The government recommends that you hold at least three days’ supply of food and water. This is a minimum requirement. Ideally you should hold from 1 to 2 weeks supply of food. This is because depending on the disaster it could take longer for emergency services to get to you. Food and water will be the hardest things to find during a disaster. Even if you have access to money, stores run out of essentials very quickly. Stores that still have food can also increase prices dramatically. This will limit your ability to attain additional food

You can only survive for 3-5 days without water, but you can survive for 2-3 weeks without food. Being prepared means that you don’t have to worry about counting the days, as you can go a few days without food if needed. Dehydration is very dangerous, so drinking water should not be rationed. However, if needed you can live on only half rations of food if you have decreased activity. Children and breast-feeding women should not have their food rationed.

You should hold a minimum of hours (3 days) of emergency food for your family/group. Buying emergency food can be expensive, but when you consider that it could save you or your family’s life it is only a small price to pay for you and your family’s security. One way of acquiring the supplies is by buying one or two items a week until you have the required quantity.

What you will need

  • Non-perishable foods (canned or dried)
  • food, formula and drinks for babies and small children
  • Pet food if you have pets
  • At least 3 litres of water per day, per person
  • Water for pets, washing and cooking (store as much as you can)
  • A gas cooker, gas barbecue or some other heat source is required to heat food and boil water.
  • Can opener
  • Vitamin, mineral and protein supplements

For more information on feeding you baby (0-12 months old) in an emergency click here 

Things to consider

  • Select foods that you can carry away with you if you have to leave.
  • Choose shelf stable foods that do not require a refrigerator or freezer to store.
  • Freeze dried fruits are nutritious, light and take up less room. But can be expensive.
  • Also consider foods that require minimal preparation or cooking and little or no water
  • Choose small canned sizes that provide just the number of servings you will consume at one time. This is so you not have to refrigerate leftovers after opening.
  • Include comfort foods like chips, crackers, nuts, chocolate, and sweets. This could include high energy snacks to help boost energy levels.
  • Include tea and coffee, other hot drinks, and drink mixes.
  • Choose a variety of foods. Having a well-rounded food selection will cut down on culinary boredom.
  • Choose foods that you like and normally eat. Eating food that is familiar and enjoyable can help boost morale.
  • Don’t forget to include salt, and other spices.

If you have canned food you can eat straight out of the tin. You can heat the can on your heat source, just remember to remove the lid and label. Also never leave open flames unattended inside.


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