University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal

Plan for an Emergency

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are you prepared for an emergency?

Translations of Fact Sheet

A storm, flood, or power outage can happen with little warning. If you are not prepared, it may be too late to buy food and water.

how to plan ahead

  • Store at least a 3-day supply of food, water, and other items.
  • Buy a supply of foods that do not require refrigeration.
  • Avoid buying salty foods that could make you thirsty.
  • Store foods in containers to protect them from pests and germs. Put them in a dry, cool spot. Keep them covered.
  • Replace unused emergency food supplies every few months. This will help keep them safe to eat, and retain their quality.
   General Supplies
  • First aid kit
    Personal hygiene supplies
    Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    Battery-operated clock or watch
    Portable radio
    Flashlight or lantern
   Food-related Supplies
  • Manual can opener
    Disposable dishes and cups
    Disposable utensils
    Insulated cooler
    Freezer packs (keep frozen)

emergency food and water supplies

Store in a Cool, Safe Place in Unopened Containers

Milk and milk products • Dry milk or canned evaporated milk
• Rice or soy milk
• Boxed or shelf-stable milk
Meat, fish, poultry, and beans • Canned meat, chicken, or fish
• Canned beans
• Peanut butter, nuts, or seeds
Fruits • Canned or dried fruit
• Canned or bottled fruit juice
Vegetables • Canned vegetables
Pasta, noodles, rice, cereals, crackers, chips, and bars • Dry pasta, noodles, and rice
• Ready-to-eat cereals
• Crackers or tortilla chips
• Granola bars or breakfast bars
Soups and stews • Canned soups and stews
Condiments • Sugar and spices
• Mustard and ketchup
Fats • Vegetable oil
Sweets • Canned pudding
• Jam or jelly
Water • 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene
• Use bottled water, or store tap water in clean containers

refrigerated foods: before and during an emergency

You should normally set your refrigerator temperature between 35 and 40 degrees F. Check the temperature with a refrigerator thermometer.

If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. This may help keep the foods safe to eat for a few hours. How long they will remain safe depends on the temperature of the room.

Throw foods out if the refrigerator temperature rises above 40 degrees F for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can grow to harmful levels and make you sick. The foods may look or smell fine, but may not be safe to eat.

If the power goes out:

  • First: Use perishable foods and foods from the refrigerator.
  • Second: Use foods from the freezer, if you can cook them.
  • Third: Use canned foods and shelf-stable foods.

throw out these foods

If the Refrigerator Temperature Rises Above 40 Degrees for More Than 2 Hours

Milk and
milk products
• Milk, buttermilk, or evaporated milk
• Cheese or yogurt
• Cream or sour cream
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and egg products • Fresh, leftover or thawing meat, poultry, fish, or seafood
• Salads made with meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or eggs
• Lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, or dried beef
• Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated"
• Opened canned meats or beans
• Gravy or stuffing
Fruits • Cut fruit
• Opened canned fruit or juice
Vegetables • Cooked vegetables
• Pre-cut packaged greens
• Opened vegetable juice
• Potato salad
Bread dough • Refrigerator biscuits or rolls
Cooked pasta, noodles, and rice • Cooked pasta, spaghetti, noodles, or rice
• Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette
• Fresh pasta
Soups and stews • Refrigerated soups and stews
Mixed foods • Casseroles
• Pizza with any topping
Sauces, spreads, and condiments • Opened containers of horseradish, spaghetti sauce,
   tartar sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or Hoisin sauce
Fats • Commercial garlic in oil
• Opened mayonnaise or salad dressing
• Whipped butter
Sweets • Cream filled pastries
• Pies (custard, cheese filled, or chiffon)
• Cheesecake
• Refrigerator cookie dough

for more informataion

American Red Cross
Food and Water in an Emergency

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Florida International University
Healthy Hurricane / Disaster Cookbook

U.S. Department of Agriculture

University of Massachusetts Nutrition Education Program
Keep Food Safe if the Power Goes Out
Keep Your Family Fed if the Power Goes Out


  • Emergency Food and Water Supplies, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1992.
  • Emergency Preparedness, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 2004.
  • Food and Water in an Emergency, American Red Cross, 1994.
  • Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 2004.
  • Keeping Your Food Safe if the Power Goes Out, University of Massachusetts Nutrition Education Program, 2000.
  • Keeping Your Family Fed if the Power Goes Out, University of Massachusetts Nutrition Education Program, 2000.

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.