Storing food and water safely

Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply in your home that will last that long. 

The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to increase the amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves.  Check expiration dates frequently and follow the practice of first-in, first-out.

Pack at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water with your Emergency Survival Items to be used in case you need to evacuate.  Three days worth of supplies should be enough to get you to a location that has additional supplies.  This may be outside the impacted area.  You need to have these items packed and ready in case there is no time to gather food from the kitchen when an emergency strikes.  Include both compact, lightweight items like dehydrated foods, which are easy to carry if you must evacuate, and canned foods like fruit, juices and vegetables that supply of source of water.  Choose foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking.  If you must heat food, pack a can of cooking fuel such as used for camping.

Do not pack fuel/petrol, kerosene, or LPG.

Familiar foods can lift morale and help people feel secure in time of stress.  Try to include foods that everyone will enjoy.  Look for foods high in calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.  Look for canned foods with high liquid content in case water is scarce.

Specifically, consider packing:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables.
  • Canned juice, milk and soup.
  • High-energy foods such as peanut butter, jam, salt-free crackers and energy bars.
  • Trail mix (pre-packaged or homemade).
  • Comfort foods such as hard sweets, sweetened cereals, snack bars, and biscuits.
  • Instant coffee, tea bags.
  • Compressed food bars.  They store well, are lightweight, taste good and are nutritious.
  • Dried foods.  They can be nutritious and satisfying, however may contain a lot of salt, which promotes thirst.  If salt is a problem use dried fruit, like raisins.
  • Freeze-dried foods. They are tasty and lightweight, however will need water for reconstitution.
  • Whole-grain cereals (oatmeal, wholewheat, multigrain).
  • Instant meals.  Cups of noodles or cups of soup are a good addition, although they need water for reconstitution and may contain a lot of salt.
  • Pre-packaged beverages.  Those in foil packets and foil-lined boxes are sealed and will keep for a long time if the seal is not broken.
  • Foods for infants, elderly persons, or persons on a special diet.
  • Non-perishable foods for pets and other animals.

Water Safety

  • To prepare the safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, purchase commercially bottled water.  Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open it until you need to use it.
  • Store bottled water in the original sealed container and observe the expiration or 'use by' date.
  • If you are preparing your own containers of water, follow the directions below for selecting, cleaning and filling the containers with water:
  • Purchase food-grade, water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage.
  • If you chose to use your own containers of water, chose two-litre, plastic soft-drink bottles - not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them.  Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them.
  • Do not use glass containers because they can break and are heavy.
  • Do not use cardboard containers, because they can leak easily.  These containers are not designed for long term storage of liquids.
  • If storing water in plastic soft-drink bottles or food-grade water storage containers:
  • Thoroughly clean them with hot water.
  • Fill them to the top with regular tap water until it overflows.  Add five drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach per litre to the water.  Do not drink for at least 30 minutes after disinfecting.
  • Tightly close the containers using the original caps.  Be careful not to contaminate the caps by touching the inside of them with your fingers.
  • Place a date on the outside of the containers so that you know when you filled them.  Store them in a cool, dark place.
  • Check the bottles every 12 months, for example at the beginning of daylight saving.  If the water is not clear, throw it out and refill clean bottles with clean water and bleach.