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Emergency Survival Food Storage

Updated on March 26, 2011

Emergency survival food storage basics

Why build an emergency food stockpile?
One look at the evening news and it's clear why you should prepare an emergency food stockpile: Earthquakes. Floods. Tornados and hurricanes. Terrorist attacks, including sabotaging water and power supplies. Potential epidemics, like new and deadly strains of the flu. The list goes on.

Consider New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, or more recently Haiti after the earthquake. Remember the images of people stranded and hungy? That's reason enough to build a food stockpile. Nobody wants to be stuck for days with no food or clean water. And an emergency can happen anywhere, at any time.

When you’re prepared you get peace of mind: You know that you and your loved ones have a strong chance to survive an emergency situation. A food and water stockpile is a critical part of that preparation. (This article will discuss food storage basics. For more complete information about how to survive an emergency situation, go to the bottom of this Hub page and follow the link to, where you can find many books on the subject.)

With that in mind, let’s discuss the basics of emergency food storage.

Emergency food storage can be key for survival in the aftermath of a tornado or other disaster

How much to store

How much will you need?
Nobody can predict how long an emergency will last, or how soon rescue workers will arrive. For the purpose of “general preparedness” let's assume that 2-4 weeks worth of food and water is a reasonable supply. After all, you can only stockpile so much. If an emergency lasts long enough you’d have to start finding new sources of food and water. That’s beyond the scope of this article. Again, you'll find books on the subject by following the link to at the bottom of this article.

Here's a simply way to determine how much food you need in your survival food storage kit. First, calculate the daily calorie needs of each person that would need to be fed. There are online calculators for this that you can easily find using a Google search. Then, multiply that by the number of days you want to plan for.

Water is even more important than food, as a person will die from dehydration much more quickly than from starvation. For emergency stockpiling, one gallon of water per person per day is recommended. If you live in a very hot, dry place you can bump that up to 1.5 gallons per person just to be safe.

Other supplies you should keep in your survival stockpile

While food and water are the main things you’ll need, there are other items you should include in your emergency stockpile. These include:

Medicines, health supplies and supplements: Prescription medicines, pain relievers, fever reducers, stomach remedies, anti-diarrarheals, cough medicines.

First aid kit

Cooking supplies: A pot, pan, measuring cup, ladle, and other cooking utensils.

Flatware: Knives, forks, spoons

Dishes and cups: Preferably something that won’t break, like strong plastic.

Sanitary supplies: Bar soap, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and toothbrushes

Ziplock bags

Flashlight, lighter, matches, candles, extra batteries

Hand-crank radio (preferably with a flashlight and cell phone charger built in.)

Manual can opener. Important, so get a good one.

Blankets and/or sleeping bags

Garbage bags


Toilet paper, disposable diapers

Special needs: Consider special needs of anyone in your family. Babies, younger children, senior citizens, and anyone with special medical conditions may need supplies that are out of the ordinary.

Cash: The amount will depend on your budget, but you should have enough for a tank of gas and some food.

Also, consider special items such as birth certificates, insurance papers, wills, credit card account information, an extra ID card, and other items. Some of these could become especially important after an emergency, and you don’t want to have to struggle to prove your identity or insurance coverage in the aftermath of a disaster. These should be kept in a watertight container.

Finally, consider something to alleviate stress and help pass the time. A deck of cards, paper and pencils, a harmonica, yo-yo, or books can help keep everyone distracted and relieve stress. You might be surprised at what a difference a little distraction can make. It can help everyone stay calm and avoid panic--which is critical for survival. .


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    • profile image

      Dr. Kevin R. Linam 6 years ago

      We have planted a huge garden, stored 2 years worth of canned goods, rice, etc. bought 10 K in silver coins, and have begun storing long term foods- 15-25 years shelf life! We became IBO's of great company, get autoship almost 1oo servings a month, earn free food, money and Ipads!

      Join me and Be Prepared!

      Dr. Kevin R. Linam

      Atmore, Alabama

    • mabmiles profile image

      mabmiles 6 years ago

      Thanks for this hub,

    • profile image

      melusine 6 years ago

      the government dont want too many survivors. no good packing allm that crap , yopu will need a large truck to transort it and you wont be able to get to the main roads . you will have to abandon your vehicle and go on foot until the army or police shoot you for blocking the roads and they want the roads clear for movement of military personnel. any medics will be for the military and chosen personnel. they dont want you leaving your homes and wasting their time. they only want a few of us to survive, definitely not the old, the sick and the very young.

    • profile image

      Survival Seeds 7 years ago

      Let's face it.,the world is getting weirder every day. With every paycheck I'm purchasing few more items on my survival checklist and I recommend that you do the same.

    • profile image

      Mark Nord 8 years ago

      Thanks very much, everyone! This was the kind of thing I never used to think about until my town lost electricity for a little over a day. It made me think about how easy it would be to be stuck without food if there was a real emergency. Hopefully this will help others be prepared as well.

      Thanks again for all the nice comments.

    • DoodleLyn profile image

      DoodleLyn 8 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

      Waaay more things than I ever thought of. Guess we need to start thinking about this. Great hub. Congratulations.

    • profile image

      Thelda 8 years ago

      Very good advice!

    • ProCW profile image

      ProCW 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Congratulations on your nomination, Mark Nord! You've gained a fan in me.

      We, the HubNuggets Team, wish you great success... fame... fortune... etc.

      All the best!

      - ProCW & the HubNuggets Team

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Good advice and a great list of necessary items. Thanks for the info! :D

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi Mark, I hope I never need to use this but emergencies sometimes come unexpectedly, don't they?  Thanks for this hub which I will definitely keep in mind.

      By the way, the good news for you today is that your hub is a Hubnugget Wannabe!  What is that?  Well it's for you to find out and to enjoy as you see the details of the Hubnuggets Fun!  Click this link please:

    • Koby profile image

      Koby 8 years ago from Ohio

      I liked this hub, very informative. I would have liked more pictures too.