Prepare for Hurricane Florence: 18 Crucial Foods and Health Supplies You Need Before a Big Storm
How to prep for a disaster
When a hurricane, snowstorm, or other major weather event is looming—such as Hurricane Florence, currently a Category 4 storm expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia—you probably already know the basics: fill up your gas tank, be sure the batteries in your flashlight and portable radio are fresh, and stock up on nonperishable groceries. But which foods are best, and what supplies may you be missing? The (FEMA) recommends having three days worth of water and foods like the ones that follow on hand, plus several other items that will keep you healthy and safe in an emergency.
You may lose access to drinking water during a natural disaster—it could be compromised through contamination, or could be cut off completely. The average person needs 1 gallon of water per day, and that can be more depending on your age, physical activity level, and overall health. You'll also need more in hot weather. Stock up on at least a three-day supply per person in your home.
Be sure to fill your bathtub, too: If your water is shut off, you can use the water in your tub to flush your toilet manually by pouring some in the bowl.
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Dried and canned fruits
Normally you'd want to stick to fresh fruit, but most varieties need to be refrigerated. Your next-best bet: canned or dried fruit with no gels, syrups, added sugar, or artificial sweetener. Read labels carefully, and check our list of the best packaged fruit.
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Ready-to-eat canned vegetables
Canned soups and vegetables can be loaded with sodium, so shop smart: look for "low sodium" or "very low sodium" on the label. In addition to being bad for heart health, FEMA recommends avoiding salty foods during a disaster because they can make you thirsty and go through your water supply faster. (Note: Be sure you own a can opener!)
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Canned tuna, salmon, and sardines
Nutrition experts recommend canned fish packed in water even when there isn't a natural disaster looming. Canned wild-caught salmon is cheaper than fresh, and still provides the same heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines are a great source of calcium (if you can stand the smell).
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Whether you go for peanut, almond, cashew, or something else, nut butters are a tasty way to fill up on protein and healthy fats. Avoid nut butters that contain added sugar and partially hydrogenated oil. Here's a list of editor-approved picks.
RELATED: 8 Nutty Snacks Under 80 Calories
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What foods make you feel good? They may not be all that nutritious, but FEMA recommends having some on hand to soothe you and your family during a potentially stressful situation.
RELATED: 13 Comfort Foods That Burn Fat
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Soap and water is always best for fighting germs, but you'll want to save your supply for drinking. Buy a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that's 60-95% alcohol.
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If you have to go several days without showering, you'll be glad you bought body wipes. Try ($10; ). These antibacterial wipes are thick like a wash cloth, come individually wrapped, kill 99.9% of germs, and it takes just one wipe to cleanse your whole body.
FEMA recommends keeping a dust mask in your emergency kit. A mask will protect your lungs in the event that the air around you becomes contaminated with dust, smoke, or other pollutants.
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Be sure you're not low on garbage bags. You'll need them to toss trash and to keep your home sanitary, of course, but garbage bags can also be used in other ways: as a poncho, as a cover for broken windows, as a carrier for supplies, and even to collect rainwater.
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Portable battery charger
If you lose power and landline phone service, you'll want to be sure you can keep your mobile phone charged. The ($50; ) is waterproof, lightweight, and rugged enough to withstand being dropped. It has enough juice to fully charge a smartphone three times.
A good book, playing cards, and board games
Nuts are one of the healthiest pantry foods you can have on hand in case of an emergency. They are high in protein, healthy fats that raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Just be sure to buy unsalted nuts—you won't want to eat any foods that make you very thirsty.
RELATED: Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health
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When you can't cook full meals, it may be difficult to take in enough calories throughout the day. Protein bars can help; they give you a big dose of calories in a small, nonperishable package.
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Paper plates and plastic utensils
Washing dishes won't be possible if you lose access to running water—and letting dirty dishes fester in your sink for several days could attract unsanitary bugs and rodents. You won't want to deal with the stench of rotting food while you're stuck indoors, either.
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