If your community were to be struck by a disaster – a severe storm, earthquake or tornado – you may not have access to fresh food, water or electricity for days, possibly weeks. Therefore, it is vital to make a plan and have emergency supplies on hand.
You never know when a man-made or natural disaster will strike. Whether you’re a hospital, an assisted living facility, a school or a university, it’s imperative to have an emergency preparedness supplies in place to make sure your staff and patrons are taken care of.
No matter what emergency meal plan and preparedness plan you use, there are some basic elements to consider when preparing for an emergency.
Emergency Preparedness Requirements & Supplies
State governments require some facilities and organizations have an emergency preparedness plan in place, as well as disaster supplies such as food and water for their residents.
Each state has developed its own regulations for various communities and types of organizations. Many states require maintaining emergency supplies of food and water for three days, though some states require five to even seven days of recommended supplies.
To find your state’s specific requirements contact your local department of health services.
If You Lose Power
- Use perishable food from the refrigerator or pantry first.
- Next, use food from the freezer. Post a list of the freezer contents on the door. This will help limit the number of times you need to open the freezer door and keeps temperatures cold. In a filled and well-insulated freezer, food will usually still have ice crystals in the center (meaning food is safe to eat) for at least two days. Check to make sure the seal on the freezer door is in good condition.
- Finally, begin using non-perishable foods and supplies such as Easy Meal.
Have a Non-Perishable Emergency Food Supply
As you plan your emergency food supply, familiar foods are important. They lift morale and give people a sense of normalcy and security in a time of stress. Pick food residents will enjoy, and food that will have enough calories and meet daily nutritional needs.
When determining the number of people to plan for, remember to consider more than just the residents’ food needs. The plan should include staff, potential volunteers on site and others who may seek shelter at your facility. Add these numbers to get the amount of people you will need to be prepared to serve, and you can also use our emergency food calculator for help.
While emergency food and water does not need to be in the immediate kitchen area, it should be in a secure and easily accessible location. The storage area environment should meet the requirements of the food and water to maximize its shelf life; typically a cool dry spot out of direct sunlight.
Inventory and Verification
An inventory checklist of food and water should be maintained by the food service manager. Quarterly, the manager should inventory the emergency preparedness supplies and determine if they need to be rotated or replenished. Food and water should be marked with a date by the manufacturer.
All Easy Meal products are guaranteed for 10 years from the day they were made. When food or water is nearing its expiration date, consider using it in a disaster drill, serving it to residents, or donating it to the local food bank.
Review the emergency food and water plan with staff twice a year. Train them on the location of the emergency supply, and review food preparation techniques. It’s good to choose foods for an emergency that are extremely easy to prepare and can be made and plated with minimal staff.
For emergency cooking, a charcoal or gas grill or camp stove can be used outdoors to heat water. You can keep cooked food hot by removing it from the pouch and using candle warmers or chafing dishes. You may also wish to invest in a small gas-powered generator.
If you use Easy Meal, there’s no need to worry if your group is unable to obtain a way to heat water. The foods will still rehydrate with cold water (just double the time indicated in the instructions).
It’s important to also keep lights, such as flashlights, nearby to help see during the food preparation process and serving process in case of a power outage. Don’t forget to store extra batteries, too!
Include disposable plates, cups, napkins, utensils, and other basic items in your supply kit. Switching to disposal products will simplify serving and help reduce labor needs. Disposable products also reduce the need for washing dishes which conserves water.
Kitchen waste should be kept in leak proof, non-absorbent containers until sanitary disposable services become available. Since Easy Meal food can be prepared inside its storage pouch, after the food has been made and served, the pouch can be rolled up and put in the garbage. There is no extra clean up.
Refer to your state health department’s emergency requirements to determine the daily water needs per person. Many guidelines recommend storing at least one gallon of water per person, per day. This amount covers two quarts for drinking and two quarts for food preparation and hygiene. Never ration water. Instead, drink the amount you need today and try to find more water for tomorrow.
Emergency Water Storage
Bottled storage water should be kept sealed and stored in a cool, dry area. The supply should be clearly marked for emergency use only. Water will be marked with a bottling date and should be used before that date.
If you do not use all of the water during an emergency, use it for something or discard unused amount. Do not put the remaining open water containers back into storage.
Emergency Water Delivery
Your facility should set up a contract with a local bottled water vendor to provide emergency water in an event of an emergency or disaster. Also, consult with your local public water agency as they can advise you on your plan and offer information on any additional emergency procedures you should take.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community and Family Preparedness Program and the American Red Cross Community Disaster Education are nationwide efforts to help people prepare for disasters of all types. For more information visit www.fema.gov, www.ready.gov, or www.redcross.org.
Properly planning ahead and preparing for emergencies can help save lives. Ensure you’re always ready when disaster strikes with the supplies needed, including meal plans. To learn more about how Easy Meal can help you prepare for an emergency, watch the following video.