Be Prepared with Food and Water

Keep foods on hand that:

  • Have a long storage life
  • Are packed in single serving sizes when opened products cannot be refrigerated
  • Require little or no cooking, water, or refrigeration
  • Meet the needs of babies or those on special diets
  • Meet pets' needs
  • Are not very salty or spicy, as these foods increase the need for drinking water
  • Pick foods that are packed with important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

Storing emergency food and water supplies

  • Store canned and dry goods in a cool, dry, dark place; 40 to 60°F.
  • Keep food away from gasoline, oil, paints, and solvents and other household chemicals.
  • Protect food from rodents and insects.
  • Date all food items. Use and replace food before it loses freshness.

Food shopping list  

Protein Foods

  • Canned meat or poultry
    • Chicken, hash, beef stew
    • Canned ham-make sure it does not need refrigeration
  • Canned fish/seafood
    • Tuna, salmon, sardines
  • Dried meats/poultry/seafood
    • Jerky, *Dry cured sausages, pepperoni
  • Canned beans
    • Canned meat/poultry soups
    • Canned chili; Pork and beans/baked beans
    • Kidney beans, chick peas, white beans, etc.
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter

Baby foods

  • Formula
  • Pedialyte or similar product
  • Jarred baby foods:  meat, poultry, beans, vegetables, fruits


  • Whole grain breads, rolls
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Granola bars or other cereal bars
  • Ready to eat cereals
  • Instant hot cereals
  • Canned pasta, such as  macaroni and cheese, pasta with sauce

Fruits and Vegetables

  • *Fresh
    • Tomatoes
    • Onions, garlic
    • Apples, pears, oranges, bananas
  • Non-perishable
  • Canned fruits

Applesauce, peaches, mandarin oranges, cherries

    • Dried fruits

Raisins, apricots, prunes, blueberries, cranberries

    • Canned vegetables

Potatoes, carrots, corn, green beans

Dairy foods

  • Dry milk; cocoa mixes
  • Canned or UHT (Ultra-pasteurized) carton milk (individual sized—unable to refrigerate after opening)
  • Processed cheese food
  • *Cheddar cheese or other hard cheeses

Pet foods

  • Dry food
  • Canned food
  • Treats 

*Will keep for several days to a week or longer at room temperatures 

Miscellaneous food supplies:

  • Tea, instant coffee (or if you have a French Press, buy coffee ground for the press);
  • Oil, Vinegar
  • Butter, margarine
  • Salt, pepper
  • Sugar
  • Cookies, hard candy, chocolate, pudding
  • Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade
  • Vitamins

Food related supplies:

  • Disposable eating utensils
  • Paper plates, cups
  • Paper towels
  • Manual can-opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Matches
  • Cooking fuel
  • Cooler
  • Ice 

Make a shopping and menu plan for 3 day power outage, a 1 week outage and a 2 week outage

Are you preparing for possible loss of power for a few days (thunderstorms, snow storms, wind storms, tropical storms) or for a more significant period of time (ice storms, hurricanes, tornados)?  If you live in an area where power is frequently lost for a few hours or days, plan for a 3 day outage.  If you live in an area where it may take longer for a power company to respond, prepare for a longer outage.  Keep in mind that nutrition becomes even more important when outages last a long time…make your food choices wisely!

Menu ideas for Three Meals

*Requires cooking-gas stove, charcoal grill, camp stove, or wood fire (outside only!).  Some foods such as canned soups, canned pasta dishes, chili, hash, though typically heated before eating do not REQUIRE heating for safety.


  • Use up any eggs from the refrigerator in the first day in cheese omelet*, bread and butter, juice, coffee* or tea*
  • Cold cereal with bananas, milk, coffee*, tea*, or water
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, canned peaches, coffee*, tea*, or milk
  • Bread and cheese, orange, coffee*, cocoa*, tea*, or water


  • Tuna, whole grain crackers, apple, water
  • Canned beef-barley soup*, processed cheese, crackers, milk
  • Bean salad (canned beans, canned green beans, onion, garlic, oil, vinegar), bread and butter, pear, water
  • Early in the outage—canned hash, fried egg*, tomato salad with oil and vinegar, water
  • Canned chili, crackers, corn, water
  • Tuna with white beans, olive oil, vinegar, bread, butter, canned carrots, milk

Snacks:  cheese, crackers, dry cereal, granola or cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, apple with peanut butter

Water supply

You will need to purchase, collect and/or store at least 1 gallon of water for each person and pet.

Store at least 3 days worth of water if you are on a municipal water system (water lines may break during a severe flood); more (1-2 weeks worth) if you are on a well.

A SAFE emergency water supply

Unopened commercially bottled water is your best choice. Store bottled water in the original sealed container, and observe the expiration or “use by” date.

If you prepare stored water yourself   (From:  Food and Water in an Emergency, FEMA and the American Red Cross)

  • Use food-grade water storage containers or water storage bottles from camping supply stores
  • Do NOT use containers:

that cannot be sealed tightly;  that can break, such as glass bottles;  that have ever been used for any toxic chemicals (includes bleach containers); or plastic or cardboard bottles, jugs, and containers used for milk or fruit juices.

  • Clean and sanitize (if needed) water storage containers before using.
    • Clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
    • Additionally, for plastic soft drink bottles, sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart (1/4 gallon) of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
  • Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. (If your water utility company treats your tap water with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean.)
  • If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to each gallon of water.
  • Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your fingers.
  • Write the date on the outside of the container so that you know when you filled it. Store in a cool dark place. Replace the water every six months if not using commercially bottled water.

Do you need water to flush toilets?

You can use non-drinkable or non-potable water to flush toilets.  Collect water in the bathtub as the storm approaches.  Use water from rain barrels (or collect in garbage cans during the storm).  Pool, river, pond or lake water can also be used for flushing toilets.

Do you want to read more about this?

Information from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Information from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

American Red Cross:  Prepare your Home and Family

American Red Cross: Tools and Resources for Disasters