Font Size:

Food & Water in an Emergency

If an earthquake, winter storm, or other disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food and water for days or even weeks. By taking some time now to store emergency food and water supplies, you can provide for your family.


You and your family can survive for many days without food, but only short time without water. Following an earthquake or other catastrophe, there may be significant damage to regional and local water supply systems. Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. Store a three-day supply of water for each family member. One gallon per person per day is recommended for drinking, cooking, and washing. Remember to include water for your pets. Write the date on the water containers and replace the water every six months.

Indoor Water Sources

Ice Cubes - Melt and use.

Toilet Tank [not the bowl] - Contains clean water which can be used directly from tank. Do not use this water if you have added any chemical treatments [cleaners] to the tank.

Hot Water Heater - Be sure electricity or gas are turned off Open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.

Outdoor Water Sources

If you need to seek water outside your home, you can use these sources. Purify the water before drinking it.

  • Rainwater
  • Ponds and lakes
  • Natural springs
  • Streams, rivers, and other moving bodies of water

Purify water by boiling it for 5-10 minutes or by adding 16 drops of household bleach containing 5.25% hypochlorite per each gallon of water as those designed for campers and backpackers, also work.

REMEMBER: Never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow!


  • Store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food.
  • Select food items that are compact and lightweight.
  • Take into account your family's unique needs and tastes.
  • Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking and little or no water.


During and right after a disaster, it will be vital that you maintain your strength. So remember:

  • Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.
  • Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly.
  • Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.
  • Include vitamin, mineral, and protein supplements to assure adequate nutrition.


  • Ready to eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Canned juices, milk, and soup [if powdered, store extra water].
  • Staples - sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • High energy foods - peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix.
  • Foods for infants, elderly persons, and persons on special diets.
  • Comfort/stress foods - cookies, candy, cereal, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags.


  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot.
  • Keep food covered at all times.
  • Open food boxes carefully and close tightly after each use.
  • Don't forget canned and nonperishable foods for your pets.
  • Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags and keep them in tight containers.
  • Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits, or nuts into screw-top [plastic] jars or Air tight tin cans to protect from pests.
  • Foods in glass bottles and jars may break when a disaster occurs.
  • Buy and store emergency foods in cans or plastic containers whenever possible.
  • Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker.
  • Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.