3 EMERGENCY FOOD STRATEGIES
The 3 strategies for emergency food are based on how long you will need to be self-sufficient.
- Local emergency – For 3-7 days
- Regional emergency – up to 3 months
- Catastrophe – more than 3 months
There are different strategies based on time and the likely hood of resupply. You can live off tin pasta, rice and muesli bars for a few days but in the long term, you need to factor in some nutrition.
1. Local Emergency
There has been a severe storm, cyclone or flood hit the area. Local events may only affect a small area, town or a couple of smaller areas. The local emergency services have the resources to deal with it in a timely manner.
After an event like this, the following could limit food and resource availability.
Roads are cut by flood water, road damage, fallen trees or bridges being washed away. Some of these problems can be quickly fixed others require a detour to be created. Our roads are being used daily to deliver food, drinks, supplies, and more. The shops only hold enough products to see them through to the next truck delivery.
The airport can be closed after a disaster from damage to the runway, damage to the radars, buildings and beacons, bad weather making it too dangerous to fly or debris on the runway. Some food does come in by plane. After the event, the airport needs to be back up and running to allow for emergency food to be delivered.
The electricity grid is down. Everything in the retail world needs electricity. Big shops can have backup generators to keep the freezers cold but then there’s the lighting, power for cash registers, EFTPOS, fridges and the like.
Shops, restaurants, cafes, banks etc are closed. For similar reasons above there may be no electricity, no internet or the staff can’t get through the disaster environment to open shop.
Panic buying. The unprepared panic shopped buying more than they need for the week or two leaving the shelves bare for the rest.
This type of emergency is very common, each area has its emergency risks each year and we need to be prepared for them before they happen. Your emergency kit in this situation only needs to last 3-7 days depending on your location.
Rural areas should plan on their kit lasting longer as they have to factor in-
- Distance, they may have multiple roads cut with some areas staying cut longer.
- Dirt roads are undrivable after heavy rain.
- Small towns having fewer supplies
- Remote areas take longer to get resupply to.
Ensure your kit can last long enough for the emergency services and local authorities to enact their plans and start to restock supplies.
2. Regional Emergency
A larger area is being affected by the disaster. For example, Category 5 Cyclone Yasi hit the East Coast of Australia in 2011. It was a huge system, the destructive element was about 500km wide and the eye was about 30km wide.
It caused damage to several local council regions and towns along the coast from Townsville north. But it didn’t just stop at the coast. It had that much power it continued being destructive over land. So, towns that have never seen a cyclone before were getting hit.
2010-2011 season was big across Australia [2,3]. Cyclone Yasi also hit just after the Lockyer Valley/Brisbane flood disaster and major flooding in the state of Victoria. Some rural areas didn’t get power restored for weeks as major transmission lines were damaged.
Image credit: http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/yasi.shtml
These large systems do a lot of damage to multiple locations. This causes
- Multiple roads and airports to be cut
- Severe damage to utilities, power, water, gas, sewerage
- High demand on emergency services and local authorities
- Rationing of resources as re supply is limited.
- Damage to the farms and processing plants that make the food.
- Businesses can be damaged or limited staff due to access and clean up problems.
There can be a long time until services and supplies are back to normal after a huge disaster. And disasters don’t work alone. One thing can lead to another, for example, a cyclone brings rain, flooding, strong wind, lightning, storm surge, disease outbreaks, contaminations and so on. This all takes to time to recover from.
The second of the 3 Emergency food strategies includes looking after your food needs for up to 3 months. There will probably be some food around after a week or two but it may be limited and it will be expensive.
Cyclone Yasi hit the banana-growing area, bananas were around $15-$20 per kilo for about 6 months afterwards. It takes time to replant and mature food crops.
If you are looking after yourself to some degree it is better for yourself and takes the demand off the damaged system. It usually takes 6 to 10 weeks to grow a crop of vegetables in your backyard. And if you have chickens then you have eggs too.
This event is the big SHTF scene. It can be a
Global problem (pandemic) that affects food and resource production. With everyone importing and exporting resources it won’t take much to upset the flow of goods.
Major CME taking out satellites and technology on the planet. Everything is reliant on electricity, technology and the internet for manufacturing, processing, ordering, delivering, selling and more.
Major volcanic eruptions blocked out a lot of sun for years causing a mini ice age and food shortages. Crops need sunlight and warm weather to grow effectively. 
Nuclear war or biological war, wars use up a lot of resources and people are diverted from their daily jobs to supporting war efforts in one way or another. Then there’s the military strategy of blocking or blowing up the enemy’s food chain.
These events drastically affect the whole way of life for a good part of the planet. Food supply, production, transport and storage is affected for a long time.
Some businesses may not recover. If you have alternate strategies for long term food production in place you could be better off in the long run.
3-7 days of food strategy
This includes food and water for each person. Being a short period, the diet doesn’t have to be great. Living off tin spaghetti, baked beans, tuna and crackers could do. Your diet shouldn’t change too much as you can eat your fresh fruit and produce in the first few days before it spoils.
You don’t have to eat like you are lost in the wilderness though. Humans can last for weeks without food so missing a meal here and there won’t kill you (check your medical conditions first).
- Three meals a day (9 – 21 meals per person)
- 2-3 litres of drinking water per day (9-21 litres per person)
- Non-perishable snacks
For the full list of items, download your free Emergency kit checklist and start preparing.
Up to 3 month strategy
Essential industries such as utilities are usually quick to get back up and running again so things like water and electricity may be working before the 3-month mark.
If the suburb/town is too badly damaged residents usually relocate areas not damaged. Having some emergency food during this period can help with food shortages or overly expensive food in the shops.
Being a long-time frame, think about having a more balanced diet. Between tin and bottle fruit and vegetables you can have a variety of foods.
Then there’s tin fish, chicken, ham and similar items you can mix with pasta and sauces to add interest to your emergency food.
If you are in a more rural area or have a bigger back yard you could have some chickens and a vegetable garden to boost the fresh food too. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow herbs and vegetables in pots.
Longer than 3 month strategy
If businesses are up and running, they will be trying to find food sources to restock their shelves. Depending on the global scale of the disaster this may be limited with some foods not available and others very expensive.
The easiest way to prepare your kit for this emergency food strategy is to have herb, vegetable and other edible seeds for planting. These seeds only last for a few years so you will probably have to plant them in the garden regularly and replace them.
Having your local area form a growing community will help with variety and supply. Like the world war victory gardens, growing food for yourself and your country.
Having multiple strategies for emergency food will make disasters less stressful for your family.
Local disasters happen all the time and you just need to look after your needs for 3 to 7 days until the authorities can enact their recovery plans.
Regional disasters are still common, based more around the high-risk season or zone.
Global disasters while rarer do happen and they disrupt a large area of the planet and take a long time to recover from.
If you don’t have a plan I have created this workbook to help you develop one. You can purchase the “Disaster Plan Workbook for Families” here.
- Volcanoes May Have Sparked Little Ice Age
2. 2010–11 Australian region cyclone season
3. Australia floods of 2010–11