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.

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2 thoughts on “Are You Prepared for Severe Weather?

  1. Pamela Sue

    I’m kinda nervous about not sterilizing my jars first, but it’ll cut out time & make my canning easier. 2 questions: I have a steamer canner, much easier to use & excellent at processing. What do you think of these? Also, my sister’s diabetic. Is stevia recommended for jellies, etc.? What do you suggest as ratio to sugar? A certain sort of pectin? Thank you!

    1. nchfp Post author

      Hi Pamela Sue,

      Have you read the entry about pre-sterilizing jars which was posted May 21? Just to reiterate, jars need to be either pre-sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes (at sea level up to 1,000 feet; add one minute per each additional 1,000 feet) OR sterilized during a canning process of 10 minutes or longer. The sterilizing effect is the same for either of those two choices. Even if you do not need to pre-sterilize jars, the jars should be washed, rinsed and kept warm until filling time.

      To address your questions:

      We do not have recommendations for steam canners because processing times for use with current models have not been adequately researched. All steam canners do not necessarily heat foods in the same manner as boiling-water canners, so their use with boiling-water process times may result in spoilage. Research is underway on using atmospheric stream canners with acid foods; we will share those results as soon as they are completed and published. Currently, we have no recommendations for use of steam canners, and we do not recommend using our canning recipes and procedures with them. If you choose to use them, please be aware you are following the manufacturer’s directions only.

      There are a few choices for making jams and jellies without added sugar. You can read about all of them in this publication from the University of Georgia: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/JelliesWithoutSugar.pdf . There are several brands of no-sugar-needed pectin in the marketplace to choose from. The packaging on no-sugar-needed pectin indicates how much sweetener to add to your recipe. With no-sugar-needed pectin there is usually just a suggested range of how much sweetener to add, because it does not effect the ability of a gel to form as it does in regular, sugar-added jams and jellies. Also, the packaging on sweeteners (such as Stevia) often indicate approximate substitution portions to regular sugar, or you could call the company’s customer service to find out what they’d suggest. But individuals may find the product to be sweeter than they desire at a 1 to 1 ratio. For example, Stevia packaging suggests that it substitutes cup for cup, but no-sugar-needed pectin calls for MUCH less than what would be a 1 to 1 ratio as compared to the amount of sugar called for in traditional jam and jelly recipes. Perhaps try out a small batch to get the taste how you and your sister like it before committing to a large quantity.

      Also, we cannot make dietary recommendations but please think about the fact that even jams and jellies with added non-nutritive sweeteners instead of sugar still are high carbohydrate products due to the natural sugars in the fruits.

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