by Rebecca Catalena, UF/IFAS Extension Agent
For many people, hurricane preparedness is not at the top of their to-do list. Most families have to juggle multiple, competing priorities. But the Okaloosa County Extension office wants you to remember why preparedness matters–it saves lives. Now is the time for families and individuals in Okaloosa County to build an emergency kit and create a plan for their household.
One element of a hurricane emergency kit is establishing a food supply inventory. Each family member will need enough food and water to last for a minimum of three days. And let’s not forget our furry family members! They will need food and water as well.
You should take in consideration that the power will most likely be out, and foods to include in your emergency kit should include shelf-stable items. These non-perishable items are foods that don’t need cooking and that are easily prepared. Try to pick food that appeals to more than one family member.
Foods that are calorie- and protein-rich will help household members maintain energy and strength. Foods needed to meet special dietary needs, such as for babies, toddlers, the elderly, diabetic and sick need to be considered when making your kit. Single serving or one-meal canned foods are good choices to avoid leftovers. Dried fruits, peanut butter and jelly, ready-to-eat canned meats, beans, fruits and vegetables are great items to store.
Avoid items that contain a lot of salt. Salty foods will increase your thirst during a time when water will most likely not be safe to drink. Avoid glass jars and bottled foods that are heavy, bulky and breakable. Foods packaged in cans or solid plastic containers will be more secure.
Let’s not forget the most important ingredient of life — water. Each member of your family should have 1 gallon per day in an unbreakable container. Consider that hurricane season usually occurs during the peak of hot weather, and water will most likely be consumed at a faster rate. Additional water will be needed for pets, food preparation and sanitation requirements.
Items most often forgotten are utensils. Make sure you have a non-electric can opener, plastic cups, plates, cutlery and a heating source for cooking.