72 Hour Survival
Basics for a 3 day period. Many people buy these kits
rather than assembling their own.
MRE Emergency Food
Meals Ready to eat are easy to carry and prepare. They
are used by military units and other groups around the world. Read More...
Emergency Food Rations
Emergency food rations are food bars that provide
and emergency food source. They are light, easy to carry, low priced and
have along shelf life Read More...
Emergency Water Storage
Water is a absolute necessity for disaster survival. Proper Storage
containers protect your water supply. There are several
types of water storage available including portable containers or low priced 55 gal. plastic
drums to truck sized containers. Read More...
Emergency Water Treatment
Water treatment can provide emergency water in the most dire circumstances
even if you are caught in a disaster while away from home. There are
several items and methods available. Read More...
Survival - When the Power Goes Out
If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your
refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out,
keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep
food cold for longer.
If the power is out for longer than 2 hours, follow the guidelines below:
- For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food
safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48
hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
- For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat,
fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by
ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
- Use a digital quick-response thermometer to check the temperature of
your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a
temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
For guidelines on refreezing food when the power comes back on, visit the
Food Safety and Inspection Service’s page on
Food Safety After A Disaster.
The following resources provide additional information on preparing for
emergencies and determining if your food is safe after a power outage:
Safe Drinking Water
When power goes out, water purification systems may not be functioning
fully. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes
bottled, boiled, or treated water. Your state or local health department can
make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area.
Here are some general rules concerning water for drinking, cooking, and
personal hygiene. Remember:
- Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash
and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. If
possible, use baby formula that does not need to have water added. You can
use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands.
- If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you
do not know that the water came from a safe source, you should boil or
treat it before you use it. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water
until your supply is tested and found safe.
- Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful
bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will
kill most organisms.
- When boiling water is not practical, you can treat water with chlorine
tablets, iodine tablets, or unscented household chlorine bleach (5.25%
- If you use chlorine tablets or iodine tablets, follow the directions
that come with the tablets.
- If you use household chlorine bleach, add 1/8 teaspoon (~0.75 mL) of
bleach per gallon of water if the water is clear. For cloudy water, add
1/4 teaspoon (~1.50 mL) of bleach per gallon. Mix the solution
thoroughly and let it stand for about 30 minutes before using it.
Note: Treating water with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets, or liquid
bleach will not kill parasitic organisms.
Use a bleach solution to rinse water containers before reusing them. Use
water storage tanks and other types of containers with caution. For example,
fire truck storage tanks and previously used cans or bottles may be
contaminated with microbes or chemicals. Do not rely on untested devices for
Extreme Heat and Cold
Be aware of yours and others’ risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat
cramps and fainting. To avoid heat stress, you should:
- Drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes and at least one gallon
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. They both dehydrate the body.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- When indoors without air conditioning, open windows if outdoor air
quality permits and use fans.
- Take frequent cool showers or baths.
- If you feel dizzy, weak, or overheated, go to a cool place. Sit or lie
down, drink water, and wash your face with cool water. If you don't feel
better soon, get medical help quickly.
- Work during cooler hours of the day when possible, or distribute the
workload evenly throughout the day.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat illness. It happens when the body
can’t control its own temperature and its temperature rises rapidly.
Sweating fails and the body cannot cool down. Body temperature may rise to
106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or
permanent disability if emergency care is not given.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary but can include:
- Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness
- An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
If you suspect someone has heat stroke, follow these instructions:
- Immediately call for medical attention.
- Get the person to a cooler area.
- Cool the person rapidly by immersing him/her cool water or a cool
shower, or spraying or sponging him/her with cool water. If the humidity
is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him/her vigorously.
- Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body
temperature drops to 101-102°F.
- Do not give the person alcohol to drink. Get medical assistance as
soon as possible.
- If emergency medical personnel do not arrive quickly, call the
hospital emergency room for further instructions.
For more information on heat-related illnesses and treatment, see the
CDC Extreme Heat
website. Information for workers can be found on the NIOSH webpage
Working in Hot Environments.
Heat is the major public health problem related to blackouts for two
- Extreme heat causes most summertime blackouts
- In a blackout, the main public health intervention for heat-related
illness (air conditioning) is unavailable – this represents “a disaster
within a disaster”
- Heat causes about 400 deaths per year in the U.S. – more than all
other natural disasters combined
- During the Chicago heat wave of 1995, over 650 people died in under 2
- ALL HEAT-RELATED DEATHS ARE PREVENTABLE
- The people most at-risk from heat include:
- The elderly
- The poor
- People in inner cities
- People with chronic illness
- Homebound people
- Children under the age of 5 years
RECOMMENDATIONS (in the absence of air conditioning):
- CHECK FREQUENTLY ON THOSE AT HIGH RISK
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids
- Reduce strenuous activities
- Take cool showers/baths frequently
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing
- Most importantly, cities should have in place a comprehensive Heat
Emergency Response Plan
Hypothermia happens when a person’s core body temperature is lower than
35°C (95°F). Hypothermia has three levels: acute, subacute, or chronic.
- Acute hypothermia is caused by a rapid loss of body
heat, usually from immersion in cold water.
- Subacute hypothermia often happens in cool outdoor
weather (below 10°C or 50°F) when wind chill, wet or too little clothing,
fatigue, and/or poor nutrition lower the body’s ability to cope with cold.
- Chronic hypothermia happens from ongoing exposure to
cold indoor temperatures (below 16°C or 60°F). The poor, the elderly,
people who have hypothyroidism, people who take sedative-hypnotics, and
drug and alcohol abusers are prone to chronic hypothermia, and they
- misjudge cold
- move slowly
- have poor nutrition
- wear too little clothing
- have poor heating system
Causes of Hypothermia
- Cold temperatures
- Improper clothing, shelter, or heating
- Fatigue, exhaustion
- Poor fluid intake (dehydration)
- Poor food intake
- Alcohol intake
- Everyone, especially the elderly and ill, should have adequate food,
clothing, shelter, and sources of heat.
- Electric blankets can help, even in poorly heated rooms.
- Wear layers of clothing, which help to keep in body heat.
- Move around. Physical activity raises body temperature.
Water cooler than 75°F (24°C) removes body heat more rapidly than can be
replaced. The result is hypothermia. To avoid hypothermia:
- Avoid swimming or wading in water if possible.
- If entering water is necessary:
- Wear high rubber boots in water.
- Ensure clothing and boots have adequate insulation.
- Avoid working/playing alone.
- Take frequent breaks out of the water.
- Change into dry clothing when possible.
Helping Someone Who Is Hypothermic
As the body temperature decreases, the person will be less awake and
aware and may be confused and disoriented. Because of this, even a mildly
hypothermic person might not think to help himself/herself.
- Even someone who shows no signs of life should be brought quickly and
carefully to a hospital or other medical facility.
- Do not rub or massage the skin.
- People who have severe hypothermia must be carefully rewarmed and
their temperatures must be monitored.
- Do not use direct heat or hot water to warm the person.
- Give the person warm beverages to drink.
- Do not give the person alcohol or cigarettes. Blood flow needs to be
improved, and these slow blood flow.
First Aid for Electrical Shock
If you believe someone has been electrocuted take the following steps:
- Look first. Don’t touch. The person may still be in contact with the
electrical source. Touching the person may pass the current through you.
- Call or have someone else call 911 or emergency medical help.
- Turn off the source of electricity if possible. If not, move the
source away from you and the affected person using a nonconducting object
made of cardboard, plastic or wood.
- Once the person is free of the source of electricity, check the
person's breathing and pulse. If either has stopped or seems dangerously
slow or shallow, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
- If the person is faint or pale or shows other signs of shock, lay the
person down with the head slightly lower than the trunk of his or her body
and the legs elevated.
- Don’t touch burns, break blisters, or remove burned clothing.
Electrical shock may cause burns inside the body, so be sure the person is
taken to a doctor.
Power Line Hazards and Cars
If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This
is the safest place to stay. Warn people not to touch the car or the line.
Call or ask someone to call the local utility company and emergency
The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving a car that is
in contact with a downed power line is if the vehicle catches on fire. Open
the door. Do not step out of the car. You may receive a shock. Instead, jump
free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the
ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with both
feet on the ground.
As in all power line related emergencies, call for help immediately by
dialing 911 or call your electric utility company's Service Center/Dispatch
Do not try to help someone else from the car while you are standing on
Avoid Carbon Monoxide
For important information about the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
during a power outage,
see also Dangers
of Carbon Monoxide .
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After an Emergency
Generators, grills, camp
stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices
should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, or camper - or even
outside near an open window.
Every home should have at least one working carbon
monoxide detector. The detector’s batteries should be checked twice
annually, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause
sudden illness and death if inhaled.
When power outages occur during emergencies such as hurricanes or winter
storms, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating,
cooling, or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper
and to poison the people and animals inside.
Every year, more than 500 people die in the U. S. from accidental
CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by small gasoline
engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning
charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or
partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be
poisoned and can die from breathing CO.
How to Recognize CO Poisoning
Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common
symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea,
vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have
been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.
Important CO Poisoning Prevention Tips
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping
stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine
inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors
or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and
vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high.
Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
- Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any
gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where
exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or
partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at
a community shelter.
- If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right
Electrical Safety and Generators
Preventing Electrocutions Associated with Portable
Generators Plugged Into Household Circuits
When power lines are down, residents can restore energy to their homes or
other structures by using another power source such as a portable generator.
If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical
equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service
panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been
inspected by a qualified electrician.
If it is necessary to use a portable generator, manufacturer
recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are
any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable
generator, a qualified electrician should be immediately contacted to assist
in installation and start-up activities. The generator should always be
positioned outside the structure.
When using gasoline- and diesel-powered portable generators to
supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service
panel to the "off" position prior to starting the generator. This
will prevent power lines from being inadvertently energized by backfeed
electrical energy from the generators, and help protect utility line workers
or other repair workers or people in neighboring buildings from possible
electrocution. If the generator is plugged into a household circuit without
turning the main breaker to the “off” position or removing the main fuse,
the electrical current could reverse, go back through the circuit to the
outside power grid, and energize power lines or electrical systems in other
buildings to at or near their original voltage without the knowledge of
utility or other workers.
Safety at Work During Power Recovery
As power returns after an outage, people at work may be at risk of
electrical or traumatic injuries as power lines are reenergized and
equipment is reactivated. CDC recommends that employers and employees be
aware of those risks and take protective steps if they are in contact with
or in proximity to power lines, electrical components, and the moving parts
of heavy machinery.
Preventing Electrocutions by Undetected Feedback Electrical Energy
During power outages, many people use portable electrical generators. If
the portable generator is improperly sized, installed, or operated, it can
send power back to the electrical lines. This problem is called
backfeed or feedback in the electrical energy in power lines.
Backfeed can seriously injure or kill repair workers or people in
neighboring buildings. This fact sheet provides workers with
information on how to restore power safely to local communities when a
portable generator is being used in a home or homes in the area.
Effects of Backfeed
The problem of backfeed in electrical energy is a constant risk for
electrical energy workers. Electrocutions are the fifth leading cause of all
reported occupational deaths.
Understanding the Process
When power lines are down, residents can restore energy to their homes by
another power source such as a portable generator. If the generator is
plugged into a household circuit, the electrical current could reverse, go
back through the circuit to the power grid, and then increase in voltage. If
a worker attempts to repair power lines when this happens, the worker could
be electrocuted. Following certain safety guidelines can reduce this risk.
Safeguards against Backfeed
- Workers should treat all power lines as “hot” unless
the lines have been de-energized and grounded. Because of the possibility
of a feedback circuit, the worker should ground all lines on both sides of
the work area unless he/she is wearing the proper personal protective
- Prevent electrocutions by conducting standard tests
to decide if there is high voltage in the power lines . Low voltage
includes voltages from 50 to 600 volts. High voltage includes voltages of
601 volts to 230,000. Extra high voltage is any voltage over 230,000
- Workers should also use low voltage testing equipment
such as glowing a neon light or light-emitting diode type equipment to
determine whether there is low voltage present. High voltage tests may
not identify lower voltage levels. Lower voltages are also deadly.
- Power lines should not be repaired or otherwise accessed
without adequate personal protective equipment such as NEC rated
and approved gloves and sleeves.
How the Public Can Help
- Have a trained, qualified electrician install a portable
- Be sure that the main circuit breaker is OFF and
locked out prior to starting the generator. This will help protect utility
workers from possible electrocution.
Be Prepared for an Emergency
CDC recommends that people make an emergency plan that includes a
disaster supply kit. This kit should include enough water, dried and canned
food, and emergency supplies (flashlights, batteries, first-aid supplies,
prescription medicines, and a digital thermometer) to last at least 3 days.
Use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles, gas
lanterns, or torches (to minimize the risk of fire). You can find supply
kits at the Ready Store.