Apartment Disaster Plan: Emergency Food

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Having a well thought out apartment disaster plan in place will reduce your stress level should a natural disaster occur. Part of any disaster plan is having an adequate supply of shelf-able food and water on hand. Emergency food will hold you over and keep you nourished until you can resort back to your old routine. Take into consideration the following as you begin building your emergency food stash.

Buy a Cooler and Some Ice First

When the power goes out, the food in your refrigerator and freezer will keep for a limited amount of time as long as you don’t open the doors. Given that your freezer is completely full, the food inside can last for 48 hours. The food in your refrigerator will not last as long—four hours at most. If you want to salvage some of that refrigerated food during a disaster, have a cooler and some bags of ice on hand.

You can move refrigerated items into the cooler to consume over a 24 hour period. Be sure to have a food thermometer on you. Refrigerated items should not be any more than 40 degrees. If the temperature is higher, it increases your risk of obtaining a food-borne illness. Plan to eat your refrigerated items within the first 24 hours of a disaster. Move on to canned and boxed foods after.

Consume Foods that Require Little Preparation

When the power is out, you’re not going to be able to heat up soup in the microwave or boil pasta on the stove. While you can use an outdoor  grill if you have one, you’ll be limited to grilling within the first 24 hour period to use up any meat you have before it spoils. Your best option is to consume foods that can be eaten straight out of the package and that don’t need to be cooked or prepared in multiple steps.

Stock Up on Key Items from Various Food Groups

Being limited to foods that come straight from the package doesn’t mean you have an excuse to subsist off of potato chips and cookies. You need to try to eat well rounded and nutritionally sound meals. Bread and mulit-grain crackers are good to have on hand. With a little bit of peanut butter on the top (which also keeps well), you have a good combination of carbohydrates and protein.

Canned or packaged tuna is also a satisfactory emergency food. You can eat it straight out of the package or purchase mini tuna meal kits from the grocery store.

For breakfast, have some powdered milk on hand. Mix it with bottled water and enjoy with your cereal. Canned fruits and packaged dried fruits (like raisins and prunes) are a decent alternative for fresh fruits. They’re higher in sugar, but are the next best option. For snack foods, stock up on unsalted nuts. They’re high in protein and make for a great filling snack food.

It’s important to have a variety of non-perishable foods stocked in case of an emergency. Try to stash at least a week’s worth of food. You can never be too prepared!


Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

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