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Food and Water Safety

How to Plan for an Emergency

December 2001

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Food and Water Safety

Planning for disaster is best done during calm times. An earthquake, a power blackout or some other calamity can happen at any time.

Storing enough food and water to get through difficult times is essential for everyone.

Different situations might occur. Power may be available but not water, no water but power, both power and water but no access to food. Whatever happens, stay calm and think.

The following are some ideas about food and water for you to consider:

  • Stock enough food and water to last at least seven days for each person in your household, plus your pets.

  • Keep a list of the food and water you have stocked. Note and rotate that food and water back into your cupboard for routine use every six months. The beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time, for example, might be good times to remember to rotate your food and water supply.

  • Store foods you like to eat and which can be stored for a long time without spoiling.

  • Store items in a place that is cool, dry and dark and not directly on the floor.

  • Store one gallon of water for each person to be used each day for seven days: a total of at least 7 gallons per person. Store water in sanitized and sealed containers. If using tap water, boil it for 10 minutes at a rapid boil.

  • Use what you have in your refrigerator first and then your freezer. Open the doors to the refrigerator and freezer as little and as briefly as possible in order to keep items cold longer.

Food Items to Have on Hand

  • Water, ultra high temperature (UHT) milk like Parmalat, or dehydrated powdered or evaporated milk, shelf stable soy milk, canned, bottled or powdered drinks such as Kool-Aid, sports or fruit drinks, tomato and vegetable juices and decaffeinated beverages. Remember, you will need safe water to mix your powdered drinks.

  • Dry ready-to-eat cereals, instant oatmeal and other hot cereals, crackers, pretzels, rice, pasta, biscuit and other boxed mixes and bread stored in the freezer.

  • Protein products such as canned chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, sardines, meat, beef stew, deviled ham and meat spreads, Spam, nuts and nut butters, lentils, soy beans, beans and dehydrated eggs.

  • Canned stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, peas, corn, beans, pickled beets, mixed vegetables, canned soups and others. Dried peas, tomatoes, packaged beans and instant vegetable soups and mashed potatoes.

  • Canned or bottled fruits such as peaches, applesauce, apricots, pineapple chunks, orange and grapefruit sections and fruit cocktail. Dried berries, raisins, bananas, apricots and others.

  • Salt, sugar, cooking oil, baking soda, shortening and other basics.

  • Trail mix, cookies, hard candy and other snacks.

  • Seasoning and spices like pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, salad dressing, spray oil and vinegar.

Food and Water Safety

Other Essentials to Include

  • Manual can opener, bottle opener, cutting board, sharp knife, mixing bowl, serving spoon, spatula, saucepan, skillet with cover, measuring cup, measuring spoons, dish detergent and liquid unscented bleach.

  • Paper plates, cups, napkins and towels; hot cups; plastic spoons, forks and knives.

  • Your medications, toothpaste, dental floss, moist towelettes, a battery-operated radio and flashlight, plenty of batteries and sturdy shoes.

For emergency food and shelter, call Info Line of Los Angeles at (800) 339-6993.

For more information, consult the Los Angeles City Fire Department's "The Earthquake Preparedness Handbook," It includes information about safe drinking water, emergency food supplies and cooking and many other practical considerations.

To evaluate the nutritional quality of foods to store or which you are eating, consult the Interactive Health Eating Index, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at

L.A. County Quick Guide to Nutrition Programs and Services:

For AIDS Project Los Angeles' Nutrition & HIV Program's "Food and Water Safety" fact sheet, general information or to sign up for nutrition classes, call Janelle L'Heureux, M.S., R.D. at (213) 201-1556 or Marcy Fenton, M.S., R.D. at (213) 201-1611.

Marcy Fenton, M.S., R.D.   Marcy Fenton, M.S., R.D., is a nutritionist at AIDS Project Los Angeles and can be reached at (213) 201-1611 or

Back to the December 2001/January 2002 issue of Positive Living.

This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

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This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.
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