Self-Sufficiency in an Emergency

Preparing to be self-sufficient during emergencies through planning and gathering supplies is important. Always train within your home, whether it is a fire escape route or reunification process in case you are separated during emergencies. Most of all, have a plan, build a kit, and stay aware.

Below is information regarding building up supplies of water, food and other general emergency supplies.


Importance of drinking water

During local incidents and or national disasters, safe drinking water can be in short supply. 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 at your residence to ensure you have a safe supply when or if the water distribution system becomes compromised or disrupted.

Storing drinking water

  • 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.

Directions for water boiling orders

When authorities have concerns about water safety and issue an order to boil water, follow these steps:

  • Boil your water for 10 minutes at a rapid boil. 
  • Let it cool before consuming. 
  • Can also add eight drops of unscented bleach per gallon of water and shake it up well. 
    • Let the water 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 run out of drinking water

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.  


Preparing an emergency food supply

Reduced access to the typical food supply may occur through delayed shipments to stores or by the public stocking up. Before an emergency, 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.

Food supply recommendations

  • Store foods that take minimal preparation.
  • Keep typical foods consumed in your household, not ones you are not use to eating.
  • Purchase canned foods with flip top lids so 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

Cooking in an emergency

It is important to note that during an incident you may not have access to or supplied with natural gas, electricity or water. 

Therefore, emergency food supplies should be those that you can safely handle and consume without needing to store, prepare or cook using an appliance, such as 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've already mentioned food and water. Clothing, important documents, first aid, special needs, fuel, tools and supplies are equally as important to prepare and store for an emergency. 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.