After the hurricane
Healthy people can survive on half their usual food for an extended period and without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women. If your water supply is limited, avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don't stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
In a crisis, it will be vital that you maintain your strength. So remember:
Eat at least one well-balanced meal every day.
Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (2 quarts a day).
Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.
Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements to assure adequate nutrition.
If the electricity goes off
First use perishable food and foods from the refrigerator, then use foods from the freezer.
To minimize the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning the foods are safe to eat) for at least three days.
Use non-perishable foods and staples last.
For emergency cooking, you can use a fireplace, charcoal grill or camp stove outdoors only. You also can heat food with candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots. Canned food can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label first.
Use within six months:
Use within one year:
May be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
Store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family.
Store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts of water each day. Heat can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need more. You will need additional water for food and hygiene.
Never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
Store water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Plastic containers such as soft drink bottles are best.
Before storing your water, treat it with a disinfectant, such as chlorine bleach, to prevent the growth of microorganisms. Use liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite and no soap. Some containers warn, "Not For Personal Use." You can disregard these warnings if the label states sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient and if you use only the small quantities in these instructions. Add 4 drops of bleach per quart of water (or 2 scant teaspoons per 10 gallons), and stir.
Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store them in a cool, dark place.
In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause disease such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. You should purify any water you're uncertain of. There are many ways to purify water, none perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before purifying, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of clean cloth.
Boiling is the safest method of purifying water.
Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it between two containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.
Add a pinch of salt for taste.
Chlorination uses liquid chlorine bleach to kill microorganisms.
Use liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite and no soap. Some containers warn "Not For Personal Use." You can disregard these warnings if the label states sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient and if you use only the small quantities in these instructions.
Add 2 drops of bleach per quart of water (4 drops if the water is cloudy), stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not taste and smell of chlorine at that point, add another dose and let stand another 15 minutes.
If you do not have a dropper, use a spoon and a square-ended strip of paper or thin cloth about 1/4-inch by 2-inches. Put the strip in the spoon with an end hanging down about 1/2 inch below the scoop of the spoon. Place bleach in the spoon and carefully tip it. Drops the size of those from a medicine dropper will drop off the end of the strip.
Purification tablets release chlorine or iodine. They are inexpensive and available at most sporting goods stores and some drugstores. Follow the package directions. Usually one tablet is enough for one quart of water. Double the dose for cloudy water.
Distillation will remove microbes, heavy metals, salts, most other chemicals.
Fill a pot halfway with water, and tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down.
Put the lid on the pot upside down, making sure the cup is not dangling into the water, and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross, Times Files.
© Copyright 1998 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.