Food & Water Preparation & Storage
Food and water are two of the most basic human needs, but without proper preparation and storage water may become toxic and food will not last long. Understanding how to prepare food and water for consumption and store it in such a way as to make it last as long as possible is extremely important.
"Tap water" is potable water that has been filtered and treated according to government standards. However, during a disaster tap water may not be available or may be contaminated (i.e. by sewage or chemicals) due to pipes breaking and/or flooding. Clear water taken from natural sources other than rain or a well should be considered non-potable and treated before consumption. Even water from these latter sources may become contaminated and require filtration or other treatment. When in doubt about a water source, filter then treat or boil the water.
- Filtration Equipment is often the fastest and safest way of purifying water from a questionable source. It physically remove nearly all biological and chemical contaminants within the limits of the filter. Its' disadvantage is that it is a slow process and works only if there is a water source available during a disaster. For storing water prior to an emergency a filter is generally not required.
- Chemicals, such as tincture of iodine and household "chlorine bleach", a solution of approximately 3–6% sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), are a quick and easy way to kill most bacteria and viruses. However they will not remove other chemicals and can be adversely effected by water conditions such as temperature and debris.
- Boiling will kill virtually all bacteria and viruses regardless of other water conditions and requires no consumables or equipment beyond a container to boil in such as a pot. However, it can be somewhat time consuming and will not remove most chemical contaminants.
Once water is prepared, it must be stored so that it is readily available when needed. Water may be stored in any clean bottle, bladder, or other food grade container. The important thing to remember when storing water is to rotate your water regularly. Water can become contaminated over time with either chemicals leaching from its container or slowly growing bacteria given enough time and light, so it should never be left stored for too long.
Food can be prepared in many ways, such as boiling, frying, baking, or left raw.
Storage & Preservation
Food storage is one of the most important aspects of preparedness. Having sufficient food to endure whatever emergencies you wish to plan for will likely be the difference between life and death in an extended emergency.
- Canning a very effective form of long-term storage of perishable food. If you have a garden or other source of fresh food that you want to preserve for long periods of time canning is perhaps the best option at home and requires no special equipment or supplies other than jars, lids, a canner (pressure or water bath depending upon the food) and cooking utensils.
- Dehydrating food is an excellent way to preserve fresh food or to prepare it for further preservation such as vaccum storage or other dry food storage.
- Dry food storage is important, because most staple goods are dry such as Rice,Wheat, and Corn. Also, once fresh foods have been dehydrated they are stored the same way.
- Pickling is a very old method of preserving food that can be used for far more than cucumbers.
- Root cellars are buried structures that create a natural cold storage environment ideal for extending the life of fruits and vegetables when modern refrigeration is unavailable.
- Vacuum Storage is a very quick modern method of preserving food for storage. It is generally much easier to do than other methods, but does require special equipment, supplies, and access to electricity. Vacuum sealing does not negate the need for refrigeration, freezing, or some other form of storage, but it usually improves the effectiveness of those forms of storage.