Are you ready for an emergency?

There was some 'questionable' advice recently in a local paper recommending that people stock up on "junk food" ahead of Cyclone Gita. To help prepare you for an emergency a team of NZ Registered Dietitians and Registered Nutritionists have compiled the following tips to help ensure your nutrition readiness for natural disasters....

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Plan! Good planning is essential to eating well at any time, therefore you should also put forethought into planning the foods in your survival kit.

Prepare! Keep your kit stocked and readily accessible at ALL times – don’t rely on being able to make a last minute dash for supplies.

Prioritise your needs: have a three (3)-day water and non-perishable food supply.

  • Clean water (3L/day per person)
  • Canned or dried foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, meat, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice or oats. NB: these may require cooking and you may not have power (see below).
  • Dried meals or soups (will likely require additional water for reconstitution)
  • Snack foods (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, muesli bars etc)
  • UHT or powdered milk or substitute

In a power outage: use refrigerator items first - consume within four hours. Use freezer items next and within two days when door opening is minimised.

Remember related non-food essentials:

  • Can opener
  • Cutlery, dishware & cooking pots
  • Paper towels
  • Camping stove or bbq (if possible) with a full gas canister or bottle
  • Lighter
  • Sanitiser

Rotate regularly: despite their long shelf-lives, food items should be rotated  – we suggest annually

Make the most of routines that could be maintained in an emergency: These can provide comfort in stressful situations. What family favourites could you make with the foods in your kit?

Cater for special diets: Does anyone in your household have special dietary requirements? (food allergies etc.) Remember to include food or formula for infants and pets, if applicable

Consider including some high energy foods and comfort foods: Some individuals may be required for tasks that are physically demanding, requiring higher energy foods. Others may like familiar or comfort foods to help them through a time of crisis – in these instances, you could include some items such as scroggin, nut butters, energy bars/gels, chocolate, tea, coffee or similar in your kit, alongside the non-perishable staples mentioned above.

Keep cash on hand: Shops may be open but EFTPOS may be out.

Emergencies are not everyday situations and while the food suggested may not reflect an everyday nutritious diet, it is more than adequate to meet short-term nutrition needs. We suggest contacting a registered dietitian or registered nutritionist if you would like personalised advice.

For more information:

Find a registered dietitian:

Find a registered nutritionist:

Civil Defence information:

In an emergency, Civil Defence often use Twitter to disseminate information: @NZcivildefence

Find the authors on Instagram!

Ange Berrill: NZRD @angela_berrill_dietitian

Caroline Worth: NZRD @bite_wize

Louise Fangupo: NZRD @thrive.dietitian

Sara Lake: NZ RNutr @nznutritionist

Nikki Hart: NZ RNutr @nznikkihart