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You are encouraged to have at least the following items on hand so you may be better prepared to deal with power outages:

  • Non-electric source of light
  • Fresh batteries
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Blankets/sleepingbags
  • Thermal/insulated clothing
  • Corded telephone (cordless will not work)
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • MANUAL can opener
  • Battery run clock/radio/tv (optional)
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Water - minimum 1gal/person/day. FEMA suggests a 2 wk. supply.

Tips for an Electrical Outage from the City of Dover, DE. They suggest the following: Turn off your electric water heater (usually the top left-hand circuit breaker) and unplug any solid state electrical equipment (microwave, VCR, TV) so that it won't be damaged by a power overload when the electricity comes back on. Turn on your porch light or other outside light so that when our crews are in the area they can more easily see which houses have power and which don't. It also helps them know when and where the power is back on.

Canned & Packaged Goods Date Codes - Clicking HERE will take you to a listing that will help you decipher those confusing codes on the tops and sides of canned, boxed & bottled goods.

FEMA Recommendations for food & water storage for an emergency.

The RED CROSS has a page which lists the items you should keep in your home in case of emergency. Click HERE to see their list.

They recommend a three day supply of water, but remember there were people after Katrina who couldn't be recued for a week. What do we have to lose by storing more than we THINK we'll need?

Necessaries In An Electrical Outage

Make It Large - Make It Little - But Make It

Webster's 1913 Dictionary says a pantry is "an apartment or closet in which bread and other provisions are kept." The online Wikipedia states, "A pantry is a room in a domestic house used for food storage. The derivation of the word is from the Old French term 'paneterie'. A pantry may contain a thrawl, which is a term used in Yorkshire and Derbyshire (England), and is a stone slab or shelf used to keep food cool in the days before refrigeration was domestically available. NOTE: The photo you see is NOT my home pantry. A good friend asked me to make this page available for those who may not realise the benefit of having a pantry. Here you go Barb.

Our grandmothers or great grandmothers (depends on your age) most likely all had one. Their reasons for having one may differ from yours, but having one is a good idea no matter where you live. Mentally walk through your day today. Remember all the products you needed like toilet paper, water, pasta, rice, potatoes (dehydrated flakes store well if kept dry), veggies, meat or fish, etc. That's how to think of what you'll need in your pantry. Some folks will stock canned goods and often forget the need to have a MANUAL can opener. It would be torture to need the food that's in a can, and not be able to open it if the electricity is out and you only own an electric can opener.

Mormons make it a practice to stock enough necessaries for at least a year I believe. I'm not Mormon, but I share their belief in being prepared. I've found several sites or articles on the internet, which help with understanding why we should all have a pantry. Some pages concentrate on what to stock. Others may go on to explain how to maintain a good pantry. Yes, there is a right way to do it. If you think of how food stores put the newest/freshest item behind the older products, you'll understand how to work your way through the items in your pantry.

If you try to create a pantry complete with canned and dry goods when bad weather is approaching, you'd better plan on having lots of money immediately on hand. Of course, there's always the possibility of unexpected prolonged electrical outages to plan for.

If you're like me and have to watch every dollar, then watch the food store ads for specials each week. ACME and Food Lion are two of my personal favorites for incredible "buy one get one free specials". When you see an item you'd like to stock in your pantry on sale, buy several of that item. If you do this as a regular practice, you can save hundreds of dollars in a year. I know. I've done it. Because of doing this, I've had the opportunity to help friends who've fallen on hard times, and have to choose between paying the electric bill or feeding their family.

On the website organizedhome.com, editor Cynthia Townley Ewer states, "The secret weapon of a well-organized kitchen is a working pantry. A planned reserve of foodstuffs and sundries used in the home, a pantry saves time, money and stress in the kitchen. Tap the pantry for unexpected meals and reduce trips to the supermarket. Stock it with frugal finds to lower grocery costs. Set aside a supply of food and sundries for a rainy day and protect your family against weather emergencies or financial dislocation. Properly managed, the pantry is an integral part of an organized home. Polish your pantry pride with our best hints and tips: ..." If storage space is really limited, Cynthia has some advice. To read her great tips, click HERE. Even a fairly small apartment has food storage space you haven't thought of.

Milk - Any Flavor You Favor

Being able to store Gossner's Shelf Stable Milks for months unrefrigerated before their expiration date is made possible by using a special pasteurization process. They heat the milk to an ultra high temperature (UHT), killing all bacteria that could cause the milk to spoil. The milk is then stored in a several layers thick carton, and has an airtight seal that prevents any contamination with air, light and bacteria. The milk is good up to six months (from the day packaged) without any refrigeration required, prior to opening. Be sure to read the expiration date on the carton because some of that time may have been spent sitting on the store shelf.

Gossner milks come in 1 Quart cartons of Whole White w/Vit D, Whole Chocolate, 2% White, 2% Chocolate and Skim. You can use for camping, backpacking, boating, remote locations, school lunches, snacks, travel and food storage for use during bad weather or other unforeseen situations.

Having milk on hand that can be stored without refrigeration truly comes in handy if you find it's too late in the day to run out and grab some. Not everyone can just pop into a car and run to the store. I used to stock some shelf stable milk in my mother's pantry for her use when the weather was bad, or she wasn't able to drive while recuperating from injury or sickness. It does taste a little different than your regular milk, but certainly not differently enough to discourage my 13 yr. old from pouring it over her cereal years ago. Do you remember seeing scenes of empty milk departments in the grocery stores when the weather folk call for a coming snow storm? Stocking some shelf stable milk saves you from having to stand in those long check-out lines. There's also the possibility that there won't be any milk left in the store by the time you get there.

You can call Gossner toll free at 800-944-0454 to see where their milk may sell retail in your area, or if you can order some from them. Be sure to check for S&H. You'll want to add that to your price while considering whether you want to purchase some. I have found a site online that sells American made emergency survival products such as canned meats, etc. that you can check out at http://www.americanmadesurvival.com/ammago2whmi8.html. Their pricing runs ABOUT $1 per quart. To reach Gossner's website go to http://www.gossner.com/ where you can view the FAQ about their products.

If you can, stagger when you buy a couple quarts so your milk won't all go out of date at once. Because I stock shelf stable milk in my pantry, I've been able to help a couple families out by sharing some with them when they ran out of milk at a bad time.


Cheese is of course another dairy item you may want to stock if for no other reason than it can be used to fend off dietary fatigue (getting bored of eating the same "stuff"). Processed cheeses such as Velveeta have a pretty long shelf life, and don't have to be refrigerated before opening. If you have bread on hand you can make grilled cheese sandwiches even on a BBQ grill with the use of a cast iron skillet.


Many of the companies that package meats and fish for long term storage in the pantry are using foil packaging. One of the recent additions to this growing list of products is "Jack Link's Fully Cooked Ground Beef". It comes in 3 flavors. There's lightly seasoned Italian style, and Mexican style. The package states it's the equivalent to 1 lb. of fresh uncooked ground beef. It has no preservatives, and is fully drained No refrigeration is needed. The shelf life is 6 months. I know WalMart carries this product.

Hormel's canned ham chunks has a shelf life of 2 years. You can find all kinds of fish and meat products in your local grocery store in both cans and foil packaging. Variety is what you want to shoot for.

My husband discovered a DAK "canned ham", which tastes and looks to me much like the Hormel canned ham chunks, which had been left behind in the basement storage for the last 7 years. I cleaned the outside of the can REALLY well. I opened it, and after seeing that it didn't feel slimy, I rinsed and tasted it. It tasted like the canned ham we just bought last month. You need to store all your canned goods in an area that is free of dampness to prevent rusting. Also keep temperature swings in mind as that may affect the safe storage time of your canned goods.

Don't Forget Paper Products!

Forget worrying about no food or water...grin. Who would want to find themselves without toilet paper? We can all get along without paper towels, but it's smart to always be ahead of the game when it comes to stocking up on toilet paper. I usually try to have an extra, large package of paper in stock in my pantry. Yes, I've been known to donate a roll or two to friends and neighbors when they couldn't get out to get some.


You might consider having some extra drinking water stored somewhere in your home. At the very least, have several bottles (described below) on hand so that you could empty the water stored in your hot water heater in them. If your electricity has been out for a while, and the water in the tank has been allowed to cool, fill as many bottles as you think you'll need until the electricity is turned back on. Unless you've been living for months in your castle in the British Isles, you should be able to forego the bleach treatment mentioned below. That's useful for water that's intended to be stored for a long period of time.

The type of bottle that you'd probably find it easiest to save is a 2 liter soda bottle like you see below. Actually, any type of bottle that's made of the same clear plastic will do for long term water storage such as the large bottles that hold apple juice. These bottles are not bio-degradable. The typical plastic milk jugs which appear cloudy will deteriorate in time. If you're working on a tight budget and soda is a luxury, WalMart's Sams Club brand of soda is about 50 cents for a 2 liter bottle.

I've located a great page on the internet that explains how much bleach to use in order to properly purify the water you've stored. Click HERE for that information. You'll need to purchase an eye dropper in order to measure the bleach properly. Fill your bottle as full as you can get it. I understand this will help keep the water from going flat. Be sure to get unscented bleach.

It's best not to wait until you hear a storm is coming before you start filling bottles unless you have absolutely NO room whatsoever to store them. Waiting will work only if the emergency which causes an interruption of your water supply is seen coming such as a bad weather event. In these days of shaky national security however we may not see an electrical outage coming. You can always stand in the center of town waiting in long lines for water. FEMA suggests keeping a 3 day supply of water, but the folks who just experienced hurricane Charley were told it could be up to TWO WEEKS before electricity is returned to all areas. I'd rather have more than I need rather than not enough.

Instead of messing with bleach, you can use another water purification method. For instance, sometimes you can find a second-hand Brita water filtration system at a yard sale or at stores such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. For more information on Brita products, you can click HERE and visit their site. My daughter was quick to remind me that you can always buy the bottled water from the store, but that tends to be fairly expensive if you want to store enough for a couple weeks worth. Also, don't forget that your hot water heater is holding water for you.

I will NOT completely duplicate the efforts of others who have gone to the trouble to provide good information and suggestions on the web in regard to the food goods you might want to stock in your pantry. Below are some links to what I believe are good sources of information.

  • Tips from Debi

  • GOT BABIES? You might want to keep some cloth diapers on hand in case getting more disposables from the store is difficult or impossible no matter WHAT the reason. Okay, the weather people didn't think the blizzard or hurricane was going to be THIS bad, and you've now run out of disposable diapers. Now what?!!! You can check out this helpful website that's All About Cloth Diapers and get some really helpful tips.