Gather Emergency Supplies Food Supplies
If a natural or human-caused disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, and electricity for a while. By taking steps now to store emergency food and water supplies, along with a disaster supplies kit, you can reduce the affect of any such disaster on your family.
Detailed information on the steps outlined below can be found in the American Red Cross publication, "Food and Water in an Emergency."
During and after a disaster, it will be vital that you and your household (including your pets) eat enough to maintain your strength.
- Store foods that you eat regularly. Foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking are best. Include vitamin, mineral,
and protein supplements to ensure adequate nutrition.
- Store enough food for two weeks. It is better
to have extra you can share than to run out.
- Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers, ill and elderly people. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices, and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people.
- Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils.
During and after a disaster, eat at least one well-balanced meal each day, more if you are working hard. If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period and without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women.
For emergency cooking, you can use a fireplace or a charcoal grill or camp stove outdoors. Use only approved devices—like candle warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots—for warming food. If you heat food in its can, be sure to open it and remove the label before heating. Never leave open flames unattended.
How and Where to Store Food
- Keep food in a dry, cool spot—out of the sun, if possible.
- Wrap perishable foods, such as cookies
and crackers, in plastic bags and keep them in sealed containers.
- Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or airtight cans to keep them fresh and unspoiled.
- Canned goods that have become swollen, dented or corroded.
- Fatty, high-protein or salty foods when your water supply is low.
- Keep your hands clean — it's one of the best ways to keep from getting sick. If soap and running water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gels or wipes to clean hands.
- Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use. Throw out perishable foods, such as meat and poultry, that have been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content if your water supplies are low.
- If there's a power outage, eat food in the refrigerator first, the freezer next, and finally from your stored supplies. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least two days.
This is an easy-to-build shelf system cost is a small fraction of the price of retail canned
food systems. There are many variations so modify the plans to suit your
needs and abilities.
- Decide the size and number of shelves you need. This article
will cover a 5-shelf system that is 32in wide, 24in deep, and 64in tall.
- Cut the plywood on a table saw or with a circular saw.
- Cut one full sheet in half length-wise. From each half, cut a shelf at 32in. (should leave 64in for the sides).
- Cut the other full sheet in half length-wise also. Cut each half in thirds at 32in each.
- Cut the half-sheet of plywood at 32in. Cut the 32x48 piece in
half (24x32). Set the remaining 16x48 piece aside for later. You should
have 2-24x64 and 10-24x32.
- Using a router and straight edge, rout slots into the sides 3/4in. wide and 1/4in. deep.
(An alternative is to attach rails that the shelves will rest on. The
slot method is stronger and will not interfere with the rolling cans.)
- The shelves need to have a 1:12 slope (1in. drop for each 12in. run).
- For standard cans, the distance from the top of the input shelf to the top of the corresponding output shelf is 8in.
- For standard cans, the distance from the top of the input shelf, to the top of the next output shelf is 4in.
- For standard cans, the input shelf is 3.5in shorter than the output shelf.
- For larger cans, add 1 inch to these dimensions.
- Draw outlines for all slots.
- Trim the shelves. The finished outside width of the shelf
system will be 32in. The shelves will fit in a slot 1/4in deep.
Therefore, the width of the shelves is actually 31in. Each input shelf
also needs to be trimmed on the back to allow a space for the can to
drop. For standard cans, this gap needs to be 3.5in.
- Lay one side flat on the ground with the slots facing up. Insert the shelves into the slots and place the other side on top.
- Drive 2in. screws through the side and into the edge of the shelf. Put two screws in each shelf.
- Turn the unit over and drive screws in this side also.
- Turn the unit over so the back is facing up. Attach the pieces that were cut from the input shelves to prevent the cans from falling off the back.
- From the 16x48 scrap plywood, cut 5 pieces 2x32in. Turn the unit over so the front is facing up. Attach the 2x32in. pieces to block the cans from falling out the front.
- With the remaining plywood and/or additional scrap you have
laying around, build a base that the casters will attach to. Stand the
unit upright and attach it to the base.
- Decide the configuration of cans that you need. Each row will
need to be about 1/2in wider than the can. On the table saw, rip
1/4in-wide strips from plywood, MDF, or dimensional lumber. MDF and
lumber work best. Attach them to the shelves with wood glue.
- One problem you may have is the cans getting mis-aligned when they drop down.
- A solution for this is to add a divider connecting the row
dividing strips, filling the gap. Cut cardboard in a trapezoidal shape
to fit over the two row dividers. Cut out the center material of the
cardboard and glue the flaps to the row dividers.
- Another problem occurs when the gap is too large for the cans.
The can can get blocked, preventing other cans from dropping down.
- A solution for this problem is to glue wedges at the back of
the lower shelf. This will cause the can to roll forward before the next
one locks it in. The wedges can be cut from the same material used for
the row dividers. They should be large enough to move the can forward.
- The rotating canned food shelf is ready for use. Add labels to
the front of each row to identify the contents and load cans in the top
portion of each shelf.
- A simpler design is possible when you have easy access to the
back. This allows you to load the cans in the back and they simply roll
- This shelf system can accommodate any can size - even #10 cans.
Just measure the diameter and length of the can and allow at least 1/2
- The casters are very important. Experience has shown the mobility they add is a valuable convenience.
- The same concepts can be applied to build this shelf system
fixed in a closet. Just use rails (screwed into studs) to support the
- For added stability make the base larger than the footprint of
the shelf unit. The casters should provide support a couple inches in
front of and behind the shelf unit.
- Power tools can be dangerous. Be careful.
- Always wear safety glasses when operating or using any type of power tool.
Things you'll need
- 4 casters (3 inch)
- 2.5 sheets 3/4" plywood
- MDF or lumber
- Wood glue
- 2 inch screws
- Table saw
- Circular saw
- Router with 3/4in bit
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