Sign up below to be added to our mailing list for the latest news updates, access to exclusive contents, and more!
Basics: Enough for 1 to 1.5 gallons of drinking water per person per day, for one-week minimum (a two-person household would need 14 to 21 gallons).
Water for two weeks is ideal. Also figure 1 gallon per person per day of water for washing hands, flushing toilets and for pets.
Special needs: Without air conditioning, the body is susceptible to heat stroke and dehydration. Have extra water for infants, youngsters, nursing mothers, and the elderly.
Water in bulk: You can buy 5- and 10-gallon water bottles, but they’re hard to lift or move. Or sanitize a large garbage can with lid to store drinking water. Pour 1 cup of regular, unscented household bleach to a full 30 gallons of water; let stand overnight, drain and rinse well. Fill with tap water and replace lid. Buy a long-handled ladle, keep paper cups nearby. Freezing jugs of water also helps keep foods frozen, to and provides chilled drinking water.
For washing and household needs, sanitize the bathtub by scrubbing well, then rinsing with 1 cup bleach to a tub of water. Let stand overnight; drain and refill. Use primarily for flushing toilet but, if necessary, for bathing or washing.
Keep water clean! Contaminated water can cause diarrhea, leading to dehydration. If drinking water is compromised, use for washing up or flushing toilets. After a storm, do not use tap water for drinking unless you boil it for three minutes first or use purifying methods.
Wait until utility or local government say water is safe to drink.
Freezing water jugs: Buy 1-gallon containers of drinking water (21/2 gallons, if your freezer will accommodate them), drain out about 1/2 cup to leave room for expansion, seal tightly, and freeze.
Keep the jugs in the freezer even after the power goes out; they last longer than in coolers. Once thawed, the water is drinkable.
Rebottle it into smaller bottles to carry, or use it from the larger jugs, but keep it clean and uncontaminated.
Buy block ice if possible (available from ice companies, boat supply stores and some grocery stores). It lasts up to three times as long as bagged, cubed ice.
Make your own blocks. When a storm approaches, clean freezer and fill it with stackable containers of water. Large mixing bowls or small buckets work. Freeze, and when frozen, transfer ice blocks to sealable bags.
Buy extra coolers. Smaller areas are easier to chill. Once the power goes out, and foods begin to thaw or warm, pack them, tightly, into the bottom of coolers, then top with ice.
Try the bathtub. If not using for water, use for ice. Buy huge blocks and load up tub. Cover with tarp. Fill with cubed ice; cover with newspapers and heavy tarp, then a layer of plastic to keep cold in. Put drainplug in to save the water for other uses.
Put foods under or below ice, not on top of it.
Place blocks in bottom of cooler.
Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, usually produced in 10-by-10-inch blocks weighing about 55 pounds.
Dry ice blocks usually retail for about $1 a pound, so a block should cost $50 to $60. Some places have a minimum purchase.
Dry ice can keep food in a cooler frozen solid for a few days. Ten pounds typically will last one to two days in a cooler.
Dry ice also is available in cut blocks, nuggets and small “rice pellets.” The smaller sizes are more convenient but dissipate at a faster rate.
To keep a product frozen, place dry ice on top of it, not under it. Dry ice will not harm wrapped frozen food.
To keep food cool (but not frozen), place dry ice in bottom of an insulated cooler, cover with regular ice or insulating material, then place foods on top. Fill in remaining space with a towel or crumpled newspapers. Open cooler only when necessary.
Do not place dry ice in a freezer with running power. It will shut down the thermostat. Use in a freezer only if the power is off. Do not place dry ice directly on a glass shelf; it can crack it; line the shelf with thick newspapers first.
Use 1 1/2 pounds of dry ice per cubic foot in a freezer.
Regular ice is best for refrigerated foods. Dry ice can freeze them.
Do not touch dry ice! It can cause severe burns. Use tongs, cloth gloves, a pot holder or some other separator.
Do not put dry ice in an airtight container or vacuum-style cooler (never in glass) — it can cause an explosion.
Do not inhale. Heavy carbon dioxide vapor released may cause suffocation.