Self-Sufficiency During an Emergency


During local incidents and possibly due to national disasters, safe drinkable water can be in short supply. It is important to keep a supply of water at your residence to ensure you have a safe supply when or if the water distribution system becomes compromised or disrupted. Humans cannot live without water, thus it is the most important nutrient we consume to support our health. For this reason, it is critical to prepare stores of water for emergencies.

The amount of water needed per person is one gallon per day. The water should be in plastic bottles that are tightly sealed. These bottles should be stored in a cool, dark area and rotated out and replaced with new water every six months. A small amount of unscented bleach should also be kept in case of boil orders and when purifying the water is required.

When concerns for safe water are announced by local authorities, you can boil your water for 10 minutes at a rapid boil. Make sure you let it cool before consuming. You can also add eight drops of unscented bleach per gallon of water and shake it up well. Let the water then stand for 30 minutes before using. There will be an odor of chlorine, which is normal. Both of these methods will make the water safe to drink.

If you've used up all your stored water, you can use the remaining water in your hot water heater or your toilet tank. This water should be strained through towels or a clean cloth and then treated with the boiling or bleach method.


Demands on the food supply may increase either through delayed shipments to stores or by the public stocking up, and thus may be in short supply during long incidents. You should have enough food to support your family for at least 72 hours. Like your water supplies, you should rotate your food supplies regularly and monitor expiration dates. Special diets and nutritional needs should also be taken into account.

Here are a few recommendations:
  • Store foods that take minimal preparation.
  • Keep typical foods consumed in your household, not ones you are not use to eating
  • Canned foods with flip top lids, no can opener required
  • Dried foods
  • Keep a manual can opener and disposable utensils on hand
  • Store ready to eat fruit, meat, vegetables, and juices and milk
  • Have comfort foods such as candy, potato chips, and cookies
  • Have high energy foods such as jelly, peanut butter, and trail mix and granola
It is important to also note that during an incident you may not have access to or supplied with natural gas, electricity or water. Emergency food supplies should be those that you can safely handle and consume without those commonly used preparing / cooking appliances. It may not be possible to store, prepare, or consume frozen foods during an incident. That is why it is recommended to keep non-perishable, ready-to-eat canned or dried foods.

Emergency Kits

Being prepared for incidents that escalate into emergencies or disasters is important. Preparing a kit, being aware, and making a plan will help you through the event and cope with the outcomes before help can be fully deployed and assist you and your family.

Several types of kits should be prepared. We already mentioned food and water. Equally important to prepare in a kit are clothing, important documents, first aid, special needs, fuel, tools and supplies. This emergency kit worksheet (PDF) provides more details on what to include in your kit.

Every household member should know where these kits are located and able to access them when required. Always train within your home for fire escapes and reunification processes in case you are separated during emergencies. Most of all, have a plan, build a kit, and stay aware.