The Engineer and I have decided to get an emergency kit in order, with enough food and water to survive for at least a few days if there were to be some kind of emergency, along with useful items like a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, a small amount of cash and copies of important documents. The kit is in a big container that could be taken with us in the event of an evacuation, or we could stay at home and survive comfortably without using electricity. We also have a short list of things to take with us if we had to evacuate (things like toiletries, medications, a blanket, tax documents, etc.), just to make sure that we wouldn’t panic and grab useless things or forget important ones.
We also have an inventory of the contents, and I’ve set up automatic reminders a month or two before expiration dates of food items, so we can remember to use them (or donate them), then replace them. We tried to stick mostly to the kind of food that we eat on a regular basis (tuna, beans, chickpeas, crackers and peanut butter, fruit juice, shelf-stable soy milk and cereal, dried fruit, chocolate, etc.).
If you haven’t put together your own kit, let me suggest a few links to help you get started. First, here’s a great summary on BlogHer, inspired by the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami; be sure to watch the video! Of course, you can always buy one ready-made from an organization like the Red Cross.
The Canadian government also has its set of guidelines and tips here, which stresses the importance of having a family plan in place well before an emergency strikes, in case you need to meet up with family members but are unable to reach them by phone.
Finally, here’s a post on The Kitchn about what to cook with the food in your emergency kit before it goes bad, and what kind of food to store in the first place. Obviously, I disagree with posters who have dozens of meals stored in their freezer in case of an emergency – what if the power goes out for three days? All that food won’t keep! We’ve stuck to shelf-stable food that is lactose-free and can be eaten at room temperature. We also stuck to small containers that won’t create leftovers requiring refrigeration. And don’t forget a manual can opener along with disposable utensils!