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Emergency Preparedness Starts at Home   arrow

By: Tracy Trumper, Family and Consumer Extension Agent
Colorado State University Extension, Phillips County

The best way for every individual to help during an emergency situation in a community is first prepare themselves.  With the arrival of tornado, wild fire and flood season, it is time to plan ahead so property and precious lives can be protected.  State and national government agencies, along with Colorado State University Extension have extensive resources for all types of emergency situations. Here are some basic guidelines to help your family prepare for basic needs such as, food and water.

First, prepare a three-day supply for each person in your family.  Consider these tips when preparing your shelf-stable food supply:

  1. Store food you like and normally eat.
  2. Rotate and use food and water every 6 to 12 months.
  3. Consider small can sizes that provide just the number of servings you will consume at one time.  If your power is off, refrigerating leftovers is not an option.
  4. Keep disposable eating utensils and a manual can opener on hand.
  5. If you don’t have an alternative way to boil water, do not include instant foods.
  6. Store food packaged in cardboard boxes, thin plastic or paper in a metal, glass or rigid plastic container to avoid insect and rodent damage.
  7. Choose shelf-stable foods that do not require a refrigerator or freezer for storage.  Once opened or prepared, many foods no longer are shelf stable.

A three-day supply of emergency food for one adult includes: 18-33 servings from Grains Group, 12-16 servings from the Fruit Group, 9-15 servings from the Vegetable Group, 6-9 servings from the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, Nuts Group, and 6-9 servings from the Milk, Yogurt Cheese Group.

Here are suggestions for shelf-stable foods for each of the food groups from Choose My Plate.  For more information on nutrition visit

Grains Group includes bread, cereal, rice, and pasta in the form of crackers, pretzels, Melba toast, Ready-to-Eat cereal, granola bars, rice cakes, hard taco shells, cup-a-noodles, and cookies.

Easy to store Fruits might include canned fruits, fruit leather, applesauce, dried fruits (raisins, prunes, apricots), and canned or bottled fruit juice.

Vegetables servings may include a variety of canned vegetables, canned soups, instant vegetable or potato soups, and canned or bottled vegetable juice.

For the Dairy and Calcium Rich Group, select a variety of canned evaporated milk, canned pudding, processed cheese, snack pudding cups, dry milk, shelf-stable milk or alternative milks like rice milk or soy milk, and canned sardines, salmon and other fish canned with bones.

Meat and other protein foods may include canned or pouched tuna, sardines, salmon or chicken, other canned meats, canned soups with meat, canned beans, peanut butter, nuts, and commercially prepared jerky.

Water is a critical item. Plan and store one gallon of water per day, per person for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. Food-grade plastic or glass containers or any container that previously held food or beverages and are cleaned properly are suitable for water storage. Label each of the containers “drinking water” with the current date.

For more information on water storage and how to treat water go to:

In addition to ensuring a supply of food and water, include an Emergency Supply Kit. Many of these items you already have around the house. Gather and organize them into a duffle bag, small suitcase or plastic tote, and label it.  Suggestions for an emergency supply kit include:

  1. Personal first-aid kit
  2. Battery-powered flashlight with extra batteries
  3. Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  4. Personal medication record
  5. Extra Prescription medications, or a list of all prescriptions
  6. Hygienic items (toothbrush/hand sanitizer)
  7. Extra clothing
  8. Blankets
  9. Rain poncho
  10. 12-hour light sticks
  11. Whistle to alert rescue parties
  12. Face mask (to avoid inhalation of dangerous bacteria or smoke/debris)

Educating yourself about the different types of common emergency situations for your area or state is another important way to prepare ahead of time.

There are several on-line resources listed below that will help you make emergency plans.