Food and Water For A Natural Disaster

When storing food for natural disasters and catastrophes, consider that there is a good chance you won’t have electricity or running water. Canned foods have a good shelf-life of 1 to 5 years, are ready-to-eat, and don’t require refrigeration before being opened. On top of that, you don’t need water for preparation; many dry foods require a substantial amount of water to prepare.

Food for a natural disaster should be composed primarily of canned foods. Canned fruit, vegetables, and meat are ready-to-eat without additional resources like electricity, water, or special preparation, which is critical during a natural disaster.

When storing food for a natural disaster, focus on high-calorie foods. There won’t be much sitting around, so you will expend more calories than usual.

For example, in a hurricane, you might run a chainsaw and generally spend more time prepping food, staying cool, and fixing property damage. Here is a list of foods good to store for a natural disaster.

28 Foods For A Natural Disaster

You want the bulk of your emergency foods to be canned, but you can also use dried foods, powders, and non-perishables like peanut butter if you plan.

In case of groundwater or flooding, you’ll want your food supplies stored up off the floor and, if possible, stored in watertight bins or containers.

  1. Canned Fruit
  2. Canned Vegetables
  3. Canned Meat: Tuna, Salmon, Chicken, and Beef
  4. Retort Pouch Meats (Tuna in a bag)
  5. Canned fruit juices
  6. Canned Soups & Stews
  7. Canned Meals (Chef Boyardee Beefaroni, spaghetti and meatballs, Annie’s Organic canned pasta)
  8. Canned Broth
  9. Sugar, salt, and pepper
  10. Food for infants and special needs diets
  11. Bottled Water (commercially bottled, 5-gallon jug(s) with hand pump)
  12. Water Purification Method (large backpacker’s water filter, boiling, bleach)
  13. Powdered drink mixes
  14. Snack Foods like potato chips
  15. High-energy food like peanut butter, honey, and other nut butter
  16. jams, jellies, and honey
  17. Crackers to take the place of bread
  18. Dried Granola Bars & Survival Bars
  19. Nuts and Seeds such as peanuts, almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds
  20. Tail Mix (Planters)
  21. Morale boosters: Hard Candy, Cookies, Sweet Cereals, instant coffee, tea
  22. Dehydrated Fruit: Banana chips, cranberries, mango
  23. Multi-Vitamins
  24. Mineral supplement
  25. Protein supplements/Protein Powder
  26. Dried Foods require extra water. Consider this when storing water for emergencies.
    1. Ramen Noodles
    2. Cup-a-noodles
    3. Knorr noodle and rice side-dishes
    4. Minute Rice
  27. Beef Jerky
  28. Dried Bouillon powder and cubes (meat and vegetable)

Emergency Food Storage Tip: Store canned foods you eat in your normal diet and rotate through them with First In First Out (FIFO). That way, you will always have a fresh supply of canned and dry packaged goods for natural disasters.

Food Groups For A Natural Disaster

When storing food for a natural disaster, make sure to store food in all food groups so you eat a well-rounded diet. Shoot for eating at least one full meal daily and supplementing with a multivitamin. Here are some examples of specific foods to store by food group.

Shelf-Stable Fruit

  • Canned peaches, pineapple, fruit medley, mandarin oranges
  • Dried apricots, apples, banana chips
  • Apple and Fruit Sauces
  • Canned or powdered fruit juices

Shelf-stable Vegetables

  • Canned green beans, corn, asparagus
  • Lachoy Stir Fry Vegetables
  • Canned Turnip Greens
  • Canned Beets
  • Canned pickles
  • Canned olives
  • Canned Ocra
  • Canned Spinach
  • Canned Peas
  • Canned Artichoke Heart

Shelf-stable Dairy

  • Low-fat Milk Powder
  • Canned condensed milk
  • Evaporated milk
  • Canned Cheese, cheese spreads, and sauces
  • Butter Powder

Shelf-stable Grain

  • Popcorn
  • Instant Rice
  • Rolled Oats
  • Granola
  • Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix
  • Crackers

Shelf-stable Protein

  • Canned beans
  • Canned meat (Turkey, Chicken, Salmon, Tuna, Beef)
  • Mixed soups and stews with beans and or meat
  • Nuts and Seeds and
  • Trail Mix
  • Peanut Butter

Water For Natural Disasters

You can’t talk about emergency food without mentioning water. Water is more important than food. You can last weeks without food and only 3 or 4 days without drinking water.

When planning for a natural disaster or emergency, ensure you have enough water for every person in your group, including your pets.

According to FEMA, you should store at least 1 gallon of water per day per person, but they suggest 2 weeks or more if you can. 

  • FEMA minimum water storage: 1 gallon per person, per day, for a 3-day supply
  • FEMA suggested water storage: 1 gallon per person, per day, for 2 weeks

Water may be scarce or dirty during a disaster

Flooding and groundwater surges can bring in chemicals that contaminate groundwater and treatment plants. Many chemicals can’t be filtered, boiled away, or treated with bleach. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a supply of commercially bottled water, 5-gallon jugs, or a 55-gallon food-grade barrel filled with water before a disaster.

*Fill water containers before contamination.

Water Storage Tip: Avoid using water containers made of glass. Instead, go for tough food-grade bottles, jugs, and barrels.

Chart 1 Emergency Water Storage By Gallon(s) and Weight

Following is a chart of how much emergency water to store for one person based on one or two gallons. If you have multiple people in your group, multiply the number of people by the number of days in the one or two-gallon column.

Consider water weight when determining the size of your water storage container. The weight of your water storage will allow you to consider a storage location. Depending on your physical ability, you may want to store it a little at a time. I use the commercial five-gallon jugs and a hand pump for all of my drinking water. At 41.7 pounds, these bottles are heavy.

Emergency Water Storage Per Person1-gallon per day+weight2-gallon per day + weight
Day 11 (8.34 lb)2 (16.68lb)
Day 22 (16.68 lb)4 (33.36lb)
Day 3 (minimum Emergency O2 per person)3 (25.02lb)6 (50.04lb)
Day 44 (33.36lb)8 (66.72lb)
Day 55 (41.7lb)10 (83.41lb)
Day 66 (50.04lb)12 (100.08lb)
Day 77 (58.38lb)14 (116.76lb)
Day 88 (66.72lb)16 (133.4lb)
Day 99 (75.06lb)18 (150.12lb)
Day 1010 (83.4lb)20 (166.8lb)
Day 1111 (91.74lb)22 (183.48lb)
Day 1212(100.08lb)24 (200.16lb)
Day 1313(108.42lb)26 (216.84lb)
Day 14 (suggested Emergency O2 per person)14 (116.76lb)28 (233.52lb)
Emergency water by the gallon, per person, per day, based on FEMA suggested water supply link

Interesting Water Fact: In addition to the 5-gallon jugs and some small drinking bottles, I have a 55-gallon water drum that weighs a whopping 458.7 lbs when filled. If you go with water drums, carefully choose the space where you will put them. Once they are full, you are not moving them.

Using Your Own Emergency Water Containers: 2 Easy Steps

If you can’t purchase commercially bottled water, you have the option of bottling your own. See how to do your own water bottles down below. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides the information.

Step # 1

Cleaning Water Containers

  • Clean Bottles with dish soap and water, and rinse completely
  • Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart (1/4 gallon) of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle to touch all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse the sanitizing solution with clean water.

Step # 2

Filling Water Containers

  • Fill the bottle with tap water. (If your water utility company treats your tap water with chlorine, you don’t need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean.)
  • If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to each gallon of water.
  • Tightly close the container using the original cap. Don’t contaminate the cap by touching the inside with your fingers.
  • Write the date on the outside of the bottle so you will know when you stored it.
  • Place bottles in a cool dry location and replace every 6 months

Information Provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Food and Water in an Emergency.” *, see link under Resources.

10 Cooking Tools For Natural Disasters

In case of a natural disaster, you’ll need food, water, and the tools to use them. Below is a basic list of tools to ensure you can eat, drink and stay clean during a disaster.

  1. Manual Can Opener
  2. Matches
  3. Alternate Cooking Methods
    1. outdoor gas grill
    2. charcoal grill
    3. alcohol stove
    4. butane stove
    5. propane campers grill
    6. Nesbit stove and tablets
    7. canned heat
    8. fireplace
    9. campfire
  4. To Keep Food Hot
    1. candle warmers
    2. chafing dishes
    3. fondue pots
  5. Paper plates, plastic utensils
  6. Cooking utensils: spatula and large spoon
  7. bleach for cleaning and disinfection
  8. contractor grade trash bags
  9. Large plastic buckets or wash basins
  10. Poo Bucket