Emergency Food & Water

May 18, 2018

Every year millions of people are impacted by natural disasters: Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, floods, drought, winter storms, and wildfires happen and will continue to happen all over the world. While there is no way to guarantee surviving a natural disaster, having a plan and being prepared significantly increase your odds.

This article will tackle the top two survival essentials: emergency food and emergency water. Just how much is needed per person to be adequately prepared?

Fema and Red Cross both recommend at least a 72 hour supply of emergency food and water be available per person in the event of a natural disaster or emergency situation. So how much is that really?


3 liters (or .793 gallons) of water per day per person is commonly suggested for proper hydration replenishment. This is under ideal situations and should allow one to function without impairment. Using that guideline, for 72 hours one should plan on 2.378 gallons of water per person. This should not be a problem if remaining in a house, car, or office is still an option. It is easy enough to store that much water. But what if that is not an option? What if the situation requires one to leave immediately with no guarantee of safe harbor? Carrying two and a half gallons of water per person is no easy task. And more than likely, water will not be the only item you want to take with you.  


There needs to be a balancing of how much water is essential versus how much can be transported realistically in a survival kit or survival backpack. Most people can survive 3-5 days without water. However, once dehydration sets in, a host of complications crop up that will severely impair one’s judgment and stamina, which are both vital to survival.

So what is the minimum amount of water one should have per day to offset the major complications of dehydration? There is no clear answer here, since every situation and need will be unique. The US Coast Guard recommends eight ounces of water per day per person as the minimum. However, in this type of emergency situation, it is also recommended (by the US Coast Guard) that one prime the body beforehand. By not consuming any water during the first 24 hours of an emergency situation, it will be easier on the body to accept less water than normal during the following days. 

With this in mind, for a three day survival kit or bug out bag, one should plan on sixteen ounces of water per person at a minimum for drinking purposes. Ideally this amount would be complimented with water purification tablets and/or water filters to take advantage of additional water sources that may be available. But if you have to bug out quick and need a base supply of emergency water this is portable, this will be enough to keep severe dehydration at bay.



The truth is that (while uncomfortable) our bodies can easily go three days without food. In fact, human beings can go several weeks without food and survive. Where food (calories) is important (during a disaster or emergency) is in physical activities and providing clear thinking.

During a crisis situation excessive amounts of calories will likely be lost due to exertion and stress. It is very important to replenish these calories in order to maintain the ability to keep going and think clearly. Considering the average human burns 2000+ calories doing normal daily activities, it is very realistic this number will double or triple while under duress. The effects of excessive calorie loss will lead to fatigue and confusion. These are not complications you want cropping up when a life threatening situation is at hand.

The best type of food to have on hand for a survival situation is a high calorie, nutrient rich food source that can be easily consumed with little effort. Vacuum sealed food bars or MRE rations with a high calorie content are recommended most. These can last 5 years or longer and provide a quick easily digestible source of calorie rich food. Again needs will be different based on situation and body type, but the recommendation by the US Coast Guard is 200 calories per person every six hours. So for a three day emergency situation (the most likely time-frame before aid can arrive) 2400 Calories per person is the recommended minimum.


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