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Injury Prevention and Safety

Make Food Plan Now for Emergencies

Even when clear weather may be in the forecast, that is the perfect time to do some menu planning and pantry inventory for emergencies.

People tend to think that an electricity outage isn't something to be too concerned about -- and something that "won't happen to me," so they tend not to plan ahead for it. But with just a little preparation, healthful meals can be a cinch even when power outages become prolonged.

When a prolonged outage is anticipated, use perishable food from the refrigerator and freezer at the beginning of the emergency, if possible. Then go to the pantry, where there should be all sorts of possibilities to get you through an outage.

Most of the time, foods to be kept on hand could be part of your regular food consumption pattern; just keep these items on the shelf, and replace them when you?ve used them. Such items include tuna, canned chicken or other meat, canned beans, peanut butter, canned tomatoes, cereal, crackers, canned soup, canned vegetables, canned or dry milk, canned juices, and bottled water.

The fact sheet, Emergency Food Pyramid: Eating Nutritiously When the Lights are Out, contains imaginative ideas for an emergency. In addition to safety precautions and equipment, the fact sheet outlines meal plans with "no heating required" for three days of outages, including:

Any opened perishable food that can't be kept cold and isn't eaten should be thrown away at the end of the day.

Other tips for emergencies are provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of course, such guidelines are only helpful if they're reviewed before a power outage eliminates the ability to download them.

This article originally appeared in Chow Line (9/1/2005), a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2009.

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Last Reviewed: Apr 03, 2009

Sharron   Coplin, MS, RD, LD Sharron Coplin, MS, RD, LD
Former Lecturer
Food & Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University