Terror Alert Disaster Survival Guide and Emergency Preparedness To Do List - Surviving a Terrorist Attack and other Disasters and Emergencies
This information was compiled from several sources so there is some
I know there are a lot of members of this list that do not live in the
United States. This information is still appropriate. Be sure and
check with emergency preparedness organizations for your part of the world.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Be prepared. Just in case.
In the age of terrorist attacks, that advice isn't just for children.
Law enforcement officials, raising the threat level Friday, handed it
out to parents in particular. A little advance planning, they say, could
protect families and property if an attack knocks out access to home,
food and money.
Households should have on hand three days worth of water and food; an
emergency supply kit for both home and automobile; radios with extra
batteries; and plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal windows and doors.
First on any to-do list: "Take the time now to get informed," Homeland
Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. Ridge specifically urged Americans to arrange a way for family members
to contact each other--such as through an out-of-town relative-- and
designate a meeting place in case telephone service is knocked out by an
"I think it would make family members a lot more comfortable if they
knew they were able to get in touch with one another in the event
something happened," Ridge told reporters.
Those with more time to prepare might check out the government's
guidelines on assembling a "disaster plan" taking other steps to protect
people and property at nominal expense. Such a guide can be found at
Top tips include:
Identify two meeting places: One near home and the second away from
the neighborhood in case home cannot be approached.
Find out the emergency response plans of employers, school, daycare
and other officials. To where would they evacuate workers and students?
Write down the answers and keep a copy in your wallet.
Keep life, property, health and other insurance policies current,
and know their terms. Store copies of these and other important
documents -- identification, deeds, wills, a small amount of cash -- in a
Have a plan for pets, since shelters do not allow them.
Assemble a "disaster supply kit" and keep it in a designated place
where it is ready to "grab and go." It should include bottled water,
food and emergency supplies, perhaps kept in backpacks or duffel bags.
With guidance from doctor or pharmacist, store prescription drugs
and an extra set of prescription glasses.
First aid kit.
The Red Cross Advises:
Terrorism: Preparing for the Unexpected
Devastating acts, such as the terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, have left many concerned about the possibility of
future incidents in the United States and their potential impact. They
have raised uncertainty about what might happen next, increasing stress
levels. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to prepare for the
unexpected and reduce the stress that you may feel now and later should
another emergency arise. Taking preparatory action can reassure you and
your children that you can exert a measure of control even in the face
of such events.
What You Can Do to Prepare
Finding out what can happen is the first step. Once you have determined
the events possible and their potential in your community, it is
important that you discuss them with your family or household. Develop a
disaster plan together.
1. Create an emergency communications plan.
Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or
e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected
contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be
directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen
contact Make sure every household member has that contact's, and each
other's, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work, pager and
cell). Leave these contact numbers at your children's schools, if you
have children, and at your workplace. Your family should know that if
telephones are not working, they need to be patient and try again later or
try e-mail. Many people flood the telephone lines when emergencies
happen but e-mail can sometimes get through when calls don't.
2. Establish a meeting place.
Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time
and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area
evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member
or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include any pets in these
plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will
not accept them.
3. Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
If you need to evacuate your home or are asked to "shelter in place,"
having some essential supplies on hand will make you and your family
more comfortable. Prepare a disaster supplies kit in an easy-to-carry
container such as a duffel bag or small plastic trash can. Include "special
needs" items for any member of your household (infant formula or items
for people with disabilities or older people), first aid supplies
(including prescription medications), a change of clothing for each
household member, a sleeping bag or bedroll for each, a battery powered radio
or television and extra batteries, food, bottled water and tools. It is
also a good idea to include some cash and copies of important family
documents (birth certificates, passports and licenses) in your kit.
Copies of essential documents-like powers of attorney, birth and
marriage certificates, insurance policies, life insurance beneficiary
designations and a copy of your will-should also be kept in a safe location
outside your home. A safe deposit box or the home of a friend or family
member who lives out of town is a good choice.
For more complete instructions, ask your local Red Cross chapter for
the brochure titled Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit (stock number
4. Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you
You need to know if they will they keep children at school until a
parent or designated adult can pick them up or send them home on their own.
Be sure that the school has updated information about how to reach
parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pickup. And, ask what
type of authorization the school may require to release a child to someone
you designate, if you are not able to pick up your child. During times
of emergency the school telephones may be overwhelmed with calls.
For more information on putting together a disaster plan, request a
copy of the brochure titled Your Family Disaster Plan (A4466) from your
local American Red Cross chapter. You may also want to request a copy of
Before Disaster Strikes . . . How to Make Sure You're Financially
Prepared (A5075) for specific information on what you can do now to protect
If Disaster Strikes
Remain calm and be patient.
Follow the advice of local emergency officials.
Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.
If the disaster occurs near you, check for injuries.
Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
If the disaster occurs near your home while you are there, check for
damage using a flashlight.
Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches.
Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards. Sniff for
gas leaks, starting at the water heater.
If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open
windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
Shut off any other damaged utilities.
Confine or secure your pets.
Call your family contact—do not use the telephone again unless it
is a life-threatening emergency.
Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or
A Word on What Could Happen
As we learned from the events of September 11, 2001, the following
things can happen after a terrorist attack:
There can be significant numbers of casualties and/or damage to
buildings and the infrastructure. So employers need up-to-date information
about any medical needs you may have and on how to contact your designated
Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels
follows a terrorist attack due to the event's criminal nature.
Health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be
strained to their limits, maybe even overwhelmed.
Extensive media coverage, strong public fear and international
implications and consequences can continue for a prolonged period.
Workplaces and schools may be closed, and there may be restrictions on
domestic and international travel.
You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding
roads blocked for your safety.
Clean-up may take many months.
If local authorities ask you to leave your home, they have a good
reason to make this request, and you should heed the advice immediately.
Listen to your radio or television and follow the instructions of local
emergency officials and keep these simple tips in mind:
Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes so you can be
protected as much as possible.
Take your disaster supplies kit.
Take your pets with you; do not leave them behind. Because pets are
not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative's
or friend's home, or find a "pet-friendly" hotel.
Lock your home.
Use travel routes specified by local authorities—don't use
shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
Stay away from downed power lines.
Listen to local authorities.
Your local authorities will provide you with the most accurate
information specific to an event in your area. Staying tuned to local radio
and television, and following their instructions is your safest choice.
If you're sure you have time:
Call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when
you expect to arrive.
Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do
Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you
otherwise. You may need gas for heating and cooking, and only a professional
can restore gas service in your home once it's been turned off. In a
disaster situation it could take weeks for a professional to respond.
Shelter in place
If you are advised by local officials to "shelter in place," what they
mean is for you to remain inside your home or office and protect
Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
Get your disaster supplies kit, and make sure the radio is working.
Go to an interior room without windows that's above ground level.
In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is
preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into
basements even if the windows are closed.
Using duct tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into
Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is
safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for
evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
Additional Positive Steps You Can Take
Raw, unedited footage of terrorism events and people's reaction to
those events can be very upsetting, especially to children. We do not
recommend that children watch television news reports about such events,
especially if the news reports show images over and over again about the
same incident. Young children do not realize that it is repeated video
footage, and think the event is happening again and again. Adults may
also need to give themselves a break from watching disturbing footage.
However, listening to local radio and television reports will provide you
with the most accurate information from responsible governmental
authorities on what's happening and what actions you will need to take. So
you may want to make some arrangements to take turns listening to the
news with other adult members of your household.
Another useful preparation includes learning some basic first aid. To
enroll in a first aid and AED/CPR course, contact your local American
Red Cross chapter. In an emergency situation, you need to tend to your
own well-being first and then consider first aid for others immediately
around you, including possibly assisting injured people to evacuate a
building if necessary.
People who may have come into contact with a biological or chemical
agent may need to go through a decontamination procedure and receive
medical attention. Listen to the advice of local officials on the radio or
television to determine what steps you will need to take to protect
yourself and your family. As emergency services will likely be overwhelmed,
only call 9-1-1 about life-threatening emergencies.
First Aid Primer
If you encounter someone who is injured, apply the emergency action
Check the scene to make sure it is safe for you to approach.
Then check the victim for unconsciousness and life-threatening
conditions. Someone who has a life-threatening condition, such as not
breathing or severe bleeding, requires immediate care by trained responders
and may require treatment by medical professionals.
Call out for help. There are some steps that you can take, however,
to care for someone who is hurt, but whose injuries are not life
Cover the wound with a dressing, and press firmly against the wound
Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart if you do not
suspect that the victim has a broken bone.
Cover the dressing with a roller bandage.
If the bleeding does not stop:
Apply additional dressings and bandages.
Use a pressure point to squeeze the artery against the bone.
Provide care for shock.
Care for Shock
Keep the victim from getting chilled or overheated.
Elevate the legs about 12 inches (if broken bones are not suspected).
Do not give food or drink to the victim.
Stop the burning by cooling the burn with large amounts of water.
Cover the burn with dry, clean dressings or cloth.
Care for Injuries to Muscles, Bones and Joints
Rest the injured part.
Apply ice or a cold pack to control swelling and reduce pain.
Avoid any movement or activity that causes pain.
If you must move the victim because the scene is becoming unsafe, try
to immobilize the injured part to keep it from moving.
Be Aware of Biological/Radiological Exposure
Listen to local radio and television reports for the most accurate
information from responsible governmental and medical authorities on what's
happening and what actions you will need to take.
Reduce Any Care Risks
The risk of getting a disease while giving first aid is extremely rare.
However, to reduce the risk even further:
Avoid direct contact with blood and other body fluids.
Use protective equipment, such as disposable gloves and breathing
barriers. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water immediately after
It is important to be prepared for an emergency and to know how to give
Home Hazard Hunt
In a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause injury and damage.
Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a potential
Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.
Fasten shelves securely.
Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds.
Brace overhead light fixtures.
Secure water heater. Strap to wall studs.
Repair cracks in ceilings or foundations.
Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products away from heat
Place oily polishing rags or waste in covered metal cans.
Clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors, and gas
Family Disaster Planning
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to
evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do
if basic services--water, gas, electricity or telephones--were cut off?
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a
disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.
Four Steps to Safety
1. Find Out What Could Happen to You
Contact your local Red Cross chapter or emergency management office
before a disaster occurs--be prepared to take notes.
Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request
information on how to prepare for each.
Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like and
what you should do when you hear them.
Ask about animal care after a disaster. Animals are not allowed inside
emergency shelters because of health regulations.
Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's
school or day care center, and other places where your family spends
2. Create a Disaster Plan
Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster.
Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and earthquakes to
children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain
what to do in each case.
Pick two places to meet:
Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must
know the address and phone number.
Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a
disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Other family members should
call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your
contact's phone number.
Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your
3. Complete This Checklist
Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance,
Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency
Medical Services number for emergency help.
Show each family member how and when to turn off the utilities
(water, gas, and electricity) at the main switches.
Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
Get training from the fire department for each family member on how
to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near
Conduct a home hazard hunt.
Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of
Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
4. Practice and Maintain Your Plan
Quiz your kids every six months or so.
Conduct fire and emergency evacuations.
Replace stored water and stored food every six months.
Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to
Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least
once a year.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Working with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with your
neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster
until help arrives. If you're a member of a neighborhood organization,
such as a home association or crime watch group, introduce disaster
preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbors' special skills (e.g.,
medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors who have
special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for
child care in case parents can't get home.
If Disaster Strikes
Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
Check for Injuries
Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
Listen to Your Battery-Powered Radio for News and Instructions
Check for Damage in Your Home...
Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect
Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas
or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get
everyone outside quickly.
Shut off any other damaged utilities. (You will need a professional
to turn gas back on.)
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable
Confine or secure your pets.
Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is
a life-threatening emergency.
Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut
Stay away from downed power lines.
There are six basics you should stock for your home:
first aid supplies
tools and emergency supplies, and
Keep the items that you would most likely need during an
evacuation in an easy-to carry container such as:
large, covered trash
a camping backpack
or a duffle bag.
Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid
using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or
glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts
of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can
double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need
Store one gallon of water per person per day.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for
drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods
that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no
water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items
that are compact and lightweight. Include a selection of the following
foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:
Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
High energy foods
Food for infants
First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
Assorted sizes of safety pins
Latex gloves (2 pairs)
2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
Triangular bandages (3)
2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
Tongue blades (2)
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
Antacid (for stomach upset)
Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison
Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
Tools and Supplies
Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
Emergency preparedness manual
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
Flashlight and extra batteries
Cash or traveler's checks, change
Non-electric can opener, utility knife
Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
Matches in a waterproof container
Plastic storage containers
Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
Map of the area (for locating shelters)
Toilet paper, towelettes
Soap, liquid detergent
Personal hygiene items
Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
Plastic bucket with tight lid
Household chlorine bleach
Clothing and Bedding
*Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per
Sturdy shoes or work boots
Blankets or sleeping bags
Hat and gloves
Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and
elderly or disabled persons
Heart and high blood pressure medication
Contact lenses and supplies
Extra eye glasses
Games and books
Important Family Documents
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
Passports, social security cards, immunization records
Bank account numbers
Credit card account numbers and companies
Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags.
Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
Replace your stored food every six months
Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year.
Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription
Food Supplies in Case of Disaster
How long can food supplies be stored?
To judge how long you can store food supplies, look for an expiration date or best if used by date on the product. If you can not
find a date on the product, then the general recommendation is to store
food products for six months and then replace them.
Some households find it helpful to pull food products for their regular
meals from their disaster supplies kit and replace them immediately on
an ongoing basis, so the food supplies are always fresh.
What kinds of food supplies are recommended to store in case of a
Try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don't stock
salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Familiar foods can lift
morale and give a feeling of security in time of stress. Also, canned
foods won't require cooking, water or special preparation. Take into
account your family's unique needs and tastes. Try to include foods
that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition.
Store supplies of non-perishable foods and water in a handy place. You
need to have these items packed and ready in case there is no time to
gather food from the kitchen when disaster strikes. Sufficient supplies
to last several days to a week are recommended.
Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and
little or no water. Foods that are compact and lightweight are easy to
store and carry.
Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned food with
high liquid content.
Recommended foods include:
Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables. (Be sure to include a
manual can opener)
Canned juices, milk and soup (if powdered, store extra water).
High energy foods, such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars
and trail mix.
Comfort foods, such as hard candy, sweetened cereals, candy bars and
Instant coffee, tea bags.
Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets, if
Compressed food bars. They store well, are lightweight, taste good and
Trail mix. It is available as a prepackaged product or you can assemble
it on your own.
Dried foods. They can be nutritious and satisfying, but have some have
a lot of salt content, which promotes thirst. Read the label.
Freeze-dried foods. They are tasty and lightweight, but will need water
Instant Meals. Cups of noodles or cups of soup are a good addition,
although they need water for reconstitution.
Snack-sized canned goods. Good because they generally have pull-top
lids or twist-open keys.
Prepackaged beverages. Those in foil packets and foil-lined boxes are
suitable because they are tightly sealed and will keep for a long time.
Food Options to Avoid:
Commercially dehydrated foods. They can require a great deal of water
for reconstitution and extra effort in preparation.
Bottled foods. They are generally too heavy and bulky, and break
Meal-sized canned foods. They are usually bulky and heavy.
Whole grains, beans, pasta. Preparation could be complicated under the
circumstances of a disaster.
Use directions provided by your local or state public health agency. In
the case where your local or state public health agency does not have
information, follow the recommendations below.
What kinds of containers are recommended to store water in?
Make sure the water storage container you plan to use is of food grade
quality, such as 2-liter soda bottles, with tight-fitting screw-cap
lids. Milk containers are not recommended because they do not seal well.
Should water be treated before storing it?
If your local water is treated commercially by a water treatment
utility, you do not have to treat the water before storing it. Treating
commercially-treated water with bleach is superfluous and not necessary.
Doing so does not increase storage life. It is important to change and
replace stored water every six months or more frequently.
If your local water is not treated commercially by a water treatment
facility, that is, if your water comes from a public well or other
public, non-treated system, follow instructions about water storage provided
by your public health agency or water provider. They may recommend
treating it with a small amount of liquid household bleach. Still, it is
important to change and replace stored water every six months or more
If your local water comes from a private well or other private source,
consult with your local public health agency about recommendations
regarding storage of water. Some water sources have contaminants (minerals
or parasites) that can not be neutralized by treatment with liquid
household chlorine bleach. Only your local public health agency should make
recommendations about whether your local water can be safely stored,
for how long, and how to treat it.
Can I use bottled water?
If you plan to use commercially prepared "spring" or "drinking" water,
keep the water in its original sealed container. Change and replace the
water at least once a year. Once opened, use it and do not store it
Three Ways to Treat Water
In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can
contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and
hepatitis. You should treat all water of uncertain purity before using
it for drinking, food preparation or hygiene.
There are many ways to treat water. None is perfect. Often the best
solution is a combination of methods.
Two easy treatment methods are outlined below. These measures will kill
most microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy
metals, salts and most other chemicals. Before treating, let any suspended
particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper
towel or clean cloth.
Boiling: Boiling is the safest method of treating water. Bring water to
a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will
evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by
pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This will also
improve the taste of stored water.
Disinfection: You can use household liquid bleach to kill
microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent
sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches or
bleaches with added cleaners.
Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30
minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the
dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.
The only agent used to treat water should be household liquid bleach.
Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in
camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium
hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not
While the two methods described above will kill most microbes in water,
distillation will remove microbes that resist these methods, and heavy
metals, salts and most other chemicals.
Distillation: Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting
the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not
include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with
water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang
right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not
dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that
drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
When Food Supplies Are Low
If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual
food intake for an extended period and without any food for many days.
Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and
If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in
fat and protein, and don't stock salty foods, since they will make you
thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned
foods with high liquid content.
You don't need to go out and buy unfamiliar foods to prepare an
emergency food supply. You can use the canned foods, dry mixes and other
staples on your cupboard shelves. In fact, familiar foods are important.
They can lift morale and give a feeling of security in time of stress.
Also, canned foods won't require cooking, water or special preparation.
Following are recommended short-term food storage plans.
As you stock food, take into account your family's unique needs and
tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high
in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration,
preparation or cooking are best.
Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular
attention, as will babies, toddlers and elderly people. Nursing mothers may
need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic
foods, juices and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people.
Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. And
don't forget nonperishable foods for your pets.
How to Cook If the Power Goes Out
For emergency cooking you can use a fireplace, or a charcoal grill or
camp stove can be used outdoors. You can also heat food with candle
warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots. Canned food can be eaten right out
of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and
remove the label first.
Short-Term Food Supplies
Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food
supply for two weeks, you should prepare a supply that will last that
The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to increase the
amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves.
Keep food in a dry, cool spot - a dark area if possible.
Keep food covered at all times.
Open food boxes or cans care-fully so that you can close them tightly
after each use.
Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in tight
Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top
jars or air-tight cans to protect them from pests.
Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use.
Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies,
dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area
and older ones in front.
During and right after a disaster, it will be vital that you maintain
your strength. So remember:
Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.
Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (two
quarts a day).
Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.
Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements in your stockpile to
assure adequate nutrition.
Shelf-life of Foods for Storage
Here are some general guidelines for rotating common emergency foods.
Use within six months:
Powdered milk (boxed)
Dried fruit (in metal container)
Dry, crisp crackers (in metal container)
Use within one year:
Canned condensed meat and vegetable soups
Canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables
Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in metal containers)
Hard candy and canned nuts
May be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
Instant coffee, tea and cocoa
Noncarbonated soft drinks
Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)
It's 2:00 a.m. and a flash flood forces you to evacuate your home-fast.
There's no time to gather food from the kitchen, fill bottles with
water, grab a first-aid kit from the closet and snatch a flashlight and a
portable radio from the bedroom. You need to have these items packed and
ready in one place before disaster strikes.
Pack at least a three-day supply of food and water, and store it in a
handy place. Choose foods that are easy to carry, nutritious and
ready-to-eat. In addition, pack these emergency items:
Medical supplies and first aid manual
Portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries
Shovel and other useful tools
Household liquid bleach to treat drinking water § Money and matches in
a waterproof container
Blanket and extra clothing
Infant and small children's needs (if appropriate)
Manual can opener
If the Electricity Goes Off . . .
FIRST, use perishable food and foods from the refrigerator.
THEN, use the foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times
you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a
well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice
crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least
FINALLY, begin to use non-perishable foods and staples.
To get copies of American Red Cross Community Disaster Education
materials, contact your local Red Cross chapter.
The text on this page is in the public domain. We request that
attribution to this information be given as follows: From "Disaster Supplies
Kit." developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the
American Red Cross.