricane, many families and individuals are displaced or stuck in their homes until help arrives. This begs the question; do you have enough non-perishable food and water to last until help comes?
The government recommends having anywhere from a 3-day to a 2-weeks supply of emergency food and water on hand at all times. Depending on your preference or location, you may decide to be prepared for only 3 days or for several months. Although West Michigan may not be in danger of a hurricane, the Midwest is always at risk for severe thunderstorms, winter storms, electric outages, and unpredictable disasters, such as the Flint water crisis. It is safe to say the question of whether you are prepared or not is an uneasy one, but nonetheless important in order to keep you and your family safe, hydrated, and nourished until help arrives.
Watch my audio guide on WZZM 13 here!
10 Emergency Supply Foods:
**Purchase and store foods you actually like to eat.
- Canned soups: Look for a low-sodium, high protein soup. Aim for at least 6-7 grams of protein per cup. Examples: vegetable beef, chicken noodle, chili, clam chowder.
- Dried or canned beans: Great sources of fiber, protein, and vegetables. Examples: garbanzo beans, black or kidney beans, baked beans, or lentils.
- Nuts and nut butters: These are high in calories and good sources of protein. Examples: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, almond or peanut butter.
- Energy and protein bars: Again, great sources of calories and protein in small quantities. Aim for protein bars with at least 5-6 grams of protein per bar. Examples: Kashi Almond Sea Salt with Chia bars, Fiber One Protein peanut butter bars, Clif Builder’s protein bars, Luna protein bars, Kind granola bars.
- Canned meats and fish: Great sources of protein, ready-to-eat, and vitamin D or omega 3 fatty acids (in the case of canned fish). Examples: Canned chicken, mackerel, sardines, tuna, Spam, corned beef hash)
- Dried meat: Great source of protein. Examples: Beef jerky.
- Powdered milk: Good source of dairy, calcium, and protein. Depending on how experienced you are, this could be used to make yogurt. Examples: Nestle Carnation instant milk, Bob’s Red Mill dry milk powder, Organic Valley dry milk powder.
- Dried, canned, or powdered fruits and vegetables: These are essential for adequate vitamins and minerals long term. Examples: Dried cranberries or raisins, canned fruits and vegetables (green beans, pineapple, peaches, carrots, etc.), powdered spirulina or beetroot powder.
- Enriched grains: Provide a good source of energy, fiber, iron, and B-vitamins. Examples: white rice, white flour, ready-to-eat cereals, bread.
- Water: Try to plan for at least 1 gallon of water per person in your household per day for drinking alone. If you want to account for basic hygiene and cooking, 2 gallons of water per person per day is a more appropriate estimation.
Key Tips to Remember:
- Purchase and store foods you actually like to eat and are ready-prepared to eat (i.e. canned goods-you may not have a way to cook).
- Whether you are prepping for a week or several months, be sure you rotate your stock appropriately to keep things as fresh as possible. For example, use the first in, first out method (FIFO) for rotating canned goods.
- Store your supplies in a cool, dry, dark, and low-humidity location.
- Be sure to have a manual can opener, extra cooking supplies (i.e. pots and pans) and plenty of disposable utensils.
To help with Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, consider donating to local Houston food banks, the American Red Cross, or the Houston Humane Society here.