Emergency Preparedness Part 5 Food Storage: Preparing your Pantry for an Emergency

[Posted April 23, 2021}


Contributed by Robin Jensen and Patrick Pangburn for Hillsdale NET


This is the fifth in a series of articles brought to you by the Hillsdale Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) and the Hillsdale News. To read earlier installments, click here.


The articles will help you prepare your family and our community for a major natural disaster, as well as share information on Hillsdale NET and what it does. We hope you will stay tuned over the coming months and that you find the content helpful and informative.


To learn more about the NET program or sign up for NET training, visit the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management NET website. There are also many auxiliary volunteer opportunities available with our Hillsdale NET team. Email hillsdaleornet@gmail.com to find out how you can help.


BEECN (Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node), another volunteer emergency response team, is seeking new members for its Hillsdale team. BEECN volunteers facilitate communication between residents and emergency responders following an earthquake that takes out communication lines. Learn more about BEECN or sign up for a free online training session on May 3 from 6-7:30pm.

If your cupboards are bare and there is nothing but half a jar of olives in the fridge, you need a disaster food plan. When the shaking starts, forget running to the store. Following a disaster you will only be able to count on what you have stored at home. Store what you have space for and can afford. Shelf life of foods is important, but also consider your family’s likes and dislikes as well as food allergies.

Canned and dry food staples, prepackaged "disaster food" and home preserves.
Keep canned and dry food staples in your pantry. Your emergency food supply may also contain prepackaged "disaster food" and home preserves.

You might choose to purchase prepackaged disaster meals for your family. Both Costco and Amazon have a wide selection of products packaged specifically for your disaster cache. Use the search term “disaster food” to search these websites. Check for shelf life while you are comparison shopping. Let your kids suggest extra items for treats, and don’t forget to add disaster food for your pets to your emergency food cache.


If you have a large pantry or even an extra cupboard you may already have a stock of the usual non-perishable staples: dried beans, rice, grains, pasta, canned goods, bottled sauces, canned meats and fish. Don’t forget a manual can opener if you have canned goods. Use older items from your cupboard occasionally for regular meals but replace them with similar goods with a later best-by date.


Keep in mind that foods in glass jars may not survive an earthquake. If your glass jars are on shelves make sure the shelves are solidly anchored to a wall and that there is a lip or fence to keep them from falling.


Home-preserved canned and pickled foods can be a useful addition to your disaster food cache. Be sure to preserve foods only if you can do it safely. Know the rules. If you are unsure about safe food preservation, consult the OSU Extension Service. Rotate home-preserved foods into your regular meal preparation routine and replace with newer preserved goods.


Many food items in your emergency cache may require cooking. Post-disaster we could be without power, running water or natural gas for days or weeks, so include a camp stove and fuel in your home emergency supplies. Have sufficient fuel reserves. Fuel should be stored in multiple smaller locations around your property to minimize the hazard of explosion.


Finally, when you put together your “evacuation go bag”, “vehicle bag” or “at work bag” remember to include some calorie-dense foods and water. After the "big one" and you and your loved ones are safe and secure, eat something. You’ll feel better.

Hillsdale NET wants to know how you connect with your neighbors, as well the geographic boundaries of your local community networks.

Email hillsdaleornet@gmail.com to share information about the “how” and the “where” of the networks in your immediate neighborhood so we can help ensure that everyone is in the communication loop in an emergency.