Tag Archives: emergency rations

Emergency Preparedness IV; Storing supplies/Hosting

I have heard from a number of people, (some commented here), on how they had not realized how unprepared or vulnerable they are. We don’t need to panic or live in fear, I’d just like to see everyone be a little more comfortable in a power-outage, with or without extenuating problems,(extreme cold or heat, for example).And many of the extras I suggest can be very handy when you have guests.

I have practiced what I preached, as we had a major thunderstorm and tornado warning last week. It was dark and I was alone. I placed a large candle-in-a-glass in the middle of my table and a flashlight next to it. Twenty minutes later, when the lights went out, I could find my way to the flashlight, which led me to other candles,(see the previous post on candles and safety).I lit enough to allow myself to read until my husband came home 40 minutes later. When we retired, I left one candle in a jar burning in the bathroom, in front of the mirror to reflect and so, magnify, the light, on the porcelain, away from anything flammable,(and where the cats would not jump up).

I am going to suggest more things to have and put aside for such a possibility but the first questioning your mind may be where do I put it? Even though I suggest that all of the food and other items be what you do like and usually eat or use, you should put the ones that you store for emergencies where they are easily found, especially in low light. If you have room, you can dedicate a shelf or two in your kitchen cabinets, linen closet and/or utility room. OK, now that you have stopped laughing, we’ll find the room, even in a small apartment.(You wouldn’t believe how stocked I was in a tiny apartment we once had in a charming little Gingerbread-House, a converted farm building.)
Even though my kitchen cabinets here are crowded, I found room for small boxes in the back recesses. I don’t understand the people who built this house; there are deep corners where the cabinets fit in next to each other and those sections are useless except for storage. As a certified, (or certifiable), ‘foodie’, I have most of that space occupied with extras found on sale and things I don’t use very often. Perhaps you have a cabinet that is hard to get to, like over the refrigerator? That’s a good place for storage.

If you have little space in your cabinets, look up. Do you have an open area between the cabinets and ceiling? No, I don’t suggest that you stack up cans there, but you can find attractive, square baskets, fabric boxes or cover your own cardboard boxes with contact paper, fabric,(glue it), or decoupage them and store extras there. However, avoid putting your stored foods just above or next to your oven. Avoid heat when possible.
For small packages, boxes, tea candles, etc. I use these decoupaged cans; I have made larger boxes for storage in the same manner:decoupage cans

I also use them for pasta and grains, flours and nuts, tea and coffee, (those that come in packages, such as beans that I grind.) I store small holiday items in some, nightlight bulbs in another. I made some for my family. One has airplanes and I have small military items my son has stored from his Air National Guard service.
These are simple to make. I do them when watching TV or movies on the computer. Cut out pictures from catalogs, books, magazines, calendars or greeting cards, use simple white glue on the front and back of the papers. Overlap the pictures and allow them to dry. Spray them with clear spray paint and allow to dry. Spray the bottoms of the cans to stave-off rust. (You can use decoupage medium such as ModgePodge and/or spray the cans afterward with acrylic craft spray, but these are more expensive.

Storage boxes 006

How about your closets? I have small closets with even smaller doors. There are difficult recesses and they have space on the high shelves that can only be used for storage; you can store boxes there, but if it gets hot, store the food on the floor. If you get low boxes, you can even put your shoes on top of them. Put other essentials,(which I will talk about soon), on the shelves.

Have your essentials easy-to-find, but out-of-sight!

Have your essentials easy-to-find, but out-of-sight!

Mix and match boxes and baskets.If you buy any used, please make sure they can be thoroughly cleaned before you use them.

Consider low boxes that fit under your bed, or even under a sofa. (Make sure they slide out for cleaning purposes.) Consider using old, hard-sided suitcases. I have plastic ‘flats’ for plants that I have cleaned that slide under my beds. I use them for smaller boxes and shoes; they slide out easily.
Thin boxes can go behind doors. Better yet, thin cabinets or shelving can go behind doors and you can use the suggestions for over-the cabinet, pretty boxes to store there.

You can find inexpensive over-the-door canned goods shelving for utility rooms or that can go inside of closets. If you have a laundry room, or laundry area, think about where you can add a shelf, or standing shelves and bins. Again, look up. There is usually wasted space there before you reach the top.
Use medium to large plastic storage containers and stack them, even in plain sight. You may have a corner that you overlook every day, and you’d never miss the space.
If you don’t have shelving in your bathroom that goes over your toilet, you are cheating yourself. You should have a vanity under the sinks or put ‘skirts’ up around them to create storage…not for your food, but for a few extra cleaners, paper products, toiletries and first aid supplies.

an extra shelf in your bathroom can hold supplies

an extra shelf in your bathroom can hold supplies

Easy storage in my bathroom

Easy storage in my bathroom

 

You don’t need to set yourself up with a mini-clinic, but do keep first aid supplies in your home and make sure they don’t run out. Anyone can afford to stock up slowly at dollar-only markets, at your local, major discount store, or in your grocers with sales and coupons. Have adhesive bandages of several sizes, some gauze and medical tape. An ‘Ace’ bandage is a good idea, as well. Keep antibiotic ointment and another ointment, such as vitamin A&D ointment for soothing.(I have always had to keep them on hand as one of my sons is allergic to topical antibiotics), and an anti-itch cream,(like Lanacaine). Have a bottle of alcohol and I suggest, witch hazel. Rotate bottles of peroxide and iodine-based wound cleaners,(‘Betadine’-type), often and keep them out of sunlight as they both break down rather quickly, which is why peroxide comes in dark bottles. You probably know that water ‘s formula is H2O,( two hydrogen atoms, one oxygen atom). Hydrogen peroxide’s formula is H2O2, and it beaks down to water in short order when exposed to light and after a certain amount of time.
Have clean cotton and swabs on hand. Keep some antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, pain relief and aspirin. Antiseptic mouthwash,(‘Listerine’ and knock-offs), can double as wound cleaner.
Make sure you have plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, extra tooth brushes, deodorant, body powders, and anything else that you may use. This is always a good idea. Unexpected or unprepared, forgetful guests would be thrilled for you to be able to supply their needs, especially if their mistake isn’t spotted until it is very late or a very inconvenient time to rush out. I once found myself suddenly keeping 3 extra boys under 9, (plus my own two), for a weekend. Their mother, who had planned on them going with her, had packed their toothbrushes in with all the toiletries and took the bag with her. Fortunately, I had enough extras. Keep a few on hand; I have had other children come to stay overnight and boys are notorious for forgetting toothbrushes…and you or your guest could always drop yours in the toilet.
(I keep plastic shoe boxes with the extras in the bottom of my linen closet. They are neat and they stack.)
I know it is often difficult with insurance policies, but try to keep ahead of prescription medications and if you need other supplies,(like diabetic supplies), please don’t run low, you never know. The same must be said for feminine hygiene, incontinence supplies and disposable diapers.

Please consider always keeping extra pump-spray cleaners, disinfectant spray and wipes on hand. With low water supplies and a long wait for utilities to be restored, you will be grateful to have them.

You might take a moment to consider what would happen if you could not do your laundry for a few days. That reason alone makes me try never to let my hampers get too backed-up. I certainly never let anyone’s underwear supply get low!

Another thing I beg you to make room for is extra toilet paper and paper towels, and I suggest, some paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery. These can be stored up high,(they are light), or where it gets too warm to store food and medical supplies, (even in a crawlspace, attic, garage, outdoor storage that doesn’t leak.) You don’t need a lot, a little goes a long way in an emergency and to be without is…well, not good. And you don’t want to use up your possibly limited water supply by cleaning dishes. And keep extra heavy-duty trash bags to dispose of the used paper products. A little extra in the landfill because of an emergency will not ruin the planet.(Please use disposables responsibly at other times. Try never to use foam and I usually wash and reuse plastic cutlery.)

I hope you have zipped through my previous Emergency Preparedness posts and have gotten an idea or two. Please don’t be caught unaware and unprepared. You just never know.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Next time, we’ll talk about where to put extra guests!

Emergency Preparedness

I know I have been negligent of this blog and those of my fellow bloggers.I am very sorry and have missed you,(you will be hearing from me). I had a few family ‘fires’ to put out, some health testing and our beloved dog, Mark, failed rapidly .We catered to him for a while but when he could no longer function, we put him to rest. He is missed.

One reason I have been away is caring for Mark in his last days.

One reason I have been away is caring for Mark in his last days.

Some of you may not know this, but I also post on blog shared with four other writers, “Four Foxes, One Hound”( http://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/); four women, one man. I am the Friday Fox. We usually do theme weeks, we have open discussion and sometimes we have in guests to introduce readers to other writers.
“The Hound” sent an email to me a short time ago; he had questions on keeping food on-hand for emergencies and suggested that I make it a topic for this blog. With the severe weather-system season stepping in in most of the United States, now is a good time for that series, but any kind of problem can happen at any time, and people should be prepared.
I am not here to tell you to hoard food or become a survivalist, nor am I going to use scare tactics. But keep in mind that twenty years ago the Mississippi river flooded seven miles out of its banks and an ice storm that never affected my sister,( who lives near me), knocked mine out for four days and others in my area lost power for two weeks. Several years ago the remnants of a hurricane jumped over me and landed square on Louisville, Kentucky, knocking out some of their power for over a week; who would have known? You never know when something as simple as someone digging can disrupt your power source.
Any type of power-outage can be made a lot less stressful with a little planning, and that is what we will discuss.
What does this have to do with food and hosting? Well, it certainly has to do with food and you never know when an emergency, even a small one, can hit; it might just be when you have guests. And keeping extra supplies on-hand for either and emergency or for unexpected guests,(which should never constitute an emergency if you are prepared), is just common sense.

Here are the questions and answers that Jeff Salter and I exchanged:

Tonette,
I have several legitimate questions (& I want straightforward answers) … but it also occurred to me that this Q&A might make a good use of your food blog.
If you want to conduct it on your blog, that’s fine with me. Might get some helpful add’l input.

Questions about can goods shelf life

I’ve read / heard that standard, grocery-store canned goods (such as beans, peas, carrots, taters, corn, fruit, etc.) can last for MANY years … provided there are no bulges in the can. But I’d like to narrow that down since I’m setting aside some food for use during bad storms.
Absolutely avoid dented cans at all costs, as well as check for bulging regularly. When in doubt, throw it out! .Tomatoes/ tomato products have the shortest shelf-lives, with green beans a close second, along with canned milk products. Other beans do not have the shelf-lives that most other vegetables have. Creamed soups have shorter shelf-lives than broth-based. Still, ALL of the canned goods have several years; many far beyond their expiration dates, if they are not banged around. I keep mine in boxes in the back of shelves.

1. For a can with NO dates or codes: if I purchase it in Jan. 2013, how long is it predictably safe for consumption?

I would say at least the very minimum is two-three years for tomatoes and the short-lived ones. Other canned goods for five years or more, perhaps with some degradation of quality.[But not safety]

2. for a can with codes but no way to decipher the code: would the answer be the same as above?
Yes, but make sure you purchase them at stores that do big turn-over. Don’t pick them up from a country store, a ‘quick-stop’ or a generally non-food store,(such as a drug store), where they may have been sitting for a long time to start with.
[If you live in an area with slow-turn over in your local grocery store, consider making a trip to a larger city to stock up on staples].

3. For items marked with a date — what does the date mean? Does it mean it should be SOLD by that date? Eaten by that date? Or does the date have some other meaning?
It depends . Some actually say ‘Sell by:”; Some say “Best used by”, otherwise, it is a ‘use by’ date. It isn’t a magic number. There is lee-way there.

4. A few items indicate “Best when used by ____[date]___”. How many years after that date would they still be “good” (i.e., safe)?

No hard and fast rule, Jeff. Some products just don’t keep their full taste, texture and flavor as well as others. Eagle Brand turns dark, but is edible. Canned beets will be perfect for years afterward. Canned potatoes can get pretty soft after a number of years, but corn is usually fine. Tuna packets are a God-send, but nonfat dry milk goes stale, as do instant mashed potatoes.

5. What other tips do you have about storage & usage of typical grocery shelf canned goods?
If you have a dry basement or cellar, it is a good idea to put them there, but off the ground. Any place that is out of direct sunlight and dampness and kept from getting too hot or too cold.( never allow them to freeze). Don’t keep them where it isn’t usually climate-controlled, like a garage or barn.
Try not to move them around; the less they are bumped or shaken , the better , the longer the life. Try to keep them in boxes and mark them as to content and dates.(Which I had forgotten to do: dates).I am about to re-check my stash and see if I need to rotate, or use and replace with new stock.
That is the best and most realistic way to keep a supply of emergency foods; buy what you like and generally use and then you can go ahead and use it when it has been around for a while then replace it with newer ones.
The last time I tucked boxes away I made variety boxes, instead of all-one type of vegetable or food .For instance, I put different types of vegetables and fruits with canned milk and tuna, sardines &/or canned meat products. I also keep sugar and honey and some jellies, plus we keep peanut butter and canned and jarred nuts,(and we rotate that stock often). I also keep dried fruits on hand. If worse comes to worse ,(our reservoir pumping station went down once), we keep a couple of gallons of regular bleach, ( and rotate it, as it breaks down). You can purify water with it…so I keep lemonade mix and instant tea to make it palatable if we do need to drink it.
I do have some Deer Park water ‘pods’ on hand, as regular ‘milk-gallon’-type water containers do not last; they break down and leak; I have no idea why.
I don’t know if we come across as ‘survivalists’ or paranoid, but, you never know, right? I could be taken ill, as I have been and not been able to shop like I’d like or Joe might be out of work and we just might need to live off of these without an national or regional emergency. I have taken to cooking most of the food that I put in our freezer. That way, if we lose electricity, we could more easily eat or share the food and lose less, plus have less fear of not getting it cooked properly. Although we do have a generator which we used mostly to keep the freezer going when we lost power for several day with an ice storm s few years ago.

I also try to keep extra basic first aid and hygiene supplies ,(heavy on the hand sanitizer) as well as extra cleaning supplies and paper products, (i.e.: paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates and cups, plus plastic cutlery.

Was I clear? Do you have any more questions or did I skip something? Let me know.

Yes, the rest of you, too, please let me know if you have any questions. I will be expounding further on what types of foods and supplies are good and finding room to store them, which can be a challenge. (You have more storage in your place than you probably know.) I also want to go into practical safety features such as heating and lighting options.
I hope to hear from you, my Friends .