Government agencies suggest that everyone should have a minimum of three days of emergency supplies in case a catastrophic event such as a hurricane occurs. However, anyone living in an area of the world with harsh winters knows that a major snowstorm can keep you homebound for longer than three days. Having only a small amount of food stored in the winter can become dangerous because people need a certain amount of nourishment to remain warm, especially when performing strenuous activities such as shoveling snow.
One: Store More than the Minimum Amount of Emergency Food
The best time to prepare for winter is in the summer by beginning to grow or purchase the foods needed for the winter. For anyone isolated in a cabin in the woods or in a location that closes highways frequently, planning ahead is vital. When canned or dried foods are listed at low prices in the summer through the autumn, buy extra to store. Remember that additional food is necessary for everyone in a family, including infants and senior citizens who can only consume certain types of food. Instead of having three days of food stored, consider storing at least two weeks worth or more.
Two: Have a Warm and Dry Place to Store Emergency Food
Emergency food stored in a damp basement will likely develop mold and become inedible. While storing emergency food in an unheated garage is acceptable for the summer, by the time temperatures drop, the boxes, bags and cans require storage in a home where there is efficient climate-control. Avoid placing stored food near water pipes or heaters that can leak moisture and cause spoilage. The proper containers for food can help to maintain its freshness, and many individuals stitch small bags of fleece fabric to store dried beans and nuts.
Three: Maintain an Efficient Labeling System to Avoid Waste
Cans and bags of food bought at the grocery store typically have printed expiration dates, and to avoid illness from outdated foods, it is essential to rotate emergency foods on a regular basis. The only way to maintain food freshness is by having an efficient labeling system. Large families may have numerous containers, bags and shelves filled with boxes and cans of vegetables and meat, and unless the items are labeled with dates, the foods expire or the containers disintegrate. Rather than trying to read the tiny print on food container labels, it is better to use a black marker to write the date on packages or place foods with similar dates on the same shelf. When an emergency occurs, use the oldest items first or use these items for everyday cooking and replace the foods quickly.
Four: How to Have Enough Space for Emergency Food Storage
Finding enough space for food storage inside a home is a challenge for many people living in cramped environments. To store cans, boxes and bags, someone may need to use the shelves located in cupboards above refrigerators and stoves that are normally not filled. Alternatively, it is often necessary to buy inexpensive metal shelving units to place in laundry rooms or utility closets. It is also possible to install shelves on walls in locations above doorways and windows. The backs of doors are also an excellent place to store food, and there are special devices available to hang on doors for this purpose.
Five: How to Avoid Infestations and Contamination from Pests
While rodents and insects cannot get into cans of food, the creatures can chew through boxes and bags of pasta, rice and beans. This means that durable storage containers are required to prevent infestation or contamination. Plastic storage totes are one way to protect foods, but ants and cockroaches can still enter crevices around the lids. A better solution is heavy-duty metal trash cans with tight-fitting lids, and for additional protection, place bags and boxes of food inside thick plastic ziplock bags.