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Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency

Natural disasters—a flood, hurricane, blizzard—often come with little or no warning. Stocking up now on the right nonperishable food items will help you weather the storm with less stress.

By Vanessa DiMaggio
Can Strainer Aya Brackett

More Food Advice for an Emergency

• If the electricity goes out, how do you know what is and isn’t safe to eat from the refrigerator? If your food has spent more than four hours over 40º Fahrenheit, don’t eat it. As long as frozen foods have ice crystals or are cool to the touch, they’re still safe. “Once it gets to be room temperature, bacteria forms pretty quickly, and you want to be very careful about what you’re eating,” says Swanson. Keep the doors closed on your refrigerator and freezer to slow down the thawing process.

• If you don’t have electricity, you may still be able to cook or heat your food. If you have outdoor access, a charcoal grill or propane stove is a viable option (these can’t be used indoors because of improper ventilation). If you’re stuck indoors, keep a can of Sterno handy: Essentially heat in a can, it requires no electricity and can warm up small amounts of food in cookware.

 

• If your family has special needs—for example, you take medication regularly or you have a small child—remember to stock up on those essential items, too. Keep an extra stash of baby formula and jars of baby food or a backup supply of your medications.

 

• If you live in an area at high risk for flooding, consider buying all your pantry items in cans, as they are less likely to be contaminated by flood waters than jars. “It’s recommended that people don’t eat home-canned foods or jarred foods that have been exposed to flood waters because those seals are not quite as intact,” says Andress.

 

 

Read More About:Shopping & Storing

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Quick Tip

Aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a drawer

The flan can be baked up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Unmold just before serving.