Stock up now to prepare for an emergency | Food

We were all reminded of this last week as the torrential rain flooded Frederick County. Roads were impassable, schools closed, internet disconnected and some even lost power. Mother Nature reminds us routinely that we are not in control, so be prepared.

I highly recommend you print the FEMA factsheets and store in an easy to find notebook for reference. They cover every topic, from floods to winter storms, even earthquakes. You might be thinking earthquakes aren’t a concern here. Wrong. As recently as 2005, Maryland had a level VI earthquake, and it was not the only extreme weather event news of the week.

Every day of the year, you should have a basic supply kit ready in case of an emergency. Kits should contain the following:

• Battery-powered radio

• Copies of important documents

• Prescription medications

• Water (1 gallon per person per day)

Here are suggestions for nonperishable food until the power comes back on:

• UHT (Ultra High Temperature) milk in a box

• Canned meats like chicken, dried beef, ham, turkey, Vienna sausage, spam and turkey.

• Canned or vacuumed pouched fish like clams, crabs, mackerel, oysters, tuna, salmon, sardines and shrimp

• Protein bars or meal replacement bars

• Bread, crackers, pretzels, tortilla chips

• Dry cereal or granola

• Canned fruits, like applesauce, fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges, peaches, pears and pineapple.

• Dried fruit, like apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, cherries, craisins, figs, peaches, raisins, etc.

• Canned juices, like apple, grape, pineapple, tomato and vegetable

• Canned or jarred baby food and formula

Be sure to pack a hand can opener, since electric can openers can’t operate if the power is off. I also make sure my gas grill is operational, which I can use as a cooktop to heat water.

If you lose power, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely for several hours if you keep it closed. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (two days). Invest in a temperature gauge for your refrigerator and freezer so you can know the actual temperature when the power comes back on. If you have questions on whether food should be thrown out, call the University of Maryland Extension office at 301-600-1594.

The most important item on the list is water, so stock up now, before the next storm arrives.

Deborah Rhoades, MA, RD, FAND, is a licensed Registered Dietitian, Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, and Extension Educator in Family and Consumer Sciences.