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Preparing for Food and Water Shortage

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    Posted: June 21 2008 at 6:47am

National Recommendations for Disaster Food Handling

University of Tennessee

The primary objective of this project was harmonization of food handling recommendations for disaster and emergency situations. This objective was accomplished through the following steps:
  1. Analyze current national food handling recommendations for disaster and emergency situations.
  2. Determine inconsistencies in current recommendations.
  3. Achieve consensus and validation of recommendations by private and public sector experts across the nation.
  4. Develop a marketing plan to assure use of recommendations.
  5. Publish the consensus recommendations and make them electronically accessible.
General Procedure: Publications on food handling under disaster situations were collected from every credible source that could be identified. Information in over 200 publications was summarized with special focus on identifying inconsistent recommendations. A team of food microbiologists addressed each inconsistency and proposed the safest resolution. A consensus workshop was held to review proposed recommendations and reach consensus on recommendations for each disaster situation. The consensus panel, listed below, is gratefully acknowledged for their essential role in this project.

1. General Emergency Procedures

1-A Evacuation: Food and Supplies to Take With You

Have a plan, preferably written, and review it frequently with those in your household.

Make a list of items which are absolutely essential for your family’s needs; for example, special medications or foods needed by diabetics or others with health problems. Store non-perishable supplies in an easy-to-carry container. Keep a small version of your Disaster Supply Kit in the trunk of your car. Some shelters will have food, others will not. Take food, water and disaster supplies with you to the evacuation center or shelter. Take snacks for the first 24 hours.

If your freezer is not full, freeze clean containers of water to fill some of the space and slow temperature increase in case of a power failure.

1-B Returning Home

Have unscented liquid chlorine bleach available for decontamination of water and other items in the home. See section 2 for instructions for decontamination of water.

Examine or have someone examine electrical, plumbing and structural systems of your home for damage and safety. Check water supply, stored and frozen foods. Discard or decontaminate unsafe items (see sections 5,6, and 7).

Locate a source of dry ice in case of power failure.

Have wells, springs and cisterns tested for safe use.

1-C General Information

Flood waters may have buried or moved hazardous chemical containers from their normal storage place, including solvents, aerosol cans and industrial chemicals. Waters also may carry silt, raw sewage, oil, or chemical waste.

2. Emergency Water

2-A Hot Water Heaters, Toilet Tanks, Waterbeds

Water from hot water heaters may be used as a reserve supply of fresh waters if plumbing fixtures and water heater are not submerged by flood. Main water line must be closed. If doubt exists as to safety, do not use without decontamination.

Water from the toilet tank may be used for drinking unless a chemical tank cleaner has been added to the water.

Waterbeds hold up to 400 gallons of water, but some water beds contain toxic chemicals that are not fully removed by purifiers. If used as an emergency water resource, drain it yearly and refill it with fresh water containing two (2) ounces (1/4 cup) of bleach per 120 gallons of water. Do not add algicides or other additives (with the exception of chlorine bleach) if this water is to be used as a water reserve. Before use, water should be boiled.

2-B Rainwater, Streams, Lakes, Rivers, Wells, Cisterns

When all other water sources have been exhausted, rainwater, rivers, streams and lakes can be used for emergency outdoor water sources. Be sure to purify the water before drinking it.

During FLOOD, Consider all water unsafe! Listen for public announcements about the safety of your local water supply before using any water for drinking, cooking or cleaning. Purify, preferably by boiling for ten (10) minutes.

2-C Water Purification: Boiling

How to Boil and How Long (minutes)

Water that is microbiologically safe can be stored “as is” in thoroughly cleaned and sanitized containers (see section 3 for instructions).

Contaminated water should be allowed to sit before boiling to permit suspended particles to settle to the bottom. The water should then be filtered using several layers of paper towels or clean cloth.

Boiling is the safest method of purifying water and ensures destruction of bacteria and some protozoan organisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium that are resistant to chemical sanitizers.

Water should be brought to a rolling boil for ten (10) minutes and allowed to cool. Water should be dispensed promptly into clean, sanitized containers and tightly sealed.

If water has been contaminated by a chemical spill disaster, boiling will not remove chemicals.

2-D Water Purification: Chlorine It is not necessary to treat water for storage, if the water comes from a safe water supply. If stored properly, this water should have an indefinite shelf-life, but you may want to rotate and replace this water every 6-12 months with fresh, safe water.

To kill and prevent the growth of microorganisms, purify water with liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite and no soap. Some containers warn, “Not For Personal Use.” You can disregard these warnings if the label states sodium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient and if you use only the small quantities in these instructions.

Purification of Drinking Water With Chlorine Bleach*
Type of Water Chlorine Bleach Amount of Chlorine
Bleach to Purify
Time Required
for Treatment
Clear/Cloudy 5.25% 4 drops/quart 30 minutes
Waterbed 5.25% 1/4 cup / 120 gallons 30 minutes

*Chlorine bleach should have sodium hypochlorite (5.25%) as the only active ingredient.

2-E Water Purification: Iodine Iodine is available as tablets and as “Tincture of Iodine.” Use one (1) iodine tablet per quart of water; two (2) tablets per quart if water is cloudy. “Tincture of Iodine” should have 2% U.S.P. iodine (read label). If concentration is weaker or stronger than 2%, adjust amount to be added by the following formula: Drops of Iodine = 80 per GALLON (%tincture of iodine)

Purification of Water With Iodine - 2 Percent U.S.P.
Type of Water Amount of 2%U.S.P.
Iodine per Gallon
Time Required
for Treatment
Clear Water 2 drops 30 minutes
Cloudy Water 40 drops 30 minutes

Seal container holding iodine-treated water, let stand 30 minutes. This water supply is safe for an indefinite period. Avoid recontamination after opening.

2-F Water Storage

If your water supply has come in contact with flood water, you must thoroughly clean and sanitize the container and purify the water again before using it for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth or dish washing.

Purified water is safe for an indefinite period. Avoid recontamination after opening.

Water that is microbiologically safe can be stored “as is” in thoroughly cleaned and sanitized containers (see section 3 for instructions).

2-G Water Storage: Amounts Needed

Normally active, healthy adults and children should have at least one (1) gallon of water per person per day for drinking. Additional water is needed for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least ½ gallon per person per day for these purposes. Store at least a two-day supply or as much as space allows.

In hot environments, store two gallons per person per day for drinking water. Children, nursing mothers and people who are ill may need more than normal amounts of water.

2-H Bottled Water

Commercially bottled water is best to use, if possible. Store in cool, dry, dark place.

2-I Ice

Unless you are absolutely certain that ice is free of contamination, ice should not be used in drinks or in direct contact with foods. If ice is to be melted for drinking, decontaminate melted ice as described for other types of water in 2-C, 2-D, and 2-E. Do not consume dry ice.

3. Disinfection of Cookware/Dishes/Glassware/Utensils/Food Preparation Area

ANY DISASTER: Pots and pans, glasses, dishes and utensils should be washed in detergent solution and rinsed in clean, sanitized water, if available, then dipped for 15 minutes in a solution of two (2) teaspoons of chlorine bleach per quart of water at room temperature. Use two (2) teaspoons of chlorine bleach in one quart of water to clean food surfaces, equipment used to prepare food and inside refrigerators and freezers.

4. Food/Non-Food Items to Discard After A Flood

4-A Foods Which Have Come In Contact With Flood Water

Fresh fruits and vegetables which come in contact with flood waters are not safe to eat.

Discard all foods except commercially canned foods in undamaged metal containers. Pull-tab cans may be kept if sanitized properly, i.e., in chlorine solution (see section 7-D).

4-B Non-Food Items Which Have Come In Contact With Flood Water

Discard the following:

Porous non-food items used with food or that are put into the mouth
Paper, styrofoam and other picnic type goods
Baby pacifiers and baby bottle nipples
Plastic or wooden containers and utensils

5. Foods to Keep

5-A Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and Garden Produce After A Flood

Fresh fruits, vegetables and garden produce exposed to flood water are not safe to eat. Do not attempt to disinfect, save or preserve crops -- not even root crops.

If plants survive, the new produce that forms on them after the flood waters have receded is safe to consume. It will take about a month for garden to become clean.

5-B Foods to Keep -- After A Power Outage Not Related to A Natural Disaster

Refrigerator and Freezer
FIRST, use perishable food from the refrigerator.

THEN, use foods from the freezer. To minimize freezer door openings, post a list of freezer contents. In a well-insulated freezer, foods will have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least two days. See section 6-D

FINALLY, begin to use non-perishable foods and staples. These foods are considered more stable than most perishable foods:

Butter, margarine (low fat spreads not as stable as butter/margarine)
Cheese, hard
Jam, jelly or preserves made with sugar
Mayonnaise (commercial)
Peanut butter
Peanuts and other nuts
Steak sauces

6. Handling Thawed or Partially Thawed Food

6-A Canning or Refreezing Thawed Food: Power Outage/Flood/Fire

Foods that cannot be refrozen, due to lack of facilities, but are safe to use (See Section 6-D) may be canned immediately. Can the food under sanitary conditions and with proper equipment using time/temperature/pressure recommended by canning guides.

Foods that contain ice crystals may be refrozen.

Thawed foods that do not contain ice crystals and have been kept at 40°F or below two (2) days or less, may be cooked, then refrozen or canned.

6-B Handling Food After A Fire

Refrigerators and freezers left closed hold their temperature for a short time. Do not attempt to refreeze food that has been totally thawed and allowed to go above 40°F for more than two (2) hours.

Discard food, beverages and medicines that have been exposed to heat, fire chemicals, smoke, soot or have been charred. Treat foods exposed to water from fire fighting as you would treat food exposed to flood water. Foods stored in refrigerators or freezers can be contaminated by fumes if refrigerator seals are not air-tight.

Even if a food is initially considered safe, throw it out if it has an off-smell or off-flavor when it is prepared.

6-C Dry Ice Usage: Power Outage

Avoid direct contact of dry ice with skin. Dry ice will burn skin and is not for consumption.

If without power more than one day, dry ice for the freezer will be helpful. Use three (3) pounds dry ice per cubic foot of freezer space.

Provide adequate ventilation for carbon dioxide in areas where dry ice is used. Do not cover air vent openings of freezer.

6-D Refreezing Thawed Foods/Safety or Refrigerated Food: Earthquake/ Power Outage

You cannot rely on appearance or odor to determine whether a food will make you sick.

Generally, food in a refrigerator is safe as long as the power is out no more than a few hours and as long as the temperature does not exceed 40°F for more than two (2) hours. Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator at all times to see if food is being stored at safe temperatures (40°F or below). To retain cold temperature, open freezer or refrigerator door only as often as necessary.

If freezer is not full, group packages together quickly. Group meat and poultry to one side or on separate trays so their juices will not contaminate each other or other foods if the meat and poultry thaw.

Check food for evidence of thawing before refreezing. Food that has or may have thawed during a power outage, and has refrozen before being checked, cannot reliably be examined for damage.

6-E Disposal of Discarded Thawed Food

Place discarded thawed foods in plastic garbage bags. Dispose of thawed food and refrigerated items that are moldy or have an unusual odor or appearance. Dispose with normal garbage pick up or bury at least one foot deep.

7. Canned Food Containers

7-A Commercially Canned Foods in Metal Containers: Flood

Commercially canned foods which have not been exposed to flood water can be eaten straight from the can.

Commercially canned foods which may have been exposed to flood water, that have sealed, airtight metal lids, can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and are safe to use after disinfection as described in sections 7-D. Do not use home-canned foods that may have been exposed to flood water.

7-B Commercially Canned or Home Canned Foods: Frozen

Commercially canned food that has frozen in sealed, airtight metal cans is safe to eat if the cans are not bulging, swelling or seeping and the seal is not damaged.

Home and commercially canned food in glass jars that have frozen should not be used due to the possibility of glass fragments in the food and broken seals.

7-C Commercially Canned or Home Canned Foods: Fire

Throw out any canned foods that were charred or near the fire. Heat damage may not be apparent on the outside of canned goods, but extreme heat and chemical fumes can destroy the integrity of the container.

7-D Disinfection: Metal Cans

Do not combine bleach with anything but water.
Use only the concentrations of bleach recommended.

There are two primary methods of disinfection: boiling and using chlorine bleach. Boiling for ten (10) minutes is preferred. However, do not boil cans of carbonated beverages.

Flood: All cans, free of rust or dents, must be washed and sanitized before they are opened. Wash containers in a detergent solution with a scrub brush. Rinse in clean water, if available. Sanitize by immersing containers for fifteen (15) minutes in a solution of two (2) teaspoons of chlorine bleach per quart of water at room temperature. Inspect cans and destroy any which bulge or leak. After sanitizing, remove containers from solution, and air-dry. Re-label. Use as soon as possible, since containers may rust. Store containers where they will not be re-contaminated. For cooking, empty contents and boil for ten (10) minutes before eating.

Disinfection of Commercially Canned Foods
in Glass or Metal Food Contact Surfaces, and
Utensils Chlorine Disinfecting Solution or Alternatives for Disinfecting
Immersion Time for
Scrubbed Containers
Water Temperature
in Bleach
Chlorine 15 minutes room temp
Boiling 10 minutes rolling boil household

8. Foods Covered by Water Which May Have Contained Industrial Waste

8-A General Information

Destroy all foods that were covered by water which may have been contaminated with industrial waste. This includes foods sealed in unopened cans.

Reference Table
Equivalents by Volume
Measure Equivalent
1 gallon 4 quarts
1 quart 4 cups
1 quart 2 pints
1 cup 8 fluid ounces
1 cup ½ pint
1 cup 16 tablespoons
2 tablespoons 1 fluid ounce
1 tablespoon 3 teaspoons
1 teaspoon 5 milliliters
1 milliliter 20 drops
reparing for Food/Water Shortage

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Preparing for Food Shortage Disasters

 | January 10, 2008

I notice a lot of people are coming here in search of information about food supplies in disasters, whether economic or natural. As far as I am concerned that is extremely smart planning. Between droughts, floods, and solar agitation, food supplies are getting hammered. Lets add a bit of economic and political turmoil to the supplies that are left and we might have to face one huge starvation crisis in the near future. I thought it was time to discuss food supplies.

Exactly what are the smart moves you can make to stock up and how do you feed yourself and your family through lean times?

The first thing you need to do is look at stocking up on supplies that might not be so easy to come by in the future, and that are easily stocked. It’s not going to do you much good to have a freezer full of perishable food if something happens to the electric supply. You can hold one or two quick neighborhood parties to use those supplies before they spoil, but face it - that is only a couple of days of food at the best if the hammer falls during summer months. In winter you might have an easier time as snowbanks will keep food just as finely as the best of refrigerators. Take that as a hint that you can stock more perishable supplies in winter than in summer if you live in areas that have cold winters.

Canned supplies can be stocked fairly easily. Stock what you are able. As time goes by, use the older supplies and replace them with new ones on a regular basis to keep your supplies edible. If you have a root cellar or some such storage area, you can get away with stocking more fresh foods such as yams and potatoes. Try to choose foods that will be both nutritious and filling. Stock only perishables that you can use and replace before they go bad.

Dried foods such as beans, brown rice, pastas, corn meals, spices, yeast, baking soda, etc. should be included in your supply cabinets. Cooking oils such as olive oil should be stored as well. Packaged military C rations will last a long time and are inexpensive yet vital supplies to have. Your main focus is nutrition, but try to stock foods that will not make you miserable to eat for long periods if possible. Don’t be afraid to pack a few foods just for a treat now and again, but don’t short yourself of good foods to store them. In a crisis a bit of comfort food might be pretty welcome now and again. Remember that chocolate is actually good for you and being able to give your kids a cup of cocoa once in awhile when times are bad can really be an emotional pick-me-up for the whole family. The same is true of popcorn, which actually contains some good minerals and carbohydrates. Being as creative as you can in food storage can help keep the family’s spirits up while feeding them throughout a crisis.

When planning how to feed your family in a crisis, never assume that a crisis is going to be temporary. You might not be able to store enough to last through bad times. In the coming years being able to supply your own food may be vital to your survival. If you have property you can cultivate, learn how. Remember though that in many crisis situations, your ground might be rendered unusable. You will be much more likely to guarantee a supply of food if you learn to grow food using hydroponics. On the site you will find an excellent and inexpensive book on hydroponic gardening. It is here because I truly believe that hydroponics is the best means of growing your own food. It will teach you what you need to know to grow food by this means. Using hydroponics gives you much more control of your crop than land gardening, which leaves you at the mercy of weather and other elements which can be hostile to your farming attempts.
Feel free to sign up for the Self-Reliance free reports if you would like to learn more about hydroponics before you spend money on the “how to” book I have provided here.

Getting organic seeds is vitally important as you will want to be able to save seeds for another crop later on. Many seeds are now genetically altered and plants which are grown from these seeds are sterile and will not produce seeds that will be usable again. Make sure you know what you are getting. If the vendor which you buy seeds from can’t guarantee the seeds are organic, don’t bother with them.

When planning what to grow, make sure to vary your plants. You will want to include vegetables, tubers such as onions, carrots, and potatoes which can be stored for longer periods, and grain seeds such as corn, oat, and flax which can be used to make flours and cereals. Make sure to get seeds which produce edible sprouts such as alfalfa and wheat grass, too. These seeds can quickly produce food of high quality nutrition and won’t take up a full garden of space. One thing you need to be aware of, though, is that once you eat the sprouts, the food is gone and you will not have more seeds, so make sure to let some of the plants grow full term so you can have a renewable harvest.

If you have space for them, consider raising chickens or other fowl. These animals produce eggs and can be a continual source of food for your family and are not expensive to feed. You can grow food for them yourself, too. In dire straights you can eat the animals themselves unless you are morally opposed. When starving, you might have to compromise your emotional predispositions if you are to stay alive. We will not be the first people to have had to do so.

Another way to use space on property is to build and stock a pond. You can stock it with edible seaweeds, fish, clams, and crayfish. Some disasters may destroy these supplies as well, but many won’t. You will have a good source of renewable food supply if you use wise planning when you build your pond and harvest it.

Learn what plants in your area are edible. Chances are you have some terrific food sources growing near you that can be harvested in emergencies. I sometimes eat wild plants for no other reason than some of them are pretty good and many are extremely nutritious. Dandelions, for example, are excellent food sources with superior food value. Leaves can be used as salad and roots used in teas can clean the system. The flowers can be used either as food or to make some mighty heady wines. Cat-tails are another often overlooked nutritional food source which can be used in many different ways to provide foods. In many areas, chamomile grows wild and is even eradicated from gardens as weeds. This plant can be used to make teas that have medicinal properties as well as great taste. Please note that you need to learn what you are doing before just picking and eating plants. There are some plants which are deadly poisonous yet have very edible look-alike plants. Wild carrots are one edible plant with extremely poisonous doubles. Make sure you learn the difference. Being confused about plant identity can be deadly!

Learn to can and process the foods you grow. Plant foods that can be used to make flours and that make good canning foods. Remember that you can make whole meals to can as well as just canning plain vegetables. A good canned spaghetti sauce might just be a blessing in disguise at some later date. Make sure you rotate your canned foods as possible also. It would be a shame to keep it until it is no longer safe to eat. Check information about how long you can keep your canned foods safely when you process it.

Planting trees has become an important issue in recent years. Nothing would serve the planet better while providing you nutrition as planting fruit and nut trees in your yard. The bark of a willow tree can be used for pain relief in the event that the disaster becomes great enough that aspirin is no longer available. Bamboo is not only edible, it can be grown inside! Study options of which trees will grow in your area before bringing home a plant that won’t grow in your climate.

Even if you are an apartment dweller, you can store some, and grow some of your own foods. Be creative and study your options. There is no reason to go without when you can provide for yourself.

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THINGS TO STOCK UP ON: . Basically, stock up on all kinds of organic seeds , nuts ) gardening books and tools, sprouting books and tools, and more. Make sure everything is in glass containers that rodents cannot break into. Other things that have a long shelf life are jarred olives, raw honey , and dried sea vegetables (like kelp, which is high in iodine) and grains or beans that you can sprout.)
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Grain Store House

Planning and Preparing a Storehouse in a Food Crisis

Food shortage, emergency proportions and averting starvation.

April 16th, 2008 by admin

Below is a quote from the UN Secretary-General about the topic of the food crisis: At the United Nations on Monday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said rapidly worsening food shortages around the world had “reached emergency proportions.”

“We need not only short-term emergency measures to meet urgent critical needs and avert starvation in many regions across the world but also a significant increase in long-term productivity in food grain production,” Ban said.

President Bush has released $200 million dollars for food aide in this rising crisis that is described by the UN as being at emergency proportions.  Two things that do concern me about this is:

1. The $200 million is not even half of what was said to be needed by May 1, 2008 to stave off starvation in the developing countries - not starvation of just those pockets we know of but wider reaching starvation nationwide in countries such as Africa, Haiti, Philippines and more.

2. To avert starvation in the future - monies cannot just be tossed at a current problem.  Where is the long term plan?

While there is little I personally can do to raise the additional $300 million needed to stem the food shortage emergency in developing countries, I do see things that we all can do to avert starvation for the long term.

1. Encourage more local agriculture and sustainable crops by boosting our patronage to area farmers who would rather feed US and others than the gas (I mean ethanol) tank.

2. Reinstate an agricultural learning track in our public education system and do the same for ALL developing countries that face food crisis.

3. Grants for farmers who produce truly edible and healthy crops for human consumption and an additional grant for those willing to sell to other countries at a reasonable rate overseas.

4. Encourage home economics classes that integrate eating healthy from local produce and grains rather than convenience foods.

Throwing dollars at a problem rarely solves it. We need to get a long term plan into place that our nation will not only survive but can actually thrive and teach other nations how to ‘work’ for a long term solution without fighting in an emergency.

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Originally posted by PrepGirl PrepGirl wrote:

<H2 id=post-75>[COLOR=#3e6dd5">Preparing for Food Shortage Disasters[/COLOR"></H2>

 | January 10, 2008

Getting organic seeds is vitally important as you will want to be able to save seeds for another crop later on. Many seeds are now genetically altered and plants which are grown from these seeds are sterile and will not produce seeds that will be usable again. Make sure you know what you are getting. If the vendor which you buy seeds from can’t guarantee the seeds are organic, don’t bother with them.

Great information, but I wanted to correct one misconception. Using only organic seed is good, and that's what I do, but even non-organic seed is fine as long as it is NOT hybrid. What you want is open-pollinated seed (sometimes you'll see it described as "heirloom" seed). You can save seed from hybrid varieties, and it will grow, but it won't produce a plant exactly like the seed it came from, because the original plant was a cross between two varieties.

Genetically modified seed is generally not available to the home gardener. You can't buy it in a garden center or from a nursery catalog. It is distributed to farms with hundreds or thousands of acres of a single crop, and the farmers pay a very high premium to buy it. However, it too is not sterile. Monsanto, the primary developer of GMO seed, has taken many farmers to court for allegedly saving seed from their harvest and replanting it instead of buying new seed from Monsanto. So it will grow from saved seed just fine, but you don't want it even if you could get it. The GMO varieties have a lower yield, require more water and fertilization, and are just generally not suitable for home gardening. Moreover, there are only a few types of GMO seeds anyway--wheat, corn, soybeans and canola, the so-called "field" crops.

You may be thinking of the "Terminator" seeds in regard to sterility. This is a GMO type that has indeed been developed to be sterile, so no one would be able to save seeds and replant them. The Terminator seeds are not at this point available for sale, though Monsanto is working hard to get permission to sell them. I think we'll be looking at the end of the world if they are allowed to sell them. Because of the way GMO pollen has drifted into non-GMO fields and contaminated the crops there, I'm sure the same thing would happen with Terminator pollen. Eventually, a large percentage of plants might be making sterile seeds, unable to reproduce themselves. Not a good scenario.
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