(This story, originally published on Sept. 5, 2017, was updated at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 10, 2018.)
With Hurricane Florence tracking toward the East Coast of the United States, it’s important to start thinking about your hurricane plan and kit.
Along with flashlights, batteries, first aid kit and other emergency supplies, you should also have enough non-perishable food and water for yourself, your family and your pets.
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Make sure you take special dietary needs and allergies into consideration.
Here’s what you should be shopping for (or making sure you already have at home), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Red Cross and other national organizations.
Water: At least a gallon (about eight 16-ounce bottles of water) per person, per day (56 bottles per person for a week).
Sports drinks, juice, caffeinated beverages and other drinks in boxes or plastic bottles.
Milk, either shelf-stable or powdered (just make sure you have more water on hand for the powdered milk).
Reusable bottles to fill with drinkable water.
Cans: Soups, stews, vegetables, beans and others that can be eaten hot or cold.
Meat: Dried meats like beef jerky, canned or vacuum-sealed pouches of tuna, chicken, potted meat or sausages.
Snacks: Crackers, fresh fruit with a longer shelf life (think apples, oranges and pears), granola bars, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts, apple sauce, fruit cups, cereal, peanut or other nut butters. Stay away from fruit, bread and other items that will go bad or get stale in a short time.
Pet food: Dry or wet food in cans or sealed containers or bags, bowls, vitamins and medications, plus enough water for each pet.
Manual can opener.
Swiss Army Knife or other multi-purpose tool.
Disposable plates, bowls, silverware and napkins.
Garbage bags, zip-top bags, paper towels, hand sanitizer or wipes, storage containers.
Fuel for cooking or for vehicles.
First aid kit and any medications.
Flashlights, batteries, chargers.
Cell phone, radio.
Blankets or sleeping bags, sturdy shoes, extra sets of clean clothes.
Sun screen, bug spray.
Copies of important documents, a map and emergency contacts in a zip-top bag.
Generator or other backup power supplies.
Pet carriers, leashes, vaccination records and ID tags.
Make sure to eat food from home before it goes bad – start with what’s not expired yet, but might be if the power goes out – and then move on to shelf-stable foods.
Water must be kept at a rolling boil for at least 1-3 minutes to kill bacteria, or you can add 1/8 of a teaspoon of new, unscented household bleach. You can also use water purification tablets or filters.
If the power goes out, make sure to keep refrigerator and freezer doors shut to keep things cool for as long as possible. Once the temperature rises above 40 degrees, bacteria can begin to grow. A freezer can keep food at a safe temperature for 1-2 days. You can move food to coolers filled with ice or ice packs to prolong shelf life.