Storing and Preparing Food in Weather Emergencies

Know how to store and prepare food at any stage of an emergency. Stock up on enough food for 3-7 days. Store food in a cool, dark area. Always wash your hands before preparing food or eating, and NEVER use outdoor grills or stoves indoors.

Stock up on Food

Keep a food supply that will feed your household for 3 to 7 days. Having a reserve can relieve inconvenience and uncertainty until the storm passes or the power is restored. Use the food checklist to see what to have on hand.

  • Buy easy-to-store and easy-to-prepare foods. Choose foods that don’t need to be refrigerated and require little or no preparation or cooking.
  • Build up your supply by buying a few extra items each week.
  • Plan to prepare familiar foods to lift morale and give your family a feeling of security in times of stress.

Storing Your Food

  • Keep canned foods in a dry, dark area where the temperature is fairly cool.
  • Store foods in containers with tight lids to protect them from pests and extend their shelf life. Do not store your food in the basement if it is prone to flooding.
  • Sort and store foods by date. If foods do not have a “best if used by” date, write in permanent marker the date you purchased the item.
  • Place newer items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front. Try to use food by the “best if used by” date.
  • Inspect your stored food periodically to make sure there are no broken seals or dented, swollen, or leaking containers.
  • Discard and replace items that are no longer good to eat.
  • Update your stored foods over time and as your family’s needs change.

Wash Before Preparing or Eating Food

Always wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food or eating food. If you do not have clean running water, use hand sanitizer or water that has been boiled and cooled, or otherwise disinfected before using.

Cooking Without Power

You can use a fireplace or wood stove to cook indoors when the power is out, or use a barbecue grill or camp stove outdoors. Never use barbecue grills or camp stoves indoors. They give off dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) that can build up and cause sickness and even death.