Are You Prepared for Severe Weather?

If the trials of this winter season have not already spurred you to carefully evaluate your severe weather preparedness, or perhaps if you are still feeling uncertain if you are as prepared as you want to be, then don’t think you’ve missed your chance – it’s never too late to prepare for the next severe weather event.  The National Weather Service declared the first week of March 2014 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. In case you missed it, here’s a link to preparedness resources provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Do you have a disaster supply kit yet? If not, you can use the disaster supplies kit link on NOAA’s site (above) to help you put one together to meet your particular needs. In addition to items like a flashlight and first aid kit, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests that you stock a disaster supplies kit with food supplies enough for 3 days and nights. If you chose foods that require heating, then remember to also pack a small camping stove and fuel.

Comfort foods like cookies, lollipops, and coffee are very useful for morale, but it’s important to primarily pack an assortment of nutrient-rich foods to sustain your health during the crisis. Store-bought canned fruits, veggies, soups and meats are good options, as are granola bars, peanut butter, and crackers. Some home-preserved canned foods also make a great choice, although you’ll want to pay extra attention to packing glass jars so they do not break, and keep in mind that they add weight as compared to metal cans. Conversely, dehydrated fruits and veggies make for a very light-weight option to help maintain your energy.

To maintain the usefulness and quality of your supplies, check expiration dates, batteries, and your own changing personal needs to re-stock your disaster supply kit at least once per year.

If you lose power, remember to first eat foods from your refrigerator and then from your freezer before turning to your supply kit. Eat your non-perishable foods only once your perishable supplies run out. Refrigerated foods need to be monitored at 40°F or below or else eaten quickly, as they may cause support microbial growth and cause sickness after just a few hours at temperatures above 40°F. Keep the refrigerator/freezer doors closed as much as possible and wrap it in blankets or towels to help hold in the cool air. Freezer foods can be consumed as long as they still have ice crystals and/or you can check that the freezer has remained at 40°F or below. Usually, you’ll have 2 to 3 days to eat freezer foods if the freezer is well-insulated.

More tips, including how to prepare a two-week supply, are found in this publication from the University of Georgia: Preparing an Emergency Food Supply, Short Term Storage. A collection of publications including Storing Water Supplies is available from UGA Cooperative Extension’s Consumer Guide: Preparing an Emergency Food Supply.