Collect enough food and water for at least seven days:
- canned or dried food
- bottled drinking water (3 litres per person per day)
- baby food
- pet food
- food for special dietary needs.
Check and replace food and water twice a year (for example, at daylight savings changeover times).
Also think about the type of equipment you might need to prepare the food if power and water supplies are cut off. For example:
- can opener
- portable gas stove (primus) or barbeque to cook on
- matches or lighter
- extra water for cooking.
Salvaging food items and utensils after a disaster
Floodwaters can carry bugs that cause disease from the ground surface, septic tanks and sewerage systems. These can contaminate food.
- Wash cooking, eating, and other kitchen utensils in hot soapy water, if they have been covered by floodwater. Rinse thoroughly in safe water, then disinfect by immersing for one minute in a solution of 500 ml (about two cups) of household bleach in 10 litres of water. Rinse again in safe water. Alternatively, boil all utensils for three minutes.
- Destroy all unpackaged food and food items packed in paper, cardboard or non-waterproof material that have been exposed directly to the floodwater.
- You can save foods in waterproof, airtight containers (e.g. tins) that have been in floodwater, but make sure they are thoroughly cleaned before opening. Wash and scrub them in warm water with soap or detergent, then rinse them in clean water from a safe supply. Alternatively, soak them for at least one minute in a solution of 500 ml (two cups) of household bleach mixed with 10 litres of water, then rinse clean.
- Wash and disinfect your can opener before using it.
- Throw out the contents of bottles with crown tops and crimped or screw caps if they have been submerged in floodwater. It is safer to get rid of all home preserves, as these have a higher risk of contamination than commercial items.
- DO NOT use packaged or canned food if it has been punctured, is bulging, leaking or the top has popped up. Throw out any canned foods dented on the side or along the top or bottom seams.
- Cook all food thoroughly and eat it immediately. Cook only enough for each meal. Do not save leftovers.
- IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!
Refrigerated food in a power outage
Get rid of all foods needing refrigeration when they have been unrefrigerated for more than two hours. If the power has been off to the freezer for more than two days, get rid of all thawed food.