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Purchasing Emergency Supplies

Once you have a clear idea of what you want (and need) to place in your emergency kit, the next step is to begin assembling your kit. This means purchasing the items you need and doing it on a results-oriented schedule. The following article will outline helpful steps and resources to make it easy for you to get your emergency kit assembled.

Check out the Red Cross checklist as you plan your purchases. When preparing your shopping lists, group specialty food items according to the names of people in your household to ensure their particular dietary needs are addressed.

5 tips for buying emergency food supplies

When buying the edible components of your emergency kit, remember to buy:

  1. Foods that are easy to store (items with a long shelf life or packaging that preserves freshness and are re-sealable)
  2. Foods that don’t require a lot of water to prepare
  3. Items that taste good and meet the dietary needs of people in your household
  4. A manual can opener and disposable utensils
  5. Nonperishable foods for your pets

Foods that come in “convenient” packages and are designed for long-term storage might appear to be a good deal but if they are complicated to prepare or simply taste terrible, you are wasting your money.

An excellent resource is an article entitled “Preparing an Emergency Food Supply, Short Term Food Storage.” Written by food safety specialists, the article outlines important tips to keep in mind when purchasing emergency supplies by focusing on how you should be planning to store the food once you have begun to use it.

A Balanced Purchase Plan

The number of emergency items (food, supplies, clothing, etc.) can be overwhelming if you are trying to buy them all at once. A better approach is to build you emergency supplies list and then buy a few key items at a time over the course of several weeks.

For example, in Week 1 of your purchase plan think about the basics: water, light and shelter. This translates into: bottled water, flashlights or candles and a tent or large plastic tarp. Week 2 then expands to include more essentials: food, warmth, first aid. This translates into: canned soup / canned vegetables / canned meats, blankets (e.g., heat reflective blankets) and a simple medical kit with gauze, antiseptic cream, ice packs and compress bandages. The CDC offers a useful list of supplies for your first aid kit at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/supplies.asp.
Take a look at an example of a weekly buying plan that was published by the Palm Beach County Department of Public Safety. Their list focuses on the risks and issues related to hurricanes but many of the items on their list are common to emergency preparedness kits for any disaster situation.

Store It – Use It – Replace It

You should be familiar with what you have on hand as part of your emergency supplies. The best way to know this is to use your supplies and replace them on a regular basis. The last thing you need in an emergency is to find out that your food supplies expired or were damaged by water or mold. Don’t let useless supplies give you a false sense of safety! Plan to rotate your food supplies based upon a regular schedule – 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and so forth. You can find several food rotation planner tools at http://www.pep-c.org/nss-folder/rotationplanner/ .

If you are looking for a planning tool that goes beyond your own checklists and references listed here, you might find the Food Storage Planner be an option. The program is currently available for Windows systems (but not Mac OS). There is also a basic food quantities calculator available at http://www.coolcontent.com/familyfun/FoodStorage.html.


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