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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Properly maintaining an emergency preparedness kit

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Everyone should take time prepare ahead of any potential natural disaster or crisis by setting aside food and basic supplies in an emergency kit. Once assembled, these kits require a bit of light annual maintenance in order to be truly effective.

Families should refresh the emergency kit at least once, but preferably twice, a year, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“Maybe your family has grown or you’ve added a pet. Refreshing the kit once or twice a year gives you a chance to update your kit so each family member and pet is included in your preparations,” Peek said. “One easy way to remember to check your kit is to do so every spring and fall when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends.”

Recycling the food and water in the kit on a regular basis reduces the chances of those provisions going to waste, said Barbara Brown, OSU Cooperative Extension food safety specialist.

“If you’re properly maintaining your kit, you probably won’t have to throw away any food,” Brown said. “Check the expiration dates on all the food and beverages. Items close to expiration should be incorporated into the current food supply and eaten. Nearly expired foods should be replaced with items with at least a 6-month expiration date. Remember that the dates are generally guidelines for best quality, not a sign the food is unsafe to eat.”

Items with no expiration date or if the date is written in code, mark when the food was placed in the kit or the date by which the food should be removed. The same method should be used each time the kit is updated.

Without an expiration date, consider that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates high-acid canned items such as tomatoes, grapefruit and pineapple can be stored for a year to 18 months for best quality. Foods with less acid such as canned meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables can last 2 to 5 years if properly stored.

The water stored in the kit should be replenished every 6 months. Meanwhile, clothing items should be appropriate either for the colder temperatures in the fall and winter or in the warmer weather in the spring and summer.

Finally, families should replace any supplies that were used or borrowed from the kit and test flashlights and weather radios to confirm they are in working order.

“Don’t forget to check the kit to ensure there are provisions for family members with special needs such as infants as well as any pets,” Peek said.

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
158 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

 

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000